The Potential to Change: Join Us In Just 3 Days

The potential to change

Fourteen years ago, I drove to Sacramento for a recovery event that changed the course of my life. This Saturday, I am leading a recovery event in Sacramento that could change the course of many other men’s lives. In just three days I will share stories and strategies from my book Life After Lust that have strengthened myself and many others in recovery. This event will bring hope to those caught in addiction, those long in recovery, and those just wanting to connect with themselves and grow.

I am SO excited!

I love how life gives us opportunities like this to turn our pain into purpose. As I creatively and strategically prepare for this event, I am both grateful for this opportunity and excited to plant powerful seeds that I trust will sprout into amazing fruit that will impact the world. Who knows, maybe some of these men will catch a glimpse of the hope of recovery, master what they learn, and someday lead others into healing and a changed life. It may sound unbelievable but I’ve seen such miracles. I’ve lived such miracles. If you want to see what potential is packaged in a handful of hours, join us this Saturday in Sacramento. I look forward to meeting you there, in just 3 days.

Click here to sign up (If you can’t make it this time, sign up here for announcements of future events)

**** PS: The Life After Lust Audiobook will make it debut at this event and be available in some venues this Saturday as well!

 

Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP, author of Life After Lust: Stories & Strategies for Sex & Pornography Addiction Recovery. Please follow Forest on the following platforms: NewsletterYoutubeBlogTwitterFacebookInstagram, and Pinterest, and SHARE this valuable content with others. Thank you!

 

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Healed for a Purpose

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Over a decade ago I checked into a treatment program hoping to heal from a serious sexual addiction. A transformed life was Plan A. Plan B was a secret plot to escape to Las Vegas and drown myself in addictive self-destruction. My contingency plan never materialized because Plan A became my life’s mission. Ironically, my recovery path led me back to Las Vegas last weekend. I was not there to indulge an addiction but to train therapists to treat those who do. This is one of many mind-blowing miracles I’ve savored in my recovery. Out of my past pain has come my present purpose. This is the hope of healing.

When we are deep in addiction and trauma, we are blind to future hope. We cannot imagine living in the light when we feel lost in the night. It takes a bold imagination to take steps forward in recovery when we can’t predict where that path leads.

I cannot tell you where your recovery path will take you but I can promise you one thing: Through your recovery you’ll connect with your purpose. Healing is about far more than just managing triggers, but about stepping into a meaningful life. When we are no longer handcuffed by our impulses, we are free to love and live fully.

Are you willing to do the deep and difficult work of recovery today, holding tightly to the belief that you will benefit tomorrow?  

Are you willing to postpone present pleasure and persevere through present pain for the promise of future satisfaction? 

If you answer “yes” then I welcome you to a courageous journey of faith. Here we begin to believe in the unseen. We imagine a different future while persistently pursuing it. When our purposeful future find us, we will truly see that we’ve sacrificed nothing and gained everything. We wrestled for our recovery and it was worth it. We were healed for a purpose.

-By Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP-C

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Dear Mr Duggar: When Sexual Secrets Surface

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“But there is nothing covered up that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known” Luke 12:2

Today I finished and posted an article aimed at addressing sexual addiction in the news, providing hope for Josh Duggar, those impacted by the Ashley Madison hack, and others who continue to silently struggle. I believe the world would benefit from this timely message and appreciate any efforts my readers make in helping spread this link throughout Facebook and in your other networks:

Click here – Dear Mr Duggar: When Secrets Surface

Gratefully,

Forest

Prayer of a Fatherless Father

Do you relate to this powerful prose? I watch in tears. These wounds have hitch-hiked across my lifespan, like unwanted passengers, seemingly since the beginning. They are often overlooked. I prefer performing as though they don’t exist.

Yet the term “father”, though I’ve despised it, demands attention when I become the overseer of my own little ones. Like me, their future faith is molded by their image of fatherhood.

As parents, the startling reality is that how we love our children prepares their hearts to trust others and to ultimately trust God. As time ticks, love lingers and connection continues. Conversely, many of us know firsthand that pain is passed, shame is shared, and disconnection is dealt downward from generation to generation. Our wounds and scars attest to this.

Aware of past personal lessons of loss, we feel lost in loving well. How can we pass a torch that was dropped decades ago? How can healing begin here?

I wonder, is our Abba the answer? His Word says that we “have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry ‘Abba’, it is that spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God” (see Romans 8:14-16). When we are invited into our divine Daddy’s family, does that not change us? When God’s fathering eclipses experiences with our faulty fathers, does it comfort us to the core?

Maybe many followers have failed to have this experience, acting as if their earthly father’s face is painted upon God’s. But our projections do not parallel reality. Our heavenly Father is drastically different.

Brennan Manning explains how “scripture suggests that the essence of the divine nature is compassion and that the heart of God is defined by tenderness”. He shares that “the experience of a warm, caring, affective presence banishes our fears. The defense mechanisms of the imposter – sarcasm, name-dropping, self-righteousness, the need to impress others – fall away. We become more open, real, vulnerable, and affectionate. We grow tender” (p 64-65).

Abba’s love does not erase our wounds. Instead, like a healing balm, it soothes them. He meets us in our wounds, comforting us, that we may comfort others in the same way (2 Cor 1:4). This new father experience is necessary. It frees us to love and lead our children from tender, healed hearts.

