recovery


As I have journeyed through life I have had different purposes for different seasons of my life.

When I was a senior in high school I took a psychology course. I was fascinated by the concept that there are reasons why people do what they do and feel what they feel. This course was the beginning of a lifelong desire to understand what makes people tick. I subsequently majored in psychology in college, went to graduate school where I earned a master’s degree in clinical social work, and embarked on a career as a psychotherapist. I also engaged in therapy myself as a client to understand what made me tick.

The desire to understand what makes people tick grew into a passion for helping people live healthy, happy lives emotionally and relationally. When God called me to lead a Celebrate Recovery ministry in August 2003, I was given another avenue through which to help people heal the hurts, habits, and hang-ups which impeded them from living the lives they were created to live.

In July 2014 God narrowed this passion to focus on women. He lit a fire in my heart to help his daughters be set free from the belief systems and practices that tell them they are second-class citizens, and stop them from being who God created them to be. I put form to this passion and calling by writing When Going with the Flow Isn’t Enough, Swim Upstream. In this book I focus on how the Christian Church has contributed to maintaining gender inequality in the United States. I hope that the men and women who read it will be encouraged to swim upstream against gender inequality wherever they either see it happening to others or experience it themselves. I finished this manuscript about one month ago. The publishing process will begin in January.

I don’t know what else God may want me to do. I don’t need to know right now. I just need to keep putting one foot in front of the other, trusting that he will let me know what he wants me to do. “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1).

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My name is Mary. I’m a recovering people pleaser and approval seeker.

Growing up I learned that other people’s opinions were very important, that their opinions were the source of my self-worth and of love. I, of course, didn’t realize at the time that I was learning these things, however, I grew into an approval seeker and people pleaser PAR EXCELLANCE!

I lived this way for my first forty years on the planet. I then became a follower of Jesus Christ and my idea of where my self-worth and where love came from slowly began to change. As I walked with Christ he taught me that my source of self-esteem and self-worth does not come from the approval of people. It comes from my relationship with him. I am a child of God and therefore I have worth. He loves me, period. Jesus taught me that I cannot and do not need to earn his love. I cannot make him love me and I cannot make him not love me. He loves me no matter what, and he knew me and loved me before he placed me in my mother’s womb.

Fairly early in my faith walk (mid to late 1990s), I started experiencing a nagging sense that I was supposed to do something for God. It kept gnawing at me inside and wouldn’t go away. Though I had this sense, I didn’t have the faintest idea what God wanted me to do. In an effort to try to understand what it was I was supposed to do, I served in a number of different ministries. Though each of these were good and enjoyable and somewhat fulfilling, not one of them felt like the right fit. Each one felt like putting on a jacket with shoulders that were too tight or sleeves that were too short. I didn’t give up though, and eventually I found the right fit.

In 2003 God let me know beyond the shadow of a doubt that he wanted me to be a Celebrate Recovery leader. As I served in that capacity I knew I had finally found the right fit. I knew I was walking in the will of God for my life. This knowing was accompanied by a profound inner peace and joy that was unlike anything I had ever experienced. Soon after this I developed my personal definition of success, i.e. to faithfully fulfill my God-given purpose. That definition has not changed. I am now living my life for an audience of One. I am living to please God, not to please human beings. This extends to all areas of my life, not just the ministry I serve in. My ultimate measure of success, which flows naturally from my definition of success, will be to hear, when I stand before God, “Well done good and faithful servant.”

Since I put God in the driver’s seat of my life, I have not always been successful in leaving him there. There have been times when I put myself back in the driver’s seat, doing life my way. When I allowed God to be in the driver’s seat of my life, I experienced an internal peace and joy that surpasses all human understanding. The reason for this is that kind of peace and joy can only come from God. When I put myself back in the driver’s seat of my life, I was looking for that peace and joy to come from human achievements and human relationships. What I received was the peace and joy that the world gives. Having experienced both of these scenarios, I can tell you that the peace and joy that the world gives is hollow compared to the peace and joy that God gives. Nothing can compare to that deep certainty you feel when you know you are right where you are supposed to be, doing exactly what you were created to do.

Did you know it is possible to become addicted to behavior?

It is important to understand that, just as we can manipulate our moods by ingesting substances from the outside, we can also manipulate our moods by becoming intoxicated with our own internal chemicals, set off by behavior. We can become addicted to behaviors that set off certain internal chemicals. One of the behaviors we can become addicted to is taking care of or helping others.

Some of the signs of an addiction to taking care of others are: doing something we really don’t want to do, i.e. saying yes when we want to say no; doing something for someone that he/she is capable of doing and should be doing for him or herself; meeting people’s needs without being asked; speaking for another person; solving people’s problems for them; fixing people’s feelings; doing other’s thinking for them; experiencing people’s consequences for them; doing more than our fair share of work; consistently giving more than we receive in a particular situation or relationship.

People who are addicted to taking care of others don’t just care for others; they breed dependence. Caretakers need dependent people around, so if there aren’t any dependent people handy a dedicated caretaker will find some. So the real question isn’t “Why do they act like that?” the real question is “Why do I find myself in the same predicament over and over?”

