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:
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 church...so 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.