Desert Stream / Living Waters Ministries- http://desertstream.org Wed, 19 Sep 2018 20:24:14 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.8 http://desertstream.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/dsm-new-logo.png Desert Stream / Living Waters Ministries- http://desertstream.org 32 32 61590373 Freedom from Isolation http://desertstream.org/freedom-from-isolation/ http://desertstream.org/freedom-from-isolation/#respond Wed, 02 Apr 2014 19:20:12 +0000 http://newsite.desertstreamministries.org/?p=1119 A man tells his story of how Living Waters empowered him to live a full and better life!

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A man tells his story of how Living Waters empowered him to live a full and better life!

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Beauty and The Breach Video http://desertstream.org/beauty-and-the-breach-video/ http://desertstream.org/beauty-and-the-breach-video/#respond Wed, 02 Apr 2014 19:10:47 +0000 http://newsite.desertstreamministries.org/?p=1117 Marriage is the most important relationship on earth. When it is broken, it damages all involved; its healing releases wholeness for generations to come. Beauty and the Breach is designed to be a sound and clear group format for couples … Continue reading

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Marriage is the most important relationship on earth. When it is broken, it damages all involved; its healing releases wholeness for generations to come. Beauty and the Breach is designed to be a sound and clear group format for couples seeking to work out their healing together. It is also helpful resource for any couple desiring to deepen their marriage.

FIND A GROUP

For more information email info@desertstream.org or call 866-359-0500.

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Needed Breakthrough http://desertstream.org/needed-breakthrough/ http://desertstream.org/needed-breakthrough/#respond Wed, 02 Apr 2014 19:06:25 +0000 http://newsite.desertstreamministries.org/?p=1114 A woman describes how Living Waters brought the breakthrough that we needed for her marriage.

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A woman describes how Living Waters brought the breakthrough that we needed for her marriage.

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Falling Forward Program Description http://desertstream.org/falling-forward-program-description/ http://desertstream.org/falling-forward-program-description/#respond Wed, 02 Apr 2014 19:01:07 +0000 http://newsite.desertstreamministries.org/?p=1109 The post Falling Forward Program Description appeared first on Desert Stream / Living Waters Ministries-.

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The Gift of Caring For Others http://desertstream.org/gift-caring-others/ http://desertstream.org/gift-caring-others/#respond Wed, 02 Apr 2014 18:42:47 +0000 http://newsite.desertstreamministries.org/?p=937 When I received the request to write an update on our lives, a myriad of things came to my mind which I could share regarding what the gift of healing has made possible. Through the cross of Jesus and the … Continue reading

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When I received the request to write an update on our lives, a myriad of things came to my mind which I could share regarding what the gift of healing has made possible. Through the cross of Jesus and the grace that came to us through Living Waters we celebrate a truly wonderful marriage of 32 years, and the joy of our sons and their families, including our three grandchildren.

However, there is more to share. After my time with DSM we served at the Las Vegas Vineyard. Near the end of the third year we received a call that my mother was diagnosed with lung cancer. We made a trip to Oregon where we not only visited my parents but also Jolene’s. While on that trip we heard God speak to us that we were to go and serve our families. Intrinsic to our understanding of this call was that it was time for us to work out the gift of healing in a state (Oregon) and in family systems we felt we had ‘escaped’ from many years before.

Within a couple of months we moved and found jobs, while we turned to serve our families. Jesus strengthened us so that we did not fall into old patterns of relating based on the old family rules. God not only challenged us to serve but to set the tone for the care of our parents. He wanted us to give to them what they, in their brokenness, had been unable to give to us.

It was not long before my mother died as I was holding her hand. My dad followed her a year and a half later. I had time to be with him and hear his heart in a way I never had. God filled me with enough healing that I could be there for him while he grieved. I loved him in a way I had not been able to before. In the end, my hand was on his chest as his heart quit beating. Had I not experienced the gift of healing I could not have done this. Nor could I have led each of my parent’s memorial services while facing my own loss.

Jolene has become a source of life to her parents, serving them in such a way that her family has not only noticed but has come to respect her for doing what none of them have been able to do. They each see the trust, wholeness, and care she brings into the family.

