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Celebrate Recovery

Testimony: The Ripple Effect of Restorative Grace

By Theresa

Proverbs 14:1 says, “A wise woman builds her home, but a foolish woman tears it down with her own hands” (NLT).

For the first 18 years of my marriage, I tried to build a home for my husband and our three children. However, the only tools I had were defective. They were damaged by trauma, resentment, and shame. Added to this combination was a drinking problem . . . one that began in my early teenage years. With a toolbox like this, our home was a set-up for disaster.

I’ve heard it said, “sin will take you places you never thought you’d go and keep you there longer than you ever wanted to stay.” Since the sin of adultery is part of my story, I can add to that quotation, “the ripple effect of sin reaches farther than the eye can see or the heart can know.”

My sinful choice concluded with me leaving our home and family just three weeks short of our 20th anniversary. Over the next two years, my drinking spiraled out of control until, one night, I determined that the only plausible plan was to end my life. But God had a different plan. A plan for healing and restoration. It started with a Christian counselor and included a recovery community, a church family, and our children. God brought us back together in April of 2003. I soon realized, however, that just moving back together does not make a home. Our family was severely wounded, seemingly beyond repair.

But God…

As I prepared Easter Sunday dinner that year, I had a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. How would I face the parents of the man I had betrayed, the grandparents of the children I walked out on? I was still not fully sober, and our lives were on shaky ground at best. But here they were, on my front porch, and within minutes my father-in-law was in my kitchen, standing right in front of me! He didn’t speak a word; instead, he just leaned down and kissed me on my forehead. The death grip shame had on me was no match for the power of the kindness, forgiveness, and grace my father-in-law demonstrated that day; ever so slowly, the fear of never being fully forgiven or accepted, along with my personal contempt, began to melt away. My father-in-law’s actions spoke louder than a million words. He gave me something I never knew I needed—the gift of restorative grace.

As I worked to rebuild our home, the love and forgiveness extended to me from my husband and children proved to be yet more of this same restorative grace. Our broken world began to heal slowly, and God was surely doing a mighty work in all our lives.

This year, my husband and I are celebrating forty years of marriage. I’m eighteen years sober, and our children have blessed us with four grandchildren! We still have Easter Sunday dinner as a family, although my father-in-law gets to enjoy his with Jesus now. My father-in-law’s actions were the catalyst for rebuilding not only my broken world but also the rebuilding of our family.

Like the ripple effect of sin, the way it can reach farther than the heart can know, the gift of restorative grace can also impact the lives and families of generations we’ve yet to meet.

“He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies” (Psalm 103:4 NLT).


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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