Feeling Good!

As with most addicts I’ve struggled with a true sense of feeling most of my life. Growing up in a dysfunctional home environment where feelings are rarely if ever discussed, can cause great problems and confusion. You have feelings, but because your feelings are seemingly unimportant to anyone else, to have feelings must be bad, so you learn to stuff the feelings down until eventually you’re numb. For the feelings you can’t numb by stuffing there’s self medication, for me it was with drugs of all sorts, alcohol, and any sexual relationship I could find.

I lived the better part of 50 years unable to decipher within myself certain feelings. Until, October 2004 when Bill and I went to a couples seminar led by Dr. Doug Weiss, who was speaking on intimacy in marriage. During the seminar, the couples had to do a “Feelings” exercise, where we would look over a list of words that describe different feelings: sad, angry, disappointed, joyful, excited, etc… In the exercise we were to choose a feeling word, describe a time before the age of 18 when we felt that feeling, then describe a time after the age of 18 when we felt that same feeling. I can’t recall what feeling word I chose, all I remember was my mind freezing, my throat choking up and a panic coming over me as I was thinking how to describe this feeling. I couldn’t get words out of my mouth. What was this? It was such a simple exercise, but it had shut me down. Gradually, after a few minutes I was able to come up with an answer, but I was sweating when I was done. I was in pain, I wanted to run but I couldn’t.

Over the last 4 years, Bill and I continued to do this exercise; not on a regular basis anymore, but in the early months of my recovery it was very important. God has done a remarkable thing in healing my ability to feel. So much so, that now, my feelings are out in the other direction. I can be walking through a super market and be overcome with such a sense of God’s love for people that I want to cry. Other days, I will be overcome with a deep sadness for the darkness people are lost in that I don’t know what to do to help them . It appears to be a double edged sword this thing called feeling. We either try to run from them because they are too much for us to handle or they become overwhelming because we can now feel them so strongly.

There are days that I can be walking my dogs and I look around at God’s creation with such a sense of love and appreciation for His goodness to us. This beautiful world — the sun, the sky, the trees, the birds, the fish, rivers… How can we ever doubt His presence and His great love for us?

I praise God, for the gift to feel deeply now. It has made me a better person and certainly a stronger Christian. I believe when we accept Christ as our Savior and are filled with the Holy Spirit, we are given the ability to see the world and feel in some ways what God feels for us. I am so thankful for the Truth of His grace and mercy. I don’t ever want to be numb to that again. It’s truly a new dawn. It’s a new day. It’s a new life for me and I’m feeling good!

Counting the Cost of Discipleship


While in the midst of transition into our new home, for this week’s column I’ve decided to post a quote from a recent sermon I heard. On Sunday the pastor at a church we attended here in California, spoke about the cost of being a disciple of Jesus Christ. In his message he used a quote from an anonymous Christian that I thought was so excellent, it needed to be repeated and passed on to others.

Jesus gave His all to save us from the pit of Hell we should spend eternity in. With His very life Christ paved a clear path that leads us into the presence of the Holy Father. Is it too much to ask that we live our lives in a sacrificial way for Him? What price are we willing to pay? What price are we paying?

I hope this speaks to your heart as it did mine. May this challenge us to count our cost of being a disciple of Christ…

“I’m a part of the fellowship of the unashamed. The die has been cast, I have stepped over the line, the decision has been made, I am a disciple of His. I won’t look back, let up, slow down, back away or be still. My past is redeemed, my present makes sense and my future is secure. I’m finished and done with low living, sight walking, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tame visions, mundane talking, cheap living and dwarfed goals. I no longer need preeminence, prosperity, position, promotion or popularity. I don’t have to be right, top, first, recognized, praised, regarded or rewarded. I now live by faith, lean on His presence, walk by patience, live by prayer and labor by power. My face is set, my gate is fast, my goal is heaven my road is narrow, my way is rough, my companions few, my guide reliable and my mission clear. I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, turned back, diluted or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of adversity, negotiate at the table of the enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity or meander in the maze of mediocrity. I won’t give up, shut up, let up or slow up until I’ve stayed up, prayed up, paid up and preached up for the cause of Christ. I am a disciple of Jesus. I must go till He comes, give till I drop and preach till all know. And when He comes for His own He will have no problem recognizing me — my colors will be clear. “ — Author Unknown

…anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. — Luke 14:27

Exciting Changes Ahead!


