by Jonathan Daugherty
Founder & President of Be Broken
"The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step." -Chinese proverb
If you or someone you love is addicted to pornography or other unhealthy and unwanted sexual activities, there is certainly sickness present. It may not be a physical sickness (although many porn addicts report they don't feel well much of the time). But there is always emotional and spiritual sickness in those who develop sexually addictive patterns. And if the one sick is to become well, healing must occur.
Before we dive into what it takes to heal from sexual addiction, we must understand the overall process and purpose of recovery.
Recovery is a process of healing from unhealthy compulsions and growing in one's God-given identity, for the purpose of encouraging others with similar struggles.
It is a lifelong process that invites a person to exchange their life of addiction (self-centered idolatry) for a life of purpose and meaning (selfless acts of service). With this in mind, let's dive into what it takes to heal from sexually addictive patterns.
Proper healing never happens without proper diagnosis. If you suffer from a head cold and a doctor inaccurately diagnoses you with bronchitis, whatever treatment is prescribed will have little effect on your actual illness. It is important to assess the problem carefully in order to develop a quality treatment plan.
When it comes to sexual addictions, it isn't as easy to diagnose as a head cold (or even bronchitis). There are many variables:
This part of the recovery journey can benefit greatly from counseling by a qualified sexual addiction counselor.
Take your time in the diagnosis stage. Be careful not to get "stuck" in analysis, but also don't be too quick to rush to "solutions" before you have adequately unpacked all that has been bottled up deep inside.
Secrecy is a big part of developing (and perpetuating) an addiction, so it is likely that it could take a while for everything that has been hidden to come into the light for examination. Be patient and keep bringing it all out. It will be painful, but it is pain with a good purpose: healing.
Once the diagnosis is made, there must be a plan for treating the sickness. How would you like to go to your doctor with the head cold I mentioned earlier, and after he diagnoses your cold he stands up, shakes your hand, and dismisses you from his office? No prescription. No advice. Not even a "hope you feel better" as you head for the door. I'm pretty sure you wouldn't keep that doctor.
The same should be true in recovery. Too often people keep going back again and again to "doctors" (i.e. helpers in recovery) who do nothing more than tell the patient, "Yep, you're addicted to porn and sex. Good luck." What? Healing from a sexual addiction does not occur through diagnosis only. There must be a plan for getting well.
The combination of counseling and support groups can be very helpful when developing a plan for your specific needs. These are environments that are designed to give you the time and space you need to absorb new thoughts and engage in healthy relationships that motivate you to live in a different way -- free from addiction.
God's Word is our ultimate source for truth and wisdom and guidance. And for those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ there is the promise of the indwelling of his Holy Spirit to "guide us into all truth." (John 16:13) Dig into the Word of God and spend time in listening prayer to learn what steps God wants you to take in your healing journey.
But a "prescription" doesn't fill itself. You ultimately have to "take your medicine."
"Take your medicine"
I remember being sick as a kid -- a lot! It felt to me like I was going to the doctor every week with a sore throat and fever. Every time I started to feel bad, I knew what was coming: the spoon. Yeah, I think you know what I'm talking about. The spoon that carried this liquid that was a color no one can describe. And the taste. Well, I'd rather not talk about it anymore. I'm not feeling too well...
I'm not sure why most medicines can't taste good, but it seems to be that way when it comes to the ingredients that make us well. The same is true in the healing process of recovery.
I wish I could say it "tastes" good to confess sin and brokenness, to make amends, to humble myself before God and others, to resist temptation, to reach out for help, to set up boundaries at home and work, and much more. But what the "prescription" for a life of integrity lacks in taste, it makes up for in effectiveness. This is what it takes to heal.
When you discover that the prescription, or plan, for your healing is actually for your good, you won't be as likely to resist it. In fact, you will reach out for the "spoon" and drink the weird-colored medicine because of its transformative effect. Over time you will even begin to "feel" better, not wallowing about in the cloud of addiction, loneliness, and shame. This is what healing looks like, and it is the first step of the long, and rewarding journey of recovery.
For help in healing from sexual trauma or addiction, consider the following resources:
Gateway to Freedom (3-day workshop for men)
40-Day E-Course for Men
40-Day E-Course for Women
Online Care Groups for Wives
by Jonathan Daugherty
Founder and President of Be Broken
How does your story fit into the Prodigal Son story?