If there is anything we have learned in this time it is that many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. (Pv. 19:21) We never desired to engage with our families in this way, yet God has proven to us that His healing power has not only changed our lives but also enables us to bring that healing to those family we once fought hard to be free from.

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Freedom from Shame, Freedom for my True Identity http://desertstream.org/freedom-shame-freedom-true-identity/ http://desertstream.org/freedom-shame-freedom-true-identity/#respond Wed, 02 Apr 2014 18:17:12 +0000 http://newsite.desertstreamministries.org/?p=944 I came to know this ministry in 2000 when I attended Andy Comiskey’s first seminar in Thailand called “A Pure Life by the Power of the Cross.” The real life testimonies and teachings from various speakers affected me greatly. It … Continue reading

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I came to know this ministry in 2000 when I attended Andy Comiskey’s first seminar in Thailand called “A Pure Life by the Power of the Cross.” The real life testimonies and teachings from various speakers affected me greatly. It was my first time to hear people speak so openly about their sexual struggles.

I was profoundly touched when I heard that Christ had the power to heal and set people free from an area most Thai people regards as a shameful thing. The message of Christ, the Restorer of our sexual and relational problems, filled me with much needed hope at the time.

In 2002, God touched and healed me throughout the week long training held in San Juan Capistrano. The program was well integrated and balanced that included a time of worship, teachings, prayers in the small group and a safe environment. These right ingredients helped me to receive deeply from God. I wept and wept most of the time. A lot of my pain, sadness, depression, shame and fear from my past were released. I went home feeling like a different person.

As a Chinese descent born in Thailand, I used to struggle with my identity. I had difficulty in identifying myself either as a Thai or a Chinese. I remember my real sense of freedom and pride for the first time as I walked through the sign “For Thai” at the immigration section on my trip back from the States. Indeed, God has healed me of my true identity.

Recently, I realize that I no longer have the recurring dream I had in the past. I often dreamed that I was half naked or wearing torn clothes in public. I tried so hard to run away from people or hide myself. In the dream, I experienced real shame. The dream revealed my deep shame and fear due to childhood abuse.

I came from a broken family. At the age of five, I was raped by a neighboring teenage boy. The distressing event plus my childhood deprivation changed the way I viewed myself, others (especially men) and God. I lived my adolescent days in powerful fantasy and masturbation. These brought me further shame and guilt.

My struggle did not go away even when I became a Christian thirty-three years ago. In fact, I felt so guilty and condemned and this affected my relationship with God. I used to think that I was sexually abnormal.

Christ has healed me from my wounded past through a series of Living Waters Programs which I attended both as a participant and a team member. There I was able to come to the Father of mercies and receive His help in the area I needed Him the most – my sexuality. I have experienced the power of Christ’s resurrection. He set me free from shame and fear of rejection from people because of my weaknesses.

Not only is my sexuality healed; so is my relationship with God– the Source of my true identity.

Today I want to reach out to other broken strugglers with the same life-giving message that I have received: “Jesus is the answer to all of our needs” – the needs for love, acceptance and intimacy.

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Appearing Healthy http://desertstream.org/appearing-healthy/ http://desertstream.org/appearing-healthy/#respond Thu, 27 Mar 2014 20:27:48 +0000 http://newsite.desertstreamministries.org/?p=1009 Growing into Who We will be “We are not yet what we shall be, but we are growing toward it. The process is not yet finished, but it is going on. This is not the end, but it is the … Continue reading

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Growing into Who We will be

“We are not yet what we shall be, but we are growing toward it. The process is not yet finished, but it is going on. This is not the end, but it is the road.” Martin Luther

At age twenty-five I was a talented professional photographer with the emotional EKG of a cadaver. While I thought nothing of cycling down the west coast alone or sleeping under highway overpasses (on assignment, of course), the idea of acknowledging my needs and wounds to others terrified me. Though I had been following Jesus for six years, my faith had little impact upon my relational brokenness.

