What’s Love Got To Do With It?

 Recovery  Comments Off on What’s Love Got To Do With It?
Jul 272015
 

Recently, I had the opportunity to stay a couple of nights at a hotel. The hotel was older, needed some repairs, and the WiFi didn’t work very well. But other than these minor issues, we had an enjoyable stay.

The fellow who ran the front desk’s name was Henry for our purposes. At first, while checking in, Henry seemed a little snappy. But after further interactions with him, he proved to be rather friendly.

Toward the end of our stay, I had the chance to sit down with Henry and to chat with him for a little while.

love

The following is Henry’s story:

“Henry was from a large family, having fifteen brothers and sisters, with their dad being a pastor. Needless to say, Henry grew up in the church. At age fifteen, Henry came out of the closet, so to speak, as being gay. He said he had known since age six that he was gay. He was immediately rejected and ostracized by his family. Henry knew that his lifestyle was wrong in the eyes of God. After he would fall to his vice, he would hate himself and to kill the pain, he turned to alcohol.

One day while driving under the influence, he was in an accident that resulted in the death of a young boy. This served to further ostracize him from his family and the church. In fact, he even received a letter from a major church denomination barring him from ever stepping foot in one of their churches again – ever.

Eleven years ago, Henry got a job at the hotel and has lived there on the premises ever since. Four of his brothers live nearby and have not once come to visit him at his new found home. Since Henry knew he couldn’t escape from God, he asked Him to stay on one side of the hotel and he would stay on the other.

Then, about six years ago, the unthinkable happened. The family who lost their son as the result of Henry’s drunk driving came to the hotel. The mother and father insisted that Henry hold their newborn son. At first Henry could not believe it, but they persisted and told Henry that they had forgiven him for killing their other son. Finally, Henry held their newborn son. The family has since brought their new son back to visit Henry from time-to-time.

Henry told me that he would never set foot in a church again for the rest of his life. But he also told me that he had seen more of God’s grace in that hotel than he has seen anywhere else. He said that just being able to face people from behind the front desk was truly a miracle.”

The fact that this is a true story shatters my heart. Where was the love of Henry’s family and the church? Where was the help that he so desperately needed? Why do Christians and the church consider homosexuality as the unforgivable sin when the Bible clearly teaches that it is not? Why do liars, thieves, the heterosexually immoral, and others get a pass but gays do not? Where is the old adage, “We need to love the sinner but hate the sin”?

The Bible teaches us to love not in word, but in deed and in truth (1 John 3:18) and we should not just say we love but we should truly love. Perhaps if Henry had received the love and help that he needed from his family and the church, he would not have had to turn to alcohol and thus not been responsible for the boy’s death?

Does Biblical love mean that we as Christians need to learn to accept sin? No, not at all. But it does mean that we should truly love the person and do our very best to get them the help that they need.

What if his family and the church had taken a vastly different approach? Rather than rejecting and ostracizing him, what if they had attempted to understand him and tried to help him? What if they had started a Christ-based recovery group for gays and ex-gays? What if they would have continued to dialogue with him and invited him to their family gatherings? What if Christ’s love, not acceptance of his sin, but real love, had been displayed to Henry?

Thankfully, the grace of God still won out in his story. The hard, real forgiveness that that family chose, displayed Christ’s love to Henry like no one else in his family or church had. Because of that family’s choice, Henry was given hope. Hope that God is love, that He is good, and that He forgives. Hope that there are good people in the world who do care about him. Hope that with God’s help, the help of his counselors, and AA, he can continue to fight the good fight.

Henry told me that he has lived a celibate lifestyle for the last eleven years. Every morning he wakes up and asks God for strength to not fall. Then at night, he thanks God for the day. Sounds a bit like someone I know very well.

#preachinggospeltomyself

 

His son,

Gary Lee Millner

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Jun 212013
 

[This blog entry is Part 2 of a two part series. For Part 1, please click here.]

testimony

Anxiety:  Hell is the word that comes to mind when trying to describe what generalized social anxiety disorder feels like.  It is a constant, seemingly eternal hell that must be lived through every single moment of life.  There may be short reprieves for a time, but they never last very long.  The hell of generalized social anxiety disorder is always soon to follow.

The anxiety that tormented me was so severe that even while with those whom I considered close friends, I would still experience fear and have heart palpitations.

Afraid of what you may ask?  Afraid perhaps of the following:

  • That if they really knew me then they wouldn’t like me.
  • That they wouldn’t understand the anxiety, depression, or sexual addiction that I struggled with.
  • That they would judge me because of my sin.
  • That they would reject me.

I would avoid individuals, people, crowds, and generally anyone or anything that required me to interact socially.  I would even walk a different route in order to avoid people.

Depression:  In my estimation, I have suffered from moderate to severe depression for about half of my life.  At times, the depression has been so extreme that I have even contemplated suicide.  I have often cursed the day I was born and regretted ever being born as Jeremiah does in the scriptures.  It is no fun to hate living and want to die, but that is exactly what I did off and on for many, many years.

Shame and Self-hatred:  I felt that I was unworthy and unacceptable.  Totally.  It was not as if a few seams in the garment of myself needed stitching; the whole fabric was frayed.  Everyone else was okay except me.  I was flawed beyond repair.  Because I believed that “I” was unacceptable, the natural response was to hate myself.

Anger Towards God:  I had many “good” reasons for being angry with God.  I was angry with God for things that had happened to me in my past – rejection, emotional abuse, etc.  I was angry with God for the present struggles that I had – fear, anxiety, depression, lust, etc.  I was angry with God because I believed that His character was something it was not.  For example, one major thing that I had to overcome was the belief that God was a task-master or slave-driver.  This is the belief that God is not interested in us for who we are but only for what we can do for Him.

