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33 Weeks Of Purity
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33 Weeks Of Purity

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This is a class to help Christian women understand the areas of their self-esteem, thinking, and unwanted emotions that prevent them from being a woman of virtue (excellence).

This is a class to help Christian women understand the areas of their self-esteem, thinking, and unwanted emotions that prevent them from being a woman of virtue (excellence).

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33 Weeks Of Purity 33 Weeks Of Purity Document Transcript

  • 33 Weeks of Purity The following is a proposal of an accountability and emotional process group to help sisters live one week for every year Jesus was alive in His honor. The groups need to have consistent attendance of the members for thirty-three weeks, but it can be open so that we get a variety of people on different commitment levels helping each other out. Part of the group is education on emotional and situational arousals and the other is open confession to keep all sin out of the darkness and into the light. Week 1Accountability logs and group expectations Week 2 Introduction to scriptural purity Week 3 Confession and it’s importance Week 4 The confusing standpoints on self-pleasure Week5 The cycle of sin Week 6 The curse of Eve Week7 Understanding the roots of desire Week 8 The effects of sexual intimacy Week 9 Building healthy intimacy Week 10 Understanding our “very great reward” Week 11 Journaling feelings Week 12 The Spirit is willing, but the body is weak. Exit strategies Week 13 The love bank Week 14 How to be vulnerable without giving too much away Week 15 Halfway progress report Week 16 Scriptures to persevere by Week 17 Scriptures to be encouraged by Week 18 Getting more specific with your confession Week 19 When depression and loneliness settles in
  • Week 20 Getting out of a worldly relationship you find yourself in Week 21 Comparing yourself to the world Week 22 Throwing yourself a pity party the right way Week 23 Resiliency through God Week 24 Distorted thinking errors Week 25 Your reoffending chain Week 26 Relapse prevention model Week 27 Being proud of the boundaries you set Week 28 Dealing with shame and guilt The remaining weeks are to account for possible times when extra support may take up a whole group. There is no set time that these may occur so some groups may be delayed from its order.
  • Sexual Accountability Worksheet Check the following boxes as either yes or no if at any point this week you have done or been tempted to perform the following. In the space after the boxes please indicate the number of times they occurred. Have you masturbated this Y N # Did you dream about having Y N # week? a fantasy relationship? Did you flirt with another Y N # Did you dress for someone Y N # person this week? else to notice you? Did you have a daydream of a Y N # Have you had any physical Y N # kiss or kiss something? contact sexually with others? Did you watch a show with Y N # Did you get any pornography Y N # sexual themes? Soaps, movie or previous adult flashbacks? Have you read any romance or Y N # Have you used a substance to Y N # novels with sexual content? lower inhibition? Some techniques for avoiding temptation are to:  Pray-not just about the temptation but also about the emotion underlying the temptation.  Stop and Switch-when a deviant thought comes in mind, literally tell the thought to stop, switch thoughts of a negative consequence, stop that thought and switch to a positive fantasy.  3 second rule-distract yourself by counting slowly to three or in another language.  Walk away-leave the situation and get fresh air and perspective, or turn the channel.  Scripture journal-look for scriptures and journal which ones help during your struggle.  Change of hobby-stop inappropriate hobby and do something new instead. Name a time when you were able to use one of the above techniques to avoid giving in to temptation: When did you not use an appropriate technique to fight a temptation or sexual urge? What do you need to focus on or rethink this next week to maintain God’s standard of purity? What should you celebrate about yourself that helped you do what’s right?
  • Accountability specifics Get specific about your confession. Describe not only the event but what thoughts or events activated the cycle that led to the struggle with purity. The more specific and honest you are with the specifics, the less satan can keep using your same sins. As you write about the struggle, rate the difficulty with which you had to fight to control it from 1 as being hardly a struggle and 5 being tempted at a very strong level. Sign: Accountability Partner:
  • Group Expectations This is a group intended to help those who desire to truly be free of sexual sin be able to have the accountability and support it takes to really make it. Many of us tried to not struggle with masturbation, physical flirting, dirty dancing, or getting into sexual relationships. Our attempts often didn’t last longer than maybe a few months. The purpose of this group is to get help and make a 33 week commitment to purity. There are a few important rules that need to be maintained. Every class must be attended as much as possible. The group is open and continuous so if a class is missed you can always make it up during a make up session on another day. This class is for your personal growth. It is imperative that you are completely honest with yourself and others about not only your actions, but your thoughts and motives. Confidentiality is required. The items discussed in class are not to be discussed outside of the group, brought up during other d-groups or Bible talks, nor mentioned to outside group members. The purpose of the groups is to understand our emotional and thinking process. Not everyone will be at the same place of self-discovery. Therefore, all efforts to show respect and patience are required as each person processes the information in their own time. Any secrets revealed during the process groups will be dealt with appropriately. This group is meant to be a safe place to reveal and truly face the inclinations of the thoughts of our hearts biblically and together. There are homework assignments and accountability sheets that are expected to be filled out by the beginning of group. This allows any person to be open privately and work out private processes of information. The facilitator can offer you the help and encouragement to reveal any sin listed or get further personal help. Colossians 2:20-23 This will be hard work for some and a commitment to see it through is required to be successful. Any concerns about completion need to be expressed with the facilitator and possibly the group. ________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________ If these are understood, please sign and return this document. You will be given a copy for yourself as well. Name:____________________________________ Date: ______________
  • Intro to Scriptural Purity Part of the confusion of what is considered purity according to God’s standard gets confused by the changing social norm or rules for what is moral. Some of those rules originated from Biblical Jewish law and got revised over the years, others were made by man to try to maintain the Biblical standard without coming across as overtly puritan. When using the scriptures, it’s important to note that God did not set up the Bible to be a do and don’t list. (Isaiah 28:9-19) He set it up to show His love for us and to protect us from unnecessary hurts. For example Deuteronomy 24 introduces the concept of writing a certificate of divorce. This was not a commandment of God to prove that a wife absolutely must make her husband happy at all times, or to show the submissiveness of wives as the party to blame for marital unhappiness. In fact Jesus explains in Matthew 19 that God only offered that because He understands how hard our hearts get and even though it’s our sin, He still offers us a way out as promised. There are many who doubt the scriptural necessity of purity because of the apparent contradictions in scripture. The Bible may appear this way when read at a surface level. At the same time remember 2 Timothy 3:16-17 “All scripture is God breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be equipped for every good work”. So although some terms of righteous obedience may seem obsolete to the current times, the message behind it of how to live protected by God needs to still be understood. Purity is discussed, admonished or exemplified in nearly every book in the Bible. Either there is an example of purity, the consequence of not living purely, or warnings of what impurity does to us if left unchecked. Here is just a listing of one scripture from each book in the New Testament: Matthew 5:27-32 Mark 7:20-23 Luke 7:37-50 John 8:3-11 Acts 15:19-33 Romans 12:1 I Corinthians 5:9-13 II Corinthians 6:14-7:1 Galatians 5:19 Ephesians 5:2-5 Philippians 1:9-11 Colossians 3:5-6 I Thessalonians 4:3-8 II Thessalonians 2:9-12* I Timothy 2:9-15 II Timothy 2:22 Titus 3:3
  • Hebrews 13:4 James 1:21 I Peter 2:11-12 II Peter 2:6-10 I John 2:15-17 Jude :16 Revelation 21:8 This is just the New Testament writings and a handful of those listed. If purity weren’t such a destructive force in remaining faithful to the Lord I doubt it would need to be emphasized as much. This does not include the commands God gave directly throughout Leviticus (15, 18, and 20 for example), the ten initial commandments (Exodus 20), nor the words God spoke about our hearts when we began to choose relationships (Exodus 6:1-3, 5-6). There are multiple admonitions and examples of the good and bad of being obedient to God’s call to purity throughout the bible. In learning about and living in purity, there are two scriptures that are to be memorized and reviewed as our theme scriptures throughout this group. Romans 13:13-14 “Let us walk with decency, as in the daylight: not in carousing and drunkenness; not in sexual impurity and promiscuity; not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no plans to satisfy the fleshly desires.” and I Corinthians 10:13 “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humanity. God is faithful and He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation He will also provide a way of escape, so that you are able to bear it.” These scriptures will remind us that it’s up to us to fight, God is faithful, and we are not alone. Let’s take responsibility and stand up to our flesh and its desires.