Jesus got a lot of opposition from the religious leaders of his day. They didn't like what he was saying about God and his kingdom; his teaching didn't fit their narrative. So, in order to combat their false narrative, Jesus told stories to illustrate what he was teaching about God and how life was to be lived in His kingdom.
One such story that Jesus told was about a father and his two sons (found in Luke 15). It was actually the third story in a string of stories Jesus told to try and communicate how God loves to celebrate when lost possessions of great value are found.
The story of the Prodigal Son is about Pride, Prostitutes, Pigs, and a Party. As the story unfolds, see where your own story might intersect and discover God's heart for you no matter where you are on your journey.
Pride (I want it my way!)
Jesus said, “There was a man who had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them." (Luke 15:11-12)
One day this son goes to his dad and demands that he give him his inheritance. This is a bold, arrogant move because the father isn't even dead yet!
Before we wag our fingers too strongly at this young man, we probably ought to examine our own hearts on this matter. For all of us, in one way or another, have demanded the same from our heavenly Father. We may think because of our hard work "for the kingdom" God owes us blessings of comfort and prosperity. Or maybe we have some understanding of the spiritual "riches" we have in Christ but think we can then just snap our fingers whenever we want to "actualize" such "heavenly wealth."
Pride blinded this young son to the actual goodness of his father and the riches he already possessed as a member of his family. The more his eyes became fixed on himself and his own desires, the less he was able to recognize and enjoy the love and presence of his father. Dad was no longer a person to be known, but merely a resource to fund the son's selfish whims.
Amazingly, the father gave the son what he asked of him. What grace! And what wisdom. Some lessons can only be learned by actually receiving what our selfish hearts demand.
Whenever I have pushed back in disagreement or anger on any of God's boundaries, I have learned the hard way that the source of such rebellion was pride. In the moment, I couldn't see the love and kindness and wisdom of God's restriction; I only saw it blocking me from what I wanted.
Many times God would eventually give me what I was asking for, and I would do with His resources exactly what the Prodigal Son did with his father's inheritance: run away from home.
Prostitutes (the "fun" of sin ... for a season)
Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. (Luke 15:13)
The son finally had what he asked for and he wasn't going to waste any time getting busy with living however he wanted. He split town and headed to a place where no one knew him and he wouldn't be "bothered" by those religious restrictions of his father and their community.
I'm sure the son was having a fun time. I had lots of fun while I was sinning. Sin is fun! It feels good. It feeds base cravings and urges. But it also operates like a snowball rolled down a white-capped mountain. At first it seems manageable, but eventually its size and speed become unstoppable and dangerous.
The text says this boy "squandered his [father's] property in reckless living." Some translations say "in sensuous living." Sin is about the senses consuming whatever they can. Taste, touch, smell, sound, sight. Notice how sin entices the senses to take; the basic nature of sin is greed.
In a short period of time the young man blew through all the money his father had given him. This is what happens when sin is allowed free reign in a life without any restrictions or boundaries.
God didn't establish boundaries for us because He doesn't like us or doesn't want us to succeed or be satisfied. His law was given to show us the insidious nature of sin and how it will utterly destroy our lives if we give into it. God's law is based in His love for us; He is a good Father!
And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. (Luke 15:14)
Eventually, the ways of pride and greed lead to loneliness and and even greater need. The Prodigal Son, like us, thought that if he pursued everything his heart wanted that he would find true satisfaction. Instead, he found himself broke and alone. His condition actually worsened. This is the nature of sin: it leads to destruction.
But the son wasn't quite ready to give up on his venture. He still thought he could solve his problem on his own. He hadn't yet reached the necessary point of brokenness that would lead him home.
Pigs (the brokenness of true repentance)
So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything. (Luke 15:15-16)
The Prodigals Son's selfish decisions eventually landed him far from home taking a job he likely would have never considered just a few short months before: feeding pigs.
This may not seem like that big a deal to you, especially if you live in a western, non-Jewish nation. But when Jesus told this story he was speaking to an all-Jewish audience. The imagery of this young man taking a job to feed pigs would not have been lost on them.
Pigs were considered an "unclean" animal according to Jewish law. the Jewish people were not to have anything to do with pigs. So, the fact that this boy even considered taking a job feeding them was an indication of just how far he had wandered from his home. But even more startling than this boy feeding the pigs was the feeling he was having toward them: envy.
"...he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate..."
There probably couldn't be a better way to describe the lowest possible feeling that a Jew could have than to say he envied a pig! And that is exactly where the Prodigal Son found himself, feeling lower than a pig.
