Amazing Stories

baggageThis year, the biggest change in the Awaken-Love class has been asking women to share their baggage and it has been AMAZING! Our stories are a testimony of how God works. We need to share our stories – even stories of how God has healed or forgiven us in our sex lives.

In class I used to be afraid to ask women to share their baggage, but I have decided the Awaken-Love study is not just about the women in the class. It is about every friend, relative or co-worker that their lives intersect with. Awaken-Love is one step in changing the whole culture of Christians and how they interact with others about sex. Christians ought to speak truth about sex everywhere they go – with their husband, with their kids, with their friends – even with non-believers. Sharing their stories of brokenness, how  God healed and redeemed them and the freedom that they now enjoy gives others hope that God is indeed a good, good God.

So during Week 3 of class, when we talk about Lies, Baggage and Body Image Issues, I ask everyone to bring at least one piece of baggage that they can share with the class. It can be a small carry on or a giant suitcase. We don’t share specific details, but in respectful general ways, we communicate our experiences, how they affected our marriage bed, and the steps to gain freedom.

I have been astounded by the response and humbled by the trust and support that these women show each other. Every class has responded by fully entering into the process of reflecting on what their past baggage is and sharing openly. I have heard everything from…

  • innocent child play or body discovery that lead to years of shame
  • not knowing how to say no
  • non-consensual acts that led to promiscuity spinning out of control
  • not holding the lines of purity before marriage
  • struggles with porn or erotica
  • strong church messages of purity that led to inhibition
  • messages of sex being about fulfilling a husband’s needs

Every woman seems to have something and what might seem like nothing to one women can be a huge deal to another. Sometimes it is not even what happened, but it is the over reaction of a loved one that leaves a huge impact.

As teachers, we try to discern if there are next steps that need to happen. Sometimes we ask if we can lay hands on a woman and pray for her. Sometimes we sense that she needs to claim this for herself by asking God right there and then for exactly what she wants as we gather around her in agreement. Sometimes we discern that a wife needs to share with a husband and pray with him or ask a husband to pray over her.

I have seen women return to class the next week with smiles on their face and burdens lifted. Women have shared that they went home that night to have amazing conversations with loving husbands.  Women have released things that they were not supposed to carry and they have found a taste of the freedom that God desires for them.

You know, I used to say that God can heal in an instant or it can be a process. But recently I have realized that God may not always heal. Sometimes we are left with a thorn in our side like Paul and we may struggle our entire life. That thorn does not have to define us, or control us, but it can lead to a greater dependence on Christ as we live out surrender on a daily basis. We don’t have to hide our thorn from our loved ones, but we bear it with the one that fully knows us. And so, there are some intentional choices that we make as we step into living the life that God wants us to live – even when it is not easy.

My hope and desire is that the freedom these women experience as they throw away the code of silence, doesn’t just exist for them, but that it becomes a part of their testimony of God’s goodness. There are so many women that have experienced pain in their sexuality and it is time to start talking. Healing happens when you speak it out loud with another and you take it to the foot of the cross and you surrender it. God wants women to be whole.

Have you broken the code of silence about sexual baggage and what difference has it made for you?

Ruth Buezis

BAGGAGE

Dealing with my baggage had a profound impact on my marriage. I dug deep into my past, remembering the pain, and speaking it out loud to my husband. Tears flowed as I shared what for years I had brushed off as “no big deal.” Years of silence no longer held power as I reflected on how I had allowed these past experiences to affect my present. I prayed for healing, I prayed for forgiveness, I prayed for letting go and I prayed for freedom. Piece by piece, I dug up the stink, and every time God showed up.

Some of my baggage was child play – experiences which some might argue were completely innocent. But for whatever reason, these experiences had filled me with shame. Shame that had placed me in the virtual back corner of every room, just hoping to go unnoticed. No one knew -for over 40 years.  I remember while reading Kevin Leman’s Sheet Music out loud to my husband one night, he shared how many times wives share things with a counselor that they have never told their husband. I suddenly knew that he was talking about me and the floodgates opened. That night in my husband’s arms I shared about my child play experience and the shame that it filled me with. I had let silence hold so much power over my life and it was time to break down the walls.

