Having been a Leader at Celebrate Recovery at my church for nearly a year and half now, I’ve seen quite a few faces come and go from the program, but we have a long list of people who have been coming every week for months now.
It’s hard to judge progress, too, when you only see them for a couple hours a week. Are they really growing and changing for the better? Or, are they just playing along?
In the program, we’ve been working on our Inventories, which is where we examine our lives and our pasts and try to make note of every important moment that brought us to our addictions and bad habits.
One of the questions used to help guide us through that inventory is about our attitude: “Do you have an ‘Attitude of Gratitude’ or do you find yourself complaining about your circumstances?”
Several of our Celebrate Recovery members are also on probation for drug charges and the system in our town has a program called Drug Court, which is a bit of a streamlined process in helping probationers get their acts together, if they are willing to fly straight and work hard.
One of the ladies in our program graduated from Drug Court this past week, and I was invited to come to a Drug Court meeting to watch her graduate and give a speech (which was wonderful).
In that meeting, the Judge calls up each member in the program to give them an update on how they are doing. Almost every one of them got an award or a pat on the back. Everybody had one thing in common though, they were all grateful to be there.
Drug Court didn’t make their lives much easier. In fact, they were under more scrutiny, but the benefits were obvious, and therefore, they took the tough rules in stride.
In fact, at the start of the meeting, a few people who had made slip-ups were “sanctioned,” which meant sent back to jail for a while to think about their commitment to the program, and one man was arrested right there for a 30-day sanction, but the only thing he was worried about was if he could still be in the program when he got out.
He was just told he had to spend a month in jail, but he didn’t care about that. He was just grateful that he was still in Drug Court.
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
-1 Thessalonians 5:18 ESV
The truth is, God gives us so much to be grateful for in all circumstances. When I spent a few months in prison myself, sure, I hated it, but I still made it a point to find things to be grateful for, even if it was just being thankful for a light rain on the Rec. yard. I knew that was where God wanted me and I tried to make the best of the situation.
So, if I can be grateful in prison, if people in Drug Court can be grateful for probation, then I can certainly be grateful for a job that stresses me out from time to time. I can be grateful for my family, even if they drive me up the wall now and then. I can be grateful in all circumstances, because God has plans for me and this is a part of it.
When we complain about our circumstances, we just keep convincing ourselves that life is awful. Can’t you see how that will never make anything better?
Matthew Coker is a Media Director at a church in his hometown, where he also is a leader at a Celebrate Recovery program. He’s a huge comic book nerd, Whovian, and Funko Pop Collector. Matthew and his wife live in New Mexico.