Fast forward a decade. Just four years into our marriage, Andrew asked Christopher and me to consider running Living Waters. In an effort to understand the program, I began reading the manual. A single sentence, in chapter two, no less, dismantled me: “Is the appearance of health worth more than health itself?” Life as I knew it was about to change.

Up until that point I had opted for the appearance of health. Living Waters offered a paradigm shift. As the weeks of our pilot program rolled by, I began to understand that if I wanted to be like Jesus, I had to forsake others’ opinions of me and stop faking it. Despite my initial resistance, I learned how to confess my sins and invite others into my struggles, in real time. Confession toppled my wall of shame, allowing me to connect more intimately with God and others. Barriers continued to fall as I endeavored to obey the Lord’s directives.

Obedience has fallen out of favor in our postmodern culture. Society perceives it as a rigid and arbitrary limitation. I see it from a different vantage point. From the time I was six until I graduated from college, I played competitive sports. This meant running, weight lifting, cycling, and shooting thousands of free throws all year long. Practice, or obedience, prepared me for the demands of the season. Though I no longer engage in competitive athletics, this same discipline now serves me as I follow Jesus Christ.

Paul writes, “You were taught, in regards to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph 4:22-24). Just as having a perfect free throw doesn’t happen by osmosis, neither does “being made new.” Sloughing off our dragon skin (see Eustace in Voyage of the Dawn Treader) happens in partnership with God, over years, through repeated and often seemingly insignificant acts of obedience.

One of my life goals is to love my husband well. Despite the reality that he is an amazing and godly man, I sometimes struggle to pull this off. A few years ago, he was in a difficult space. I extended grace and mercy for three or four days but then grew impatient and cross. I wanted him to snap out of it. In prayer, I sensed a clear directive from the Lord to initiate intimacy with him. I resisted—not because our sex life was unsatisfying but because I knew that I would have to trust God to resource me. My choice to obey and extend His supernatural love broke through Christopher’s shame and self-hatred.

Though we don’t always realize it, a gap exists between our anxiety/fear/anger/longing/grief and our response to it. God gives us the opportunity to become more disciplined in that space. Will we act out when in pain or reveal our temptations to a friend and resist? Will we lash out at our children when we had a bad day at work or stop at the local parish, confess and receive prayer? As we repeatedly choose the way of the cross, the pull of sin diminishes and Christ strengthens our resolve. Hope undergirds this obedience—hope that Christ’s resurrection power is truly available to us. Hope that growth is more than a concept. Hope of things not yet realized.

Though spring has officially arrived in New England, the ground remains covered with snow and ice. Apart from the phoebe’s song, I see no physical evidence that winter will depart. No green tips have pierced through the hardened soil despite the fact that five months ago I dug multiple holes and dropped shriveled, ugly bulbs into the damp earth. I remember the first time one of my sons watched me do this he asked incredulously, “What are you doing?” He wondered if any good could come of this seemingly futile exercise.

This has been an extremely challenging decade for those of us who believe that holiness matters. The cultural tectonic plates are rapidly shifting beneath our feet, rearranging boundary lines and muddying the bride’s gown in the process. I have asked myself more than once, “God, what am I doing? Is all of my digging and planting, praying and obeying for naught?”

Again, the Holy Spirit reminds me of the gap between my feelings and my response. Will I choose despair and instantly be caught in an avalanche of self-pity and sin? Or will I choose holy expectancy? The former option asks very little of me other than that I acquiesce and slide. The latter requires resolve, intentionality and engagement. I can only choose the more demanding option by remembering God’s faithfulness.

Spring did arrive last year, and in all the previous years that I can recall. In my own life—though I am still broken, I am not who I was at age twenty-five—God has miraculously transformed my shriveled bulb of a heart into something beautiful. Because I have already experienced His goodness, I will wait in holy expectancy, confident that God will do what He has promised—redeem us and His church.