Just a quick up date…

As I wrote in my last column, Bill and I are moving to California this week. The movers are here packing the house even as I write and will load us up tomorrow for the trek across America. As God usually does with us, this change has happened very quickly in a way that we know it was only God who brought it about!

In my past life, change was for me a fearful thing that caused much anxiety and worry. Today, as I stand firmly in sobriety with the solid Rock of Christ as my foundation, I am extremely excited to see what God has in store for us, our family and our ministries. On more than one occasion these last few weeks, friends have spoken prophetically over me, that this move was a jumping off point in the development of my ministry to reach hurting women struggling with addiction.

I don’t know how it’s all going to come about; all I know is I want to stay close enough to the Lord that I will be able to hear his voice when he says turn here. I want more than anything, to be an available, teach-able, mold-able child in the Father’s loving hands.

Well, friends…we’re off for our faith adventure! Ready for the promotion and new assignment God has for us in California! I will write again soon from the mountains of northern California!

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news of peace and salvation, the news that the God of Israel reigns! — Isaiah 52:7

Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder


My life as always been an adventure, certainly never boring. As my husband, Bill, and I prepare for our upcoming move to California, God recently revealed some things to me about what he has brought us through these last 2 years.

We lived in Houston for about ten years; where our addictive lifestyle began and praise God, also ended; but it remained a place of painful reminders and sometimes dangerous triggers. Early in the Summer of 2006, an opportunity came up for us to move to the New Orleans area to help with the Hurricane Katrina restoration efforts. Bill was between jobs, so we decided to go and see what God had in store for us there.

Amidst the widespread destruction, God placed us in a small town, on the Northshore of Lake Pontchartrain, called Abita Springs. What was once a Choctaw Indian village, is now recognized for its attractive historic district, beautiful gardens and country stores. We found a house that was built in the 1880’s with wood floors, high ceilings, glass door knobs and wavy glass in the windows. The town setting was forest-like with nature and creatures abounding… we had birds of all sorts with squirrels always after their food. In the evening we had our own personal hoot owl, actually a Barred Owl, but it really did say “Hoo Hoo-tie Hoo!” God graciously gave me the chance to snap his photograph just as he looked down at me high in the tree. (see photo above) Amazing! I was awestruck for months, watching and listening to him. At night the raccoons would play under our bedroom window, talking back and forth to each other with their strange chatter. But then I would hear the hoot owl call out and the raccoons would change their talk immediately as if to warn each other. I learned later the Barred owl is a predator of raccoons.

After a year we out grew our assignment in Louisiana and God returned us to Houston for a 6 month pit stop that would allow me to learn that I can live anywhere even among old memories and triggers as long as I keep my eyes on Jesus! While there I was still able to find beauty all around–in our apartment complex as I walked the dogs each day, on a scenic drive to my part-time job at Curves, in the new friends I made at church and in just being as I strove to stay in God’s will and presence while we awaited our next assignment.

In February this year, God quickly plucked us up again and brought us to Dallas/Ft Worth for Bill’s new job. We landed in Colleyville to a neighborhood of older 70’s ranch style homes surrounded by old oak trees, tall pines, rolling hills — peace and quiet. No more noises of the city, here, like in Louisiana, we had animal adventures everywhere — a rooster crowing and foxes crossing our path on morning dog walks, homes with horses down the way, a nearby pond with proud swans swimming, hawks crying out as they soar high above the trees and a cute family of guinea fowl running free just around the corner. But our best animal entertainment was what Bill calls “the squirrel rodeo” each day in our back yard as the dogs played chase with the squirrels trying to raid the bird feeders!

