In the Name of Submission – cont.


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We’re diving deep into what God means when he talks about submission.

We began with I Peter 3:1 which tells wives to submit to their husbands—and often it’s left right there without further understanding of what God is communicating.

That’s why we’re looking back at the previous chapter to get an idea of what “in the same way” means. You can read Part 1 here if you want to get caught up.

Today, we’re going back to start in chapter 2 verse 17 where it says that submission means showing proper respect to others and loving those who believe and fear God.

This kind of surprised me.

I expected the passage to talk about everyone, not just other believers. But then I understood why we start with other believers.

Think about it.

If we can’t respect and love others who are part of the church (entire world church, not just your church) in which Jesus is teaching us to love, how will we than be in a position to show that same attitude to the rest of the world?

Often, the world looks at the church and doesn’t see any difference. Can we blame them for not wanting to be a part of that? If the Jesus they see in us is gossiping, backbiting, disrespectful, and unkind why would they want him?

Bet you never coupled the word “submission” with that, did you? Neither did I.

Verse 17 continues by saying that we should give honor to the king. What if the “king” or something in that authoritative role doesn’t seem to deserve honor? What if they act in ways that are wrong or dishonoring to themselves and others?

I believe what he’s saying is that we honor the position God has established. Back in verse 13, Peter makes it clear that God is the one who created and established authoritative roles. Whether that is a president, governor, law enforcement official, teacher, pastor, husband, or parent, those roles were all set up by God for our benefit.

People may not use their authority rightly or well, but we should still show honor and respect. Not only that, but every single person is wonderfully and fearfully created by God. Every one deserves our honor for that reason alone, regardless of how they behave. This is a great book that breaks that down.

In verse 18, Peter takes it a step further telling us to submit even when someone is harsh, not only to those who are good and considerate. Wow! I confess I’ve thought that a person I’m dealing with didn’t deserve respect so why would I submit?

But it takes the grace, love, patience, and forgiveness of Christ to continue to show honor and respect, and to submit even when someone is not nice. Remember, that Jesus chose when and how to speak when he was confronted. He did not retaliate when he was insulted. The key word there is “retaliate.” He entrusted himself to God, knowing that God was in control of the situation and would deal with the person. (vs. 21)

Also, worthy to consider is that sometimes our submissive, honoring action is to remove ourselves from a situation or speak loving truth to someone who is acting harshly. God will lead us in how to handle the situation if we ask him.

**(Please note that “harsh” isn’t necessarily the same as abusive and/or dangerous. God does not call us to put ourselves into harmful relationships or stay there if we’ve allowed ourselves to get into them.)

So, now we’ve seen what “in the same way” means.

Next time we’ll move on to Chapter 3 and look at what Peter says specifically to spouses.

Yes, spouses. Not only wives. 😉

In the Name of Submission


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Submission is often a dreaded word.

I’m not going to lie, it’s a concept I’ve struggled with for most of my life. In part, I believe that’s because I didn’t understand it. And I think, unfortunately, the church as a whole is somewhat to blame.

The real problem lies in the way some have interpreted or defined “submission.”

It’s been coupled with obedience to mean that no matter what someone, specifically someone in authority, tells you to do, you must acquiesce without question. While obedience to God is good and right, when taken outside of that meaning, submission can be dangerous.

Many in authority, have used it to control. It’s been used to manipulate, subjugate, and dictate. Some have excused their actions, naming submission as their grounds for such. In extreme cases, submission has been used as reason to abuse.

No wonder it’s a hard term to get a handle on.

I’ve read about it, studied God’s word regarding it, and prayed hard over it, begging God to help me understand what he meant by submitting. For me, like many in bad situations, it perpetuated unhealthy relationships. A few pastors lovingly admonished me to submit in abusive settings. I know they meant well, and I’m sure they were intending to communicate the positive order God gave for family.

Certainly “submission” isn’t the bad guy here.

Submission actually has a good and fitting role IF we understand and implement it the way God intended.

