by Dan Wobschall
Director of Gateway to Freedom
Stories. They can be fiction or nonfiction. There can be varying degrees of truth and creative freedom in the mixing of the two.
What is also true about most stories is their ability to connect with us at a personal level. They enable us to enter into another person's life even to a point of empathy, depending on our personal experiences relating to a given story.
The greatest of all nonfiction stories ever written and told is that of Jesus the Christ. The core tenants of His story are amazing. God in full deity chose to come into His creation in the form of His own creation. Mankind.
Jesus, born of a virgin girl in a very unclean stable, grew up experiencing the typical life of a child in the culture and society of that time. Yet fully God and fully human He grew up until He fulfilled the mission for which God sent Him: death on a cross. Many believed that was the end of Jesus' story.
It was not.
It may have been a chapter change, but Sunday morning, the third day was a barn burner of a new chapter of new beginnings! Jesus rose from the grave. He is alive! And Jesus' story continues to unfold before us today as the Gospel goes forth and his name is proclaimed.
He continues to set captives free and welcome His brothers and sisters into the family of God. What a story!
What about Your Story?
You do have a story. A story that can inspire others. Encourage at least one person (and likely many more) to keep going another hour, day, week and beyond. Believe it or not, your story matters.
You may say “but my story is a mess right now. How can I encourage anyone else with that?” Faithfulness to the truth of your story and transparency as you keep moving forward, no matter how slow it seems can and will give others hope.
And hope is at a premium in today’s culture and world.
God is the ultimate giver of Hope, and through Jesus the Christ can empower your story, even if it’s currently messy, to have impact and give hope to another. Hope usually looks a lot like someone who refuses to give up.
Below are the lyrics from My Story sung by Big Daddy Weave and written by Michael Weaver, Jason Ingram
If I told you my story
You would hear Hope that wouldn't let go
And if I told you my story
You would hear Love that never gave up
And if I told you my story
You would hear Life, but it wasn't mine
If I should speak then let it be
Of the grace that is greater than all my sin
Of when justice was served and where mercy wins
Of the kindness of Jesus that draws me in
Oh to tell you my story is to tell of Him
But if people knew!
I can almost hear some voices saying words akin to: Yeah, but if people heard my story, what I’ve done, there is no way anyone would listen or learn from it -- or even care. Can I be boldly honest with you (I’m going to anyway…) that’s a lie straight from the father of all lies, Satan himself.
Here’s what I know. God works in and through our confession and testimony and Satan hates it.
As we learn to share our story in proper context, form and settings we are living out James 5:16 where we are called to “confess our sins to one another and to pray for one another so that we can be healed.” The enemy of our soul hates the truth, which sets us free and will do whatever he can to keep you quiet about your story. Especially if we can sing; “Oh to tell you my story is to tell of Him!”
Now I will qualify this story telling with a word of caution. If you’ve never shared your story with anyone (outside of a counselor or in a similar environment) then getting wise guidance on how and when to do so is important.
It’s easy for the best of intentions to go sideways on you here. Sharing too much at the wrong time or environment can be painful or overwhelming. I’ve done this too many times, especially early on in my recovery journey. Please learn from my mistakes and the guidance of others.
I Think I’m Ready to Tell My Story. What now?
Great question. We have a form that you can use (See link below) that you can use to assemble your story. If you’ve never given your story a shape or words (a voice), this form can be a great starting point.
And you don’t have to go alone. You can submit the form and someone from our staff will be happy to follow up with you after you’ve hit the submit button. This is a short story version of the form.
At Be Broken Ministries we value story. Your story. Your story and ours are in a continual state of being written (and rewritten!) with new pages and chapters being added by the day.
The song ends like this: “This is my story, this is my song, Praising my Savior, all the day long.”
I pray that in the days ahead, this too will be your song.
How to Tell Your Story
The information you submit on this form is confidential. Only care members of our staff will see your entries. We are here to help you, not harm you.
by Andrea Stunz
Volunteer Wives Care Leader
Growing up in Brazil, I was the little girl they propelled through the wrought-iron burglar bars on the windows when a neighbor locked their keys inside. I was small, and I liked it.
Now, I’m not small. But you know what? I love and respect my body more than I ever have. I have lingering issues from sexual abuse and betrayal trauma, but, most days, I can love myself more than I ever imagined. I see my body with gratitude and thank her for carrying me through my years of tears. She consumed too many convenience foods and endured countless sleepless nights. It’s been a brutal ride. My body has definitely kept the score, but she took one for the team. I love her for that! She deserves all the grace.
I’ve been a size ten, and I wasn’t happy about my body. I was a size six, and I wasn’t satisfied. A size zero? Not content. Now at a size eighteen, I’m more confident than ever before.
It has taken a decade of healing to come to terms with how fully Jesus loves me. In that love, I now have the freedom to love myself. I am his child, his beloved daughter. He created me, and he can’t not love me. My body needs some attention, and now that I’m more settled in other areas of my healing, I have the margin for that. For a while, I didn’t; there were other more pressing matters.
Those of us who experience betrayal and/or other sexual wounds have been fed lies about who we are, and many of us have believed them.
Whether spoken to us or perceived by us, many of us have come to believe negative messages about our bodies. In most if not all of us, trauma from addiction and abuse produces a broken identity; our body image is definitely a casualty.
I can’t heal your negative body image, but I can offer a few tips that have helped me.
When thinking negatively about your body, ask yourself these questions and consider your motivation.
In keeping with the 4 C’s for Betrayal Trauma that we learn in our Wives Care Groups, I came up with 4 C’s for Body Image Recovery:
If you are on the path of not accepting your body – you are in for a very long battle – against an enemy you have no power to defeat. Nature, time, biology, fate…
You don’t have the weapons to fight those powers.
