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Celebrate Recovery

Testimony: Freed From the Weight of Expectations and Control

By Stephanie

I am a grateful believer in Jesus Christ, in recovery to work on perfectionism and self-control. My name is Stephanie.

I grew up in a small town; we did not have much. My childhood was not what one would call normal. My father was in construction by trade, but his real job was selling drugs to support his habits. My mother left the picture early on due to the chaos and abuse in our home. I had to raise my siblings at an early age, and the chaos led me to follow my father’s example, using drugs at age ten and drinking by thirteen. By the time I was 15, I was a dropout living with a man twice my age, selling drugs full-time and using them just as much to numb my sadness, anger, and shame. I would struggle with using men for validation and drugs to zone out for over 15 years. I jumped from relationship to relationship seeking the love and acceptance I desperately needed. I would seek ways to fill the void in my life until my 30s.

I grew to need to control situations because of my childhood’s absolute lack of control. I never wanted to live like that again, and I would not allow my childhood to be my defining circumstances; I had to be strong and successful.

Yet, I would drink until I blacked out most nights, smoked pot, and took pills all day—anything to avoid reality. I have NO idea how I did not kill myself or anyone else. But I know now that God protected me so I could work for him. By 23, I was homeless and completely lost. I ended up back at my dad’s house with nothing!!! A family friend who was a retired navy guy encouraged me to join the military. But, again, I had nothing, and everyone I knew was dying, locked up, or strung out. And I did not want to end up that way, so I listened and went to the recruiter.

The military was monumental because it taught me discipline and structure that I had never had before. I thought it would solve all my problems; boy was I wrong. I thought I would drink less, but I drank more, and there were endless guys to talk to. This drinking fueled my promiscuity and alcoholism. I drank more than ever before. I came home from the Army with more issues than before I went in. Adding a traumatic event during a deployment to my fear, guilt, shame, and self-hate, that is where I was mentally when I came home.

When I came home from the Army, my mother was a born-again Christian. She had been trying to get me to go to church; I finally listened and shortly after found Celebrate Recovery!

Celebrate Recovery taught me how to accept Christ’s love, and I began to show Christ’s love to others. Words cannot express how closed off and angry I truly was; I cannot explain the rage that lived in me before Jesus. I did not care about other feelings or reasons they were the way they were. But God has completely changed all of that. Working in my step study group was life-changing for me. I learned more about myself at 30 years old than I had known myself my whole life. My step study gave me accountability. It gave me a strong support system of healthy people to help guide me through this journey and has made me understand that truly meaningful relationships can exist!

The most influential step in my recovery is Step 1—realizing I am powerless! That I can’t control ANYTHING!!! This step made me realize I can’t do this alone, I can’t fix it, and I can’t make it better; only GOD CAN!!! This was an extremely hard concept for me to grasp as I have always had to be in control. When I grew up in a world of chaos, the only way for me to survive was to control everything. I controlled my siblings because I had to be a mom. I controlled my body by having meaningless relationships with men. Later in life, I joined the United States Army to control my drinking and future, which got me nowhere. Once I realized I couldn’t control anything, I was freed from the weight of the expectation I put on myself. I was released from the weight of the expectations I put on my family and everyone else to live the way I thought they should!

To the Newcomer of Celebrate Recovery, the thing I would tell you is to stick with it, even when you feel like it isn’t working or question why you are there. If we hang in there, we can have a major breakthrough when we least expect it, just stick it out! I can tell you that the more I give to God, the more he gives to me! He blesses me every day in a new way. Philippians 2:13 says, For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose(NIV).

I have gained so much from knowing and seeking my Lord’s will in my life and from the Celebrate Recovery ministry that on October 20th, I will have 9 years of sobriety! How awesome is that! I can’t imagine where I would be if he hadn’t saved me and changed my life!

My mother, brother, stepfather, and even my father, who is currently serving a federal prison sentence, have all experienced Jesus’ healing power through this ministry! I have been blessed to take over as the ministry leader at the CR I walked into as a non-believer! I’ve started a non-profit to help the forgotten and lost in our community, and I serve as the State Rep for Celebrate Recovery inside jails and prisons and as a POC for Broken Chains JC! I get to help in several organizations in our community to share the love of Jesus and share about the Celebrate Recovery ministry!

Thanks for letting me share!


If you would like to learn how to start your own Celebrate Recovery ministry, to contact your Celebrate Recovery Rep, please visit: To get involved in an already existing Celebrate Recovery ministry near you, please visit:

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