True Confessions


He told me everything I ever did.”

Samaritan woman at the well.   John 4:39

Remember this was the woman who Jesus took the time to converse with when she went to draw water, hoping no one would be around.DSC_0186

 

Jesus offered her “living water” or a life of freedom, abundance and no condemnation.

And after their little conversation, in which Jesus revealed that he knew the truth about her messed up life- that she had been with a number of men including those not her husband and she had been hiding out in shame – she realized that he was someone special. Important. A prophet. Or better yet, the Messiah!

She had believed that someday the Messiah would come, and when he did, she was ready.

There was no condemnation in Jesus telling her the truth about her life, only freedom.

Isn’t it a relief when something we’ve hidden comes out in the open?

We don’t usually think of our sin or shame being uncovered as a good thing. But Jesus confronts us to free us, not to shame us.

Because of everything I had done and everything done to me, I was entangled and trapped by every kind of fear.

Recognize any of these?

  • I was afraid of making people mad and what they would say about me.
  • I was afraid of not being loved.
  • I was afraid of a failed marriage. Again.
  • I was afraid of never being good enough for someone.
  • I was afraid of making mistakes.
  • I was afraid I wasn’t submitted or committed enough to live up to God’s word.
  • I was afraid of being abandoned.
  • I was afraid of losing my children because I couldn’t support a family on my own.
  • I was afraid nothing in my life would ever turn out right.

Quite a list, huh? My fears kept me so stuck, I couldn’t see the truth.

Like the woman at the well.

So when Jesus plainly spoke truth, she breathed a sigh of relief. And couldn’t wait to tell people!

Francine Rivers has a new book out, Bridge to Haven, in which the main character, Abra lives this very battle. Circumstances create lies in her young mind and heart, and she clings to the lies rather than believe the truth. Because of those lies and the fear they create, she makes choices that entangle her even more, until her life is such a mess, she can’t imagine it ever being worthwhile.

I can relate.

Next week, I’ll share a couple of other things that kept me stuck in a mess. But until then, may I pose a few questions?

What are you afraid of? What truth do you need to see or hear? Has someone who loves you tried to tell you, but you were stuck or unable to see?

See you next time for more True Confessions.

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

 

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

Living With An Addict – Part 3


Any of these statements sound familiar?

  • I thought he was my rescue.
  • When our child was born, my husband became sullen, neglectful and harsh.
  • I found a box of pornographic magazines hidden in the closet.
  • By the third drink, he was rude and mean with cruel sarcasm.
  • He really hurt me the other night.

There’s a verse in the Bible that states,

A prudent man sees danger and takes refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it.    Proverbs 22:3

Often, we simply don’t see the danger.

We’ll continue the series on Living With an Addict by addressing some of the thoughts and feelings a spouse in that situation may experience. While based in part on my experiences, these struggles are common ones others have shared with me as well. When we finally see the circumstances as they truly are, we can take refuge.

Many women living with someone addicted to sex became enticed into the situation because of patterns already established in our lives. Most likely, we were violated in some way in earlier years. The fear of violation continues in these circumstances. Women in this position don’t feel safe; rather, we consistently sense an unexplained threat, a helpless state of being preyed upon. Rape is an attitude of the heart, not simply a physical exploit even though it is an act of one person’s will against another. Molestation and/or rape can occur within a marriage, within the thoughts or heart of a spouse, even without physical violence, though often physical abuse takes place as well. Any violation is just that, a violation. The fact that it is perpetrated by someone with the privilege of sharing sexual relations with us doesn’t make it any less of a rape. Force in any manner whether through verbal, mental, emotional manipulation or physical attack constitutes rape.

A spouse living in this setting does not feel safe, comfortable or protected.

Because of this manipulation, we are left feeling the obligation or duty to meet those sexual demands in order to alleviate the preyed upon threat. Perhaps if we can fulfill the expectations, we will not longer be a target. As Christians, we are told to submit and offer our bodies to our spouse. Very good and wise advice, unless it is within an abusive relationship. Jesus turned the other cheek to his accusers, but for those of us being used and abused that setting is like a drug to our addict. Often, we aren’t able to discern the difference between overlooking minor hurts or offenses caused by our spouse, and feeding a dangerous addiction by our obligation to make everything okay. Many times we are told that if we don’t do what our spouse demands, we are encouraging him to go to someone else who will.

All this lays a foundation for further abuse not freedom.

We begin to feel we must do whatever it takes to avoid conflict especially in the area of sex. So we compromise what we believe to be right, and we compromise who we are. We apologize for everything; we ask for nothing; we ignore our needs and any problems. Although we may think we are keeping the peace, we are an emotional time bomb ready to detonate. We fight for peace outside, but inside we feel tormented, suffocated.

We long to get away, but feel compelled to stay.

Deep inside, we sense that what we’re living in isn’t right or good. Our portrayal to the world, however, paints a different picture. If we confess our uneasiness with our life, we may be met with well-meaning platitudes that things will work out or something must be wrong with us to feel that way. Often, with the exception of our spouse, those who insist all is well do so because they haven’t seen the truth of what is happening. We’ve learned to minimize in order to survive so part of us believes them and thinks we must be crazy. When we don’t share the full truth, others aren’t able to help us, and we continue to internalize our pain, turmoil and exhaustion. Sometimes, even we don’t realize what things are normal or not.

After months of counseling with a pastor who saw the truth of my situation and who I trusted completely, I finally casually shared something in passing that deep down I had felt was wrong, but passed it off as my issue. When I told her, she was shocked and assured me that the circumstances I described were not normal or acceptable. I had grown oblivious after so many years of feeling the obligation to tolerate the behavior. How freeing it was for me when she spoke the truth about it. I was relieved and released.

The truth shall set you free…

Continued next week….

 

Where have you missed seeing danger? Have you felt tormented? Are there any areas where you have been freed by the truth?
 
For help or prayer feel free to send me a private message at laurabennet14@gmail.com