They say the only way out is through. You've just got to get through it. This is something you have to go through. You hear the word "through" so much it needs to be "Through," capital T.
They don't always tell you what the through looks like, though.
For a person in recovery, through isn't all sunshine and roses. More than likely, it can be a barren, lonely place. A dry, dusty place -- a desert -- where all you want is a cleansing drink of your old habits, the way things were, the numbing, the forgetting, the escaping.
The kicker? There are fountains in this deserted land of through, fountains of temptation to quench your thirst for that quick fix. But you have to deny the temptation. You deny in order to gain.
Even if you feel lonely while getting through, you are certainly not alone. You have friends to keep you company. Friends like fear. Doubt. Shame. Habit. Temptation. You try to ignore these "friends." Ignore their catcalls, their promises, their jabs. Ignore and deny.
To get through, you decide -- maybe after you get past some stubbornness -- you want help. Maybe, despite your initial beliefs, you really can't do this alone. Coupled with courts and classes, the groups and the therapies, maybe someone suggests you "go to church." No way, you say. Those sanctuaries are nothing but pews full of what you've already got enough of -- the doubt, the shame, the judgment. All bottled up in sideways glances, open stares and empty promises.
But the secret is we all have secrets. We all have hang-ups. Hurts. Habits. We're messed up, too.
This -- the very fact that we have hurts, habits, and hang-ups -- is the foundation of a new Saturday-night church service in Midland, Michigan. This Christian service, called Restoration Fellowship, is intended specifically to provide hope, healing and growth for those with past or present addictions, pains and life issues.
Restoration Fellowship isn't your normal church. Whatever normal means.
For one, the founder, Pastor Tige Culbertson, has seen his own land of "through." When the Texas church Culbertson served at found pornography on his computer, Culbertson lost his calling as a pastor. So he's dealt with the judgment. He's had pains.
After going through his own recoveries, Culbertson was reinstated as a pastor and founded Restoration Fellowship, or RF. But his story -- his scarlet letter -- is not something Culbertson hides behind. He shines a spotlight on it. He's the first to point out his own mistakes and flaws, the first to reference what he goes through. Recovery is never-ending. You always have a foot planted in your land of through.
During his messages at RF, Culbertson is unassuming in his jeans, button-down shirt, and almost-hipster like glasses. He stands up front. He talks with a clear voice -- the kind great for radio -- but calmer. More caring. Patient. Like he's seen some things you've seen. He echoes the number one rule of Restoration Fellowship: a no-judgment, free zone. He talks about God and Jesus and healing and hope, but he doesn't push those things. He offers them.
"If you don't know what you believe or don't believe, if you are looking for a God, I encourage you to borrow mine for the night."
And then, he looks down. Clasps his hands. Closes his eyes. And prays. Really, truly prays.
And you feel it. He gets it. You get that he GETS it.
With warm lanterns, round tables, and a live worship band, RF is a place that fosters less judgment, more love. It's a room full of people, a land of misfit toys, all trying to find the same things. No matter if you have a relationship with God or Jesus or not. No matter what you've done or who you are or where you've been.
Each week, hundreds of the hurting and broken look to Culbertson and Restoration Fellowship for community. Hope. Healing. And many find God along the way.
We need more of this church. This church where the broken are embraced, the hurting is felt, the awareness of pain is felt instead of buried.The masks are off.
There are days where you battle yourself. That's how it can be in your own land of through.
But who says you have to do it alone?
We're all messed up, too. And maybe, just maybe, it would help if we admit we are all getting through something. Because there's a place in Midland, Michigan, in a room with warm lights and a man who's been there too, talking to people who've been there, too, and will embrace you for who you are. Because they've been through it. Getting through it. Going through it.
And maybe you'll find what you're looking for here. In this place. Together.
For more information on Restoration Fellowship, visit hopehealinggrowth.com