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Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Is Worrying a Sin? | Faith and Anxiety

woman worrying

As Christians, we are often told not to worry because God is in control. While this is a nice sentiment, it's also an attitude that can create a moral dilemma for those prone to stress. Is it a sin to worry about things that are to come? And where is the line between worrying about a situation and a lacking trust in God?


Worrying Versus Anxiety

Before diving too deep into worrying in relation to faith, it’s important to first differentiate between worry and anxiety. Worry can be brief or long-term, but it’s often related to a specific circumstance. Most times, it resolves after a person is able to figure out how to manage the upcoming event or situation. However, anxiety is a more chronic state of stress. It could be related to a specific event, or there may be no identifiable cause. Anxiety interferes with your ability to complete the daily tasks you need to and can be debilitating. It’s a diagnosable mental illness and can be due to a chemical imbalance in the brain. Often, people can rationalize their situation to reduce worrying, but there still may be anxiety present.


What the Bible Says About Worrying

The Bible tends to use the terms “worry” and “anxiety” interchangeably. During the time it was written, there was not the same understanding of mental illness, so it’s important to look at the intention behind the verse rather than the terminology used. For the most part, we can assume the writers are referring to worrying in these verses. 


“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Philippians 4:6, NIV)


This verse is one of the most commonly referenced portions of scripture when discussing worry and anxiety. Christians may use this verse to say that you only need to tell God what you’re worried about, and your anxiety will go away. Others may argue that this condemns anxiety by commanding us to not be anxious. However, another interpretation is that this is an opportunity to let go of our worries. For the things that are causing us stress, we can put our trust in God. This doesn’t mean God will be angry if we still have moments of worry. Rather, it’s an invitation to give these anxious thoughts to Him.


“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:34, NIV)


This passage can also create some confusion as it sounds like a commandment. You may even be tempted to read it like, “Don’t worry about tomorrow!” Similar to Philippians 4:6, this verse is more of an invitation. In reality, it sounds more like Jesus is expressing an understanding of the stressors of life. By saying each day has enough trouble of its own, he is demonstrating a recognition of the things we are managing. He isn’t telling us not to worry as a condemnation. Instead, he is encouraging us to focus on each day as it comes.


“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:7, ESV)


Unfortunately, this verse has been used as an argument that fear (or worrying) is sinful. Christians will state that because God has not given a spirit of fear, then being fearful is against God’s will. However, this argument falls short of a true understanding of who God is and how the world works. It’s true that God is not the One who has given us a spirit of fear because there is no fear in God. But like any other part of our human nature, this is not something that He resents. Even Jesus exhibited fear the night before he was crucified. His human nature left room for uncertainty, and he became overwhelmed and asked God to take his fate away from him (Matthew 26:37-39). God understands our tendency to worry, and His son experienced it first-hand. 


God does not view worry or anxiety as a sin. Rather, he understands our human weaknesses and is willing to embrace us in our struggles. Worrying is not sinful, but it is an opportunity to practice putting our faith and trust in Christ.


The Effects of Stress

According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), chronic worrying or stress can have lasting effects on your body. Common physical symptoms that emerge as a result of stress include*:

  • Muscle tension and pain
  • Headaches
  • Higher risk for heart attack, stroke, or hypertension
  • Inflammation in the circulatory system
  • Unstable cortisol, resulting in fatigue, metabolic issues, and immune disorders
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Sexual dysfunction

Not every person who experiences excessive worry or anxiety will exhibit these symptoms, but living in a state of stress increases this risk. 


Worrying and anxiety are difficult to manage without proper coping skills. Many times, those who lack stress-management techniques will turn to substance use to help them cope with their situation. It’s also possible for substance abuse to lead to excessive worry and anxiety. In both scenarios, these people need a high level of care from a licensed, mental health professional. 


*Note: This is not a replacement for medical advice. If you are experiencing any of the above, you should discuss your concerns with a medical provider.


