“On Sunday mornings, every now and then somebody from that 12-step program would come up to our pulpit and share their story of recovery, and it was always so powerful. So I thought how interesting that it would be to have those kinds of stories in a film and those stories moving our main character along,” said Mathews, who attends Believers Church in Tulsa.
Taking the steps
As they embarked on the project, Mathews, Newman and associate producer Micah Barnard, along with two of the movie's screenwriters, decided to go through Celebrate Recovery themselves, which gave them invaluable insight into the program.
“We just got a lot out of it, walking through the 12 steps and personally kind of inventorying our own lives. It was a really positive thing for us. And it highly influenced the story and the trajectory of the character,” she said.
“I think it created a very honest script. We put it in front of people who've had similar struggles like our main character, and they said it looked exactly like them. They could really relate.”
For Mathews, making a movie that was honest about the real-life struggles Christians often face was vital. Programs such as Celebrate Recovery maintain strict confidentiality because “we're only as sick as our secrets,” she said.
“We tend to sometimes think that just because we've made a decision in our faith journey that everything needs to be neat and tidy. So we're embarrassed or ashamed if something in our lives isn't quite right, and we kind of hide. I'm hoping that this movie gets church people to begin to talk to each other more honestly about things that are plaguing them, so that they don't have to kind of live in shame and disappointment but can get better,” she said.
“It's important in the Christian church that we begin to talk about our real issues and that things don't get better all the sudden just because you become a Christian. That everybody — even Jesus' followers — still have issues in their lives that they need to work out.”