What’s Your Story?


pexels-photo-247314.jpegLast week I shared about the anti-trafficking organization, Children of the Night, that confused; okay let’s be real, infuriated me, with its funding starting and continuing from Hefner’s Playboy empire. I shared the email I sent and the response from Lois Lee explaining briefly Hefner’s role in her business.

And I wrestled all week with it even in the wake of the horrendous violence happening in our country.

Death begetting more death.

Kind of like my impression of a pornography enterprise funding an organization rescuing those trafficked into prostitution.

But what kept coming back to me, in a gently convicting kind of way, in spite of my justified, righteous anger, was that I didn’t know this woman’s story. That I needed to pray for, not persecute, her.

I didn’t know why she chose to battle sex-trafficking to begin with. Was she exploited, abused, molested herself? Had she been a victim of sexual predators? I had no idea why she felt that Hefner and his Playboy enterprise was her only option for funding. Or how that relationship came about in the first place.

Jesus reminded me that I didn’t know her story.

We’ve all made choices, good and bad. I’ve made my fair share of terrible ones. Many of which developed out of my own background. When we’re confused and looking for answers, we’ll try whatever seems like the best option at the time, no matter what it is.

Sometimes the worst option looks really good in light of our experiences.

Just as I knew I needed to address concern for what seemed like a hypocritical use of funds to rescue children being exploited by the very same group funding the exploitation, I became convinced that I needed to reach out to Lois Lee and ask,

“What’s your story?”

Because Jesus cares about our story. He cares about how and why we landed where we did, making the choices we did. And more importantly, he forgives them all because of his love and compassion for us. No wrong can ever make him turn away from us.

She responded immediately.

Her email told me the basics of who she is—a doctor, a lawyer, an academic, a Catholic. I won’t share the email because now it’s a personal matter, no longer a letter to an unknown company. She gave me very little detail of what led her to begin except to say she’d been persecuted for her position in wanting to help young women in prostitution. She spoke highly of Hefner, even sounding as if he had been a dear friend.

I thanked her for sharing. I continue to pray for her to be blessed, healed, and loved by Jesus.

And I want to ask you, “what’s your story?” What led you to this place you are in today? What’s your life all about? Do you know Jesus like he knows you?

He cares about every moment of your story. So do I. Without judgment. His grace is enough for all of us—even the worst parts of our story.

And I know he started our story, has a better plot for it, and will keep writing it into something beautiful if we let him. So…

“What’s your story?”

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?

 

Sex Begets Sex


I heard another story of a brokenhearted woman this week.

Light out of Darkness
Light out of Darkness

Hard circumstances followed her through life and relationships never seemed to turn out right. Deceived by men over the years, she wondered if anyone would ever love her purely, rightly, completely—at all. She hates the life she’s found herself trapped in, but doesn’t know how she got there or how to get out. Despairing and lonely, this woman cries out to God asking “what’s wrong with me?”

Her name could be Susan or Jane or Crystal. Or Fantine from Les Miserables.

While the women have different names, the story is the same. Sexually abused as girls or young women, we now search in vain for true love and acceptance. Our hearts live in a confused, turmoiled state of unrest, if not every day outwardly, at least in the secret depths of our souls.

As grown women, we wonder why we feel targeted or lost; why we can’t find a good man or keep any; and why compulsion or addiction rules us. We question our sanity and worth. The only value we seem to possess is derived from doing enough, making enough money or offering our sexuality as a sacrifice for “love.” Sometimes it’s the same thing.

I was such a woman.

Now I long to reach out and grab hold of each one whose eyes hold deep secrets. I want to say I understand. It’s not your fault. You didn’t imagine these twisted nightmares or create such craziness. Perhaps you don’t remember anything but bits and pieces of tortured pleasure; or maybe you’re haunted with images you wish would disappear forever.

The bottom line is that sexual abuse creates an emotional, spiritual, mental and physical environment for the repetition of a broken, abusive life.

It may be that you are stuck in a relationship with someone who is abusive, or that you abuse yourself with cutting or food or drugs. You may have deeply related health issues. Perhaps you have found a wonderful man who is kind and loving, but you can’t allow yourself to believe he actually loves you. You may visit your abuse on your children through the same type of circumstances you endured, or in eruptions of rage that fly from you unbidden, unexpected and unwanted.