  • Confession and its importance This group is about not only strengthening our conviction and knowledge of God’s hope for our purity as we follow Him, but about holding one another accountable. There is extreme vulnerability in being accountable to another human being. It takes courage to be vulnerable, but we are reminded in II Timothy 1:7 that “God has not given us a Spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love, and sound judgment”. James 1:19-21 “My dearly loved [sisters], understand this: everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger, for man’s anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness. Therefore, ridding yourselves of all moral filth and evil excess, humbly receive the implanted word, which is able to save you.” We can hear with more than just our ears. Our words convey not just facts, but feelings and fears with them as well. When we confess with our hearts, we are not just stating the facts of a sin we committed. We are also stating the fear that goes with knowing that we are not just capable of sin, but willing to sin. We can also subconsciously be showing what fear we are vulnerable to. For example, if someone says, “I had a daydream about another sister’s husband that was sexual in nature,” that person is stating a fact of something she did. Often our temptation is to jump on them and respond with the most obvious scripture that would display the sin of what was stated (perhaps Exodus 20:17 or Matthew 5:27-29). By being slow to speak and slow to become angry, that person may reveal more information. The sister may have felt as if the other’s husband was flirting with them and wasn’t sure how to bring it up. Or she may reveal that she is feeling dissatisfied in her marriage because she isn’t able to express herself to her husband as well as she can to other people. She may also be revealing that she is afraid of being unattractive to her husband and doesn’t know what to do about it. Either way, Romans 15:1-7 “We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: ‘the insults of those who insult you have fallen on Me.’ For everything that was written in the past [ie in the Bible] was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. It may be hard at times to live with each other, hearing these deep dark thoughts and secrets, and seeing some be slow to repentance without becoming judgmental. What we need to remember is that we were not sent here to judge. John 3:16-21 says that not even Jesus was sent here to judge, though He clearly had the authority to if needed. Specifically the scripture reveals that the judgment is this: “the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For everyone who practices wicked things hates the light and avoids it, so that his deeds may not be exposed. But anyone who lives by the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be shown to be accomplished by God”.
  • In this same way, the vulnerability in this group needs to be consistent and mutual. II Corinthians 6:11-14 says “We have spoken openly to you, Corinthians; our heart has been opened wide. You are not limited by us, but you are limited by your own affections. Now in like response—I speak as to children—you also should be open to us. Do not be mismatched with unbelievers. For what partnership is there between righteousness and lawlessness? Or what fellowship does light have with darkness?” This scripture is often used in conjunction with meeting and connecting with believers in and out of the faith. But we are a tent holding the Spirit, and even within us should we not be uniting darkness (secrets, sin, shame, and separation from God) with light (the Holy Spirit and our sanctified blood thanks to Jesus). “Let us be concerned about one another in order to promote love and good works…” Hebrews 10:24. Some of you may already have a deep conviction about confession and others may not be as convinced. Let’s take some time to share some scriptures to reflect on why confession is important. Choose some that are obvious and some that speak to your heart about what you need from others after confessing. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.
  • Confusing Standpoints on Self-Pleasure One of the most confused issues with our struggle with purity is in masturbation. Does the Bible have a standard about whether masturbation is a sin or not? Some consider masturbation a method of self-soothing or getting in touch with our natural selves. Others say that any form of sexual self touch is sin. This is most often where Ephesians 5:3 “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people,” is read. It then gets argued that what is natural is not impure. Masturbation can be non-sexual in nature, but a way of calming the mind and body through physical touch, without any thought of a lustful relationship or sexual drive. Some people masturbate because they are having trouble sleeping and it exerts enough mindless energy to stop an anxious mind and relax a tense body into weariness. Not all masturbation is penetration with fingers or objects. Sometimes it is the covering or rubbing of the mons pubis, the fleshy area around the vagina, that stimulates the intestinal muscles allowing the stomach to relax. Other ways of masturbation is to caress a non-sexual erogenous zone like the ear, armpit, thigh, lips, feet, or breast. When considering these self gratifying arguments this scripture is often not enough to fight the battle of purity. When you read on, the argument about whether masturbation is biblical or not is not about whether the act itself can harm us, but whether we are choosing to be obedient. Ephesians 5:5-17 goes on to say, “For this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a man is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them. For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said: ‘Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.’ Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.” When looking at this how does masturbation make us a holy and pleasing sacrifice? Even our conscience works to reveal to us the difference between right and wrong. The reason that our conscience does not always tell us when we are grieving the Spirit is because we allow ourselves to get hardened in our heart (Ephesians 4:17-20). We do not become as sensitive to right and wrong when we spend time avoiding and hiding our guilt and shame. We naturally know what is right and wrong because we are the fruit of Adam and Eve. God does not have to name it specifically (see God’s response to Abel in Genesis 4:6-7). More will be discussed about this in a later chapter.
  • Secondly, let’s look at what is behind the urge to masturbate. I John 2:15-17 “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.” James 1:13-15 “No one undergoing a trial should say, ‘I am being tempted by God.’ For God is not tempted by evil, and He Himself doesn’t tempt anyone. But each person is tempted when he is drawn away and enticed by his own evil desires. Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is fully grown, it gives birth to death.” I Peter 4:2-5 You desire and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and don’t receive because you ask wrongly, so that you may spend it on your desires for pleasure. Adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world id hostility towards God? So whoever wants to be the world’s friend becomes God’s enemy. Or do you think it’s without reason the Scripture says that the Spirit He has caused to live in us yearns jealously? All of Songs of Solomon! We desire to masturbate for several reasons. One is because we need to elevate ourselves emotionally. If only we had one man who saw us and loved us as Song of Solomon proclaims. (If only we could reciprocate that intense desire for our husband the same way as well). But the toils of life make us not look upon each other the way we dream of in fantasy. We tend to dream when we are overwhelmed with work or concerns (Ecclesiastes 5:3). We sometimes work out our misery with daydreams and fantasy. Even if the fantasy is not about the struggle, we are still working through the feelings we are struggling with. Fear and desire come from the talk we have about ourselves. Sometimes we tell ourselves that we are inadequate. Other times we tell ourselves that we are afraid others think we are inadequate. Either way, we try to do something to counter that negative feeling. If we don’t have the validation of others around us, we may try to imagine receiving that validation. We may try to strengthen our ego by boasting about what we have or do so that we quiet that negative voice. We may visualize ourselves being adored or sought after by another in order to validate that we are worth loving and acceptance. We begin to fantasize about something we want that would tell us what we fear we lack. This becomes not just the symptom of a deeper feeling, but the object of our desire if we don’t address the root problem. We become obsessed with the object of our validation, rather than getting help with the validation itself. This is why it can appear that our prayers are unanswered, we are getting everything but what we asked for specifically, or that our cravings are never satisfied “correctly” when we do get that object.