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Finding My True Voice – Becoming A Lion http://desertstream.org/finding-my-true-voice-becoming-a-lion/ http://desertstream.org/finding-my-true-voice-becoming-a-lion/#respond Thu, 27 Mar 2014 20:18:29 +0000 http://newsite.desertstreamministries.org/?p=1007 Men are meant to be lions—conquerors, strong, tender and victorious in the midst of challenge. Such men are also lovers. They selflessly do good for others even to the point of death. These men are meant to be dangerous and … Continue reading

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Men are meant to be lions—conquerors, strong, tender and victorious in the midst of challenge. Such men are also lovers. They selflessly do good for others even to the point of death. These men are meant to be dangerous and powerful, forces that must be reckoned with. This is true masculinity, and there is no doubt that this is Christ’s hope for every man. He wants lions.

I grew up in a Christian home. I had good parents who were broken. My mom did the best she could raising three boys while getting a college degree and working full time. Life demanded that she be absent. My dad dealt with significant sin issues throughout his life; from my early adolescence until his death he engaged in sexual sin, had a gambling problem and in his later years a prescription-drug addiction. His sins weren’t talked about or even known by me as I grew up, but they disabled my father’s ability to rightly parent me. For all the good that was in my father, he never fathered me. I needed a lion to raise me. None could be found. Andrew writes, “A fatherless boy will be vulnerable to launching out into a void.”

Without any lion to call me into my own identity and strength, other shadowy creatures drew near. In early adolescence I immersed myself in pornography. Then, in my first year of high school, I was sexually abused by an adult man. In the midst of the chaos, I became addicted to crystal meth, alcohol and marijuana. This set the stage for a descent into my own personal hell: five years of broken sexual encounters, dark sexual sin and demonic bondage that almost took my life. My own sin, the sins of others and the devil’s nefarious work made sure that this cat would never roar.

It was there at the bottom of the hell in which I was living, “unfathered and untrained . . . subject to the rats of addiction,” that God met me. I hadn’t done anything to earn it, but Christ came. In my parents’ garage, I heard the quiet whisper of God reverberate in my lost soul, “Follow me or die.” There was hope in His somber words. I heard the chance to become a lion. I responded to Jesus that day. Grace poured in, and I literally felt like I was being pulled out of a pit. Sobriety from drugs and alcohol happened quickly, even the acting out sexually with others stopped.
God was so good. His kindness was a gift, and I was experiencing it right before my eyes. But as that first year of following Jesus continued, it was apparent to me and my Christian friends that the damage I had experienced because of my sin and the sins of others was deep, expansive and not easily healed. I wanted to be a lion, but I wasn’t one. I was still a weak little cat. I was still addicted to porn, and I was still a broken man. But God had a plan.

In Living Waters I became a lion; I became a godly man. Andrew writes, “Through the cross, the Father and Son summon men to become lions. Fractured hearts find wholeness in relation to the Trinity and each other.” I was summoned to be a lion. Three things happened to me in Living Waters that enabled me to become fierce, strong, obedient and holy.

First, God enabled me to receive and keep His love. As an addict, and as one who had been abused, I had no idea what real love was, how to receive it or how to keep it. Frankly, there didn’t seem like a lot of hope that I would ever be capable of knowing and experiencing real love. I was too broken. Thankfully, through healing prayer and the teachings of Living Waters, I began to experience His love in new ways. Instead of it coming in and quickly leaking out, I began to be able to integrate His love into my actual life. The result was feeling truly loved for the first time in my life. God cared for me and none of my sin could stand in the way of His love. From the solid ground of His love, my true self began to emerge.

Secondly, as my true self emerged, I learned the good work of confession. I had a lot of sin to confess, and it was ugly and it was hard. I had to confess the specific ways that I had “failed to walk uprightly in [my] true manhood.” There was significant shame here, as well as demonic oppression, but as I found the grace to be obedient to the call of speaking out my sin to other men, God did His part. As a gift, I found real freedom—freedom from lust and pornography, freedom to live and to be strong. This set the stage for me to enter into the life that God had for me.

