I came to life renewal because I recognized in myself the mom who I never wanted to become. After 10 years of disciplining children I found myself in the bottom of the parenting pit. I took my children’s defiance as a personal attack and in turn fought them back with anger. I knew deep down that this is not what God wants of me as a mom and I knew I had to seek help. A dear friend of mine took life renewal last year and I couldn’t help but notice how happy she was. I wanted that in my life. I also felt that ,even though I said I was a Christian and could check off all my boxes, I never truly felt close to God. Life Renewal seemed like a good place to start. Little did I know it would turn my whole world upside down. I was forced to revisit areas in my life that I had pushed down so deep that I nearly forgotten about. Vivid memories of childhood abuse came flooding back and I couldn’t see why in the world God had to bring me so low just to get close to Him. I think because I am ok with who I am it was not so hard to work through the forgiveness aspect of the program. It helped me greatly to know that forgiveness did not mean forgetting . I was still allowed to feel sad for the things done to me but I did not have to live in bitterness because of it. Through God’s grace He has opened my eyes to realize that that Joy I had been seeking was not for me to just reach out and grab for my own. Rather I have to say this “Holy spirit come abide within , may YOUR joy been seen in all I do. ”
I came to life renewal because Pastor Harry suggested it would be a good idea. I was excited and apprehensive after my first meeting.
The most meaningful breakthrough for me this year has been taking responsibility for my actions and the ability to know and admit that without Christ I can do nothing to help myself. All the times I have tried and failed have led me to wanting to give up trying again. I was done trying when I began Life Renewal and although I still struggle with this I have come a long way from where I began.I know God can work with this mess (me) and I am thankful for His grace and mercy. I’m thankful for the strength he gives me on a daily basis to go on even when sometimes it means making it to the next minute.
When I started Life Renewal I would shut down and withdraw especially when dealing with things that overwhelmed me. Going through many of the lesson exercises was so difficult especially when it meant confronting those issues I had avoided as much as possible in a head-on manner. It was also very liberating and freeing to work through the lessons and have accountability to keep me going.
Life Renewal has helped me by teaching me how to work through the mess of thoughts that usually overwhelms me and I am now able to work through it well enough to articulate my thoughts and better understand what is/was bothering me.
This whole course has taught me to give it ALL to God. When I give it all to God I can try, and try again in His strength. I can keep up the good fight and open up and talk/share and keep from withdrawing.
“My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.
Life Renewal really stood up to its name in my life. Right before I started this program, I was in a rut. Based on this text, now I’d say I was thirsty and the rut was that cistern. While I was in this rut, my sister must have seen my thirst. We had just started talking again, getting to know each other in our adult lives. Having completed the program, she was beginning to be more genuine to the people in her life. I looked up to her and wanted to know what she was so passionate about.
I didn’t know why I was going even after the first session. I blamed my rut on my poor money spending habits and my hobbies. But my small group pushed me to go for something deeper: my addiction to pornography and masturbation. I knew it was wrong but I figured it was a losing battle and I had hung up my armament for this fight. But God, with this program and his people involved, had me dust off this armament and equip myself. Then he showed me that it wasn’t even my fight. That even though I had this equipment, he was still going to fight for me.
Since coming to LR, I’ve learned to fight the temptations of pornography, I’ve learned to better control my spending, I’ve learned to limit my time spent on hobbies, but, more than anything, I’ve learned how to drink from the only Source of water that satisfies. I am not the same person I was before. Before, I was a failure, a nobody, an annoyance, a pervert, a disappointment. Now, all I need to know is that I am loved, by the people around me, despite the fact that they know me, and by my God, despite the fact that I’ve run from him for so long. I am a child of God.
I could sense God changing me and Satan’s grasp getting weaker.
I came to LR because, almost 2 years ago now, something happened that broke my heart. Along with a few other things, I became a co-dependant. This person’s mental health became my happiness. If this person was happy and enjoying life, I was happy too. If this person was having a bad day, I was very sad and worried. I feared the “what ifs” of the future and how life would go for others under the influence of this person. I needed to get my focus back on God again. I needed to trust Him with everything in my life, which has always been my struggle. Going through LR was a great experience. I loved being challenged to think deeply about myself, why I do things, and to take responsibility for my own actions. God used LR to gently re-teach me to focus more up, rather than in or around. If I just focus on serving Him, then the rest will fall into place.