  • Continued increase Increased need for same arousal Increased need for same arousal Initial point of arousal Take a moment to list what situations tend to lead you into acting impurely? Here are some starters: When do you notice that another man is attractive?  Is it when he catches your eye?  When you both agreed about a common interest or idea?  When you see someone that reminds you of a good friend or your dating life?  When you are mad, sad, lonely, or apathetic about your husband or your home life?  After you have struggled with a personal issue—illness, pain, pregnancy, fight, or LSE? What is the last emotion you remember having right before you gave into masturbation?  Guilt  Anger  Hopelessness  Feeling ugly/unwanted  Insignificance  Boredom  Loneliness  Greed  Wanting human contact/warmth What names come to mind when you think of the following adjectives? Warm Friendly Funny Caring Affectionate Sexy Tender Giving Serving Loyal Peaceful Gentle Cute Kissable Suave Romantic Godly Nurturing Approachable Lover
  • The Cycle of Sin One of the ways to fight against an impurity struggle is to identify how it relates to you personally. The previous chapter had an exercise to help you identify with some of the emotions that may trigger a fantasy, daydream, or even an emotional response that could lead to masturbation or an emotional, if not physical affair. Well as James 1:13-15 says, “When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” This is a cycle that starts with an emotion, thought or belief that got triggered and went unchecked. As it stays within the conscience, it not treated with care and self-control will grow and grow until it’s nearly impossible to ignore. When it is that big, it needs to be dealt with, but depending on how strong that thought is tied into your heart, it may not be stopped, but acted upon. What’s left after that is the guilt and shame that tell us to hide or forget or lesson the severity of what just happened so that we can live a “pretend normal” life. There are several ways to look at a cycle. More than one cycle may be affecting your ability to be pure at a time. So let’s start with a basic cycle. Build up: Pretend Thoughts, Normal life beliefs, feelings Justify actions Act out The thought, belief, or feeling will occur and build up until we make a plan and act on it. Nothing just happens. There is always a plan that makes the ability to act out seem easy— even if another person seemed to initiate our ability to act out. Once the action occurs our mind quickly works to justify the actions so that we don’t stay in a guilty mode. Sometimes the justification is that we plan to confess what was acted upon. Once we assuage our guilt we live a pretend normal life where everything feels ok until the strong negative feeling get provoked again. Here is another way of looking at this same cycle: 4. Justification
  • 1. We have an everyday baseline way of thinking, feeling, and believing. 2. Something challenges that baseline and we go 3. Act out phase 2. Build up over it again and again, building up the strength of that challenge. 1.Baseline 3. We do something to get back to our baseline self but it actually brings us lower. 5.Pretend Normal 4. We justify totry to get back to baseline. 5. We don’t make it to baseline and live sub par. When you think about going through a struggle or wanting to give into temptation, it’s important to look at and track what led up to each part of the cycle. It may not be obvious at first because the mind and heart is good at preserving it’s need to feel important (Jeremiah 17:9). I encourage you to keep a log of when you are tempted and to list what was happening around that time, it could be much earlier in the day if you don’t have much time to yourself until the evening. Read Psalm 36:1-4 and think about how you have set yourself up to enter a cycle in this way and write it down. Events Suppression Personalization of distortion events Negative anticipation Reframe Hopelessness “It’s Core Distortions no use”  Powerless Control  Inadequacy distortion Avoidance  Lack of control  Poor self image Fugitive Thinking Externalize Blame  Low self esteem Reaffirming distortion Power and Control Sexual abuse Increased need for power and control Event planning Sexual fantasy Fantasy Build Up
  • Act Out Justify Pretend Normal
  • The Curse of Eve Genesis 3:13, 16 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” To the woman He said, “I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” This was not a command for submission to your husband. This was not a sonnet about how hunky our husbands will be and how much we will want them. This is a curse. No one wants to have someone ruling over them. It goes without saying that the pain of childbirth is nothing most people wish for themselves. So how is this desire for a husband a curse? Let’s look at other interpretations of this same scripture. The King James version says, “Unto the woman He said, ‘I will greatly multiply thy sorrow [pain] and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.’’’ The Holman Christian version says, “…Your desire will be for your husband, yet he will dominate you.” What this seems to imply is that being the sensitive creatures that we are, we are going to desire the affections of someone who will rule over us. What that person may rule over us is to not acknowledge our desire for them, to merely accept our adoration without returning it, to gratify their physical desire without gratifying ours, to keep our desire for them in check so that we learn to submit to them and not convince them beyond what they are told. How does this affect/relate to how you justify some of your deviant thoughts, feelings, or beliefs? Some people use the lack of affection from their husband as reason to flirt, look, connect to, or have an affair with another person. The female version of lusting does not always look like a physical relationship. It can be feeling the desire for a submissive, trusting connection with another. During turbulent times, it can seem hard to submit to an openly flawed husband. We desire to give our thoughts and decision making over to someone we can depend on. This is what makes the mental affair such a dangerous result of our desires. Since Eve was able to sway her man to eat of the tree he was specifically not supposed to eat of, God wanted to reduce the influential ability of women. Just as He confused the language of the people who tried to build a tower to heaven (Genesis 11), so He further confused the role of woman after she affected the will of her husband. She became even more in debt to man besides being honored as “bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh” Genesis 2:23. What do we do with having to be submissive to our and our husband’s desire?
  • Understanding the Roots of Desire Our desire for sexual gratification can feel like we need to be touched, held, or even worshipped at times in order to fill our mind with the notion that we are loved or worthy of love. If we have experienced an intense connection with another through a physical relationship it can be hard to duplicate that intensity merely with thoughts of high self- esteem. So often as singles we are told that we need to get our sense of self-worth solely from God. Desire can trick us into thinking that our self-worth comes from whether another person acknowledges that we are “worthy”, “pretty”, or good enough. Our desire to get this validation is part of what can be built up in our cycle. “Better what the eyes see than wandering desire. This too is futile and a pursuit of the wind.” Ecclesiastes 6:9 Desire is tricky. When we read in Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see,” the opposite of faith can be desire. Desire is what we hope for because of what we do not see. Desire is the object that our heart tells us will make up for something that is missing. If we desire food, it is because our stomach tells us that we are missing something that will make us feel full. Faith is looking at the possibility of filling that void and making ourselves full. Desire would be filling ourselves without discretion (like that whole bag of chips and dip) in order to most quickly obtain the feeling of full, even if full does not mean eating or results in a stomach ache later. Self Actualization or Maslow’s Hierarchy of Self-Esteem Spirituality Needs Love and acceptance Basic Needs Protection & Safety Isaiah 65:1-2 “I revealed myself to those who did not ask for Me; I was found by those who did not seek Me. To a nation that did not call on My name, I said, ‘Here am I, here am I.’ All day long I have held out my hands to an obstinate people, who walk in ways not good, pursuing their own imaginations…” Our imaginations can tell desire some pretty crazy ways to get fulfilled and meet an unseen need. Desire can grow into sin and we can be dragged away by our own evil desires (see Genesis 6:5-6 and James 1:14-15). The desire comes from what we have already imagined about ourselves or our circumstances. When looking at your cycle, try to notice what underlying emotions began to feed your desire. Desire can grow from envy or looking at what others have or do that we don’t. Proverbs 24:1-2 illustrates this: “Do not envy wicked men, do not desire their company; for their hearts plot violence, and their lips talk about making trouble.” Sometimes our imaginations can come
  • up with some pretty harmful plots. Some women who envy the relationship of others in the church try to come up with ways to either sabotage that relationship, or find ways to spend time with that person’s husband. This desire to have an ideal relationship, when turned into a sinful desire, makes the family not just an example or beacon of hope to look up to, but makes the family the object of the desire. This is what envy can turn a desire into. Drama and anger fuel a lot of justifications to desire sexual outlets. Proverbs 22:24-25 says, “Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn his ways and get yourself ensnared.” Sometimes we feel trapped in a relationship with someone who is easily angered and we find ourselves struggling with anger because of being around this person. This may make us search for “love” in wrong ways. Psalm 4:4 “In your anger do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent.” Be careful that anger at a current situation does not turn that intense emotion into another emotion. If we feel something is missing, it can turn into a singular focus. Proverbs 12:12 “The wicked desire what evil men have, but the root of the righteous produces fruit.” When we fear that we are missing out on something it eats away enough to cause a bitter root. That bitter root grows into sin (Ephesians 4:31). Sometimes we arm ourselves with something that ends up fueling our desire instead of towards God. It’s like when money burns a hole in our pocket. Proverbs 17:16 “Why does a fool have money in his hand with no intention of buying wisdom?” Fool is a tern that refers to a morally deficient person. What is the currency that we invest in other things besides what matters? It can range from our clothes, our look, our favorite activities, our time, to how we present ourselves spiritually. Often in the name of bringing someone close to God we end up purchasing a relationship rather than a new brother. If we look closer, we may realize that we truly weren’t intending to bring in a new convert, but a person to date that can be called a Christian. These are just a few of the things that can fuel desire. They are mostly strong emotions. Once felt, our mind can translate a perceived negative strong emotion into something more positive. This doesn’t fix the root problem and is how we can be in denial about our motives, our struggle, or our intent to get our desires met.