Third, Living Waters gave me a healthy place to work out my true masculine self with other men. Andrew writes, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens and deepens and brings clarity to the masculine soul of another.” In the midst of true biblical community with other men, God brought “definition and refinement” to my masculinity. I was becoming a good gift. I could relate to other men without sexualizing the relationship, and I felt the good push from those men to begin relating to women in healthy ways. These men wouldn’t let me just keep looking at my brokenness. They called me into a bigger world. Slowly but surely my will found the power for purity; my desire began to long for what was good, beautiful and right; and the character I longed for began to be my actual experience.

Fast forward fifteen years and I am radically different than when I was when I started Living Waters. I am a godly man who lives an amazing life. I am imperfect, for sure, with whispers of brokenness that still remain, but I am standing. I am standing strong. I have been married for over ten years. I have four boys that I love dearly. I am a pastor. But most of all, I have become a lion.

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Moving Past Isolationing Self-Awareness http://desertstream.org/moving-past-isolationing-self-awareness/ http://desertstream.org/moving-past-isolationing-self-awareness/#comments Thu, 27 Mar 2014 20:08:28 +0000 http://newsite.desertstreamministries.org/?p=1004 In reaction to my early environment I laid a foundation for an egocentric self-awareness. I turned inward, transforming my legitimate need for intimacy into a heightened form of neediness. My relationships were filtered through my perceived needs, which became the … Continue reading

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In reaction to my early environment I laid a foundation for an egocentric self-awareness. I turned inward, transforming my legitimate need for intimacy into a heightened form of neediness. My relationships were filtered through my perceived needs, which became the focus for determining my path. Here in isolation is where my unwanted same-sex attractions began to take form.

My discovery of masturbation created feelings of confusion, excitement and shame. The sexual release was euphoric, and yet inwardly I was unsettled, uncertain. As sources for visual stimuli became more available, my hunger for them grew. Like Smeagol after being consumed by the power of the ring, I too became consumed, retreating from the light, hiding in my inner caverns. I became Gollum, losing sight of who I was, caught in a dialogue with myself and cut off from community.

After eleven years living as a gay-identified man, my heart knew this was not the life I was meant to live. In August of 1987 I rededicated my life to Jesus, but this time I invited Him to be truly Lord and not just Savior. I knew I had to come out of my isolation and alienation from the body of Christ. I joined a church and risked my first step in becoming known: I told my pastor of my sexual struggles. I made my first real entry into the body of Christ, His church.

Pastor Paul was an approachable man. After sharing my story with him, he indicated he did not know how to counsel me. He then said, “I love you and want you to be part of our church!” Paul imaged Jesus and the true church to me. Because he was honest in his response, I knew I could trust Paul. As I began to meet with him on a regular basis, he provided the counsel I really needed: how to embrace Jesus as my life. But no-one else in the congregation knew my story.

Three months later, I had a sexual fall with a former lover with whom I had been codependently enmeshed. I went into a spiritual breakdown. I then took the next step in becoming known by reaching out to a married couple from the church. I was invited to their home where I shared my story in great detail. They listened, questioned and reflected on my words. In an extended time of prayer, they led me through confession, renunciation and blessing. I left their home that evening more known than I had ever been within the body of Christ.

In 1990 I joined an Anglican church which was to become my community for fourteen years. I continued my process of becoming known by joining a home group. All of them knew my story. The men especially came around me. I was no longer on the outside, feeling excluded from the men around me, but welcomed into their lives. I was in a band of brothers who were not afraid to hug me and tell me they loved me.

It was with this core group of brothers that my integration of the true masculine began to form. I held nothing back and was completely transparent, even when it meant feeling really exposed. These men did not recoil but drew even closer. Their response to me was one of gratitude. My willingness to be honest freed them to do likewise; my risking to become known allowed them to become more known, to embrace in greater capacity their own masculinity. We all more deeply embraced the call to wholeness through our relational intimacy.

The fruit of risking to become known had far greater impact than I could realize. As my legitimate need for intimacy and the deep desire we all have to know and be known in community were being met, my unwanted same-sex desires waned. I was present to others, entering into relational intimacy without questioning if I was okay, welcomed or loved. I was told I had no idea of how I was impacting the men within the church. God intended my sexual brokenness to become transformed beyond what I could envision. It was not just about me. My process transcended into a vehicle to bring God glory and bless His church!

