Do Not Despise Your Strength!

God, in Tagaytay, Philippines May 1, 2019

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The Lord spoke to me during a team meeting at the Filipino International Living Waters Leadership Training and said, “Do not despise your strength.” This might sound like a simple concept to most people, but for many of us who have endured childhood sexual abuse, it isn’t quite that easy.

It felt like I had to surrender my own strength during the abuse. I knew that if I resisted, I would be hurt. Badly. Instead of fighting the abuse, my heart “went somewhere else” while the rest of me just endured. That created the message that I was a weak coward who simply “let the abuse happen”. Since our body parts don’t know that the sensations were caused by unwanted abuse, they respond how those body parts were made to respond. This simultaneously creates the sense that we’re being betrayed by our own bodies, and plants the lie that we “like” the abuse. Since resisting the abuse would bring more pain, I began to believe that my own strength was dangerous... something to be avoided… something to despise.

When the Lord told me to stop despising my own strength, He began to unfold these dark dynamics of abuse. He also began to unfold the truth about strength. It wasn’t weakness to recognize that I would be hurt if I resisted the abuse. It was actually strength to endure the abuse and come out the other side. It takes strength to acknowledge the pain and confusion of abuse, and to bring that pain and confusion to the only one who can truly heal our souls. Jesus endured the torture and abuse of the cross. He suffered unspeakable torment for us. And He can heal us. He can give us the strength to face the truth and speak the truth. Jesus can set us free from the devastating effects of abuse.

As we learn to stand in His strength, there will be times when people who are used to taking advantage of our weakness rise up and try to come against our strength. It is then that we need to lean on Jesus, the true source of our strength, and live the truth of 2 Corinthians 12:9-10. As we experience the reality of God’s strength made perfect in our weakness, we learn to stand in Christ. He will give us the strength to persevere through the opposition and gain victory through His power. Rather than being something to despise, our own strength – really, Christ’s strength in our weakness – is something to be embraced.

My name is Dan Hitz, and I’m the Executive Director of Reconciliation Ministries. As I share this part of my journey with you, I hope that it gives you encouragement to continue to heal from the pain of your past. If you or someone you love has suffered from abuse, call Reconciliation Ministries at 586.739.5114 to find out how we can help you find healing. We offered licensed professional counseling, prayer ministry, and support groups to help you overcome sexual struggles and the trauma of abuse.

© 2019 Reconciliation Ministries of Michigan, Inc.  This article may be reproduced and distributed as long as no fee is charged and credit is given to Reconciliation Ministries of Michigan, Inc.

The Building Blocks of Gender Confusion

The Building Blocks of Gender Confusion – Dan Hitz

Dan Hitz is the director of Reconciliation Ministries of Michigan, Inc. and a Licensed Professional Counselor in the State of Michigan. This article is an introduction to the potential causes of gender confusion and accepting a transgender identity. As this is an extremely complex topic that cannot be fully covered within the scope of this newsletter, this article will serve as a general overview. Resources are presented at the end of this article which will provide a much more thorough exploration of gender confusion.

When God created human beings, he made them to be like himself. He created them male and female, and he blessed them and called them “human.” - Genesis 5:1b-2 NLT

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As we begin our study into the potential causes of gender confusion and what may lead someone to accept a transgender identity, it is important to acknowledge that we have a Divine Creator who has a specific calling, purpose, and identity for each one of us. As Joe Dallas explains in his sermon, The Transgender Dilemma1, we need to acknowledge God’s created intent for each individual as either male or female. God knew us before we were in the womb (Jeremiah 1:5), and knit us together in the womb (Psalm 139:13) as either male or a female. Dallas says that our gender was likely one of the first things spoken about us when we made our appearance on this earth. All of us have scars on our bodies and in our hearts that bear witness to the reality that we are living in a fallen world. Everyone experiences trials and hardships that were not a part of God’s original intent for our lives. We also make decisions that are contrary to God’s created intent for us. Our feelings can lead us to do many things that can harm us, and lead us further away from God. The way back to true inner peace is to acknowledge God’s created intent for us, embrace the cross when our hearts want to do something contrary to God’s will, and live to the best of our ability according to God’s created intent – His will – for our lives. As Dallas says, “If I am one thing, but I feel like I am something else; the problem is not with what I am. The problem is with what I feel. Thereby, I am called to correct what I feel, not what I am.”1

In writing this article, it is my hope that by exploring and becoming more aware of the things that may contribute to gender confusion, we can be better equipped to respond to those who sincerely believe that they are trapped in the wrong body. We need to treat them with Christ-like compassion and grace. By identifying the causes of gender confusion, we identify the areas in our hearts where we need God’s help. We can seek His healing in those wounded areas of our hearts.

Many of the definitions used in the context of transgender issues have changed over time. I’ll list a few definitions to help this article be easier to understand. The term sex refers to a person’s physical body in terms of being male or female. Other terms for this are assigned sex and biological sex. Gender refers to the person’s emotional percept of being male or female. Thus, in today’s culture, a person’s sex may not be the same as a person’s gender. In other words, a person born with male anatomy who feels like he is trapped in the wrong body would identify his sex as male, and his gender as female. He would call himself a transwoman. A biological female who identifies as male would be called a transmale. The term transgender typically refers to a person who identifies as having a gender that differs from his or her sex. The terms gender confusion and gender dysphoria refer to the emotional distress someone has when his or her gender (the emotional perception of one’s maleness or femaleness) does not match his or her biological sex (anatomy). The terms gender confusion and gender dysphoria are used interchangeably in this article.

Aside from living in a fallen world, no one is certain what causes gender confusion. The American Psychological Association states in a recent article, “There is no single explanation for why some people are transgender. The diversity of transgender expression and experiences argues against any simple or unitary explanation. Many experts believe that biological factors such as genetic influences and prenatal hormone levels, early experiences, and experiences later in adolescence or adulthood may all contribute to the development of transgender identities.”2 The APA seems to have adopted the same “nature plus nurture”3 theory for transgender issues that they have for homosexuality. Even if scientist were to identify specific biological and genetic links to gender dysphoria, this does not mean that a person should automatically start taking steps to embrace a transman or transwoman identity. There are genetic links for such things as alcoholism and anger, yet most people would never think of encouraging someone to embrace alcoholism or anger as an identity.4 May we be those who are willing to walk alongside someone struggling with any life-defining challenge and help them embrace God’s will for their lives.

No one formula can adequately address the emotional factors that contribute to gender confusion. Everyone who struggles with gender confusion does not have the same life experiences. Needless to say, issues contributing to gender dysphoria are significant enough to cause the struggler to reject his or her birth gender. Many of the building blocks of transgender issues are similar to those of homosexuality, yet they go much deeper into the core of a struggler’s identity to fuel the desire to become another gender. Most of the time, these issues are running deep below the surface in the struggler’s heart. They may not be consciously aware of their own motivations until they begin the recovery process.

Many root issues of gender confusion are presented in testimony form in the DVD, Tranzformed: Finding Peace with your God-Given Gender, by Pure Passion Media.5 In this DVD, 16 men and women share their experiences from childhood and their journey into accepting a transgender identity. They also share their repentance, which lead to the acceptance of their true identity in Christ. Another good resource to identify causes of gender dysphoria is When Hope Seems Lost by Denise Shick6 founder of Help 4 Families. Both resources have contributed to this article

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Many of those who struggle with transgender issues perceive their birth gender as less powerful and more vulnerable than the opposite gender. He or she may have been bullied and dominated by the other gender. He or she may have seen his or her parent of the same sex abused emotionally and/or physically by the other gender. A female who grows up in a family where the father is abusive and dangerous towards her and the mother, may reject her own femininity and seek to identify with the males who seem to be more powerful and less vulnerable. A boy who grows up with a domineering mother and has a female partner who is abusive, may give in to the desire to become what he perceives to be the more powerful gender. In these situations, victimization is a powerful incentive to embrace the opposite, “safer” gender.

Some struggling with gender dysphoria perceive that the other gender is celebrated much more than their own birth gender. They may have been told by their parents that they wished he or she were the opposite gender. A biological man being told by his mother and aunts that they knew he was supposed to be a girl when he was in the womb, may be brought up in a family that continues to communicate the message that he was supposed to be a girl. The message is made more powerful as broken family members continue to encourage him to embrace his female identity and may even dress him up in female clothes. He learns to embrace a female identity as a means of gaining affirmation and approval. A biological female growing up in a home where females are looked down upon while the males in the family are celebrated, may reject her femininity and embrace a male identity in an effort to gain approval.

Many struggling with transgender issues say that they have “felt different” than the others of their gender since they were a little kid. There can be many reasons for this, such as not being accepted by neighborhood kids because he or she isn’t good at, or interested in, activities usually enjoyed by other kids of his or her gender. A boy who doesn’t like sports but is skilled at dance and the arts, may be rejected by the other boys in the neighborhood. A girl who likes rough and tumble play may not get along well with the other girls in the neighborhood, but feels like she belongs with the boys. Rather than recognizing the diversity of interests that boys and girls have, this can lead to the idea that he or she is actually the opposite gender.

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Some who struggle with gender dysphoria didn’t receive the nurturing that they needed from the same sex parent and have developed a deeper connection to the opposite sex parent. Simply by associating more with the opposite gender, he or she may develop similar interests and viewpoints to the opposite sex parents. If the opposite sex parent also feels disconnected from the child’s same sex parent, he or she may become enmeshed with the child in an attempt to fill up an emotional void in the parent’s own heart. This can lead the child to reject his or her birth gender and embrace the opposite gender.

A significant number of people struggling with gender dysphoria have experienced sexual abuse. Abuse breaks down sexual boundaries and confuses perceptions of sexual norms. Dr. Dan Allender, author of The Wounded Heart and Healing the Wounded Heart, notes that sexual abuse causes the victim to feel like his own body has betrayed him.7 Although the abuse may be unwanted and terrifying, the nerve endings in our private parts respond with pleasure. This often causes the victim to experience deep shame. Sometimes this causes the victim to reject her own gender in an attempt to make sense of the abuse, or protect herself from further abuse.

Denise Shick explains that sometimes emotional pain can be so extreme that a trauma victim seeks out a different identity in an attempt to leave his true identity behind.5 He may see his birth gender as a reminder of the trauma. If the trauma victim perceives that it was his gender that made him more vulnerable to the abuse, he may identify as a female in order to avoid future abuse.

Some people with gender dysphoria also suffer from mental health disorders that may be contributing to the desire to identify as another gender.6, 8 These may include depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and personality disorders. Very often, trans-affirming therapist are too quick to focus on helping the individual transition, rather than addressing the mental health issues that may be contributing to the gender dysphoria.

Teens face many challenges to their developing sexuality. Sometimes a young person may be confused if he experiences same-sex attraction and wonder if he is actually supposed to be the opposite gender. Sexual experiences and experimentation with dressing up in the opposite gender’s clothing may become enticing and may lead the person to further explore the thought of becoming the other gender altogether. When masturbation is added to the experimentation, the body releases hormones that actually encourage the behavior the person engaged in while masturbating. All of these factors can propel the teen further down the road of gender confusion.

With the acceptance of homosexuality being old news and the explosive advancement of accepting a transgender identity, many more teens are coming out as transgender than would be expected from traditional statistics. This is particularly the case for females. Researchers have identified a social contagion effect in teens and young adults whereby one person in a social group coming out as transgender prompts many more in that social group to come out as transgender.9 A substantial number of these teens have not previously expressed transgender thoughts as is the case in traditional transgender conditions. This is called rapid-onset gender dysphoria. Parents report that before their teens and young adults came out, there was a significant increase in Internet and social media use. Many of those newly identifying as transgender began following social media influencers who were documenting their own transition process. After they come out, their relationships with parents and non-LGBTQ people deteriorate, often to the point of open animosity.

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Whatever the cause of gender dysphoria, multiple research studies indicate that anywhere from 70 to 80 percent of prepubescent children who identify as transgender will grow up to embrace their birth gender without counseling or direct intervention.10 This further illustrates the dangers of prescribing puberty blocking hormones to adolescents and pre-adolescents, and highlights the need to focus on the root issues of gender confusion rather than the symptoms.

Knowing some of the potential root issues contributing to gender confusion can help us know where to focus our prayer and recovery efforts. Remember, everyone is different and not everyone will fit into any specific pattern. The overcomer will have to be willing to take an honest look deep inside his or her heart, and be willing to surrender some longstanding defense mechanisms. He or she will need to acknowledge the fears and apprehensions associated with embracing his or her birth gender. It is important to embrace the small steps of change on the way to healing and celebrate the small victories throughout the journey. It is important to find a good Christian caregiver who is experienced in helping men and women explore the roots of their gender confusion, receive healing, and learn to embrace their God-given sex and gender. An experienced Christian caregiver can hear his or her heart and offer compassionate care without judgement.

Help is available…

Reconciliation Ministries www.recmin.org

Help 4 Families www.help4families.org

Walt Heyer Ministries www.sexchangeregret.com

Linda Seiler www.lindaseiler.com





References

1 Dallas, Joe. (2019, March 17). The Transgender Dilemma. Sermon preached at Calvary Chapel Rialto, California. Retrieved from https://vimeo.com/324879265?fbclid=IwAR2QiN776HjGZkroqPgLvAnET4wTiC72KdISAYZqUcwvTKP10HlIbkbUJ3U on 4/5/2019.

2 American Psychological Association.  Answers to Your Questions: About Transgender People, Gender Identity and Gender Expression.  Washington, DC. December, 2014.  Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/topics/lgbt/transgender on 4/5/2019.

3 American Psychological Association.  Answers to Your Questions: For a Better Understanding of Sexual Orientation and Homosexuality.  Washington, DC. 2008, p2.  Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/topics/lgbt/orientation.pdf on 1/11/2019.

4 Straight Answers: Exposing the Myths and Facts about Homosexuality, Love Won Out Series, Focus on the Family Publishing, Colorado Springs, CO. 2000, p. 10.

5 Foster, David Kyle Foster (Producer), & Sutton, Karl. (Director). (2017). Tranzformed: Finding Peace with your God-Given Gender. United States: Pure Passion Media & Mastering Life Ministries.

6 Shick, Denise. When Hope Seems Lost. Help 4 Families Press, Ashland, KY, 2011.

7 Allender, Dr. Dan. Effective Trauma Care. Allender Center training. Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois. March 14-16, 2019.

8 Heyer, Walter, Trans Life Survivors. Bowker Identifier Services, 2018.

9 Veissiere, Samuel, Ph.D. “Why Is Transgender Identity on the Rise Among Teens?” Psychology Today. Posted November 28, 2018. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/culture-mind-and-brain/201811/why-is-transgender-identity-the-rise-among-teens on 4/5/2019.

10 Cantor, James. “How Many Transgender Kids Grow Up to Stay Trans?” PsyPost. Posted December 30, 2017. Retrieved from https://www.psypost.org/2017/12/many-transgender-kids-grow-stay-trans-50499 on 2/24/2019.

First three images used under license from www.shutterstock.com.
Forth image used with permission from www.unsplash.com.

© 2019 Reconciliation Ministries of Michigan, Inc.  This article may be reproduced and distributed as long as no fee is charged and credit is given to Reconciliation Ministries of Michigan, Inc.

Transgender: What is it and how did we get here?

This article is a brief explanation of transgender issues and how the American culture came to a place of acceptance and promotion of transgender ideology. Future newsletters will explore the roots of gender confusion, and the healing process. This article is a very simplified summary of a very complex issue. Two excellent resources for a deeper understanding of transgender issues are God and the Transgender Debate by Andrew T. Walker, and Understanding Gender Confusion edited by Denise Shick. Both books are a major resource for this article.

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As we begin this newsletter article on transgender issues, it is important to remember Christ-like compassion. It’s easy to condemn things we don’t understand… things we don’t feel comfortable with. As a conservative, it’s even easier to condemn something when there is a whole group of people who get all up in our faces about things that we don’t agree with. Such is the case with LGBTQ issues, and such is the case with transgender issues in particular. However, just as we don’t want the LGBTQ community to focus on the small percentage of self-identified Christians who are truly hateful bigots and think that they represent all Christians, we shouldn’t look at the small percentage of the LGBTQ community and think that everyone in that community are mean spirited activists. In both communities, some are. Most aren’t. Most people just want to live a peaceful life and do their own thing. As we look at this issue, it is important to remember Paul’s encouragement in Ephesians 4:15 to speak the truth in love.

Both Denise Shick, editor of Understanding Gender Confusion, and Andrew T. Walker, author of God and the Transgender Debate, do an excellent job helping us understand the emotional and spiritual pain experienced by someone who truly believes they are a man or woman trapped in the wrong body. It is indeed a traumatic and painful experience. Both authors also do an excellent job helping the reader understand the turmoil that the family of a transgender individual experiences. I’ve seen this pain often as I’ve led the Healing Hearts group for parents of LGBTQ identified individuals. The goal of Healing Hearts is to love our LGBTQ identified sons and daughters without compromising our Christian convictions. I’ve seen godly parents who dearly love their kids, grieving deeply that the son or daughter they’ve known since birth is now embracing the identity of the opposite gender. He or she may even be in the process of transitioning physically to the opposite gender, and insisting that the parents start calling him or her by a new name. Parents are teary eyed as they explain that it isn’t only the appearance of their son or daughter that is transitioning. His or her personality is also changing. The pain is very real for the family. The pain is very real for the struggler.

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How did we as a culture move from a place where divorce was rare and homosexuality – let alone transgender issues – were seldom talked about? Walker explains the cultural transition in Chapter Two of his book starting with relativism. Relativism means that there is no absolute truth. What is true for you in your experiences may not be true for me in mine. Christianity declares absolute truth; however, we are living in a post-Christian society that rejects absolute truth. Without absolute truth, we lose our moral foundation and our very ability to determine what is right and what is wrong. The sexual revolution of the 1960s brought further eroding as it celebrated an “if it feels good, do it” culture. Along came the introduction of the birth control pill to further separate the idea of sexual intimacy in the context of marriage and the potential of giving birth. Homosexuality, identifying as the opposite sex, declining marriage rates, rising divorce rates, and cohabitating are all symptoms of our individualistic, Post-Christian society rejecting absolute truth. Unfortunately, we find the same attitudes and actions in the hearts of many in the church today.