  • Effects of Sexual Intimacy Malachi 2:15 “Has not the Lord made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one: Because He was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth.” The primary reason God made marriage was so that we would be fruitful and multiply and to produce godly offspring in the process. Jesus reiterates this in Matthew 19:4-6 “Haven’t you read…that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female’, and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God had joined together, let man not separate.” This is what makes marriage a special thing that should be honored by all. But pursuing sexual intimacy in an inappropriate way does damage to us in many ways. Song of Solomon 2:7; 3:5; and 8:4 all say to “not arouse or awaken love until it so desires”. Too often we force love to awaken because of our thoughts, feelings, or beliefs that tell us we are lonely and therefore inadequate. This is why understanding this is part of exiting a cycle leading to impurity. There are some negative examples of sexual intimacy. Do not be like Gomer who “For their mother is promiscuous; she conceived them and acted shamefully. For she thought: I will go after my lovers, the men who gave me my food and water, my wool and flax, my oil and drink. Therefore, this is what I will do: I will block her way with thorns; I will enclose her with a wall, so that she cannot find her paths. She will pursue her lovers but not catch them; she will seek them but not find them. Then she will think: I will go back to my former husband, for then it was better for me than now. She does not recognize that it is I who gave her the grain, the new wine, and the oil. I lavished silver and gold on her, which they used for baal. Therefore, I will take back My grain in its time [what you worked for] and My new wine in its season; I will take away My wool and linen, which were to cover her nakedness. Now I will expose her shame in the sight of her lovers, and no one will rescue her from My hands.” Hosea 2:5-10 When we pursue our desires and show ourselves faithless towards God, it brings out His jealousy. Eventually, the rush of passion ends and we end up the slave to another master we don’t want to follow. That master could be the lust itself, the passion we desire, or the relationship after the passion has faded. II Samuel 13 tells the story of Tamar who was vehemently loved and pursued by Amnon. After the tension and frustration was acted upon, he turned and hated her even more than he loved her. This is a common result of getting caught up in the hunt rather than in discovering who the person is that you desire. Intimacy is about being known by somebody and experiencing them in close proximity. We know that God desires an intimate relationship with us as we know Him and He knows us (Psalm 67, John 17:25-26, I Corinthians 8:3, Isaiah 54:5-6, Hosea 2:16, II Corinthians 6:18) This is where we gain confidence in what occurs after death as we make ourselves known to God by our good deeds and faithful service. In this same way we desire to build intimacy with one another by having confidence that they know us and we are known by them. Look at Song of
  • Solomon 7:10 “I belong to my lover, and his desire is for me.” (See also 2:16 and 6:3) How great it is to boldly proclaim that sense of loyalty and belonging to another who sees you and desires you. This is what our intimacy is meant to produce, a sense of pride in the one we know and who knows us. Too often we only resort to the “biblical knowing” of sexual relating as the King James Version describes how Adam and Eve and other couples made love. The verb intimate means to make known and state or imply. We work at being able to trust and make known our best characteristics to others so they respond favorably. We feel even closer to those that we can entrust our weaker areas and fears to as they make known that it doesn’t affect their feelings towards us. According to Dr. Marilyn Sorensen in her book Breaking the Chain of Low Self-Esteem there are five levels of communication that we can engage in as we start with liking ourselves, learning how to communicate on these various levels, and then allowing others into our life on an intimate level. They are the surface level, the factual level, the thinking level, the feeling level, and the intimacy level. The Surfacy Level of communication is where we convey general and observable information to someone without revealing much about ourselves. Talk about the weather, the latest news or sports team, and clichés fall under this category. These are usually reserved for strangers and acquaintances, but it may be the level of communication we resort to in our relationship as we fear becoming vulnerable with them. [eg. Yes these guys are twin brothers.] The Factual Level of communication (level II) is where we share facts about situations and happenings that can be pretty indisputable and therefore not allow an opportunity for vulnerability. [eg. The twins start high school this year.] The Thinking Level of communication (level III) is where we introduce some vulnerability as we introduce our opinion, ideas, and perceptions about the world. This is more personal because there is opportunity for your ideas to be opposed or debated. Sometimes as we attempt to avoid conflict or starting the same fight that we have been having for years with our spouse we can begin to withdraw our hearts by communicating at level I or II so that we don’t get the predicted results of prior level III conversations. [eg. I think the twins are going to do well in high school] The Feeling Level of communication (level IV) is when we reveal who we really are and how we really feel about ourselves or topics that are close to us. This is the first level where intimacy is developed. This is especially hard for those who are used to people-pleasing, or being the peacemaker and therefore limiting their scope of conversation. What we do in this level of communication is allow our core self to be “viewed” by the listener. It is not so much about a topic, than it is a way to reveal who you are as a person. This requires that both people be willing to accept and respect the vulnerability offered. This cannot be done in a one-sided manner. [eg. I have prayed for the twins so much because I don’t want their high school experience to be like mine. I left feeling so insecure and…]
  • The Intimacy Level of communication (level V) is sharing our deepest feelings, fears, embarrassments, concerns, weaknesses, etc. There is no fear of reprisal and we feel fully accepted by the other person. We can be positive without seeming like we are boasting, show our weaknesses without judgment, we can speak about what’s on our mind without affecting their acceptance. Past abuse of any type may make it difficult to even comprehend the value in trying to maintain this level of communication. [eg. I had hoped to be able to avoid this stage of the twins’ lives somehow so that I don’t feel like I am reliving my pain all over again. Thanks for not thinking I am a bad person for saying this.] Take the time to learn how to communicate at each level before attempting this on someone you want to build intimacy with. Often when we desire to change, we may just jump in with a new idea and the other person will not be able to reciprocate in the way that we hope because they are not aware of your intentions nor had to time to examine themselves. This is why sometimes they may reject the changes you make because you appear to be all over the place when presenting yourself in a new way. Upgrading your level of communication means starting with recognizing and increasing how you love and talk to yourself. Then practicing ways to increase your level of communication in how you present a feeling, fear, or idea. Then turning to the person you want to be intimate with, practicing how to listen and talk to each other at each level. A discipling partner is a good practice for developing open intimacy with. Questions: Where do you find yourself on a scale of 1 being closed off to 5 being too vulnerable with your feelings and fears with the following people: Yourself _______________ God ________________ Kids _____________ Spouse _______________ Discipler _____________ Family ___________ Friends _______________ CoWorkers ___________ Choose three scenarios that you would like to convey on a more intimate level and like the examples above, state the same thing at each level of communication. Scenario 1 Surfacy Factual Thinking Feeling Intimate Scenario 2 Surfacy
  • Factual Thinking Feeling Intimate Scenario 3 Surfacy Factual Thinking Feeling Intimate
  • Building Healthy Intimacy Why is it important to become one in order to build intimacy? Intimacy is important to building a relationship. We can connect in multiple ways to other people. Enmeshed Distant Surfacy Intimately These don’t always imply a negative thing, but if the relationship that is being built is meant to be a romantic relationship then anything other than intimacy can become tricky. The enmeshed relationship is where all interaction and communication is overlapping from each other. Nothing is done without the other person being involved, being the reason for the action, or without the approval of the other person to the point where there is a loss of one of the people in the relationship. The distant relationship is where one person does not take in nor give back in the relationship and conversation. Surface conversation is where the back and forth of the conversation is not a connection but falls short of building a connection. Intimate conversations is where there is some connection and overlap, but not so much that there is loss of one or the other in the relationship. Each person in a healthy conversation needs to feel actively listened to and that they are able to offer something back to the person they are engaging in conversation with. Active listening requires five main things: 1. A smile that is appropriate for the conversation. It’s not enough to just smile, but to show on your face that you are approachable, willing, and engaged in the conversation. 2. Leaning forward shows the same thing in our body posture. It says that we are focused on that particular conversation and are physically blocking out any potential for outside interruptions. 3. Non-verbal or mono-verbal cues that reflect interest, understanding, and empathy without interrupting the flow of the conversation. 4. Mirroring is a way of reflecting what the person said without adding advice, bias, or specific feedback. It is not being a parrot, but showing that you understand what the other said and the personal meaning they take from what they convey. 5. Eye contact is one more way we take or receive feedback during conversation. These all reflect a conversation that is not selfish, but is concerned with the input from another person and the feedback that we can give back to them.
  • A relationship requires the same thing. We need to show ourselves friendly whenever possible. If we are to build healthy intimacy we need to be able to show ourselves friendly without crossing the line to flirtatious. Being approachable means that we display confidence, smile, make eye contact, and have open posture to convey that we are available to talk to. Notice that touch is not necessarily a part of active communication. Touch is meant for communication with someone in a deeper level of intimacy. Acquaintances Friends Best Friends Spouse/Family Self See, who we are as a person is something that no one will ever completely know—including us. Our inner thoughts, feelings, fears, desires, inadequacies, beliefs, behaviors are continually revealed to us. The next closest people to us are those that are around us nearly continually. This would be our spouse and family members. As we choose to become closer to others, we can reveal information to those we so choose, thus making them best friends. There are others we may reveal information about us to, but not as extensively as we do to our spouse and best friends. The minimal level of intimacy is that which is revealed to acquaintances. We do give away information about ourselves that anyone watching can pick up on. If someone desires to get within the inner circle of our life, they may use our exposed vulnerability to try and develop common interests and awareness, or intimacy. The next step in developing healthy intimacy after trying to determine what style of communication to use is to decide how long you want that person to remain within which level of intimacy. It is important to decide before too long whether you want to be friends or in a relationship. If there is attraction, a person may feel much further in the ring of intimacy than they belong. This is where setting time limits and specific boundaries of what level a person belongs comes to play. Boundaries are meant to include certain areas of our inner self that we are comfortable with sharing. For example, the difference between boundaries for a friend and a best friend may include not revealing the feelings and judgments of ourselves that we held after a personal trauma to a friend, and only talking from a factual base of the same trauma. How much we reveal is up to us, but we may reveal too much to try to create a more intimate bond quickly, rather than think through whether this person needs to know all that. The last thing needed in order to build healthy intimacy is clear awareness of the person in the center of the intimacy circle—you. Understanding the depth of your emotional loneliness will allow you to better recognize when you are letting someone in too quickly, and to recognize
  • when your communication style is enmeshed or too distant. It will be difficult to understand how to share with others, if you aren’t aware of what makes you you. Homework: Name five character traits that you have that describe you (nothing to do with what you do, but who you are): How long did it take for you and a best friend to officially become best friends? Which style of communication do you find yourself engaging in the most when developing newer relationships; enmeshed, distant, surfacy, or intimate? List a specific boundary you have for each type of relationship: Acquaintance Friend Best Friend Spouse/Family
  • Understanding Our Very Great Reward Ecclesiastes 2:10 “All that my eyes desired, I did not deny them. I did not refuse myself any pleasure, for I took pleasure in all my struggles. This was my reward for all my struggles.” Have you ever thought this way? Made a decision to get yours because you felt justified after having a hard day, week, or life? This is what it means when the bible says we are living for our pleasures (Philippians 2:4 and James 4:3). We decide that the reward for being good is something good for us. The Bible is very clear about what our reward is. Genesis 15:1 “…the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield [sovereign], your very great reward [your reward will be very great].” (Parentheses are most literal translation) God set Himself up to be our very great reward! He is the highest attainment and authority there is. Sovereign is a noun that means supreme ruler, the paramount, highest, principal, foremost and dominant one. God states this as a non-argumentative fact. Yet He desires to reward us. At times He meets our needs for security as He does with Abram here, but the truly great reward is Him Himself. His presence is the goal of our existence, not just the reason. In our search for love there can be no greater attainment of love than God. “And we have come to know and believe the love God has for us. God is love, and the one remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him.” I John 4:16. It’s more than just being able to say that we are pure. Virtuousness is how we live and remain in love—through obedience of the scriptures. Our search for love truly begins and ends with God. He is not just an example of love, or a loving being, but He is the essence and fulfillment of love. What does that look like? Well, I Corinthians 13 goes over what that looks like. Ecclesiastes 5:20 “for [man] does not consider the days of his life because God keeps him occupied with the joy of his heart.” Love distracts us from the pain and treachery that this world can only offer us. God chooses to give us little joys so that we don’t despair our very existence here on earth away from Him. We weren’t meant to live like that, hence the curse God laid on us in Genesis 3. We were meant for a simple life, but we complicate it. God roamed with man and we lived simply. Yet even though that was our fault, He did not leave us completely. He provides for our needs at the perfect time. All the acts that result from Him being love incarnate make this life bearable. This is what grace is meant to feel like. God has commandments, the place we live in has laws, and our parents laid down rules to help us get in the way we need to go. It can feel impossible to live up to all these standards, and it’s supposed to. We aren’t supposed to live well so that we can pat ourselves on the back and chant “what a good girl am I”. We don’t deserve the reward of our God no matter how good we act. Cloud and Townsend call grace “unmerited favor” in their book How People Grow when describing how God’s grace should be perceived. This group is an overwhelming surge of scripture and information to remind us of two things— we can’t do it alone and it truly takes the grace of God to remain in His favor. We can’t try hard enough to make it. He knows and gives it freely. (II Corinthians 5:18-19, Hebrews
  • 10:12-18, Romans 3:22-26 for starters) So our very great reward is God Himself and life in Him and with Him. Homework In your own words, describe what grace is. Define it generally, state how it relates to God, and give an example of grace acting currently within your life (besides just saying that you are saved). When you think of heaven, what do you imagine as being your reward in heaven? How can you fall in love with God so that He is your “very great reward”, not what He has to give you?
