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Fuel for Hope in the Midst of the Mess

Recovery from Substance Use Disorder is emotionally messy work for all involved. It is easy to lose hope. The women we serve are a mirror to our own broken selves, our own addictions. Mine may not look like injecting fentanyl in an abandoned house, but my addictions (habits, hurts and hang ups) nonetheless separate me from God, damage my relationships and subvert the fulfillment of God’s purpose in my life. Our Recovery program is founded on the knowledge that transformation does not happen in isolation. It takes place in what we call, Community. The women in our program often need to witness recovery in the lives of those walking alongside them, before they can fully comprehend it. In other words, staff and participants walk out their recovery journey together.

However, even in Community, transformation can be painfully slow. I confess my struggles with maintaining hope when confronted daily with participants’ emotional pain, negativity, interpersonal strife and resistance to letting go of things that have not served them well.

So what keeps us going? What fuels our Hope?

Perspective. I have to remember that we play just a small part in a woman’s life-long recovery journey. I see more seeds sown than crops harvested. We as a staff have to trust God with the rest and focus on what we do ‘here and now’ to make a difference in a woman’s life. In the midst of the mess, it is easy to lose this perspective, overwhelmed by needs of the women.

Community. Our program has evolved because Community shapes and crafts how we do what we do. Through individual conversations and group workshops, participant’s feedback has shaped our curriculum to reflect more realistic and viable guidelines for programming. When a program is able to reflexively respond to both individual and Community needs, it operates more authentically and empowers participants’ investment in their recovery process. Our desire is for each woman to know their worth and value, and that their recovery experience has the potential to significantly impact others.

Leadership Development. Our graduates have a unique ability to relate to the struggles faced by current participants. They know first-hand how to speak Truth in Love to the complex and varied situations an individual may face. Watching these interactions have often fanned the embers of my Hope. In fact, our current participants in the Leadership phase were active in shaping the guidelines and structure for this phase in our new location. When challenged to do so, these participants worked together to develop a model for an effective Leadership phase, and powerfully presented it to staff. Not only were they fully invested in their programming, gaining a sense of ownership and pride, but it was a hope filled day for all of us!

Today I watch graduates stepping up as peer leaders, serving new participants by leading Bible studies, providing transportation, mentorship and house manager responsibilities. Aligning our lives with others in recovery can feel chaotic and overwhelming, but we continue to be inspired by a true perspective, an authentic community and the leaders that grow here. They are the leaders that become the threads that bind Community. Even in the midst of the mess, I have hope.

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