Walker explains that Gnosticism, an ancient belief that the physical realm is bad and that seeking spiritual fulfillment is key to personal flourishing, is of primary importance to transgender ideology. Gnosticism, even if it isn’t specifically named, is strong in our culture today. Walker writes, “Gnosticism emphasizes that a person’s self-awareness is different than and more important than their physical body.” (p. 25) Since there is a powerful tension between our physical bodies and our spiritual selves, Gnosticism supports the idea that we can transform our bodies to, and identify with, whatever gender identity we feel we are; regardless of what our bodies and chromosomes reveal. Joe Dallas, in his 2008 article “The Transsexual Dilemma”, explains the Gnostic belief that our human imperfections are the result of an imperfect creator. Therefore it is completely up to the individual to use his own intuition to form his “true identity” and determine the proper use of his body. Dallas quoted a transgender man who came to him seeking help who fervently declared, “I know I’m a man because I feel like one!” The biology of the imperfect physical world becomes irrelevant as someone embracing Gnosticism formulates her own identity based on her own human intuition. As Walker writes, “…there are two unforgivable sins in a postmodern, post-Christianized, individualistic world. The first is to judge someone else. The second is to fail to fulfill your desires.” (p. 26) In other words, not only are you very wrong to judge me and tell me that I’m wrong; I’m very wrong if I don’t obey my intuition and embrace whomever I feel like I am, even if my own body and my own chromosomes say otherwise. Gnosticism, combined with today’s entitlement culture, is an extremely powerful force.

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This may help explain how someone struggling with his or her transgender identity can come to the conclusion that he or she is in the wrong body; yet the question remains, how did transgender ideology become so engrained in the rest of our culture that does not personally embrace an LGBTQ identity? The transgender community is following many of the steps taken by the homosexual community to make transgender issues not only mainstream within the rest of society, but also celebrated and protected. LGBTQ characters are common in movies, television series, and even children’s programming. Laughable homosexual and transgendered characters were first introduced in movies and TV shows to bypass our emotional resistance. Once we were familiarized with comic characters, others were introduced to portray that LGBTQ people were the same as heterosexual people. Rarely are the negative aspects of the LGBTQ community talked about. Those embracing an LGBTQ identity are also at risk for increased substance abuse and domestic violence, and a higher than average number of co-occurring mental health disorders compared to the heterosexual community. A few of the honest characters hinted at the emotional conflict that LGBTQ people experience as they wrestled with their sexual identity; however, that identity is framed in the inaccurate context of being inborn and unchangeable. Other LGBTQ characters were introduced to teach that many in that community were suffering great emotional pain because of discrimination from conservative Christians and downright hateful bigots. Most people, especially Millennials, love to help the disempowered and marginalized. Very often LGBTQ issues are framed in the context of a culture discriminated against and in need of the support from the non-LGBTQ community. That approach has gained the LGBTQ community a lot of support.

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The terms used to describe transgender issues have changed quickly in the last few years. The words widely accepted in an article written by Joe Dallas in 2008 are different from the currently accepted words used by Walker in 2017. The American Psychiatric Association changed the official diagnosis of what most of us would call transgender from Gender Identity Disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV [DSM-IV] published in 2000, to Gender Dysphoria in the DSM V published in 2013. This article presents just a few of the most important, current definitions offered by Walker. Sex, refers to the biological sex we are born with as evidenced by our chromosomes and our sexual organs. Gender and gender identity is how we internally perceive ourselves as male or female, masculine or feminine. Thus, a person’s gender identity may be different from his or her sex. Gender dysphoria means that a person experiences emotional distress due to perceived differences between his or her biological sex and his or her self-identified gender identity.

Gender dysphoria is experienced on a continuum ranging from “mild” to “severe”. As Walker points out, not everyone who experiences dysphoria will identify as transgender (p.33). Some who experienced gender dysphoria will continue to live with the identity of their biological sex. A person who is transgender will live with some identification and outward expression of his or her gender identity which is different than his or her sex. This expression may be anything from dressing in the culturally accepted dress of the perceived gender, taking hormones to bring the body closer to alignment with the perceived gender, or undergoing sexual reassignment surgery. Other expressions of a transgender identity include gender fluid, which means that the person fluctuates between male and female identities; and non-binary or agender in which the person does not identify as male or female at all. A gay or lesbian identity is a completely separate from gender identity. A person can be transgender and straight, transgender and gay, or any combination the perception of a broken heart can assume. The LGBTQ community refers to individuals whose gender identity matches his or her biological sex as cisgender.

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If all of these definitions seem confusing to you, imagine the inner turmoil of a person who genuinely feels like they are trapped in the wrong body. We don’t pick our struggles and temptations. They just happen. True, sometimes we humans put ourselves in long-term situations that can lead us into long-term struggles. Sometimes, life throws us into situations that can create long-term struggles through no fault of our own. No matter what the cause of a person’s struggles, we Christians must react with the compassion of Christ and speak the truth in love to those who are struggling with their identity. Remember the words of Jesus to the Pharisees who just couldn’t wait to throw stones at the woman caught in adultery? “Let Him who is without sin cast the first stone.” And to the woman caught in adultery, “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.” (John 8) A harsh judgmental response to members of the LGBTQ community isn’t the answer. Neither is false love in the guise of full acceptance of someone’s broken identity. We must show love, and we must call to repentance. We in the church must be willing to show those who are struggling with any life dominating issue that Jesus Christ can heal their broken heart and help them live according to their true identity in Christ.

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Most of us in the Christian community don’t really realize what we are asking member of the LGBTQ community to give up when we call them to repentance. Do we really realize that the LGBTQ community has likely been far more loving to them than the typical Christian? Do we realize that the person’s very livelihood may be enmeshed in LGBTQ culture and is likely very difficult to walk away from? True, the pain of change if far less than the pain of an eternity in hell, but the pain of change can be excruciating. Are we willing to be inconvenienced and imposed upon by men and women who are in deep pain and need our help? Men and women we may not fully understand? I hope so. These precious souls desperately need the redemption and transformation that Jesus has to offer. These precious souls desperately need our support. Jesus calls us, His broken vessels, to walk alongside of other broken vessels and help them transition from the LGBTQ community, into the Body of Christ.

As I was researching this topic, I ran across an article by Joe Dallas that got my attention. He talked about one of the first transgender people who came to him for help many years ago. The question she asked him pierced my heart. It is the same type of question that many in the LGBTQ community would ask each one of us. I hope her question pierces your heart too… “You’ve got some pretty clear answers, Joe. But tell me honestly: if I go home and break up with my girlfriend, then put on a skirt and try to live as a woman, leaving behind everything about my life as I know it, will the church be there for me? Will they welcome me, even though I’ll look like a man wearing a dress? Can I be honest with fellow Christians about the surgery I had? Will I really be a sister in Christ, or will I be the resident freak?”

References        

Dallas, Joe. The Transsexual Dilemma. Christian Research Journal, volume 31, number 01, 2008.  Retrieved from https://www.equip.org/article/the-transsexual-dilemma/ on 2/27/2019.

Shick, Denise. Understanding Gender Confusion: A Faith Based Perspective, Help 4 Families Press, Ashland, KY, 2014.

Walker, Andrew T. God and the Transgender Debate: What Does the Bible Actually Say About Gender Identity? The Good Book Company. 2017.

Images of person with rainbow flag and person in green shirt obtained from www.unsplash.com.

All other images used under license from www.shutterstock.com.

© 2019 Reconciliation Ministries of Michigan, Inc.  This article may be reproduced and distributed as long as no fee is charged and credit is given to Reconciliation Ministries of Michigan, Inc. 

If you or someone you care about needs help, call Reconciliation Ministries at 586.739.5114. We offer compassionate, biblical, licensed professional counseling and prayer ministry.

Your Brain on Porn.jpg

This article contains many insights gained from the book, Your Brain on Porn, by Gary Wilson, Commonwealth Publishing, copyright 2017. Although this book contains an abundance of helpful scientific recovery insights, it does not uphold biblical sexual standards. Many of the personal testimonies and observations contain graphic details. This author felt that the benefits of the appropriate advice in this book outweighed the potential negative aspects. Your Brain on Porn provides a very easy to understand summary of the addictive chemical effects of pornography on the brain, and presents the steps one goes through to “rewire” the brain to engage in healthy sexual behavior.

Through the years, porn has promised many things… excitement… a sexual outlet… an education… You can fill in your own blanks __here__ and __here__.  With the arrival of high speed internet, porn made two new promises. They were huge. Finally, porn could promised anonymity and freedom. No longer did you have to slink into a public store and hope that no one would notice you were buying pornography. Now, with a basic smartphone, you can get all the porn you want. Any variety. In the privacy of your own bedroom or bathroom. And with incognito browsers, no one else will ever know what you are looking at. At least, we hope not.

Unfortunately, many of us didn’t read the fine print. Long before we realized the hollowness of porn’s promises, we were trapped in an addictive haze. What used to give us a major buzz in the beginning of our addiction just doesn’t do it for us anymore. We’ve had to upgrade to harder porn. Many of us moved on to images that we’d never dreamed we’d look at in a million years. Images that used to greatly disturb us. Now we can’t get off without them. Images that even leave us questioning our own sexuality. We found out the hard way that the freedom and excitement porn promised us gave way to addiction, depression, fear, and hopelessness. How many times have you promised yourself that you’d never look at “that” again? Only to find yourself viewing even darker images…

Along with increases in depression, social anxiety, and the loss of interest and energy for everyday tasks; doctors have noticed another alarming effect of pornography. Dozens of otherwise healthy males in their twenties have sought medical help for sexual dysfunction. After growing up and feeding on a steady diet of internet porn, these young men were horrified to discover that they were experiencing erectile dysfunction or premature ejaculation with their human partners. Surprisingly, many women have begun to have their own share of performance problems. What’s happening to these healthy men and women that keeps them from having fulfilling experiences with their sexual partners? High speed pornography use is messing up the neurochemical receptors in their brains. They’ve been conditioned to hard core internet porn, and lost their ability to relate to humans and respond to true, biblical emotional and sexual intimacy.

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To understand porn’s devastation, let’s look at how our brain’s reward system is wired. Of course, this is a highly simplified explanation of how the chemical pathways and reward system in our brains works, but you’ll get the general idea. Dopamine is a pleasure chemical that tells your brain that it really, really enjoys something and that you should definitely do it again. It drives us to eat all four corner slices of a Jet’s pizza, or to seek and indulge in other very pleasurable experiences. Then, when we engage in those behaviors, our brains give us a rewarding dose of opioids which give us a sense of satisfaction. Another chemical creates an emotional bond to whatever gave us the pleasure in the first place, while another chemical tries to convince us that we’ve done enough for now. The problem is, we don’t tend to listen to the chemical that tells us we’ve done enough for now and we keep going. Soon we’ve wired our brains in such a way that the chemical drive to do “it” again is much stronger than the reward we get for actually doing “it”, and even stronger than the chemical that tells us we’ve had enough of “it” for now. Over time, we get desensitized to the original “it” and need to find a much stronger “it” to get the same level of rewards that we used to get way back when. That’s a perfect setup for an out of control pornography addiction.

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Think of the feeling you might get as you constantly check your latest Facebook post to see the likes piling up. Dopamine gives you that sense of excitement as you open the app to bask in the accolades of your friends. Opioids give you that feeling of awesomeness as you see twenty more likes than you had five minutes ago. The problem is that the dopamine drive is much stronger than the opioid sense of satisfaction; therefore, we keep responding to the dopamine drive and continue to check our post for even more likes. After a while the likes stop piling up as fast as they did before. Even if they don’t, the same number of likes just doesn’t give us the same level of opioid enjoyment that we got before. It takes more and more likes to give us that same excitement that we got in the beginning. We start thinking about how to make our next Facebook post bigger and better than ever to get even more likes and comments. The cycle continues. Dopamine levels drop with familiarity, so we start craving something new. Something just a bit edgier than before… Substitute porn use for Facebook posts and you get the idea.

Dopamine has a few other neurochemical friends that work along with it. Anxiety and stress increase the effects of dopamine. Jet’s pizza and Facebook posts are mild compared to much of the porn freely available on the Internet. Porn addicts often frequent sites that violate their own conscience and convictions which produces anxiety, shock, and a haunting desire to see more. These emotions in turn release additional chemicals like norepinephrine, epinephrine, and cortisol which give a major boost to the already powerful dopamine. This in turn, drives the porn user to more and more outrageous sites in a continual search for a bigger and bigger chemical release.

Other things continue to happen in the brain that chemically wire our desire for the intense things that we view during and porn and masturbation sessions. This causes us to be less interested in the normal sexual intimacy that we could have with our spouse, which seems so mild and boring compared to the “thrills” of the internet. Even if we weren’t drawn to a particular fetish in the past, our desire for more and more excitement can make us crave forbidden areas that once made us nauseous. During times of sexual excitement and orgasm, another chemical called DeltaFosB begins to burn chemical pathways into our brain that work with dopamine to direct our desires in the specific direction of what brings us the most excitement. Dopamine and DeltaFosB drive the desire to do “it” again. And the desire for “it” can become compulsive.

Our brains do have a weak checks and balance system. Another chemical called CREB dampens our pleasure response in an attempt to tell us we’ve done enough and need to take a break. Unfortunately, the amount of stimulation available in our culture makes it easy for us to override the CREB and keep seeking more and more pleasure. Since our dopamine levels begin to decrease the more we become familiar with something and increase when we see something new and more exciting, our desire for more intensity drives us into deeper and deeper porn use. Another problem is that CREB not only dampens our desire for porn. CREB also dampens our pleasure responses to other activities like socializing, hobbies, and the rewards we feel from successfully accomplishing everyday activities. That helps to explain why porn addicts seem to develop tunnel vision for porn and allow so many other aspects of their lives fall to the wayside.

There are deeper consequences for teenagers who have started to use porn than guys in the previous generations could fathom. Chemicals in the teenage brain are working hard to establish pathways for desire, worldview, and behavior. The effects of the neurotransmitters active in porn addiction have a much deeper and longer lasting effect as the teen’s brain is developing, than they do on an older adult who started viewing pornography in their 30s or 40s. An overwhelming number of teens are taking their sexual cues from cyberspace instead of from human relationships. That means their brains are being chemically wired to the images and ideas they are learning from pornography. This makes it all the more critical for teens to stop using pornography and learn healthy relationship patterns.

There is good news for those who are addicted to pornography and for those who are suffering from the negative effects of porn addiction. God created our brains in a way that allows them to recover from addiction and restore healthy desire. It has to do with the characteristic of the brain called neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity refers to the brain’s ability to chemically rewire itself and change the poor wiring caused by addiction. Of course, this process takes a lot of time and concentrated effort, but it can renew our minds and restore healthy sexual functioning.

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In the last few years, researches and addicts have discovered the process of “rebooting the brain”. Not as easy as the way we reset our computers or smartphones when they become slow by just restarting them, but it does give us hope. This process has helped countless men and women who were experiencing sexual dysfunction and the emotional effects of pornography addiction. With perseverance, men and women have overcome their addictions and begin to experience healthy relationships and healthy sexuality. Rebooting our brains is really a simple concept. It means that we abstain from all forms of sexual arousal for a period of time to give our brains time to enact its “use it or lose it system” and rewire the chemical pathways in our brains. As we replace negative behavior patterns with healthy ones, the old chemical pathways that drive our desire for a given behavior become quieter. They are eventually overwritten by the new behavior patterns that we engage in. Anyone who has ever tried to eliminate a bad habit and establish a good one will recognize the challenge. The old chemical pathways in our brains are pretty strong and don’t like to be ignored. They will scream for attention. Eventually, those screams become quieter and quieter and can be replaced by new cheers that encourage good behavior. In time, the old chemical pathways weaken and healthy new pathways can appear.

Depending on the depth of porn use and the length of the addiction, it can take several weeks to a few months to reboot the brain. In the beginning, you will likely experience some emotional and physical signs of withdrawal. Your body has been used to getting its sexual release and will let you know that it is not happy that it is not getting its own way. Think of the little kid in the checkout line who just found out that he isn’t getting that candy bar today. He throws a fit. A smart mother will teach the child that he still isn’t getting his way even though he is throwing a fit, and that it is healthier to eat good fruit instead of candy. An unwise mother will give in to the child and give him the candy bar just to shut him up. Unfortunately, this just teaches the kid that if he throws a fit long enough he will get his candy bar. The fits get louder with each trip to the grocery store. The wise kid learns the benefits of the good fruit and learns that his tantrums don’t serve a useful purpose. The trips to the grocery store get easier over time. You may experience restlessness and aches in some sensitive body parts. Don’t give in to your body’s temper tantrums. As you teach your body to appreciate good fruit, it will realize the tantrums don’t serve a useful purpose and they’ll get quieter over time.

You’ll likely experience some emotional withdrawal. You’re used to the unnatural highs of sexual addiction, and even the best real life relationships will seem boring at first. You may experience depression, anxiety, irritability, restlessness, lethargy, brain fog, sleep disturbance, and a strong desire to return to porn. You may also feel a sense to isolate. This is why it is so important to seek qualified help as you go through recovery. Reach out to an experienced Christian counselor and the pastoral care department of your church. Support groups such as Living Waters and Celebrate Recovery can offer much needed strength. In the past you may have dealt with difficult life experiences by escaping to porn. Experienced caregivers can help you learn to resist the urge to return to porn. They can help you learn to navigate through life’s difficulties successfully, without self-medicating. Over time, you should find that your energy levels increase and you will begin to experience more enjoyment in the daily pleasures of life. Many people in recovery are delighted to find that they are enjoying their long lost hobbies and that their social anxiety is gone. Instead of relating to people through the fog of deviant sexual images, they are learning the joys of engaging in healthy friendships and appropriate emotional interaction. Of course, this is a process and it all takes time, but the process is very rewarding.

One more common withdrawal symptom that you will likely experience is called “flat lining”. Remember your body has been used to an unnatural level of arousal from neurotransmitters. After a few weeks, your body’s screams for sexual excitement can give way to a complete loss of sexual desire emotionally and physically. You may even become concerned that your sexual organs feel completely dead and worried that they will never function again. This is a common experience that almost everyone passes through as they reboot their brain. Don’t panic. At the end of your rebooting process, your sexual desire will return. With the support of mature Christians, you can learn to direct your reawakened sexual desires in the right direction. You can learn to embrace your sexuality within biblical parameters and deepen your healthy relationships.

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How long to stay in the reboot process varies with the degree of porn use, frequency of masturbation, and the age of each individual. Those who flooded their brains with a high degree of porn use and heavy masturbation at an early age will need more time in the process. Those who began their porn use after experiencing some form of healthy sexuality will need less time. Recommendations vary from 40 days to three months or more. An experienced caregiver or therapist can help you determine how much time is best for you. You should remain in the process for a while after the urges to view porn subside or come at an easily manageable level. If you are married, it is best to talk with your spouse and explain to him or her that you are considering the rebooting process and that you will need to abstain from sexual activities for a period of time. Most spouses are happy to assist their spouse in the reboot process in the anticipation of purifying and deepening the relationship in the long run.

