Why did we join this group? Were we looking to escape the destruction of our sexually compulsive and addictive behaviors? Were we drowning in the shame of our past? Were we searching for lifelong healing? Many of us would respond with, “Yes, yes, and yes.”
Now that we have experienced the amazing gift of health and freedom and are confidently headed down the path of recovery, what’s next? God’s grace in continuing to bring us to a place of healing is remarkable! God has done a miraculous work in us to get us to this point. Now, He wants to continue to work through us to bring healing to others.
God is intentional. He brought healing and restoration to our life so we could pass it along to others—so we could show others the way.
All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. 4He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. 2 CORINTHIANS 1:3-4 NLT
This scripture is very clear: God did not bring us comfort from our troubles so we could be comfortable.172 He comforts us so we can comfort others: “When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.”
Perhaps we already recognized that our healing was not just for us. Our change and growth throughout this process has significantly impacted all our relationships: marriage, kids, family, friends, coworkers, and more. The health we’re experiencing is spilling out into the relationships around us. The transformation is incredible! But, is God asking you for more—is He asking you to do something bigger than you could have ever imagined?
When we consider all the work we’ve done to get to this place of healing, God’s presence and provision is obvious. It has been emotionally painful. At times, the honesty and vulnerability was grueling. There have been tears.
Yet, in His most gracious and caring way, God had to move us from where we were to where He is, so that He could do something wonderful in us and through us.173 This experience—our healing process—was God’s way of moving us into position so that He could use us to fulfill His plan and purpose. Only God could use our addiction to love, sex, and relationships to bring about His glory in our life and in the lives of others.
I was reeling from the pain of my husband’s betrayal. I tried reading my entire Bible, listening to sermons, seeking advice from mentors, and cutting off all social media and TV. Months had gone by and nothing relieved my pain. Anger and hurt bubbled under the surface. I often lashed out at my husband and children. I was plagued with guilt and shame for the way I was acting, but I was stuck. I felt angry with the people at church, who just kept telling me to read my Bible and pray more. I prayed for God to bring me some help. When I realized that there was no one at my church who could lead a healing group for me, I decided to do it myself.
On Small Group Sign-Up Sunday, as I stood behind a table in the lobby of my church, I could feel the blood rushing to my face. Women asked what my group was about and I could barely explain it without breaking down in tears. Regardless of how it felt, I knew I needed deep healing and no one else was going to get this going. The more I verbalized my pain—even to the strangers in the lobby—the less it stung.
I ended up taking a group of women through the small group. My group knew that I was a mess and needed it just as much as they did. Week after week, I continued to lead, mess and all. I went to my group and felt the weight of my pain lifting off me as I shared my answers and then listened as women just like me shared their answers.
The more I dug into my pain, the more I realized that I had decades of my own pain and trauma that I had never dealt with. As I saw women finding hope, it inspired me to be brave, using my story to encourage more women. I wanted every woman living with secret shame to know that there was real hope and freedom. I needed them to know they were not alone: who is better to offer that assurance of hope than someone who has experienced their same pain?
I learned that stuffing my feelings inside will not take them away. It may help stop the behavior, but that destructive root will continue to have its grip in me until I take the time to dig in and pluck it out. I learned that the Holy Spirit and a group of women using practical tools were exactly what I needed to locate the toxic root of my pain. I learned what it looked like to trust God with my life and my story.
I spent the next year working on myself and the past behaviors that had led to my struggle with sex, love, and relationships. I also discovered that my unhealthy behavior and mindset contributed to marrying an addict. I now feel unashamed: free in my own skin, and able to share openly and honestly with anyone who needs to hear about what God has done in my life. This includes my own kids. I share with small groups, at conferences, women’s brunches, and anywhere else that God opens the door. I am now addicted to seeing lives radically changed through the healing power of God’s grace.
They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony.
It has been suggested that 90 percent of the things we worry about never happen.174 Through this group, we have worked to retrain our brain—implementing new healthy behaviors—so we can realistically assess what is happening in our environment. Even though we have new skills in place, we can still become blindsided by unexpected life stressors. When this happens, we need to feel prepared.
All of us have resources at our disposal when life goes sideways—when we experience an anxiety-provoking event. In that moment, we may not be able to think rationally or mentally compile a list of resources to help us navigate the stress in a healthy way. As we continue to explore what it means to live out our recovery—to live intentionally—we need to plan ahead for any potential disruption to our healing. We need to identify our resources and understand how they help us when we’re faced with an overwhelming or stressful situation. We need to plan ahead.
Use the following table to identify your resources and how they help you when feeling. overwhelmed or stressed. Indicate how each resource will help keep you holistically healthy: physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Be specific. Try to list 10 resources—based on the situation—you want to ensure that you will have options