  • Journaling Feelings One of the ways to look at how to prevent a cycle from completing itself is to journal the feelings that are building up. Journaling takes on many forms and so this is just a way of providing different ways to capture your emotions. Journaling is about freely allowing an emotion to run a course while its essence is captured in written form to be looked at more concretely when the “wave” of that emotion has subsided. Here are a few ways to allow that to happen. Alliteration- This journaling technique is to take a particular feeling and to let your mind come up with the first word that comes to mind beginning with the same letter or sound and to write it down. It is not supposed to form a sentence, or make sense, but get through what your subconscious is feeling. For example, calm cool cream cold crisp cucumber may allow you to conclude that you are as “cool as a cucumber” or that calm reminds you of cucumbers and eye treatments and a day at the spa. This can also be done phonetically by taking the sound you feel compelled to make and listing the first words that come to mind. This is helpful when you can’t name the feeling you are struggling with. Also you can use colors For example; aaarrrrrrrrrggggghh angry aggrevated ankle abused Alphabet Structure- This journaling technique is to take a feeling that you know is building up and try to expand upon it. You choose one word or phrase and write it vertically down the page. Then you take the first letter and write out a paragraph incorporating those letters from your chosen word to delve into the idea. For example, let’s say you are feeling lonely. So take the word “lonely” and write it vertically down the page. Then starting, with the L start writing a paragraph about what really is the struggle with feeling lonely, using the letters from lonely as needed either with single words or as part of another word. ust is not usually a struggle for me until I feel not just lonely, but verwhelmed with eediness. I hate being so weak, but sometimes it seems that veryone has someone to love them … (et cetera) Tell the Story-
  • Sometimes the best way to get through a feeling is to tell the whole story of how it came to be. Telling it in a story style is helpful to some in order to keep it separated from reality long enough to get it out. That can be starting with “Once upon a time, there was a …” or labeling the turning points or dramatic moments with a chapter title (like in the movie Pursuit of Happyness). Your story does not have to be exciting or enhanced to be interesting or to be relatable to others. It is just naming and putting in ink what brings you down a particular emotional road. Report the news- This style of journaling is like tell the story, but it also involves some acting. It is helpful to do this one to get yourself out of the blues especially. What you do is write down the events of your situation that is getting you down. Then you rewrite it to read like the 5 o’clock news. You sit in front of a mirror and give the news of your life in various levels of professional news anchor style. It may take several “takes” to get it right. You can even put on a blazer and hairspray your hair into a helmet before doing the “news” to get into the moment. You may choose to report your life in a weather forecast, a leading story, breaking news, or a lost sports game. Either way, doing it in a mirror may at least help you smile about it and put it in perspective. Other ways of journaling a feeling is to write poetry, draw your feelings, create a cookbook of what recipes are most craved with what emotions, or to just put pen to paper and write until you can’t anymore. Either way, leave some room to write what helped you get over those feelings so that when you do find yourself back in a similar emotional state you can relate to how overwhelmed you got and yet see that you did overcome them at one point.
  • The Spirit is willing, but the body is weak—Exit strategies The second most important thing about understanding your cycle of emotions is to know how to exit that cycle. Let’s take a look again at the basic cycle. Build up: Pretend Thoughts, Normal life beliefs, feelings Justify actions Act out At each of the four stages there is opportunity to exit. II Peter 2: 4-10 shows that God is willing to provide an exit no matter how drastic in order to save the righteous. Although God has the power to keep us from even entering a destructive cycle, He doesn’t always (II Corinthians 1: 8-11). So the first exit strategy is prayer. Romans 15: 30-32 Colossians 4:12 II Thessalonians 3: 2-5 II Timothy 3:11-17 Not only prayer by yourself, but going and pleading with others to pray for you. I Samuel 12:23 says “Far be it from me to sin against the Lord by failing to pray for you”. James 5: 16 “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” This can be done at any stage and should be at all stages. Sometimes we can have a hard time doing what we need so that we can pray properly (I Peter 1:13-16; 4:7). We need tools to bring us to the point of choosing self-control. This is what these are for. Stop and Switch- This is a tool where you find yourself about to act on a plan to either flirt, dress provocatively, kiss someone, masturbate, rewind a sex scene, or etc. You tell yourself “STOP!” really loud and switch your thoughts to the guilt and feelings you will have after you have gone too far. Meditate on the consequences of this decision. Then you tell yourself “stop” again in a gentle whisper. This is to remind yourself to foil your own plan and to stop you from sitting in your own guilt. Switch to a positive consequence for doing what’s right. For example: You are about to wear a business skirt to work that you know is flattering, but you want to wear a thong and know that it will be obvious you are wearing one. You have a fantasy of a coworker commenting and playing the “I wish I wasn’t
  • married” game with his flattery. You yell “STOP” and switch to an image of him acting upon his lust and the guilt of knowing you are having an affair. Think about having his wife walk in, and she is someone you studied with before and now you know you’ve ruined her chances of coming to God because of your actions. Now say “stop” and switch to a fantasy of seeing him complimenting you on your look, and knowing that there is nothing sexual about it. He trusts you with personal things and big business deals because he respects you and raves about you to his wife that is studying the bible. Playing out a simple decision will help you not jump forward in the build up of a lustful struggle. Avoid and Escape-The best way to get out of a tempting situation is to try to avoid it altogether. If you find yourself deeper in temptation than you expected, then sometimes it takes drastic measures to escape. Reframing-Change your thought to something more healthy and positive as necessary. Arousal conditioning-Use something to snap you back to reality when you see yourself fantasizing or drifting into a sinful situation. Some wear a rubber band on their wrist and snap it when they find themselves flirting with a coworker. Exits Build up: Pretend Thoughts, Normal life beliefs, feelings Justify actions Act out 3 second rule-Stop yourself from giving into acting out on your feelings and take 3 seconds to turn away, distract, affirm yourself and share it later. Some people take 3 seconds to name their favorite stores, speak a random sentence in another language, or list the ingredients of a favorite recipe. Use your support-Take the time to call someone, anyone, and talk about what you are tempted to do. Describe in detail where in the cycle; are you planning, fantasizing, needing to regain power or control, avoiding something? Talk to someone and allow them to help reassure you of your insecurities and remind you that it’s not personal.