After the process, the Lord calls those who are unmarried to abstain from sexual fantasy and physical sexual expression until marriage. You will experience sexual temptations, but the Lord will provide the grace for sexual purity. Those who are married are also called to sexual purity in their thoughts and actions; however, they do have a sexual outlet with their spouse to engage in appropriate sexual activities once the rebooting process has been completed.

The thought of quitting porn cold turkey may seem like an exercise in futility to you. After all, you’ve tried to quite many times before and find yourself right back at your computer screen. The question to ask yourself is what can make things different this time? As you prayerfully consider your answer, also prayerfully consider what mature Christians and which counselors and support groups can help you in this journey. You should also prayerfully count the cost of your addiction, and the benefits of living a life free from the bondage of pornography. As you take notice of all that your pornography addiction has taken from you, and all of the good gifts that the Lord wants to restore to you in exchange, I pray that you will be motivated to take the steps necessary to walk into freedom. It may not seem like it in the beginning of your journey, but living a pure life for Jesus will give you far more peace and strength than you ever thought you could get from porn. Now is the time to change your life.

If you would like more information about Reconciliation Ministries, or any of the ministries we offer,
visit us on the internet at www.recmin.org, or call (586) 739-5114.

This article may be reproduced and distributed as long as no fee is charged
and credit is given to Reconciliation Ministries of Michigan, Inc.

© 2019 Reconciliation Ministries of Michigan, Inc.

The Building Blocks of Homosexuality

The debate continues about the cause of homosexuality – nature, nurture, choice?  Dan Hitz, Director of Reconciliation Ministries, presents this brief overview of the building blocks of homosexuality.  Each person’s life story is different, yet Jesus Christ has an answer for every man, woman, and adolescent that finds him/herself struggling with unwanted same-sex attractions.  Understanding some of the potential roots of homosexuality helps us understand the steps to recovery. This article was originally published in a 2010 newsletter, and has been slightly updated for this 2019 edition.

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Those of us who have struggled with unwanted homosexual attractions know that we didn’t lie awake in bed one night trying to decide if we should be gay.  Our attractions just happened.  Many of us felt different than the other kids of our gender for as long as we can remember.  Some of us were called faggots long before we even knew what the word meant.  It can feel like we’re born this way.  Especially when our personality is developed at a young age by life experiences that were completely out of our control – the majority of which we cannot even remember.  This article will present a brief overview of the basic building blocks of homosexuality.  Understanding what some of the foundational issues may be, helps us to know what areas of our hearts are most in need of the grace of Jesus Christ and His healing presence.

Why has the secular community historically presented the idea of a genetic link to homosexuality?  Sharon Begley summed up the answer in her 2008 Newsweek Magazine article entitled “Does DNA Make Some Men Gay?” when she quoted Dr. Rosenberg. “By linking homosexuality to the genes, says New York psychiatrist Kenneth Paul Rosenberg, Hamer’s Study shows that being gay is not ‘a deviant choice and [the result of] a lack of will.  It is at least partly a biological orientation, as important to one’s constitution as eye color.’”1  In the Love Won Out series, Focus on the Family explains the error of accepting behavior based on a biological predisposition.  “A genetic link to some behaviors does not prove the idea of normalcy or rightness.  Look at alcoholism or propensities towards anger. While these have been promoted as having a genetic linkage, there are few, if any, in our society who would promote these behaviors as OK just because they are linked genetically.”2  The truth is that a conclusive genetic link to homosexuality has not been found.  In the latest position statement on homosexuality, The American Psychological Association writes, “Although much research has examined the possible genetic, hormonal, developmental, social, and cultural influences on sexual orientation, no findings have emerged that permit scientists to conclude that sexual orientation is determined by any particular factor or factors.”3  Simply stated, no concrete biological cause for homosexuality has ever been found.  No matter what the cause of homosexuality, Scripture is clear that it is one of many sins that can be overcome.  1 Corinthians 6:9-11 reads, “Don’t you know that those who do wrong will have no share in the Kingdom of God?  Don’t fool yourselves.  Those who indulge in sexual sin, who are idol worshipers, adulterers, male prostitutes, homosexuals, thieves, greedy people, drunkards, abusers, and swindlers – none of these will have a share in the Kingdom of God.  There was a time when some of you were just like that, but now your sins have been washed away, and you have been set apart for God.  You have been made right with God because of what the Lord Jesus Christ and the Spirit of our God have done for you.”  We may not have chosen to have same-sex attractions, but we can choose what to do with those attractions.

There are many theories concerning the roots of same-sex attraction. For years the most influential theory has been the Developmental Model, which looks at emotional and family of origin issues in the development of homosexuality. I want to clarify that not everyone who has same-sex attraction fits into the Developmental Model. While the majority of people struggling with same-sex attraction have come from dysfunctional families, others have not. Younger people in today’s culture may be more heavily influenced by their subculture’s promotion of homosexuality and transgender identities than those of us of older generations. Being LGBTQ identified in a performing arts high school or college actually gives and individual more accolades in this generation, while it formerly gave the individual a larger target for bullying in the 70’s and  80’s. As Joe Dallas points out in his book, Speaking of Homosexuality, there are plenty of heterosexual people who have experienced many of the ingredients in the Developmental Model, yet they do not have same-sex attractions.4  All of these insights can serve to help us recognize the complexity of homosexual development, and point us to the Lord for His insight in overcoming unwanted same-sex attraction. Through the years of counseling many people with unwanted LGBTQ issues, I have noticed that the vast majority of people do relate to the Developmental Model, which makes it important to understand.

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Before we look at some of the environmental building blocks of homosexuality, I want to talk to the parents who are reading this article.  My wife and I have five kids. The youngest is 21.  Raising teenagers was the most difficult thing I have ever done in my life.  It was more difficult than growing up with a paranoid schizophrenic mother, and more difficult than walking away from homosexuality.  We have all made mistakes when raising our children, and we have all done things we wish we could undo.  The important thing is to admit our mistakes and repent to those we have wronged.  Remember that your child’s perceptions were very influential in shaping his or her worldview, and may not reflect the actual reality of how he or she was raised.  Please do not read this list as an indictment against you or your parenting style.  It is simply intended to be a brief look into the heart of one struggling with homosexuality.  If you made mistakes, put them on the cross and let the Lord work in your own heart as well as the heart of your son or daughter.  He or she is responsible for his or her own decisions.

This list is intended as a brief overview of the most common environmental factors contributing to male homosexuality.  We will also look at some additional factors common in the development of lesbianism. Each person has his own life experiences which may or may not be included in this list.

The emotional roots of homosexuality often begin in a breakdown in the relationship with a same-sex parent.  For males, the father may be either extremely passive or demeaning.  The boy feels disconnected from his father and fails to develop a sense of maleness as he grows up.  This in turn hinders him from connecting to other male peers.

The mother may be overprotective and/or try to gain the emotional fulfillment from the son that she cannot get from her husband.  Many of the men I’ve talked to through the years explain that their mothers seemed to place them in the role of being an emotional support or pseudo-husband.  The boys feel uneasy about this unnatural relationship, but are often unable to express their own feelings and desires. 

The boy may relate more to his mother, sisters, and other females in his life than other males.  When the hormones hit at puberty, he is then drawn to the gender that holds the intrigue and mystique.  Some boys are simply more creative and less athletic than the average boy.  The reaction of parents and peers is critical here.  If the neighborhood boys begin to tease him for expressing his creativity and/or demonstrating his lack of athletic ability he may feel less masculine than they.  They may even label him as a gay based on his lack of athleticism. A wise father will recognize the specific giftings in his son and reaffirm his masculinity as expressed in the son’s own skill set.

Envy and jealousy are often key factors in homosexuality.  Very often, males with same-sex attraction are drawn to other males with the qualities they feel are lacking in themselves.  The boy in the locker room who feels physically weak and insecure may be drawn to the other boys who are more physically fit and more confident.  Leanne Payne calls this concept “cannibal compulsion” noting that cannibals historically consumed the people whose attributes they desired.5  This is also demonstrated as older men may be drawn to the youthfulness and perceived innocence of a younger man, while the younger man may be drawn to the fatherly nature of the older male.

Occasionally, men with same-sex attraction may crave sexual encounters with other males out of anger and a desire to destroy in others those traits that they feel lacking in themselves.  Multiple clients have explained their desire to have a sexual encounter with specific types of men with the intent of destroying the perceived attribute in the other male that they feel is lacking in themselves. One man confessed to having encounters with men whom he perceived had a perfect family, in order to wreak havoc on that man’s family.

A vast majority of clients who are struggling with unwanted homosexual attractions have also been the victim of childhood sexual abuse.  When a child’s sexuality is awakened early, it has a devastating effect in the heart causing a confusing whirlwind of emotions with deep seated emotional scars. Not all gay-identified people have been abused, but an overwhelming percentage of them have.

The booklet The Truth Comes Out: The Roots and Causes of Male Homosexuality from Focus on the Family6 lists the following environmental factors in male homosexuality:

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  1. Sexual violation or experimentation with men or boys

  2. Incest or molestation

  3. Exposure to pornography

  4. Negative spiritual influences

  5. Media influences

  6. Personality temperament

  7. Negative body image

  8. Peer labeling, harassment or alienation

  9. Fear of – or an inability to relate to – the opposite sex

There are some differences between male homosexuality and female homosexuality.  Males often feel inadequate in their masculinity and wish to connect with other males in a subconscious attempt to receive additional masculinity from them.  Females on the other hand, tend to see their femininity as a liability or an inferior quality.  A woman may have grown up seeing her mother as a victim of abuse by the father or she may have received mistreatment from significant males in own her life.  She may perceive that being feminine is unsafe and detach from her femininity while simultaneously withdrawing from males whom she may perceive as predatory.  Her desire for relationships leads her toward other women.

Females, more often than males, may develop same-sex attractions later in life.  This may happen as a woman receives mistreatment from significant men in her life, cuts her heart off from men, and turns to another female for emotional support.  If the other woman offering the support is unhealthy herself, a codependent relationship may form.  Many women have been drawn into a lesbian relationship as the emotional attachment turns to codependency which then becomes eroticized.

Other building blocks of female homosexuality are similar to those in males including the breakdown in relationship with the same-sex parent, difficulty connecting to same-sex peers, personality and interests more commonly associated with the other gender, sexual abuse, and emotional abuse.

The booklet The Heart of the Matter:  The Roots and Causes of Female Homosexuality from Focus on the Family7 provides the follow statistics from a study of responses from 265 women to look at some of the factors that may have contributed to their lesbian attractions:

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55.7% received emotional trauma including sexual innuendoes and specific sexual remarks that made her feel violated
69.1% experienced emotional abuse
66.4% were victims of sexual abuse
53.2% were verbally abused
39.6% felt abandoned
32.5% were victims of physical abuse
20.0% felt utterly neglected

Regardless of the specific causes of homosexual attractions in a person’s life, an open and honest relationship with the Lord is the first step in overcoming unwanted same-sex attraction.  Remember the words of 1 Corinthians 6:11 covered earlier in this article, “There was a time when some of you were just like that, but now your sins have been washed away, and you have been set apart for God.  You have been made right with God because of what the Lord Jesus Christ and the Spirit of our God have done for you.”  For those who have been wounded by their earthly parents, Father God is able to provide what their earthly mother and father were unable to give.  He can heal the wounds they have inflicted.  Psalm 27:10 reads, “When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take care of me.”

Many people who are raised in the church keep their struggle to themselves out of fear and shame.  We must be honest about our battle and share it with safe, mature Christians who will walk with us towards Christ.  The church must be a safe place where we can open our hearts and receive the help and discipleship we need.  1 John 1:9 reads, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”  The overcomer will need trained prayer ministers, pastors, and counselors who are familiar with the journey and can help the struggler bring the wounds and strongholds to Jesus at the cross.  He or she will also need other safe Christians who will simply walk with him or her and show the love of Christ.

References                                                                                                                                                             

1 Begley, Sharon. Does DNA Make Some Men Gay?, Newsweek Magazine, Updated 2/20/08.  Retrieved from http://www.newsweek.com/id/113943 on 9/3/2008.

2 Straight Answers: Exposing the Myths and Facts about Homosexuality, Love Won Out Series, Focus on the Family Publishing, Colorado Springs, CO. 2000, p. 10.

3 American Psychological Association.  Answers to Your Questions: For a Better Understanding of Sexual Orientation and Homosexuality.  Washington, DC. 2008, p2.  Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/topics/lgbt/orientation.pdf on 1/11/2019.

4 Dallas, Joe. Speaking of Homosexuality: Discussing the Issues with Kindness and Clarity, Baker Books, Grand Rapids, MI. 2016.

5 Payne, Leanne.  The Broken Image, Hamewith Books, Grand Rapids, MI.  1996.

6 The Truth Comes Out: The Roots and Causes of Male Homosexuality, Love Won Out Series, Focus on the Family Publishing, Colorado Springs, CO, 2002. pp. 10-11.

7 The Heart of the Matter: The Roots and Causes of Female Homosexuality, Love Won Out Series, Focus on the Family Publishing, citing Anne Paulk, A Study on the Roots, Causes and Treatment of Lesbianism, Colorado Springs, CO. 2001.

If you would like more information about Reconciliation Ministries of Michigan, or any of the ministries we offer, visit us on the internet at www.recmin.org, or call (586) 739-5114.

This article may be reproduced and distributed as long as no fee is charged and credit is given to Reconciliation Ministries of Michigan, Inc.  © 2010, 2019 Reconciliation Ministries of Michigan, Inc. 

Finding God in the Mess

Dan Hitz has been the Executive Director of Reconciliation Ministries since 2003, and is a Licensed Professional Counselor in the State of Michigan. More articles are available in the archives section of the Reconciliation Ministries website at http://www.recmin.org/newsletter-archives/.

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I don’t know who created the meme on the left that made its way around Facebook a while ago, but I wish I knew. I would like to thank them for speaking truth. Truth that sets us free from false condemnation because we simply “can’t do it anymore”, and we were told somewhere along the line that “God will not give us more than we can handle.” There was even a Christian hit song some months back about that concept. Yes, I was one of those people who cringed every time I heard the singer tell me to remember what God said about not giving us more than we can handle. And yes… I am also one of those people who has at various times in my life, experienced more than I could handle. And also…, yes… I have to admit that there were times when I despaired of life itself. I’m going to guess that you’ve also experienced those times when you were overwhelmed and you just couldn’t do “it” anymore. Maybe you’ve even despaired of life itself. Turns out, we’re in good company. Even the Apostle Paul, who wrote those verses in 2 Corinthians about being in “great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure” was a member of this not so exclusive club. Like us, Paul also experienced more than he could endure.

But there’s actually good news in realizing that we weren’t meant to just suck it up and deal with it. 1 Corinthians 10:13 reads, “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.” If we misapply that verse to mean that we don’t ever experience anything in life that we can’t emotionally deal with, then we’re setting ourselves up for discouragement. To be fair, the Greek word for tempted and temptation can also mean trials and testing, but the entire context of 1 Corinthians 10 is sinful temptations – not trials and hardships that have nothing to do with temptations. So while it is true that God won’t let us be tempted to sin beyond our ability to withstand, God does sometimes allow us to pass through trials that we absolutely cannot make it through on our own. The good news is that 2 Corinthians 1:9 gives us the answer for the times of great darkness in our lives. It is during those times that we must learn that we cannot “rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.” It is during those times that we must recognize our utter helplessness and fall on the mercy of Jesus Christ to bring us through the valley. Jesus is the only way we can endure some of the worse pain and suffering that life brings our way.

I’m no stranger to seasons of life that I don’t have the natural capacity to endure. I’m guessing you aren’t either. Years ago my wife and I experienced the loss of many dear friends and the hope of our ministry calling after we left a spiritually abusive church we had been a part of for more than 15 years. We’ve experienced the overwhelming despair of a parent with a prodigal son and daughter. Those seasons were definitely more than we could endure, but nothing prepared us for the overwhelming pain and sorrow we experienced from the death of our 17-year old son. I have to admit… During those seasons. Like the Apostle Paul. I despaired of life itself. Don’t worry. Neither my wife nor I are suicidal. However, I can speak for myself and say that I wouldn’t have minded if Jesus would have come back right then and there. As I heard one preacher say, “Sometimes it is easier to die for Christ than to live for Him.” He was right. [Incidentally, if you are feeling suicidal, or harmful to yourself or others, please get some help. Life is very worth living. It does get better. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number is 800.273.TALK. Help is available]

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The good news is that I’m still here, and I’m in a pretty decent season of my life right now. I can truly attest that coming to the end of our human ability to endure and falling upon the mercy of God does provide all that we need to pass through the times of overwhelming darkness in our lives. It also equips us with more faith and power on the other side of the trial. If we can keep our hearts open to the Lord during the times of darkness, we’ll learn some pretty phenomenal things about God’s character and His love for us. We can’t learn these things any other way. We learn more about the Father’s incredible heart of love for us, in that He was willing to sacrifice His own Son to save us from our sin and despair. We learn of Jesus’ unconditional love for us and that He willingly suffered far more than we can ever realize to redeem us and carry us through our pain. We’ll also learn of the incredible power and strength of the Holy Spirit as we allow Him to flow through us and carry us in the darkness. These are some of the “treasures of darkness” that the prophet Isaiah talks about in Isaiah 45:3. The New International Version reads, “I will give you hidden treasures, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who summons you by name.” Many other versions, including Young’s Literal Translation show us that this verse is even more precious to those of us who are passing – or have passed – through the darkness. Young’s reads, “And have given to thee treasures of darkness, Even treasures of secret places, So that thou knowest that I, Jehovah, Who am calling on thy name -- [am] the God of Israel.” God promises us that if we stick with Him during the dark times… If we keep our hearts open to Him… If we admit that we just can’t do “this” anymore and ask Him to carry us… He will be faithful to carry us through the horrible times. He will be faithful to equip us to endure and keep going for another day… for a better season… We will learn more about God and about ourselves than we could ever imagine. And we will gain spiritual treasures that will shine brightly in our souls long after we’ve passed through the valley.

