Healing a Sin Sick Soul


I’ve been working the steps since January.

If you’ve ever been in a 12-step program, you know exactly what I mean. I failed to realize being part of a team of leaders for my congregation’s community care ministry would mean working through the steps myself (which in hindsight is terribly silly, why wouldn’t I be expected to work them myself first?)

It was one thing to sit one-on-one with a therapist last year and begin shoveling out my mess and brokenness. It’s another to sit in a room with a handful of people I see socially on a regular basis and expose the nasty bits of my soul. Usually, I try not to meet their eyes during the uglier moments. Often, I try not to either weep or cheer when they share theirs.

Hi. I’m Dana. I’m a grateful believer in Christ who struggles with grief, anger and, apparently, addiction to social approval.

One of the myths of recovery which I knew in my head, but not in my heart, is recovery really isn’t about chemical addiction. Some of us are chemical dependents, yes, but our brokenness goes deeper than this, reaching all the way down to the deep places of our souls, all the way to the core of who we are. We are sick, sin sick. And let me tell you, sisters, we’re all in the same sin sick soul boat together, whether we admit it or not.

The crazy thing about this experience is how difficult it is to be transparent with a group of women I didn’t actually choose for this level of honesty. I’ve always thought of myself as honest, but I know now I am only selectively honest, and usually only when I can spin it to suit me.

We came together unexpectedly, divinely appointed from God’s side of the situation. Each time our group sits down, I think, “OK. Here we go. Tonight’s the night they stop liking me.” (Recall my social approval addiction to explain this response.) And every week when we get to the end, they still like me. And I love them even more. We laugh and hug each other and return to our everyday lives with all the everyday problems we all experience.

But I think of them throughout the week. And when I think of them, I breathe a little prayer:

God, be Truth to _____ today. Don’t let the demons dance and sing;
don’t let life be too dark and overwhelming to see the way to You.
Be strong in our weakness and never stop giving us Your hope

When I pray for these things I don’t only send them out from me, but in a strange way, I feel them fill me as well, as if all of us are praying the same prayer for each other all at the same time, round and round the room.

I realize now how right, and very, very good, beautifully healthy and healing it was to spend a year in therapy, but while healing starts internally, for it to continue to its fullest potential, it must eventually bloom out of us, leaking from our eyes and falling from our mouths, extending from us as a wide and welcome embrace, big enough to hold the entire broken world.

We see the same cruciform beauty in Jesus as He hangs on the cross. His brokenness is our healing. His forgiveness is our path to wellness. His hope, even in death, is our weapon to defeat the darkness. He makes us beautiful in our very anguish.

One of the tenets of Celebrate Recovery is that we are only as sick as our secrets. I’m tired of being sick and exhausted of tending secrets. I’m tearing them out one by one and exposing them to the light. A circle of friends helps me bind them up and carry them away, pouring love into the dark empty spaces they once occupied.

It takes a community to heal a sin sick soul. Have you found yours?

We're all in the same sin sick soul boat together, whether we admit it or not.Click To Tweet

Whether you're just beginning to explore recovery or deeply entrenched this is such a great post about what happens when you open up in the most unexpected, uncomfortable places. Recovery requires comminity. It's a process. 12 Steps. They're the beginning.

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Dana Portwood
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Dana Portwood

Dana is a writer, book-a-holic, lover of dogs, tattoo addict, wanna be beach bum, hair color-er, a survivor of cancer, over the moon about being 40, and a sold out minimalist. She's madly in love with her husband of twenty years and crazy about (or maybe just crazy) raising three teenage daughters.She believes in the power of Love, the miracle of grace, and the strength of community.
Dana Portwood
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  • You’ve written a part of my story, Dana. My husband and I are, by title, Administrators of a residential rehab for men. We are ordained ministers and while he in involved more in the business and teaching end, I’ve found myself involved in the recovery part. I can’t begin to spill out all I’ve learned, and continue to learn from being part of this community. One thing that stands out is I believe if Christians/church folks/Jesus followers/believers, how ever you describe yourself, if we followed the 12 Steps our testimony would be seen in a powerful way. I’ve never worked the steps completely myself and part of it is the splitting open of myself that needs to take place to really work them. And they must be worked daily. Thank you for sharing your experience with this and allowing yourself to embrace the healing that comes from God’s grace.