I got stuck in a bit of a rut, however, when it came to forgiving others. There were people in my life that, I felt, didn’t treat me as an “equal”. Even though this had nothing to do with the original reason why I came, it became my biggest struggle. I struggled to forgive them. They did it so often, even though we had discussions about how I felt! And it wasn’t going to stop! But, as Ken from the video said, forgiveness isn’t fair. The innocent party has to pay. And I wanted that gift of sadness. I prayed and prayed and trusted that God would make me forgive them. I texted my group’s former facilitator about my struggle. “I wonder,” she wrote, “have you forgiven yourself?” What? What do I need to forgive myself about in this situation? Well, “aha!” I discovered that I was justifying my bitterness by blaming it on them. Essentially, I was still in denial about how that is sin toward God. And we were well into the third book! I discovered that day that I needed forgiveness. So I took some time to listen to the session on forgiving others again. Remember the excuse cards? I was still excusing myself. But what about them? What they did hurt so much! Then I “dug deeper” and realized that I had feelings of… dare I say… hate toward them? But if I was honest with myself, I did hate them sometimes. And that was wrong. I went to God asking for forgiveness. Then I could truly forgive myself, knowing that God had heard me. Another “aha” moment came when Ken from the video said how in a painful situation there is a damaged emotion (my bitterness toward those people) and Satan’s lie. I thought hard about what that lie actually was, and I found it. Then I could sense God changing me and Satan’s grasp getting weaker. I talked about the situation to someone a few days later, and there was sadness, not bitterness in my emotions! Praise God! He was changing me to truly forgive. I think it’s so amazing how God works. Through my co-dependency, I came here and was given tools to deal with not only that, but also all the other stuff that happens.
The Spirit took control and I confessed my addiction and struggle
I came to Life Renewal because my life was overun by lust, pornography and masturbation for more than 10 years. Slowly I cared less about family and friends and focused more on myself and my own selfish desires. After years of not putting up much of a fight, my morals and Christian principles started to slip. Having numbed myself for so long I started to look to worse pornography and eventually started chasing sexual relations. By the grace of God I was prevented from ever having sex and this led to a few months of depression. Then God placed on my path an amazing girl who is now my wife. This new relationship got me out of my depression but didn’t cure the years of damage I had done to myself. At God’s appointed time He decided it was time for my secret to come out. The Spirit took control and I confessed my addiction and struggle to the love of my life; these were words I had been wanting to say for years but I only buried it under more sin. And that was the day God started my healing journey. I studied up on pornography and masturbation and attended one-on-one counseling. This was very beneficial but there was still something missing.
By the time Life Renewal enrollment came along God had worked excitement in my heart for the thought of the next chapter of my healing. My life truly was changing and my relations with friends and family were improving dramatically. But God was not satisfied to stop there. On the day I came clean, I left pornography behind but sporadic flashbacks of the things I have seen appeared in my head making my fight that much more difficult.Then one night I experienced a miracle of God in my own life. It came about when I uncovered to my wife the deepest secrets of my addiction and flashbacks. I felt so helpless and that is exactly how God needed me. He brought each flashback to mind, caused the faces and bodies to disfigure and turned the images to dust. I literally sat and watched all my flashbacks blow away. While God was removing these flashbacks my wife was beside me earnestly praying that God would take them all away. After all of these flashbacks were blown away I felt a massive void in my being and so we eagerly prayed that God fill me with his spirit. This experience was by far the most powerful and life altering moment in my healing journey. I am eternally grateful for God’s work in me that night – on my own this would be impossible.
Life Renewal has been an incredibly powerful tool of God in my life. And it is my desire that more and more people attend to learn, grow and heal.The things I have learned along the way have been life changing. Things like acknowledging my strengths, not holding onto my sins, forgiving those who have hurt me so that I can let go of the bitterness and move on with God and of course, making amends for damages I have caused in my relationships. If I can offer any encouragement it would be this: do not underestimate the power of God; He is capable of much more than you might think. Set high hopes in God’s strength and fully utilize the faith given to you to trust in His plan and timing.
