Reclaim!

reclaimwebHarris Creek kicked-off two support groups in our community this week through Reclaim Ministries. Women facing the painful and confusing road of infertility gathered on Tuesday evening to work through their grief and share their experiences at Reclaim Infertility Support.   Yesterday, a year of planning, training, and prayer came together at Harris Creek’s first Reclaim Recovery meeting. The Reclaim Recovery team beautifully demonstrated vulnerability throughout our training, and we were all encouraged as our first participants openly shared and named their hurts, hang-ups, and habits on night one. The beauty of recovery ministry is found in countering the lie that we are alone in our struggle or must sit in our shame.

As the old adage states, “church should be a hospital for the hurting, NOT a hotel for saints”.

Jesus spent his time among people struggling in their humanity. He came to heal and set people free from the hurts, hang-ups, and habits holding them captive. He took the wisdom of this world and turned it on its head in this story from Matthew 9:10-13:

When Jesus was eating supper at Matthew’s house with his close followers, a lot of disreputable characters came and joined them. When the Pharisees saw him keeping this kind of company, they had a fit, and lit into Jesus’ followers. “What kind of example is this from your Teacher, acting cozy with crooks and riffraff?”

Jesus, overhearing, shot back, “Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? Go figure out what this Scripture means: ‘I’m after mercy, not religion.’ I’m here to invite outsiders, not coddle insiders.” (The Message)

Reclaim Recovery is a place to set aside masks and admit our need for God and each other. Whether Reclaim is one of several recovery meetings attended each week, or a first experience with recovery ministry, we have tools for releasing tightly gripped coping mechanisms that keep us from living wholly and freely.1-thess-5

I am walking proof that God’s transforming touch can heal the deepest wounds- yet, I am still in progress, and hope to continue steps toward wholeness as long as I am on this side of eternity. I still turn to the comfort of food and the warm, familiar blanket of victimhood and resentment when my focus wanders. Depression rears its ugly head from time to time- the fear of its return always haunting. Recovery is a process, not a quick fix with an end date. I’m no longer striving for perfection or absence of hurt- I am taking steps toward wholeness. I’m in this for the long haul, and I hope that you will join me.

“When I get honest, I admit that I am a bundle of paradoxes. I believe and I doubt, I hope and get discouraged, I love and I hate, I feel bad about feeling good, I feel guilty about not feeling guilty. I am trusting and suspicious. I am honest and I still play games. Aristotle said I am a rational animal; I say I am an angel with an incredible capacity for beer.

To live by grace means to acknowledge my whole life story, the light side and the dark. In admitting my shadow side, I learn who I am and what God’s grace means. As Thomas Merton put it, ‘A saint is not someone who is good but who experiences the goodness of God.’”

-Brennan Manning, A Ragamuffin Gospel

For more information about Reclaim Ministries, visit harriscreek.org/reclaim. Follow us on Twitter at @ReclaimMinistry.

Social Media Detox- The 1st Month

Men in PlaidOur last all-staff  meeting had one looming bullet on the agenda- the “Social Media Experiment”. Brady and Joey
introduced an opportunity to the individuals of our staff to take a break from a habit in our lives as engrained as brushing our teeth. The challenge was met with clenched jaws, crossed arms, and audible sighs. A social media-free summer? Is that even possible? An image was created the very same afternoon, replacing the profile pictures of many of your Harris Creek staffers. Though my profile remains a picture of my kids in a field of bluebonnets, I am actively participating in this experiment and break from the noise of social media for two months.

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I felt a little unfairly primed for this experiment. A few weeks before our meeting, I hastily deleted the Facebook app from my phone in order to free up space to take a few pictures. The allotted memory is never quite enough for this snap-happy mama. I started to notice how refreshing it felt NOT having the little blue icon literally at my fingertips at all times. I chose to leave the Facebook app off my phone and felt surprisingly lighter. Activity-packed last days of school came along and I found myself enjoying the experiences of wrapping up preschool for my youngest and year-end festivities for my oldest without pondering what was “post-worthy”, or trying to determine how to frame the experience through a perfectly-worded caption. This experiment begs the decade-old question- if our ten year wedding anniversary passes without posting about it, will it even happen?

Continue reading “Social Media Detox- The 1st Month”

Let the Forgiven Forgive

“The first and often only person to be healed by forgiveness is the person who does the forgiveness… When we genuinely forgive, we set a prisoner free and then discover that the prisoner we set free was us.”             -Lewis Smedes                                                                  

In a world where Might is Right and justice is king, forgiveness is counter-cultural and often perceived as a sign of weakness. As our Lifegroup sorted through Brady’s sermon (Facing the Past), we found ourselves trudging through our own experiences with the grueling process of forgiveness. The current sermon series, highlighting the life of Joseph in Genesis, sets the ultimate stage for this seemingly dubious practice of forgiving the unthinkable. Being beaten and left for dead by one’s brothers is not exactly something one moves past in a hurry. In The Only Necessary Thing, the ever-wise Henry Nouwen says:

“Forgiveness is the name of love practiced among people who love poorly. The hard truth is that all of us love poorly. We need to forgive and be forgiven every day, every hour, unceasingly. That is the great work of love among the fellowship of the weak that is the human family.”

Our natural inclination as flawed human beings is to get angry and get even. Forgiveness is about as natural as the aspartame in the Diet Coke currently aging in my refrigerator. Fortunately, there are antidotes to the hate and resentment experienced when we are wronged- namely, love and empathy. The ability to consider a perpetrator of our pain as a valuable person, worthy of love and redemption is undoubtedly a work of God. Recognizing pain behind a person’s harmful actions and acknowledging our own need for mercy are steps along the extensive and narrow path to forgiveness. If only forgiveness were akin to a one mile fun run. I would collect my t-shirt and call it a win.

Like love after newness fades, forgiveness is a daily choice and practice. It is not a one-and-done experience or quick rip of a Band-Aid. If only it were always as easy as the immediate relief experienced after I’ve apologized to one of my children for an overreaction to a simple blunder. Reconciliation (requiring two willing participants) is not always a possibility, but forgiveness always releases the forgiver. Whether or not the person I strive to forgive modifies their actions or changes their heart, genuine forgiveness unbinds me from the source of my pain even as residual wounds continue to heal.

True to form, Jesus perfectly illustrated forgiving the unthinkable by asking His Father to forgive the people who vilely hammered nails through the same hands that healed and fed multitudes (Luke 23:34). The one who died so we could live forever forgave his mockers and killers through painful breaths in His final hours. Forgiveness is a practice of forgiven people. Let’s strive toward forgiveness the way we have been extraordinarily forgiven.