Grief and Encouragement

Reflections on Words of Encouragement 

Grief and the 8 Principles a teaching by Cheryl Baker
2021 CR Summit

Written by Allie Klenke


Recovery is hard - recovery while grieving the loss of a loved one is even harder. Cheryl Baker took the room by surprise when she stepped out on stage and shared about losing her husband just months before CR's 30th birthday. He wouldn’t be there to see all he had worked so hard for to come to fullwishion, but Cheryl still faced the crowd and offered hope to a room full of so many people mourning the loss of a great man, leader and mentor to many. She offered hope not just to those well experienced in Celebrate Recovery who had known of or who knew John Baker; but also to all those who have, are or will eventually experience loss while learning to navigate life without addiction, compulsive behavior or while working on their character defects. 


Opening with a surreal quote by CS Lewis, she quotes “No one ever told me grief could feel so much like fear.” Wow! How many of us live with fear or anxieties in our everyday life and then add to that grief … which often manifests in feelings of fear. 


Cheryl walks through the 8 Principles of Celebrate Recovery through her eyes of her recent loss. 


Principle 1 

Realize I am not God. I admit I am powerless to control my tendency to do the wrong thing and my life is unmanageable.

Blessed are the poor in spirit,

                         for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

       Matthew 5:3


Cheryl explains that powerlessness can easily turn to anger when we fail to surrender it to God. She shares her anger towards people who reached out to her because she had not yet realized she was trying to control an uncontrollable situation. Anger is a stage of grief … but God offers hope. If we choose to turn our pain over to Him. Admitting our powerlessness includes setting boundaries. Some people need others around them in their grief; others only desire their closest family around them as they grieve loss. Some need to work and stay busy however others need to sit and be with their loved ones. Everyone grieves differently. Cheryl herself did not realize at first that this was what was happening. She had not turned over her powerlessness to control others' reactions towards her in her grief, in turn she found herself getting angry at those reaching out to her; until she learned to set boundaries. Everyone grieves differently and each person deserves to grieve however they need while not feeling pressured to be anything less than yourself. 


Cheryl asks us to surrender our powerlessness found in our grief while remembering boundaries are an intricate part of recovery for ourselves and others. 


Principle 2 

Earnestly believe that God exists, that I matter to Him and that He has the power to recover. 


Blessed are those who mourn,

              for they will be comforted. 

       Matthew 5:4 


Our relationship with God is so raw when we are trudging through grief. But if we keep focused on God by keeping close to His Word and praying (that is what it means to earnestly believe) the pain - though it won't disappear, the peace that surpasses understanding through the power of the Holy Spirit will help lessen the pain. 


Cheryl stresses to those dealing with loss to remember the second part of principle 2 - “I matter to Him and that He has the power to help me recover.” Romans 8:38 promises neither death nor life will separate us from God’s love. Oftentimes when we are grieving we can feel far away from God and it becomes easy to feel unloved by God. Cheryl points out that this is untrue and if we turn to our tool of the 8 Principles; Principle 2 tells us that we matter to God and that His word proves it. 


Principle 3 


Consciously choose to commit my life and my will to Christ’s care and control. 


Blessed are the meek,

                     for they will inherit the earth. 

  Matt 5:5


Choosing to love Jesusand trust Him gets harder when we grieve, but sometimes we need to ask Jesus to help us want to want to love Him. Cheryl explains that being willing and seeking God’s assistance in being motivated to focus on Him is exactly what choosing to commit our lives to Christ care is about. Sometimes grief makes it hard to find motivation to read scripture, pray or even join in corporate worship. However we are promised that when we seek God’s assistance in doing something within His will He will in fact help us. Remember Romans tells us that there is no condemnation for those who follow Jesus; sometimes when we are struggling to get close to God through our grief we can easily start feeling ‘guilty’ for not having the motivation to follow our normal spiritual disciplines. However; remember God does not give us a spirit of condemnation and that we have a gracious Father who understands our hurt and He promises to help us in our darkest times. 