“…this course will benefit everyone!”
I began attending Life Renewal because I wanted to improve my marriage and my walk with the Lord. But at the same time I believed that I was doing alright in my walk of faith and that I did not have any huge problems or pain to deal with in my life. I had heard so much good about the program, so I was excited to see how it could help me as well.
God has blessed my attendance of this course far more abundantly than I could ever have imagined. Very quickly, God showed me so many areas of my life that I needed to change. I was holding on to the past, had resentment towards God and others that I did not even realize was there, and had a desire to be perfect which made me hold others around me to a standard too high to attain.
Through this program I have a better understanding of the forgiveness God requires of us. It is freeing to experience forgiveness the way God intended, and I have learned to be a much more forgiving person because I did not grasp the depth of His love and forgiveness of me. I now know true contentment and am letting go of my fear of man.
I know many see this program as being for those who have severe pain to deal with such as abuse, addiction and marriage breakdown. But this course will benefit everyone. In addition to very biblical teaching in so many areas, we learned to identify our defects of character and how to concretely begin to change them. Everyone has them. Some that we know, and probably even some that we don’t.
My prayer is that everyone will take this course. Everyone can benefit from it. If you don’t believe you have pain or a need to attend, you may be surprised at what you discover. There is also a huge need for facilitators, which is a way to concretely help others who are hurting. I have been so encouraged to experience myself, and see in others of many different ages (including young people who have just finished high school) the good that God is working through this program. One thing I, and many other, participants say is, “why didn’t I do this years ago!”
“I’ve found confidence in His saving grace and forgiveness…”
“I initially went to Life Renewal with the hope that it would make it easier for me to speak in public, but…that didn’t happen. I soon realized that the real reason was that I wanted to stop pointing fingers and blaming certain individuals as an excuse for my insecurity and low self-worth. My sinful nature wanted me to keep pointing fingers at others for their faults done to me. I needed to stop worrying about what others thought of me and to stop having a negative attitude to the memories of my elementary school days. I needed to stop dwelling on my past and I needed to take responsibility for my attitude. I also wanted to have a better relationship with God and truly make Him my own.
Life Renewal exposed me to and helped me see that I also needed to be freed from my past hurts and wounds. I had a closet inventory that I believed was forgiven, even though it still bothered me. I now feel confident and assured that Jesus Christ is my Strength and that He has fully paid for all my sins. Through Life Renewal, I feel freed from my thoughts and worries and the guilt I have felt for a long time. I can leave my past with God. I have learned to let go of all the negative thoughts I’ve held for many years and leave them at the foot of the cross. I believe this is one of my ‘aha’ moments where I’ve found true freedom. I’ve found confidence in His saving grace and forgiveness and can leave the rest to Him. Today I live more for Him and worry less about what others think of me.
Life Renewal has helped me focus more on the redeeming work of my Saviour in everything I do, and I thank Him for the opportunity and strength to work through the program and to be able to walk in truth. I will promote and encourage others to take this program whenever I can”
“I came to LR with the hopes of attaining a closer relationship with Jesus Christ. Many of us are broken people and we don’t know it, or do not wish to acknowledge it.
We live our lives in a way that we think is pleasing to God, but in fact, we are so lacking when it come to not only our relationship with God, but also our relationship with our neighbors, and our brothers and sisters in the Lord. As I went through the lessons it became clear to me that my life was unmanageable. I did not have the relationship with Christ that I thought I did, nor had hoped for. The inventories opened this up for me. At my lowest point, I was wondering if things would ever be good again. Was there any hope?
The forgiveness experience was the breakthrough for me! It was so freeing. The hurt disappeared. It was replaced with fatigue and sadness for a short time, and then it was like a burden gone. Now when I think about the things that were hurtful to me, my mirror inventory, there are no more pain-filled memories. The slate is wiped clean. I no longer harbor bitterness toward those people. My attitude has changed toward them. The amends that I completed went well. I was glad that I was able to open up and confess my wrongs to the people that I hurt.