I believe that way too often, we all take scripture verses out of context and end up misinterpreting them. Grossly. Anyone can find anything in the Bible to use out of context to support their own perspective.

Maybe you’ve heard of the man who sought God’s wisdom for a particular situation and opened his Bible to a couple of random passages that told him some nonsensical instruction.

“Judas went and hung himself.”

“Go therefore and do likewise.”

I’m a hundred percent certain that God is never telling anyone to follow those passages in that way.

But as silly as that example is, we do the same thing all the time. We say things like “God will never give you more than you can handle.” It’s a shortened, paraphrased verse taken out of context. Sorry, but that’s not what the Bible actually says. (See I Corinthians 10:13)

And unless we intentionally read what’s before and after a passage, as well as take it within the context of the entire Bible and all of what it says about God’s character, also taking into account the original language, we can badly misinterpret and misrepresent God’s word and intent.

This brings me to the book of I Peter in the Bible.

The first verse of chapter 3 starts like this. “Wives, in the same way, be submissive to your husbands…”

I can’t tell you how many times throughout my life someone has quoted that verse to me. I’ve analyzed it, struggled with it, and literally cried over it.

Because I love Jesus and want to obey his word. I love my husband and want to have the right attitude towards him.

I’ve looked at the verses before and after it, but this past week one phrase captured my attention.

“…in the same way…”

Wait. In what same way? What way was Peter talking about?

So, I decided to go back, way back, and look at what came before so I could get a better grasp of what “same way” it was talking about and why it was written here in this context.

Over the next couple of posts, I’d like to unpack what I found. Maybe it will be helpful to those who have wrestled with submission like I have.

First of all, this letter that Peter wrote to various believers in the surrounding areas was penned as an encouragement and a reminder to the people that they were chosen and loved by God. He admonished them to live in such a way that those around them who didn’t know about Jesus, would see their lives and end up believing and glorifying God as a result.

In Chapter 2 starting with verse 13, Peter starts breaking down each area of life and what it looks to live that way.

He tells the people to submit to authority for the sake of the Lord. That made me ask why for the sake of the Lord? God doesn’t need us to do anything for him. He’s capable of doing anything and everything in his own power.

Answer? He is at work in every situation so our submission aligns us with what he’s doing. It’s for the sake of what he’s doing in his kingdom that our submitting to him and those around us helps bring it about.

In verse 15, it tells us that when we do good by submitting, it “silences ignorant talk of foolish men.” Uh, we could use some of that right now, couldn’t we?

And lest you think that submission makes us doormats, Peter goes on in verse 16 to tell us to “Live as free men.” We’re not submitting ourselves into slavery, but choosing to be servants of Christ. That might look different in every situation. Sometimes submitting to God means laying our pride or agenda aside, but sometimes it might mean standing firm in obeying God instead of someone who demand we submit to their wrong plans.

Our obedience to God may lead us into situations that are challenging and even treacherous, but God doesn’t take us there without a plan for greater good. He knows who can stand under certain circumstances and what the outcome will be.

Daniel went into the lion’s den for submitting himself to God even though it meant NOT following orders of the king because those orders were directly in conflict with God. It was a severely dangerous situation from which God rescued Daniel.

There are believers being held in prison right now for obeying God. It’s not a good situation for them and their families. But when we look at the work God is doing through it and the people who are coming to know Jesus and be healed as a result, we can see the good God is bringing.

Submission is a broader term than we often think it is.

Next post we’ll unpack more about this word and see where it takes us especially when we get to wives.

In the meantime, whenever I think “submission,” I’m thinking “for the Lord’s sake.”

Facing Our Pain


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The pain in our world has escalated to crazy proportions. We need answers. Jesus is it. So today I’m re-posting a previous post because I know how not facing our pain can increase it in our future….

I’ll come straight to the point.