If you’re in a dark place right now, you’re probably thinking, “Dan, I don’t even know where to start.” I get it. Neither did I when I was in the darkness. I was in a very bad place when I walked into my first Sunday sermon at my home church about 18 years ago. For some reason the pastor had a long rope tied to a chandelier on the top end, and a knot tied on the bottom. He preached out of the book of Nehemiah, the man who was in charge of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. Walls that were in heaps after Jerusalem was destroyed. About all I remember from that sermon is the pastor walking over to the knot at the end of the rope and saying something like, “When your life is in a big pile of rubble. Like the walls of Jerusalem. Dig through the rubble. Find the one thing that you still believe about Jesus. Hold onto that with all your might. Then cry out to Jesus for mercy.” Those words broke through the hopelessness in my heart and I sobbed. Loudly. Right in the middle of the sanctuary. Everyone heard me. It didn’t matter that everyone heard me. It didn’t matter that I didn’t have the strength to endure. It didn’t matter that I felt hopeless. What did matter was that Jesus was at the end of that rope. I knew that Jesus would carry me through this darkness when I was in way over my head. He did. Jesus met me when I was at the end of my rope and He carried me through the darkness. He will carry you too.

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I have to be real and acknowledge that the darkness didn’t immediately disappear. That season lasted for a few years. But I also have to be honest and acknowledge that Jesus was faithful to carry me through the darkness when I had no clue how to go on. During that time I received many great “treasures of darkness”, riches of God’s presence and character, that still influence my walk to this day. God is faithful. He may allow you to go through more than you can endure. But God will carry you through the worst trials of your life if you cry out to Him for help. And if you don’t have the strength to cry out to Him aloud, He responds to the silent cries of our hearts too. God loves you. God will never leave you or forsake you. He really will carry you.

If you are in the middle of a dark valley right now, reach out to the pastoral care department of your church for help. Reconciliation Ministries is also here for you. Call us at 586.739.5114. We care.

Meme retrieved from www.facebook.com.
Photos of male and female courtesy of www.unsplash.com.
© 2018 Reconciliation Ministries of Michigan, Inc.  This article may be reproduced and distributed as long as no fee is charged and credit is given.

Caught in the Crossfire

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30 NLT

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Maybe you’ve been as troubled as I have watching the confirmation process for the latest Supreme Court nominee. He has had multiple allegations brought against him for sexually abusive behavior during his high school and college years. The media has surely done its part to stir up the hype, and keep emotions triggered and their ratings high. At this point, all I can say is that God knows the truth and we will all stand before Him and give an account on Judgement Day. I have to admit that my own emotions have been triggered too, so I will now do my best to let the Lord sort this out. He knows if the accusations are true or false. He knows if the denials are true or false. May God’s will be done.

As much as my heart goes out to both of the main individuals involved in this debate, my heart goes out even more to two groups of people who are caught in the crossfire. I am very concerned about the impact of this media debacle on those who have been sexually abused themselves. I’m also concerned for those who have sexually offended. Through the years, Reconciliation Ministries has had the privilege of ministering to precious souls in both groups. No one is beyond the tender mercies of our God. No one. No one is beyond repentance, restoration, and healing. No one.

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My main concern with those who have been sexually abused is that many in the media – and many in the general public – have given the clear message that if you come forward; you will not be believed, you will be interrogated; and unless you remember every single, specific detail of your abuse, you will become the suspect. How many of us remember every single detail of any of the milestone events in our lives? The reality is that many abuse survivors have learned to suppress memories of traumatic events to survive. They may start drinking, drugging, or living in deception to cope with the abuse. Some even put themselves in high risk situations to “reenact” their abuse. These are only a few of the unfortunate aftereffects of trauma that defense lawyers pounce on as they defend their guilty clients. Details such as the timeline leading up to the abuse doesn’t seem important when it is happening, so we don’t commit those details to our long-term memories. It is very common not to report the abuse for many years – if at all. We are seeing some of the reasons. Reports of abuse may be met with fierce anger, denial, or revenge. Being told things like, “You’re making it up!” or “That could never have happened!” by those we confide in is almost as traumatic as the abuse itself. To this group of wounded brothers and sisters I say, “You have safe, Christian men and women at Reconciliation Ministries who will hear you and walk with you as you receive healing in Christ.” We won’t judge you, or criticize you. We will listen to you and pray with you. Many of us have walked that painful road ourselves.

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My heart also goes out to the men and women who do admit that they have offended, and are now trying to live a repentant, godly life. There are numerous men and women out there who realize they need help, but are fearful of the repercussions if they admit their offenses. Part of the concern is very real. All counselors and pastoral care personnel are required by law to report suspected acts of child abuse if there is an identifiable victim, and if the victim is still under 18 years of age; even if the alleged incident happened over ten years ago. This helps those affected by abuse get the help they desperately need, but it also makes it much harder for offenders to reach out for help. Through the years there have been a number of individuals who were repentant and brave enough to come forward even though they signed a form acknowledging the mandated reporting of suspected acts of child abuse. What I can tell you is that there are many more men and women who have committed a sexual offense well past the age requirements of reporting. They have confessed to God, but are walking around in bondage to shame and condemnation. They are truly remorseful and repentant. They admit their sin and make no excuses for their past behavior. However, they live in fear of being found out and being labeled as someone below plankton on the food chain. The media coverage of the confirmation proceedings bears this out. In the area of sexual offenses, not only is one often “guilty until proven innocent”; he or she is likely to be “guilty” in the minds of anyone who finds out that there was an allegation against him or her – even if it is dropped. Another unfortunately message of the latest media frenzy is that people can’t change. Even if the incident happened ten, twenty, or thirty years ago, there is no room for the transformation of Christ in the minds of many. Fortunately, the Holy Spirit truly can change any heart that is submitted to Him. If you are one of the many men and women who have sexually offended, or are tempted to offend, please get the help and healing that Jesus Christ willingly died to provide for you. Reconciliation Ministries is here for you too. We have had the honor of walking to the mercy seat of Jesus with many who were on the sex offender registry, others who have been in the legal system; and those who had not offended, but were struggling with the temptations. Help is available for anyone who opens their heart to Jesus. Help is available for you too.

Reconciliation Ministries also recognizes that it may be difficult for those who have experienced the trauma of sexual abuse to hear that we have grace and mercy on a group of people that represent others who have caused their pain. I am a pastoral caregiver and licensed therapist. I am also a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. Some of my close family members are also abuse survivors. The Lord had to change my own heart when He first called me to work with those who have committed sexual abuse. I found out then that it is much easier for us Christians to say, “Without the grace of God, there go I,” than it is to live it. I have also seen the power of our loving Savior to forgive and transform anyone who is repentant and who surrenders their lives to Jesus. I have seen the power of Jesus transform many hearts that society was willing to throw away, and turn them into living examples of the power of the cross. No one is beyond the redemption and transformational power of Jesus Christ. No one.

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So I say to those of you who have been sexually abused, “Reconciliation Ministries is here for you. We will walk with you to Jesus and help you get the healing and restoration that you need.” I say to those who have offended, or are tempted to offend, “Reconciliation Ministries is here for you as well. We will walk with you to Jesus and help you get the healing and transformation that you need.” Reconciliation Ministries provides a safe, confidential, Christian environment where you can share your heart, receive compassion, and talk with others who have had similar experiences.

If you or someone you know needs help, call Reconciliation Ministries at 586.739.5114. Our next session of Living Waters will be starting soon. We also have licensed professional counseling and prayer ministry available. We are here to help you.

In Christ, Dan Hitz, Director, Reconciliation Ministries of Michigan, Inc.

Photo of justice scale used under license from www.shutterstock.com.
All other photos from
www.unsplash.com.

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Our next session of Living Waters is starting soon. There is help for those struggling with sexual and relationship issues, and for those overcoming abuse. Call 586.739.5114

The Power of the Mother Wound

Dan has been the Executive Director of Reconciliation Ministries since 2003, and is a Licensed Professional Counselor in the State of Michigan. He grew up with a paranoid schizophrenic mother, and has written articles about the mother wound in the past. Although this article talks about the mother wound, it is equally applicable for the father wound. For more information, you can read Overcoming the Mother Wound and When My Mother and Father Forsake Me in the archives section of the Reconciliation Ministries website at http://www.recmin.org/newsletter-archives/.

“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!”
God in Isaiah 49:15 NIV

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I remember hearing a song based on Isaiah 49 many years ago. I could feel some anger rising up in my heart as I heard the first sentence, “Can a woman forget her child, and have not compassion on the son of her womb?” I found myself thinking, “Of course a mother can have no compassion on her baby! My mother was able to have no compassion on me when she abused me!” I was actually relieved to hear the next sentence. God, Himself, was acknowledging that sometimes earthly mothers really do forget their kids, or treat them harshly. It brought peace to my heart as I heard Him promise that He will not forget us, and that He will have compassion on us. Verse 16 goes on to say, “See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.” It’s hard to forget someone that you have permanently engraved on the palms of your hands.

That moment actually came a few years into my healing journey. I couldn’t have experienced God’s heart in those verses in my early days. Of course, I had “head knowledge” that God loves us and is always there for us no matter what our earthly parents were like, but it didn’t translate into every day, experiential “heart knowledge”. I couldn’t live in the reality that God was safe and that He loved me deeply. I didn’t really want to let Him get close to the fortified, self-protective areas of my heart. Mother wounds can cause us to lock up parts of our hearts deep. So deep we think that even God can’t get to them. We even try to stay far away from those parts of our own hearts. Mother wounds are powerful!

We can see just how powerful the mother wound can be in the account of a vengeful mother named Herodias, her daughter, and the daughter’s step-father, Herod. By the way, Herodias was first married to Herod’s brother, Philip. Herod and Herodias were living in adultery. You get the picture – it’s a pretty messed up, blended family. You can read the account in Mark, Chapter Six. John the Baptist rebuked Herod for marrying his sister-in-law. She got angry and wanted to kill John, but Herod had an interesting relationship with John. He felt bad when John rebuked him for living in sin, but he realized that John was a holy man and protected him. It says that he liked listening to John. Interesting… Herod didn’t like being called out for his sin, but couldn’t shake his interest in hearing what John had to say. Seems he was torn between embracing the truth and holding onto his sin.

Herodias remained bitter and finally seized her opportunity to “get even” with John. Herod threw himself a big birthday party and invited a bunch of government big shots. His step-daughter did a beautiful dance. So beautiful, that Herod offered to give her anything she requested, up to half his kingdom. This is where we see the unbelievable power of the mother wound come into effect. I don’t know about you, but if someone were to offer me half his kingdom, I think I’d be going after the expensive stuff. Instead, the girl went to her mother and asked Mom what she should ask for. The mother – who could have made sure her daughter was set for life – tells her to ask for the head of John the Baptist. The girl follows Mom’s instructions. Really?!! She could have had riches beyond belief, and the girl chose to get some guy’s head on a platter? That’s the power of the mother wound. The void is so deep, that it can motivate us to do things that defy logic and common sense to try to get a place in our mother’s heart. Mother wounds hurt and we’re desperate to make the pain go away.

Andrew Comiskey, author of Living Waters: Pursuing Sexual and Relational Wholeness in Christ, likens the mother wound to having a heart like a strainer, no matter how much love is poured in, there’s no capacity to retain in. No level of compromise will ever fulfill the deep pit in our hearts. I can’t imagine what the girl must have been thinking a few days down the road after her vengeful mother’s delight wore off. Was she full of regret as she was thinking about all the riches she sacrificed for a few moments of grasping for her mother’s approval? Compromise doesn’t fill the void. Compromise deepens the void. Always. Yes, always.

I doubt that any of us will ever be stuck in the position of choosing between compromising in a vain attempt to gain our broken parent’s approval and gaining half a kingdom. Sometimes compromise with a parent brings worldly riches our way. Sometimes compromise merely brings us temporary approval. In the end, we find the riches are hollow and our parent’s haven’t really changed. A broken parent’s attention can be pretty fleeting. It is never worth compromising our Biblical convictions to gain our broken parent’s approval. We are living for eternity. Only deepening our relationship with our eternal Father can fill up any voids in our hearts.

Mother wounds have other consequences. Shame is a big one. Codependency is another. They seem to feed off of each other – compromise, codependency, and shame. Sometimes the condemnation is so great that it keeps us from embracing our Heavenly Father’s precious promises in Isaiah 49 and Psalm 27:10, “Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me.” We might even tell others that the Lord loves them and will embrace them, but deep in our hearts we fully expect Him to reject us. After all… Mom did…

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Don’t let anything keep you from your Heavenly Father. The truth is that Jesus Christ allowed wicked, evil men to torture and murder Him to pay for our sins. He sacrificed His life for sin stained, messy people like us; so that through His resurrection, we can experience redemption and transformation. We can see Jesus’ heart towards pretty nasty people in Luke, Chapter Seven. Here Jesus was having dinner at Simon the Pharisee’s house. Today, many of us might figure that Bible school students or pastors must be pretty holy and special since they’re Bible school students or pastors. In our hearts it’s easy to feel like Jesus would rather hang out with them than us since we’ve done some pretty awful things. In the middle of dinner at the Pharisee’s house, a sinful woman with a bad reputation came in and started anointing Jesus’ feet with some expensive perfume. Something about Jesus broke her. She wept and wiped his feet with her hair. Jesus loved her, honored her, and accepted her. This bothered the religious guy who made some wisecrack about Jesus’ supposed inability to recognize what a scuzzy woman she was. Jesus heard the comment and corrected the religious guy. Then He turned to the woman, acknowledged her love in a holy way, and told her that her sins were forgiven. He even acknowledged that she had sinned much, but that she was forgiven anyway. No matter how much we have sinned – the amount of our sin is really irrelevant because we’re all pretty disgusting in our fallen state – Jesus will always receive us as we turn to Him for help. By the way, Jesus also received the religious guy and seemed to acknowledge that his sins weren’t as bad as hers on a human scale. This just reemphasizes that horrific sin doesn’t disqualify a repentant person from receiving God’s love. Jesus said whoever is forgiven much will love much.

As we turn to the Lord and receive His forgiveness, He gives us the ability to love. As we love Him, He transforms the deep recesses of our hearts and becomes the mother – and father – we have always longed for. He truly does take us up when our mother and father have forsaken us.

Photos courtesy of Jordan Whitt and Ben White via www.unsplash.com.

© 2018 Reconciliation Ministries of Michigan, Inc. This article may be reproduced and distributed as long as no fee is charged and credit is given.

Lives Are Changed through the Living Waters Program.

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Living Waters is a Christ-centered discipleship/ministry program for men and women seeking healing in areas of sexual and relational brokenness; including pornography addiction, codependency, sexual addiction, homosexuality, sexual ambivalence, childhood sexual abuse, transgender issues, and difficulty in establishing and sustaining healthy relationships.  Our next program is starting soon.

Here are some powerful testimonies from participants who had their lives changed through the power of Jesus Christ in the Living Waters program. They are used with the permission of the participants.

 

“Living Waters saved my life,
my marriage, and my soul.”

 

“Through Living Waters I discovered more of who I am in Christ, so that I would choose to live for Him and not my flesh. I am free.”

 

 “I came to Living Waters hoping it would ‘fix me’. What I found was not what I was looking for, but what I needed… and that was hope. It has been a tough, but rewarding 24 weeks.”

 

When I came to Living Waters, I was at the end of my rope. I had resolved to divorce my wife and embrace a gay lifestyle – and a fringe lifestyle even within that. I was going to try to be a good father to my three kids, and financially support my wife, but I was going to leave God and my marriage.

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I was unhopeful that Living Waters would “help”. I’d been in similar ministries, and was still deep in sin. But the Lord met me. Through meeting with other men with similar and related struggles, engaging in brutally honest accountability, and in particular praying with, anointing, and laying hands on one another, the Lord met me, revealed new truths about Him, me and our relationship.

I am still struggling with strong desires. But my behaviors are more under control. I see in vivid detail that the path I almost took would have led to death and destruction, while God offers life and healing. I still have a long road ahead, but trust Him to deliver and restore me.

A male participant.

 

 

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I came to Living Waters saved but broken. I was struggling to overcome lusts of the flesh and entertaining a toxic relationship while battle a cancer diagnosis. The Lord began speaking to me regarding the sickness and disease. Exodus 15:26. Every week during Living Waters the Lord reiterated that I am a child of God. How much I am loved and cared for by Him. Along with being set free from the bondage I was in, I was also healed of a stage four cancer diagnosis!!! I thank God for all that He is doing.

A female participant.

 

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I came to Living Waters seeking deeper healing from God. He had already done so much healing and revealing truth that was so hidden and buried deep beneath the ground. But I wanted to go right down into the core of my inner being in the depths of God’s healing hand. He has done that and so much more. I have never felt the Love of God and other’s hearts shining that love as I did here. The heart of the Spirit truly was flooded through the atmosphere. The greatest healing I received from the Lord was in our small group when I just spoke straight from the heart of different times of sexual abuse/assault from a dark past. The group leader wept with me as I took her hand and spoke the pain into the cross where Jesus bore it all and took it upon Himself. We waited silently as Jesus spoke so gently ending with, “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” I am no longer fearful of men from the devastation that led to living a past life of homosexuality. My past is gone – washed by the precious blood of Jesus.

A female participant.

 

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I came to Living Waters broken and in despair. I had been living a double life with anonymous sexual encounters with men. I am married with a beautiful family and have gotten infected with HIV. It has been an incredible struggle dealing with this. I have been faithful since my diagnosis, and have experienced deep healing and deliverance. I have come a long way on my journey. My marriage is stronger than ever. God has been so amazing to me. Living Waters has been a big part of my recovery and healing process.

A male participant.

 

 

Through Living Waters I found that I had many characteristics that I needed to change. This has opened my eyes and heart to see myself through His eyes. I am ever grateful for Living Waters.

A female participant.

 

 “I now have more peace than ever before.”

 

 

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If you or someone you love is struggling with
sexual or relational difficulties, there is
hope and healing through the power of
Jesus Christ.  Call us and ask about attending
the next Living Waters program. (586) 739-5114

 

The pictures used in this article are not the actual participants. Photos acquired through www.unsplash.com.

© Reconciliation Ministries 2018.  This article may be reproduced and distributed as long as credit is given and no fee is charged.

Considering Your Life on the Mat? - Dan Hitz

Dan has been the Executive Director of Reconciliation Ministries since 2003, and is a Licensed Professional Counselor in the State of Michigan. You can read testimonies and helpful articles on recovery on the archives section of the Reconciliation Ministries website by clicking here.

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I knew that growing up with a sexually abusive, paranoid schizophrenic mother would leave me with a lot of deep emotional wounds, but little did I know until years after giving my heart back to Jesus Christ as a 22-year old man how deep those wounds actually were. During the abuse, and my mom’s progressively deeper plunges into mental illness, I became an expert at turning off my emotions. Emotions hurt. Who wants to feel pain?

