90 Days in Recovery

addiction, recovery -

90 Days in Recovery

About six months ago I left my job, sold most of my belongings, and moved to Los Angeles. What started as a burden on my heart three years ago for those needing restoration had led me to this moment of choosing to move to Los Angeles to volunteer with a Women’s Recovery Program there through the Los Angeles Dream Center. The three months I spent working with the women going through recovery were life-changing and although I will try, I don’t feel that words will be able to express the depth of my experience.

I had visited the LA Dream Center a few times prior and every time, I would hear amazing testimonies of people who had gone through the recovery program and were totally transformed. I went into the program excited to be a part of seeing life change happen for the women there. I assumed that recovery was hard work, but I didn’t have much clarity on just how hard or messy it was.

While I couldn’t have prepared myself for the heavy emotions and many challenges, I also could not have prepared myself for the joy and overwhelming amount of love I would feel for the women I was able to serve.

My journey to serving in recovery began about three years ago, when I started volunteering with individuals experiencing homelessness. This was also the same time that I was walking out my own inner healing and trauma-recovery journey. The Lord used that time to give me a heavy burden for restoration in the lives of people. My Friday night “meal nights” that I would serve dinner at in Columbus, Ohio changed my life and set me on a new trajectory. The past three years of serving have humbled me in ways I cannot explain. They have changed my priorities and helped me to see that pouring ourselves out, first for the Lord, and second, for people, is truly what matters in this life.

As I served with the women’s recovery program in LA, I quickly felt so much love for the ladies I worked with. I saw so many similarities, in the best way, that they had with those I had served at those Friday night meal nights. What stuck out to me the most was their humility and how authentic the women were. Not only were the women I worked with humble and authentic, but so were many of the people I served alongside. I have found that those two characteristics are magnetic for me, and I am always so drawn to people who exude those.

When I first arrived on the residential floor I served on, I remember watching two specific women detox and feeling the spiritual and emotional heaviness of that. There were so many things like that on the floor that were very hard to process emotionally. Looking back though, I ended up becoming really close with the two women who were detoxing when I arrived. They were two of the women who I had so many fruitful moments with and who I saw truly embrace recovery and becoming a new creation. I watched them wrestle with their flesh and the rules of the recovery program. I watched them make mistakes and have conflict, but I also watched them humble themselves to apologize and ask questions about how they could handle things better the next time.

No matter how many times I serve, I am always continually surprised by how I will go into situations thinking I will be the one serving and helping but I end up being the one that is most served and changed. The women I served with, I am sure, changed my life more than I did theirs. I was humbled every time I would complain about something in my life that was hard with moving or changing my lifestyle or missing my friends and to watch the women in the program handle change and their humble circumstances so much better and more gracefully than I was. 

I will never forget the moment that one of the ladies who had just begun to intentionally walk with the Lord say that she had been praying that the Lord would show her more of His face. It was one of the purest things I had ever heard a new follower of Christ say and it brought me to tears. I will never forget that moment. I will never forget the Lord convicting and resetting my heart in that moment.

The women I met in the recovery program were some of the strongest people I had ever met. If you’ve never been in or worked in recovery, you probably don’t realize the extent of the structure and discipline involved. Going in, I didn’t realize that there would be so many rules and expectations of those going through the program. The adjustment for anyone, especially those who were experiencing life without substances for the first time in a while, is incredibly hard. I watched, and had conversations with, many women who hit a breaking point and wanted to quit the program. As I would talk with, encourage, and give advice to the women who wanted to leave, I was always sharpened by those conversations. I was convicted over the times I had given up on things in my life and it gave me a fresh fire and desire to work on committing and staying steady in my commitments in life.

I believe that the Dream Center Discipleship Program (the recovery program) is the closest thing I have ever seen to biblical salvation. When I read the bible, I see people being radically transformed and changed. I read about how their behavior changed dramatically. I read about how they left everything behind to follow Jesus. I watched women go from being involved in prostitution, stripping, drugs, and alcohol to wanting to give their lives to serving Jesus and people by being public speakers, graphic designers, youth pastors, and gym owners. I watched these same women forgive the unforgivable things that had happened to them. I was challenged and convicted by their hearts.

As I have been reflecting on my time serving with the women’s recovery program, I have been in awe of how the Lord answered a prayer I had been praying for so long- to allow me to minister to others who were healing the way that the Lord (and the people the Lord blessed me with) ministered to me as I walked through my own healing and recovery journey. Walking out treatment and intense healing for traumas in my life humbled me in ways that I can’t explain. It was around the beginning of my healing journey years ago that I began to have a heart for restoration. I had wanted to pour out to others the way that people in my life had poured out to me while I was healing, and I got to do just that through my time at the LA Dream Center.

* Header photo: Two of my fellow Dream Center Volunteers! Left to right: Laurie, Myself, Maureen