I’ve come to recognize other women like myself who have tried to protect themselves by denying the truth of trauma, abuse or sexual addiction in their lives or their spouses’ lives. But the protection we think we create actually prolongs our pain and hurts those we love as well. Yes, it is painful to deal with our experiences, both present and past, but the cost down the road is much greater if we don’t.

I wish I could shout it.

Look at the fruit of our denial in our children.  I understand the despair, but we can’t be afraid to look at the truth. When we struggle, lost in a hurting, hopeless world, our children also take on our pain. Even if we aren’t aware or think we will keep them from it.

I know. I’ve been there.

I put my kids through hell because I allowed myself to be blind to the abuse in which we were living. I am to blame for my choices that put us there and kept us trapped. Even years later, my heart aches for them. I failed miserably to give them a solid foundation of what healthy relationships look like. They went into their adulthood with tremendous pain and anger behind them and little training of how to navigate a future marriage.

I’ve watched them live my broken life in many ways.

I never intended for my kids to take that kind of past into their future. The pain inflicted upon them was far greater than I imagined. I didn’t realize how badly they were hurt because of the trauma of their parents’ lives.

But I was more afraid of facing my past pain…

…more afraid of being divorced than of an abusive marriage…

…more afraid of what people thought than what my children needed…

…more afraid of my shame than if my family functioned well…

We can’t even count the price for those choices, and the longer it goes on, the higher the cost, as if interest is added.

But there’s good news.

Surrender and repentance changes everything.

God waits for us to surrender to him so he can uncover our festering wounds, bind them with his loving touch, and lead us into a place of healing and wholeness.

We must be willing to open our eyes to the truth, repent of bad choices and turn around into a new way of thinking and living.

God promises us that when we come to him in broken repentance and surrender, he doesn’t condemn or shame us. His love for us, exhibited through Jesus’s death on the cross and resurrection, covers us, soothes our soul and protects us with true safety.

However, doing so requires a difficult choice for us.

We must let go of our pride, fear and self-reliance. We must step out in faith with even a tiny step, believing that God will meet us as he promises. We must allow ourselves to experience the pain of our past and present, grieve the losses and move into our future.

But the exchange for us and our families is worth it.

I think of it like this:

When one of my children was very young, they couldn’t grasp the concept of exchanging their pennies for a coin of equal value. Five pennies seemed much better to them than a nickel, two nickels trumped a dime and no way would they give up any combination of coins for a quarter!

Our perception of what we are giving up is skewed by our limited understanding.

And God gives us even more than an equal share! He offers us a massive sundae dripping with fudge and topped with whipped cream, nuts and a cherry if we will hand over our McDonald’s soft serve cone.

There’s really no comparison, is there?

Be brave. Take action. Step into your future and shed your past.

Make a way for generations after you to be healthier, happier, and living a hot fudge sundae life.

The Effects of Pornography on Our Children


My latest novel, A Deadly Silence, soon to release, tackles the subject of pornography, sexual addiction and its potential for leading to domestic violence.

This deadly force lurks in darkness and silence. Only by speaking about it, can we find hope, healing and redemption. Families are being destroyed, and while we might focus on the spouse of the addict or the person struggling with the addiction, our children reap dire consequences as well.

This letter reveals how much our children suffer.  First seen and re-posted from Faithit.

I want to let you know first of all that I love you and forgive you for what this has done in my life. I also wanted to let you know exactly what your porn use has done to my life. You may think that this affects only you, or even your and mom’s relationships. But it has had a profound impact on me and all of my siblings as well.

I found your porn on the computer somewhere around the age of 12 or so, just when I was starting to become a young woman. First of all, it seemed very hypocritical to me that you were trying to teach me the value of what to let into my mind in terms of movies, yet here you were entertaining your mind with this junk on a regular basis. Your talks to me about being careful with what I watched meant virtually nothing.

Because of pornography, I was aware that mom was not the only woman you were looking at. I became acutely aware of your wandering eye when we were out and about. This taught me that all men have a wandering eye and can’t be trusted. I learned to distrust and even dislike men for the way they perceived women in this way.