As we experience God’s affection and tenderness, our children will experience this in us as well, planting seeds of faith that will someday blossom. Our children will learn to trust that the true heart of a Daddy is attentive, caring, and responsive. They will grow up freed from the burden of mistrust and suspicion toward a God that seems all too absent. As we enjoy the authentic fatherhood of our adoptive Abba, may we pass that torch forward through time, that our children would bless, not curse, the name “Father”.

Prayer of a Fatherless Father

Father, love me. That I would sense how a father loves his child and love my children tenderly.

Father, teach me. That I would learn how a father teaches his child and teach my children patiently.

Father, guide me. That I would know how a father guides his child and guide my children faithfully.

Father, comfort me. That I would comprehend how a father comforts his child and comfort my children compassionately.

Father, delight in me. That I would experience how a father delights in his child and delight in my children joyfully.

Father, hold me. That I would feel how a father holds his child and hold my children securely.

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-By Forest Benedict

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Fasting in Faith, Hoping for Healing

Have you ever hoped for a miracle in the face of dire circumstances? When weighing the evidence reveals a discouraging reality, it sometimes feels foolish to believe in something better. That’s the place I find myself now, as I continue to pray for healing while my friend suffers through his brutal battle with cancer.

But is not the hallmark of our faith believing in the impossible? Hoping in what is unseen? Trusting there is something invisible that is purposeful and powerful and meaningful? Even when our physical eyes see circumstances beyond our control, we have the audacity to believe in something more. We trust in what is unseen. More importantly, we trust in Who is unseen. And we trust that He cares.

Would we dare to be like Esther, who sent out the historic message, “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish” (Esther 4:16).

Esther did everything in her power to seek change in a moment when the reality was dismal. She admitted that her plan had no guarantees. In fact, she knew she would die if God did not do something spectacular.

We too are taking steps forward in the midst of disappointments. Even though our friend’s strength dims, yet we hope. Like in Esther’s circumstance, our efforts will not guarantee a specific outcome. We could fast and pray and seek the Lord and see sickness prevail.

When I consider the choice before us to either resign or keep a steady course, my friend’s wise advice echoes in my ears. This great man that we continue to pray for has trained many of us to race. Because of his leadership, I ran my first half marathon several years ago. He taught me how to pace myself to endure the long, grueling course. “Then”, he would say, “when you’re getting near the finish line, maybe in the last mile, you give it everything you’ve got, finishing the race in one last burst of energy”.

We are there now. Some of us are discouraged as we see signs that our friend’s finish line may be near. It is not time to give up hope. No, it is time to sprint! Instead of resigning to hopelessness, let us run this last leg with strength and perseverance.

Join us as we fast and pray, not with diminished faith, but with emboldened trust in the One who can breathe life into dust. Whether God heals or doesn’t, we can testify that in this last leg we gave it our best, that we finished this race with a fighting spirit our Coach would be proud of.

Whether our friend wins or loses his run against cancer, at least we will know that hopelessness did not have the final word. Our many voices, joined in unified prayer will either bring the miraculous healing our hearts hoped for or provide our dear friend with a thunderous chorus that cheers him across his last finish line into the arms of Christ.

 

Crossing the Finish Line

From Addiction to Connection: The Value of Learning “How We Love”

“How We Love has the capacity to change not only your marriage but every relationship that’s important in your life” – Josh McDowell

            As a therapist who specializes in the treatment of sexual addiction, the perspective that guides my work in attachment theory. From this viewpoint, sexual addiction is an attachment or intimacy disorder. In the Healing through Connection workbook used in our LifeSTAR program, I wrote about this concept, explaining:

When a secure attachment to a caregiver is not developed, a person is more susceptible to addiction. Flores (2004), states it this way: “No one ever escapes their need for satisfying relationships, and the degree to which we are unable to form healthy interpersonal intimacy determines the degree to which we are vulnerable to substitute [addiction] for human closeness” (p. 53).

In families or other relational situations where there is abuse, trauma, emotional neglect, or disapproval of the sharing of feelings, this can teach children that people are unsafe as sources of care, connection, and comfort in times of pain. Early life experiences such as these often create attachment styles that are considered “insecure”. These styles are described in various terms such as Avoidant, Ambivalent, Disorganized, Anxious, Vacillator, Pleaser, Controller, and Victim. Knowing your personal attachment style will provide valuable insight into how you relate to others. Combine this lack of relational trust with the opportunity for a mood-altering experience, such as using pornography, and it is a formula for creating a powerful connection with a non-relational entity. Over time, this can become a person’s primary method of relieving stress, soothing sadness, calming anger, and managing other moods.

Looking at addiction through this attachment lens, one of the primary sources of healing is choosing to disconnect from addiction while simultaneously learning to connect in safe relationships. One of the best resources I have encountered for recognizing the specific ways a person disconnects from others and learning how to connect deeply with others is the book How We Love by Milan & Kay Yerkovich (2008).

READ MORE HERE:

http://lifestarcentralvalley.wordpress.com/2014/08/10/from-addiction-to-connection-the-value-of-learning-how-we-love/

 

Spiritual Detox

“Behold, I am making all things new.” – Revelation 21:5

My child, I am doing a healing work in you. Let the warmth of my healing seep into your bones. Let the toxins of shame and resentment and sin excrete through your pores. Let the detoxing begin, as my waters flush out the grime that has clung to your soul through these years. Let me flush your system. Then, let me start afresh.