It's "those people," according to their critics, who have all the alcohol, drug and relationship problems - not them. There's no need for them to attend any kind of meeting because all is perfect in their world.
But when you attend a recovery meeting, you meet everyday people who are honest with themselves. They step out of denial to confront their hurts, habits and hang-ups. They're mechanics, housewives, fast food employees, teachers, nurses, construction workers, businessmen ... even someone whose articles and photographs have appeared in this newspaper the past 27 years.
Yes, I'm one of "those people."
My addiction - selfish behavior and poor decisions - cost me a 25-year marriage. I hurt a lot of people. The pain I caused myself and others sent me into a severe depression to the point where I often thought about suicide.
God, however, had a plan for me. On March 8, 2011, he led this broken man to Cross Pointe Ministries in Tupelo for a program called Celebrate Recovery. I found out I no longer had to wear a mask to hide my shame and guilt or live in the enemy's darkness. There was healing and freedom for me through our higher power - Jesus Christ.
The past 19 months have been a journey to recovery only God could've laid out. Through faith-based recovery - working the 12 steps and living by the eight principles of CR - and Christian and secular counseling, I've come to grips with issues such as resentment, lust, divorce and codependecy.
I've been involved in Celebrate Recovery groups in Tupelo and Starkville, and I'm one of the leaders of a CR group in Saltillo. I've shared my personal testimony twice, and I currently lead men's step study groups in Starkville and Saltillo. The Cross Pointe CR group has since evolved into its own Break-in-Pointe ministry, and it continues to reach out to so many.
Recovery isn't easy. I've recently struggled with depression, but I'm doing better. I'll always be a work in progress; I'm still maturing spiritually. God has put so many wonderful people in my path who, like me, have experienced the same story of brokeness. We encourage and support one another.
If you're struggling with an addiction or carrying the baggage of your life, now is the time to unload it. You do not have to go through it alone. You'd be surprised to learn at these recovery meetings how many people have experienced the same thing you're going through. It's a safe place where you can open up and get real with others.
When you turn it over to Christ and surrender to his will, we find healing and victory. Romans 8:37 (NIV) says, "No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us." That is my life verse in Celebrate Recovery.
Recently, I've become a fan of Jesus Culture, a California-based worship band. One of its songs has become an anthem for recovery: "There is power in the name of Jesus ... to break every chain, break every chain, break every chain."
Breaking the chains is a part of being one of "those people."
BOBBY PEPPER is editor of Lee County Neighbors. Contact him at (662) 678-1952 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.