Raised in a Christian church, as a teenager I had committed to wait until marriage to have sex, but years at college took me far from God. When I met my husband, I was still a virgin, but immediately fell head over heels in love with him. I knew that during a couple of serious relationships, he had been sexually active. So I decided if he was going to fall in love with me, I needed to have sex with him. All the years we were married, I resented him for the fact that I was not a virgin bride, and yet I was the one that had initiated sex. He never forced me or coerced me, I brought sex up. And if that wasn’t bad enough, I began questioning and wondering why he had not initiated or tried to coerce me. Did he really desire me or was I the consolation prize?

Now you need to know that I have the best husband in the world. He has never done anything to make me question whether he loves me. He has kept his eyes pure, he has always served me, loved me, encouraged me and provided for me. I let this baggage worm away in my head and question reality and truth. I had to confess my resentment to my husband, ask for forgiveness, and I had to pray to let go of my husband’s stuff.

Some things are harder to let go of than others – my husband’s past relationships – was probably the hardest. It was a choice to stop wondering, comparing and questioning whether he chose me or if I was a consolation prize. I had to consciously decide to believe my husband instead of letting my head spin wherever Satan would take it. But healing has come and it is amazing. My healing has also lead to my husband having more confidence in himself. He no longer has to tip toe around wondering if I will question and prickle and look for ulterior motives. I simply take him at his word. I believe him. And I trust him.

This renewed trust  has opened up doors that I never knew possible. I believe my husband when he adores my body and I love his eyes on me. I am confident in my own desires and know that when I share them it is an absolute thrill for him. My husband has even begun to talk about some of his baggage, because I am no longer hyper sensitive when he brings up his past. We freely share in bed – all kinds of delights and we delight in each other.

But most of all, God has shown up and in very real ways shown us the power of prayer. He is good.

How has dealing with your baggage changed your marriage?

Ruth Buezis

 

 

Face the Difficulties Podcast

The IMG_40452nd half of my podcast with Belah Rose at Delight Your Marriage is live!  Belah and I talk about how God’s best is for us to build unity in our marriage by facing our struggles and revealing our self to our spouse, rather than running away from difficulties or hiding our self from our spouse.  God wants to grow us and our spouse closer to Him and to each other.  We talk about the fruit that results from working through difficulties.  Thanks for checking it out! If you missed Part 1 of Belah and I’s discussion then listen in sometime!

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Journey to Sexual Freedom Podcast

Today, I am talking with Belah Rose over at Delight Your Marriage sharing how God has redeemed my marriage bed so that my husband and I can glorify Him by living out His original design for husbands and wives to be “naked and unashamed.”  Please head over to hear Part 1 and plan on returning next Tuesday for Part 2 of our conversation. While you are there, check out Belah’s other resources that inspire wives in wholehearted intimacy.

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Tips for the Journey

Having just “returned” from a healing journey, I wanted to share some tips that I could have benefited from knowing in advance.  If you are feeling led to trust God to tend to your wounds, then I encourage you to run to Him.  If your hurts are related to sexual sin or sexual abuse, then I highly recommend the Path to Sexual Healing Bible study book that you can do with your spouse, a friend or in a small group.

Without further ado, here are my ten tips for your journey.

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Path to Sexual Healing – Part 5

Melanie

I finished the study. The view from the other side is amazing!

Though I previously had an awakening to God’s glorious design for sex within marriage, I needed more of His healing and truth. Sex with my husband had already became holy, emotional, enjoyable, refreshing and something that I craved, but I still didn’t feel 100% free. The Path to Sexual Healing Study  focused on that first non-consensual encounter which lies at the root of my sexual history.  I previously avoided tackling it because I didn’t want to be a victim, but I couldn’t be completely healed and free without setting it at the foot of the Cross.

