How to Rebuild Your Life


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Corinth, Greece

Today I’m sharing an adaptation of a popular post I wrote a few years ago. It seems to have been helpful then, and I think it is relevant in new ways at this time in our nation and our individual lives.

There’s a book in the Bible about a man named Nehemiah. 

He was brokenhearted over the fact that the city of Jerusalem was in ruins, and after praying to God about it, he embarked on a mission to rebuild the walls.

I love this story for a number of reasons. 

First of all, I’m moved that someone saw devastation and cared enough to find out how he could help. I feel this way when I hear stories of people whose lives have been ruined. Maybe it was destroyed by a natural disaster, or because of another person’s selfish action, or even by their own poor choices, but whatever the reason, the ruins of someone’s life solicit a compassionate longing to help them rebuild.

I believe that’s how God feels about us.

Secondly, I love that Nehemiah took action. After he grieved for a city that lay in ruins, he asked God to help him and then set out to obtain permission, supplies and a group of people to rebuild the city even though he “was very much afraid.” The king granted him all the time and supplies he needed. Words can communicate compassion, but action shows love.

God gives us time and what we need to rebuild. He’s patient.

Next, it encourages me that Nehemiah didn’t give up, even when his group came up against so much opposition. A local official ridiculed and tormented the people, asking them what they thought they were doing. Lies were flung at them to convince them that their efforts were in vain, that their attempts were feeble and inadequate. Too much was ruined. The rubble couldn’t be reclaimed for a purpose.

I’ve heard those same lies so many times.

At one point in my life, I was exhausted from working to hold together my marriage and my family. My strength was giving out because of unresolved daily conflicts, and my determination to stay married in spite of a horribly dysfunctional situation. My children were showing the effects of living under the strain in our home. I was certain that the “rubble” was too much to wade through. Nothing seemed salvageable.

So God showed me this story about Nehemiah.

Finally, I love the story because God has a plan for rebuilding. As I studied Nehemiah’s situation, I saw some applications for my life. For me the plan looked like this:

  1. Fight for my family even if it meant doing things that seemed to tear us apart. I had to separate from my ex-husband in order to allow us to deal with issues. Pulling out of most of our activities became necessary so we could focus on our family.
  2. Concentrate on what God wanted to change in me. Allow God to heal me and leave my husband and marriage in His hands. Success for me would depend on what God did in my life.
  3. Set up a guard against the things that crept in to hurt my relationships with God and my children. For me those things were fatigue, busyness, not making time for them, and trying to figure everything out without seeking God.
  4. Put God ahead of my marriage. I had been setting my desire for the “perfect marriage” ahead of God. I compromised truth in order to keep peace. My fear caused me to push aside things God tried to tell me even when they would have helped me. I stayed in a place God had tried to release me from and didn’t ask me to stay in.
  5. Be aware of Satan’s plot to destroy us and our family. I had to choose to fight for the well-being of myself and my children even when the enemy told me to give up because it wouldn’t be worth it. Recognizing the lies of the enemy is imperative, but not always easy. We have to be so alert. Nehemiah had the people keep a weapon in one hand while they built with the other.

Rebuilding our lives can be scary.

We can’t see all that lies ahead. It’s like driving on the darkest road or in dense fog at night. Our headlights only shine far enough for us to keep moving. We drive as far as we can see, and as we drive, the path is illuminated ahead of us.

Rebuilding happens one day at a time.

We can’t look too far ahead or worry about what will come. Instead we have to trust God to provide what we need for that day. When I look ahead and start to worry about the future, God asks

Do you have what you need today? Can you believe I’ve got a good plan?

The answer is always “yes.” I always have what I need today. When the next day comes, I have what I need again. Nothing surprises God. He’s already seen all of our life and has a great plan for it. We can trust him to bring restoration to every area of our lives.

His plan rarely turns out to be what we think we need or want.

It’s actually far better. The marriage I once tried so desperately to hold together fell apart. My ex-husband went his own way, but about eight years later God brought me an incredible man – my true love and soul mate . We will celebrate our eighth anniversary in a couple of months. (Read our story.)

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My one and only love – Brendan

God continues to rebuild our lives and the lives of our seven children and nine grandchildren. We are committed to an amazing church family where we are growing and able to serve others in our community.  While we still have struggles, God is bringing such healing and joy to our daily lives. We praise him for the way he has redeemed our past and rebuilt on the ruins.

How is God rebuilding your life?

Have Lies Distorted Your Life?


Last week I described some of the lies that have dictated my life.