But Jesus knows that this is a great place for a wandering soul to be. Sometimes it takes a journey of prideful self-indulgence to get us to finally acknowledge our sin and brokenness. Many a soul has found the hope and delight of God's grace while covered in the muck of a stinky pig pen. And this is exactly what the Prodigal Son discovered.
Party (the joy of a faithful Father)
But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father's hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.” (Luke 15:17-19)
The Son finally "woke up" and came to his senses. He realized where his pride had taken him and he remembered the kindness and goodness of his father. He then formulated a plan to repent of his sin and make amends with those he hurt by his selfish actions. He hoped and prayed that he might just get a bunk with the servants.
Little did he know that the kindness and goodness of his father ran so much deeper than he imagined.
And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate. (Luke 15:18-24)
The father spent every day since his son left scanning the horizon in hopes that he might see his silhouette coming down the road. Now, finally, after many days (probably months, at least) he sees the figure of his son returning -- and he cannot contain his joy!
He runs to his boy (something a Jewish man with his wealth would never be expected to do!) and wrapped him in his arms and kissed him. The son tries to get his confession out, but the father overwhelms his words with an avalanche of grace. He calls out to have him clothed like royalty and for party preparations to be made immediately.
Imagine yourself as this son.
The last time you saw your father you were demanding money from him in a way that wished he were dead. Now, as you return home, covered in caked on mud and filth from the pigs you envied, this same father is embracing you and showering you with kisses and demanding that a party be thrown in your honor.
How do you respond? How could you respond? Do you see that grace has the power to completely overpower your defenses of shame? Could you respond to such grace with a statement like, "But Dad, are you sure about this? I mean I really screwed up! This party is way too much."
Your heavenly Father knows every step you have taken in your wanderings from Him. He knows how you have squandered his wealth on reckless living. He has seen the heaviness of your heart as you stare with envy at the "pigs" you are feeding. He feels your brokenness as you come to your senses and begin your journey home.
No matter what you have done, God's heart bursts with joy when he sees your silhouette rise on the horizon. He can't contain his joy as he runs to you, smile on his face, to sweep you up in his arms, kiss you, and throw the greatest party you could ever imagine.
That's how much your Father loves you. If you've been wandering, will you come home to him?
by Dan Wobschall
Director of Gateway to Freedom
The last 2 years have been challenging and interesting, to put it mildly.
I’m one of those people who seeks God for a “word” for the year. In late 2019 as I sought God for that very thing what I heard was not one, but two words: Grateful Vision.
In 2020 what I received was the word: Joy.
Little did I understand that those three words combined would be a compass to a lesson and path God would lead me down as well as allowing me to experience (once again) the pains when I think my way is better.
I am a perfectionist, but I’m just horrible at it (I borrowed that phrase from a good friend). Admittedly, that stung a bit when I realized how accurately that describes me.
#1 - We often see things as we are, not as they actually are.
The tendency for many of us is to see what's happening around us through the filter of our current circumstances. In other words, if our situation is troublesome, difficult and very painful, we tend to see the world around us through that lens.
This can send us in a downward spiral and we find ourselves (not everyone I understand) headed into depression-like mindsets. Even those who are typically glass-half-full folks over time slide towards the half-empty viewpoint.
This can be especially true for those in the midst of recovery and a grieving process. And, the holiday seasons can add to this.
In 2020 and into the first half of 2021, the two words, Grateful Vision, quickly vanished from my daily thinking and I found myself battling my old nemesis depression and anxiety.
It was mid 2021 before God opened my eyes, ears and heart to some cherished wounds, fears and anxiety that I’d been harboring in the deep corners of my soul. That’s where this lesson came to light and the journey out began.
Our Response: 2 Corinthians 10:5 “We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.”
#2 - Gratefulness is an antidote for Fear and Anxiety
Choosing gratefulness and thankfulness as a focus of our thoughts and daily actions will begin to displace fear and anxiety (anger also by the way) from our hearts. This does not happen by osmosis or accident.
Make a list of items to be grateful for and place them where you can see them every day. Not only read that list but speak the words out loud a couple of times every day. There’s a powerful transaction and impact on our minds as we hear ourselves speak truth over our own lives.
Seeing gratefulness as part of a daily worship practice is a helpful mindset.