Since God delivered me from narcissism, while living in Abita Springs incidentally, I see the world in a completely different way. No longer is life revolving around me and what I can get out of life and those around me. I can see God and all of His creation: trees… birds… fish… dogs… squirrels etc… As I see these creations I see them praising God when they are doing what they were each created to do. The tree sways in the breeze praising God as the wind rustles the leaves… the hawk praises it’s Creator as it rides the wind currents above… the swan in the pond praises God as it floats gently with such ease… and we, what are we created to do? When we spend time in fellowship with our Creator we are doing what we were created to do. God wants to be with us and for us to be with Him. That is where we will find the love that can fill our hearts and change our ability to see the beauty that is all around us.

These last couple of weeks I’ve been reflecting on where we’ve been since the Summer of 2006. It seems the trip has taken us from one level to the next, always a promotion of sorts, each with its own beauty to be found. Yes, there is beauty all around, but for it must be found. We have to make our own effort to see the beauty. I think it must start first with having the love of God living in your heart, for once you have love living inside you, it is far easier to see love all around you.

We thought we had landed to stay when we came to Dallas, but God had yet a better plan for us —northern California! We are still awaiting final instructions to our next landing place, but our stay in Texas will be short lived now. We have out grown our assignment here and now must be promoted. God showed me the other day while sitting on the back porch enjoying the sunset, this is but a preview of what is to come. I don’t know what God has in store for us in California. What I do know is Beauty is truly in the eyes of the Beholder. If we are filled with the Holy Spirit and walking in love we can and will find God’s beauty everywhere!

He is your praise; he is your God, who performed for you those great and awesome wonders you saw with your own eyes. -Deuteronomy 10:21

This link will give you a taste of my experience with the Barred Owl in Abita Springs, La. Enjoy the wondrous beauty of God’s creations! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fppKGJD3Y6c