Wave the white flag.
It is then that your life will truly begin.
An excerpt from, Wave the White Flag, by Donna Ashworth
I believe negative body image messages are fear-based. We fear not being enough, being too much, not fitting in. We fear not belonging, not being desirable, or not achieving a certain level of success.
Love is the antidote to a negative body image. Perfect love casts out fear. God alone helps us become who he created us to be. Choose the love you are worthy of! You are beloved.
It is my prayer that the words of this song will wash over your beautiful body.
Belovedness, Song by Sarah Kroger
Resources to continue the journey:
Breaking Free from Body Shame, Jess Connelly
Surrender to Love, David G. Benner
The Cure, John Lynch
The 4:8 Principle, Tommy Newberry
The Dream of You, Jo Saxton
Try Softer, Aundi Kolber
The Truth in the Mirror, Karla Downing
Song: Masterpiece, Sandi Patty
by John Fort
Director of Training
It is a familiar story: a person struggles with sexual brokenness, they finally get help, their life changes and they experience real freedom, then months or years later they find themselves struggling once again. It can feel like nothing works. It can feel like we are too broken to be fixed. It can feel like maybe God doesn’t care enough to help in the long term.
None of these thoughts are true; they are misguided. The misunderstanding that occurs is when we come to believe that the successful outcome of seeking help for sexual brokenness is to stop emotional pain or a specific behavior. This is true for any form of sexual brokenness, including a betrayed spouse, sex addict, survivor of sexual abuse, or child struggling to resist temptation.
The goal of healing is not to stop negative feelings or even behaviors.
Journalist Johan Hari said in his Ted Talk, “The opposite of addiction is not sobriety, it is human connection.” Changing behavior is something we want, but not the goal. I believe the same is true when dealing with the emotional pain that comes from sexual brokenness.
There are multiple steps to healing from sexual brokenness. In the beginning, we do have to do some work in several areas before we can see much progress. Those areas include the following:
Any form of sexual brokenness will have accompanying trauma. In fact, some form of trauma is almost always what creates sexual brokenness in the first place. That trauma does not have to be sexual, but it affects our sexuality. We need help addressing our trauma as part of our healing.
It is also true that in the beginning of our healing we need help examining our behaviors to look for ways we react to things that are not in our best interest. This is true of all forms of sexual brokenness. Part of coming out of brokenness is learning to react in more healthy ways to our world around us and the people in it.
A later stage of healing includes examining our beliefs and testing them against the truth. We may come to believe that others are not safe and cannot be trusted. Or we view ourselves as unworthy, unwanted, and of no value. Some of us decide God himself is not really good.
Such beliefs are based in past experiences and are hard to let go of, even if we intellectually understand they are false. Yet, this is part of our healing process.
WE (THINK WE) ARE DONE
This is where some of us stop. This is the point that we typically begin to feel better. We start to feel free from compulsive behaviors, deep emotional wounds, or both. Life is no longer so dark. We feel hope in a way we may have never felt before.
This is when many of us believe we are healed. We assume our healing process is finished and we can let go and relax. Within a few months or maybe a year, however, our sexual behaviors or deep wounds usually come racing back and overwhelm us once again.
THE MISSING CONNECTION
It is true that we need to address trauma, behaviors, and beliefs. But none of those things are what true healing is about. Those are just the precursors to lasting healing. Addressing trauma, modifying behaviors, and reframing our beliefs make it possible for us to do what healing requires: connect at a much deeper level with God and others.
We were created in God’s image for connection. God is communal in nature, illustrated by the unified Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Trinity is not a superficial connection, but a deeply vulnerable and utterly transparent interdependence. God created us in the same way.
We were designed to need vulnerable, honest, and transparent connection to thrive. When we do not have this kind of connection with God and others, we become broken.
The mistake some of us make is to withdraw from regular, honest connections once we reach a satisfactory point in our healing. We fail to recognize that the reason we found any healing at all was because of the honest and transparent connections we had to make use of in our healing process. Our recovery was as much about those regular connections as it was about trauma, behavior, and beliefs.
At the writing of this blog I have been meeting weekly with other men to be honest about my feelings, behaviors, and beliefs for 25 years. These regular meetings, perhaps more than anything else, are what keep my healing in place.
I am not suggesting that healing is something so fragile that we must keep bolstering it up to prevent it from falling apart. I am saying that healing IS connection. To be healed is to be connected with others in regular, open conversation. To be healed is to do life together with others who are safe. To isolate is to move away from healing and back toward brokenness.
HEALTH & FITNESS
We know we should eat well to stay healthy. We know we need a certain amount of exercise not to fall into frailty. We know that having outlets for creativity keeps us in better mental shape. Our connection with others is no different.
Eating is required to survive physically but eating better food will also make us healthier. In the same way, having connection with others is required for basic mental health but the quality of those connections determines the extent of our wholeness. Shallow connections help us survive but do not help us thrive. Only deep, honest connections can keep moving us in the direction of wholeness instead of brokenness.
For those of us who have been sexually abused, we need safe people we talk with regularly so we can bring up past wounds any time they attempt to resurface.
For those who struggle with compulsive sexual behaviors, we need regular connection with others who know our story and will support us as we work through any triggers that come up.
For those who have been betrayed, we need regular connection with others who know our story who can be an ally when we are occasionally reminded of past traumas.
For children and adolescents who are still trying to make sense of their sexuality and temptation, they need adults to regularly talk through what they are feeling and remind them they are not alone.
Allies like this are not just for the time we are in active recovery or healing. Allies are supposed to be forever. Allies are supposed to talk often. Allies should be available at all times to support each other when needed.
