I've been attending Celebrate Recovery for almost 90 days. I began attending shortly after my father's death this past January. Because of my history with alcohol abuse and depression, I knew I had the potential to revert to old habits..... unless I was intentional about healing within the context of community.
So, I went to my church's website and looked up someone that I thought could help. I saw a woman's profile that I knew was in charge of Celebrate Recovery and saw that she was also in charge of Benevolence. Now, for those of you who know what benevolence is (or decide to google it right now), just pretend you don't know what it means. In fact, go ahead and pretend that you think it means Bereavement (which has to do with grieving and processing through the death of someone you know).
I initiated communication with this woman and asked if we could meet. When we were chatting, I mentioned that I saw she was the Benevolence Pastor and said, "That means that you help people walk through their grieving, right?" Her response was, "Not really, no." And then we moved on. It wasn't until weeks later that I actually looked up what Benevolence is. Haha! They're two completely different things.
Regardless of my vocab error, she ended up inviting me to come to a study of Life's Healing Choices, which walks you through some practical ways to experience freedom and healing in your life. I wasn't even sure at first what the class was about, other than general healing. As I dove in deeper, I realized that it held to the same principles as Celebrate Recovery. In fact, the author of LHC was the founder of CR.
I attended CR for the first time, but I found out that there are specific groups that you can go to that will walk you through whatever your struggle is. I prayed, but it wasn't quite clear to me what my issue was. At the time, all I knew was that my father was dead and I was hurting. The more I prayed, the more God showed me that He wanted to walk me through freedom in my food issues. So, when I decided to start attending Celebrate Recovery regularly, I chose to join the group for women struggling with eating disorders.
At first, I simply shared that I struggled wtih emotional eating and was trying to work through grieving my father. That was the "reason" that I was coming every week. Then, something else started becoming more and more clear. It wasn't the food. It was around this time that I realized how deep my issues with alcohol went. I also realized that I never walked through recovery in that area. I simply substituted food for the alcohol.
So, instead of the "Hi, my name is Lindsay-Marie and I struggle with emotional eating," it became, "Hi, my name is Lindsay-Marie and I'm a recovering alcoholic. When I stopped drinking, I replaced it with food, causing my current struggle: emotional eating."
I recently received my 60-day chip at Celebrate Recovery. Soon after receiving that, God showed me a deeper level of what was going on. Before the food was alcohol, as I stated before. But what caused the alcohol? Before all of that, was a relationship. A bad one.
Last year, when my friend and I were leading a Bible study, we did a series based on the book Counterfeit Gods by Tim Keller and the sermon series (which was based on the book) called Idols by Jay Pathak from the Arvada Vineyard in Colorado. We called it "No Other gods." One of the things that stuck with me was the definition of an idol. I honestly don't remember who said it (which is why I referred to both the author and speaker), but that is not nearly as important as what they said.
"Idolatry is making a good thing an ultimate thing."
Alcohol isn't bad. Relationships aren't bad. Food isn't bad. Neither was the golden calf that Aaron and the Hebrews made in the Old Testament. That stuff gets sticky and sinful when you make these things your everything. My relationship with my ex-fiance was unhealthy because I was so dependent on him for everything. The changes were so subtle, but there was a point when I remember thinking, "Oh, this can't be good."
It wasn't until he was out of my life that I realized how seriously connected we were. And it wasn't until the night I drank an entire bottle of vodka and then did drugs for the first time that I realized that I wasn't in control. And it wasn't until I stepped on the scale to see that I had gained 60 pounds in a year and a half that I realized the food was a problem for me.
Idols aren't always obvious. It can seem like you're in a healthy place with whatever it is. It can seem like you can stop whenever you want. It can seem like this thing doesn't control you; you control it.
But the reality is that if you are having issues removing anything from your life, it has an unhealthy hold on you.
That's where I am.
My name is Lindsay-Marie Yates. I am in recovery for idolatry.