The Perfect Day

“Day in and day out.”  “That will be the day.” “Tomorrow is another day.”
These are all examples of how we think of our days.  They’re nothing special.  After all, it’s just a day, just another day… Well, what if today was your last day? Would you be sorry for how you lived all your yesterdays?
Our entire Life is made up of nothing but days. A list of days… day after day after day… Yesterday is over and gone. Tomorrow has yet to arrive. What you do have is Today. That’s all you’ll ever have. It’s strange to think, but you will never see your future. Because when you get to your future, you will rename it today. The cliche Today is the first day of the rest of your life, is actually true. In fact, today is your life! What are you doing with it? What if you could have a perfect day? What would it consist of? The key to a happy, productive life is in finding the recipe for “the perfect day.”
First, we must become aware of how we spend our day. It helps to break the day down into its smaller parts – hours. It’s kind of like spending money. If I use my debit card, it’s easier to spend the money, because I don’t see it. But if I carry cash, I am less likely to spend. I think it’s the same with time. If we look at the whole day, we’re more likely to waste it. But if we look at each hour in each day they somehow have more value.
God, being the equal opportunity God that He is, has given us all the same number of hours in a day – 24. How is it that one person can spend a certain amount of time and accomplish some great thing like a college degree, build a skyscraper, or write a book? But yet others, spend that same amount of time and have absolutely nothing to show for it. In fact, they may be worse off than they were before that time had passed.
Isn’t it interesting how we phrase the usage of time as spending, just like in money?  Sure they say, Time is money. Even though it isn’t really money, it is very valuable. Actually, it’s more valuable that we realize. How are we spending our 24 hours? Are we wasting them away watching endless hours of television…Watching people, long dead, trying to make us laugh or cry again for the 100th time… Watching other people live their lives, having the adventures we’re to lazy or scared to try – living an armchair participant’s life… Are we working overtime making someone else rich with no reward but a weekly paycheck… Or worse yet, completely zoning out every night on Internet porn sites and chat rooms; wasting weekend after weekend high on drugs and alcohol having mind numbing sex with nameless, faceless partners???
Unfortunately, I wasted most of my life doing all of the above. I have much regret for years spent running the rat race some call life. But my worst regrets are for the time truly wasted hiding from myself, my family, my life, and my God; living or should I say dying in a life of sin and addiction. It’s sickening and maddening to think of how much time I’ve lost; because I only have one life to live and it will be gone before I know it. But Praise God, today I have assurance, because I repented of my sins and received Jesus Christ as my Savior, God the Father will take all that wasted time the enemy tried to steal from me and turn it around to bring glory to the name of the Lord!  
Now to continue our search for the perfect day. Rather than counting hours, lets count weekends. Let’s assume the average person dies at 70 years of age.  If you are 20 years old, you have 2,500 weekends left to live. If you have turned 30 you have 2,000 weekends left until the day you die. If you are 40 years old, you have only 1, 500 weekends left. If you are 50, then you have just 1,000 weekends and if you are 60 you have a mere 500 weekends left until the day death comes to you. Somehow it is easier to relate to weekends, while years put death in the distance. This is quite a sobering way to look at the time we have left on this earth! 
When my husband, Bill, and I first saw our lifetime put in this perspective, we decided to find a way to mark the time we have left. He went to a hobby store and purchased a beautiful glass vase and some decorative colored marbles, the count equal to the amount of weekends we have left to live – at 50 years old, that’s 1000 marbles. He filled the vase with the marbles and placed it on the fireplace hearth. Each Friday, we remove one marble and place it in a prominent place where we will notice it as the weekend progresses. Then on Monday, the marble goes in the trash; one more weekend used up. We’ve been doing this now for almost 6 months or 24 weekends. It’s a great way to stay mindful of the time passing. To look at the vase and see the marbles and to know that represents the time left in your life… we are much more careful how we spend our weekends now! 
Remember, today is a mini-lifeIt’s the prototype or model of your entire lifetime. You can look at how you spend a day and know that is how your life will be spent. Don’t let time pass you by. Stop right now. The Apostle Paul says in II Corinthians 6:2 – I tell you now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation. Come to awareness of how you are spending your time bank.
Start your perfect day with a few simple ingredients:
  • Make a daily plan. 
  • Be conscious of daily spiritual growth.
  • Always make each day productive.
  • Walk in love with those around you.
  • Find a way to mark your life-time passing.
          Consider adding the following:

Turn off the TV, put away the computer and the video games, read a book, start a new hobby, befriend someone who needs help, visit your grandmother, ask her about her life… Have a family dinner around the table, look each other in the eye. Do you even know who they are? Really? Talk to the ones you love, have stimulating conversation instead of searching for stimulating events. 
You may choose to be radical like we have and disconnect the cable all together! It’s actually quite liberating. Instead, we use NetFlix and rent television programs and movies we like. We have a dedicated time to watch together and the monthly bill is far less! I don’t even miss the television. I sure don’t miss the negative influences of the liberal media. I don’t know how I ever got anything done watching up to six hours per day! The reality is I didn’t get anything of value done, all I did was draw one day closer to the truly numbed brain brought on by Alzheimer’s. Now my brain is more active, I can memorize scripture easier, I have more time to read and write, to learn and focus on the ministry to hurting women God has called me to.
In our search for the recipe for the perfect day, sometimes those of us who tend to be perfectionists or people pleasers; may get bogged down in “What if I fail today?” Don’t get discouraged. There’s no pressure. Analyze the day in the evening, start over with your list of ingredients that will make your day perfect and try again tomorrow. Give your day to the Lord, each and every morning. Psalm 118:24 says: This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it. Ask for His guidance where and how you should spend your time. There’s no condemnation with the Lord. Remember, at 12:01am every day, God has a new batch of mercy waiting for you
Lastly, the most important benefit, to fostering an environment of peace and quiet in your home, is the ability to hear the still small voice of the Holy Spirit. Take a walk and talk with the Lord. He wants to walk and talk with you. Spend time in God’s Word and in prayer. You will hear His voice and He will direct you as to how to spend your time. When you are walking in the will of the Father you can know your days will be Perfect!
Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.— Psalm 90:12

Get a Dog!