  • The Love Bank This is about the deposits, withdrawals, and savings in an account that we have emotionally with each other. Deposits are the things we do in order to encourage, edify, and build up one another. We can deposit according to Gary Chapman’s Five Love Languages as they relate to the person that is receiving it. We may feel most encouraged in five different ways: Acts of Service-when a person feels personally served by a kind act. Touch-when a person feels noticed and appreciated by the touch of a trusted friend. Quality time-feeling and knowing that a person desires to spend time with the other. Words of affirmation-when positive words are encouraging to the soul. Gifts-when a thoughtful gift means encouragement and love. Withdrawals are the things that take some of the energy out of our loving relationships. They can range from unloving acts, having to meet their needs during an extended time period, or not feeling that another is not meeting your desired love language. When someone tries to request trust, love, or our time or touch from another without first making a deposit, it tends to feel like a withdrawal from our lives. In fact, this is why sometimes we feel used by others when they make multiple requests or inconvenient requests. If the other person has made some “deposits”, then a favor won’t seem intrusive or unloving. What would you consider to be your top love language? How could you request someone you are struggling with to make a deposit in your account? What can you do to edify the other who makes deposits, but not according to your love language?
  • How to be vulnerable without giving too much away How do you know when you are crossing boundaries or awakening love before its time? First, let’s look at what vulnerability is about. Vulnerable is defined as either being easily wounded or harmed or exposed to damage by a weapon, criticism, etc. This means in one word that you are susceptible to another. This should be a choice that you make when you decide what level of intimacy a person is going to be part of. There are those that are vulnerable according to the first definition of being easily wounded or harmed. This person may have a difficult time with being by themselves or knowing themselves. When looking at your cycle, the stage where events get taken personally are events where your vulnerability was challenged. The trigger will be set by either the event, or the person involved in the triggering event. For example, a friend may call and say that they will not be able to attend your graduation ceremony and though you get sad, you can take it in stride. If your family says that they will not attend your graduation then it will have a more significant impact. The expectations of family to show their support wounds us deeper than a friend because it says something about us if we aren’t a priority for our own family. The other definition of being exposed relates to this, but also to having to handle actual harm and malice from another. This type of vulnerability relates to our ability to process, internalize, but not personalize a perceived criticism or insult. It is often seen in conversations during the process of giving and taking in verbal and non-verbal feedback. There are some people that we can’t take criticism from because the rejection or change of approval we’d get from them is perceived as worse than not having a genuine conversation or relationship. So the two important things to know is what we’re afraid the people we struggle with being vulnerable with will do with the information we share, and what we hope that entrusting our vulnerability to another will create as a response. In other words, we are weighing the pros and cons of allowing another into our circle of intimacy. The following is a decision matrix that will allow you to weigh and consider both types of vulnerability and how it plays out. Create one for a person that is in each layer of your intimacy circle from the “Building Healthy Intimacy” chapter. Make copies of the matrix as needed.
  • What would happen to you What would happen to your What can you do together to address personally if you were hurt by relationship if let this person in? the hurt that you felt or heard in the letting this person in? latest conversation or criticism? Pros Cons
  • Scriptures to Persevere By Proverbs 6:12-15 A naughty person, a wicked man, walketh with a froward mouth. He winketh with his eyes, he speaketh with his feet, he teacheth with his fingers; Frowardness is in his heart, he deviseth mischief continually; he soweth discord. Therefore shall his calamity come suddenly; suddenly shall he be broken without remedy. (KJV) Proverbs 31: 10, 30 Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies…Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised. (KJV) Hosea 14:9 Let whoever is wise understand these things, and whoever is insightful recognize them. For the ways of the LORD are right, and the righteous walk in them, but the rebellious stumble in them. Song of Solomon 8:6-7 Set me as a seal on your heart, as a seal on your arm. For love is as strong as death; ardent love is as unrelenting as Sheol. Love’s flames are fiery flames— the fiercest of all. Mighty waters cannot extinguish love; rivers cannot sweep it away. If a man were to give all his wealth for love, it would be utterly scorned. Proverbs 1:10 My son, if sinners entice you, don’t be persuaded. James 4:8 Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, sinners, and purify your hearts, double-minded people ! Psalm 116:5-8 The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is compassionate. The LORD guards the inexperienced; I was helpless, and He saved me. Return to your rest, my soul, for the LORD has been good to you. For you LORD rescued me from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling. Philippians 2:14-16 Do everything without grumbling and arguing, so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God who are faultless in a crooked and perverted generation, among whom you shine like stars in the world. Hold firmly the message of life. Then I can boast in the day of Christ that I didn’t run in vain or labor for nothing.
  • Scriptures to be Encouraged by Now is the time to share what scriptures have helped you while in the battle. What allowed you to gain the strength to take God’s stance on purity when you were pulled in multiple directions from others. For example, there were a few scriptures that allowed me to continue on after I lost the battle of purity. Hebrews 10:26-31, 1 Corinthians 8:1 and a few others. They do not talk about purity specifically, but it does remind me of the heart I am to have towards God. create more copies if needed.
  • Getting more specific with your Confession One of the things that may happen with continued openness is that we lose the impact of the confession. We began to report sin as if we are reading the news from a teleprompter. We stop seeing the severity and stop feeling cut from what we confess. If we are going to have godly sorrow about our sins, then we need to continue to allow ourselves to dig into the sin and expose it for what it is—something that separates us from God. Ezekiel 22:29-30 “The people of the land have used oppression, and exercised robbery, and have vexed the poor and needy: yea, they have oppressed the stranger wrongfully. And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none”. Ezekiel 23:18-19 “So she discovered her whoredoms, and discovered her nakedness: then My mind was alienated from her, like as My mind was alienated from her sister. Yet she multiplied her whoredoms, in calling to remembrance the days of her youth, wherein she had played the harlot in the land of Egypt.” Exodus 34:14 For thou shalt worship no other god: for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God. It is important to look at how the decisions we make reflect on us and how we feel about ourselves. Our thoughts and feelings about an event make an impact on us about our belief about ourselves. Either it says something good or negative about us. Exploring that judgment allows us to decide whether a decision was healthy or unhealthy. What we need to confess is not just the thought or the feeling, but the belief we are acting from. Let’s explore. Thought- These are just the facts as we see them. Merely confessing just the facts is what can make confession sound like you are reading the news. Facts have no emotion tied to them, they just separate us from the situation as an outside observer. Feelings-These include our opinion of the event itself and how the event affects our emotions. We can take steps to dig into our feelings by going beyond happy, sad, mad, and fear. We will talk about diving into deeper feelings in a later chapter. Belief-What we feel about us as a person as a result of the event and how we played out our role in that event. These are usually one word answers that tell us whether we are good or bad. The root of our being and emotions are that black and white, so in order
  • to fight the emotion and not the justifications for our emotions, we need to explore this belief. negative event or negative feedback Sometimes a negative event or receiving negative feedback from others can alter or override the conclusion about our self that we come to. This is how others can sway us from making one decision to going in another direction. For example: Choice you may act upon may include: Belief- Therefore I am unlovable or ugly  Cry =  Make yourself feel pretty Feeling-I am embarrassed, lonely, rejected, again sad, disappointed,  Remind yourself you are + loved Thought-God says to remain pure until after  Seek friendship marriage.  Resent God’s standard I am still single. Belief- Therefore I am unlovable to God but Choices you may act upon: sexy to this man.  You date this man =  Dress and act to get more Event-A cute man says he’d date you compliments like this. Feeling-I am embarrassed, lonely, rejected,  Reject God’s standard sad, disappointed,  Find ways to feel loved +  Remind yourself that God Thought-God says to remain pure until after loves you marriage.  Store this compliment to I am still single. remind you that you aren’t rejected We can make poor or wise decisions if we consider all three aspects of our thoughts. Including how we perceive our self will make our confession more meaningful. Using the examples above, if we merely state that someone asked us out and we liked it, then it merely stays on a factual level. All the scripture in the world won’t dissuade us because avoiding this man or turning down the invitation is not the problem. Expressing how unappreciated we feel about
  • being a virtuous woman, on the other hand, will allow us to get scriptures and help about our feelings and the belief we have about our self so that we can reach the following: Choices we may act upon:  Discover our purpose Belief- Therefore I am special or unique .  Focus on God’s will =  Cry Feeling-I am ok, a special project of  I Corinthians 7:34 God’s, encouraged, loved, sad  Encourage others +  I Peter 2:11 Thought-God says to remain pure until  Proverbs 31:10 after marriage.  Romans 12:9-13 I am still single.  Hebrews 11:13-16 Homework: Come up with how you entered into a struggle of lust using the thoughts, feelings, and beliefs. If there was an event that tipped the scale to making a poor or wise decision, include that. Belief- Therefore I am ______________________ Choices you made: = Event or Feedback ___________________________  ___________________ Feelings- __________________________________ ___________________ ___________________ + __________________________________ ___________________ ___________________ Thought- __________________________________ ___________________ ___________________ __________________________________ ___________________ ___________________