The tools for Bible reading and journaling which were taught to us have really been an eye opener. I read my Bible daily, but the daily journal has helped me to look deeper into the text, and therefore I get more out of it as well. I find that I am hearing, more clearly, the things that God wants to teach me. I have recently talked to two young women who attended Celebrate Recovery, which is also a 12 step program. On both occasions, we were able to talk about the steps that impacted us the most. It was wonderful to be able to feel a oneness with others who have also found healing through God’s grace. I would, and do, recommend the LR program to others.”
I am not to dishonor, hate, injure or kill my neighbours by thoughts, words, gestures and much less deeds. Rather I am to put away all desire of revenge. This is Gods command to each of us in Lords Day 40. God hates the root of murder which is envy, hatred, anger and the desire for revenge. Years ago this was what my life had become.
“My life and that of our family, was opened up to a case of abuse, where I became exposed to a world of manipulation, control, lies, and pure mess. The abused came to live with our family, and this led me to take courses on abuse and family violence, trying to and understand a world we knew nothing about. We never could have imagined at that time, the years of pain and frustration that would follow from the decision we made to support and love an abused child within the walls of the church. It resembled for me and our family a cancer in the congregation with its effects spilling over into our family. I was living in deep resentment and bitterness trying to resolve an ever growing mess. My anger and frustration had taken over so much of my heart there was no longer any room for the Holy Spirit to work his fruits. I became anxious, depressed and eventually developed elevated blood pressure. I didn’t know the person I became, and I didn’t like it. All this was my reaction to seek justice for an abused child. Four years ago a friend urged me to attend a course called “How People Change.” A course I highly recommend everyone to do after doing Life Renewal.I praise God for His work in using that course to change the path I was on and to bring my focus back to Him.
God knew He needed to complete the work he began in me so He brought me to Life Renewal. I must admit I considered quitting when I was told to get a sponsor and make amends. In no way did I intend to go back there and relive that pain. Thanks be to God for my small group of fellow mentors that encouraged me to continue on. I put off my forgiveness homework for weeks and weeks. I couldn’t do it, I told myself, I wanted to hold on to the resentment I had toward some people and hold them accountable for what they had done. Through the many prayers that went up on my behalf I was able to sit down and work through my list of people. Then came the amends letters. I stand in awe of how God has worked in me the grace to do this work. On my own I could not have done any of it. I learned that when you hold on to resentment you become vulnerable to Satan’s control. Bitterness is the poison you drink in the hope someone else will die. I needed to remind myself vengeance and justice belong to God alone… and not to me. He promises in Romans 12:19 “Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.” I have come to comprehend you cannot change situations but you can change the way in which you respond to them. I am assured in knowing that God knows what lives in each person’s heart and what the motivation of each heart is. I thank God for the special place in my heart and in our family this young man and his wife have. I am thankful for the love we share with them, and am reminded of Gods mercy every time we visit, am grateful that we were able to be there for him when he needed love and support. I thank God for lifting the weights from my shoulders. I thank God for taking away my bitterness and allowing me to be able to truly once again celebrate Lords Supper with an overflowing heart of joy, for answering my many prayers, for again giving me the joy of faith and renewed life. I thank Him for the new group of friends and mentors I have been given through life renewal. I pray for Gods strength to love my neighbours as myself, to show patience, peace gentleness mercy and friendliness and to do good even to my enemies.”
This testimony was beautifully written by a participant of our 2012 sessions:
Just imagine starting a letter to apply for a new job with “Dear Sir/Madam, I am interested in your job opportunity, but I must admit that I am powerless of my addictions, compulsive behaviors and my tendency to do wrong. Basically, my life is unmanageable…” Can you imagine? I don’t think I will hear much back from the hiring company, let alone receive the job.
However, for all of us at some point sooner or later in our life we come to confess this truth. Maybe not willingly. Maybe still covering up parts of it or not realizing the full consequences of this confession but I firmly believe that every human being reaches the point where he or she knows that strength to deal with life in this world lies not in us, but outside of us.
Admitting fault, seeing failure and dealing with pain or problems in our lives is a tough process and something we do not share easily with others; maybe with our spouse, a friend or an office bearer but for sure not with strangers. How can we get rid of the guilt, sin, worries, depression or addiction? Do we need therapy or medication? Do we need to pray harder, read the Bible more?