Our Response: The Apostle Paul exhorts us to think this way as he wrote to us in Romans 12:2 “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
#3 - Gratefulness Lets Joy Back In
Have you ever felt like the joy in life has just left the building?
That’s what happens when fear, worry and anxiety have the throne of our hearts and souls. It can feel like darkness or heaviness is constantly sitting within us.
It can become exhausting and a drain on our energy and resources. Thinking becomes foggy or a struggle. The ability to focus for long periods of time becomes difficult. This is exactly what I experienced from mid 2020 to mid 2021. It feels like your emotional tank is almost constantly nearly bone dry or close to it.
Sleep can become disturbed or even if you sleep decently, you wake up tired still. If that connects with you in some way, I’m sure you’re not alone nor are going crazy. After all, the last 2 years kicked many of us around a bit.
This lesson on gratefulness and joy hit me in the midst of God leading me back to a wise counselor who helped me process what I was feeling. He helped me to see how my self talk had become toxic and gently re-focused me back to Jesus.
We have a real enemy that has come to, “steal, kill and destroy”. As part of his deceptive methods he relentlessly works to get our eyes off God and on ourselves. He wants to get us distracted and wrapped up in our own desires and little world.
When fear, anxiety and anger (and the like) wiggle their way into our minds, gratefulness and joy begin to be suffocated. Then, Satan can stand back and let us become our own worst enemy.
The lesson hit me hard during a week long sabbatical in September. Sitting in the woods of a retreat center I heard the thin whisper (still small voice) of the Holy Spirit. What He reminded me of was that all my worries about finances, lack of joy in my soul and having forgotten the call to “Grateful Vision” left me feeling very depleted and fearful.
I was truly living in a crippling fear of any financial calamity (imagined), health issue and feeling like I was failing as a man to provide for my wife in a way I believe she deserves.
The bad news: If I can be honest with you, I hated living this way and what made it worse was the awakening to the truth that I’d walked myself right into the valley of the shadow of death.
The good news: Psalm 23:1- 4
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures.He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
Our Response: Remind ourselves that the Lord is indeed my shepherd. He may not remove us from the valley, but He is walking through the valley with us. He guides, provides and sustains us through it all. He is faithful and will do it.
This song from Josh Baldwin, Evidence continues to be a reminder of the faithfulness of Jesus the Christ in my life. God uses this song yet today to guide me back to the truth of Psalm 23.
by Jonathan Daugherty
Founder and President of Be Broken
If you want to live a life of sexual integrity, you need to improve at resisting sexual temptation. If you don't improve at the point of temptation, all other learning and practices won't matter much.
In this post, I want to unload the best ideas for resisting sexual temptation that I've gathered and practiced in over 20 years of personal pursuit of greater integrity and professional ministry to thousands of sexual addicts.
These ideas are more practical than philosophical. After all, in the moment of temptation you need to take action. I hope these simple ideas will help you make better choices when tempted.
If you have some ideas that have helped you, I'd love to hear them. Send me your ideas for resisting sexual temptation, or post them in the comment section below.
Here are 7 ideas for resisting sexual temptation:
1. "I don't need to know that!"
"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.” (Gen. 3:4-5)
Every sexual temptation is an attempt to convince you that you need to know something that you don't. In other words, temptation is inviting you to "peek over the fence" to see what's on the other side.
One way to resist such temptations is simply to tell yourself: "I don't need to know that!"
God created us originally to only know good. But Satan convinced Eve and Adam that good wasn't good enough; they would be "better" if they knew good and evil. He tempted them by convincing them they needed to know something they didn't. This is at the heart of every temptation.
I realize saying "I don't need to know that" may be easier said than done in the moment of temptation, but give it a try. You might learn to relish such "not knowing."
I have been telling myself for over 20 years "I don't need to know that" in response to thousands of temptations. I can testify from experience, such "ignorance" truly is bliss.
2. Run Away!
"Flee sexual immorality..." (1 Cor. 6:18a)
Temptation of any kind is inviting you to stay and move toward it. This is why God's Word tells us to flee!
There are likely very few times in which you physically can't move away from temptation (for instance, if you are in an airplane). Most of the time, however, the option to move is available. Take it!
Interestingly, when you physically move away from temptation you are also activating other parts of your body to help with redirecting your attention. Such parts include your circulatory and respiratory systems which help with blood flow and oxygen to your brain, giving your prefrontal cortex an opportunity to "light up" and make a wise choice.