Faith-Based Rehab for Substance Use and Anxiety

When healing from a substance use disorder and managing chronic worry or anxiety, faith provides a solid foundation to build your sobriety upon. At Celebrate Hope, we will never tell you that your struggles are an indication of sin or lack of faith. Instead, we utilize evidence-based treatment practices that emphasize your strengths in Christ. Our Christian rehab center provides support for substance use disorders and dual diagnoses, so you can learn to manage an anxiety disorder alongside an addiction. If you’re looking for a higher level of substance abuse treatment, contact us today to speak to one of our faith-based recovery specialists.


Friday, May 6, 2022

Mother’s Day Prayer Blessing | Prayer for Mom

With Mother’s Day coming up this weekend, we wanted to take a moment to offer a prayer of blessing to all the mothers in our lives. At Celebrate Hope, we have seen the impact addiction and mental illness can have on the women who come through our doors. Our team is consistently amazed by the strength and resilience of every mother who is in recovery or supporting someone in recovery. 


The Strength of Mothers

Substance use disorders and mental health issues affect all members of the family. The mother who is battling a disorder must manage her own mental health while providing emotional, financial, and physical support for her children. Often, mothers who have an addiction want to prioritize their family over themselves, but they also know how important it is to care for their well-being. This struggle between family and self often wears on moms and family members alike. 


Mothers who are supporting a loved one in recovery, such as a child or spouse, are often left wishing they could do more to help. Because of the love and concern they have for this person, moms can feel helpless when someone they love battles a mental health issue or addiction. We know how isolating this can feel, but you are not alone. Whether you are in recovery yourself or care for someone struggling with one of these issues, we see you. For all these women, we offer you this blessing today.


A Prayer for Moms

Father, we thank you today for the mothers in each of our lives. 

May they all know how loved and valued they are. 

For those who are struggling right now, we pray for the courage to continue fighting. 

Fill them with Your strength and help them know they are never alone. 

Through every challenge, give them guidance, so they may overcome all that they face. 

For the mothers who are battling an addiction or mental illness or 

supporting a loved one in recovery, give them peace amidst their fight for wellness. 

Lord, bless each mother this day and in the days to come. 

Send people to lift them up and support them on this earth as You support them from Heaven. 

Help our mothers to feel Your love today and always. Amen.


Encouragement for Mothers from the Bible

Substance use disorders and mental health challenges may create feelings of inadequacy, especially for mothers. You may want to do everything yourself, but you weren’t made to handle life's obstacles on your own. Here are some verses of encouragement, especially for those feeling defeated today: 


  • “But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble.” (Psalm 59:16)

 

  • “And our hope for you is firm because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.” (2 Corinthians 1:7)


  • “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)


  • “The LORD gives strength to his people; the LORD blesses his people with peace.” (Psalm 29:11)

 

May these verses be a reminder for you today that you are never alone, and the Lord will give you the strength you need to continue fighting.

Support for Mothers in Recovery

If you are struggling today to manage motherhood and overcome a substance use disorder, Celebrate Hope can help. Our faith-based rehab center helps you pursue a life of sobriety founded on the truths of the Bible. We offer treatment beginning with intervention services and detoxification and continued through our residential program

Located in beautiful Southern California, our center gives you the space you need to heal and build your relationship with Christ. Are you ready to take the next step in your recovery? Contact us today to learn more about what makes our recovery center unique.


Monday, April 25, 2022

What Does Serenity Mean? | Serenity Prayer

serenity prayer group


If you have participated in a recovery program, such as AA, NA, or Celebrate Recovery, you are likely familiar with the Serenity Prayer. Often said at the end of a meeting, this prayer is meant to refocus those in recovery on their Higher Power or, more specifically, God. The Serenity Prayer reminds us that we are powerless on our own and are in need of God’s help in recovery. But how do we take the words of this prayer and apply them to our daily lives? Let’s look at what serenity means and the impact it has on your recovery.