We sometimes forget that God commanded all of us to do these things on a regular basis. This is something every follower of Jesus is supposed to be doing, all the time.
Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. A prayer of a righteous person, when it is brought about, can accomplish much.
—James 5;16 (NASB)
Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.
—Galatians 6:2 (NASB)
The opposite of sexual brokenness is not sobriety or the absence of emotional pain. The opposite of sexual brokenness is regular connection with God and a group of allies as we journey through our life on earth.
by Dan Wobschall
Director of Gateway to Freedom
In the phone calls and conversations I’ve had with hundreds of men, one of the most common statements and themes is how the men have been trying to win their fight over addictive behaviors by themselves.
As one of our daughters is well known for saying: “I do it myself!”
Just like she did, these men finally ran out of options or it became too difficult or painful to keep working at building community.
So, what keeps us from asking for help?
Why do we continue to believe we can “manage” our sin or struggles on our own?
There are a number of reasons and they usually travel in pairs or more. Let's explore a few of them and I’ll give you a few ways to confront the lies that these reasons tend to communicate to us.
This is certainly not an exhaustive list, but covers many of the reasons men keep trying to handle their struggles alone.
The truth is none of us are meant to do life by ourselves. Most of us have heard this message before. Not everyone however. And we have an enemy who's out to steal, kill and destroy and his primary target is the truth.
I’m growing increasingly convinced that Satan is far more interested in keeping the truth out of our minds and hearts than he is trying to sew lies into our minds. He can compound the lies we already believe about ourselves by keeping the Truth out.
When truth is held at bay and lies of our identity and worth take root, we become the toughest bully we could ever face. We punch ourselves over and over again with self-abusive lies, such as, I’m unlovable, I'm defective, I'm worthless, I'm stupid and the list goes on and on.
After we have heard these words spoken over us by others loud enough, long enough and frequently enough we accept them as truth. At this point, Satan can then shift his focus on keeping out the truth.
In his book, “The Screwtape Letters”, C.S. Lewis wrote in letter 21:
“Yes. A period of sexual temptation is an excellent time for working in a subordinate attack on the patient’s peevishness. It may even be the main attack, as long as he thinks it the subordinate one. But here, as in everything else, the way we must be prepared for your moral assault by darkening his intellect.”
Lewis is also the author of Mere Christianity. This book graces the presence of my bookshelf in my office. One of the most influential books for many a Christian.
Yes, I understand the Screwtape Letters is fiction, yet Lewis writes as one who studied the Scriptures deeply as a lay theologian and served at Oxford University as a faculty member of the English department.
Back to the Garden
The serpent spoke to Eve in a way to get her to disbelieve the truth she’d already heard from God Himself!
Genesis 3:4-5 - “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
He works against the truth Eve heard and then sticks in the mix the deceit and lie that she can become just like God through the fruit and Adam follows suit, failing to protect Eve and the Garden God had charged him to manage.
In Romans 8:24-25 the Apostle Paul wrote addressing our exchanging the truth for a lie and it’s consequences: “Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.”
What or Who is Truth?
Jesus the Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life. (John 14:6)
“And you will know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” John 8:32
God’s word is truth. Jesus is the truth and he came to testify to the truth.
Is it any surprise that Satan aims to keep you and I from knowing and believing the truth of Christ?
The truth is that Christ paid the penalty for every sin you have committed or ever will commit.
When Christ said, “It is finished”, it was finished. Done. Paid in full.
You will find this verse at the end of each of my emails: Galatians 5:1 “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”
Here’s some truth that you may need to be reminded of today. As a man or woman who has confessed Christ Jesus as Savior and Lord, who stands forgiven understanding it is Jesus finished work that forgives your sin, God says you are HIS child.
You are an adopted and beloved son or daughter of the King of kings, the Creator of heaven and earth. That's the truth that Satan would love to steal, kill and destroy from within your mind.
Coming back to where we began
Here’s where we return to one being too small a number. When did Satan come after Eve? When she was alone. (At least she was acting like she was alone...)
When did King David fall and sin grievously against the Lord and commit murder? When he was alone.
When did Moses kill an Egyptian soldier? When he thought he was alone (unseen).
We are vulnerable to fall just like these heroes of the faith when we are alone.
Life is meant to be lived in connection -- in community. God exists as a Triune God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Community.
Recovery and transformation into a free man (or woman) is meant to be done in community through connection. One is too small a number for this journey.
God called out Adam in the Garden. Nathan called out King David and Moses was called out for his murderous act.
Community is Where Healing Begins
James 5:16 says: “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”
Proverbs 17:17 - A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.
Ecclesiastes 4:10b “But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!”
And if these verses don’t convince us, remember Jesus began His ministry on earth by recruiting 12 men to walk with, teach, comfort, help and do life with. The gospel was taught and shared in community.
You need others to walk with you on the road to transformation. Someone else may need you to walk with them on their journey road to redemption and transformation.
One is simply too small a number. We need one another. Bear one another's burdens and watch God work.
He is faithful and will do it.
by Jonathan Daugherty
President and Founder of Be Broken
“Every Christian community must realize that not only do the weak need the strong, but also that the strong cannot exist without the weak. The elimination of the weak is the death of fellowship.”
I'm not a biologist, but I struggle to think of anything in the animal kingdom that thrives (or even survives) alone. I believe humans especially suffer when left alone. More so than maybe any other creature on the planet we need each other. Yet, so often the wounds we carry from the difficulty and cruelty of life are carried alone. This is no way to thrive (or survive).
Having lived a life of addiction myself, I can predict a common question that might come from those drowning in the self-deception of compulsive thoughts and behaviors that seem impossible to shake:
"What are the benefits of togetherness?"