My excuse for not letting myself deal with the pain after I became a Christian was that I was a new creation in Christ, and the old stuff had supposedly passed away (2 Corinthians 5:17). I used that verse to convince myself that I didn’t have to deal with the issues of the past anymore. The problem is that I was taking that Scripture totally out of context. It wasn’t addressing emotional brokenness. It was addressing the beautiful gift of justification that we are given when we accept Jesus as our Savior. Instantly, we are declared to have His righteousness. That part is a done deal through divine decree. Another one of my “favorite” Scriptures to throw back at the Lord when He was convicting me to deal with my emotional pain was Philippians 3:13. Paul wrote about “forgetting” what was in the past, and “straining” (NIV) toward what is ahead. Never mind that Paul was actually explaining that he didn’t base his personal value on his past accomplishments, I used that verse to give myself a “Scriptural” basis to keep trying to shut off my emotions. God wasn’t buying it. It wasn’t working. I kept trying. Strangely, we who live on a mat like the guy at the pool of Bethesda are good at “straining”.

Anyone who has ever tried stuffing their emotions and then been forced to take an honest look at their own heart, can guess how this went. Stuffing our emotions seems to work for a little while. Maybe even a long while. But then the emotional carnage catches up to us. Not just us, but those around us. Our brokenness seems to spread to those we care about the most. After a few years… a few decades… of stuffing our emotions, we lose the strength to suppress them any longer and we unravel. That’s what happened to me in my late thirties. I unraveled.

I was a lot like the guy at the pool of Bethesda in John, Chapter Five. “5 One of the men lying there had been sick for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him and knew he had been ill for a long time, he asked him, ‘Would you like to get well?’” My first response to that question is, “Really?!! The poor guy has been lying there handicapped for 38 years and You have the audacity to ask him if he wants to be made well?” Now that I’ve walked this healing journey for many years, I have a better understanding of that question. Jesus was really asking him, “Are you willing to let Me work in your heart however I want to work in your heart to heal your brokenness?” There’s a big difference in those questions. Answering the second question affirmatively also means surrendering one powerful thing – control. Abuse survivors are not particularly good at surrendering control. We didn’t have any for so many years. In our hearts we seem to be thinking, “Now… Jesus… You’re asking me to give up the tiny amount of control that I’ve managed to grab on to?”  Jesus’ response might as well be the words of a popular daytime TV show host, “How’s that working for you?” Sooner, rather than later, I hope all of us take the risk to answer the, “How’s that working for you?” question truthfully. The answer is, “Not very well.”

It would be similar to having a long-term physical disability in the US, and Jesus asking us if we want to be made well. Our minds might start to process the cost. Sure things are tough here on this mat, but I do get a monthly disability check and a Bridge card. My housing is paid for and I do have people taking care of me. If I get better, I’ll lose my public assistance and I’ll have to take care of myself. I’ll have to get a job. I’ll have to start paying my own bills, and cooking my own food. I’m not really sure I can take care of myself. (I want to be sensitive and acknowledge that there are many people who are on public assistance with legitimate needs. I’m not disparaging them in any way. I’m just trying to highlight the vulnerability and risk that Jesus was asking the man to exercise. If you or someone you care about is on public assistance, please be at peace.)

The man’s doubts start surfacing in the next verse. “‘I can’t sir,’ the man said, ‘for I have no one to put me into the pool when the water bubbles up. Someone else always gets there ahead of me.’” (5:8) This shows the man was still looking for another human to put him into the pool, rather than looking directly to Jesus to heal him. It also shows that the man on the mat was very much aware that others were experiencing healing miracles. But not him. He’s still on his mat. For 38 years. Other people seem to catch the healing breaks. Somehow we use that as evidence that we’ll never get better. We use that pain to motivate ourselves to not even try. Trying is scary. What if we succeed? No more disability checks. No more Bridge card. We will have to start doing things for ourselves. That is frightening. Sometimes it seems easier not to even try.

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I’ve read these passages many times, but just recently noticed another facet of this account that I hadn’t noticed before. It comes out in verse eight and we see the results in verse nine. “8 Jesus told him, ‘Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk!’ 9 Instantly, the man was healed! He rolled up his sleeping mat and began walking!” Obviously, Jesus is the healer and the man would not have walked unless he was supernaturally healed, but the thing that hadn’t registered before was that Jesus gave him specific instructions – commands – to receive his healing, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk!”

Following those commands takes trust. Trust takes vulnerability. It can be terrifying to trust God. In the back of our minds, we might be thinking, “But where were You back when I was being abused?” or “Why are You just now telling me to get off my mat after all these years?” Those are questions that we can talk to the Lord about in due time. He actually has answers for them. If He told us right now we might not understand – or like – the answer, but as we continue in our healing so many things begin to make sense.

Other stumbling blocks to getting off our mats include the fear that we’re so messed up that God might not be able to work through us, or we’ll screw it up somehow. Sometimes we’re actually afraid that He might heal us and then we’ll crash because He’ll want us to do things that we haven’t been able to do. We don’t actually believe that He’ll continue to equip us for life off the mat. Sometimes we’re afraid to even hope that He might heal us because He might not really come through and we’ll be even more hopeless than before.

Ultimately, Jesus asks all of us, “Do you want to be made well? Are you willing to trust me and be vulnerable to let Me heal you My way?” I pray that all of us answer that question with a yes. It may be a scared, shaky yes; but a scared, shaky yes is all He asks. It is worth it. As we trust Him, He will give us the ability to “Stand up, pick up our mat, and walk.”

As we begin to experience life off the mat, we begin to learn more about God’s heart as a redemptive, loving Father. We did experience a measure of His grace while we were living on our mat, but He has so much more for us as we step off the mat. We begin to understand how deeply He always has loved us – even in the worst moments of our lives – as He continues to restore the broken areas of our hearts. We also begin to experience the strength and abilities that Jesus died on the cross to provide for us. As we open our hearts to Him and roll up our mat, we see that He truly does work out everything – the joys and the sorrows – for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).

Photos courtesy of www.unsplash.com. © 2018 Reconciliation Ministries of Michigan, Inc. This article may be reproduced and distributed as long as no fee is charged and credit is given.

Adult Children of Divorce

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Kent Darcie is our newest therapist at Reconciliation Ministries. He and his wife, Kathy, have been married since 1983 and have three adult children. Kent ministers with a focus on marriage and family, and brings many years of experience as the founder and president of Adult Children of Divorce Ministries, a ministry which expresses his passion for bringing the healing power of Jesus Christ and God’s word to those in need. He is also a Christian author and teacher.

Hi, I’m Kent Darcie. We all have stories, and as a new member of the Reconciliation Ministries’ team, I’d like to share mine.

I was raised in upstate New York and had a “white picket fence” childhood (but without the fence). I loved life because life included my dad. My mother was there too—as were two annoying younger sisters, but a deep father/son, “man to man” relationship was forged and continued until I brushed pre-puberty. It was then that marital tensions became irreconcilable and my parents divorced.

This radically changed my relationship with my dad, because I went from seeing my father daily, and being the apple of his eye, to visits with him three to four times a year, due to his relocation. This occurred just as I entered my teen years. They say 20/20 hindsight is perfect, but that’s not what I’ve found when rebuilding the pieces from parental divorce – both from personal experience and speaking with other adult children of divorce (ACD). In fact, thirty years would pass before God revealed how deeply my parent’s divorce affected me. Yes, I knew the divorce was a hassle. Dealing with parents who didn’t want to be in the same room together was a hassle. Holidays were a hassle. The birth of their grandchildren and the accompanying milestones we’d celebrate usually included a background of tension. But outside of a problem with anger – which I didn’t connect to their divorce, I’d tell you I was unaffected by the split and I truly believed it.

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IMGP6979 by Siti Fatimah

But parental divorce is an interesting thing. It changes the hues of our lives. For example, maybe we lose “green” in our life. It just fades from our life’s color spectrum mostly unnoticed. Basically, we see life without “green” (for example, believing people can be trusted) and not know it’s gone (that we don’t trust people anymore). Joy (whatever color that is) left my spectrum after the divorce. Greif can be a killer of joy and 20/20 hindsight reveals my teenage self tried to put a band aid on my grief from the divorce-related losses I experienced, but the anger (part of the grief cycle) continued into adulthood until a non-physical episode with one of my kids led me to seek counseling.

Rejection can also trigger grief. Regardless of how much your post-divorce parents love you (and mine loved me very much) you can feel rejected by the one who leaves. My father’s absence created a huge hole that my loving mother and annoying sisters weren’t designed by God to fill. I felt rejected. Also, like many teenage boys, I wanted to date girls. Unfortunately, being one of two blacks in a graduating class that exceeded 550 students, rejection was the norm. While, I wouldn’t say rejection was a “color” in my life’s spectrum the accompanying belief that you aren’t worthy (popular among ACD) dulls all of the colors. The reds of passion are less. The blues of peace and enjoyment are less. Again, unbeknownst to me.

Thankfully, I was spared the illicit drug use, sexual promiscuity, and risk taking that is common with children of divorce, but Jesus promises life abundantly (John 10:10)—deep, vibrant colors. However, my color spectrum was like paint faded by the summer sun. Again with 20/20 hindsight, I see signs of mild depression that continued through getting married, kids, job and all that life stuff. Though ACD lives can be good, we often don’t know our color palate has changed—and I didn’t.

But thirty years after their divorce, my wife and I were at a Marriage Encounter weekend and the Lord spoke to my heart. He said that if I didn’t take intentional steps to change, I was on the same emotional path as my dad. My father is an ACD, as was his father, and grandfather—a situation not uncommon among ACD. But as much as I love my dad, that scared me, because, by then he’d divorced twice and was heading toward his third marriage. I loved my wife and, like every ACD, the last thing I wanted was a divorce.

Though I’d been a Christian for over ten years at this point, it was here that I really started to give Him various parts of my life. This was in large part due to my research on ACD issues. The first book God led me to was called, The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce by Judith Wallerstein. Her book did two things: it showed me my parents’ divorce was still affecting me (a truth I denied), and there were millions of ACD who were as clueless as I was to the impact.

A big thing I learned was how fear dominated my life. I’ve heard there’s a do-not-fear oriented verse for every day of the year. But I’d fear that things would go wrong, fear rejection—which caused a lot of problems in my marriage, fear being inadequate (as a man, husband, father, and black man), and fear conflict—which feeds the fear of rejection (which is rampant among ACD.) Additionally, I learned my anger was, in large part, sparked by my parents’ divorce, but fanned by life’s curves. This is true of my fears too.

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The other way God used Wallerstein’s book was to birth my ministry—Adult Children of Divorce Ministries. After extensive research, I presented my first seminar on the subject in 2004 at my church. Ten years later, the ministry became a 501 (c)3 nonprofit organization. My board felt I should deepen my knowledge on the subject (and I heartily agreed) so I enrolled in Moody Theological Seminar and received my Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology (biblically integrated counseling) in April 2018.

I’m currently awaiting my Limited License Professional Counselor certificate and plan to become a Licensed Professional Counselor with an additional license in Marriage and Family Therapy. I’ve always had a passion for saving marriages and worked with countless couples and individuals through the years, but breaking the cycle of divorce saves marriages and too few individuals are focused in this area. The key scripture for my ministry is 2 Corinthians 1, verses 3 and 4:

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.

God has blessed me with His comfort. It is my great joy and privilege to share His comfort with others, so they can experience His comfort in their troubles, so they can then share the comfort they’ve received from God, and so the hurting can be healed and walk in the abundant life Jesus offers. I am humbled and thankful to be a part of this process at Reconciliation Ministries!

(c) Reconciliation Ministries of Michigan, Inc. This article may be reproduced and distributed as long as no fee is charged and credit is given.

 

Redeemed from the Depths of Despair

The author of this article has been a valued member of our Living Waters leadership team for many years. Some of the minor details of this testimony have been changed to protect the privacy of the author and his family. The author’s journey shows that no one is beyond the reach of our merciful Savior. He can redeem and restore anyone with a repentant heart.

It's been about 7 years since what I call my "mouth shut" epiphany – 3 1/3 of those were spent in prison. 

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The emotional trauma of losing my wife and children, family and friends, my job, my money and possessions, my reputation and finally my freedom brought me to see that I had failed at the very purpose of my life: knowing God, seeking Him and not just His benefits. Serving Him. Doing His Will and not my own.

My crime was molesting my oldest daughter. My addiction after that was pornography. I had grown up in the church, in a good family that blessed me. What began for me as stupid, evil, selfish choices became inescapable bondages.  

I was at the lowest point of my life, and when I later read the words of Ezekiel, they could have prophesied of me what he wrote to Israel in 6:9 “Then when they are exiled among the nations, they will remember me, for I will take away their adulterous hearts – their love of idols – and I will blind their lecherous eyes that long for other gods. Then at last they will loathe themselves for all this wickedness.

It was utterly clear that I deserved no mercy from God or anyone else – I felt like a man standing before the throne of judgment. My mouth was finally shut: I no longer blamed my wife (at least not consciously), or my stress, or any other thing in my life. I could accept death for what I had done, but I could not bear to live in the darkness of my addiction and ignorance and narcissism any longer.

Somewhere in that time of self-loathing, waiting and wishing for the fire of God's judgment to fall on me, He shattered my expectations with an overwhelming and tangible experience of love. I could not fathom how anyone, and especially God who knew me fully, could love me. There are no words to express it: I felt the presence of something that could only be God. I knew that He loved me, and that in those minutes or hours (I'm not sure how long it was) – I was completely wrecked for the world. I felt like the Gadarene demoniac who found himself clothed and in his right mind, but with nowhere to go and only wanting to follow Jesus. 

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It was literally weeks before I realized that I had been supernaturally freed from my addiction to porn – I was so consumed in seeking Him and reading the Word and listening to teachings I had downloaded. The Bible that I had read all my life – the book that had been about as inspiring as a phone book in my daily readings – now spoke to me from every page and every verse. 

The sexual perversion and compulsive addiction that had once held me like a shackled prisoner now repulsed me like a steaming bowl of vomit. I have never returned to those addictions, despite the fact that I now work daily with unfiltered internet access – whom the Son sets free is free indeed! 

I began to know that I was forgiven, and truly set free, but I still faced charges and could not see how I could be of any use to God after all this was through. One night, I sensed during prayer to stop asking God to deliver me from prison – I knew that I would have to go there although my lawyer was still negotiating the plea agreement. As I resigned myself to what I believed was the Holy Spirit’s prompting, I experienced for the second time an overwhelming and tangible presence – God's peace – as I accepted His will going forward. 

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I won't say that I changed quickly – God has had massive reconstruction to do in me. I felt like Jeremiah’s clay pot that was smashed before slowly being rebuilt. There wasn’t anything usable of the man I had become. Prison was the hands God used to break me down, to build me up, to re-form me according to His plan, and to make me completely dependent on Him. I had many, many hours a day to study His word and to be transformed by the renewing of my mind. 

In that valley of the shadow of death – and men did die there – God also delivered me from every fear and continued to show me love and deliverance daily. I prospered in body and soul. As a result, I have a strong revelation of how Romans 8:28 works – all things really do work together for good for us who love God, and who are called according to His purpose.

One of the hard things for me to confess now is how far I still have to go. That's a common Christian expression of often false humility, but in my case it's a revelation that hurts. Coming out of prison, I wanted to be a "fixed guy" and a super-Christian and a good person again. For many people, and much of society, I can't be any of those things – I'm a lifetime registered Tier 3 sex offender. But I already know that with God NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE and my life is not my own. This gives me hope for my daughter, Sarah [not her real name] who was also my victim. 

When I first gave this testimony, I had not seen or heard from any of my children since the day of my sentencing in court. I knew that she was immersed in my old addictions and many more, and I couldn't think of her without feeling a knife in my chest. I asked many of my Living Waters friends to pray, and I know that you did because of what happened next. A few months ago I saw Sarah again, in a restaurant where we met for dinner – it was the first of many more meals and visits. Sarah is an adult now, and despite deeply painful life experiences, she has been inexplicably forgiving toward me. Our relationship is healing, and both of us are grateful for a new father-daughter relationship – but no one more than me.

As still further evidence of God’s excessive grace, He has allowed me to participate in Sarah’s recovery from homelessness to a steady job and her own apartment. Her hardships would crush me if I did not know that God is working in and for her even though she currently rejects Him. Because of God’s love for me, I am convinced that there is no one He does not love – no one He cannot save, heal, and transform.  

I pray that my story is not a stumbling block for some of you who have been hurt by people like me, and that God will continue his work in each of you to heal all those wounds of life. If you haven't yet experienced the transforming power of God’s love – that’s what I am praying you'll know, and then all of His perfect healing will follow. 

And if you were abused or misused by your father and never heard these words from him, please hear them from me: I am sorry we failed you. Your heavenly Father will not.

© 2018 Reconciliation Ministries of Michigan, Inc. This article may be reproduced and distributed as long as no fee is charged and credit is given. Photos used under license with www.shutterstock.com.

Afraid of God? Lessons from the Cats...

This article was written by Dan Hitz, Executive Director of Reconciliation Ministries, a member ministry of Restored Hope Network. Dan is a sexual abuse survivor and began his own journey out of homosexuality in 1984. He has served as ministry director since 2003. You can find more articles on sexual abuse recovery in the archives section of our website at www.recmin.org. Special thanks to Dan’s daughter for helping with this article and providing the pictures. Oh, and for bringing the cats to our house too!

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My daughter had a security job guarding a storage lot for one of the big three automakers. Under the rows and rows of shiny new vehicles protected by a security team and a 7000 volt electric fence, there was an entirely different world. Cats. Yes, cats. Their world was nothing like the protective world of the beautiful cars and trucks. Their world was in the gravel. Instead of the protection of the security team, they were threatened by coyotes and huge rats. Cat life was very dangerous. The cars were carefully guarded and accounted for. Great care was used to get them to their destination. The cats were a different story. They were on their own. Them against the world. And that world was deadly.

The Lord showed me a lot of lessons from the cats. Lessons that were good, yet unfortunate, examples of how the cats’ lives were similar to the life of an abuse survivor.

Enter my animal loving daughter. Somehow those mangy cats stole her heart. I remember the night she brought a bag of cat food to work because she noticed that they were skin and bones. The cats noticed the food. They were desperate. A cat’s gotta eat. Initially they didn’t want anything to do with the benevolent being that brought them the food. When they noticed her, they would run. She kept reaching out to them. They kept running. After about a week, the fluffy one decided to stop running. It let this benevolent creature touch it. Unlike the coyotes and rats, this being’s touch was comforting. It was safe at a distance.

The skinny cat thought differently. Its size suggested that life in the same gravel world was somehow more difficult for it than life for fluffy cat. It needed the food that the benevolent creature provided, but it had zero trust that this creature would be any different than the other creatures that tormented it. At one point my daughter tried to reach out to it. It freaked out and ran away. Unfortunately, while it was running from her it caught one of its paws in a fence and got hurt. In skinny cat’s mind, the creature caused the injury. The heart of the benevolent creature had compassion knowing that life would be so much better for skinny cat if he would just stop running and let her help him. There were other cats in the yard, but they stayed even further away than skinny cat.

