Friday, July 10, 2009

I Am, For Once, at a Loss for Words here's the story.

There's this general ED recovery support group thing in the area, and once a month they bring people in who are 'recovered' to share their story of 'hope and inspiration'. So I found out about it, talked to the director by phone, (very nice lady, btw) and she had me send her my story/testimony by e-mail. I told her about my book project (mentioning the fact I am a Bible-believing Christian who counsels online), and tentatively I'm going to speak to the group. If you know anything about me, you know that Jesus is kinda important in my life...oh yeah, and He's the one who freed me of all those nasty addictions. I'm always one to give credit where credit is due.

I just g0t the following e-mail back from her:

Hi Marie,

Thanks so much for sending this along. It sounds like you’ve had an amazing journey, one that will surely impact so many people positively.

One thing I wanted to ask, though, given that we have people from all different faiths and walks of life, if there would be any way you’d consider using the term spirituality vs. strictly Christian. While we recognize that each person’s story is unique, we also want to be sure to offer stories that will allow people to connect as fully as possible.

I’m willing to talk with you more about this, if it would be helpful.

Thanks, again, for sending this along. Let me know what you think!

Now, I already know what I THINK, but I'm trying to figure out how to respond honestly, graciously, while explaining that while I have no intentions of proselytizing - but my testimony loses it's point if I delete any mentions of Christ. It sounds like that's the "real deal" - I'm sure there is no objection to the fact that I am a Christian, just so long as I keep quiet about it.

Interestingly, this organization carries adds for Remuda Ranch (a "Christian" inpatient center) on its website.

Comments and advice...please. I am going to run errands to clear my head before responding by either phone or e-mail. Not sure which is more appropriate.


I just responded:

Thanks so much for getting back to me so quickly. Let's see....

First of all, I understand your concern. Speaking in a secular setting always demands an objectivity and different tone than (for example) to a teen youth group who all know each other very well. However, I honestly don't think substituting spirituality for Christian(ity) would work here - because my entire recovery hinged on what I allowed God to do in my life. "Spirituality" is a very broad term, which encompasses occultism, panentheism, and wicca - but I wouldn't want to imply that tarot cards or a tree or bush would be able to do anything about someone's addiction. Even the 12-Step programs started out being Christian, recognizing the individual's need of God. Many of the key incidents mentioned in my story occurred in or in relation to a even if I didn't specifically mention the fact that I am a Christian, the listeners would figure it out by implication.

If what you're asking is to eliminate any mention of God (or, more specifically, Jesus Christ) from the presentation, I honestly couldn't do that because there'd be nothing left to tell. Seriously - we'd have no story. :-) I seek to give credit where credit is due, and in my personal experience, He gets all of it. I totally get where you're coming from - wanting to avoid offending anyone - but leaving His name out of my recovery story would leave a watered-down (or at best, very incomplete) version of events. I don't have an agenda to condemn or convert anyone - just to share hope through relating my experience of restoration. Folks tend to take or leave it, but I don't believe in shoving anything down anyone's throat. I noticed the advertisement for Remuda Ranch on ****'s website, so I figured Christian perspectives were okay. If this group is not an appropriate venue for my particular story, I completely understand and as they say, no harm no foul! But I hope my explanation makes sense and you can understand why, while a few details may certainly be omitted without affecting the thrust of the story, I cannot eliminate all references to Christ and still have it be an accurate rendering of my journey to health.

Thank you so much for your kind time and attention, and have a great weekend!


That'll probably go over like a ham at a bar mitzvah, but it was the best I could do. Sigh. Oh well.


lyn said...

Hi Marie~
It's no surprise that the name of 'Christ' causes such a stir! However, as His children, we simply cannot omit His name from our testimonies. Without Christ, we have no testimony! Graciously decline this invitation if they refuse to let you give glory to the only One who can free us from the bondage of addiction. Be as honest, gentle and loving as possible, but also stand firm. Most of all, pray, pray, pray. God will guide you through His Spirit in responding appropriately!

God bless

Marie said...

Oh, I'd definitely refuse to do it if she wouldn't let me mention Christ (which it sounds like is the idea here). Watering it down to please the PC police is definitely not on the table here.

What I'm wondering is if this is one that's worth negotiating, KWIM? They actually carry an ad for a 'Christian' rehab facility on their homepage, and also, the peeps that are likely to be attending such a group probably have more need of hearing about the hope offered in Christ than the kids at a church youth group. I'm wondering if it's worth it to try and make 'the case for faith' here. I don't think it will work anyway, but I need to somehow get across the fact that if you eliminate Christ from my story, there's no story left to tell.

There is a difference between sharing your history (what worked for you and why) and proselytizing (urging them at the end to trust Christ -- I don't think that's necessary in a secular format; whoever's seeking Him is going to hear it and be encouraged). One person e-mailed me suggesting I shouldn't make a case, but politely decline. That may be best....

Neil said...

"That'll probably go over like a ham at a bar mitzvah"


You handled that very well. Sometimes you can make a great witness even when (potentially) bowing out of something like that -- i.e., this lady just got a great witness herself.

Blessings to you for your Christ-like response and I hope you get an audience with them.

Barbara said...

I knew I was drawn to watch this again last night for some reason. I thought this young lady handled the matter quite nicely - government building, what looks like possibly muslim clerics, and all -

Particular quote: "I'll just end with this: some of you might be slightly annoyed that all I keep doing is talking about God and Jesus. But how on earth can I walk about, limping through this world, and not give all my heart and mind and soul and strength to the Christ who gave me life? So if you think I am a fool, it's just another jewel in my crown. My whole intent in living here is to make God smile."

Clearly, Christ is quite literally the wellspring of her life. And so beautifully, richly, humbly so. There is no compromise of that, and she is uncompromsing in such a wonderfully meek, loving, encouraging, Christlike manner.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

I think your response was excellent, and along the same lines which I would have said. Well done.

Marie said...

Thank you all for the vote of confidence. I knew there could be no compromise here as soon as I read that e-mail, but wording my response was not easy. I didn't want to give the impression that I'm on the defensive (I'm not) or unaware that I live in a secular society (I am well aware). I hope she doesn't take that as "preachy", but rather in the spirit it was intended. They're well within their rights to refuse me to come, but if they have me come, I'm giving the glory to God where it belongs. Period.

Mark said...

bravo sis! I am less Christ-like way too often, but then again that keeps me at the foot of His cross more often. Offending folks is just sometimes way too much "fun" ;)

You are a great example - in other words well said!

Hadassah said...

Marie, I think you handled the situation very well.

I'm curious to know if there has been a response. It would be a great loss to them if they excluded you.

Marie said...

No response yet Hadassah....real shocker, I tell you. (Insert tongue firmly in cheek here).

Oh well.

JTW said...

Amen Maria! It is about Jesus Christ and His glory, not a vague higher power. After the work of reclamation God has accomplished in my soul and affections, I could not imagine giving credit to some vague deity.