In other words, what's in it for me? (By the way, this is the way an addicted person thinks about everything: me, me, me.)
Well, I have good news. There is a lot in it for those who are willing to step into the realm of community and engage in the process of doing life together with others.
The following are five benefits that I believe make doing life together way better than doing it alone.
Together we find comfort
Ecclesiastes 4:11 - ...if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone?
Living alone is painful, and cold. And I'm not talking about not having a roommate, or a spouse, or living in a cave on the side of a mountain. I mean that living detached from others emotionally is painful. And many live like this, especially addicts.
But in recovery, an addicted person finds that they are wanted, embraced, even loved in spite of their brokenness. This brings great comfort to a lonely, broken heart. There is a warmth felt in relationships that can't be replicated in aloneness. God made us to soothe one another, to "keep one another warm," when the difficulties of life press in on us.
I remember when my recovery began. My wife had left because of my infidelity. I was alone. Lonely. I could no longer ignore or deny my sin and brokenness. So, I went to see a counselor.
Within just a few sessions with the counselor, he suggested that I plug into a support group. I was reluctant at first (to be honest, I was terrified!). But I eventually decided to go to the group. I’m glad I did.
My very first time at the group I experienced the comfort of other men who understood me and my broken life. They listened to my story. They didn’t reject or ridicule me. They embraced me; metaphorically and literally! I felt I had come home.
Together we experience comfort for the pain and struggles of life.
Together we protect each other
Ecclesiastes 4:12 - And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
We are more vulnerable physically, emotionally, and spiritually when we live alone. We need friends, family, and a community to help protect us against the harms that swirl about us in life.
Temptations do not have the same power over us when we have a brother or two to fight alongside us. But if we are alone and isolated, as the verse above states, we likely will not stand.
But we don't just need relationships so we can be protected, we also need them so we can protect others. It's just as important for our brothers that we are in the foxhole as it is for us that they are there. When you have someone specific to fight for, rather than just a concept or principle (i.e. purity), you become quite a bit more invested in the battle. You realize that there are actual lives on the line, and they need your presence to help them be victorious.
After I had been attending the group for awhile, I noticed something about this idea of protection in community. No one belittled another man’s story and no one ever shared another man’s story outside the group. This wasn’t even a verbalized “rule,” this was just how men in the group protected each other.
I believe this desire to protect other group members is rooted in respect for courage. It isn’t easy to confess secret sins. Telling others of the awful selfish behaviors you have engaged in takes a great deal of courage. But when that courage is displayed, respect is granted.
We all need a group of friends, of confidants, who “have our back” in the trenches of life. We need those who protect our dignity, and we need those whose dignity we can protect. The bond of such friendships becomes unbreakable.
Together we stand up and protect each other.
Together we learn
The longer a person is isolated or disconnected from relationships, the more prone they are to delusional thinking. We rarely come up with brilliant ideas alone. How do I know this? Try bouncing one of your "brilliant" ideas off someone else, or better yet several someone else's. You are likely to get some push back on your ideas, maybe even causing you to realize that they weren't even that good, let alone brilliant.
Proverbs 18:17 - The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.
We need each other to help us learn and grow and be accountable. This requires humility, acknowledging that we aren't as smart as we think we are and that there is good that comes from sharing ideas. Surely, the Word of God contains the most important ideas, and we must be willing to wrestle with the truth that sets us free, even when it demands that we change our ways.
The best context for such learning is in community with others who also desire to heal and grow.
Within a few weeks of joining my support group, one of the men shared a truism from the AA community: “It’s your best thinking that got you here.” At first, I was shocked and a little bit offended. What a hard statement! But it was also a true statement.
I was confronted with the reality that my “wisdom” in addiction was actually foolishness. My reasoning, my false beliefs, my choices landed me squarely in the prison of compulsive behaviors that I could not control or resist. My best thinking got me here.
This is when I began to discover the treasure of wisdom that exists in a group of people pursuing freedom, truth, and grace. Group became a place for questions to be asked and wrestled with. It was safe to say “I don’t know” and to let go of “always being right” thinking.
Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm. -Proverbs 13:20
Together we learn and grow in wisdom and humility.
Together we multiply good
Ecclesiastes 4:9 - Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil.
One major point of fellowship and togetherness is to multiply good; to pass along the blessings we have received to those struggling. As we stumble through life, we do so together. We pick each other up when we fall, helping one another to move forward and not get stuck -- in addiction, depression, shame, etc.
Which is more encouraging:
When you fall, someone hands you a book to read.
When you fall, someone lifts you up by spending time with you.
(It's rhetorical; the answer is obvious!) Togetherness is how we multiply good. When someone has cared enough to lift you up through their time and presence, you feel compelled to demonstrate the same care and sincerity, not only toward them, but also toward others who fall.
After several months in my group I noticed a change in me when it came to sharing my story outside the group. I was more open and honest with friends or coworkers, even people in my church. As I was receiving help from the group and seeing changes manifest in my thoughts and behaviors, I felt more compelled and confident to share this with others -- even inviting other men to join me in the group!
About one year after beginning my recovery I started a group for men in my church. That was over 20 years ago and hundreds of men have come through that group on their own journey of recovery and growth.
Together we multiply good for generations to come.
Together we love
1 Corinthians 13:13 - So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
Our chief aim in all of life is to love -- both God and others. At the core of our being we were made for relationship, to love one another with all our being. Love cannot be fully expressed or enjoyed alone. It makes no sense. Love must be shared.
The deepest need we have is to be known and loved. You cannot be known if isolated and disconnected from others. And if you cannot be known, you certainly can't be loved. To love someone is to know them; the good, the bad, and the ugly. We long to be loved, and we are made to love others.
