Getting Well Part 1


So you want to get well. Now what?

From the moment I answered God’s question affirmatively, my life became one revelation after another. PSuddenly, I saw wounded places in my heart that I had never noticed before. I had a new understanding about my abuse and recognized the truth that God was showing me. I learned so much about myself and how I related to others. Then, as I began to change, my family changed. Not all my circumstances changed, but the way I saw things did, so the circumstances were no longer the main focus of my life. Jesus was. The things God showed me opened up areas of my life to his comfort and healing.

But when I first said yes to God’s question about getting well, it seemed like my life spun out of control!

Because it did. At least, out of my control. But that was the point, to get my life out of my control and into God’s. It was difficult and frightening at first because I had been comfortable in my old ways even though they were destructive. Everything I had learned to rely on, all the patterns I had employed to protect myself and all the defenses I built to make myself feel secure were actually hindering the better situations God had for me. I needed to learn new, different ways to live.

Kind of like when my kids were very young and learning about money.

They would proudly show me their five pennies and I would attempt to exchange them for a nickel. No way! They would adamantly refuse. All they could see was that five was more than one. It didn’t make sense to them to trade something they thought of as more for only one coin. Then, I would try to give them a dime for their five pennies. That was worse in their little minds! Now they perceived I was trying to steal their five coins for one coin that was even smaller in size! They could not grasp the concept of the dime being twice as valuable! Even though I had doubled the value, they felt I was trying to rip them off when I was actually trying to give them something twice as good. Until they learned more about money, they had a terrible time trusting that I meant them good, not harm.

Jeremiah 29:11 tells us that God has a plan for our future and it is to bring us good, not harm.

We can trade what we have made of our lives, even the destructive areas that seem safe to us, for something exceedingly better. We simply have to let go of our “pennies” and let God give us something twice as good! But until we learn more about God, we may have an awful time trusting his intentions.

In the beginning, I felt scared, shaky and unsure of everything in my life and heart.

I felt like crying, and sometime screaming a lot of the time. I was tempted to fill the void created by letting go of my old patterns.  Before I fully learned new patterns of living, the empty places screamed at me to replace them. For me one of the biggest replacements was busyness, but it could be alcohol, food, shopping, reading romance novels (all of which I once battled) or any number of “comforts.” I would say “yes” to every request or perceived responsibility and take on more and more until I exhausted myself.

If I accomplished a lot, I felt good about myself and when I was busy I didn’t have time to consider the messed up places in my heart. That old pattern still threatens sometimes when my past fears get triggered. But now I’ve become aware of that tendency and instead of letting it control me I embrace the opposite. When I feel compelled to take on more than is reasonable, I recognize that old pattern, and I take a break or a time out, maybe even a nap.

God has a double portion of good for us if we are willing to relinquish our control.

Letting him lead us may seem crazy because his ways are opposite of the patterns we’ve employed to make ourselves feel safe. But if we will agree to his making us well, he will have twice as much good for us than what little we’ve been clinging to.

What have you been clinging to that God wants to exchange for something better?

Living with an Addict


Addiction comes in many forms.

Typically, when we say “addiction” we think of alcohol, drugs or maybe gambling. But we can have addictions to shopping, eating, not eating, reading, television, gaming, Facebook, checking emails, surfing the internet, magazines, exercise, pornography, sports, scrap-booking or sex. Anything that grabs our attention, pulls us into a place of needing it, and dictates our thoughts or actions has created an addiction. The ‘something’ we feel we must have; we can’t go without, shapes our lives and the lives of those we live with.

For decades I was shaped by the patterns of living with someone addicted to sex.

Over the following weeks, I will share what I learned through my experiences. I hope to help and encourage anyone feeling despair over your circumstances–either because you live with an addict or battle with addiction in some area. Most of us do to some extent at some point of our life. Recognizing patterns and symptoms can alert us to get the help we need. Honestly evaluating our particular situation is the first step in breaking free from the bondage of addiction.

While many patterns relate universally to any addiction (and some by themselves simply show a lack of growth in character or maturity), I’m relating the following patterns primarily with sexual addictions. Someone who is addicted to sex probably:

