Following God requires disruption.
My recovery journey has, indeed, been one of disruption.
I first shared my story with a Celebrate Recovery group in 2014.
Back then, I painted a picture of a career-fueled Tracy, burned out from throwing her life into careers as a broadcast journalist, country music DJ, financial practitioner and radio broadcaster, turned public servant.
In 2015, I updated my story to reflect spiritual growth and career struggles.
A few weeks after sharing my story in 2015, my boss abruptly retired.
He was being pressured to eliminate positions and fire senior management.
Not that what the elected officials wanted was wrong or unethical, but my boss didn’t think whole-sale personnel changes would be in the best interests of the citizens we served. It turns out; I was one of those senior managers elected officials wanted gone.
That October, I packed up my office quietly and walked away from 12 years of lessons learned and friendships made.
I also decided to put my house on the market, after 20 years of living in a beautiful little neighborhood in Fort Smith.
While updating my testimony, my mom and I lost a dear friend.
I lost a former boss and a mentor.
The one who retired, rather than implement changes he thought were detrimental to lives and the citizens of our community.
What Brought Me to Recovery
Before Celebrate Recovery, losing my parents was probably my greatest fear and, I’ll admit, it’s still right up there.
But when my 80-year-old daddy died, I had no way of articulating the emotions about God, about myself, my dad, and my life that were collecting around the realization of overwhelming fear.
My relationship with God prior to Celebrate Recovery
Brennan Manning once wrote:
The majority of hurts in our lives, the endless massaging of the latest bruise to our wounded ego, feelings of anger, grudges, resentment, and bitterness come from our refusal to embrace our abject poverty, our obsession with our rights, our need for esteem in the eyes of others. If I follow the counsel of Jesus and take the last place, I won’t be shocked when others put me there, too.
In the months after my dad’s death, I was furious.
With God, with those around me and later I figured out that I was most angry with myself. I lashed out at the people closest to me.
I hurt them in their grief.
I was jealous of others.
I was angry when they called to check on me, furious when they didn’t.
Work was a mess.
By January following my daddy’s passing, I was shocked that God didn’t fix everything after Mama and I had been so brave. I was tired of this little test.
I was a little girl throwing a screaming fit on the floor.
“God, I was good. I believed!”
Then the truth came out about my belief. It worked like this:
I believe, God!
Especially when I think I believe better than somebody else.
The truth is, I didn’t really care about faith.
I just wanted what I wanted.
And I wanted God to roll back the clock and make everything just like it was. What I've learned about who I was:
I didn’t process grief well, beginning at the age of 6 when my friends’ father left. I grieved greatly over the loss of their father and what appeared to be the loss of their father’s love.
I continued to process grief poorly, with every significant loss in my life, until the weight was too much to bear after Daddy died.
I was angry, bitter, mistrustful.
I only knew who I was in the context of where I worked and what I did for a living and what I thought my friends - and the public - expected of me.
Life with a 5-year coin within reach
In late June 2018 - barring a drastic life event - I’ll receive a 5-year coin from Celebrate Recovery, and I’m not who I was.
I finally figured out I wasn’t the only one on the planet who had suffered loss. I’m a better listener.
When our friend Ray died, as much as I still hurt, that I can see, acknowledge, and care about the loss others are feeling - it’s a different viewpoint than when my daddy died. I cling less to the past.
I take responsibility for what I can change, even my decisions are, primarily, a response to the actions of others.
A couple of years ago I attended the CR East Coast Summit - an annual gathering of Celebrate Recovery leadership.
Fortune 100 consultants - Drs Henry Cloud and John Townsend - each speaks. They wrote the book Boundaries in the 1990s and they have quietly helped John Baker and Saddleback Church build and scale Celebrate Recovery.
Their influences have helped us establish guidelines and practices that make Celebrate Recoveries around the world safe places.
A few observations I jotted down about recovery when we got back from Summit last July.
“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.
Recovery is a lifetime process.
In resolving some character defects, breaking through denial is the toughest part of changing my behavior.
Recovery is the same as sanctification in Christ. Funny that we pin a word on scriptural teachings and people scatter because of their perception.
Recovery is also a process sanctioned and encouraged by the discipline of clinical psychology.
Sharing our stories - of what Christ has done for us, of what recovery means to us and how the steps have changed us is a big deal - for the sharer and the hearer.
My Reboots Discoveries
For the past year, I’ve been interviewing people about the darkest days of their lives. At RebootsPodcast.com we’ve heard stories about business and creative reboots, as well as life and faith reboots.
Nearly every single guest says that navigating their darkest hours required the support of others.
The mentor who guides an entrepreneur through failure.
The family who endured the birth of premature twins, the months of hospital stays and mounting bills and, ultimately, a pair of funerals.
The bassist in a Christian metal band who lost his marriage, his best friend and (temporarily) his band.
My sample size of 30-something interviews is still relatively small but it’s large enough for me to believe that what I discovered from listening to Henry Cloud and John Townsend the summer of 2016 at the Celebrate Recovery Summit is correct.
The Beatitudes are the answer to living this life abundantly. Whatever label works - whether we’re calling it recovery or a 12-step program or some fancy, high-priced package business consultants sell to Fortune 100 companies - practicing and sharing this process of sanctification is the cure for what ails our angry nation.
Recovery hasn't caused the disruption in my life. Recovery has guided my responses to the pro-found loss of my friend, to see that losing a job has really been a new opportunity for me to recallibrate priorities, to spend time with my mom, to live according to the next right choice in front of me, trusting that God will - in His time - grant me greater clarity.
So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up or quit. Right now, therefore, every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to us in the community of faith.
A Little About Tracy:
I suspect I was born a storyteller. You’d agree if you’d heard my Daddy and his family spin yarns about growing up in Yell County, Arkansas.
Today I deal in the sharing of Reboots stories that brings redemption from suffering and hope to those in the throes of their own personal or professional crisis.