My daughter kept feeding them – reaching out to them – to gain their trust. After two weeks, they trusted the benevolent creature enough to enter her guard shack. The door closed behind them and they were in her domain. It was different from the gravel. There was heat. It was warm. My daughter kept caring for them, feeding them. Reaching out to them. Fluffy cat dared to let her hold him. Skinny cat kept resisting. I kinda wonder if skinny cat was watching to see if fluffy cat’s trust would lead to his demise. Skinny cat learned from sad experience that trust is dangerous.

A new day came along. My daughter heard that management was changing things up at the storage lot. Within a few days they would be taking all the cats to an animal shelter. A kill shelter. The benevolent creature knew that she had to remove the cats from their familiar gravel world and take them to a strange new place, or they would die. Kinda hard to explain that to a cat. In order to take them out of gravel world, she had to place them in a cage. I wonder if they felt betrayed in that cage. After all they trusted her and now they felt trapped. And then she brought them to a strange new world of carpet, colorful walls, lights, and people. It must have been overwhelming. They knew gravel world with the occasional venture into the guard shack. Then the cage. And now this. It must have been sensory overload. Did they exercise a tragic error of judgment when they began to trust the benevolent creature?

There were other cats my daughter was willing to rescue along with them, but they ran. Leaving the familiarity of gravel world with an unfamiliar benevolent creature was too much of a risk for them to take. Their lack of trust would later prove fatal.

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I remember the first night that my daughter brought fluffy cat and skinny cat home. She led my wife and me to our downstairs bathroom where she was keeping them safe from the two dogs and another feral cat we had brought into our home several years ago. I knew the Lord had something to show me, so I just sat in the background of the room and watched my wife and daughter try to interact with the cats. The loss of gravel world and the newness of carpet world seemed to be too much for them. Fluffy cat wouldn’t let my daughter pet him anymore. We put two small bowls of milk out for the cats to drink. The fragile trust they had in the benevolent creature way back in gravel world seemed to be gone. Instead of the bright lights, warmth and milk of carpet world, they preferred to hide in the darkness under some shelves in our bathroom. They knew the parameters of gravel world. Carpet world is another story. And now there’s three benevolent creatures. Trusting one was hard enough. “Why did she bring other people here to mess with me?”

My wife and daughter didn’t want to overwhelm skinny cat and fluffy cat, so they decided to leave them alone for a while. I stayed behind. Hidden in the background. The second the door shut behind them, skinny cat and fluffy cat lunged for the milk. The benevolent creatures may be terrifying, but the truth is the cats needed the care that the benevolent creatures were trying to give them. They drank that milk up pretty fast.

Carpet world was safe, but it was unfamiliar, and trust in the benevolent creature wasn’t restored in a day. Even my daughter had to hold fluffy cat in a coat that first day lest she experience the terror of psycho kitty. My wife picked up skinny cat with another coat. Both cats were hissing at us. The benevolent creatures were patient. They just sat there holding and loving the terrified cats. They wanted the best for those cats. The cats just couldn’t figure that out.

Gradually, fluffy cat calmed down and let my daughter hold him again without a coat. Skinny cat held onto control. The benevolent creature had to continue using a coat to pick him up, but he was willing to sleep on the bed with her. As long as skinny cat was able to maintain some sense of control, he was okay. He just wasn’t fully convinced that the benevolent creature had his best interests in heart. Finally, as the week wore on and the benevolent creature found an adoption shelter, skinny cat stopped hissing and let my daughter hold him without the coat. Benevolent creatures are patient. They understand. They look beyond the hissing and see the wounded heart that needs love and restoration. That is their goal all along.

Another change. Another ride in a cage. Another loss of familiarity and fear of the new. This time carpet world was exchanged for metal cage world. Other loud, nervous animals. And new benevolent creatures. It turns out that one of the new benevolent creatures at the adoption shelter fell in love with fluffy cat and skinny cat and took them to her home. Cage world started off feeling cold and unloving. It turns out that it was actually a place of great love and compassion where the long-term solution was revealed. The new benevolent creature loved the cats as her own.

Sometimes God keeps things the same. Sometimes he changes things. He doesn’t usually ask our permission. Each time it is a new opportunity to learn the difficult task of trusting Him. He’s patient. He will wrap His coat around us and lovingly hold us while we hiss at Him. People that have never lived in gravel world won’t understand how its residents could have a hard time trusting a benevolent creature. Souls leaving gravel world can understand. Sometimes it was those we trusted – those we thought were benevolent creatures – who played the role of the coyotes and rats. Sometimes we’re afraid to leave gravel world. It is terrible. It is painful. But it’s all we understand. We don’t know how to live in carpet world. It’s hard for us to trust that cage world is only temporary and is actually a safe place while we are transitioning into another carpet world.

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Brokenness is scary, but sometimes we prefer it to the unknown. The Lord understands this. There are times when He loves us enough to pick us up out of the familiar and carry us to a new place that we can’t comprehend. We might want to hide under a dark shelf, but He feeds us and teaches us how to live in a strange new place. Sometimes those He has placed in our lives move on. One familiar source of strength may transition elsewhere and be replaced by a new compassionate face. We have to learn to trust all over again. It is during those times that we have to look beyond the immediate and see Jesus Christ, the true Benevolent Creator, orchestrating our lives. He can preserve our lives in gravel world. And in time, restores our hearts in carpet world. He understands. He knows what it is like to be abused in gravel world. Jesus Christ conquered the sin and death of gravel world, and rose victoriously to deliver us.

 

But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed. - 
Isaiah 53:5 NKJV

© 2018 Reconciliation Ministries of Michigan, Inc. This article may be reproduced and distributed as long as no fee is charged and credit is given.

How Do I Talk to My LGBT Identified Relative this Christmas?

This article was written by Dan Hitz, Executive Director of Reconciliation Ministries, a member ministry of Restored Hope Network. Dan began his own journey out of homosexuality in 1984, and has served as ministry director since 2003. You can find more articles on sexual recovery and family dynamics in the archives section of our website.

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Many of us are looking forward to getting together with our extended families as we celebrate the birth of our Savior and anticipate the New Year. Gathering with our families can be warm and rewarding for many of us. It can also be a source of anxiety for others. As Christians, we want our loved ones with us in eternity. We often see the bondage that many of our loved ones are in and we want to offer them the same hope of redemption that we have found in Christ. One of the questions I get the most often is, “How do I talk to my gay relative about Jesus?” The question may be motivated out of a love and genuine eternal concern for our relatives; however, the answer isn’t quite that easy. Nor will a fruitful conversation be had as quickly as we would like. Hopefully this article will provide some helpful tips on developing the type of relationship that might give you the ability to approach such an emotionally charged subject successfully. For ease of writing, I’ll use the example of talking to a gay nephew. The principles equally apply to anyone engaged in sinful activity, including an unmarried man and woman living together, although I rarely get asked about them. Homosexuality is a much more frequent focus.

The first question I usually ask when someone asks me how to talk to their gay-identified nephew about Jesus is, “What type of relationship do you have with him right now?” The deeper your present relationship with a loved one, the more likely that the person will let you into his life. If you haven’t talked to your nephew in several years, I would encourage you to prayerfully take the time to get to know him for who he is in the totality of his personhood. He may very well see homosexuality as a complete identity, fully enmeshed in every aspect of his life; but the reality is that who we are as children of God involves far more than who we are attracted to. If possible, take the time to learn more about what interests him, and spend time focusing on those topics instead of his sexuality. If you haven’t taken the time to build a sincere relationship with someone, don’t expect to be able to address a vulnerable topic about anything that someone holds dear to their heart and is ready to defend at all costs. A loving relationship can go a long way to build a bridge of understanding.

Another factor to consider is that the family Christmas party probably isn’t the time to have “the conversation” anyway. I love gathering with my extended family and catching up on their lives, but the details that we can share between Aunt Millie’s travel updates and watching Baby Billy’s first few steps usually aren’t that deep. The deep conversations are best kept for quiet, individual gatherings over coffee or dinner. That’s the time that we can share vulnerable details about our own lives. Yes, we will need to share from a place of our own vulnerability if we ever expect to build enough trust with someone to help him feel safe enough to share his own heart issues. No one wants to feel like a project. Your nephew will be able to tell if you’re talking to him because you want to fix him in order to relieve your own sense of Christian duty, or if you truly care about him and have his best interests at heart. That kind of relationship depth usually doesn’t happen in large groups of relatives building ginger bread houses or singing karaoke. Such activities don’t usually involve intimate conversations, but they can build relationship.

One of the irritants that the LGBT community has is that homosexuality and transgender issues often get singled out by the Christian community, while they ignore the unmarried man and woman who are having sex, or the single guy who is looking at pornography throughout the week. I can understand their irritation. If we as Christians ignore other types of sexual sin, but we focus on homosexuality, it will alienate those we are trying to reach in the LGBT community. We in the Christian community need to be consistent here. God created sexuality as a beautiful expression of love within the boundaries of marriage between one biologically born male and one biologically born female. Are we praying as diligently for heterosexual sinners as we are for homosexual ones? Are we maintaining Biblical sexual purity in our own lives? Those are very important questions as we pray for our LGBT identified loved ones.

Before you talk to your LGBT identified relative, take the time to understand what he or she is going through. There are a lot of good resources available to help you understand what someone who deals with LGBT issues experiences emotionally, physically and spiritually. It isn’t just a simple matter of stopping the behavior. LGBT issues are fruit issues on a tree with very deep root issues. Taking the time to educate yourself about the building blocks of the issues and the struggles that LGBT individuals go through will go a long way to deepen the relationship. You will likely hear some things coming from the heart of your nephew that are difficult to hear. You will hear many things that you don’t agree with. Don’t try to correct everything all at once, that will shut him down. Taking the time to hear his heart will go a long way to build trust and relationship. You can talk about different perspectives and doctrine later, after you have established relationship.

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LGBT individuals who have grown up in the church have a variety of reactions to God. Many times strugglers have cried out to God night after night to change them, yet they wake up the next morning still attracted to the same sex. Sometimes this leads them to reject God altogether. They see Him as the One who declared homosexuality to be an abomination, made them gay, didn’t change them, and therefore must be setting them up for failure and damnation. Other times they decide that since God didn’t change them, He must be okay with their same-sex attraction and they revise their theology to embrace homosexuality. Blessed are those who come to the place of full surrender to God – those who say regardless of whether my sexual attractions ever change, I will submit my sexuality to God and live for Him. You can have a huge impact on that decision if you take the time to build relationship and understand their heart; even when it gets messy.

You can find excellent Biblical resources on homosexuality and transgender issues on the Pure Passion TV website at www.purepassion.us. Other great resources are available through Restored Hope Network (www.restoredhopenetwork.org) and the archives section of the Reconciliation Ministries website . Author Joe Dallas provides practical advice on how to respond when someone you love is gay in his book, When Homosexuality Hits Home. He has an excellent blog about sexuality on his website at www.joedallas.com. Dallas is my favorite author on Biblical sexuality. He is able to explain complex issues with an easy to understand writing style.

When the Lord does open the door for a deep conversation with your gay-identified nephew, it is critical that you speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). Even if you’ve taken the time to build trust and relationship with your nephew, this will still be a sensitive conversation to have. He will likely be waiting to hear the same condemning tones from you that he has heard through his own experiences, or at least condemned openly in the gay blogosphere. As you begin this conversation, make sure your nephew knows that you love him as he is, even if you disagree on theology. The families that have navigated through this difficult journey the best are those who chose to continue loving their LGBT-identified son or daughter unconditionally, while they continue to uphold their Biblical convictions.

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Remember, both your nephew and his same-sex partner are eternal souls who need Jesus. Compromise doesn’t bring people to repentance. Loving your gay-identified nephew unconditionally and upholding Biblical convictions will be difficult at times. This may include not being able to honor a request from your nephew and his male partner to stay overnight in the same bedroom, or a request to attend a gay wedding; but if there has been an obvious display of Christ-like love, the relationship has the best chance of surviving the disappointments that will ultimately come as you uphold your Biblical convictions. Keep in mind that we are living for eternity. Your relationship will be challenging at times. Resist the temptation to compromise your Christian convictions at the expense of encouraging your LGBT identified loved one to come to true repentance. True love is doing what is best for another person in light of eternity, regardless of the personal consequences involved.

Your gay-identified nephew may push against your convictions at times. Sometimes he does it because he is disappointed and angry. Sometimes he does it to see if you’ll cave in and compromise. It is important that he sees that you are consistent and responding in love. You are offering him the best witness of God’s offer of redemption as he sees your faithfulness to God’s Word and your love towards him, even when it is difficult.

I realize there are some who will be reading this article and who realize that they have taken the wrong approach and alienated their nephew, niece, son or daughter. If that is the case, pray for an opportunity to sincerely apologize to him or her for your wrong attitude. You can ask for forgiveness, and the opportunity to start over. If the opportunity is granted, reconciliation will likely take a long time and you’ll experience turbulence as you go. Don’t give up. Trust that the Holy Spirit will be working on both of you as you continue walking in relationship with humility. If forgiveness isn’t granted, continue to love him as you have the opportunity and pray that the Lord will work in your hearts.

Above all else, pray consistently for your LGBT-identified relative. Remember, homosexuality and transgender issues are the fruit on a big tree with a huge root system. It will take the Holy Spirit to convict and do a deep work in your loved one’s heart. Pray that the Lord sends people to speak to your nephew that he can receive spiritual truth from. You might be too close to mom and dad to open up fully to, but you can pray that the Lord will send someone that he trusts that he can talk with. In the meantime, continue to pray, build relationship, and speak the truth in love as the Lord opens the door.

© 2017 Reconciliation Ministries of Michigan, Inc. This article may be reproduced and distributed as long as no fee is charged and credit is given.
Images used under license with www.shutterstock.com.

Support is Available

Healing Hearts is a confidential Christian support group for parents and families of those struggling with homosexuality and transgender issues.  The group meets on the second Sunday of each month and is open to anyone 18 and over who wants to learn how to love their LGBT-identified loved one without compromising their Christian convictions. The next meeting will be held at Renewal Church on Sunday, January 14th from 2:00 - 4:00 pm.  Renewal is located at 11174 East 13 Mile Road in Warren. For more information on upcoming meetings call Dan Hitz at 586.739.5114.

Contact our leaders for support…

Mike & Renee - 313-937-3422 - rcboyle@sbcglobal.net
Scott & Edie - 586-775-0504 - tabeaRD75@aol.com

Pornography: The False Escape

This article was written by a member of the Reconciliation Ministries Living Waters leadership team. They are a group of “wounded healers” who have fought their own battle with sexual and relational brokenness, and who have experienced the healing power of Jesus Christ. If you or someone you love is struggling with sexual sin, call Reconciliation Ministries at 586.739.5114 and let us walk with you to Jesus.

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I never thought of porn use as a problem.  It was something that “didn’t hurt anyone” and was “safe”.  In High School it was normal for guys to talk about their favorites, which made it seem like everyone did it, like it was normal and natural.  What I didn’t know: I was using porn like a drug to keep me away from my emotions and distancing me from God.  As time went on it increasingly pushed me to isolation and made me feel more and more depressed, fueling a cycle I didn’t know about or understand.  Because I was so wrapped up in denial and isolation I didn’t think about how it would impact those around me either, and I never thought about my distant relationship with God.  Realizing porn use as a problem and even addiction was like lifting a heavy fog in front of me, dispelling all the lies I accepted as my truth.

For most of my life I grew up in an environment of neglect and a lack of responsibility.  My parents were both responsible adults, but they did not feel responsible for raising their kids well.  My parents were divorced when I was young and both neglected me, and while they were married there was a clear pattern of physical and verbal abuse.  After the divorce, I lived with my mother for most of the time and she had a very co-dependent relationship with me.  I was the man of the house, even though I wasn’t even a teen yet, and she would share whatever was on her mind, unloading her negative emotions on me.  She was very controlling and focused on perfection, which drove me to be uninterested in doing anything.  During High School I remember crying out for help and my mother took me to be tested for Bi-Polar disorder.  I was not diagnosed with any disorders, but through the discussion the therapist found some issues and suggested some books on parenting and some parenting tweaks.  My mother lied and said she already read them and was a great parent.  Any problem I had came across as an attack on her parenting and she would go into denial and shut me out, often crying in an attempt to manipulate me.  My father didn’t really want to be a father. He only agreed to pick me up every other weekend because it would reduce the child-support he had to pay. He continued to complain about the payments, my mother, and the annoyance of having to pick me up until I was a legal adult.  He was uninterested in being a dad for the most part, and years later told me he didn’t have the time to be a dad so he would try to just be a decent friend to get me on his side.  If I had a question, I would be told to ask the other parent. Since I never got any answers, I stopped asking the questions and tried to figure things out on my own.  Once I realized I couldn’t reach perfection I stopped trying in school. I felt unwanted, and even worse, like a burden wherever I was.  I never felt like I had a home, I felt like I was just visiting someone.

Spiritually my mother believed in going to church when she felt guilty enough, and my father created his own religion focused on himself.  Needless to say, my parents didn’t care about my relationship with God and actually instilled a strong sense of skepticism in me. I felt like God was only there to punish me and rid me with guilt, or that God wasn’t real at all.  Despite my confusing outlook on God, there were also times when I felt like God was there for me, even if I didn’t understand it or accept it.  Thankfully he shielded me from drugs and getting into trouble as a youth.  It wasn’t until late in High School that I started to regularly go to church, when my now wife demanded I go to church with her if we were to continue dating.  It wasn’t until a few years later that I could actually call myself a Christian, working through the doubt and skepticism, and God is still working in me.

As time went on I felt more and more alone and turned to escape mechanisms to get away from my negative feelings.  I turned to porn and videogames mostly, jumping into fantasy worlds where I was the most important person and felt I had control.  My father introduced me to videogames as a way to connect, and we had little else to talk about.  I didn’t think about the negative impact porn had in my life until I married my wife.  I expected marriage to take away all the problems in my life.  I wouldn’t have to deal with my parents at all if I didn’t want to, and I’d have real and right intimacy with my wife.  I fully expected the desire to watch porn to disappear, but it got worse.  My wife and I were not connecting as well as I thought; we had more stresses as we were living together for the first time and were both busy figuring out our lives together.  I doubled down and watched more porn, shut out my wife, and reinforced my addiction through that negative cycle. 