Those lies devastated me like physical blows to my soul. I was left feeling trampled, used, broken, dismayed, wounded, guilty and alone.  Hard as I tried, I often gave way to them and believed what they shouted at me. I tried to break free but felt the distortions tangle around my legs like seaweed as I attempted to move forward.  It took me many years to grab hold of the truth instead.

Unfortunately, in my pain, I’d run back to the old patterns of living.

When I felt worthless, I would treat myself in an unworthy manner. I’d solve my need for love in my own ways that were destructive. I equated sex with love, so I would seek importance and worth in relationships with men who only wanted to use me. I wanted to feel loved and valuable, but because of warped perceptions of myself, I kept getting involved with perverted men. My broken ideas regarding myself and sex attracted men who are addicted to sex. Those men only wanted my body and discarded the rest of me. Then when my body was used up, they discarded that too.

It was a battle to learn the truth and stop listening to and living the lies.

I needed to learn that I am worthy because God made me and says I am; that sex doesn’t not prove love, it is an outpouring of intimacy in marriage. A relationship with a man isn’t what makes me valuable; I am valuable because of God’s love for me. But sometimes the longing to have someone hold me would wash over me like an ocean wave leaving me off balance and spluttering for air.

I felt like I had a sign posted to my chest that said “free game.” Guys looking for prey seemed to flock to me. Because of my misconceptions, for years I was torn. Sometimes the attention flattered me, other times I felt repulsed and nauseated by the inappropriate, perverted things said and done to me.

I see now that my spirit was trying to tell me the truth.

As I grasped more of the truth about me and sexuality, I realized those men’s actual intentions held no love. I decided I didn’t want that kind of attention anymore. Something in my spirit had been screaming at me “this is not okay.” I will never again take that discernment lightly.

I longed for people to see the real me, apart from sex.

But the real me was buried—hidden away in a fortress constructed by me to protect myself. And even though I craved someone truly knowing me, I didn’t even know myself. An abundance of pain buried deeply from year upon year, the depths of which seemed fossilized, kept me hidden. I’m so thankful that I was not lost to God. He knew all the depths and called me out of hiding. And even though it hurt when new areas were cracked open to bring forth the skeletons of my past, the truth was setting me free. (John 8:32)

Where do you find yourself looking for love? What are some destructive patterns of living that you’ve struggled with?
 

For help or prayer please comment below or email me privately at laurabennet14@gmail.com

The Lies We Believe


Once upon a time, this was my life… 

Some days are okay, but most are almost unbearable; like today when I am alone, feeling the weight of my decision to move on and the severity of my family’s situation. I feel extremely isolated and some days my heart hurts so badly. I can’t believe this is how my life has turned out. A new start at my age??

The words above were taken from one of my journals during the months following my final separation from my ex-husband. I still had so much to learn about myself, and God had so much more healing for me in the years to come. I’m still in progress.

During those years, I began to recognize the lies that dictated my life. Lies like:

  • I am of no value.
  • I am powerless.
  • I have no voice.
  • I am an object for another’s sexual pleasure.
  • If I love someone, I must allow them to mistreat me.
  • I can’t look at Jesus’ face because I am ashamed.
  • I have to do whatever someone else wants even if I don’t feel safe.
  • My husband is looking elsewhere for sex because I’m not a good enough wife.
  • I am never enough.
  • Everything wrong is my fault, and it’s my responsibility to fix it.
  • If I feel frustrated or cry, I must not be trusting God enough.
  • Performing sexually proves my worth.
  • If I was more (or less) _________, I would be loved.
  • I will feel loved if I have sex.

God says:

  • I am valuable to him.  (Zephaniah 3:17)
  • God gave me a spirit of power. (2 Timothy 1:7)
  • I have a voice. (Psalm 66:19 & Romans 9:1)
  • No one should use me to satisfy their lust. (I Thessalonians 4:3-8)
  • God is not happy when someone mistreats me. (Zechariah 2:8-9)
  • We can confidently approach Jesus. (Hebrews 4:16)
  • I am only responsible for my own actions. (Romans 14:12)
  • Feelings and crying are part of who we are. Even Jesus cried. (John 11:35)
  • Husbands are to love their wives as Christ loves the church. That isn’t only about sex. (Ephesians 5:25-33)
  • Love comes from God, not from sex. (Jeremiah 31:3; I John 4:19)

Perhaps you have believed the same lies, but haven’t realized you’re enslaved to them. For every lie I believed, God offered me the truth, and I began to live again. I believe he wants to do the same for you.

What are lies you’ve believed? What truth have you learned? Have you started over, or would you like to?