Personal experience: At the beginning of my career as a mental health professional I was driven by a desperate need to “fix” my clients. I believed that the only way my worth and value as a therapist and as a person was measured was if my clients “got better.” Further, I believed that my clients’ progress in therapy was entirely on my shoulders. These two beliefs combined drove me to take responsibility for my clients’ mental health and progress in therapy. The result of this, of course, was that my clients did everything but “get better,” due to my failure to give them the responsibility for their own mental health. By taking that responsibility on myself, I enabled them to stay dysfunctional. Then, of course, the more dysfunctional they stayed, the harder I worked, which meant they stayed dysfunctional.

Lessons I learned: 1. I did not create their problems and I could not fix them; 2. I had to tolerate feelings of powerlessness and not act off them; 3. I had to detach from the outcome; 4. My responsibility was to bring the best I had to each session, and my “best” differed from day to day; and 5. If I was working harder than they were at solving their problems I was taking responsibility for them.

Once I truly understood and embraced my addiction to taking care of and helping others I began my recovery from same. I then started to truly help people rather than enable them to stay stuck in their dysfunctional behavior patterns.

This particular excerpt has been on my mind and heart for the last few days. Not sure why. Decided to share it, maybe someone needs to read it.

Excerpt from When Therapy Isn’t Enough:

Therapy and recovery exist for similar reasons and have similar goals, such as healing, growth, change, improved functioning, healthier relationships, and so forth. The ways in which each accomplishes these goals, however, are quite different, as are the underlying beliefs regarding how change happens.

Though therapy and recovery share a similarity of purpose, it has been my experience that the healing one can attain working a recovery program far surpasses anything one can experience in therapy. John Bradshaw, in his book Healing the Shame that Binds You, states: “…Twelve-step groups literally were born out of the courage of two people risking coming out of hiding. One alcoholic person (Bill W.) turned to another alcoholic person (Dr. Bob) and they told each other how bad they really felt about themselves. I join with Scott Peck in seeing this dialogue coming out of hiding as one of the most important events of this century.”

I join with John Bradshaw and Scott Peck in seeing the dialogue between Bill W. and Dr. Bob in which they each came out of hiding and gave birth to twelve-step groups as one of the most important events of the twentieth century. I believe that another important event of the twentieth century, a building block on what Bill W. and Dr. Bob did, is what John Baker and Rick Warren did.

John Baker understood the vision God gave him for a Christ-centered recovery program and he acted on it, giving birth to Celebrate Recovery. Rick Warren gave John Baker the needed permission and support to establish and build Celebrate Recovery at Saddleback Church and then take it to the world.

The phenomenal growth of Celebrate Recovery, however, is not due to the efforts of John Baker or Rick Warren or countless others who have dedicated themselves to this ministry. Rather, it is God who has grown Celebrate Recovery. The human contribution to the growth has been the willingness of individuals to allow themselves to be used by God as his hands, feet, and voice in the world. It’s amazing what God can do through individuals who are willing to allow themselves to be used as his instruments.

Link to book:

http://www.tatepublishing.com/bookstore/search.php?search=Mary+Detweiler

I was recently talking with a young woman who was physically, sexually and psychologically abused as a child. I said something about trusting God. Her immediate, and angry, response was “Why should I trust God, he didn’t protect me as a child!”

Now that’s a tough question. My reply to her was “I don’t know what to say to that. I need to think about it.”

Twenty four hours later I remembered a Celebrate Recovery teaching on this very issue and sent her the following message: “Don’t be mad at God for what your parents did. He gave us all free will. If he took away your parents’ free will He would have to take it away from all of us.” I haven’t heard from her since. I hope she’s chewing on this.

This past weekend I was a vendor at The Pink Event, a women’s expo in Baltimore. A woman who was looking at my books asked me what my ministry is about. That started me thinking about the need to boil my ministry down to its core. I then came up with the following purpose statement: Isn’t Enough Ministries exists to help individuals overcome the following obstacles to becoming who God created them to be: unhealed hurts, destructive habits, and crippling hang-ups; religion instead of relationship; the stained glass ceiling; and refusal to wait on God.

As I continue to travel through life interacting with a variety of people I am continually reminded that integrity seems to be in short supply. What is integrity? Integrity is simply honesty. Does one’s talk match one’s walk? Does one say what one means, and mean what one says? Does one convey an accurate picture of one’s situation or does one hide it within a concoction of smoke and mirrors?

On March 14, 2015 I posted an article titled helping vs. enabling. A situation I encountered over the week-end once again brought to my mind the difference between helping and enabling. In that article I defined helping as doing something for someone that he or she is unable to do for themselves, and defined enabling as shielding someone from the consequences of his or her actions or choices.

Sometimes when we want to help someone the action that we take to help him or her is in actuality enabling them to continue a dysfunctional behavior or a dishonest lifestyle.

If you are not sure whether you are helping or enabling someone ask yourself these questions:

1. Am I doing something I really don’t want to do, i.e. saying yes when I want to say no?
2. Am I doing something for someone that he/she is capable of doing and should be doing for him or herself?
3. Am I meeting people’s needs without being asked?
4. Am I speaking for another person?
5. Am I solving people’s problems for them?
6. Am I suffering the consequences of someone else’s choices or actions?
7. Am I not asking for what I want, need and desire?
8. Am I consistently giving more than I receive in a particular relationship?
9. Am I shielding someone from the reality of his or her situation by contributing smoke and mirrors?

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