Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mini Testimony

Last week, I completed a 12-Step Study as a part of the program I am working with Celebrate Recovery.  This wasn't my first step study, but I experienced a lot of growth with this one, in a way that really surprised me. And I developed a really close connection with the group of ladies I went through the study with.  On Tuesday we had a little graduation ceremony at CR to celebrate our accomplishment, and some of us shared a brief testimony. Today I've felt led to share that with my friends.


Some of this was really difficult to share outside of the comfort and security of a small group of ladies. But I am learning that God can use the experiences of my past to help bring hope and healing for others.  If you are unfamiliar with Celebrate Recovery, it is a 12-step recovery program for anyone with any sort of hurts, habits or hang-ups. I've seen countless lives changed through the program, and it is the tool God is using to help shape me into a woman more like Him. I still have a long way to go, but I know I'll never have to walk the path alone. 


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I’m a grateful believer in Jesus Christ who struggles with Depression and Love & Relationship Addiction, and my name is Sarah.


I was born in a loving, Christian home, and I always knew that God loved me and had a plan for my lifebut I have struggled with a low self-esteem for as long as I can remember.  I didn’t have very many friends, and I frequently experienced rejection from the other kids.


I was always a boy-crazy little girl, with a long list of boys I had crushes on.  I remember in Kindergarten spending every recess chasing boys on the playground.  Perhaps this was where my notion first began to take shape that someday, when I found (and caught) my Prince Charming, my happily-ever-after would begin, and I would finally be complete.  This quest that began in childhood would shape many of the decisions I made as an adult.


When I was a teenagerthe boys weren’t interested and I never dated, but my obsession with finding love only grew.  I would spend countless hours with movies and books about romance.  This opened the door to curiosity about sex, and led to a struggle with lust and pornography that would haunt me for many years; I continually fantasized about the happiness and contentment that I was certain would come from finding “Mr. Right”.


At church I would pray, asking God to forgive my secret sins, but later I would fall into temptation again.  I was stuck in an endless cycle of guilt and shame, and I felt lonely and unlovable.  By the end of my teens I grew tired of the struggle and waiting for God to reveal His plan for me.  I was certain that He must intend for me to remain single, and that was just unacceptable.  I made the decision to turn my back on God, and I told Him that I was taking over control of my life.


At the age of 20, I had my first boyfriend – a married man.  The affair lasted several months, and when it ended I was left feeling used, hurt and lonely.  Determined to live life on my own terms, I turned to one-night stands, alcohol, drugs, foodand shopping to numb my pain.


Four years later, I was living in a travel trailer, hundreds of miles from my family, married to an emotionally abusive alcoholic, and lonelier than I had ever been.  I finally had to admit that my way of doing things wasn’t working.  I could no longer numb my pain, and my marriage was far from the fairy tale I had always envisioned.  I prayed for the first time in years, and rededicated my life to God.  I started attending church again, and my first recovery experience came through the secular program of Al-Anon, where I began learning how to focus on my own issues with codependency, instead of my husband’s drinking.


By the age of 28, I was divorced and living with my parents. Once again hurting and lonelyI began slipping into old patterns of self-destruction and inappropriate relationships.  I knew that I still needed some kind of help, and I found it in 2010, when I attended my first Celebrate Recovery meeting. 

 

In CR, I have found a safe place, where I don’t have to hide my problems.  A place where I know I am welcomed, accepted, and loved just as I am.  I’ve been able to find healing from the pain of the past and the security of knowing that God loves me unconditionally.  I’ve learned the value of having a support team that I can rely on.  I once had few friends that I could trust, but now I am learning what “iron sharpens iron” friendships are supposed to look like.  I have had sponsors that challenge and inspire me, and accountability partners that encourage me and keep me honest.  I never had a sister until I came to Celebrate Recovery, but now I have several.


Nearly two years ago, I married my husband John.  I love him dearly, but our marriage is not a fairy tale.  I am learning that God never intended for my happily-ever-after to come from anyone or anything on this earth.  When I am tempted to try to find my happiness and fulfillment in my family, my career, or even my church, I am gently reminded that true fulfillment can only come from my relationship with Jesus Christ.


Philippians 1:6 says, “I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”  I find great hope in knowing that God isn’t done working in me, and He will continue helping me with this process until the day He calls me home to live happily ever after with Him.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

That Awkward Moment When...

I've seen a lot of funny/interesting things on the internet lately - mostly on Facebook - that begin with the title of this post. In fact, I just posted one myself on Facebook today.  After I posted it, I got to thinking of the nature of embarrassment and imperfections.  That awkward moment I had today and joked about on the internet for the whole world to see, is the sort of thing I never would have admitted to at one time in my life. 