Finding Peace

serenity prayer text

“When I finally understood the difference between things inside and outside of my control, I began to experience a life characterized by peace.”


Living in a state of serenity guides us towards acceptance, courage, and wisdom. Serenity is characterized by a state of peace, and the first section of this prayer outlines a pathway to feeling calm despite circumstances. Life is full of uncertainties and things we can’t control, and accepting this helps limit sources of frustration. However, there are times when we have the ability to change aspects of our lives. 


When that is the case, it takes courage to pursue a different path. In recovery, we are striving to make positive changes to better ourselves, but that’s not an easy choice to make. It takes strength from God to alter our ingrained habits. We also need wisdom to differentiate between the things we can and cannot change. If we spend our energy trying to resolve situations outside of our control, we only set ourselves up for disappointment and frustration. Asking God for guidance in determining areas we can shift our thinking or behavior ultimately sets us on a path toward serenity.


Serenity by Living in the Moment

“I spent so much of my life worried about the things I did in my past and what may come in the future. I didn’t realize how much this affected my ability to appreciate what was in front of me.”


Anxiety is rooted in a fear of the future, and depression is a negative focus on events of the past. Living life outside of the present moment creates an opportunity for negative emotions to take hold of our lives. It’s a natural desire to plan for the future or look forward to things coming up in life. But this focus can prevent us from seeing the positive things in our present lives. Similarly, we all have done or experienced things in the past that stick with us. While it’s important to process through and make amends for our past, dwelling on those thoughts and experiences inhibits our appreciation of the good of today and keeps us from true serenity.


Serenity in Trusting God

“I thought I trusted God to make right the wrongs in the world, but I often found myself taking matters into my own hands.”


Since the Garden of Eden, sin has been an unfortunate reality in the world we live in. Living in a sinful world means there is a continual battle between good and evil, and we rarely have control over these forces. While we make choices daily based on what we believe to be right, God gave everyone the ability to choose if they will pursue a path of righteousness. Unfortunately, there will be many people who decide to live a life guided by selfish desires, and this can negatively affect us. Serenity comes when we are willing to put our trust in God and believe that he will make all things right in His time. When we are hurt by someone, it’s easy to want to seek out personal justice. While there are times when this is legally necessary, in other moments, God may be asking us to trust His sovereignty.


Finding Happiness

“I know that even my most joyful moments pale in comparison to the true happiness found in eternal life.”


When you think about a joyful memory in your life, you may remember time spent with family, a new job or home, a wedding, or the birth of a child. These moments can bring a level of happiness and serenity you may have never experienced before. It might even feel like life couldn’t get any better than what you felt at that time. Those feelings tend to fade over time, despite our best efforts to preserve the memories, and we wait for the next pivotal experience. Our happiness on earth can last despite circumstances, but even the happiest events in life can’t compare to the pure joy available to us in the Kingdom of God. This hope we have for our future comes when we are willing to surrender our desires to God and allow Him to have control over our lives. When we pursue a life surrendered to Him, we experience serenity unlike anything we have ever known before.


Serenity in Recovery

Living a life dedicated to recovery will bring challenges. There are going to be things outside of your control and hardships that come your way. As you navigate the path toward sobriety, you may feel overwhelmed by the road ahead. At Celebrate Hope, we provide the support you need to achieve and maintain your sobriety, rooted in the hope of Christ. Our faith-based addiction treatment center in Orange County, California allows you to address the root issues related to your substance use disorder both in individual and group settings. If you’re looking for a rehab experience where faith is an integral part of your healing, contact us today. 


Further Reading:

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). The Origin of the Serenity Prayer: A Historical Paper. Reviewed July 30, 2009.

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

What Does the Bible Say About Drinking?

bible and alcohol

Excessive drinking, or drunkenness, is a common theme in the Bible and is consistently a topic of concern amongst the writers of the Old and New Testaments. As we recognize Alcohol Awareness Month in April, let’s take a look at some of what the Bible has to say about the overconsumption of alcohol. 

