NEVER BE THE SAME.
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation."
2 Corinthians 5:17-18
Over a week ago, I completed my recovery program, ReGeneration. 1 full year. 365 days. And now, it’s over. And I’m perfect, right?! I’m “fixed.” NOPE. As I am writing this, I have so many bittersweet emotions that this is all over. It’s almost as if I am in mourning. I would say when I first started, I was in an extremely vulnerable place and considered this an extremely private matter. A recovery program? ME? PSHHH. I am FINE. I have cute clothes. I have the cutest dogs. A great husband. My life is together!! I would have told you. But, the Lord knew what He was doing. I was not okay, I was a mess, I was exhausted, and I felt broken. And, I was tired of pretending I was "fine."
This had all been brewing for many years – years of destructive patterns and habits. I couldn’t keep a job, anxiety persisted as you might already know, I couldn’t keep commitments & often lied and was flaky about plans, it felt like my marriage was falling apart due to our circumstances & piling debt, lost one of my best friends and I was left feeling confused, trying to pick up the pieces wondering why I was such a mess. Was I a bad person? I met with my friend, Nicole, in February 2018 for lunch, and while we sat there and I shared everything that was going on, she gently asked me if I would consider going to ReGeneration. With tears starting to well up, I simply said, “Yes. I feel broken.” I thought I would give it a chance, but I wasn’t sure if it would really stick. I mean, a YEAR? That is a long time! It was only several months later that I asked Nicole to be my mentor for this year-long journey, to which she said YES! I am forever grateful for her friendship, encouragement, and love. 😊
Most people reading this have NO idea what I am even talking about. Let me explain a little bit. ReGeneration is a recovery program at Watermark Community Church in Dallas. It meets every Monday night! This program has done so well that it has expanded to many churches across Texas. Countless churches have similar recovery programs, but this one seems to be a hit – and by hit, I mean it WORKS. And by works, I mean, Jesus is doing some amazing things in this program. To my surprise, the church is packed on Mondays with people of all ages. You will hear teachings and incredible testimonies of what the Lord has done in people’s lives. You will hear other people share openly with others about their struggles with true authenticity. At the beginning, you start out in what is called “Groundwork” for the first 8-12 weeks on average (men and women separate). Groundwork, also referred to as “open group,” is for anyone just starting out, which can be the hardest part. Every Monday, I was surrounded by incredibly brave women who shared their hurts, confessions, and revelations. It looks different with every person. Sometimes, it can be too much to share, so you don’t. I had confessions to share every now and then as it was placed on my heart. There were many Monday nights where I just cried, but to my surprise again, I was not alone. Everyone was there because they were hurting. I was amazed at how many other people were feeling the same way I was. It just looked different. There were many weeks (even after I was put into a small group) that I did not want to go out of fear or desperately wanting to isolate myself, but I always felt 100% better after I did. I was always encouraged, uplifted, and hopeful by the time I left. It was a good way to start out the week, and it eventually became my routine. This was a time to really prepare your heart for the 12 steps and look at expectations so you could get a better understanding of the process.
I was so excited when I got put into a small group after 12 weeks! This means I was in a group with 8 other women and 2 co-leaders, Rachel & Brittani! Now, instead of going to Groundwork every Monday in the breakout time, we would meet in a private room and officially start on the 12 steps. Over the next 8 months, this room saw many tears, hard conversations, and transparency. But it also saw progress, hope, friendship, community & LOVE. So, we began Step 1.
