The Spark

Yesterday I began to feel overwhelmed. The weight of frustration due to my past choices to procrastinate pulled my mood downward. Then, I got in the car and this song began to play. It was just the message I needed to hear. What a dear reminder that God is speaking all the time….and He cares for our hurts. Let us have ears to hear.

“The Spark” by Tenth Avenue North

Is this the spark where it begins
We find freedom from our sins
Is this the place I finally trust
Your presence is enough to

Speak light in my darkness
Speak life till I know
There’s strength for my weakness
Slow down oh my soul

You are where my soul finds rest
You are where I lay my head
Your grace lets me catch my breath
Lets me fall into your arms again

God, my life shall not roam
Lead me where your waters run
You, yourself and nothing less
All my life I’ll fight to rest

Speak light in my darkness
Speak life till I know
There’s strength for my weakness
Slow down oh my soul
Slow down my soul

You are where my soul finds rest
You are where I lay my head
Your grace lets me catch my breath
Lets me fall into your arms again

Tell me your love will never fail me
I’m safe here in your mercy
You’re keeping me alive
I need to feel your peace within me
Calm the fears that haunt me
Clear away the lies

Tell me your love is in my bloodstream
It’s burning up my heartbeat
Bringing me your light

You are where my soul finds rest
You are where I lay my head
Your grace lets me catch my breath
Lets me fall into your arms again
Again

Advertisements

My Path Out of Porn Addiction: A Therapist’s Journey

My personal story of healing and Divine faithfulness. Please enjoy and share with others. Thanks!

LifeSTAR Central Valley Blog

Forest's Path

When I recently wrote about my promotion to Clinical Director and the career journey that led me to this work I love to do, I omitted a significant piece of my history. We all have a back-story. It is ours to hold or to share. I would like to show you a snapshot of mine. I reserve the intimate details for the handful of trusted individuals in my “inner circle.” But I believe that what follows will enrich the lives of others, so I am honored to give this gift to those who can benefit.

The reality is that I have studied sexual addiction much longer than the 9 years of my graduate and post-graduate work. My education in the “field” of porn addiction began when I was 12 years old, when I was first introduced to pornography at a friend’s house. I was a prime candidate for addiction, burdened…

View original post 927 more words

Save the Dates: Saturday April 18th & May 31st

Save the Dates!

LifeSTAR Central Valley Blog

Dangerous Access for Teens
You are invited to watch my upcoming internet TV show appearance on “Let’s Talk Business with Steve Walling”, this Saturday, April 18, between 1-2pm. I plan to talk about the LifeSTAR program and to promote a FREE community event called “Dangerous Access: Teen Version”, on May 31st, aimed at educating teenagers about the negative affects of pornography and how to defend against it.

To watch the show live, go to http://www.centralvalleytalk.com/. If you miss this show, I have two additional planned appearances in May. Please share these events with anyone who would benefit. Thanks!

Forest Benedict, MA, SATP-C, LMFT, Clinical Director of LifeSTAR of the Central Valley

View original post

Holding to the One Who Holds Me

A comforting reminder for moments of fear and self-doubt.

“Who I am” by Blanca

Another voice, another choice
To listen to words somebody said
Another day
I replay
One too many doubts inside my head

Am I strong
Beautiful
Am I good enough
Do I belong
After all
That I’ve said and done
Is it real
When I feel
I don’t measure up
Am I loved

CHORUS
I’m running to the One who knows me
Who made every part of me in His hands
I’m holding to the One who holds me
‘Cause I know whose I am, I know who I am

I am sure I am Yours

Turning down
Tuning out
Every single word
That caused me pain
Unashamed
And unafraid
‘Cause I believe You mean it when You say

I am strong
Beautiful
I am good enough
I belong
After all
‘Cause of what You’ve done
This is real
What I feel
No one made it up
I am loved

I am sure I am Yours
I know who I am
I am sure I am Yours

Fearfully
Wonderfully
Perfectly
You have made me

I’m running to the One who knows me
I’m holding to the One who holds me

I am sure I am Yours
And I know who I am

The Relevance of the Resurrection

love-699480_1280Have you ever wondered how the resurrection of Jesus is relevant to our everyday lives? I’m certain I’m among those who often pass through life as if Christ’s resurrection is not much more than a meaningful myth. If you can relate, I urge you to consider these wise words from Brennan Manning about the relevance of the resurrected Christ.

