On a bitterly cold day in January of 2007, I found myself stuck behind the wheel of my Toyota Corolla. I had gained so much weight that I couldn’t get out of the car without turning sideways and scooting. Although I found myself laughing at the ridiculous situation, I was disgusted and disappointed with myself. How could I be a minister of the Gospel and be so out of control that I couldn’t overcome the one issue that seemed to plague me daily?
I believed that there was nothing too difficult for the Lord. I had seen with my own eyes miracles, healings, deliverances and heard and had wonderful demonstrations of the Lord’s love and power. I knew that He could heal me of my weight affliction so how come I was still suffering? Since I knew that the Lord was able to deliver me, and wanted only good things for me, obviously I was the problem. I knew then that my life had become unmanageable and only the Lord could deliver me from me. In the car I once again took Step One and Step Two. I had been in treatment in college for bulimia and compulsive overeating and along with inpatient treatment had been involved in OA. After college I stopped attending OA because I became involved with a man who told me that he would leave me if I lost any more weight.
I gave my heart to the Lord after this abusive live in boyfriend told me he could kill me, hide my body and nobody would ever find me. Knowing that there was more to life then an abusive relationship, a food addiction and misery, I committed my life to Christ and became a true Christian. It was during this time I returned to OA. Following the 12 steps and combining them with the power of prayer and daily submission I lost a great deal of weight and was walking in victory over my food addiction, anger, bitterness and co-dependency.
Sadly, an elder in my church insisted that I didn’t need a 12 step program to overcome my “issues” because I was delivered by the blood of Jesus and I didn’t need any group to cure me. I was young in my faith and easily influenced so I stopped attending my 12 step program and 12 years later found myself stuck behind the wheel of my car confessing I was powerless to stop this insanity. I knew then that I couldn’t manage my own life and that my faith must be really weak if I couldn’t trust Christ enough to let Him handle my food addiction.
I called out to the Lord and asked Him what He would have me to do to overcome this weight. I knew then that I needed to return to a 12 step program and within two weeks I found myself part of a small local OA group that was populated with Christians who acknowledged Jesus as the only Higher Power. For about a year I worked the program and lost about 30 pounds. I knew that eating was only the symptom of a deeper heart issue. But through OA I learned to submit and I learned accountability. Yet I knew something was missing. I knew there was more then white knuckle abstinence. My struggle came from a deep-rooted belief that the power of Christ was available to me for total healing, if only I could access it in relation to the 12 steps. Although I believed that the “Big Book” was full of good information and very helpful, I knew that the Bible really contained all I needed to find victory over my hurts, hang-ups and habits. I began to actually pray the 12 steps changing the words to Christ and adding various scriptures to assist me in my recovery.
I discussed my feelings with my sponsor and shared with her that although I loved and appreciated OA I felt like something in my recovery process was missing. She suggested I attend a Celebrate Recovery Meeting with her as CR focused on the truth of Christ as the solution for all our hurts, habits and hang-ups. She reminded me that Christ was the true source of my recovery and food was only a manifestation of the issues that kept me in bondage to my sin. There were deep rooted problems that I needed to be healed of.
After attending my first CR meetings I discovered that it was exactly what I needed. In my previous recovery work I was focusing more on me – in CR the focus became Christ in me. As I worked the 12 steps in the context of the 8 principles I realized that my issues were really centered in my broken heart, it wasn’t really about what I was putting in my mouth.
At CR I discovered I had issues with anger, bitterness, resentment and co-dependency. These issues stemmed from a sexual assault, being promiscuous as a teenager, my low self-esteem and my intense fears of being alone and being a failure. My family history of alcoholism had manifested itself as an addiction to food since as a young child I vowed to not to be an alcoholic like many of my other family members. Through CR I realized that I had a judgmental attitude and that I was suffering from the same affliction as my family members who were alcoholics, I was just playing my issues out through food. Regardless of the addiction I came to understand that I was killing myself because I didn’t realize how loved I was by Christ. I didn’t feel worthy of His love, I felt dirty but in working the steps I realized that Christ loved me more then I could even imagine and He wanted me to be free of this addiction, of the fear, pain and bitterness.
My sponsor and I worked the steps, and I saw tremendous growth in my prayer life, my spiritual development and in my ability to submit to the Lord daily and walk in my deliverance. Although I had taken Steps 3 through 6 in OA, working those steps in Celebrate Recovery brought a tremendous amount of freedom in the fact that I wasn’t in control of my life. All I could do was choose to submit my life to the will of Christ, all I could do was choose blessing or cursing, the choice was mine.
Working Steps 4 through 9, I experienced self forgiveness, boldness to share with my sponsor my inventory – what I like to call the ugly side of me and then to begin to make amends as the Lord directed. The Lord impressed on me the importance of forgiving and even allowed me to speak with someone who I previously felt had wronged me greatly, but realized that I was just as responsible for the problem and for his pain. The Lord peeled me like an onion, as I worked the steps leading me, blessing me with humility, even stopping me when my apology would bring undue pain. I continued to work with my sponsor in both CR and OA until she felt led to do some other ministry work and I partnered with a wonderful women in CR who serves as my CR accountability partner.
After participating in two local Celebrate Recovery Groups in my area, for over a year, I had lost 60 pounds and was actually working steps 10 and 11. In my prayer times I had been praying the Lord reveal to me His will for my life. Imagine my amazement when that day He led me to the scripture in 1 Thessalonians 5 verse 16 –19 that stated that God’s will for my life was to be prayerful, joyful and thankful! And I am able to do that when I daily surrender and submit to the Lord, when I focus on Him and let His will dominate my life.
Christian recording Artist
Because I tour so much as a Christian Recording Artist it is often difficult to be of service in a local meeting, so I trusted the Lord to direct me as to how I might be of service to Celebrate Recovery. An artist I knew was presenting a concert at our local CR meeting where she shared her experiences of growing up as a child of alcoholic parents. At the time I was writing new music based on many of the lessons I was learning as I worked the steps through my recovery process. After the concert I truly felt led by the Lord to do something similar, as a member of Celebrate Recovery, as one who participates in the program and knows the power of Christ is the ultimate answer to recovery I knew I had something to share. I began to contact CR groups and share my musical testimony and the lessons I’ve learned over the last two years since I’ve been in recovery. This is how I work step 12.
Since I’ve begun attending Celebrate Recovery I have been tremendously blessed. It would be a lie to say that I always surrender, that I always keep Christ the center of my attention and that I work the steps daily. Sometimes I fall, sometimes I get it all wrong, I’ve even had a relapse this summer when I allowed certain situations that resulted in new hurts dominate my life and reverting back to old habits and hang ups.
But what I love about CR is that it models the love of Christ. Arms are always open when your heart is repentant and you are loved even when you are a mess. I know that all I have to do is live one day at a time that I can start fresh with a true repentant heart and the Lord will walk me through this process when I surrender to Him. Currently I am in the middle of a major move and will be attending the local CR in my new community once I’ve moved there. I still have my CR accountability partner, a 12 step sponsor, and will once again be working with my original sponsor who introduced me to Celebrate Recovery until I am settled in my new home and linked with a new local CR sponsor.
Dr. Naima Johnston Bush
Christian Recording Artist, Author, Minister, Educator
Celebrate Recovery Testimony
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