Life Renewal for me has been that place where I have learned to share, admit my pain and problems, and was encouraged to deal with it rather than to deny it or run away from it. The clear half hour video sessions guided me through my feelings and behaviours and directed me to the root of my problems, that ‘nothing good lives within me, that is, in my sinful nature’ (Rom. 7:18). Because this is the root of all issues, at Life Renewal we can all share during small group discussions that follow, no matter our background, no matter our issues.
Life Renewal not only digs deep into my life, it also digs deep into Scripture to find the answers to unlock my heart and mind in order to allow the Holy Spirit to renew me more and more to Christ’s image. Jesus came to heal, forgive and set free those who admit they are sick, and Life Renewal has helped me to make that confession more deeply than ever. It helped me to commit to change through God’s strength and not my own and continue with humility.
I still use anti-depressant medication and Life Renewal does not replace pastoral care or counseling for specific issues. The program, however, is a wonderful opportunity to encourage each other, based on the Bible, on the road to eternal life. Life Renewal might not give me that job I applied for even if I change the opening of my letter. It does not pretend to solve everything in my life and it will not make me perfect either, but it does make me real; admitting my faults, dealing with whatever comes on my path, and leaning on God every day.
From some 2013 participants:
So… why did I go to life renewal? That’s a good question.
I didn’t want to go, not because I didn’t think or know I needed help, I knew very well that I needed help. Honestly I was terrified, terrified of my “deep, dark secrets” coming to light; and coming to grips with the consequences of them.
Satan had planted many lies in my heart. Many of them were planted from a very young age, about me, Christ’s church, my family and others. I believed that there was no love for me in the church, that I was different and deserved to be treated that way. I believed that I was unworthy of the consideration, let alone the love of brothers and sisters in the church. I also learned from a very young age to keep my secrets to myself; I thought this protected me.
All of these lies and others, kept me from true honesty with everyone in my life, including God. So I became a people pleaser. That meant I said and did whatever I needed to, to divert attention away from me and to make me feel good about myself. God wanted my honesty, He knew the path I would be walking, and He would be leading me. He needed an honest son, brother, grandson, employee, husband, etc. God used life renewal to break the lies I had sealed up, even the pains and lies that I had sworn to die with.
I came specifically because a man addicted to pornography and masturbation could not please God by his walk of life. “A man cannot serve two masters.” I wanted God in my life so badly, I cried, praying for deliverance from an addiction I hated and could not beat of my own power. The man I was could not be a good husband, brother, employee, grandson, witness, etc.
At life renewal, I found the love and fellowship of brothers and sisters in Christ. The power of my addiction has faded in aspects of my life. Satan is very crafty though and he learns new ways to tempt me. The brothers at life renewal received me with open arms when I shared with them that I fought against pornography and masturbation in my life. They still support me today, through prayer, texts, phone calls and hanging out. This has turned the tides of my battle against sexual temptations; though I still fight urges and temptations every day. God is my strength and He uses his people to aid me. My wife is my biggest aid. I have never felt so engulfed in the love of Christ for and in His church. He so loved me that He redeemed me.
God used life renewal to break one major lie I believed, “that no one would love me if they truly knew me.” God showed me forgiveness in its various forms, and through those experiences, I have left the sin and shame I carried every day at the cross. I thought I would live the rest of my life carrying it, I felt I deserved to. God has filled my cup to overflowing in so many aspects of my life.
Praise God from whom all blessings flow!
About half a year before going to Life Renewal I bought a notebook and on the first page I wrote the lyrics to a song called Worn by Tenth Avenue North. The lyrics meant everything to me because they said everything I was feeling.
“I’m Tired I’m worn
My heart is heavy
From the work it takes
To keep on breathing
I’ve made mistakes
I’ve let my hope fail
My soul feels crushed
By the weight of this world
And I know that you can give me rest
So I cry out with all that I have left
Cause I’m worn
My prayers are wearing thin
Yeah, I’m worn
Even before the day begins
Yeah, I’m worn
I’ve lost my will to fight
So, heaven come and flood my eyes”
I bought that note book in the hopes of changing that feeling. I wanted to know that my prayers were heard and that I could love God and trust Him.