As I read chapter nineteen, key words rose to the surface: to become, to stay, to share, to receive, and to extend. These are wonderful but deeply challenging words. In the church, we do encounter pain, rejection and fear. Community is messy, uncertain and difficult. This is the reality of being in relationship. Although I learned to become and share, my ongoing relationships within the body of Christ, His church, required the hard work of choosing to remain.

To remain in community requires discipline. This is especially so for those who have come from backgrounds of heightened self-awareness and self-loathing. There is often a filter we carry which causes words and actions to be perceived as rejection. The challenge I had to face was if I was going to turn inward into myself or look up and out of myself to the Lord. I learned to continually ask God for His divine objectivity. Would I see my experiences with His church through the skewed lenses of the past or with His present clarity and insight?

We all go through periods of vulnerability, times when it is challenging to “stay.” Loneliness can be an area of vulnerability for me. During a particularly difficult time, I remember becoming offended by not being invited out to lunch after Sunday service. I became critical, bitter and angry at the church. Here the voice of the Lord challenged me. He asked me, “Bob, instead of waiting for others to ask you to lunch, will you not ask them? Instead of leaning into others to somehow assuage your loneliness, will you choose to engage with another? Are you willing to extend yourself as the gift you could be for others?” His insight enabled me to rise up and stay rather than retreat into isolation.

The church, the body of Christ, is not perfect. However, it is not an option but a necessity for our becoming. As Andrew indicates in chapter nineteen, “We become whole as we take our places there.” That which I learned through Living Waters is to be worked out in application within the church. I have to walk in the state of forgiveness as a reality of being. I embrace walking in the state of purity as forethought and not an afterthought. My rough places are made smooth, iron sharpening iron, as I choose to remain an integral part of the body of Christ. As I continue to live in the incarnational reality of Christ, He increases my capacity to embrace His church. Here in His body we begin to realize the greater reality of who He intended for us to become.

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Restoration to Awkward Places http://desertstream.org/restoration-to-awkward-places/ http://desertstream.org/restoration-to-awkward-places/#respond Thu, 27 Mar 2014 19:57:07 +0000 http://newsite.desertstreamministries.org/?p=1002 Restoring My Name My given name at birth was Debra; I was probably named after the perky actress Debbie Reynolds and I remember really loathing my name. While Reynolds is five feet tall (if that) I’m six feet and have … Continue reading

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Restoring My Name

My given name at birth was Debra; I was probably named after the perky actress Debbie Reynolds and I remember really loathing my name. While Reynolds is five feet tall (if that) I’m six feet and have been since I was twelve. I was perceived as a young adult well before I was one! And I was treated like an adult. I grew up in a non-Christian home with both parents working away from home. So there was little guidance for us kids and even less energy to be involved with us.

Thinking back on my young life as the oldest of four children—three of them brothers—I remember thinking I was different. I didn’t really fit in. I felt awkward in my family, awkward with my peers and awkward throughout my growing-up years. During the teen years, the fact that I was awkward and had little oversight set me up for the sex, drugs and alcohol, and rock-and-roll culture of the 60s and 70s. Even in that hazy environment I can see I was trying to find something that would help me feel more whole. But I never really did find any sense of ease about who I was. I remained awkward and anxious about it.

At fourteen years old I entered high school wanting to be known and liked but always on the outside of any friend group. I wasn’t particularly outgoing; I seemed to lack the skills to get involved with school activities, which resulted in heightened loneliness and vulnerability. And, of course, I really wanted to be one of the “cool” people.

I began to become acquainted with much older men outside of school who seemed to value me, approve me and love me. While it was not something I intentionally went after, I discovered after the fact that I’d been enjoying their attention. And, of course, they were all too eager to pursue an inexperienced young female. What, in fact, I received from them was far less than what I truly needed. There were certainly some nice guys along the way but what drew me were those who reflected the cool and exciting times I grew up in.