“The resurrection needs to be experienced as present risenness. If we take seriously the word of the risen Christ, “Know that I am with you always; yes, to the end of time” (Matthew 28:20), we should expect that he will be actively present in our lives. If our faith is alive and luminous, we will be alert to moments, events, and occasions when the power of resurrection is brought to bear in our lives.”

“The present risenness of Jesus as “life-giving Spirit” means that I can cope with anything. I am not my own. “I pray that you may realize…how vast are the resources of his Spirit available to us.” (See Ephesians 1:18-19.) Relying not on my own limited reserves but on the limitless power of the risen Christ I can stare down (…) even the prospect of my impending death.”

“It may happen in those most desperate trials of human existence that beyond any rational explanation, we may feel a nail-scarred hand clutching ours….The tragedy radically alters the direction of our lives, but in our vulnerability and defenselessness we experience the power of Jesus in His present risenness.”

May we feel Christ’s nail-scarred hand holding ours through the trials and tests of life.

May the power and hope in his present risenness change how we perceive the world around us.

May we continually experience the work of a loving God in our midst and in our hearts.

Wishing you and yours a life-giving and joyful Easter.

Love,

Forest

New Opportunity on This Purposeful Path

I am excited to announce that I will be teaching in the Sexual Addiction Treatment Provider (SATP) certification program through Mid-America Nazarene University starting this fall. I gradated from this great program a couple years ago. It is a unique program, as it is the only Christian sexual addiction certification available through an accredited university (in the world). This is an excellent program for clinicians who feel called to helping those impacted by sexual addiction and who value the spiritual component of the healing process.

Enrollment is now open, so if any of you are interested in this certification and training, you can apply here (or click for additional info):

http://www.mnu.edu/graduate/sexual-addictions-treatment-provider-certification-program.html

Here is some general information about the program:

  • Fully Online program
  • One year in duration (starting in September)
  • 15 credits
  • $330 per credit
  • Christian program
  • Must have a Master’s degree in the mental health field

I am happy to answer questions anyone may have about this program.

Please feel free to share this information with others who may be interested.

I’d love to see you there!

Wishing you all a blessed Easter weekend,

Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP-C

A WOD to Remember

PANO_20150322_150855_392_2

Exactly one year ago I sat with a small group of friends as we celebrated the 40th year of our dear friend Ericlee. Swapping stories, several shared their unique memories with him. I volunteered a special memory from a shared family vacation in Mendocino where Ericlee and I woke early for a morning Crossfit exercise (WOD). After running down a row of railroad tie stairs to the beach, we beheld our natural gym. In Ericlee’s creative spirit, he directed each of us to find a set of 5 drift-wood logs, in ascending weight. Our workout consisted of carrying those water-weighted logs swiftly up those stairs then several feet away to a massive blowhole-like chasm where we’d heave them crashing down into the sea. The experience was exhilarating and challenging. I cherish that wonderful memory.

Today marks Ericlee’s 41st birthday and we only celebrate with him in spirit. Half a year ago, cancer quickly completed it’s course in Ericlee’s body. Now I hold these precious memories more tightly since no more can be made with him on this side of eternity.

IMG_20150323_103040_285_2

Recently I returned to that familiar staircase descending to that Mendocino beach. I did not come to that beach to cry. But as I stepped over the carcasses of fallen trees, the tears came. And I welcomed them. Almost immediately, as if God was weeping with me, it started to rain. It was a divinely comforting experience. And I spent some time there, crying and remembering my friend and our adventures together.

