Brave Stories: Hannah Cox

My name is Hannah and I have a new life in Christ. I am recovering from perfectionism, anxiety, lust, and my all around hot mess.

Starbucks. Check
Bible: Check
Looking Good: Check

It was a normal Sunday. I had been attending this church for almost three years, but in many ways I still felt like a stranger in a strange land, unknown and invisible. Most of the time, I liked it that way.

I grew up going to the same church from the age of three to my 20th year, which came with the pressure of being “on” every Sunday. Smiles, conversations, and a constant stream of outside opinions where my life, but not anymore. It was refreshing to be in the shadows, no one knew me or my parents. No one was waiting to give me their rundown on how I should be living my life to be a “good college Christian”. I could enjoy a Sunday without being sought out. I was tired. Selfishly, I loved being on the outside for once. 

One year of shadow living turned into three. I started craving connection. I started trying to find friends. I was ready. I was serving with many, but knew no one. I stayed after church and youth group longer, to engage. I tried making friends beyond shallow conversation, but was turned down when I suggested coffee. 

Is there something wrong with me? 

I entered church that day wondering if I was worth knowing. Was I so messed up from grief over losing my Nana and my dreams for the future, that I would never be someone to someone else? Was I not worth knowing? I was low. And I was desperately searching for answers. 

Re:Generation. It flashed on the announcement screen. 

The pastor had mentioned it over a year ago as a recovery ministry that would be coming soon. At the time I did not see the point in participating in a ministry meant for people with addictions. 

Fast forward to that normal Sunday, I knew Re:Gen was something I needed to do. Even though I had fears and anxieties over it, I knew that I was broken and I wanted help. I wanted to be worth knowing, to  develop healthy relationships, and to have a healthy view of the church. I needed help. 

Stepping into a year long recovery program, was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I sweated and shook through the first six weeks of the program. I was nervous as heck and continually questioned if I really belonged in that space. But, at the end of every meeting I knew I was in the right place. 

Those 12 months were not the end all be all. Recovery is forever. But, I learned more about myself in the light of who God is than ever before. It was hard work. It was tearful. It was freeing. Sunday’s were fine. But, Monday night was my church. I could come just as I was with whatever burden I was carrying, and be welcomed in. I have never experienced the beauty of the church in the way God intended until Re:Gen. 

It was messy, but it was real. 

Conflicts, if any, were handled promptly.
Tears were always welcomed.
Big heavy questions were encouraged.
The messiness of faith was embraced. 

I was welcomed and felt included for the first time in my life. 

Recovery did not give me what I was looking for, but it did provide me with tools to live real before God and man. My relationship with God gained depth. I learned what forgiveness means, and how to accept it for myself. 

Freedom from shame is my recovery song. It all started with one small step and continued as I took the next one week after week. Showing up and working the process is brave. 

- Hannah