At first glance the title of this post might seem out of place on a blog dedicated to addiction recovery. But as you read on I think you will be surprised to find it will truly benefit your sobriety to get a dog!

Growing up and into adulthood I was never a “dog person.” I always preferred cats. They were low maintenance and pretty much kept to themselves. They didn’t require lots training or attention, so as a narcissist it allowed me more time for me. My sister, on the other hand, always had dogs. She was, to me, strangely attached to these creatures in a way I could never understand.
I married in my early twenties, and quickly started a family. I was consumed with mothering three children, caring for my home and being the dutiful Christian wife. Over the years we had a few dogs for the kids, but I never became attached. I didn’t have any emotional energy left to give.
Years went by as I fell back into the sexual addiction patterns of my adolescence. My family was no longer the priority for me nor my emotional energy. My focus was on finding the next sexual “fix” to feed my sick soul. I did things that are too shameful to imagine a mother would do to her own family.
During the Summer of 2004, God in His infinite love and mercy reached down and pulled me out of the dark pit of destruction I had dug for myself — when I was jailed for assaulting my husband. In the county jail I began to come to my senses. I atttended chapel services and started reading the Bible again after 7 years of trying to do things my way. After I got out of jail I couldn’t return home because of a restraining order; so I lived with a neighbor for 3 months. It was during this time that God sent my son’s dog, Abby, (a black Labrador) to begin the rescue of my aching soul.
Along with a fresh self-awareness came unrelenting self-loathing, unbelievable sadness and painful regret for what I had put my family through. Abby was my new best friend. I could tell her anything and she still loved me. I could be myself, no matter how horrible a person I was, or thought I was, she loved me unconditionally! She was the shoulder I could literally cry on as I tried to make sense of the mess I had made of my life. I honestly don’t know what I would have done with out her. My sobriety is a success in many ways because of her. She taught me how to have a soft spirit again. She showed me not only how to love others but to find love enough for myself, too.
God said it best, “It’s not good for man (or woman) to be alone.” His creations are here for our pleasure and can be our greatest and sweetest companions in times of need. If you are walking through your sobriety alone, I can’t encourage you enough, please consider getting a dog. These four-footed therapists give something special that can enhance the health and well-being of others. It has been clinically proven that through petting, touching and talking with a dog our blood pressure is lowered, stress is relieved and depression is eased.
There are many beautiful dogs waiting to be rescued at your local ASPCA. http://www.aspca.org/ They will love you through your darkest days and with the help of Jesus Christ, will walk you through to a healthy, sober life on the other side.
A righteous man cares for the needs of his animal... – Proverbs 12:10

Working the Steps: Step 5

Step 5

We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

I think this step for me was one of the most challenging. Getting to the place where I could openly discuss all the terrible things I did was really hard. The shame attached to my behaviors was very painful and could have easily given me an excuse to not follow through. Fortunately, I worked this step with a wonderful Christian counselor, so it was a little easier than it could have been with someone else.

If we have properly worked Step 4 we have a balanced inventory of not only our mistakes but our strengths as well. This will provide a good foundation on which to build our recovery. In preparing for Step 5 schedule some uninterrupted time with God to prayerfully search for the person with whom you will share your inventory. Admitting our wrongs to ourselves is one thing but sharing them with another human being is quite another. We have worked very hard in our addiction to hide these truths from others so this will be a huge step towards healing. Step 5 is our path out of isolation and loneliness toward healing and peace. It is very humbling to get past the pretending and to reveal our true selves to someone else. Telling our story to others can be a frightening experience and may cause fear of rejection. But it is essential that we take the risk and confess our wrongs. God will give us the courage if we lean on Him.