As far as modesty goes, you tried to talk with me about how my dress affects those around me and how I should value myself for what I am on the inside. Your actions however told me that I would only ever truly be beautiful and accepted if I looked like the women on magazine covers or in porn. Your talks with me meant nothing and in fact, just made me angry.

As I grew older, I only had this message reinforced by the culture we live in. That beauty is something that can only be achieved if you look like “them”. I also learned to trust you less and less as what you told me didn’t line up with what you did. I wondered more and more if I would ever find a man who would accept me and love me for me and not just a pretty face.

When I had friends over, I wondered how you perceived them. Did you see them as my friends, or did you see them as a pretty face in one of your fantasies? No girl should ever have to wonder that about the man who is supposed to be protecting her and other women in her life.

I did meet a man. One of the first things I asked him about was his struggle with pornography. I’m thankful to God that it is something that hasn’t had a grip on his life. We still have had struggles because of the deep-rooted distrust in my heart for men. Yes, your porn watching has affected my relationship with my husband years later.

If I could tell you one thing, it would be this: Porn didn’t just affect your life; it affected everyone around you in ways I don’t think you can ever realize. It still affects me to this day as I realize the hold that it has on our society. I dread the day when I have to talk with my sweet little boy about pornography and its far-reaching greedy hands. When I tell him about how pornography, like most sins, affects far more than just us.

Like, I said, I have forgiven you. I am so thankful for the work that God has done in my life in this area. It is an area that I still struggle with from time to time, but I am thankful for God’s grace and also my husband’s. I do pray that you are past this and that the many men who struggle with this will have their eyes opened.

*This has been posted anonymously due to the nature of the topic.*

Look for A Deadly Silence coming soon!

When Sara Maree Matley uncovers a box of questionable material while unpacking after their family moves, she’s forced to examine the ideal life she’s fought so hard to portray as perfect. Surely her successful, popular husband, Brad, can’t be the owner of the contents. But when Brad’s behavior continues to digress, and Sara deals with her own past, life unravels, and Sara must make one of the hardest choices she’s ever faced.

 

The Third “D” Word


IMG_4658Ever feel like smashing something?

I certainly have. And I have smashed, slammed, thrown and torn up things. Sometimes our pain lashes out in rage. Whether it’s with words or objects, towards others or ourselves, destruction is never a healthy answer to our distress.

But how do I stop?

In the book of Romans, Paul says

“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do…for what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do — this I keep on doing.”  Romans 7:15 & 19

Sound familiar? Yeah, I thought so. Me too.

We ALL struggle with feelings of depression, despair and even destruction. Even if our destructive patterns are “minor” like not taking care of ourselves – overworking, eating poorly, not getting enough good sleep – or something more serious like abusing alcohol or drugs or cutting our body, the underlying issue is a lack of a healthy view of our value. Paul’s answer in that letter to the Romans was that Christ is the one who saves me. He makes a way for us where there seems to be no way.

So how do I get a handle on my destructive behavior?