What is Drunkenness?

Drunkenness is defined as drinking alcohol to a level of intoxication or in excess. This was a common issue during the times that the Bible was written because of how readily available alcohol was. Often, clean drinking water was a challenge to acquire, but alcohol helped remove some of the impurities in the water. As such, wine was often consumed at gatherings, and the overconsumption of alcohol became an issue seen throughout society as is seen in the writings of the Old and New Testament. This was such a common concern that multiple writers across scripture covered the topic.

Drinking in the Bible

One of the main reasons for the continual acknowledgement of the issue of drinking is because of the effects this can have on your spiritual life. Ephesians 5:18 says, “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit.” Our spirits have a natural desire to be filled, and the things of this world can easily come before God. By allowing our time and resources to become consumed by alcohol, we leave no room for the Spirit of God to move in our lives. Choosing to drink and become drunk creates a temporary feeling that attempts to replace the need we have for God, but God is truly the only thing that can fulfill us.

The Bible also issues many warnings about engaging in a lifestyle of drunkenness. Because of how common the overconsumption of alcohol was, this became part of a large number of people’s daily lives. The book of Proverbs is known for the wisdom and guidance it provides and has provided for those throughout history. Proverbs 20:1 addresses the issue of drinking in a way that would have been hard to argue with. It says, “Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.” Too many have been overtaken by the desire to drink, especially to the point of becoming drunk, and Solomon, the writer of Proverbs, warns those who allow drinking to become any source of guidance or influence on their lives that this will only lead them astray.
  
Writers in the New Testament continued to see this issue prevail in their society, so many used their writings to discuss this topic as well. Galatians 5: 21 says, “Envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” No longer is this an issue of “good” or “bad” choices; Paul argues that a lifestyle of engaging in drunkenness can prevent someone from spending eternity with God. While, ultimately, Jesus will make judgements on who can enter the Kingdom of God, this is a strong warning and something that shouldn’t be taken lightly. 

Avoiding a Lifestyle of Drinking

Because of the prevalence of drinking in society both during Bible times and today, it can be challenging to not engage in this culture. This becomes even more of a challenge when our closest friends and family are participating in excessive drinking practices. To help set yourself up for success, here are a few tips on how you can pursue a lifestyle that avoids drinking:
  1. Surround yourself with people who are supportive of your choices. Whether these people choose to pursue a life without drinking or not, it’s vital that you have a support system who will encourage you to maintain your commitment. 
  2. Find alternative hobbies and activities you enjoy. One of the biggest challenges people face when living a sober lifestyle is feeling left out of the social aspects related to drinking. Spend some time finding activities that don’t involve drinking, such as bowling, fitness classes, or hiking, and bring friends along who can enjoy these with you.
  3. Find your “why”. Understanding why we are making the lifestyle choices we are provides a foundation for long-term success. Spend time seeking out more of what the Bible says about drinking and it’s impacts to solidify your rationale for a life without drinking. 


Help for Alcohol Addiction

If you’re struggling with overconsumption of alcohol or an alcohol addiction, there is hope for you. You are never too far gone to make the decision to change, and Celebrate Hope is here to help. Our faith-based alcohol addiction rehab helps you build a life of recovery on the foundation of Christ and his forgiveness. If you’re ready to take the next step in receiving help for your addiction, contact us today. 


Friday, March 25, 2022

What is Trauma Bonding?

trauma bonding

A trauma bond is an emotional attachment that is formed to another person, often an abuser, that makes it difficult for this person to separate themselves from their source of trauma. These bonds can overtake your emotions and lead to poor decision making. Sometimes, the effects of trauma bonding can last long after you have separated yourself from the relationship, so it’s important to know the signs of these unhealthy attachments and how to begin to separate yourself from the emotional connection.  


What Causes a Trauma Bond?