3. Look for God
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. (1 Cor. 10:13; emphasis mine)
Maybe the furthest person from your mind when you are sexually tempted is God, but you are certainly on His mind in that moment. In fact, He already knew (before you were born) that you would face that particular temptation -- and He has provided a way out for you!
Since it is true that God provides a way out for every temptation you could face, why not look for God and His way out when you're tempted? The more you train yourself to look for God when you're tempted the sooner you will resist temptation and get back to God's business in your life.
4. Talk to Your Future Self
You have probably heard (or said) the phrase, "If I knew then what I know now..." It is a way of saying that you would have made a better choice in your past if you had the information then that you have now.
What if you learned to reverse that process? Instead of wishing a different choice on your past self, what if you "talked" to your future self when you are tempted? Such a "conversation" might go like this:
You: Hey, future self, if I say yes to this temptation where does that lead me?
Future You: You will have a few moments of excitement brought on by adrenaline and dopamine and endorphins, followed by a crash that results in disappointment and shame. Your soul will feel heavy.
You: So, what happens if I say no to this temptation?
Future You: You will have a struggle for a brief time while you navigate yourself away from the temptation, followed by a deep sense of relief and gratitude to God. Your soul will feel light.
Some self-talk can be very healthy and constructive. Give it a try. I think your future self will thank you.
5. Phone a Friend
Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. -Galatians 6:2
Temptation is very personal, but that doesn't mean you need to face it alone. It is important to have some close friends who know your struggles and can help you resist temptations when they arise.
Thankfully, the world of technology we live in today makes it quite easy to reach out in the moment of temptation. Sadly, though, very few use this technology for this reason. Fear and shame can often paralyze us from reaching out for help when we need it.
I suggest that when you reach out to a friend for help to resist temptation that you connect with them verbally. Text or email just doesn't have the same effect as getting on the phone and speaking with a friend about the struggle you are facing right now.
When sexual temptation strikes, phone a friend and bear the burden together. There is strength in numbers when it comes to successfully resisting temptation.
For a simple, but effective, tool to help you reach out for help when tempted, check out this amazing app from our friends at Triggered.app.
6. Turn "What If" into "What Is"
It is very common when tempted to get on a "what if" train of thought. This creates all kinds of scenarios in the mind about what might happen if this or that decision is made. But it is important to recognize that everything about "what if" thinking is speculative; it isn't yet real.
Therefore, a good way to combat "what if" thinking, and to resist sexual temptation, is to replace "what if" with "what is."
"What is" thinking brings your mind back into reality. It grounds your thoughts in truth. Sometimes this is as simple as looking around the room you are in and naming items you see. Lamp. Chair. Bookcase. Window.
This may seem "silly," but I encourage you to try it. You might be amazed at how something so simple can break your "what if" fantasy thinking and bring you back into the real world. And once you are "reconnected" with the here and now you are in a much better frame of mind for making a different choice about whatever you do next.
7. Choose the Narrow Way
“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few." (Jesus in Matthew 7:13-14)
A life of sexual integrity doesn't form and mature naturally. In other words, resisting sexual temptation is not easy. There is struggle. It is a battle to say no to temptation. But it is a battle that is worth it because victory leads to peace and joy; to life itself.
Jesus said that the "easy way" is a wide gate that leads to destruction and many take that path, but that the "hard way" that leads to life is a narrow gate and only a few find it. This doesn't mean that God is cruel and wants to make it impossible for you to enjoy life. It means that you will "reap what you sow" when it comes to the investments you make in choosing to be a man or woman of greater integrity.
Will you choose the wide, "easy" gate or the narrow way of Jesus? Temptation would want you to believe that the easy way is the way to real satisfaction, but I think we have all walked that path enough to know that is a lie. While the narrow way doesn't look appealing (or possible) on the front end, it leads to lush pastures of true and abiding satisfaction for the soul.
Let's be courageous and take the narrow way when it comes to resisting sexual temptation.
I hope these ideas have helped. If you have ideas that have helped you resist temptation, please post them in the comments below.
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 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 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”.
Search for a Topic:
Subscribe to Blog:
3 Tactics Satan Employs to Destroy Our Lives
Where to Get Help for Porn Addiction
13 Bible Verses to Help You Resist Temptation
Is it Possible to Quit Porn and Masturbation?
Why Repentance is Essential to a Life of Integrity
The Christian Response to Moral Failure in Church Leaders
Why We Hate Correction, but Need to Love It