One of the highlights for me of the reGROUP calendar is our graduation ceremony. I would highly doubt that there are many people who would put “fun” next to “reGROUP” in a word association game, but that is likely because they’ve never seen graduation. I more often hear words like hard, painful, depressed, addicted, and lost when people talk about reGROUP, though talk to a reGROUP graduate and you may hear a different story—one of transformation.
The reason is, throughout the reGROUP process, we embrace pain as part of the journey rather than trying to orchestrate our lives in such a way as to not bump into it. You see, it is in walking together through pain that we indeed find healing and recovery.
Perhaps you remember the famous line from Cary Elwes in The Princess Bride: “Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.” A bit of humorous, tongue-in-cheek playfulness, but The Dread Pirate Roberts was onto something. Pain is inevitable, and what we do with the losses, wounds, disappointments, and betrayals in our lives dictates the level of freedom and healing we can live in. The more we close the door on the stories of heartache in our lives, the smaller, necessarily, our stories become. The smaller our lives become. We lose sight of the redemptive power of Christ and live a small story.
For those of us that have gone through reGROUP, we have learned that if pain is inescapable, we might as well embrace the pain that leads toward redemption, rather than continue to live in the comfortable hell of the smaller stories that we’ve chosen over time—seeking the momentary comfort or control from people or things that could never provide lasting satisfaction.
There is a pain caused in visiting the dentist that is necessary in order to set right, or redeem, a nagging toothache. Though pain medicine may dull the pain, it can never heal it or correct the problem. There is infinite value in addressing the ache of our lives, and though the process itself may be painful, it is the pain-that-leads-to-healing that puts Grace himself on display.
It was Grace himself that was on display Monday night. Everyone comes into reGROUP with a different story, but it is in the brutal honesty, the persistent community, and the arduous inventory that we find a new way to live life, filled with grace and truth. Each one with their own struggle toward sobriety, refusal to quit in the darkest moments, and the willingness to ask for help in their times of need. Each one walking across the room to the sounds of raucous cheering and obnoxious party horns to pick up their gold chip, symbolic of the refining fires that purify precious metals.
I’m proud, to my core, of the work this past year’s participants have done to face honestly their pain and, by leaning into the strength of their community, re-narrate their story through the lens of God’s truth. It truly was “fun” to celebrate such courageous individuals, and on top of all that eat some killer chocolate treats.
reGROUP's Sixty Minute Seminars start Monday, June 26th. Join us at the Herndon Campus on Monday nights as we hear from experts about understanding emotions, anxiety, and depression.
Tim Burkholder is the reGROUP Men's Coordinator. If you'd like to reach out to him with any questions about reGROUP, you can email him here.