These 12 steps are outlined the same way the twelve steps of AA are outlined, only from a biblical perspective. They use Scripture and the Bible to point us to the root of our issues – and ultimately pointing us to Jesus, who died for all of our sins and who gives us the perfect peace in the storms of life. He is truly the only one who can give us the peace that we crave in any of these struggles – whether it’s pornography, anxiety, depression, people-pleasing, fear of rejection – the list goes on. The point is – nothing in this world will ever satisfy our needs. We are always left feeling empty and wanting more. I always heard that phrase and nodded my head, like, “Yeah, I get it.” But no, I did not. All I knew was I was miserable, and I was tired of doing this on my own. CLEARLY, my ways were not working out for me and if I didn’t have some serious changes coming, I didn’t know what I was going to do. Step 1, ADMIT – Romans 7:18 – I found that this was an easy step for me. Admitting that I was powerless to my own sin, piece of cake. I knew that. I know that is hard for many people. I was desperate for help. Step 2, BELIEVE – Psalm 103:2-5 – I already believed that Jesus died on the cross for my sins, my debts were paid. I was baptized in middle school, so I knew that this is what I had always believed! However, I don’t think that this all was connected between my head and my heart. Believing that it was a free gift? That was new. I don’t think I ever thought I had to earn God’s love, but subconsciously, if I messed up or did something wrong, I would try to do good to outweigh the bad, check things off the “Christian list.” You know what? That doesn’t matter in God’s eyes. Because if I have accepted Him into my heart, nothing I do (or will ever do in the future) will change that. He loves me no matter what I do and will continue to pursue me time and time again! How amazing is that?! Step 3, TRUST- Ephesians 2:4-5 – What a huge step. This is where it got tricky. I had trusted the Lord with my eternal salvation, but not with my everyday life. I decided to trust Him with what I WANTED to trust Him with and tried to control what I wanted to control. I said I was a Christian, but would other people know that based on my behavior and actions? No, I don’t think so. I was not living this out. My life was not a reflection of what I said I believed and who I trusted in. You know who I trusted in? Myself. My husband. Success. Security. This is still a daily reminder for me. Giving over control, trusting God with every situation, relationship, finances, conflict, anxiety…you name it! The root? I realized that I didn’t know God’s character at all. It’s hard to have a relationship with someone you don’t know. How could I trust someone if I didn’t take the time to get to know them? Step 4, Inventory – Psalm 51:6 – THE WORST & BEST STEP. Woah. This was a turning point for me. This changed the game, and this is where the Lord began to work on my heart. This is where we extensively started taking an inventory of our resentments, fears, harms to us, harms to others, and sexual sins. I’m talking all of it. It took weeks. Some of it came easy to me, like fears. I am pretty familiar with what I am afraid of and my triggers. For each item we listed, we had to include the who/what, the cause, how I responded, the nature of my response and what my response valued. My response could be insecurity, bitterness, frustration, fear, and control (a long list), and what I valued could be things like approval of others, people-pleasing, control, anxiety, pride, selfishness (another long list to choose from). Needless to say, it was an extensive process. It was amazing to put this all on paper (or rather, a spreadsheet) and look at all my JUNK. So many things I hadn’t dealt with and so many hurts I had caused others. Yeah, no wonder I was anxious – trying to make others happy, insecurity, lots of body image issues, etc. But, the more I started to look at it, I knew it was a lot to process and work through, but I was relieved to have it all out there.
Here is an example of one item in my fears inventory:
This one is a little extensive I know, but that just tells you how much it impacted me – for SO many years!
Step 5, Confess – 1 John 1:7-9 I got together with Nicole and 2 of my best friends and shared the entirety of my inventory. We had to split it up into 2 sessions because of time. Of course, I was terrified about what they would think, how they would respond, and what they would think of me. These were trusted and dear friends, and you know what they did? They loved me and encouraged me. They listened and asked a few questions. They were able to help me point out patterns that I may not have been able to see and give outside perspective. And that is where we concluded what I was struggling with the most: anxiety, low self-worth, and seeking the approval of others. These items were on my inventory repeatedly, and it was evident that those were at the root of most of my struggles. Other ones I still consider to be a huge factor: body image, selfishness and laziness. Step 6, Repentance – 2 Timothy 2:22 This step is about turning away from our sins, leaving them behind, and pursing God. This step truly showed me how selfish and hurtful I had been. It also showed me how badly I still wanted what my flesh craved! Repentance was a process, and it still is if I’m being honest. Because our flesh wants what it wants! Bottom line – Christ wasn’t at the center of my heart. My desires are slowly changing, only because The Lord is slowly changing my heart. This process was NOT overnight. I will always fight my flesh, and that’s why it is so important to depend daily on the Lord for guidance in ALL THINGS. We worked on repentance plans in this step for many of our “sin patterns.” An example for me would be low self-worth, and a lot of that came from social media (Instagram, Facebook) which led me to comparing myself to others. I took two weeks off of both, and it was nice to just be in the moment. There are certain days even now where I just don’t get on if I am struggling. I have also unfollowed or muted accounts that do not bring me joy. While I am still struggling to find my worth in Christ, I have to be very careful with social media – comparing myself, insecurity, body image, coveting, jealousy – it all makes me anxious and frankly depressed. And it is NOT real life. I am guilty of this too, so I just have to commit to prayer. I am working on finding a healthy balance for myself, while still growing my brand and blog. For anxiety, I have plans in place, but one of the simple ones is just to pray and reach out to someone when I feel anxious. *PRAISE* – I am currently decreasing my medication. I have truly found myself feeling less anxious. That is not to say I am against medication at all, I think every case is completely different. My personal goal is to decrease as much as I can. There is a long list of boundaries for all of my struggles that I am still trying to put into practice, and I have daily accountability partners that I reach out to in regards to this.