Whatever your situation, I am so sorry it happened to you.

Hope seems non-existent, but I promise it is there. God’s heart breaks with yours and longs to unravel and redeem all the broken, hurting places of confusion and pain. It may seem impossible. It may take a long time. The truth seems lost in the lies, but light shines in the darkness; there is hope for you. Cry out to Jesus. He hears. He answers. He heals.

If you’ve started on the journey to wholeness, don’t quit.

So many times I’ve wanted to give up. I’ve felt that the deepest issues couldn’t change in me.  I’ve often cried in despair (even recently) thinking that no healing was available for the tiniest cracks in my heart. But Jesus doesn’t let go. In the darkest moments of confusion and pain, he holds me close and comforts me if I let him. He whispers,

I love you, truly. Don’t despair. I’m everything you need. Rest in me. Be still because I am God. I created the entire universe and I am holding you right now. You will be alright.”                                  Jesus

Beloved, can I pray for you?

Jesus, because my heart breaks for these women, who have suffered abuse and suffer from the effects of it still, I know your heart breaks. Please draw them to you. Change their perception of you so they can see that you love them and long to comfort them. Please embrace them with all the grace and strength and gentleness of your spirit. Thank you that while you accept us where we are, you never leave us there, but instead take us into new life and healing.   Amen
 
If you need prayer or want to discuss your situation feel free to comment below or contact me privately at: laurabennet14@gmail.com

Why Our Sexuality is Open to Attack


Our sexuality is the core of our being.

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him: male and female he created them.  Genesis 1:27

God created us to be like Him as male and female.

Those two elements, in God’s perfection, join to form one being; not just physically, but spiritually, emotionally, and mentally in the way we think, act and respond. The roles we have been given complement each other.

No wonder Satan would choose this crucial area to attack with such vehemence.

If he can destroy who we are sexually, then he tears down the unity that God originated with Adam and Eve; a portrayal of his intimate love for us. Consider the parallel in the New Testament of Christ’s relationship to the church as His bride. God shows his love and desire to be reconciled to us through Jesus’ sacrifice for us.

God created man to respond to His demonstrated love.

He gives us a daily example in bringing together a man and his bride. As a man shows love and devotion to his wife, she responds with adoration and a desire to give herself to him. This is the design of an amazing God who longs to have us understand his thoughts towards us are good and loving. What a choice area in which to bring perversion and shame in order to destroy what God created to be good! Satan entices us to think differently about sexuality by tempting us with the emptiness of physical pleasure outside of this intimate union meant for deep fulfillment.

Then, in an effort to reclaim our sexuality, we are drawn into sexual sin.

Pornography, masturbation, fantasy and adultery lure us with false images of regaining our deepest identity, but as we indulge, we are engulfed in the shame it brings. That shame begins the desperate search for our true sexuality all over again. Soon we are trapped in a cycle of sexual sin and shame that is impossible, without God’s intervention, to break.

What if the cycle was forced on us by another?

If we were familiarized with sex in a wrong way, through no choice of our own, by what we saw or by things that were said or done to us, we are still drawn into the same cycle. We may have an even harder time being extricated from the patterns that we learned especially if we were a child. As a child in that situation, something deep inside me felt the situation was wrong, but I was unaware of the patterns being set in my life.

I grew into my teen and adult years making choices based on those early perversions.

It wasn’t until I was in my thirties that I began to remember and understand what had taken place in those years, and how it was affecting my adult life. God had so much to reveal to me. It has been a long journey of uncovering the lies and changing the way I perceived God, myself and others especially in the area of sexuality.

The good news is that God sees and knows all.

He still loves us regardless of what was done to us or what we have done. He is there to show us the truth, heal our hurts, and give us an understanding of who he really made us to be.

He longs to free us from the cycle of sexual abuse, addiction, and shame.

I sought the Lord and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.   Psalm 34:4-5

Where do you feel your sexuality has been attacked? What has God done for you that proves he loves you?
 
If you have questions or need prayer, please comment below or email me privately at laurabennet14@gmail.com