  • When Depression and Loneliness Settle in We have looked at how our beliefs trigger a response to a situation that may be adverse to what we intended to do. As important as it is to confess the roots of our mind, it is also important to address our feelings. Feelings are not based on logic, therefore, they can be very unpredictable when they occur. Feelings are symptoms from our mind or body to tell us that it needs something looked at. Like the check engine light in your car. It can go on and be undiagnosable, or it can tell you that something is running low or needs to be changed. Our limbic system is the most primitive part of our brain. It is where the flight, fight, fright/freeze responses come from. It responds according to the most basic need as discussed in week 7—protection. If we perceive a threat to our being or existence we either will fight it, run from it, or freeze if it seems to be impending doom. The most basic emotions that function in that time is happiness, sadness, anger, and fear. Happiness is our baseline emotion. God created us to be happy (I Thessalonians 5:16, Philippians 4:4). The other three are meant to motivate us into action to protect and preserve our life. Fear and sadness usually tell the limbic system to freeze and lose feeling in case an attack is imminent so that injury can be minimized. Fear may also promote a flight response so that you can leave a dangerous situation, even if the fear is only perceived. Anger is the emotion that motivates movement to fight. In fact, the body tenses up so that the energy needed to fight explodes out of you and you are ready to receive pain. Unfortunately, we are more than just reptilian responses to outside stimulus. We have feelings that allow us to love, become jealous, plan ahead, worship, show compassion, change ourselves, and more. These are qualities that make us in the image of God and a little more than an animal. If we only think we are happy-sad-mad-fearful, then we don’t see the feelings that make us like our Creator. It’s like a banana. Although there is the edible part, the peel is the protective factor that allowed that part to grow. With our feelings, we have to peel the banana as well. At Anger Un- loss Happy Mad Sad Fear Secure Peace Fear motivated Inadequate Confident lonely Powerless Frustrated depressed Loved Embarrassed discouraged insecure There are always more to our basic emotions than the part we “eat”. Examining the “peel” allows us to know what to focus on to allow for growth into our full potential. Foe example, not just feeling mad and trying to calm down, but realizing that the anger is a result of being jealous allows us to address the real issue and alter the feeling that makes us believe negatively about our self. So it is with depression and loneliness. They both can appear as the similar basic emotion of sadness. We don’t feel motivated, lose interest in activities, feel like hiding, may desire to
  • sleep more, feel like crying, go numb, or just feel sluggish. If we just focus on feeling sad, then we spend time trying to cheer our self up rather than to explore what the symptoms are trying to tell us. Being alone may feel like the proof that tells us that we are undesirable, but if you look at how you feel you may discover that you are alone because you isolated yourself. As you felt low, you may have lost interest in going out, taking care of yourself, avoided hanging out with others, and have a flatter affect that makes you appear unapproachable. Your feelings communicated something other than what you intended. When others responded to your distance with their distance, then it feeds into a self-fulfilling prophecy that you deserve to be alone. Take some time to peel your own banana. Think of some emotions that seems to stay with you and feed into a negative belief you have about yourself. List the most easily identifiable emotion on the banana and then figure out what feelings make up the peels of that emotion.
  • Getting out of a worldly relationship that you find yourself in It is difficult when we get ourselves into a romantic relationship with others outside of the Christian faith or our marriage. There are stereotypically distinct differences between a sexual fantasy that a male has and one that a female has. A male will envision the actual sexual intercourse in its entirety, and in great detail. A female will have flashes of moments, feelings of warmth or strength, and a sense of complete connection to an often faceless fantasy male. The prejudice that having a not-so-sexual fantasy often leads to the arrogance of believing that we aren’t struggling with a sexual temptation, and when acted upon that we have not entered a sexual relationship. We delude ourselves until we end up crossing that line we promised we never would cross. It often comes as a surprise as we got so emotionally caught up in the quick waves that carried us into a private place to engage a relationship or an affair. Once we realize that we are engaged in an unhealthy relationship, it becomes difficult to disengage. We may fear what that other person will think of us and how our reputation may become tarnished. We believe that they will think we are a “tease” and two-faced. Sometimes we fear how public the relationship may become after breaking off the relationship. Other times we fear hurting the feelings of the other person as they entrusted us enough to build the relationship and then we fear we are turning to hurt their feelings. To this I say Psalm 56: 3-4 “When I am afraid, I will trust in You. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?” Psalm 27:1 “The LORD is my light and my salvation-whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life-of whom shall I be afraid?” Isaiah 51:7 “Hear me, you who know what is right, you people who have my law in your hearts: Do not fear the reproach of men or be terrified by their insults.” It is important to demonstrate your faith in God by being obedient and putting him first. Understand that any attempts to continue an unequally yoked relationship is from satan and will entice you further from God (James 1:14-15). Matthew 16:23 Jesus says, “Get behind me Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” If Jesus can be tripped up by somebody with a non-godly mindset, how much more so can we? Here are some ways that you may be enticed to remain in an unhealthy union. “You are the only one who can help me.” This bit of flattery has kept more women from breaking off a relationship because it appeals to our sense of nurture and desire to be needed. Jude 16 “These men are grumblers and faultfinders; they follow their own evil desires; they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage.” In II Peter 2:18-22 it is said: “For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of sinful human nature, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity—for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him. If they have escaped the corruption of
  • the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning…Of them the proverbs are true: “A dog returns to its vomit,” and, “A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud.” Our strong natural desire to feel we can help someone more than anyone else can, and that our love can change a person is a lustful (passionate desire for) arrogant sinful belief in yourself above God. Women possess natural talents to nurture, build up, teach, train, and et cetera. But when acted on outside of a biblical perspective it becomes blaspheme (Jude 10 “These [wo]men speak abusively against whatever they do not understand; and what things they do understand by instinct, like unreasoning animals—these are the very things that destroy them.”) We can respond to this by returning to and relying on the Spirit to guide us and to listen to the answer of the tested Spirit. Jude 19-23 “These are the men who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit. But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life. Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.” “I am the only one who truly sees you.” This is a statement of one who can see when someone is struggling with their self-image. They are usually great listeners and say the things that make sure they become the source of your encouragement rather than anyone else. These types of relationships often turn abusive as they groom you into a position where they have the power over your happiness. This should not be so. I Peter 2:13-14 “They will be paid back with harm for the harm they have done. Their idea of pleasure is to carouse in broad daylight. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their pleasures while they feast with you. With eyes full of adultery, they never stop sinning; they seduce the unstable; they are experts in greed- an accursed brood!” Too often the harm that is done is psychological twisting of your healthy self-image and self-esteem. “You inspire and motivate me to get up every day.” It feels so encouraging, but beware! This is a person who relies on you to make them happy and to work hard. This is a trap that again appeals to our desire to be someone’s muse. II Thessalonians 3:11-15 says: “We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are busybodies. Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the bread they eat. And as for you, brothers, never tire of doing what is right. If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of him. Do not associate with him, in order that he may feel ashamed. Yet do not regard him as an enemy but warn him as a brother.” Idleness is more than mere laziness. It is also defined as having no special basis or purpose. The person who says that they live for no one else but you is not a healthy person. It seems romantic initially, but it is idolatry. There should be no other gods (or goddesses) above God. “If you leave me I will kill myself.” This is a very difficult one to walk away from, especially if an attempt has been made before. Know that the decision to commit suicide is that person’s
  • alone and their blood is not on your head. Three scriptures that may help you to not carry the burden of someone else’s decision are as follows. Romans 14:7-8 “For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So , whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.” Ezekiel 33:10-11 “Son of man, say to the house of Israel, ‘This is what you are saying: “Our offenses and sins weigh us down, and we are wasting away because of them. How then can we live?”’ Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, O house of Israel?” Matthew 10:28-29 “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father.” Like it explains in Ezekiel 3 and 33, we are watchmen sent with a duty to warn and if we do we are free of responsibility. Breaking off an unhealthy relationship is a type of warning. Be bold and courageous enough to explain why this affair, unequally yoked relationship, emotionally bonded friendship, or attraction is not a desire of the Lord your God. Remember that something that appears good or innocent enough may actually incur the wrath of God. (See I Chronicles 21 about David taking a census, Exodus 4:24-26 when Moses was getting ready to talk to Pharaoh and God was set to kill his uncircumcised self, and Genesis 4:3-16 where Cain offered a sacrifice to God but it was not favorably looked upon). Questions: How have you been ensnared to continue, pursue, or test out a worldly relationship? Did you accept an invitation to dinner, knowing that the inviter was interested in a relationship but you felt you could probably reach out to him instead? ___________________ Did you actually share your faith with them during that meal, or merely extend an invitation to church?_________________________ Do you tell more of your upset feelings and concerns to your friends, than those in your church, bible talk, family, or discipling partner? Do you accept gifts from a suitor even though you politely decline their invitations? Have you kept any of those gifts longer than fifteen minutes? Have you spent time with a coworker you have been attracted to outside of work hours, even if it is in a group setting (weasel date)? Have you been disappointed when they did not attend the company function?