Trauma bonds occur when an abused person develops affection for their abuser, creating an emotional connection that is difficult to break. Despite the poor treatment of the abused person, they exhibit sympathy for the person causing them harm and can try to empathize or rationalize their behavior. Trauma bonding can occur in situations involving:

  • Abuse (child, domestic, or elder)
  • Sexual abuse or exploitation
  • Kidnapping
  • Religious trauma
  • Cult involvement

Not everyone who experiences one of these situations will develop an unhealthy attachment to the perpetrator, or perpetrators, of the trauma, but there are environmental factors that can make you more susceptible to developing emotional attachments to your abuser. Some of the most common influential factors are survival instincts, dependence, and cycles of abuse. 


If you find yourself in a life-threatening situation, such as a kidnapping or abusive relationship, you may develop an emotional bond as a way to protect yourself. By showing the abuser some form of affection, the abused may feel they are protecting themselves from more severe abusive situations and potentially save their life. This emotional attachment can remain even after you have removed yourself from the situation, creating a continuing trauma bond. 


Similarly, in harmful relationships or communities, you could develop a dependence on the person or leaders, causing uncertainty when you leave the situation. Dependence on another person or community to meet your needs, especially if they did not allow you to practice any type of independence, can leave you with an unhealthy attachment to them and an inability to act on your own. Finally, if you have experienced abuse previously, you are more likely to accept the behaviors and can develop a trauma bond because the abuse is “normal” based on your past experiences. This can lead to a continuing cycle of abuse where these unhealthy behaviors and attachments are accepted. 


Trauma Bonding: Warning Signs and Symptoms

Recognizing a trauma bond is an important first step in helping yourself or someone you love who may have developed an unhealthy attachment to an abusive person or community. Some signs of these attachments include: 

  • Defensiveness when someone tries to intervene
  • Lack of recognition of the abuse
  • Justification of abusive behaviors
  • Distancing from support systems
  • Being reluctant or unwilling to leave an abusive environment
  • A desire to return to the abusive environment after leaving


Breaking the Bond

Once the person has left an abusive situation, the trauma bond can remain. To help someone who has developed an emotional bond begin to separate themselves emotionally from their abuser, you can begin by providing them with facts about their past situation. Often, it’s helpful to note the differences you see between what a healthy relationship is and what this person has experienced. Bringing their own desires in and how those were not being met can also be effective. Encourage them to spend time focusing on positive interactions and self-care and seek out healthy relationships as they move forward.


There will often be fear related to the situation and a number of complex emotions this person needs to work through, and it’s not uncommon for someone to turn to substance use to cope. Support from friends and family can help reassure this person’s safety, but full recovery and separation from their abuser will likely require professional help through therapy. 


Healing from Unhealthy Bonds at Celebrate Hope

If you are worried that you or someone you know has developed a trauma bond alongside an addiction, Celebrate Hope can help. Trauma bonds are reflective of our God-given desire to be loved and cared for. Through our treatment model based in Christian principles, we can help you find comfort in the unconditional love our Creator provides while healing from addiction. If you’re ready to begin your life of freedom built on a foundation of Christ, contact us today. 

Friday, March 11, 2022

Prayer for Depression | Depression in the Bible



It may be tempting to view symptoms of depression or other mental health struggles as a moral or spiritual failure, but this could not be further from the truth. Despite what you may have been told, having depression is not a failure on your part. In fact, there are references to depression (or at least symptoms of depression) throughout scripture.

Depression in the Bible

Depression may not have been defined during the time the Bible was written, but there are examples of people who experienced depressive symptoms in these writings. One of these people was David, the writer of the Psalms. Throughout the Psalms, David’s mood is chronicled, and we are able to see the dramatic shifts in his emotions. One of David’s lowest points is captured in Psalm 6:6 (ESV), “I am weary with my moaning; every night I flood my bed with tears; I drench my couch with my weeping.” In modern day, we would characterize this as depression because of the consistent low mood David is experiencing. 