I’ve always known God existed, I’ve always known that I would always go to church. But I haven’t always known what it means to have a relationship with Him. I’ve always said the things church people say, done the things church people do, gone to all the catechism classes and Bible studies. I even did profession of faith, believing in God but not truly feeling it. God was always distant in my eyes, someone that other people could be close to but that this was as good as it would get for me. This had so many implications for me. It meant I was low on confidence in my faith. It meant that I wasn’t one to speak up at my secular college when someone said something I didn’t really agree with. I usually shrugged it off and felt guilty afterwards. “My faith wasn’t really working for me.” It wasn’t until coming to Life Renewal that my relationship with God became very personal.
I’ll admit that I came to Life Renewal mostly because my fiancé at the time convinced me to go. I came because I felt obligated to, not because I wanted to or because I necessarily saw benefit in it for me. My life was pretty good and I didn’t really have any “big issues” that I needed to deal with. There was a slight hope inside of me that maybe I would learn how to love and serve God with zeal the way I saw other people serve Him. I was pretty doubtful of that though.
My relationship with God has grown every week since the September I began Life Renewal. I was constantly challenged to think beyond what I thought I knew about myself and God. Digging into my past wasn’t always easy of course but the way it made me understand why I act the way I do was so beneficial to changing my behaviours. I also learned why I felt so distant from God and although I still have a way to go yet, I know that He is constantly bringing me closer to Him.
Life Renewal helped me to become much more open at school. I’ve become honest about my faith, outspoken and real. I no longer feel like I’m hiding something. I’ve taken off my mask and that feels amazing. I know that has everything to do with the fact that I’ve become confident in my faith. It is so much more real for me than ever before and that gives me the desire and confidence to share it.
I feel like every step brought me to a new place and nothing huge stuck out to me until the last few weeks. Everything changed after the step where we learned how to really dig into God’s Word. Being given the tools to do devotions and actually get something out of it EVERY time was so amazing for me. It IS so amazing for me. I never thought I could learn so much from God when spending one on one time with Him. My devotions used to consist of reading a passage and hoping to get something out of it. If I did, fantastic, if not, well that’s just the way it is. No! God is always speaking to us, we just need to listen
Life Renewal has given me the tools to listen to God and understand how He wants me to live. My relationships with my friends, family and especially with my now husband have strengthened. I’ve learned how to be honest and genuine. My faith is finally becoming my own. I am free.
Some time ago I bought a notebook. I wrote lyrics of an empty feeling. Today I can write different lyrics in it. I can write the lyrics to a song David wrote.
“The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.”
I grew up in a Christian family – both parents educated and professionals, loving the LORD, serving Him in many ways in the church and school, lots of family and friend connections with ministers…..
I grew up in a dysfunctional family, and not just because of usual sinfulness. Due to extremes in health concerns, severe mental illness, paralyzing financial stress, extremely difficult relations with relatives, overdependence on alcohol, it was not the home my parents had envisioned on their wedding day. It was a house with a revolving door – sometimes Dad was gone for a while, sometimes Mom was gone, or one or all three of us kids, or any combination of the above. It was not your average household, thankfully for everyone else.
When I married young to get out of that situation, I determined to never do that to our kids. And that led me to a co-dependent relationship in which I allowed myself to be controlled by other’s behaviour and in reaction, trying to control other’s behaviours. Many years of reacting, trying to cope, feeling like a martyr and too often, forgetting to find out who the LORD intended me to be in all my various tasks led to my own problems with mental illness.
Fifteen years of secular counselling helped me cope with day to day living, but never held me accountable nor gave healing. Their goal was to keep me in a happy place for myself, regardless of how the LORD wanted me to live.
Through all of this, I had come to the point of not recognizing what my earthly task was anymore. I only saw the failures and mistakes, with glimmers of light once in a while in the next generation. I felt very unworthy of anyone’s love. Why would anyone need me or desire to have me as a friend? I was blind to the gifts the LORD was still providing for me in family and friends. I had determined also not to rely on people – too many times I had been betrayed and so only the LORD would be my help. But this led me to withdraw and avoid other people, even those closest to me. I built high walls to protect what little was left of ME. To me that was fine. Painful but fine. It was my lot in life, as I had been told before. To others who only saw the outside, maybe it looked like it was fine in my life. Or at least just ‘normal’. I trusted that God had it in His control and it would all be okay, if not on this earth, for sure on the new earth. I really did feel His constant presence in my life. He really was my Strength. But I did not trust Him to be my Shield.
