Today I went to celebrate recovery at a bilingual church. I didn’t know before getting there that this meeting was originally started for Spanish speaking people in the Chicago area. It actually wasn’t until about two years ago that they added the English section of the meeting. Upon arriving and seeing that everyone in the room was speaking Spanish, I cringed at how uncomfortable and out of place I felt among the fellowship. They were all Spanish, all older than me, and all could see that my friend and I were out of place. But my friend and I weren’t met by uncomfortable stares or awkward silence. Quite the opposite, we were welcomed into the room as if we were a part of this Spanish family. We were introduced to everyone right away, offered coffee and pastries, and were even given free t-shirts. I felt at home with this group after merely ten minutes of being in their presence. Which is a lot for me to say considering how quiet and closed off I normally am. But there was something about the air in the room, something about the way that these men and women worshiped and spoke about God that filled the space with supernatural warmth. I could feel God in the space. I could see God on these people’s faces. And for that reason, I felt at peace.
After fellowship with the whole group, we split into small groups. Men and women, Spanish and English were separated. That left my friend and I in a room with only two other women. After introducing ourselves we each began sharing what brought us to Celebrate Recovery this particular Saturday. This was when the Holy Spirit seemed to pour into the room and flood the space with words I desperately needed to hear. I shared about my mother’s cancer and was met by a reassuring testimony of one of the women’s mother’s miraculous healing from cancer twenty years earlier. I shared about feeling unable to open up and connect with people and was met by one of the women’s testaments to being a loner most of her life and how God had begun to grant her boldness. I shared about my insecurities and was met by a woman calling be stunningly beautiful. Needless to say that by the end of the small group time, I was overflowing with gratitude for the women around me. All of different races, different backgrounds, different ages, and yet all there on the common belief that God is the one that can grant us recovery and sanity from our struggles.
Then to seal the morning’s meeting I was bid goodbye by a series of warm and passionate hugs. It is particularly important for me to note the significance of this moment. Because of my history and fear of touch I would have refused a hug from anyone–let alone strangers– yet in this situation I was given no choice. After we prayed the woman across from me leaped up and engulfed me in a huge hug saying, “don’t be afraid to accept others love, Morgan. God wanted me to tell you that this morning.” It was in this moment, wrapped in this woman’s arms, that I felt like I could collapse under the weight of the spirit in the room. For these words were weighed down by the grace and love and healing of the Holy Spirit, given to me through a woman I hardly knew, in a moment I desperately needed to hear them.
All in all, what initial felt like it was going to be a horribly uncomfortable morning turned into a powerful experience of God’s love. So tonight as I am beginning to feel unworthy and unlovable again, I am clinging to the warmth that Celebrate Recovery brought to my heart this morning.