  1. Needs to be in control. The women in his fantasies do exactly what he wants and enjoy his power; therefore, he expects everyone in his life to submit to his desires. Sex makes him feel powerful and in control. He may use anger or violence to control his family, and may not acknowledge their needs or feelings since he has no control over those areas.
  2. Lacks respect for women. The degradation of women due pornography and prostitution causes the focus of a woman’s value to be on her ability to perform sexually or contribute materially. This can be particularly devastating for women choosing to stay home to raise children. That job consumes her time and energy without financial profit, and can leave her feeling worthless, especially if she can’t fulfill her husband’s sexual fantasies.
  3. Is self-absorbed. In a healthy relationship, each person desires to meet the needs of their spouse whenever possible, but an addict focuses entirely on meeting the desires of self regardless of how valid or pressing others’ situations may be. Family needs may be ignored. Someone addicted to sex can fulfill their needs almost anytime, anywhere because much of the stimulation and satisfaction comes from mental images. This constant, instant gratification makes it nearly impossible to put another person’s needs first.
  4. Uses manipulation. In order to get his way or keep his behavior hidden, the addict will often use whatever means necessary no matter what it costs. He may be kind and understanding one minute, making promises or begging forgiveness, then angry and violent the next. He may use guilt, self-pity or even whining to manipulate his family. In her book, The Dance of Anger, Dr. Harriet Lerner states, “If women are constantly made to feel guilty, they remain ‘in their place’ and are ineffective.”

To be continued…

It may be a grueling process to redefine who you are apart from the impact of these patterns, or to allow yourself to be extricated from a life of addiction, but there is hope.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.

Galatians 5:1

 
Have you experienced any of these patterns either as an addict or living with one?
 

If you need help or would like prayer, please feel free to comment below or send me a private message at laurabennet14@gmail.com

Christmas Proposal


I can’t believe that I am celebrating my fourth Christmas with Brendan; well, I’m counting that first one when we booked a quick flight on December 9th for me to fly out the twelfth and be with him in Australia until two days before Christmas because I couldn’t bear to be away from my kids on Christmas. We shared the actual day via Skype; his Christmas day was my Christmas Eve and I watched them open their gifts around the artificial Christmas tree that I had helped the kids decorate. I remember it as if it were yesterday and yet we’ve had two others here–almost three now, each in a different house. Oh, life has certainly been an adventure.

After we confirmed my flight to Australia, and I pinched myself to see if I was actually going to see Brendan again, I began to think about him proposing to me. He had come to America five weeks after my first visit to Australia, and we made a quick tour of California and Nevada so that Brendan could ask my parents for my hand in marriage and meet my three other children as well as my close friends. That trip whirlwinded us from Los Angeles to Pismo Beach, San Francisco and Reno and back home again where Brendan tore himself away from me to return home to his kids the day before our Thanksgiving. The purpose of that trip was for him and my kids to get to know each other. Still, as our love for each other and confidence that God’s plan included marriage grew, I became impatient for the next step, which in my mind was the actual proposal.

However, I also wanted to wait for God’s and Brendan’s timing, so as I boarded the plane I prayed that God would be in control and let me just enjoy another couple of weeks with Brendan in person without focusing on when, where and whether he would pop the question. Here’s a good place for a confession. Carol (who had become engaged while I was on my first trip to Australia) and I had frequented a few jewelers for just a slight preview of what we might like in the way of engagement/wedding rings when the time finally arrived. On one such occasion, I fell in love with a ring and visions of my finger graced with it in proud proclamation that I belonged to Brendan nearly tormented me, but I fought off the longings and determined simply to relish the time with my sweetheart.

Confession number two: I thought about a proposal a lot. I know. I know. Silly girl, dreamer of dreams, oh romantic that I am…

Brendan was glad to have me there, not only because he missed me, but because his late wife had always planned and shopped for Christmas far ahead of time and he felt a bit lost. The year she passed, most of their Christmas things were already done so Brendan didn’t have very much to think about, but this time he didn’t even know where to start. I gladly helped him figure out what gifts to buy, and off we went shopping each day. We even looked at a few rings, but alas, no proposal.

Finally, on our last night, we enjoyed a wonderful evening together, dining and walking around eating gelato afterwards; and I thought surely, any moment he would ask me. Still, I pushed those pestering thoughts away and tried not to anticipate or expect anything. I truly wanted to trust Brendan’s timing in the situation. The night passed and we went home. Confession three: I was a little disappointed. I couldn’t believe that I was leaving the next morning, again feeling the dread of not knowing where we were headed with our relationship. Plus, the sorrow at having to leave him again really overwhelmed me.

We cuddled on his bed for the last time, kissing with tears in our eyes.

“I can’t believe that I’m going home tomorrow and I don’t know when I’ll see you again.”

Brendan kissed me again, and then looked in my eyes. “I can’t let you go without asking you to marry me. Will you marry me?”

Of course!!! “Yes, of course I will.”

Brendan had an elaborate plan that he hadn’t had time to concoct and carry out, and no ring yet to offer so instead he ended up asking me on the spur of the moment completely differently than he had thought he would. But all I cared about was that I was going to marry him someday soon. That was good enough for me! And somehow it seemed a little easier to go home excitedly exclaiming my engagement.

You’ll have to read the book to find out about the ring…