Enter LIFE RENEWAL. In it I saw an opportunity to help others with problems and struggles in their lives. I saw a stronger faith in my children who went through the program. I thought, this would be good for so many people.
Well…the program hit me hard in the pain I had been carrying around for 50 years. Through my inventories, difficult work though it was, patterns emerged – thanks to all who pointed that out! And the LORD revealed some times that I had been hurt, or had hurt others, that I didn’t even realize! The pattern of being or feeling abandoned, then withdrawing myself, has gone on for almost my whole life. The LORD even brought to my mind the very first time it happened.
For every difficult place LIFE RENEWAL took me, it also offered the solution!
It was a huge weight off of me when I turned over my pain to our Saviour. I knew He had paid for my sins, etc. But I thought I had to carry the consequences and pain myself, with the help of the Spirit of course. But to lay my pain at the foot of the cross, and leave it there – I had never realized that I could actually do that.
And that other log? When I hurt others? What a relief to let the regrets and guilt and shame go, and trust the LORD to turn it around for their good.
Making amends was a painful process – and I resisted it for a while. But surprisingly it was much less painful than I thought it would be. Done with humility and much prayer, it has opened doors that I thought were closed tight.
As far as relationships with others? I thought I would go thru the rest of life relying only on my relationship with the LORD, not needing people. But how wrong I was. He has given me sisters, and even brothers, who care about me! Now I know that I need others and wonder of wonders, they need me!
That lie planted by the devil 50 yrs ago – they don’t really care about you – you are not important, kind of invisible- that lie which satan used so often in my life to cause me to build a strong wall of withdrawal and loneliness – that lie is losing its grip, and I look forward to seeing the last of it soon!
I signed up for Life Renewal classes to help me deal with consequences of sexual abuse in my family. I wanted to learn how to cope with the breakup of my family and get some ideas of how to fix the problems. I had been struggling for many years over this issue, trying to fix matters, praying for God to do something, and asking him to tell me what to do. But I didn’t seem to be getting anywhere… trying to fix other people wasn’t working. So I had great trouble with Step 3 already, handing over my will to God. I had to give my family and our problems over to God to solve in his way and in his time. This was very difficult because Life Renewal also showed me that I looked for self-worth from my family more so than by God. When I came to believe that God loves me unconditionally, then I finally became willing to hand over my will to him and leave my family’s problem with him.
The situation has not changed, but I have. I am no longer living in anxiety or obsess over the events of the past, nor am I expecting my family to be united again based on what I do or do not do. I am thankful to God that he has given me the strength to love and forgive the abuser while continuing to encourage him to repent and work at reconciliation with those he hurt the most. I continue to pray for the abused and their families, and am confident that God is taking care of them… in ways that are best for them without any input from me. While it makes me sad that my family is broken, I have peace about the situation now and don’t harbor unrealistic expectations.
My focus during the last half of Life Renewal changed, because I started examining my own sins. I realized how far I’d strayed from God especially in a certain area of my life that I didn’t even want to acknowledge, and so I started dealing with that issue. Life Renewal is giving me the tools I need to fight against this sin every day, and while I have to confess I am not totally victorious over this sin yet, it is becoming easier to fight against, and I am remembering to recite a special Bible verse when tempted.
I am so thankful for the new people in my life: my facilitator, two accountability partners, and my sponsor. By their sharing and caring, they have given me confidence to face my sins, bring them to the cross, and take responsibility for their consequences rather than ignoring or burying them. The Lord willing, I am going to return to Life Renewal as a facilitator in September, in order to continue working the program for myself as well as guiding new participants through it. I encourage anyone who wants to deal with a painful past or an ongoing temptation or trial to come to Life Renewal, because it will teach you the Biblical manner of dealing with these things, as well as strengthen your faith and your love for God.