  • These are possible indicators that your heart is closer to crossing a boundary than you may have anticipated. Please be open about any “yes” answers to the above questions.
  • Comparing Ourselves to the World One of the hardest temptations to giving into the feelings that start our cycle is to try and measure ourselves against others we see. A great description of this is found in Psalm 73. It says: “For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong. They are free from the burdens common to man; they are not plagued by human ills. Therefore pride is their necklace; they clothe themselves with violence. From their callous hearts comes iniquity; the evil conceits of their minds know no limits…This is what the wicked are like—always carefree, they increase in wealth. Surely in vain have I kept my heart pure; in vain have I washed my hands in innocence.” See also Job 21:7-15, Jeremiah 12:1-2, Psalm 37:7-17, Proverbs 23:17-24:6, Malachi 2:17 and 3:13-15. Comparisons make us not remember or take to heart the good that is already part of our lives, character, or memories. We do not see how God has provided and worked out something according to His plan. Instead we see what we are missing, what is different, what looks enticing. This is how we react to relationships as well. Often as singles we worry that if we don’t attract a person’s attention even if it never leads toward marriage, then we are not attractive, lovable, needed, valuable, worthy of trying, or that there are no good people left in the world. This actually does not leave after marriage, but rather changes. We feel that if we aren’t happy and passionately pursued as the most important needed person to our spouse, then we worry that we married the wrong person, did not meet their standard, are inadequate as a wife, not attractive, aging disgracefully, they are having an affair, we lost our value, we aren’t doing enough, we were too needy, we drive people away rather than attract. This happens with various life stages, children, divorce, and other changes. It is not the situation that determines our self-esteem (how we see our self) or our self-image (how we believe others see us), but rather our gratitude/attitude about our life as we interact with others. Genesis 2:8-9 demonstrates how God showed His love for the man He had formed by planting him in a garden where all kinds of trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food were. Psalm 50:2 and 48:2 God describes His dwelling places among us as the perfection and beauty of the world. Revelation 21 describes the beauty of the New Jerusalem when God is together with us in spirit. He intended us to see and fill our eyes with the richness of what He lovingly created for our enjoyment, but time and time again we take it too far and desire what we are “missing”. I John 2:16 says it best, “For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world.” Ecclesiastes 1:8-9 “All things are wearisome, more than one can say. The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill if hearing. What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.”
  • Proverbs 17:24 “A discerning man keeps wisdom in view, but a fool’s eyes wander to the ends of the earth.” James 4:1-3 What causes fights and quarrels among you? …You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want… You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” Romans 7:8 But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of covetous desire For apart from law, sin is dead. Proverbs 21:25 The sluggard’s craving will be the death of him, because his hands refuse to work. Truly, when we focus our eyes on Jesus we see that we cannot compare anything to Him. Isaiah 40:18 “To whom, then, will you compare God? What image will you compare Him to?” Yet in I Samuel 8 God explains that they compared their life to the nations around them and rejected God as king and asked for a visible king like everyone else had. With each person after that, the Israelites grew further and further from God until He allowed only a remnant to remain in Him.
  • Throwing Yourself a Pity Party the Right Way One of the downfalls of many Christian churches is that we can take parts of scriptures too literally and miss the message of the scripture in its entirety that admonishes a sinful or harmful reaction. We have emotions that are a response to unwanted feelings that allow us to “move away from” the unwanted reaction that are natural. Our natural response is not necessarily wrong, but it will be led by our nature (flesh). We are wired to survive and merely move away from unwanted stimuli. This is inherent in being a human as explained in Genesis 6:5 “The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.” Over time we can either train our response to serve our flesh or our Savior. Romans 7 and 8 describes that. Psalm 4:4 is a commonly used example of the distinction between an emotion and a sinful emotional response. The Walen and Roth model describes the process of responding to what is natural. Example on PowerPoint. Yet one of the things that prevents us from either having the proper response to a desire, or to give in to feelings of shame and guilt is our perception of doing “the right thing”. Galatians 6:9-10 encourages us to not become tired, impatient of, or deem tedious (the definition of weary) doing good because it will reap a harvest. II Corinthians 7:9-11 teaches us that a response is produced when we become sorrowful as God intended for us to. Recognizing that many of our good deeds were done with a selfish intent can cause us to feel guilty or see ourselves as unspiritual. This is one of the lies that satan uses to get us to doubt our worth in God’s eyes and feel sorry for ourselves. James 3:14-16 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.
  • We can begin to doubt whether we truly love God, whether we are truly a new creation, if we can ever change, and other falsehoods when we begin to look at and challenge our perceptions. We know the Bible is able to distinguish between our soul and spirit and judges the thoughts and attitudes of our hearts (Hebrews 4:12). But sometimes when using this tool, we end up cutting ourselves rather than the sin it was meant to attack. James tells us not to boast about it for we can end up being ensnared, mastered by, and hardened to the sin that we get tired of feeling sorry about (II Peter 2, Romans 1, Psalm 36:2). What makes this worse is that we often continue to accept the lies that we are told over and over, rather than take captive the thought, rebuke it, or destroy them (Matthew 15:16-20; II Corinthians 10:5; Proverbs 15:31; II Timothy 4:5). James also admonishes us to not deny what we tell ourselves. The truth is, we don’t always feel good with doing the right thing. We don’t want to deny ourself, we don’t want to surrender to the Spirit, we don’t want to give up something that we want, and we don’t want to not have others give back to us. It is important to recognize this. We are not able to work out our salvation if we don’t bring to light the sin that threatens to expose an unwanted character of our nature. We are selfish, ungodly, greedy, and the other traits listed in such passages as I Corinthians 13 (opposite) and II Timothy 3 at times. Do not deny it, but bring it to the light so that it can be healed. Here is one way. BALLOON EXERCISE Take a balloon, blow it up, and tie it off. Write out all the sorrows that you have towards yourself or how you perceive others see you all over the balloon. Do not worry about how strong or lightly you believe in those feelings, just list every negative thought you can. It’s ok if they overlap. Now toss the balloon to a partner or in the group. Read aloud one of the statements and bat the balloon away. Your partner will continue to give you the balloon back. Notice that sometimes you get “hit” with some statements, and other times they slowly settle back into your lap. If you repeat a statement, think of specific examples and say those out loud along with the negative self-talk. Another variation of this is to buy a package of balloons and right the statements on separate balloons. Walk around the room and kick up the balloons. As they lift off the floor catch them and read the statement aloud, along with examples that you believe make it true. When you have done this for at least fifteen minutes, pause for a moment and now visualize yourself as the life of the party, not the one bringing down the party with negative statements. Be sure to think of how you personally already have the way to be the life of the party. Do not use general platitudes (like I am a sister in Christ), rather listen to the compliments that you have been given before (I am encouraging, give great hugs, make creative cards, call people back, et cetera). Visualize being greeted by others who are gushing over your positive talents. Now as your partner tries to give you your negative pity-party statements rebuke it with the truth and pop the balloon. Refuse to accept what gets thrown at you.
  • Resiliency Through God Resiliency is defined as readily recovering from a setback. Another definition describes an object resuming its original shape after bending, compression, or etc. It is the way that we become our selves—the ones created by God to do good works despite the attacks and piercings inflicted on us from Satan. Consider II Corinthians 4:8-9 that says, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” This is an example of resiliency. Verse seven explains why, “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” Our true selves were meant to glorify God and demonstrate His love and power within and through us. It is through the down trodden days that we reveal the power of God as long as we don’t let the hardships define us. Isn’t it interesting that when asked to tell your life story, or how we are doing during d-groups, we list all the things that didn’t go well, went wrong, we messed up, were hurt, and et cetera? We do this because in order for someone to understand who we really are, we feel we must explain the hardships that led us there. Our “original shape”. So let’s try an exercise: Write out what your day to day is like currently: _____________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________ Now describe yourself as you are at this time: ____________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________ _ How would you have described yourself when you were three years old: _____________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________ Now write a more positive description of who you are as a result of your prior experiences: _____________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________
  • What makes this last part hard is that we don’t know how to list our accomplishments or share our growth without feeling like we are boasting. We fear we are giving conceited praise and not giving credit to God. We must realize that who we become is worth boasting about as it demonstrates the still living and active power of God’s word. I Corinthians 5:6-8 “Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough? Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast-as you really are. For Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth.” (emphasis added) The yeast of trying to build ourselves up for approval’s sake comes from malice and wickedness, but sincerity and truth are the basis of explaining how God works in our lives—even through the difficult things. We become grateful for our resiliency when we see God in our life, including before we accepted Him as Lord.
  • Distortions in our Thinking Let’s talk about the various ways that we distort our thinking so that our misbehaviors are justified, approved of, or untouchable.