Principle 4 


Openly examine and confess my faults to myself, to God and to someone I trust.


Blessed are the pure in heart,

for they will see God.

Matthew 5:8


We often find ourselves making mistakes when we grieve and Cheryl encourages us to admit our wrongs; but also to give ourselves grace. She talks of the phanomon where while we are in a time of grief our minds actually are not working to their full capacity and she uses the term “Grief Brain” to explain times of not thinking clearly. From forgetting important conversations or misplacing things our minds are busy processing the trauma of grief and often that takes quite a toll on our minds. She encourages us to have grace with the little mistakes but to own up to them as well. By following principle 4 and examining ourselves and confessing our faults to God and someone we trust we can see where we have missed the mark; and also where we need to offer ourselves grace. It’s hard to see past the fog of “Grief Brain” and that can lead to under noticed mistakes or unholy condemnation. 


Principle 5


Voluntarily submit to  every change God wants to make in our lives and humbly ask Him to remove our character defects.


Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,

for they will be filled.

Matthew 5:6 


When we realize we have made a mistake we need to own up to it and ask God to help us overcome the hardship and let Him work with us to become more like Him. Mistakes happen in grief. Cheryl admits she made the mistake of being hard on people who were just wanting to comfort her. She also admits to trying to control the entire situation. Haven’t we all made mistakes while healing through hard times? God wants to help you overcome those mistakes and even keep you from making them again by helping you remove your character defects. Oftentimes CR is thought of as a recovery program for people with drug or alcohol addictions; which it is but it is so very much more than that. It is a place where we come to work on our character defects and highlight and supplement our character attributes. Not everyone is an addict; but everyone is a character in this play of life and every character has room to grow and become more like Christ. 


Principle 6


Evaluate all our relationships.
Offer forgiveness to those who have hurt me and make amends for harm I have done to others except when to do so would harm them or others. 


Blessed are merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.

Matthew 5:7


Blessed are the peacemakers,

for they will be called children of God.

Matthew 5: 9


After asking God to help us through our grief, for His help in overcoming our character defects, and seeking His wisdom while allowing Him to guide our words and steps. We will have to mend the relationships we have harmed in our grief. Sometimes that means offering forgiveness and grace to those who responded negatively to our grief. So at the right time, with God’s wisdom, if it is safe to do so; reach out to those you have hurt and those who have hurt you. 


Cheryl puts both Principles 7 and 8 together.


Principle 7

Reserve a daily time with God for self-examination, Bible reading and prayer in order to know God and His will for my life.


Principle 8 

Yield ourselves to God to be used to bring this good news to others, both by my example and by my words. 


Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 

Matthew 5:10 


As we heal Cheryl explains we need to remain in God’s word and stay close to Him so we can reach out to others as they experience their own grief. She offers her wisdom for us and this is her way of living out principles 7 and 8. She is serving God and others. She admits that speaking to thousands of people about grief so shortly  after the death of her husband is not what she wanted to do and that if it were not for God’s guidance she would not be able to stand on the stage that day. When we ask God to use us and we are devoted to spending time with Him and His word we will be used by God to help spread His love. 


Oftentimes more than not, being used for and by God is not an easy feat. More times than not it is hard and not what we would normally think to do. Who would think talking about grief so close to the loss of her husband would be fun or something they would wake up and just do… not anyone I know. When God steps in though, He softens our hearts and guides us to do the hard things and He gives us the strength to do them! 


We all have hard times. If one thing is certain we can not escape grief in this life. Celebrating recovery is a place you can find healing. By being surrounded by other Christ followers all trying to be more like Him in this broken world. You too can have the freedom God promises His children. Even if you just buried the love of your life; or lost a parent, sibling or friend. God promises hope to His children. You just have to take the first step. 


Please do not grieve alone - 


Reach out by: 

Phone: 636-583-5839




We look forward to seeing you on Monday nights!