For decades now my favorite day of the week is Tuesday. Why? Because this is the day that our weekly support group meets. I love this day because I love the men who show up. And when they experience love, they experience all that comes with it: hope, freedom, joy, peace, and so much more.
Together we love one another no matter what.
Don't live any more of your life alone. Reach out to others around you and start the journey of knowing and loving one another. The greatest joys in life only come in relationship.
We are better together!
by Jonathan Daugherty
Founder & President of Be Broken
After 18 years of full-time sexual integrity ministry, I was given a 7-week sabbatical by our board of directors. In my entire adult life I had never had that much continuous time away from work. It was a precious gift, and I am thankful.
But I know the question you are asking: Why would I care about your sabbatical?
In other words, Why should you even keep reading this article?
Because you and I are more alike than we are different. We have the same fundamental needs since we are fellow human beings made in God's image. And one of those basic needs is rest.
Keep reading if you want to gain some insights about rest that could help you achieve greater spiritual, physical, and emotional health. Yes, God's creation and design of rest really is that incredible -- and essential!
Before I share my personal sabbatical discoveries, let's get a working definition for rest. This definition is rooted in the biblical idea of Sabbath.
And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation. -Gen. 2:2-3
When God finished His creation work, He rested. In His case, this wasn't because He was tired or needed any sort of energy "replenishment." He rested in order to enjoy His work; to relish, or glory in it.
Part of Sabbath rest is pausing to enjoy and delight in doing good work.
God went on to establish a weekly rhythm of Sabbath rest for His people:
Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. -Ex. 20:8-11
God commands us to "remember the Sabbath day" and to "not do any work" on it. It is a holy day set apart for physical rest -- and spiritual reflection. To "remember" the Sabbath is to remember the God of the heavens and earth, and worship Him accordingly.
Part of Sabbath rest is being still and worshiping the God of creation.
Sabbath rest is a regularly dedicated time to cease from work, to focus on God, and to celebrate all the good that has been done in His name.
God created the Sabbath to be a regular part of life. At the very least, one day a week is to be set aside for Sabbath rest. But there can also be seasons of Sabbath rest, such as a sabbatical. God even instituted "rest" for the land every seven years (see Exodus 23:10-11).
The main question for you and me is do we take Sabbath rest as seriously as God does? And if not, what are the consequences?
Discoveries from My Sabbatical
The following are some discoveries I made on my sabbatical that I hope will help you pursue a better balance of Sabbath rest in your own life. At the end of the article I post some additional resources for better work-rest balance.
1. Rest is good and needs to be a regular part of the rhythms of life.
Following from the above definition of Sabbath rest, this first "discovery" may seem like an obvious no-brainer. Duh, of course rest is good and needs to be part of my life!
But slow down. Sometimes what appears so obvious is glaringly absent from our actual week-to-week lives.
Do you really believe that rest is good and necessary? Or do you treat it like a nice accessory, but not a true necessity? In other words, do you view rest as equally as important as work? Is it scheduled on your calendar like everything else you consider important? When you disobey God's command to rest, do you confess it as sin?
(Ok, I'll stop there. I sense my questions were getting increasingly painful -- and personal!)
Because Sabbath rest is connected to God's Sabbath rest in creation we need to see it as both good and necessary. The idea of Sabbath existed before sin entered the world. Therefore, it is holy, good, and part of God's original design for human beings.
2. Rest is harder than it seems.
I was so looking forward to my sabbatical. I envisioned deep relaxation of body, mind, and soul. Then I was struck by a surprising reality: rest doesn't come easily!
Remember the definition of Sabbath rest: a regularly dedicated time to cease from work, to focus on God, and to celebrate all the good that has been done in His name.
Intentionality, ceasing work, focus, celebration. These are not terms that indicate passivity. Ironically, real rest takes some real effort!
To illustrate how hard it can be to truly rest, do this exercise. Sit in a comfortable chair. Close your eyes, Slow your breathing. Be quiet. Now, attempt to stay still for ten minutes. At the end of the ten minutes, on a scale of 1 to 5, rate how peaceful you felt. (1 being totally at peace, 5 being very anxious/stressed)
Maybe you scored really well. I didn't. To sit still for 10 minutes may be easy to do physically, but mentally it's a real challenge. Things may be quiet on the outside (especially if the phone is turned off), but to "turn down the volume" internally takes some attention.
The primary challenges to rest that I encountered on my sabbatical were:
As challenging as rest can be, it is worth the discipline. Adjusting focus and setting better expectations about what true rest is can really do wonders for experiencing deeper peace.
I know it seems contradictory to say you must "work hard" at rest, but if you don't you will continue to believe the lie that Sabbath rest is achieved merely by inactivity. Sadly, this only reaps a harvest of restlessness and weariness.
3. We are designed for purpose; even rest can be meaningful and life-giving.
I have battled rest my whole life. I haven't valued it as highly as work, or "ministry." I have seen it as something that is only necessary to regain energy to get back to the "real" business of life: work.
But if God, the eternal self-sustaining Creator of all things, rested, this must mean that rest is good and meaningful. And if I am made in God's image, then engaging in rest is part of my duty and delight in reflecting Him.
What this looks like practically for me is reframing my mindset around restful activities.
Rest is woven into our design and has a purpose beyond just getting reenergized for tomorrow's work.
4. God's creation is a testament to Sabbath rest
The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. (Psalm 19:1)
I love getting into nature, especially the mountains. There is something so majestic and awe-inspiring about these rocky crags that reach for the heavens. I feel wonder and amazement when gazing at the earth from a perch at 10,000 feet.