  • Discover your value. You are loved. God created you to be special, unique and he wants a relationship with you. Write out the words to I Corinthians 13:4-8 as a love letter from God. “God is patient with (insert your name). He is kind to (your name). etc. Then write the same verses out to yourself. For example, mine reads: Laura is patient with herself. She is kind to herself. Eventually, I started reading “I’m not easily angered with myself.” Read this every day until it sinks in. God is love. He loves you. Love yourself. (I can’t take credit for this – my counselor had me do this.)
  • Discover the root of your anger. Anger is a secondary emotion. What is underneath?  Are you hurt, disappointed, frustrated? Feeling betrayed, abandoned or scared? It takes some work, but the next time you feel angry, try to stop and consider what is really going on under the surface of that rage.
  • Deal with your past. Past pain reveals itself in present problems. It may hurt, but any destructive behavior is adding to your pain, not relieving it.
  • Realize you have choices. Often we feel the compulsion to destroy because it gives us a sense of control. Especially for those of us who were in abusive situations where we were being controlled by someone who hurt us, as adults we now find we can take charge. But often we are taking control as adults with child feelings and action. When we understand that we now have choices to make, we will feel less out of control.
  • Ask for help. When you let a couple of trusted individuals know you’re struggling and ask them to hold you accountable, you’ll find that the compulsion loses some of its power. That’s because hidden things control us, but revealed things that are let into the open offer freedom. Think of a festering sore. If you kept it wrapped up in an old, dirty bandage, infection would set in and cause further damage. But letting in light, air and cleaning it out creates an environment for healing. It’s the same with our wounded hearts.
  • Last, but certainly not least, is understanding and accepting that we have an enemy who hates us because God loves us. Satan wants to hurt God and if he can destroy God’s children, it breaks God’s heart. The enemy wants us to be like him – destructive to ourselves and others. He wants to keep us in pain, bondage and away from our loving Father. The more we move forward, the harder he will try to hold us back. But knowing this is empowering. God can do all things. He’s bigger than the bad guys.

I’m not an authority.

And this list isn’t exhaustive. But these are a few things that have really helped me. Oh, and one last thing…remember it took us time to get messed up so it will take time to become free. I slammed a door the other day. My fear and frustration got a hold of me before I could get a handle on it.

It’s been a few months since I’ve done that. And as I was forceful with the car door, I realized it. Fear produces adrenaline and adrenaline seeks fight or flight. I fought with the door. But I’m learning to deal with the feelings first or remove myself from certain situations.

That’s actually progress. 

I just don’t want you to think I’ve got it all together. 😉

If you’re struggling with destructive behavior of any kind and you’d like to connect, shoot me (no, wait) I mean send me an email at laurabennet14@gmail.com or comment below.

 

Feel Like Your Life is in the Gutter?


monterey ca

Ever question the choices you make?

Do you wonder why you act the way you do? Or react in certain ways? Do you find yourself in the middle of a road rage moment, a fight with your spouse or yelling at your best friend and question how you got there?

Like, what just happened?

I’m discovering that most of us have. And while it’s bewildering to experience those situations, it’s even more surprising to learn what causes them. Not just that we’re sinful creatures or lacking self-control, although those certainly explain a lot.

The underlying secret is imprints.

So, what’s an imprint you say? I’m glad you asked. An imprint is an impression or a groove in your soul created by prolonged or traumatic experiences in childhood. Especially during those “formative” years.

Imagine pushing your hand into wet cement.

After it dries, the cement hardens with your hand print forever imprinted in it. Or think about cars (or wagons in the old days) driving through mud on the the same road. Eventually the traffic forms a rut.

Our impressionable young lives take on imprints.

All parents do the best they can with what they have. Some do better or worse than others. But let’s say you had a parent who showed great affection and enthusiasm only when you did well in sports or brought home good grades. You subconsciously become a performer for love and attention.

Or suppose you suffered some kind of abuse, lost a parent or sibling, survived cancer or saw your father beat your mother. Perhaps your parents were addicted to drugs, sex or alcohol. To survive trauma and constantly stressful situations, children adapt the way they relate to compensate for something they can’t handle.

Imprints.

The rough part is that if we don’t know this (few people do) and never deal with whatever issues caused these impressions on us, we will act and react in the same unhealthy ways as adults without even being aware of it. And we’ll hurt ourselves and others including our children in the process.

This is why I’m so thankful for  a book I mentioned a few months ago called How We Love: Discover Your Love Style, Enhance Your Marriage by Milan & Kay Yerkovich. They set out to figure out why, when they both loved each other, they couldn’t seem to make their marriage work.

But this book isn’t only for married couples.

Everyone can benefit. I read a lot of various books, but no book has helped me like this one in dealing with the bottom line issues of my soul. (Okay, besides the Bible.) I’ve been to counseling over the years. I talk a lot about my feelings and questions, and I thought I’d figured most of it out.

