Step three, month three in the path to recovery

Wednesday, March 31, 2021
Chelsey Keeney and her children are pictured in December 2020. Keeney has been in Celebrate Recovery since 2017 after struggling with depression. Contributed photo

Keeney: ‘It is all about what actions we decide to take’

Step three in the 12-step program is to make the decision to turn one’s life and will oneself to the care of God, and Chelsey Keeney, of Washburn, tells a story of a different kind of hurt, habit and hangup than what one may expect from a member of Celebrate Recovery.

The path to recovery is a 12-step journey, a journey which is revisited and relived often. After all, recovery is something to be worked at daily.

Keeney’s story is about the actions she had to take in recovery.

“I got to that point of rock bottom,” she said. “I had figured out in my 20s that I had depression. I was seeing a doctor and was on medication. I even tried, in my faith, to do everything I was supposed to — go to church, be the perfect stay at home mom and housewife and none of it was helping me.”

Eventually, her mother told her about Celebrate Recovery.

“My husband at the time was an alcoholic, so I thought she was suggesting it for him,” Keeney said. “I didn’t understand then that Celebrate Recovery was for everyone.”

It took couple of weeks for Keeney to go to her first meeting.

“I sat in the very back,” she said. “Then, the lady who started the meeting that night got up. She said she was there for depression — I was immediately hooked.”

Keeney began her journey and started working the first steps of the program.

“I didn’t realize I needed God’s power to take the first step,” she said. “It was like I was playing pretend at Celebrate Recovery until I realized that power.”

It was October 2017 when she started the program.

“It was that November that I picked up my first chip,” she said. “I spent months trying to figure out what I needed to do. I didn’t have a pill bottle or a glass I could put down.”

Keeney thought picking up her Bible everyday would help, then she realized she needed more than that.

“I put down everything — social media, T.V., even music,” she said. “I quit everything and created a fresh slate.”

Eventually, and slowly, Keeney began to put things back.

“I started with music,” she said. “I found you can find Christian music in every genre.”

Depression is a hurt that affects the mind and the body.

“When I first found out I had depression, I went to the doctor because I though I had the flu,” Keeney said. “The biggest help for me, was realizing I wasn’t alone, and I am no different than anyone else with any kind of addiction. My addiction is my depression and my anger.

“You look at someone who drinks or does drugs and you ask, ‘Why do you do that?’ Well, it is the same with depression, except you hear, ‘Just be happy,’ or ‘You should feel blessed.’”

Hearing another person speak up about their depression clicked in Keeney.

She felt seen.

“I spent the first month in small group crying every time it was my turn to speak,” she said. “Being the leader for the women’s small group now, I see people in the same position I was in at the beginning.

“It is crazy to see how far I have come, and I want that for them.”

Keeney said recovery never gets easier.

“You have to keep going every day to just keep it manageable,” she said. “I still take my time to speak in small group, and I answer every focus question from every lesson or testimony.

“Recently, it was about action. What action do you need to take in recovery, and why? That is the third step, taking action.”

Celebrate Recovery is a judgement free zone, where everyone has a hurt, habit or hangup.

“We are not there to fix one another,” she said. “We are there to support open another. Help and support make recovery possible.”

Keeney said she would tell someone considering going to Celebrate Recovery to go now — start now.

“It is a process, and you don’t have to do anything to get ready for the first meeting,” she said. “You wouldn’t start studying for a test the night before. You need to start studying as soon as you know there is a test, or problem in this case.”

Keeney continues to go thorough all 12 steps every year.

“It keeps you accountable,” she said. “You and your life are always changing, so by revisiting the steps every year, you are reevaluating your life, and asking, ‘What action do I need to take now?’”

Keeney thought that by controlling her situation, she could control her feelings of depression.

“But, I had to hand it over,” she said. “It is all about what actions we decide to take. It isn’t always an easy or even a clear decision. Sometimes, it is ugly and hard.”

According to Celebrate Recovery, two-thirds of the more than 5 million people who participate in the program are there for something other than drugs and alcohol.


This article is part of a monthly, 12-part series giving an inside look into the testimonies and lives of a dozen individuals who have met their recovery goal. Each month will focus on the corresponding step in the 12-step process, as well as its biblical comparison.

While the world deals with the COVID-19 pandemic, it also deals with the pandemic of addiction. For a time, due to social restrictions, Celebrate Recovery and other meetings were postponed. Those in recovery understand the struggle when they are unable to reach out for help.

With these testimonies, they aim to reach those who need help, but are unable to get it. They want to reach people in their communities and offer them a hand, a resource and a safe space.

In 2019, there were 304 felony and misdemeanor drug-related charges in Cassville, and as of the first week of December, there were 293 for 2020.

Places people can turn to include:

• Celebrate Recovery Cassville — Tuesdays at the First Baptist Church in the loft. Meal is served at 5:45 p.m. and large group is at 6:30 p.m., child care is provided. People may contact Mark Barton at 417-766-5449.

• Celebrate Recovery Seligman — Wednesdays at Mozark Fellowship in Seligman. Meal is served at 6 p.m. and large group is at 7 p.m. Child care is provided. People may contact Mike Avers at 417-342-8659.

• Celebrate Recovery Monett — Thursdays at New Site Baptist Church in Monett. Large group goes from at 6-7:30 p.m. Child care provided birth to fifth grade, and The Landing group is available for youth grades 6-12. Meals to go at the end of every evening. People may contact 417-235-6135 for more information.

• Celebrate Recovery Purdy — Mondays at the Purdy Pentecostal Church. Meal is at 5:45 p.m., large group at 6:30 p.m., small group at 7:30 p.m. and childcare is provided. People may contact 417-489-5326, or 417-442-9357 for more information.

In addition, the local Clark Center office number is 417-476-1000. The 24-hour Crisis Line is 1-800-801-4405, and the National Suicide Hotline is 1-800-273-8255.

Those involved with this 12-month, 12-step series hope to reach as many people as possible in their communities.

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