I was about to start another long commute home in rush hour traffic when I decided I was kind of sick of all the bebop music that normally gets me jazzed for the drive. [No offense Justin Bieber. Is too late now to say sorry?]
The Lord only knows how I somehow got connected into a podcast program called "Java With Juli." I had heard Juli speak before on a number of occasions & that day she had one of my favorite authors on the show - Linda Dillow.
Linda is pretty much the cat's meow. She's in her 70's & is not afraid to discuss any topic, as it relates to faith & does so with incredible tact, honor, and respect to whomever would be listening. When you hear Linda discuss things like masturbation & pornography, YOU CANNOT HELP BUT LIKE HER. She has a gentle way about her that makes you feel closer to God, just by listening to her speak. I quickly became a big fan of Linda & Juli's ministry "Authentic Intimacy" on social media.
Fast forward to this last month when I was asked to be on a book launch team for Authentic Intimacy. A book called "Surprised By The Healer." Written By, Dr. Juli Slattery & Linda Dillow. Being a self-proclaimed Linda Dillow groupie, I couldn't wait to read the book they were sending me. I hardly even thought to ask what it was going to be about.
The box came later that week & it wasn't long before I was burning the midnight oil to consume this book in it's entirety.
The book follows the stories of 9 different women through their challenges in sexual intimacy. Sex in marriage, Sex Outside Of Marriage, Sex Before Marriage, Pornography, Masturbation, Rape, Molestation – it’s all there. Each of these women finding hope & healing in their lives. Though some of their stories haven’t necessarily ended with a bow tied around them.
Some of these women, you will relate to.
And some of them might be quite nearly your own story.
I told myself I wouldn’t sugar coat this – but there are points in the book I had to physically put down the book and cry for humanity. Some of these stories were a TOUGH READ.
All of them I was so motivated & inspired by.
Rita’s story of forgiveness after her husband left her & married someone else was truly life changing to read about.
God tells us to love our enemies, but Bob & Amy were my enemies for a good reason. How could I love a man who had selfishly broken his covenant? Who had hurt our children & destroyed our dreams? And how could I forgive her? I had a right to be angry.....a right to hate. Didn't I?
Healing requires the obedience of forgiveness, the death of my sense of justice, and a willingness to accept the pain and to release the pain. Most of all, it required faith in my Savior to use difficulty to transform my life into something that reflects more of Him. So I took a step toward forgiveness. I made a conscious choice: I resolved not to live whatever days I had left on earth breeding bitterness, resentment, and anger but rather fighting to overcome them.
This battle to overcome is never over. Sometimes I trust and obey and sometimes I allow myself to be swallowed by pain, loneliness, and depression. What I have found is that the battle is worth fighting.
Staring death in the face has a way of putting things in perspective. Within seven years, I had faced death twice only to be given another chance at life. I began to grasp the superficial nature of my deal with God and to see that what He offers is far greater than the trinkets we bargain with Him for.
Life is short....eternity is long. I want to develop the only part of me that I can take to heaven. Christ in me remakes my character and brings a piece of heaven to earth. If I trust in God's plan for spiritual formation in my life, then there is nothing on earth that can destroy his plan.
The tragedies of life and the sinful choices of others can be devastating. But my response to such things can be even more damaging. How I respond is what forever matters. The truth is, Jesus is the only One who will not betray, abandon, or reject me. In my human condition I will be failed by those who loved me - and I will continue to sin against those I love.
As I began to accept my circumstances and my own contribution to them, to trust in the sovereignty of God over all things and rely on His precious promises, it became easier to accept my circumstances. I was beginning, in the tiniest of ways, to understand that if I truly loved God and yielded my desires to Him, He would in His miraculous of ways bring something good out of everything. I began to realize that what happens on earth impacts eternity: my soul and the souls of others. This enabled me to final begin to forgive.
GOOD STUFF. And if you liked Rita’s story & want to read more, or enjoy the 10 week book study written into the book– perfect for your small group or to read with a friend - I’m giving away a few copies of this book today! WOOT WOOT! Enter to win now!
Books can now be purchased at Authentic Intimacy’s website.
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