Now I understand the depth of the even the little things.

Why I react the way I do in certain situations. How I think about other people and why. The way I use anger as a defense, and an explanation for why I can suddenly explode in rage at times when I’m a generally optimistic, happy person. Why I’m afraid to speak truthfully to some people, and why saying “no” used to be so difficult.

I can’t tell you all of it here.

Go to www.howwelove.com and take the quiz. Find out your “love style.” Order the book on their website. Read it alone, with a spouse, a friend or in a group and work through the workbook in the back. Take your time. Cry, pray and keep pressing through it. God will use it to reveal your pain and bring you healing and freedom.

You will not be sorry.

Disclaimer: I did not receive anything for this. I don’t get paid anything for promoting or if you buy the book. The authors have never heard of me. These opinions are based on my own gratitude and excitement. I wish I could offer a money back guarantee.

What’s your style…if you feel courageous enough to share?

 

Facing Our Pain


068I’ll come straight to the point.

I’ve come to recognize other women like myself who have tried to protect themselves by denying the truth of trauma, abuse or sexual addiction in their lives or their spouses’ lives. But the protection we think we create actually prolongs our pain and hurts those we love as well. Yes, it is painful to deal with our experiences, both present and past, but the cost down the road is much greater if we don’t.

I wish I could shout it.

Look at the fruit of our denial in our children.  I understand the despair, but we can’t be afraid to look at the truth. When we struggle, lost in a hurting, hopeless world, our children also take on our pain. Even if we aren’t aware or think we will keep them from it.

I know. I’ve been there.

I put my kids through hell because I allowed myself to be blind to the abuse in which we were living. I am to blame for my choices that put us there and kept us trapped. Even years later, my heart aches for them. I failed miserably to give them a solid foundation of what healthy relationships look like. They went into their adulthood with tremendous pain and anger behind them and little training of how to navigate a future marriage.

I’ve watched them live my broken life in many ways.

I never intended for my kids to take that kind of past into their future. The pain inflicted upon them was far greater than I imagined. I didn’t realize how badly they were hurt because of the trauma of their parents’ lives.

But I was more afraid of facing my past pain…

…more afraid of being divorced than of an abusive marriage…

…more afraid of what people thought than what my children needed…

…more afraid of my shame than if my family functioned well…

We can’t even count the price for those choices, and the longer it goes on, the higher the cost, as if interest is added.

But there’s good news.

Surrender and repentance changes everything.

God waits for us to surrender to him so he can uncover our festering wounds, bind them with his loving touch, and lead us into a place of healing and wholeness.

We must be willing to open our eyes to the truth, repent of bad choices and turn around into a new way of thinking and living.

God promises us that when we come to him in broken repentance and surrender, he doesn’t condemn or shame us. His love for us, exhibited through Jesus’s death on the cross and resurrection, covers us, soothes our soul and protects us with true safety.

However, doing so requires a difficult choice for us.

We must let go of our pride, fear and self-reliance. We must step out in faith with even a tiny step, believing that God will meet us as he promises. We must allow ourselves to experience the pain of our past and present, grieve the losses and move into our future.

But the exchange for us and our families is worth it.

I think of it like this:

When one of my children was very young, they couldn’t grasp the concept of exchanging their pennies for a coin of equal value. Five pennies seemed much better to them than a nickel, two nickels trumped a dime and no way would they give up any combination of coins for a quarter!

Our perception of what we are giving up is skewed by our limited understanding.

And God gives us even more than an equal share! He offers us a massive sundae dripping with fudge and topped with whipped cream, nuts and a cherry if we will hand over our McDonald’s soft serve cone.

There’s really no comparison, is there?

Be brave. Take action. Step into your future and shed your past.

Make a way for generations after you to be healthier, happier and living a hot fudge sundae life.

Is This Your Year of Freedom?