Another example of depression in the Bible comes from the story of Elijah. Elijah becomes overwhelmed with fear, even after seeing God accomplish incredible things in his life, and he cries out to God, “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers” (1 Kings 19:4b, ESV). Elijah is at his breaking point and is feeling that he would be better off not alive, something we would clearly define as a symptom of depression today. 

Shifting the Narrative on Depression

Neither of these examples in scripture is of people who were not close with God. Both David and Elijah saw wonderful things throughout their lives that affirmed their faith. But these were also real people who had real emotions, so naturally, they experienced both high and low points. These low points were not a character deficit, nor did they mean these men lacked faith or right standing with God. They were human, like us, and God understands how human emotions vary during different seasons of life. 

Depression is not a failure in your faith but the result of real-life events and emotions that change over time. And, just like for the people of the Bible, God will never leave you in your low moments. In fact, God often uses those moments to showcase his love.

Prayer for Depression

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Romans 15:13

Depression can feel like a loss of joy and peace, but there is hope through faith. God has not and will not leave you, no matter how far you may feel from Him. If you feel far away from God today and need help with your depression, offer the following prayer:

God, I thank you that I am not alone today, regardless of how I am feeling. Thank you for the hope you provide and for the promises of joy. Please comfort me in my darker days as you did those in the Bible and help me remember you are always there. Amen.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by depression along with a substance use disorder, Celebrate Hope can help. Our faith-based program provides you with the mental health care you need along with spiritual support. Contact our team today to learn more about our program. 

Monday, February 28, 2022

Where Does Faith Come From? | Faith in the Bible

where does faith come from


Faith can take many forms – belief in yourself, fidelity to your spouse, loyalty to your employer – but for Christians, faith means developing a relationship with God, surrounding yourself with His grace and believing in the promise of salvation. 


According to Romans 12:3, God gives varying measures of faith to people. Having heard and accepted God’s Word, it then becomes our responsibility to strengthen our beliefs through prayer, worship services and Bible study. We must rely on this God-given faith to sustain and uplift us through life’s challenges.  


The Role of Faith in Your Recovery 

Addiction represents a low point in anyone’s life, but the good news is that mercy is always possible through God’s grace. With that mindset, you can discover a renewed sense of purpose that guides you through your journey to wellness. 


In 12-step recovery, you will learn to let a higher power guide your path. At each step of the way, you will find that faith, love and personal responsibility are the opposite of the guilt, shame and secrecy that characterize substance use disorders. Your work continues after you finish going through all 12 steps, because it then becomes your responsibility to pay it forward by telling others about how the program has helped you.  


While you may meet people from many walks of life in addiction recovery, the 12 steps are uniquely meaningful to Christians because the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous were devout in their faith. They grounded the 12 steps in their unshakeable belief that only God can forgive our flaws and grant us the power to change our lives for the better. By maintaining your relationship with God through prayer, you will find a vast inner reserve of faith you can pull from when you find your resolve wavering.


Our Faith-Based Recovery Program

If you have developed a problematic relationship with drugs or alcohol, you may feel like God is far away from you. At Celebrate Hope, we believe this is the time when you need faith the most. Incorporating Christian practices into your continuum of care, from detox through to residential and post-rehab aftercare, can be integral to improving your physical, emotional and spiritual well-being.  


No matter when or how you find your faith, God is willing to forgive you. That’s the message awaiting you at Celebrate Hope, Southern California’s leading faith-based drug and alcohol rehab program. Throughout the years, our staff of addiction clinicians and Christian counselors has provided cutting-edge treatment that has helped many clients begin working on their long-term sobriety while strengthening their relationship with God.


We offer individual and group therapy sessions, private one-on-one Christian counseling, Christian fellowship and recreation, Bible study, worship services, life skills training and family support. While many drug and alcohol treatment centers neglect the spiritual side of recovery, Celebrate Hope provides daily opportunities for our clients to renew their faith in Christ. To learn more about our Christian-focused programming, reach out to a faith-based recovery specialist today by filling out our convenient online form or calling (866) 677-1872.


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