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.

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?

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

I Don’t Hate Sex


It was a startling revelation to realize that I don’t hate sex.

In fact, making love with my husband, who adores me and treats me with tender kindness, continues to be a wonderful, fulfilling, intimate event that thrills me. Who would have thought? Not I. That is a testimony to my husband, but even more to the healing power of God in my life. I once believed the lies engrained in my heart that told me I was a shameful object only worthy if I could perform well sexually. I accepted the claims that I was a prude, frigid hater of sex.

It isn’t the act of lovemaking as the result of an intimate relationship we hate, it’s the feelings of shame, hurt, rejection, loneliness and often times, physical pain that we hate. In the setting of living with an addict, sex can become a terrible chore we fear. Especially if any kindness shown us comes with a price tag of sex.

Is it surprising that we would avoid sex like that?

In a healthy marriage, intimacy is the basis for sex. Knowing the depth of our spouse and longing to connect with them creates an environment conducive to a physical union being enjoyable and fulfilling. However, for a sex addict to keep their fantasy in place and alleviate their shame, they avoid intimacy. Because of deception and secrecy, we are left only guessing who they really are. Often, the intimate information we share with them is used against us to gain or keep control over us. Obviously, we become reluctant to offer any more of ourselves.

Without intimacy, women especially, have a difficult time giving themselves sexually.

When there is only pain and unresolved conflict, our desire for physical intimacy is destroyed. This leads to emotional detachment in order to avoid feelings of being used. We may truly desire to share intimate relations with our spouse, but as they push us away emotionally while demanding of us sexually, the conflict in our heart leads us to despair.

When a wife can’t meet the needs of her fantasy driven spouse, guilt drives her.

If we say no to sex because we feel like an object, we feel guilty for not meeting his needs. (Especially as Christian wives!) If we go along with his requests, we feel the guilt of giving ourselves without attachment.  We may feel guilty for not loving him well, or enabling his addiction; but which is which? Guilt confuses the lines of boundaries, making us unable to function and driving us into depression.

All of this can lead us to seek fulfillment from other areas.

When our marriage lacks trust, intimacy and enjoyment,  it’s easy to pursue meaning and satisfaction through other means. Our children may become our emotional stability, or our work, hobbies, friends, food, shopping; we may even turn to alcohol, drugs, or adulterous relationships to feel better about ourselves and our lives. Unfortunately, that fix is temporary and can end up setting patterns that will eventually destroy us and others we love.

Life with an addict becomes survival, not living.

We struggle to get through a day, coping with a world that spins out of control. Those around us may not notice that we are barely holding on. If we believe in God, we probably wonder where he is, or perhaps we feel we haven’t figured out the right formula to make him able to change things for us. Living with an addict is not living; it is dying slowly and painfully. Most of the time we have done such a good job of pretending life is normal that no one around us suspects we are in danger of bleeding to death.

…say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come…

Isaiah 35:4

If you or someone you know is dealing with a similar situation, God is there and can help. Please comment below or email me privately at laurabennet14@gmail.com

 

 

 

Living with an Addict – Part 2


Some signs of addiction are obvious.

But sometimes we become so accustomed to a dysfunctional life, that we can miss even the most obvious signs of trouble. I often felt like I was crazy because what I believed to be normal seemed like a fantasy; and the reality of my confusing life became familiar–a new normal.

Last week I shared some of the patterns I became aware of once I realized it wasn’t me who was crazy; it was the life I was surviving that lacked sanity. As I previously shared, most of these patterns can be related to any addiction, but my experience involved sexual addiction.

Someone addicted to sex probably:

  1. Covers their shame by belittling you. The cycle of shame involved in sexual addiction is so overwhelming that the addict may attempt to rid themselves of it by diverting it to their partner. This may take the form of mocking a spouse who is hesitant to participate in sexual activity by telling her she is prude, frigid or self-righteous, or labeling normal intimate relations as wild or erotic. The addict  tries to justify his behavior in his own mind by making it seem normal in comparison to a “prude” partner, or by portraying it as a shared fantasy with a spouse who is as obsessed as he. A spouse’s role as wife and mother may be mocked verbally, for example telling the children she’s crazy and not capable of caring for them; or with actions like forcing her to sit in the back seat of the car.
  2. Is Deceptive. Needing to cover up his addiction, the addict must lie–a fantasy life takes on reality in their mind so they themselves are deceived. They often excuse frequent extended absences by stating, “I ran into an old friend,” “I lost track of time,” or “I had to work late.” Naturally, those situations do occur, but if lies about money, friends, work hours, activities and broken promises happen repeatedly, it could indicate a problem. Sometimes the person my be sneaky or elusive. Rarely does he follow through.
  3. Is irrational. The longer the addict lives in a fantasy world, the harder it is for him to discuss things rationally. His fantasy objects do and say exactly what he wants so he simply can’t carry on a reasonable discussion about real life issues. He may jump from subject to subject due to his imaginary way of coping. Issues are rarely resolved in this confusing setting.
  4. Is obsessed in other areas. Hours in front of the television, sleeping, overworking, working on hobbies, playing sports, alcohol abuse or frequenting the computer late at night may be tell tale signs of addiction.
  5. Has consistent conflicts with other people. Someone at work, on the baseball team or in his circle of friends is a constant irritation to the addict. He blames every bad situation on someone else. Changing jobs, teams, hobbies or friends doesn’t alleviate the situation. Frequent moving or job changes may give the impression of a new start, but the problems remain. The person may be well-liked or charming, but relationships don’t progress to anything beyond shallow conversation. Friendships may be many, but detached and without substance. The addict refuses accountability.
  6. Avoids intimacy. To the addict, intimacy is a threat–what goes on in his mind must stay hidden.  They regard the normal need and desire of their spouse to be treated kindly, considerately and gently as strange, sick, demanding or emotionally needy. Often sex is used to “fix” conflict in relationship, or as an escape to avoid issues. Most addicts equate sex with love. They only desire physical satisfaction and insist that sex will cause intimacy; their spouse should prove her love with sex. They may say, “I need you to have sex with me to show you are committed,” or “If you really love me, you will do what I like.” The addict takes sex; he doesn’t share intimacy.

Next week, I’ll address how the spouse of an addict may feel as a result of these patterns. Life will not always be this way.

Perhaps these patterns exist in your home or your life…what is your experience? Do you know someone who needs help?
 
Feel free to comment or send me an email at laurabennet14@gmail.com
 

Helpful resources: An Affair of the Mind  by Laurie Hall; puredesire.org; In The Name Of Submission by Kay Strom (dealing with violence)