We’re continuing our series on becoming free…

I recognize women who have tried to protect themselves by denying the truth of their past sexual abuse, domestic violence or a spouse’s sexual addiction. Denying the lie they are living and the part they play. It’s excruciatingly painful to face the truth head on. To acknowledge the depth of dysfunction, and the stuck place we can’t seem to get out of. But the cost down the road, if we don’t, is so much greater than our current pain. Europe 228

I wish I could tell them.

These women see the consequences of their broken lives in themselves and in their children and are in despair, but they are afraid to look at the truth. How they got there and why they stay. They are lost in a hurting, hopeless world. I know.

I was one of them.

I believe the woman in the Bible, the one at the well, was one too. But when Jesus sought her out and spoke truth to her, she glimpsed a glimmer of hope.

‘Sir,’ the woman said, ‘I can see that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.’” (John 4:19-20)

She believed he was a prophet. Maybe he could untangle the mess that was her life.

Was she ready for that?

I wonder if she was trying to change the subject, or if she was trying to prove how “good” she was by telling him what she knew about religion. Often, when the Lord whispers some truth about our lives that we aren’t sure we want to deal with, we focus on a past or future circumstance – well, it was like this… – or another person’s issues instead. Maybe we bring up someone else as a comparison to alleviate our shame, or to evaluate how good we are based on how bad they are.

And how many times do we respond based on what we think God (or someone else) expects?

Or maybe this woman wished she could have a relationship with God, but because someone told her there was only one way and one place, she felt excluded. Besides, the shame she felt was enough to make her exclude herself from any kind of worship. Don’t we often deny ourselves from connecting with God?

How could he want someone like me?

Jesus declared, ‘Believe me, woman…true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.’”

The truth is, Jesus is happy to have us come to him any time, place and way, if our hearts are sincerely directed towards him.

The woman said, ‘I know that Messiah (called Christ) is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.’” (verse 25)

This woman clung to what she knew. Someday Jesus was going to come and explain everything. That was her hope. I can imagine her wistfully looking towards the mountain, picturing how Jesus would make everything in her life right again.

Someday.

Can you imagine her astonishment when Jesus said,

‘I who speak to you am he.’?”

The same shame-filled woman, who had earlier avoided the crowd, now went eagerly to find them. She couldn’t wait DSC_0020 (2)to share how simply being in the presence of Jesus had transformed her life.

And God has the same for us.

When we worship, when we take in his words spoken to us through the Bible, when we engage with Jesus, he transforms our life. No matter what it looks like. No matter what we’ve done or what’s been done to us.

So, what if this is the year we face our life? What if this year we let him transform us?

What Is Your Darkest Fact of Life?


Until we can come face to face with the deepest, darkest fact of life without damaging our view of God’s character, we do not yet know Him.                            Oswald Chambers

For most of my previously married years, I saw my marriage as the biggest problem with my life. It’s true, it wasn’t good. I longed to be free from the daily stress of emotional and sexual abuse. But while marriage was a nightmare, it wasn’t my main problem.

God wanted to set me free from so much more than a broken marriage.

My life had been dictated by guilt, fear, shame, pride, and wrong perceptions of God, myself and others. Those were the things entangling me and causing me pain.

How did I get there?

Compromise. 

While some compromise (sharing and rearranging ideas in order to come to an acceptable solution) is good,  another definition of compromise is

to expose or make vulnerable to danger, suspicion, scandal, etc.; jeopardize     (dictionary.com)

As a molested child, my life was compromised. And I learned from then on to continue life in compromise, allowing things I didn’t want, to dictate how I lived each day. I accepted a lower standard that was not safe or good.

Living in compromise clouds our vision of who God is.259

I made choices that led to destruction even while I was seeking God, because I didn’t understand God. My perceptions were based on an emotional filter that hung over my life like gauze, clouding what I saw, and giving me an entirely different view without any clarity. Like being in a house of mirrors, my thinking and emotions were distorted. Thus everything in the world around me was as well.

Compromise makes God become to us only what we think we need based on what we think we want.