What I actually received was sexual pressure, even to the point of force. In my naiveté, I did not understand what was really happening to me, nor did I realize there were consequences for my actions: physically, emotionally and spiritually. Further, I received a kind of naming in the midst of the defilement. Now my name sounded more like “worthless.” I knew at my core that I was really only wanted or good enough for one purpose. Through it all I was insecure, lonely, afraid and disconnected from anything good within myself. I don’t think I really knew how to care about myself. It never crossed my mind. I still didn’t fit in.

Not until much later did I understand that much of my insecurity had its origins in a lack of being tied to my mother. She returned to work immediately after I was born. In addition, I experienced childhood sexual abuse by a friend of the family as well as by my dad; Mom was nowhere to be found. My dad chose to abandon our family when I was twelve. Early brokenness from these childhood sources engendered more brokenness as I grew up.

I had such a skewed sense of self. What I thought I needed was for someone—in particular, a man—to tell me that I was worth caring for, beyond what I could give him. I needed to know that I, Deb, was worth loving and protecting, body and soul. I needed to belong to someone! Those needs went unmet. Yet what I thought I needed was not, in truth, a mere human being.

Many years passed before I learned something about who God intended me to be—who I actually am as His daughter. Scripture speaks of how I was created “fearfully and wonderfully” (Ps 139), but my heart was far from being able to contain that truth. Instead, I’d learned to carefully guard my person from any male or female who could potentially exploit me. I had carefully developed strategies to stay “safe.” Guarded by tall walls, I could keep out intruders while inside I still longed for something I’d not known thus far. Yet through it all, the Holy Spirit was patiently and faithfully drawing my heart to Himself. Year after year, He was teaching my heart to yearn for Him.

Still more years passed before I came to understand that much of my childhood had familiarized me with the fallout of something called “misogyny.” Misogyny displays a profound contempt for, or prejudice against, women. Meaning “hatred of women” in Greek, misogyny is demonstrated through the disrespect and dishonor of women through a variety of means.

While much of the misogyny toward me was through the overt misuse of my person, the more subtle and covert damage to my heart, mind and spirit occurred through the abandonment and lack of protection I’d received as a girl. I would not know for some time just how much those deprivations shaped how I viewed myself and others. Nor would I see the internal bondage I was living in.

Not until I happened upon a Living Waters program did I recognize the tall walls I’d built to stay safe. Nor did I begin to understand that my responses to not knowing my worth and not feeling valued were actually broken responses. Looking to others to fill the immense need in me simply could not—would not—be enough. I had looked to my husband to fill the void, to my children to keep me busy so I’d have no time to see the void, and to focusing on a variety of ministry efforts to meet the vast need inside. In many respects, it seemed to work. But in quiet moments I knew little had changed in me.

Yet the yearning God had placed in me was growing as I was drawn toward the One who patiently pursued me. I was more and more being filled with Him. He was the One who was awakening and restoring my capacity to contain the respect and honor and dignity He’d designed for me. He was teaching me that as His daughter I am treasured and held in high esteem, by Him! And He was teaching me to expect and to receive the same from others.

What a curious discovery to learn I was created in His image! I was awed by the truth that together as men and women we can learn to represent Him well as the imago dei. What an amazing experience to stand with brothers in Christ, ministering alongside each other, and to experience a greater revelation of God in our midst! It is such a blessing and gift to honor men rightly and to be honored rightly by them.

I would love to be able to say that I am completely healed. Not true! I am continuing to heal. When I experience disrespect or dishonor from a man or woman, there is still a reactive part of me. However, more often there is a simultaneous yielding to the Lover of my soul who reminds me He has chosen me, has betrothed me, and is protecting me. I’ve come to value His esteem over others’ esteem while in the midst of His community.

Throughout these many years, the Holy Spirit has continued to reveal the majesty of God as He directs my attention to the power of the work done on the cross of Christ. He has allowed for my self-made tall walls to be dismantled, and is rebuilding with my help the ancient ruins and the places long devastated (Is 61). My God has also restored my name back to me. He has named me Deborah. He has given to me a heart of worship and praise to Him who sits upon the throne. And He has called me to walk in the confidence and boldness He has given me.

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