You’ve completed your program — participated in all the workshops, walked through all the counseling sessions, finished the classes, and now you’ve graduated. What’s next?: Integration.
Integration is the time to take all that you learned and put it into practice in each aspect of your new daily routine after treatment. In other words, recovery doesn’t stop when you complete the program; in fact, the recovery process is a daily discipline that you show up for even after you’re back home.
It’s important to have accountability partners, a healthy work environment, and a supportive community to tap into that will provide constant positive support. One of the best resources to plug into is a local church that celebrates your healing and encourages your continued progress.
Even though the church might be a place that you are wary to visit, whether due to past experiences or shame, take a look at these healthy (and even fun!) church activities that encourage the recovery process as you begin your integration journey:
Bonding Over Food
It’s hard to knock on a church that provides some homegrown, free food, right? Even if you aren’t a church kind of person, this frees up your grocery bill, saves you a few extra hours loading the dishwasher, and cleans up the counters. Religious or not, that is certainly a hard deal to pass up. Many churches host one, if not all, of these food-filled types of activities for men (on a regular basis): quarterly barbecue fundraisers, monthly breakfast, and weekly small group dinners.
Let’s be real: churches need money, and they often incorporate fundraisers around food. Men tend to be great grillers and barbecuers, so not only do you get to serve the community, but you get to snag some of your favorite foods. Meanwhile, many Sunday School classes and men’s groups meet up once a month to grab breakfast and catch up — nothing too theologically intimidating. Lastly, but most consistently, are men’s small groups. Small groups are Bible studies that typically meet once a week and center around Jesus and food.
Exercise and Connection
Not a fan of the gym? Are you intimidated by all of the big, heavy equipment? Well, a great place to start adding a healthy workout to your new routine is by checking in with your local church. Here, you will likely find an exercise class or Christian yoga course hosted on the church’s campus, or you’ll find a group of like-minded individuals who meet up and work out together throughout the week.
Never count out a small group that centers on exercise. Many small groups meet up for Bible study and take a few laps around the neighborhood — and they’ll bring babies, dogs, and anyone else along. They also often meet up at the local park to go jogging. These opportunities are a perfect way to start small if the gym isn’t your thing.
Meanwhile, it’s important to remember how vital physical exercise is throughout your continued recovery. Keeping your physical body in shape helps fight mental and emotional stumbling blocks, serving as a great defense against potential relapse.
You probably could have guessed this one — but small groups provide so many different opportunities for you to incorporate your own hobbies with a group of people you can trust to hold you spiritually accountable through your healing journey. Many churches have a variety of small group opportunities: for dads, singles, food cravers, workout lovers, music fans, artist buffs, and everything in between! Take some time to find a way to blend your hobbies with consistent accountability.
It’s hard to focus on yourself — including your past, bad memories, etc. — when you’re serving others. Churches consistently provide volunteer opportunities for you to help others. Whether you’re serving at the local food pantry, clothes closet, or homeless shelter, it never hurts to give back. In fact, it heals.
While integration is intimidating in and of itself, don’t be afraid to reach out to those you trust as you begin plugging into your community. Ask a trusted friend to attend a church service with you, volunteer at the food pantry with you, or visit a new small group with you. Never be afraid to ask for help from those who love and support you, and witness just how far you will go.
It is essential to make sure that you see value in who you are today and who you will be tomorrow. The best way to honor that value is by respecting your integration process and finding local ways to stay connected to healthy accountability partners who will celebrate your hard work as you continue recovery. The church might not always be everyone’s go-to for ways to plug back into the community, but the local church does offer great opportunities to not only serve but to be served and loved as you continue your journey. Regardless, Renaissance Ranch understands how intimidating integration can be, as well as the fear and shame that might sneak up, but it’s important to remember that you deserve a place in a community that will cheer you on, support you, and welcomes you with open arms. With programs ranging from alumni retreats to family recovery treatment, you are sure to find the support that suits your needs at Renaissance Ranch. For more, call us today at (801) 308-8898.