We can’t see what we truly need that is actually something better than what we want. And our growth is stunted when we seek God on our own terms. It leaves us frustrated with God, thinking that He doesn’t hear us, or purposely won’t answer.

We may believe He is harsh or angry with us.

In this stuck place, we can’t move ahead, but keep returning to the same places over and over wondering why nothing changes for us.

Ironically, it is only as we step out in faith and obey God that we see the truth. Only then can He can lead us into areas of growth and healing. God is faithful to care for us regardless of our circumstances, but in the beginning all we can see is the life we’ve created, surrounding us like a dungeon wall. There seems to be no escape.

God longs to free us. He always has a way out.

For the next few weeks, we’ll be looking at a story from the Bible that moves my heart. Every time I read it. And I continue to receive healing from a new perspective of it every time. We see from this story in John, chapter four, the great love and escape God has for us.

The story of the woman at the well in Samaria shows the process of how God untangles us from the entrapment of our choices, reveals the truth of who He is, and enables us to share our experience with others to set them free as well.

This is a story of the deepest love and compassion of Christ for the most shamed of women. It is a story of the faithfulness of God, the forgiveness of Christ and the joy of new life.

If we want to see the truth about God, then we first must be willing to see the truth about our lives.

Are we willing?

Jesus was returning to Galilee and “…had to go through Samaria,” it says in the fourth verse of John 4. I want to point out that He could have skirted around Samaria as most Jews would have done at that time. The Samaritans were not a highly thought of people. Maybe that is why Jesus had to go there. For the sake of the banished woman and the outcasts of the town.

His great love compelled him to go into places others wouldn’t.

What place are you in that you need Jesus to visit? He will if you ask him. It doesn’t matter where…

A drug house? Jail? The local bar? Isolation in your home? The hospital? An affair? Mental illness, alcoholism or a food addiction?

Maybe it is a secret area no one knows about. A stash of candy or pornography. Or perhaps it’s something outwardly “acceptable,” but you know deep down it might be an issue – like a television program or social media site you can’t walk away from. Anything that dictates our thoughts, time, energy or money is a stuck place of compromise and skewed perspective.

Next week we’ll continue, but for now, let’s ask ourselves to be honest. And let’s ask Jesus to open our eyes to him and the truth that will set us free.

He promises that “…the truth will set you free.”  John 8:32b

 

Who ARE You?


How many of us really know who we are?

Most of us have been shaped by words spoken to us in anger or impatience or from another person’s broken perspective. Who of us didn’t have some kid or kids at school tell us we were stupid, lame, ugly, fat or unwanted for some reason. I know I did. Repeatedly. Statistics show that most children have also suffered from the criticisms, insults and abusive words flung at by overwhelmed, scared or generally messed up parents (aren’t we all?). Many of us have felt the abandonment or rejection divorce brings. Four out of five have been exposed to some type of sexual abuse.

Is is any wonder we struggle to understand who we are?

God created us with a specific design and plan for our life. (Yes, even you.) He delights in the unique personality that makes us, well – us. He knows every nuance, every tilt of our head, all the abilities we possess and what makes us smile. And he loves it when we exhibit those traits. No wonder Satan, the enemy of God and us, whispers lies, uses the wounds others have pressed on us, and creates circumstances to distort the beautiful creation of God that we each are.

But how do we find out who we are and become ourselves again?becomingmyselfbookcover

In her most recent book, Becoming Myself: Embracing God’s Dream of You, Stasi Eldredge shows us how. Becoming Myself takes us straight to the throne of Jesus where we are loved, delighted in and encouraged. As we read, we are transformed by the renewing of our thoughts about ourselves, our God, our relationships and our world. With intimately honest stories that come from the depths of her heart, Stasi reveals how we can see ours more  clearly. While her primary audience is women, every person needs what God shares through Stasi in this book. It tops my “must read” list of books. It’s not only enjoyable and entertaining, it is a life-changing read.

 

In what ways have you lost yourself? How have you learned who you were truly meant to be?