One of my favorite recovery resources The Twelve Steps for Christians has some great insights for working Step 5 that I would like to share with you.

  • Begin with prayer. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in what you are about to experience.
  • Choose your 5th Step listener carefully. Find someone who is accepting, patient, sympathetic and understanding. Possibly a clergyman, counselor, another Twelve Step member, trusted friend or family member.
  • We are only asked to admit the nature of our wrongs. Don’t discuss how the wrongs came about or how changes will be made. You are not seeking advice.
  • After completing your fifth step, take time to pray and reflect on what you have done. Thank God for the tools you’ve been given to improve your relationship with Him. A cornerstone in your relationship with God is you commitment to honesty and humility.
  • Congratulate yourself for having the courage to risk self-disclosure and thank God for the peace of mind you have achieved.

Having admitted our wrongs to another human being is no guarantee that we will not slip up again. But we have the assurance, in those moments of weakness, that God will be with us and give us the strength to overcome. If we truly want to change God will continue to give us the courage and the strength to persevere down the path of sobriety to wholeness and healing in Jesus Christ.

Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results. –James 5:16

www.reachinghurtingwomen.org

Finding True Freedom

What does it mean to be free? Where is freedom? Can we find it? How do we find it? Who is a free person? What do they look like? How does a free person live their life? I want to take a look at this word Freedom and talk about what it really means to be free.

Freedom can mean many things to many different types of people. Whether it’s freedom from political persecution, freedom from physical restraint, immunity and civil liberty or simply the power to exercise choice and decision without constraint; freedom is a powerful state of being which we all crave and for that matter deserve.

I’ve lived the life of a people-pleaser for most of my 51 years; to the point that I was living my life for everyone else. I was a social chameleon trying to be all things to all people. I sacrificed a college education to be a stay at home mom, committed to home school my three children rather than subject them to the failing public school system. In early adulthood my husband and I were in a denominational church that put a lot of emphasis on service. My husband and I taught 4th grade Sunday School for years, I taught preschool choir and sang in the adult choir, not to mention caring for aging family members. I worked hard to be the ideal wife, mother and citizen. All while my husband was climbing the corporate ladder of success; working 60+ hours a week with a 3 hour round trip commute to our suburban home. We were practicing Christians living a “Christian” lifestyle, but were we free? Was I free? Looking back, I would say no. I was in deep bondage to what I thought others expected of me and of the expectations I had on myself. They weren’t real expectations, but they felt real to me and I lived my life accordingly. Where does a person go from here to find true freedom?

Not long after this, my life took a dark turn that led to a lifestyle filled with sin and addictions. The “selfless” people-pleasing life I had been living built up so much resentment that I exploded into a monster no one who knew me would have ever dreamed I could become. I was lost in my own pain with no where to turn. Searching… but what was I searching for? Freedom. Freedom for me began to mean I could do whatever I wanted to do, no matter how it effected the people around me. The freedom to be myself on my terms. The freedom to be who I wanted to be no matter what anyone said or thought. It was all about my freedom. A very narcissistic mindset, but one in which many of us live today. In reality, my “freedom” brought with it a bondage that ultimately destroyed my life, my reputation, my family and my marriage. Where was this true freedom I so desperately desired? I ended up having to spend time in jail to find true freedom. Ironically, there are people behind bars today that have more true freedom because of a relationship with Jesus Christ than many people walking the streets in the darkness of their own personal bondage.

