During the songs, I make sure to move among the ladies, praying with anyone who desires prayer, and hugging every one of the girls.
When I first began holding a service for those in recovery, the one thing I needed permission for was to embrace them. Because in “real” church on the outside, hugging is a part of me loving on others.
A hug can seem small until you’re in rehab and since the girls aren’t allowed to touch, or put their feet on a chair rung, or lean on their elbows, the center is driven by many rules.
Now, rules matter. Rules teach boundaries. But a hug from me is something many of the girls love and look forward to on Sundays. And I look forward to them, too.
Well, last Sunday one of my girls wept like a river of sadness was leaking from her eyes and nose, and she wouldn’t look at me. I asked her, touching the extra collection of badges next to her name tag, “So you’re carrying around some punishment-badges, I see.”
“Yes, it’s not fair.”
“Why? Didn’t you break a rule?”
She stuttered, “They teach you to be yourself here. And with my preference of lifestyle, if I’m nice to a girl, they assume I’m having a relationship.”
“So that’s how you got two of these?”
“Yes, but we’re only friends. I didn’t do anything.” She wiped a tear, and sighed as if her exhale was a blast of escaping pain and unresolved issues.
I hugged her, knowing that I needed to share truth. Not my truth. But that which is found in my Bible, and I started with Romans. “Will you do me a favor? Will you read Romans 1, and see what the Lord says to you?”
“Why? Don’t you think I should be who I am?”
“I think you should be who God calls you to be. I believe the Lord will show you what it’s like to obey Him and to live for Him. Check out the chapter and pray for God to show you.”
She would later come up to me asking, “Where was that chapter, again?”
As the week unfolds, I pray she reads the verses and the Lord speaks to her. I pray she moves toward Him. Actually, this is, and should, be my prayer for myself, too.
I need to be me. The me, God created me to become. The one that gives Him glory in my life. I don’t want God to give me over to a debased mind, but instead, I want a heart and mind in one accord with Him. I want to abide with Him.
May my friend in recovery live by faith! And may she live without collecting all those badges from breaking rules!
May she also discover, that she’s bought with a price by Christ. That she’s not her own. That she’s a child of God. That His power can change everything! Even lifestyles!
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” ~~ Romans 1:16-17
I firmly believe my “lifestyle” should be one where I worship the Creator and not anyone else! Or any other person! I believe that fleeing from sin is a daily step of faith, and that Christ gives the power to follow through on this, and that He still calls to hearts and changes lives!