Step 7, Follow - Galatians 5:22-25 This step is all about following Christ FULLY. In every area, y’all. I will admit, there were some areas I did NOT want to give over to Christ until the end of ReGeneration. I was scared. And, it’s still a process. But – I keep coming back to this verse – Jeremiah 29:13“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Step 8, Forgive – Ephesians 4:32-5:1 A step I continually come back to. I learned what forgiveness is and what it’s not. It has been hard to forgive. But, you know what? It’s not between me and the other person. I learned that it’s between me and God. God already forgave me for ALL of my sins, so if I want justice, I have to trust that God will bring that. Forgiveness isn’t about me. Once you are able to trust that God will bring justice to that situation, you will feel so much freedom! Step 9, Amends – Romans 12:17-18 One of my favorite steps! This process is continual throughout the rest of my life. But, it has started. I will make direct amends with those people I have hurt. Making amends is NOT about the other person, but rather, you are addressing your part of the conflict (no matter how small, even the 2%). It is not expecting the other person to apologize but humbling yourself before them, confessing, and asking for forgiveness. This is an extremely humbling experience, and I have been so amazed how the Lord has blessed the conversations I have had thus far! Step 10, Continue – Psalm 139:23-24 So, remember the past 9 steps we just learned about and processed? This step focused on practicing these daily. I was beginning to notice my triggers and became so much more aware of my sin. It was a lot to process, but this program and these tools are for life, not just for 12 months. So, the more you are able to get in the habit of living them out on a day-to-day basis (at work, with conflict, in a relationship), your relationship with Christ will continue to grow as you pursue Him. Step 11, Intimacy – John 17:3 A step that helped me learn how to be intimate and spend quiet time with the Lord. I am still learning, but I know there is no “right” way. I do know one thing – without Scripture, the Bible, and prayer, it is impossible to have a true, intimate relationship with Christ. There is no “right” way to pray either. It can be a conversation! The Lord already knows everything, so why not come to him and talk to him about it? Like I mentioned previously, it is hard to trust someone you don’t know. So, get to know him & his character through his word, journaling, prayer, and community.
Step 12, Regenerate – 2 Corinthians 5:17-18 Already to Step 12? WHAT? But, I’m still not “ok?” I still have problems! Boy, I was so fearful. And, I will admit, I think I have been anxious ever since it ended last week due to the unknown. It was time to acknowledge that even though I still struggled, I was not the same person I was before. Yes, I will still make mistakes. But, God, His grace, and His mercies are new every morning. How amazing. I am not the same person I was and that is only by the grace of God. I know I could write pages and pages, but I don’t want to bore you. I just want you to know that the Lord truly transformed my life. It’s a process, and sometimes I wanted an overnight fix. As with anything that is hard in this lifetime, it is never an overnight fix. It’s a lot of work. This is the best kind of "self-care" or work I could have ever asked for. I think I have a whole new perspective on life now, and maybe that’s because I was consistently surrounded by women who were shattered like me, and I saw the Lord directly transform their heart weekly. I heard the stories and I met real people with difficult struggles – and I wasn’t alone. Yes, I still have some of the same issues. Some improvements? Absolutely. The way I handle conflict, how I respond to conflict, confessing, asking for forgiveness, and making amends. I will never be perfect – and I won’t pretend to be. Some of my circumstances may still be the same, but I don’t have all the anxiety wrapped up with that. I have a peace, hope, and joy that I can’t explain. You are not alone. Whatever you have done, it doesn’t matter. God doesn’t wait for you to be good enough. You are LOVED. ALL of the glory goes to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
I would love to talk to anyone who has questions or is interested in coming to ReGeneration! I plan on going once a month to hear stories and talk with friends. A huge thank you to Max, Nicole, Stephanie, Elena, Rachel, Brittani, Laura and all the girls in my group! So grateful for your love and friendship!
Thank you for reading <3