Jesus Christ says, ” You are truly my disciples if you keep obeying my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free… I assure you everyone who sins is a slave of sin…if the Son sets you free, you will indeed be free.” – John 8:32,36 NLT

The note in The Life Recovery Bible to this verse states:

To be “set free” is to know the truth– the truth about ourself and about Jesus our liberator. The truth is this: We are a slave to sin and powerless to manage our life effectively. With God’s truth as a standard for our moral inventory, we can recognize and confess our needs and struggles, our sins and addiction. As we confess these to God, to ourself, and to at least one other person, we share the truth about our life. When we turn our broken life over to God, who alone can make us whole, we are again acknowledging the truth. These different applications of the truth can combine to set us free from sinful habits, chemical dependencies, and emotional bondage.

It is my prayer that in reading this column you can find your way to true freedom in Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. God Bless You.

www.reachinghurtingwomen.org

Dealing with Disappointment

Something important that I don’t see dealt with enough in recovery groups is the issue of disappointment. It often leads people into addictive lifestyles and running from reality. Whether it is disappointment in ourselves, others or circumstances; how we deal with that disappointment is key. This is a trap I fell into several years ago that led to the destruction of my family as I knew it.

In the mid 90’s my husband, Bill, had an opportunity to partner with a start up company. It just so happened all the business partners were, like us at the time, professing Christians. We felt safe; believed they were men of integrity and could be trusted. Several months past, Bill had put in endless hours of work and invested thousands of dollars towards the new business goal. When out of the blue, the other partners gave Bill the boot for no reason at all, other than pure greed. This was devastating to our family. We thought these people were our friends. It sent my faith whirling… ‘How could God allow something like this to happen to us?’ I dwelt on the offense so much, that it got deep into my spirit and totally destroyed my faith in Christian people, the church and ultimately God.

This heart breaking disappointment along with other family life issues — my father’s death, a major move to a new city, life with three teenagers, demanding jobs– were all stresses that kept us walking further and further away from God. Until one day He was no where to be seen in our home. While trying to find desperately needed time together for dates; Bill and I got caught up in the Swinging Lifestyle. We began living for the weekends; for whatever party we would attend or give. Not only alcohol and cigarettes but drugs crept in, then the infidelity began. Over a period of seven years our kids witnessed their parents marriage self destruct before their very eyes. I became a full blown narcissist…living my life only for me and my addictions. I didn’t care anymore who it hurt or what I had to do to numb the unending pain in my heart. Then I found myself in jail for domestic assault of a family member (my husband).

Ultimately, we are all searching, deeply thirsting for one thing…a relationship with God. When we allow ourselves to put anything, even anyone in that place and expect them to fulfill that need, we are going to experience disappointment. The higher the expectation the deeper the disappointment. When was the last time you were deeply disappointed in someone? In yourself? In the outcome of a particular situation? In God? How did you react? How can keep ourselves from that downward spiral that leads only to destruction?

Larry Crabb’s book Inside Out speaks specifically to this. “When we learn to accept people who disappoint us by no longer requiring them to satisfy us, then we’re free to love them, to reach toward them for their sake without having to protect ourselves from feeling disappointed by their response to us.” This is what Christ taught about constantly. What’s seen all throughout the New Testament in the Apostle Paul’s writings. The love of Christ is to be shed abroad in our hearts.

Four years have past since that Summer in jail. God has graciously restored my marriage and our individual relationships with Him. It was hope that allowed my husband to believe that our marriage could be healed. It was hope I had that I could be free of the bondage of sexual addiction. It is still hope that gives us faith to believe our entire family will again be restored in Christ.

We need to acknowledge our disappointments, not run from them into denial. We can’t hide from them with forced love or cheap forgiveness; numbing the pain with drugs, alcohol, sex, shopping, porn, etc… We should instead use these disappointments as a time of growth. We must reflect on our relationships and how others have let us down and allow this to drive us to hope. This is critical. For me that’s exactly how my downward spiral began, I lost all hope, in people then finally in God. We can’t allow ourselves to ever lose hope. For it is from the foundation of hope that true Faith is born.

There are three things that will endure–faith, hope, and love– and the greatest of these is love.— 1 Corinthians 13:13

www.reachinghurtingwomen.org