I find it interesting that as I've gotten older, I make fun of myself much more readily than I did before.  And not in the same self-deprecating way of my youth, desperately attempting to hide my insecurities behind a coping mechanism of humor.  But now it's in more of an honest, vulnerable, "this is me; love me (or hate me) as I am" sort of way.  I won't pretend that I don't do it at all, but these days I spend a lot less time trying to cover up my imperfections.  And you know what?  It's very freeing.

I think that most of this openness has come just in the last few years, as a result of my entrance into the world of 12-step recovery.  There are secrets that haunted me from my early teens into adulthood, and it wasn't until I found a safe place to confess them that I began to have freedom from the hold they had over me.  I finally began to learn that everyone has their own struggles, and I don't have to pretend to have it all together all the time.  It's unbelievably exhausting trying to please other people, and when I first started attending Celebrate Recovery meetings, I was barely hanging on by a thread.  I watched a movie recently where some 1950's housewife ended up in a mental hospital after a nervous breakdown; while watching, I found myself thinking that I could so easily have ended up in the same situation. I did my best to hide it, but I had all but given up on life, and I was quickly losing my grip on reality.

I am so thankful that I found a support system when I did.  I now have the most amazing friends that keep me encouraged and help to hold me accountable for the commitments that I make to God and to myself.  Life still has its ups and downs, but I have the perspective and tools needed to hang on and trust that the One who started this work in me isn't going to give up on me.  I always knew that God loved and forgave me when I messed up, but it wasn't until I confessed my hurts and struggles to another person and gave up my secrets, that I began to know what true freedom feels like.  Healing comes in community with other people.

In so many ways, I'm still just as clumsy, awkward, and hopelessly flawed as I've ever been.  But owning my imperfections gets me closer every day to becoming the woman God created me to be.  If you have secrets that are holding you prisoner from the peace and freedom you deserve, please find someone you can talk to.  It can change your life in a way you never knew possible.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Elf for Health 2013 - Day One!

Last week I found out about the Elf for Health Challenge, thanks to one of my favorite blogs, The Lean Green Bean, and I immediately decided to join. It basically involves daily challenges improve physical, mental and emotional health, while keeping in touch with an "Elf" - essentially an accountability partner. Today is day one! I just sent my first email to my elf, and told her a little about myself and what made me decide to take this challenge. I hope I haven't scared her off, but I thought it was important that she know where I'm coming from.

It is difficult for me to admit and verbalize to myself how far off track I've gotten with my health, let alone to admit it to another person. But I believe I'm going to need to be transparent and vulnerable if I want to overcome the denial that has allowed me to continue on this path for so long. So it is in that spirit that I am sharing with you the message I just sent to my Elf:
Good morning! My name is Sarah Hushbeck, and I am your match in the Elf4Health Challenge! Let me just start by saying that I am excited, and a little apprehensive about beginning this challenge. A little about me and why I'm doing this...

I am 33 years old, and in the worst shape of my life. I've wanted for a long time to try to adopt a healthier lifestyle, but have struggled with finding the motivation and discipline to put it into practice. Since my early teens, I've never been "slender", but I started to really put on some serious weight after a divorce in 2008. Last year I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, and this year I've been struggling with a lot of back pain, due to some bulging discs and arthritis. I'm now at least 100 pounds overweight and find simple activities like walking through the grocery store to be painful and difficult.

I'm so tired of being sick and in pain all the time, and I know I've got to do something about it. So when I found out about the Elf4Health Challenge last week, I decided it's exactly what I need to jump start a change in my life.

From visiting your website, it looks like you are light years ahead of me in fitness and health, so I don't know how much help I'll be to you, but I believe that being albe to check in with you and share with you the changes I'm trying to make will help me to stick with this commitment. I work full time and have a pretty busy schedule, so apart from the regular challenges of motivation & discipline, I have to find ways to work around that.

So for Meatless Monday...I'm going to try out a couple of salad recipes I found online. For lunch I'm going to have this Chickpea, Cherry Tomato & Feta Salad, over a bed of baby spinach. I work in a tiny town where the only places to get anything to eat are either a gas station across the street, or junk food from the office vending machine. A big part of getting healthy at work is going to involve planning ahead. I've never been very good at packing a lunch, but I'm going to have to start if I want to be successful. Starting now, I will eat no more gas station pizza! :)

Well, I'll shut up now, but I hope you have a great day! I'm on Facebook if you want to find me at facebook.com/semily1980.

Looking forward to hearing from you,
Sarah

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"Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant."
~Robert Louis Stevenson