But I find there is more to be amazed at than just the beauty of God's creation. I find woven into nature millions of testimonies for Sabbath rest.
Observing nature can provide a simple (but profound) education in our need for Sabbath rest. After all, nature is far more obedient to God's commands than we are!
Praise the Lord from the earth,
you great sea creatures and all deeps,
fire and hail, snow and mist,
stormy wind fulfilling his word!
Mountains and all hills,
fruit trees and all cedars!
Beasts and all livestock,
creeping things and flying birds!
5. Sabbath rest is primarily communal
I am an introvert. I prefer solitude over groups of people. This isn't a bad thing, but if I'm not careful I can use this personality tendency as an excuse to isolate from community. But true Sabbath rest is communal.
Even when God rested from His creation work, He observed it and celebrated it communally. First, in Himself; He is one God consisting of a triune community: Father, Son, Holy Spirit. But secondly, He rested in the presence of human beings (they were created on the 6th Day and God rested on the 7th Day).
I certainly believe there is a place for solitude in Sabbath rest (even Jesus would withdraw to "lonely places" to pray; but one could argue even this was communal since the Son was praying to the Father). But a huge part of what our souls need in Sabbath rest cannot be experienced by ourselves.
There are 3 main communal "activities" of Sabbath: Sacrifice, Fellowship, and Worship.
6. Life can only be enjoyed in the present
For some, the normal routines of life can become monotonous and predictable. Every day is just work, eat, sleep, repeat. The calendar app keeps rushing us from one activity to the next. Time races by. All that matters is what's next.
For others, although time keeps ticking, life has stopped. Nothing seems to matter. Food has lost its taste. Work is nothing more than punching a time card. Sleep is illusive. All of life is stuck in the past.
But neither dreams of the future nor memories of the past are happening now. And now is life. Life is only experienced in this moment.
My sabbatical reminded me to be careful of clinging to the unchangeable past or racing toward the unpredictable future. Instead, life is about being present in the now.
Interestingly, I discovered that "being present" is a far more restful way to live. Pining (or brooding) over the past is stressful and exhausting. Constantly imagining (or fantasizing) about the future, while fun and exciting, carries me away from opportunities that might be right in front of me now.
This doesn't mean we never examine our past or plan for our future. But we must learn to do so without sacrificing the only time that life is happening: now.
A Few More Ideas
Here are just a few more ideas from my sabbatical that might be useful as you think about your own times of rest:
I hope this brief reflection on my sabbatical has helped you think through your own need for Sabbath rest, and provided you with a few ideas so you might engage more faithfully in "time to cease from work, to focus on God, and to celebrate all the good that has been done in His name."
What is God inviting you to do differently in order to engage more Sabbath rest? What will you do right now to take steps in that direction?
May God bless you as you rest in Him...
Additional Resources to Help You Rest Well:
An Unhurried Life by Alan Fadling
Reset by David Murray (for pastors/ministry leaders)
Refresh by Shona & David Murray (for women)
Soul Keeping by John Ortberg
by Anne Kerr
Family Care Specialist
Did porn find your child? I’m so sorry. Discovering that your child has been exposed to porn can feel very shameful and isolating for both parent and child. But there is hope.
A couple reached out to me about their 12-year-old son’s discovering and continuing to watch porn on his school-provided computer. (They were assured it had a filter.) In a matter of days he’d managed to watch some terrible things. His parents were desperate, heartbroken, and unsure of how to handle the new reality. We cried, talked, and prayed. I shared a few thoughts with them, things perhaps you could use now or in the future, things that might be helpful for someone you love.
(Please know that my advice below was based on their son’s use of porn, but these truths apply in cases of girls using porn also.)
How do you become your child’s ally?
Connect with him or her as one sexual being to another. Empathize. You were once a young girl or boy beginning to become more aware of your sexuality. Relate to what your child may be feeling or experiencing today. Then, lead your child through ongoing conversations and good resources grounded in biblical truth. And finally, protect your kids to the best of your ability while trusting in the sovereignty of God.
Romans 8:28 is comforting to all of us who know the struggle of failing in the area of sexuality. God causes all things to work together for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. He can and will redeem your child’s wanderings. He can draw you closer as a family. He delights in displaying His strength through our weaknesses.
After several weeks, I circled back with the mom who called me about her son. She was so encouraged. She said initially she wanted to run to “the law.” Her son had sinned. He’d lied. He’d visited sites that he knew were off-limits. He’d hidden things from them. But Jesus reminded her that love covers a multitude of sin (1 Peter 4:8) – hers, her son’s, her husband’s. And that God’s love could bind their hearts and make their family stronger. They were intentionally moving in that direction and bringing their other children into ongoing conversations. Her husband was organizing a small group with two other fathers and their sons to have a place to be more real, a place where their sons would know they were not alone, a place where they could encourage one another and pray for each other.
God truly is redeeming their son’s story by weaving it into His bigger story – His story of grace for our sin, strength for our weakness, and His ability to take the broken things and use them for our good and His glory. I pray you’re living this kind of story too.
Would you like some guidance along your journey? Here are some resources and links you might find helpful:
Email: AnneKerr @ Bebroken.com
Personal Consultation with Anne Kerr
Personal Consultation with John Fort
Family Care Resource Page
by John Fort
Director of Training
When it is discovered that one member of our family struggles with sexual brokenness it is tempting to think of recovery as something only for them. However, when one member of our family struggles with sexual brokenness all of us are affected. Every member of the family, children included, will need to work through how they are affected.
We also need to recognize that every member of our family carry wounds of sexual brokenness that came from outside our family. This includes our children. The hyper sexual world we live in impacts all of us in negative ways.