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Path to Sexual Healing – Part 4

Melanie

Forgiving someone that you don’t maintain a relationship with is very different than forgiving someone that you do.  In my experience, forgiving someone that I am unlikely to see again, such as my offender, is a momentous one-time prayer where I release that person to God and then, if needed, add continual prayers choosing to forgive as new thoughts and memories come to mind.  The follow-up prayers are easier because I’ve already chosen to forgive that person.

As I am forgiving other non-offenders, but influencers, that continue to be part of my life, well, that’s an all-around bigger challenge. The forgiveness can still be instantaneous or a continual journey, but the process involves looking to the past, the present and the future. My thoughts, behaviors and habits have to be transformed by God in order to experience full freedom from the bondage of unforgiveness. I can only control my end of the relationship, so part of God’s healing is giving me a vision for the path forward with these individuals, the reliance on Him to be changed and the self-control to practice new habits. For one relationship in particular, I have written out an action plan to remind myself, to pray about and to go back to so that I am equipped for interactions. The plan doesn’t trump the Spirit’s leading, but it helps me stay focused so that I don’t slip back into old patterns or allow the old tapes to play in my head.

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Path to Sexual Healing – Part 3

Melanie

One of the homework assignments in my Bible study was to prayerfully assign responsibility for what happened. If everyone to blame is identified, including my own portion of the responsibility, then I can move toward forgiving all involved.  At first, I felt intimated by the assignment because I knew who I wanted to blame, but was certain that was not how God would distribute the responsibility. As I prayed for His perspective, the Lord led my thoughts. I listed the obvious offenders and then He dug deep down to small and old memories that were foundational to my beliefs and perspectives. These experiences, which were seemingly unrelated at first glance and happened years prior to the nonconsensual encounter, impacted how I responded. They also influenced relationships for years to come as I believed mistruths and measured things by something other than God’s standard. I went on to make two charts – one identifying who was responsible for what happened and another to identify who influenced me to respond the way that I did.  This second chart is the one that I have wrestled with the most. The process was breathtaking, I was surprised by who was on the list and my heart softened toward those I was attributing too much responsibility.

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Path to Sexual Healing – Part 2

Melanie

My girlfriends and I talk about what we are learning in our Bible studies all the time. However, when my study is called “A Path to Sexual Healing,” sharing with them involves a little more trepidation. I’ve been really open about the study with a handful of friends, which is about a handful more than I expected. Perhaps because it is so powerfully impacting me that it is what’s on my mind and on the tip of my tongue. Perhaps because I am vulnerable and need to talk it out. Perhaps because sharing our pain with one another is part of the healing process. James 5:16 tells us to “pray for one another so that you may be healed.” I don’t know.

It probably seems safer to keep the study a secret, and the enemy certainly encourages me to do so, but my friends have been amazingly supportive.  No one has asked me what happened when I was younger.  They don’t know the details because that’s not the important part of our conversations.  Instead, they jump to encouraging me to press into God on this journey and remind me of His faithfulness to heal.  As if that isn’t amazing enough, God has used their comments to make big impacts.

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Path to Sexual Healing – Part 1

Melanie

I am really fortunate to live in a city that has numerous resources for those who are hurting. This fall, I am participating in a Bible study that helps men and women heal from past sexual abuse. Though I have experienced God’s transforming power through the surrendering of my own sexual sin, I haven’t fully dived into processing the non-consensual encounter of my youth.

When I teach Awaken-Love classes, I tell women that it is imperative to talk to someone about any past abuse – no matter how long ago it occurred or how small its impact can be rationalize to be. I knew it was time for me to follow my own teaching and pursue the Lord’s complete healing.  I desperately want my relationships with God and my husband to go even deeper because I know there is more to be experienced.  I want to be even more available to God – for His glory.

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