Most everyone I meet has some kind of hurt, habit or hang-up that has caused difficulty and pain, if not outright destruction in their life. Has anyone ever hurt you deeply? What did you do with those feelings? Do you conceal a grudge? Often times there is a residual bitterness in our lives long after the offenders are gone. It could be parents or siblings who inflicted emotional pain. It could be a former spouse or business associate. But even after we have moved on from the relationship the memories still sting. 



We begin habits in our youth or in high stress times that we never think will rob us of years of happiness and joy. Do you eat too much, drink too much, smoke too much, and criticize too much? Have you become dependent on chemicals or medications to just make it through a day? Have you become co-dependent to the point you get up in the morning and say to another, “Good morning, how am I?” 



Some of us were raised in cultures and environments where prejudice, closed mindedness, and a critical spirit infected our thinking. It now prevents us from becoming a person of love, joy and peace. How can we break the cycles of previous generations or of “stinking thinking?”



Celebrate Recovery is a process and a program that begins Feb. 24 at Destin United Methodist Church. Every Monday evening people who desire to get healthy will gather for a meal, a program and groups. Celebrate Recovery is a safe place where anyone suffering or struggling can be real, with real people, and find hope and healing. Celebrate Recovery differs from other types of 12-step programs in that it is Christ-centered — He is our higher power.  



The program is open to any adult of any faith who is suffering from a wide range of issues, as well as their family members who suffer along with them. 



The wide umbrella of struggles includes alcoholism, divorce, sexual abuse, co-dependency, domestic violence, drug addiction, sexual addiction, food addiction, gambling addiction, grief, terminal illness, anxiety, depression and more. 



Each Monday evening’s format begins with a meal and a large group meeting where people enjoy worship songs by live musicians and listen to teachings about the 12-steps, or guest speakers and personal testimonies. Then they break into men and women “open share” small groups for the second hour of the night.  



There are different types of small groups — for newcomers, the chemically dependent, and all other issues people are dealing with. Leaders encourage sharing and invite people to express their feelings. We are changed when we find a safe place of honesty. There is hope in sharing! Study meetings are available other nights of the week for those who want to study the 12-steps further.  



Celebrate Recovery was conceived by Rick Warren and John Baker of the Saddleback Church in Southern California more than 20 years ago and has become a proven method for thousands of people to go from bondage to freedom.  



Many months ago I challenged our church staff to personally commit themselves to confront their own hurts, habits and hang-ups. That included me. So for 26 weeks we practiced what we believe will be helpful to any person wanting to “live life to the max.” Currently we are teaching about the “Eight Steps to Recovery” on Sunday mornings at Destin United Methodist.



Many years ago a wise pastor named Reinhold Niebuhr wrote a prayer that summarizes the journey to wholeness. It is called The Serenity Prayer. Pray it and join the journey to recovery.



“God, give us grace to accept with serenity



the things that cannot be changed,



courage to change the things



which should be changed,



and the wisdom to distinguish



the one from the other.



Living one day at a time,



Enjoying one moment at a time,



Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,



Taking, as Jesus did,



This sinful world as it is,



Not as I would have it,



Trusting that You will make all things right,



If I surrender to Your will,



So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,



And supremely happy with You forever in the next.



Amen.



Dr. Barry Carpenter is pastor of Destin United Methodist Church and can be reached at b@barrycarpenter.com.