Sexual brokenness is something we work through best with others, not alone. We are created as communal beings. God designed us to journey through healing together, not alone. The journey from brokenness to wholeness in Christ is something the entire family should take together.
Brokenness & Family Relationships
The journey to healing typically begins when one family member’s sexual brokenness is confessed, discovered, or reaches a point that the family can no longer ignore it. That family member could be a mother, father, adult child, or even a child.
The sexual brokenness comes in many forms: things done to us—like past sexual abuse, or things we do ourselves—such as problematic sexual behavior. Sexual brokenness is rarely entirely the fault of the person suffering from it. There is usually a long history of factors outside their control that contributed to their brokenness.
Sexual brokenness is very personal. It hurts in the deepest places of our heart. Sexual brokenness, no matter what the source, causes us to interact with our family in negative, often defensive, ways. Like a wounded tiger, a sexually broken person’s default mode is to react defensively. For this reason, sexual brokenness will negatively affect all surrounding relationships.
Brokenness & the Hot Seat
When a family member’s sexual brokenness comes into the light it can be extremely shaming and uncomfortable for them. That family member suddenly moves into the spotlight of attention within the family, and not in a good way. We should recognize how painful that will be for our family member.
Seeing sexual brokenness in someone we love will also remind us of our own sexual brokenness. Memories of friends showing us pornography as children come flooding back. Uncomfortable feelings resurface as we recall friends telling us graphic sexual jokes. The gut-punch sensation from others who sexually objectified us in the past may return. The shame from past sexual choices can suddenly loom large.
Rather than be reminded of past sexual pain family members can easily resort to redirecting that pain toward the family member who is in the hot seat. We become easily angered by them. We give them the silent treatment. We spend less time with them.
It is true that the sexual brokenness of a family member hurts the rest of us. It is right that we discuss this openly. However, it is unhelpful for every member of the family to not realize how their own past sexual brokenness—the parts not caused by the family member in the hot seat—is being triggered.
When our own sexual brokenness reappears it means it is time for us to start our own healing journey. Repressing sexual brokenness only makes it fester and rot inside. Such hidden brokenness will come out in really ugly ways if we ignore it.
Choosing to Journey Together
May I suggest that rather than focus only on the brokenness of the family member on the hot seat that our families are better off linking arms and taking this healing journey together. What if we all sat down, once the smoke of the initial bomb has cleared, and had a calm but honest discussion of our own histories with sexual brokenness.
I realize that in the case of sexual betrayal the family may need some time, even several months, before this can happen. None-the-less, sexual betrayal is not something that is healthy to ignore. That would be stuffing our feelings of betrayal rather than dealing with them.
We need to remember that children are also affected by the sexual betrayal of a parent, not just the other spouse. All of this will need to be discussed for family healing to happen. At some point, however, even in the case of sexual betrayal, the rest of the family will be better off when they can face their own sexual past as well.
There are a lot of other forms of sexual brokenness besides betrayal. All of them cause us to interact poorly with our family. All of them need attention to heal. Perhaps a family member finally has the courage to bring up sexual abuse they experienced as a child. This very much falls within what we are talking about.
The Brokenness that Comes to Mind
When we feel it is safe the family can begin to share the kinds of sexual brokenness they have experienced. The nude images we saw in National Geographic as a child leaving us confused as to why we wanted to see them again. The creepy person who kept commenting on our body and how that made us feel. Looking in the mirror after a shower and feeling awkward with our body or not liking what we saw. How uncomfortable we felt hearing sexual jokes. Sexual experimentation as a child that left us with feelings we didn’t know what to do with. Someone showing us pornography and feeling ashamed at how much we wanted to see it again. Feeling excited as an adolescent when seeing an attractive person and not knowing if that feeling was good or a sin. Wondering if we were weird for the sexual questions we wondered silently about.
When we dare as a family to be honest about the kinds of things that have affected our sexuality we are beginning to join arms on the journey to wholeness. And, yes, this includes the kids. Think back to how early you experienced some of the things listed above, then realize that kids today typically experience these events a couple of years sooner. Kids need to be able to talk about at least some of these things with the rest of the family.
The Family Journey
I realize there are cases where a family member needs to separate for a time or even permanently for the safety of others. Even these families, however, eventually need to work on their own brokenness, including the brokenness caused by the member who had to leave.
When the family stays united, the rest of the family has a support role to play by encouraging the member whose brokenness first came to light. We affirm their efforts at seeking outside help. We can help their hot seat feel a little less warm as we admit our own past sexual brokenness.
As each family member faces the brokenness that starts coming to mind, they may need outside help as well. This could be in the form of a mentor or professional, but it could also be a book or course the family takes together. Either way, this is a journey the family can take together. Families who dare to do this will find deeper relationships waiting on the other side.
by Dan Wobschall
Director of Gateway to Freedom
These verses from Romans are the foundation of this article.
Romans 8:26-29 26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
What is Prayer?
As we look at prayer in recovery (and in all aspects of life) I think having a good definition of prayer is important. I like this definition of prayer from Barry Woods: “Prayer is a conversation between an ordinary human being and an extraordinary God, often about ordinary things.”
In simple terms, prayer is a significant part of relating with God. It’s a two-way conversation. I often forget that, and I suspect I’m not alone. We pray but then often walk away and forget to listen for Abba Fathers reply.
Prayer also includes so much more than words; it’s truly a lifestyle. Real prayer also involves all of life Phil. 4:6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. (Emphasis mine)
Why Pray At All?
I think we’ve all come to a point in our lives and certainly recovery journey when we ask our self: why keep praying because it doesn’t seem to be helping?
Prayer is a direct conversation with our heavenly Father who hears every word. Prayer can best be understood by what it does.