My wife and I had pretty bad fights every week for the next seven months, and at one point I just broke and explained what was going on.  She was incredibly hurt and filed for divorce, which I agreed was not ridiculous or undeserved.  She said I had six months to show major improvement or she would continue with the divorce, which was a great show of grace to me.  The next six months we fought almost every day in the worst possible way.  I found a therapy-based program that gave me some tools to fight my temptations.  The program was useful in day-to-day living, but I felt something was missing.  It focused on tools and tricks to get through life and involved prayer, but made it very clear healing was not an option.  Our leader left, a new draconian leader took over with some ideas and outlooks that were not uplifting and I could not agree on, and the group had changed dramatically. I decided to look elsewhere.  My wife had seen someone from Reconciliation Ministries speak in person at a High School ministry event through our church and suggested I give the ministry a call.  I came to Living Waters shortly after and immediately saw the difference.  At first it was challenging, but it became apparent Living Waters was a place where I could begin to find real healing and connect with God.  I began to learn how to surrender to God and begin understanding where the healing would be happening.  Living Waters has changed my life.  It goes beyond a therapy regimen and allows for real healing.  My relationship with God has never been better or more important in my life.  My marriage can finally be described as happy and we have never been closer.  My personal relationships have improved, I feel more motivated in my work, and I have finally have a feeling of contentment in life in God’s plan.  Now I can’t imagine life without Living Waters. 

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The process has not been comfortable.  Coming clean to my wife was not comfortable. Learning about myself was not comfortable. Continually facing my fears and doubts instead of running and hiding is not comfortable. Surrendering to God is not comfortable.  Despite no part of the process being comfortable, it is worth it.  Being able to walk free, without the haze of lies and denial, is something that is better than I could imagine.  No longer feeling like I have a terrible secret makes it so much easier to look people in the eyes and feel my own self-worth.  Knowing I have a God on my side and learning the truth about how God feels about me has given me peace I couldn’t believe before this process.  One of the most surprising gains is when I stopped focusing only on my own needs. I could reach out in community with others and finally feel like I don’t have to be isolated and alone.  I would suggest Living Waters to everyone, since I feel everyone needs to know about themselves more deeply. If you think porn use isn’t a problem like drugs or alcohol, you really need Living Waters.  It’s unlike anything I have done before and helped me better my relationship with my God and understand myself. 

© 2017 Reconciliation Ministries of Michigan, Inc. This article may be reproduced and distributed as long as no fee is charged and credit is given.

First image by Gilles Lambert on www.unsplash.com. Second image by Ryan Franco on www.unsplash.com.

Lives Are Being Changed

Dear Friends,

Used under license with www.shutterstock.com

Used under license with www.shutterstock.com

As we look ahead to our next session of Living Waters, we are rejoicing in what the Lord has done through our first Mending the Soul group. It was amazing to see the participants open their hearts week after week and receive deep healing. Some of the participants would like to share how the group has helped them…

I was able to identify pain in my life and found the source or root of it. I can understand now how abuse dictates emotions and mindsets. I have learned how to let go and allow God to heal. – A female survivor.

 I could talk about the abuse I experienced, the addiction I developed, and all the fallout and consequences; without having to be worried about judgement or rejection. – A male survivor.

I can truly say that though I have a ways to go as far as healing, I am not the same person I was when I entered this group. I have regained my voice, set boundaries, gained strength in many ways, and found hope for healing in God. This group has truly been a blessing. A female survivor.


You can change the life of an abuse survivor by becoming a member of the Reconciliation Ministries Support Team. Your prayers and financial support can help those who have been ravaged by sin and abuse. Donations can be made securely online by clicking here. If you’re already a member of our support team, we would like to thank you for making an eternal difference in the lives of others. Your partnership matters.

Registration is now open for our next session of Living Waters. If you or someone you care about is struggling with sexual sin and relationship difficulties, call Reconciliation Ministries at 586.739.5114 and find out how Living Waters can help. Discounts are available for early registration, and we have lowered the tuition rate for new participants by 20%. You can read testimonies from the last session of Living Waters in this newsletter.

Your brother in Christ,

Dan


Lives Are Changed through the Living Waters Program. 

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Living Waters is a Christ-centered discipleship/ministry program for men and women seeking healing in areas of sexual and relational brokenness; including pornography addiction, codependency, sexual addiction, homosexuality, sexual ambivalence, childhood sexual abuse, transgender issues, and difficulty in establishing and sustaining healthy relationships.  Our next program is starting soon.

Here are some powerful testimonies from participants who had their lives changed through the power of Jesus Christ in the Living Waters program. They are used with the permission of the participants.

Living Waters saved my marriage. - A female participant.

I am closer to God as a result of Living Waters. I see Him more clearly in my past, anticipate Him more certainly in my future, and follow Him more peacefully in the now. - A male participant.

Through Living Waters I learned that I am a survivor, not a victim. - A female participant.

When I first came to Living Waters, I was a complete mess. I struggled in my marriage. I felt like a terrible mother. I had major trust issues. I knew that my problems stemmed from being repeatedly molested by my cousin from the ages of three to five. I just could not stop my brokenness from ruining my life. I learned a lot of tools here at Living Waters. And God has used Living Waters to change me into a better wife and mother. I am no longer controlled by my brokenness. Living Waters saved my marriage. - A female participant.

 

Living Waters has helped me to become a more honest person – with God and others. I am less afraid of failure and weakness than I was before Living Waters began. I am more willing to admit my weakness, doubts, and my need for help to God and others. God has begun a much needed work of humility through this program. - A male participant.

 

For most of my life I grew up in an environment of neglect and a lack of responsibility. When my parents were married, there was a clear pattern of physical and verbal abuse. After they divorced, my mother was very controlling and focused on perfection. This led me to be uninterested in doing well in anything. My father didn’t really want to be a father, but he agreed to pick me up every other weekend because it would reduce the child-support he had to pay. He was uninterested in being a dad for the most part.

As time went on I felt more and more alone and turned to escape mechanisms to get away from my negative feelings. I turned to porn and video games mostly, jumping into fantasy worlds where I was the most important person and could have control. I didn’t think about the negative impact porn had on my life until I married my wife in 2013. I expected marriage to take away all the problems. I fully expected that the desire to watch porn would disappear. It got worse. My wife and I had pretty bad fights every week for the next seven months, and at one point I just broke and explained what was going on. She was incredibly hurt and filed for divorce. She said I had six months to show a major improvement or she would go through with the divorce. We fought almost every day in the worst possible way. I went to a therapy-based program that gave me some tools to fight my temptations, but something was missing.

I decided to come to Living Waters after my wife heard one of the leaders speak at my church. At first it was challenging, but it became apparent that Living Waters was a place where I could begin to find real healing and connect with God. I began to learn how to surrender and begin to heal. Living Waters changed my life. It goes beyond a therapy regimen and allows for real healing. My relationship with God has never been better or more important in my life. My marriage can finally be described as “happy” and we have never been closer. My personal relationships have improved. I feel more motivated in my work, and I have finally have a feeling of contentment in life and in God’s plan. - A male participant.

 

I came into Living Waters with deep pain in my heart, a heart that had hardened towards men and I didn’t want to live in this hurtful, deceitful and sinful world. I wanted to die and take the easy way out. I wanted peace – no more pain and abuse. No tears. No sorrow. No more hurting. Through the deep healing lessons I have to admit that my heart is softening some to men. I don’t immediately label all men as bad. I haven’t thought of wanting to die in a while. I wake up every morning and say, “Good morning, Lord”. I have not gotten to the point that I love living – but I have gotten out of my first thoughts of, “I want to die.” I am on a new journey with peace growing in my heart towards men.

I also started out the first week in Living Waters saying, “I don’t know if this program is for me.” Now, 24 weeks later, I believe everyone needs to take this program for inner healing and to understand where the pain comes from. Ultimately, to get to know the Great Healer, Jesus. I deeply long to be in the arms of my Lord – but I think I’ll stick around this alien world and do the work and calling that God created me to be and to do until He calls me home. - A female participant.

If you or someone you love is struggling with sexual or relational difficulties, there is hope and healing through the power of Jesus Christ.  Call us and ask about attending the next Living Waters program. (586) 739-5114

© Reconciliation Ministries 2017.  This article may be reproduced and distributed as long as credit is given and no fee is charged.

Overcoming Isolation

This article contains information included in Chapter Seven, “Isolation”, from Mending the Soul Workbook for Men and Women, Second Edition, by Celestia G. Tracy, published by Mending the Soul Ministries, Inc., Phoenix, Arizona in 2015. The article will explore the root causes of isolation common to abuse survivors, and ways the survivor can learn to overcome isolation and develop healthy relationships. It was written by Dan Hitz, director of Reconciliation Ministries of Michigan, Inc. More articles on abuse recovery are available at www.recmin.org/newsletter-archives/.

Photo by Mike Wilson on  www.unsplash.com .

Photo by Mike Wilson on www.unsplash.com.

From the very beginning of Scripture we see that “It is not good for man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18). Even though Adam walked with God in the cool of the day, God still created another human for Adam to share life with. It is interesting to note that God places such an importance on fellowship that He created another human for Adam even though He knew that both humans were imperfect. God knew beforehand that the weight of Adam and Eve’s sin would require the sacrificial death of His own Son. God also knew that His imperfect creation would walk out His plan of salvation together and overcome sin. Although we will all be wounded by humans at some point in our lives, God’s restoration empowers us to receiving healing from humans. Love and fellowship was so important to Jesus that He issued a new commandment to His disciples to love one another, and show the world that they are His disciples through that love (John 13:34-36).

Since living together in unity is so important to God, it is no wonder that the enemy of our souls attacks it with such venom. We who have survived the devastating effects of abuse are well aware of the pain and dangers of living life connected to others. Although we are created for love and fellowship, many of us would rather hide in the darkness of isolation than risk vulnerability in relationship. We may not have consciously decided to build huge walls around our hearts, but many of us have constructed emotional walls so thick they rival medieval castles. We may be forced to interact with others on occasion, but we are secretly bound and determined to “never let anyone get close enough to hurt us again”. Even though our childhood abusers may be long gone, the emotional walls remain and hamper us well into our adulthood.

The effect of these walls was made real to me just a few weeks ago when I attended an extended family reunion. It included first and second cousins and their kids. I was sexually abused by my mother while I was growing up, and this was my mom’s side of the family. She had two sisters who also had their share of emotional challenges, and so did their children. As I stood back and watched their interaction, I noticed two things. First, some actually seemed to have adapted well and were coping better than others. They had good marriages and steady jobs. Many others seemed to struggle with multiple marriages, emotional challenges, and had a hard time making ends meet. Others were absent from the gathering due to family squabbles or emotional distress. The emotional weaknesses on my mother’s side of the family have truly taken their toll on many.

The second thing I noticed is that although many of my relatives present had their share of problems, a good number of them seemed to have the type of relationships that take years and a lot of time to develop. As I stood back watching their interaction, I got the impression that they didn’t just see each other for weddings and funerals. They got together for dinners and family events. I didn’t have the same type of relationship with my relatives – even my siblings – that many of them seemed to have with each other. I gained a clearer realization of my own reaction and the effects of abuse – a new understanding of my own deep retreat into emotional isolation. I was rather struck at the contrast of the “little Danny” who played so freely with his cousins during the family reunions my aunt  would have almost 50 years ago.  He was much different from the guy who stood off to the side in 2017 while the other cousins grouped up for pictures. In my later high school and college years, I became the “lost child” and retreated deep into the background of life. I left the area as soon as college afforded me the ability to do so, and stayed away as much as I could.

I don’t think my story is much different from many of you who have grown up with chronic abuse. No matter what type of abuse we suffer – sexual, physical, emotional, neglect, or spiritual – the effects are pretty much the same. In the past few months we looked at some of these effects; false guilt and shame, lack of initiative, dysfunctional family dynamics, and a wide variety of sexual brokenness. This month we’ll look at the issue of isolation, and the importance of overcoming it as we walk towards becoming the person that Jesus created us to be.

In the Mending the Soul Workbook for Men and Women, Celestia Tracy identifies three primary root issues as the foundation for isolation – the belief that I am shameful, the belief that I am shattered beyond repair, and the belief that we can trust no one and no one can trust me. Replacing each of these broken beliefs with the truth, is critical to learning to walk out of the emotional hiding place of isolation and developing healthy relationships in the Body of Christ. If you find yourself simultaneously craving healthy relationships and fearing them, you are not alone. You are experiencing what many abuse survivors live with every day. This is where we learn to trust the Lord to teach us how to walk past the fear and develop healthy friendships.

Image used under license from  www.shutterstock.com .

Image used under license from www.shutterstock.com.

I am shameful. – Toxic shame stems from believe that what we’ve done, or what’s been done to us, was so disgusting that no one could ever love us. It is a belief that we – not only our actions – are more than bad; we are inherently despicable. Abused children often take on the false responsibility for the abuse as a means of trying to make sense of it all. “If I’m such a horrible little boy, it makes sense for my father to beat me.” – or – “I’m such a creepy little pervert, it makes sense for my mother to do these things to me.” The sense of helplessness that comes when we admit that we didn’t cause the abuse is far too much for most victims to bear. Assuming that we have caused our abuse also gives us the false hope that we can be perfect enough to stop the abuse. This thinking is futile. Children don’t have the resources to stop the abuse. In order to overcome toxic shame, we must place the responsibility for the abuse squarely on the shoulders of our abuser to whom it belongs. Survivors need to reckon with the realty that the abuse was beyond their control and that they were actually helpless back in the day to stop the abuse. The good news is that you are not helpless anymore. You don’t have to be isolated anymore. You can reach out to safe people for help.

I am shattered beyond repair. – Tracy points out that God intended our needs to be met by safe, loving parents and other caregivers. Abuse shatters our sense of safety and trust. No longer is the world a safe place where my needs are taken care of and adults will teach me how to navigate through life. The world becomes a scary place of hopelessness and despair. This can cause us to emotionally short circuit and fall into helplessness, or to develop an “it’s me against the world” mentality. Either extreme is unhealthy and causes us to continue living out of our shattered heart. Broken hearts, with broken motivations, produce broken results that only seem to confirm our brokenness. Healing begins when we admit and accept the terrible things that have happened to us, reach out for help, and learn to grow beyond the devastation. You can learn to live life beyond the borders of your brokenness.

I can’t trust anyone and no one can trust me. – Abuse not only shatters our hearts, but it often leads us to draw the conclusion that NO ONE CAN BE TRUSTED! A boy abused by his mother may reach the conclusion that all women are dangerous. A young girl unprotected by her mother who willing allowed her step-father to abuse her may conclude that both genders are bad. No one is safe.

It’s easy to understand why abuse survivors may have a tough time trusting others, but why would they have a tough time trusting themselves? There’s actually some very simple reasons why abuse survivors have a hard time trusting themselves. Remember, we often blame ourselves for the abuse. Perpetrators are experts at manipulation and the grooming process. It’s common for survivors to ask, “How could I have been so stupid as to trust…” We’ve also assumed the false guilt for the abuse in order to force it to make sense; so therefore, we have a hard time trusting ourselves not to do something again that lets others abuse us.

Image used under license with  www.shutterstock.com .

Image used under license with www.shutterstock.com.

A more devastating reason that survivors have a hard time trusting themselves is that hurt people, hurt people. Many survivors have responded to the sinful abuse perpetrated against them by sinning against others. A young child sexually abused by a step-parent, may act out the same actions against a younger, more vulnerable cousin. A boy beaten by his father may take out his anger on a younger boy in the neighborhood. This “confirms” that we are just as much an insidious beast as the person who abused us. Yes, a survivor who has acted out on others must take personal responsibility for his own sinful actions, but he can also give himself the grace to realize that he was acting out of his own pain. If a survivor hasn’t acted out sinfully against another person, he has usually acted out sinfully with another person or on his own. Sexual promiscuity, pornography addiction, and substance abuse are common ways survivors try to numb the pain of their own abuse.

The answer for our shattered lives – whether shattered by the sins against us, or by the sins we’ve committed – is the cross of Jesus Christ. Not only did Jesus pay the penalty for the sins we’ve committed, He provided for the healing of the wounds inflicted upon us by the sins of others. Isaiah 53 is a beautiful picture of the forgiveness and healing that Jesus provided for us through His death on the cross. He knew what it was like to suffer and be in pain emotionally and physically (53:3). He took our pain and suffering on Himself (53:4). He took the guilt of our sin on Himself (53:6). And He made a way for our own healing by the wounds that He personally suffered (53:5). Truly, Jesus can healing the brokenhearted and free those who are in an emotional prison (Luke 4:18).

Overcoming emotional isolation is a process. It involves some healthy risk taking. And… It involves clinging onto God for help while we learn to recognize who in our lives is safe, and who in our lives is not. Here are some practical steps to help you learn to walk out of your hiding place and learn to develop some healthy relationships. The steps don’t necessarily go in sequential order, nor do they follow a linear progression. You may find yourself revisiting some of these steps from time to time as God brings a deeper understanding of how abuse has affected you.

First and foremost, we need to ask God for help. This step is so basic that we often miss it. The Lord recognizes that He is asking you to do something that is way out of your comfort zone. He is willing to be the parent that you never had, and teach you how to develop healthy relationships. I have a recovery friend who says, “We are learning to do at 50 what we should have learned when we were twelve.” The good news is that God is happy to teach us.

Pray for the Lord to give you a godly mentor. As much as trusting another human to help you overcome isolation may feel like climbing to the top of the Empire State Building to help you overcome the fear of heights, you need the help of safe others in the Body of Christ. A good mentor will understand the challenges you face, and can help guide you through the process. Remember, you are dealing with human mentors here, and even the best Christian mentor will make mistakes from time to time. Don’t panic. This is your chance to ask the Lord to help you talk to that other person about the misunderstandings. Unlike your abuser, a mature mentor will listen to your feelings and help work through any challenges that may come. If you’re not sure where to find a mentor, start with the pastoral care department of your local church, or contact the leaders of a Christian recovery program.

Walking out of isolation is a process. It’s okay to take it slow. Healthy relationships take a long time to develop. Unhealthy connections can happen fast. Ask the Lord to help you grow into healthy relationships at a pace that you can handle. Rather than sharing your whole life story with someone you just met, learn to talk about the basics of life or even the church project that you happen to be working on together. As you share little parts of your heart, watch how the other person handles them. If he or she is faithful with your information, you can share a few more details. Not everyone will develop into a close, personal friend. That’s alright. It’s good to have close friends that you can share deeply with, and it’s good to have friends that you just go get ice cream with. The best friends can do both.