IMG_20150323_073632_741

I visited the blowhole before I said my goodbyes and returned to my car. There I grabbed my journal and penned these words:

“It is beyond bewilderment that we watched fireworks parade across the sky together just 2 months before his spirit was decisively divorced from his body. Sideswiped by circumstances, I stand again, this time with a cautious awareness that shipwrecks happen to the noblest of vessels. There is no immunity to mortality, as my childlike faith would have me hope. We all travel a downward staircase.”

I’m grateful for grief on that beach. I’m thankful for moments etched in memories, where Ericlee’s legacy lives on with me. Happy Birthday my friend. Today’s I’ll create and complete a WOD in your honor. No, it won’t be the same as our morning in Mendocino. But your strength inspires me in this season and in the next season we’re sure to do many WODs side by side again.

Maybe Jesus will join us.

I’ll see you in a little while
It won’t be too long now
We’ll see it on the other side
The wait was only the blink of an eye
So I’m not gonna say goodbye
‘Cause I’ll see you in a little while”

-Steven Curtis Chapman

-By Forest Benedict, LMFT

Defending Against “Pre-Lapse”: Moving from Complacency to Commitment

thin-ice-17996_1280“Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil.

He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.”

1 Peter 5:8

Time and time again, I have watched the sprint of early recovery dissipate into a stroll of complacency. Initial passion, often fueled by crisis or catastrophe, pushes people powerfully forward. Yet, unless this momentum is maintained, addicts will gradually revert to a risky state of inactivity. Patrick Carnes, PhD, leading expert in the field of sexual addiction recovery, points out this pattern of heightened acting out behavior in the SECOND 6 months of recovery. Whether it is early on or years down the road, it is clear that regardless of the intensity of early recovery commitments, anyone can wane in their resolve. This half-hearted, mindless, and dangerous state that precedes relapse is best described as “pre-lapse”.

The above scene from the movie “The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies” provides a meaningful metaphor for “pre-lapse”. In the first 20 seconds of this clip, it appears as though the long-fought adversary is vanquished. Thorin fought ferociously for that victorious moment. Then, his stunned opponent re-surfaced below the sheet of ice. Seconds slid by as Thorin peered down, staring from a safe distance, seemingly caught in daze of complacency. Even after his enemy’s eyes closed, he stayed still. His lack of action precipitated a sword swiftly stabbed through his shoe. Then the battle was fiercely re-engaged. He eventually killed his nemesis, but not without serious personal cost. Much pain was avoidable, had Thorin only seen the signs and acted accordingly.

As these images settle in your mind’s eye, I urge you to consider the following questions regarding your own recovery or serious life commitments:

In what ways am I complacent, in a state of “pre-lapse”?

Have I become lazy in practicing the necessary self-care for maintaining my recovery?

What am I doing well in my recovery?

Am I practicing patterns of disconnection in my relationships with God, myself, and with my support network?

In what ways am I walking on “thin ice” in my recovery?

What are my current blind-spots in my recovery journey?

In what ways am I lying to myself about my current commitment to the long-road of recovery?

What growth am I resisting in my recovery?

What are the next bold steps in my recovery?

Am I committed to taking the necessary action steps that stem from this new awareness of my progress or lack thereof?

Consider re-visiting these honest questions on a regular basis. You do not need to relapse to take time for this necessary self-examination. Right now may be the best time to seek awareness and consider action steps, before complacency leads to casualties. Remember too that the state of “pre-lapse” can be extremely triggering for partners of addicts, signaling lack of safety.

Proactively defending against “pre-lapse” will take continual effort. But those who courageously wrestle forward will experience both victory and the satisfaction of knowing they battled fervently (2 Timothy 4:7) and did not give up. This is the heroic journey of successful recovery.

-Written by Forest Benedict, MA, SATP-C, LMFT, Clinical Director of LifeSTAR of the Central Valley

If you benefited from this article, please “follow” us on this blog and on Twitter, “like” us on Facebook, and share this article and blog with others. Thank you!