In his book; Lord, Teach us to Pray, Dr. Jimmy Knott gives us 9 reasons to pray. I’m going to share 3 of them. I would encourage you to purchase Pastor Jimmy’s book. It’s available on Amazon here: Teach Us to Pray
Here are three of the reasons why we pray (with a few notes).
1) To Know and Worship God
Prayer is personal
I believe the single most powerful and personal element in our relationship with God the Father is prayer. How you and I choose to steward the gift of prayer and the access to the Father’s throne, gives us insight into how we answer the question Jesus posed to the invalid at the Bethesda pool. “Do you want to be well?”
What can be and is a challenge for me (I doubt I’m alone here either) is patience in waiting for God to answer. After all Abraham waited 25 years for a promised son.
As you learn to pray, especially on those days when we just don’t feel like it, we build spiritual muscles and defenses we desperately need. Pray in humbleness of heart and of pure motive and watch God move.
Take time to read, digest and dare I say memorize the foundational verse for this series on prayer. It’s powerful and reminds us that we can come to God in any condition and He will hear us, and Holy Spirit will intercede on our behalf “in our weakness”.
by Anne Kerr
Family Care Specialist
At a sleepover during my fifth-grade year, everything changed for me. Of all the things we did, I have only one clear memory of that night: the 8”x10” glossy porn image that my friend stealthily pulled from a manila envelope hidden on top of the refrigerator. It left an impression on my brain and a wound in my heart, and decades later I can still feel its impact.
That photo was the first of many porn images I saw over the next several years. Magazines my brothers left in an upstairs bathroom and others in a home where I babysat tempted me, and I would often give in. I knew very little about human anatomy or sex, and the magazines were my incredibly destructive teachers which left me with more questions than answers. Feeling very ashamed and unsure about many things related to sexuality, I stumbled my way into adulthood with more than my share of missteps.
Fast-forward to 2021, and kids have not changed one bit. They still enjoy sleepovers. They are still naive and curious. And they still need to learn about things related to bodies and sex. But the ways in which most of them learn about sexual topics have changed dramatically. And the content they can easily access is infinitely more destructive than the Playboy magazines of the 70s.
Your children need to learn about bodies, sex, sexuality, relationships, and a host of other related topics. Will they learn about them from you and from God’s perspective? Or will they, like most of us, be greatly influenced by the world’s messaging?
The reality is that most of today’s kids (at increasingly younger ages) are learning about sexuality from things like…
Real Stories from Families
Often I hear stories of how kids were exposed to sexual themes, many explicit and damaging:
“My daughter’s friend asked if she wanted to see some boobs which led to a quick Google Images search.”
“My eight-year-old found a documentary on porn on our family’s streaming service. Somehow it got through the filters we’d set up.”
“My child had a friend who set up a proxy server on our computer, and he would get up early in the morning to watch porn.”
“My child was abused on the school bus.”
“My son’s class had to read the book ‘I am Jazz’ (a book about transgenderism) to kids a couple of grades below them.”
“A YouTube video for kids suddenly showed inappropriate content.”
“Sports Illustrated website and their swimsuit issue.”
“My homeschooled daughter wanted to know what sex was like, discovered porn, and began viewing it.”
“My teen daughter has been inviting her boyfriend over after we’ve all gone to bed.”
“My 14-year-old son heard that a female classmate would send a nude photo if he asked. So he did, and she sent one.”
“In my son’s Trigonometry class, two kids performed a public sex act when the teacher left the room.”
“A commercial with two men holding hands.”
“In first grade my child is learning about The Gender Unicorn.” (Feel free to Google it.)
“A middle-schooler came into my counseling office asking if she had to have sex. She’d read the Fifty Shades of Grey books and was worried about sex being painful.”
“My daughter entered public school for the first time after being homeschooled, and several kids asked her how she identified.”
“As part of an anti-bullying effort, my 11-year-old was required to complete a survey that used terms like pansexual, non-binary, and cis gender. He was embarrassed to tell me that he didn’t understand many of the terms used.”
Are you feeling a little overwhelmed, perhaps nauseous? I’m so sorry to have to bear this news, but you need to understand how different today’s world is and how very sexualized it has become. Your kids will have their own experiences just as you and I did. They will search for answers to their questions, they will be intrigued with sexual things, and at times they will experience sexual feelings as they encounter sexual things. They are human, and humans are sexual beings. They’re also your precious children, and I know you want to help guide them as well as protect them.
Many parents feel that homeschool or private school is the answer. But the enemy of our souls understands the significance of sexuality and will work in a multitude of ways to ensnare all of God’s children, even yours. All children today are quite vulnerable to his attacks.
Encouragement to Parents
While you cannot totally wrap your child in a protective cocoon and somehow miss all the sexual messaging in today’s hyper-sexualized world, you can become more aware and create an environment where your kids feel safe to talk with you about it. And you can share information about bodies, sex, sexuality, porn, culture, and relationships through short, honest conversations. You can become your child’s go-to for this information by beginning early and sharing consistently, gently, and proactively. With God’s help you can undo much of the shame your child may internalize related to sexuality. To a great extent you can counteract much of the sexual misinformation and counterfeits your kids will encounter.
Many parents today dismiss the onslaught of sexual messaging and consider it harmless. Others simply aren’t aware of its destructiveness and the easy access to sexual content online. Many minimize the challenges saying this is just the way kids learn about sex in 2021.
I believe you want more for your kids. Stay tuned.
*Today’s porn is very destructive, highly addictive, and easily accessible. Dr. Gail Dines’ organization, Culture Reframed, explains the current porn crisis well here: https://www.culturereframed.org/the-porn-crisis/.
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