Examine your heart to see if there are any areas where you’ve isolated yourself from God. If we keep people at arm’s length, odds are there are areas of our hearts where we’re keeping God at arm’s length. We may trust Him for our salvation and ask him for provision, but are we willing to let Him into the areas of our hearts where we have deep wounds? That isn’t as easy to do when those we’ve trusted in the past have betrayed us. We need frequent reminders that God is not like our abuser. He is safe.

Examine your heart and identify issues that you need to repent of. Have you made inner vows like, “I’ll NEVER let anyone close enough to hurt me again!” – or – “I’ll NEVER be like my abusive mother!” Those vows may have been a reaction to the intense pain that we’ve endured, but they keep us trapped in the futility of human effort. Inner vows are often made for the right reasons; we need protection, or we don’t want to be like those who have hurt us. The problem with inner vows is that they are usually made out of the wrong motivation. They’re a kneejerk reaction to our pain. Instead of living bound by an inner vow, it is far better to acknowledge the pain and the offense against us. We can then ask the Lord to keep us safe and to help us live through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Observe the character of the people we are learning to interact with. This may be a bit tricky, because survivors can be hypersensitive to the frailties of others. Everyone carries around a bucket of good and a bucket of bad. As hard as we try to only pour our bucket of good on others, sometimes the bucket of bad splashes out. The important thing is how someone responds when their bucket of bad splashes on others. Do they admit their frailties and apologize, or do they blame others for their mistakes? Safe people acknowledge their errors, apologize, and make corrections.

Learn to trust your discernment. This is another tricky thing for survivors to do. We likely grew up sensing something was amiss in our families but were told that everything was okay. Maybe you were told that you were the problem and that the abuser was the good guy. This teaches us to detach from our discernment and allow others to trample our personal boundaries. It’s easy to become hypersensitive when we start learning to pay attention to our discernment, and we’ll likely make some mistakes. This is where a good mentor can help.

Image used under license with  www.shutterstock.com .

Image used under license with www.shutterstock.com.

You’re going to make mistakes. Don’t give up. Everyone makes mistakes as they learn new skills and take some appropriate risks to step out of their comfort zones. When you mess up; pray, talk to your mentor, and reset. The process gets easier over time. The great thing is that the process even gets more enjoyable over time, and you can develop some great friendships.

I’m still working on this process after many years of recovery. Although the family reunion reminded me that I still have a lot of work to do, I can honestly say that I’ve met some beautiful people along the way. These friends have blessed my heart in ways that words cannot express. They are dear friends who share a common vision of living for Jesus. These relationships are worth all of the struggles, awkwardness, and goof-ups I’ve faced through the years. If the Lord can empower me to walk out of isolation, He can do the same for you. There is a beautiful Body of Christ out there, and you are a wonderful part of it.

© 2017 Reconciliation Ministries of Michigan, Inc. This article may be reproduced and distributed as long as no fee is charged and credit is given.

Characteristics of an Abusive Family

This article is primarily a summary of Chapter Four, “Portrait of an Abusive Family”, from Mending the Soul: Understanding and Healing Abuse by Dr. Steven R. Tracy. This article will highlight the characteristics of abusive families identified by Tracy. Mending the Soul was published by Zondervan Publishing, Grand Rapids, Michigan in 2005. This summary was written by Dan Hitz, director of Reconciliation Ministries of Michigan, Inc. More articles on abuse recovery are available at www.recmin.org/newsletter-archives/.

Just as we learned in the article detailing the characteristics of individual abusers, abusive families tend to look just like other families in our neighborhoods, schools and churches when they are outside of the privacy of their own home. Unfortunately, the similarities can come to a grinding halt when they are behind the closed doors and curtains of their own home. Tracy describes this as the banality of evil – evil people don’t look evil, they look like everybody else” (workbook p. 90). This is the challenge for those of us who grew up in a dysfunctional family. I heard numerous times how nice my mother was from people who knew the healthy side of her.

It is amazing how often I hear from the men and women that I’m counseling how respected their abusive parent(s) were/are in the church and the community. This can leave survivors wondering, “What on earth is wrong with me?” It feeds the denial for those of us who have shut down huge portions of our own hearts and don’t want to believe that our parent really is abusive. One of the most important steps in the healing process is to recognize and admit that our families were abusive. We need to recognize the areas of dysfunction that we were influenced by in order to begin taking the steps of healing in those areas.

No families are perfect. No parents are perfect. In looking at the characteristics of abusive families, we are not talking about the “healthy enough” parent who makes an occasional mistake or handles a situation in a way that causes minor offenses. We’re talking about chronic, severe offenses that leave deep lasting scars in the hearts of those who are impacted by it. Tracy identifies 15 primary characteristics of abusive families in Chapter Four of Mending the Soul. These characteristics can also be found in unhealthy churches, organizations and social groups. We’ll take a brief look at each characteristic here.

The needs of the family members are expendable. God intended the needs of the children to be fulfilled by the parents and the needs of the parents to be fulfilled by other adults. In abusive families, the children are used to fulfill the needs of the parents while the needs of the children go unmet. Where there is favoritism, the needs of the kids seen as “lesser” can go unfulfilled while the “elevated” kids are daunted over.

Reality is difficult to discern. Being at home with our families should be the safest experience we can have. In abusive families, the place which is supposed to be the safest becomes the most dangerous. Children naturally want to believe that whatever their parents do is appropriate. We are taught to ignore our God given discernment and perceptions by abusive parents who tell us that the abuse is a normal “expression of love” or “deserved” because of our own inappropriate behavior.

The victim is made responsible. It is the responsibility of every adult to take care of the children that God has entrusted him or her to parent and provide for. Abusive parents push their own responsibilities onto the children. They may be expected to take care of the younger siblings and perform an unreasonable amount of tasks well beyond their years. Sometimes they are expected to fulfil the sexual desires of evil parents.

The family appearance is deceptive. We have already discussed the banality of evil – the thought that most abusive people and families look very respectable to those on the outside. Abusive people can go to great lengths to maintain a “perfect” outward appearance.

The truth is ignored. Members of a dysfunctional family may be so focused on maintaining their own sense of “peace and calm” that they ignore obvious signs that abuse is occurring. I’ve worked with abuse survivors whose history of abuse was so obvious that it is impossible for me to believe that that other parent had no clue that the abuse was occurring.

Family abusers use force. In some situations, abusive family members may use manipulation and grooming to gain the trust of their victims; however, the “tenderness” of the grooming process gives way to threats and force to ensure that the victim maintains the secrecy of the abuse. Other times the perpetrators begin the abuse with aggression. Because the victims feel helpless to stop the abuse, the amount of aggression may decrease over time and may fall away altogether. Learned helplessness is when a victim is actually strong enough to stop the abuse, but is convinced that the situation is hopeless and continues to comply. This explains why many victims fail to walk away from the abuse, or reach out for help, even when help is readily available.

There is no straightforward, healthy communication. Much of the communication in abusive families is intentionally confusing and manipulative. Abusers may hide behind words that have double meaning so they can quickly deny their ill intent. If they spoke clearly, the destructive motives of their heart would be evident to all.

The victim’s rational response is often futile. Abusers don’t respond to reason. Abusers aren’t interested in the truth. They are champions of denial (refusing to admit or acknowledge the truth), projection (attributing their own negative actions and motivations to others), and blame shifting (claiming their own negative behavior was the result of the victim’s actions). Abusers “twist realty” to match their world.

Power is used to exploit. In healthy families, power is used to protect and empower the vulnerable to reach their full potential. In abusive families, power is used to control and ensure that the weaker remain under the control of the dominant.

Abusive families are emotionally unstable. Victims often feel like they are “walking on eggshells”. An action that was perfectly acceptable yesterday may trigger a violent reaction today; therefore, life is unpredictable and one can never let down one’s guard. They may also find themselves having a wide range of feelings about their abuser who may be beating them one moment, and pretending to love them by sexually abusing them the next. Victims may recognize that abusive behavior is wrong, but find themselves liking the perceived favorable attention they are receiving.

The victim is shamed, blamed and demeaned. I’ve heard from many survivors that their abusers manipulated them with kindness before the sexual abuse, and then verbally assaulted them unmercifully after the abuse. Some are blamed for the assaults by the perpetrators and others who claim that the abuse wouldn’t have happened if they had better character, or that they specifically behaved in a way to provoke the abuse.

Family members are isolated and lack intimacy. Healthy families have nothing to hide. Dysfunctional families are afraid of being found out. It is common for perpetrators and those who enable them to pull their victims away from those who can identify unhealthy behavior. Since abusers are proficient at using the victim’s inner hopes and dreams against them, victims quickly learn to shut off their desires. Ironically, the perpetrators paint a picture where the world is unsafe and dangerous, and that they are the only ones the victims can trust.

 A strict code of silence is enacted. Abusive families follow a strict No Talk Rule. The perpetrators don’t want to be found out and clearly communicate that there will be dire consequences to anyone who tells others about the abuse.

Abusive families deny and distort healthy emotions. Children want the world to make sense. Most abuse victims believe that the abuse was their fault. Many were told so by their abusers. In order for an abusive world to make sense, survivors learn to embrace the idea that the abuse was their fault. This also gives victims a strange, false sense of control. Other victims were told that they were overreacting and/or scolded for having negative feelings about the abuse. Unfortunately, the deeper message is that they learn to distrust their healthy emotions. They either embrace dysfunctional emotions, or shut them off altogether.

The wrong ones are protected. Perpetrators want to prop up their abusive system and maintain a false, outward appearance. They use manipulation, intimidation and violence to achieve that goal. Those who accuse the victims are often shamed and blamed – even within the church. It is important to listen to the hearts of the survivors and pray for discernment to understand the truth of the situation.

Perhaps it was very difficult for you to read this article. If you can identify many of the traits listed above in your own family, don’t lose hope. Remember, the first step in fixing a problem is identifying that a problem actually exists. You can overcome the effects of childhood abuse. Start by reaching out for help to the pastoral care department of your local church. Reconciliation Ministries is also here to help. We offer individual counseling and support groups. If you or a loved one needs help, call us at 586.739.5114.

 © 2017 Reconciliation Ministries of Michigan, Inc. This article may be reproduced and distributed as long as no fee is charged and credit is given. Images used under license with www.shutterstock.com.

An Expanded Vision: More Lives to Reach


Dear Friends,

Reconciliation Ministries began in 1984 with a focus on ministering specifically to those struggling with unwanted same-sex attraction. Through the years, our focus deepened to include heterosexual issues and the addition of our Living Waters program. We added licensed counseling to our services of pastoral care and prayer ministry, and recently began a new program for abuse recovery called Mending the Soul.

Over the past several months, you’ve been reading how the Lord has been working on our hearts to minister to those with a deeper level of brokenness than Reconciliation Ministries has ministered to in the past. This part of our journey actually began about three years ago, during a conversation with the Lord that took place over four Sunday worship services. I knew He was doing a deep work in my heart. I was shaking during the last worship service as He asked me to pray that He would send me to the bowels of hell on earth, so that we can save people from the bowels of hell for eternity.

We are excited to announce that the Lord has even more plans in store. As we continue to minister to all forms of sexual and relational brokenness in Metro Detroit, we also have an opportunity to touch souls in Ubon, Thailand. Plans are underway for me (Dan Hitz) to minister in Thailand from July through December of 2018. I have been invited to assist in the development of the Living Waters team in this remote region of Thailand, mentor men who are potential leadership team members, and minister to pastors and villagers in the surrounding areas. You can read more about the progression of this vision and calling on the inside of this newsletter.

Reconciliation Ministries will continue to serve the Body of Christ in Metro Detroit even as we extend our outreach to Ubon, Thailand. We would like to invite you to join us in bringing the transformational power of Jesus Christ to those who desperately need Him. You can become a valuable member of the Reconciliation Ministries Support Team through your generous financial partnership and your prayers for the ministry and the participants. No one can affect the lives that we are called to reach alone, but together through Christ we can reach thousands of people who need His healing touch. Please join our Support Team and help bring healing to those who are sexually broken and to those who have suffered the trauma of abuse. You can sign up with the form included in this newsletter, or online at our website at www.recmin.org.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at 586.739.5114 or DHitz@recmin.org.

Thank you for sharing this journey with us!

Dan Hitz, Director, Reconciliation Ministries of Michigan, Inc.


An Expanded Vision: More Lives to Reach - Dan Hitz

Dan has been the director of Reconciliation Ministries since 2003. This article describes his journey from growing up with sexual abuse and emotional brokenness, to reaching out to others who are hurting and walking with them to Jesus. Dan shares his expanded vision to reach more lives for Christ and invites you to join him in the journey.

I stand in amazement as I ponder the vision the Lord has birthed in my heart to reach more lives with the healing power of Jesus Christ. None of us have the ability to do anything of any eternal value, yet together in Christ we can accomplish great things for Him. I wanted to share my journey from the depths of despair to where the Lord has brought me to now. I also want to invite you to share in the calling He has given. The calling to reach out to those who are bound by sexual sin and the trauma of abuse. You can have a part in seeing the transformational power of Jesus Christ set captives free and restore their lives. Everyone has a story. Everyone can have a testimony of God’s redemption and restoration. Your journey can bring hope to others.

I was the fifth child to a paranoid schizophrenic mother and an overwhelmed father. Before I entered kindergarten I was sexually abused by my mother. My heart was shattered in the process and I dealt with the abuse by trying to turn off my emotions. When I was in junior high school, the abuse started up again and grew progressively more aggressive. I was pretty emotionally and sexually messed up and began to struggle with homosexuality, emotional isolation and bulimia. I was in complete bondage to these things – my mind was constantly fixated on gay images and I couldn’t go more than three days without a food binge. I wanted to be dead, but I was afraid to kill myself.

I got saved a year after I graduated from college. The bulimia ended right away so I thought that the same-sex attraction issues would be gone too. I meant business with God. I was devastated when I realized that the sexual issues didn’t just go away. My heart and emotions were still pretty turned off at that point and I was afraid to let God access my heart. I stuck to the Christian disciplines and the Lord began to do a slow work of change. By His grace, I got married two years after salvation. Marriage doesn’t fix sexual issues, and I was pretty broken for a lot of years. After 14 years of trying to get God to fix me on my own terms, I finally surrendered to Him and admitted that everything I had tried to do to fix myself hadn’t worked. I asked Him to help me His way. Shortly after that I met Tom Cole, who directed Reconciliation Ministries before me. I went through some of our programs as a participant. I finally begin to find freedom from the compulsive homosexual thoughts that caused me to hate myself so much.

The Lord began to convict my heart. He told me that He had given me a glass of water to drink while I was dying of thirst in the wilderness, and He wanted me to give that same water to others. Knowing what it was like to be in such bondage to sexual sin and find freedom in Christ gave me a passion to see others set free.

I became the director of Reconciliation Ministries in 2003. It is a ministry that helps men, women, and adolescents overcome a wide variety of sexual sin and the pain of abuse. I am blessed to see God set people free. I’ve seen guys who spent so much time watching pornography that they lost their jobs and their families break free from sin. I’ve seen other guys who were bound by adultery and sexual addiction and about ready to lose their wives find freedom in Christ. I’ve seen marriages restored. I also seen women who thought the only value they had was to give men sex because that’s what their brothers and fathers taught them learn who they really are in Christ and stand in their true identity as daughters of the King. My heart burns with passion to see more and more people set free.

After a few years of working with people struggling with LGBT issues and heterosexual addictions, the Lord started working on my own abuse issues at a much deeper level. One of my favorite sections of Scripture  is  where  Jesus says  that He came to heal the broken  hearted. In  the original  language,  the phrase brokenhearted means shards of glass as if you broke a mirror. (You can see me during junior high in the picture on the left with my mother.) I began to realize that abuse shattered my own heart into many fragments and I still had a lot of healing to do. God continued to transform my heart more than I could ever imagine. He began to send many others who were fragmented by abuse and I saw their hearts come back to life.

Over the past three years, the Lord has been increasing my burden to reach people with a deeper level of brokenness than we’ve seen before. More people just like me have been fragmented by abuse. I’ve got an intense burden for people who have been wounded deeply by chronic abuse to the point where they can barely function and hold down a job. We’ve done a lot already to bring healing to people, we offer license counseling and individual prayer ministry, and a discipleship group called Living Waters. We’ve been able to bring sexual healing in Metro Detroit and so many other places including Southeast Asia, a federal prison, inner cities, and other people that you might interact with every day but have no idea how much they’re actually hurting on the inside. With God’s help we can do so much more. It’s time to expand the ministerial offerings that Reconciliation Ministries provides.

Dan and Marianne in Thailand, 2016.

Dan and Marianne in Thailand, 2016.

Last November, my wife and I ministered in Ubon Thailand for two weeks. We helped a missionary who was starting a brand new Living Waters group there. It was a smaller group, but the level of brokenness was overwhelming. I saw people whose hearts were in fragments being restored by the mercy of Jesus Christ. I could relate to their journey. The whole experience stirred my heart deeply and the Lord spoke to me that He was going to raise up two, three, or four people in that room to touch thousands. We can help make that happen.

The trip to Thailand and all that the Lord has been showing us in past few years in the US compels us to expand the ministry to bring a deeper level of healing that we’ve seen in the past. Reconciliation Ministries just started a new twelve-week program for abuse survivors called Mending the Soul. Right now we have to charge a tuition so that we can pay our expenses, but I want to increase our funding so we can offer that program free of charge to abuse survivors who desperately need healing and can’t afford our tuition fees. Together we can reach out to chronic abuse survivors and to those who have been trafficked and offer them the healing that Jesus Christ died to give them.

Another door has opened up to allow us to return to Thailand for six months in 2018 to continue the work that we did last November with Living Waters. We can have a part in the Lord raising up those two, three or four people to reach thousands. We can do this in a way that strengthens our local ministry offerings and also allows us to bring an extension of our ministry to Thailand. In the US, you can find an AA group or a Celebrate Recovery group every night of the week. There’s nothing for people struggling in this part of Thailand. We can change that. We can share what we’ve learned here in the US and use it to raise up Thai nationals and equip them with healing tools to set captives free.

That’s our burden. To bring freedom to people struggling with LGBT issues and heterosexual addiction issues. To bring healing and restoration to people who have been shattered by years of terrible sexual abuse. To help men and women find freedom from sin and healing from trauma so that they can be the men and women that God created them to be. And we have the opportunity to do this right here in Metro Detroit, and half way around the world in Ubon Thailand. Please join our monthly support team and together we can bring the redemption and restoration of Jesus Christ to those who desperately need Him. You can join our financial support team by clicking here, and join our intercessory team by sending an email to DHitz@recmin.org.

© 2017 Reconciliation Ministries of Michigan, Inc. This article may be reproduced and distributed as long as no fee is charged and credit is given.