I may have even projected my earthly father’s character traits onto God – my heavenly Father.  My earthly father was physically abusive, had a problem with anger, and rarely if ever told me that he loved me (He now tells me that he loves me quite frequently, thanks to God’s healing and restoration power).

I was also angry with God for not giving me certain things, in my timing, that I felt the Bible promised to believers.  For example, I have low frequency hearing loss that resulted, at least in part, from poor choices that I made during my late teenage or early adult years.  This has caused me much emotional pain.

Anger Towards People and Unforgiveness:  I had incurred deep emotional wounds and there were many specific individuals who were, at least partially, responsible.

2nd – My Experiences and Changes in Working through CR

Working the 12 steps has helped me in many ways.  I learned that denying my sins and emotions by keeping them hidden was a bad thing.  I learned that “Secrets keep you sick”.  I learned that I was not alone in my struggles.  Perhaps the greatest lesson that I learned, though, was the importance of accountability.  It was here that I met my two best friends and accountability partners.

What I needed the most was to be loved and accepted unconditionally by another human being, whether I deserved it or not.  I got this unconditional love and acceptance from my accountability partners.  For the first time in my life, I began to truly understand God’s unconditional love and acceptance of me because another human being modeled it to me.  From here, God began showing me His true character – His loving, forgiving, and accepting nature.  I began to discover that God was not the task master or slave driver that I had once thought Him to be, but instead a loving Father.

 3rd – The New Me

With regard to anxiety, I no longer have heart palpitations while in the presence of friends.  I believe that God has set me almost completely free.

With regard to depression, God has worked a miracle in my life in this area.  The down feelings no longer turn into depression.

With regard to shame and self-hatred, after feeling loved and accepted by God and others, I am now learning to love and accept myself.

With regard to anger towards God, I rarely curse God or take His name in vain in my heart anymore.  There are occasions where I want to blame God, but He has been gracious to show me that it isn’t His fault.

With regard to anger towards people and unforgiveness, I have forgiven most, if not all, people who have wounded me.  I have learned that forgiveness is extremely difficult but well worth the effort.  I have also learned that it is a continual process because there will always be people who offend you.

 4th – Outreach

The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 3-4:

“ Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”

Rick Warrens says that “the area of our greatest pain is the area of our greatest ministry”.  Isn’t it ironic that God uses what the world sees as our weakness to actually be our strength?  Perhaps the Lord is calling some of you here tonight to the recovery ministry.  If you have suffered any sort of pain and been comforted by God, then God has uniquely qualified you.

Obtaining the total freedom in Christ that He died to give us is a process.  It does not happen overnight but instead comes overtime as we continually renew our minds and become more like Him.

Please keep this in mind as you are putting the steps in this program into practice.  Inevitably, like learning to ride a bike or learning to snow ski, you will fall down.  So, don’t be surprised if you don’t get it exactly right the first few times.  Most people fall a few, several, or even many times before getting it right.

Get up, brush yourself off, confess your sin to the Lord, accept His forgiveness, grace, mercy, and love, and try again.

“For though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again…”

Proverbs 24:16

Eventually, with Jesus Christ as your Higher Power, you will be victorious.

I will leave you with one of my favorite scriptures, it is Isaiah 42:6-7 (NLTv1):

“I, the Lord, have called you to demonstrate my righteousness.  I will guard and support you, for I have given you to my people as the personal confirmation of my covenant with them.  And you will be a light to guide all nations to me.  You will open the eyes of the blind and free the captives from prison.  You will release those who sit in dark dungeons.”

Thank you.

### The above text was taken from our new book #SlayingLifesDragonsandBeasts and sanitized to make it more appropriate for this blog. ###

[This blog entry is Part 2 of a two part series. For Part 1, please click here.]

Jun 152013
 

[This blog entry is Part 1 of a two part series. For Part 2, please click here.]

I’m writing this series of blog entries not because I particularly like airing my “dirty laundry,” but because the Bible says that we overcome him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of our testimony (Revelation 12:11) and because if they help just one person then isn’t it worth it?

Celebrate Recovery Testimony

Hi, my name is Gary, I’m a grateful Christian in recovery from anxiety, depression, lust, shame, self-hatred, anger towards God and people, unforgiveness, and the list is seemingly endless.

I was a shy, introverted child who was basically a “mama’s boy”.  No one taught me self-esteem or social skills or any life skills for that matter.  I did not learn them at home, at church, or at school.  I was left alone to figure them out for myself.

Perhaps the most damaging event occurred in middle school and came from someone whom I thought to be a friend.  This girl, all of a sudden, seemingly out of the blue, called me “ugly”.  I thought that we had a pretty good relationship up until that point, but apparently I was wrong.  Perhaps she was just having a bad day.  I did not respond to this insult but instead just quietly took it to heart believing that it was truth.

This was how I handled these kinds of situations.  I wouldn’t fire back any choice words or try to initiate a fight, but rather I would just take whatever abuse was given and ponder it in my heart asking, “Could this be true?”  Unfortunately, the answer that I concluded was almost always an overwhelming “Yes”.  I never discussed these events with anyone.  I suppose I thought that I was alone in these situations and that no one could understand me or help me.

Sadly, these situations continued throughout high school.  Specifically, I was called “ugly” several more times in high school.  Even once by my own uncle.  This just served to reinforce the apparent truth behind these statements.

The idea that I was ugly just devastated me.  I felt rejected, unacceptable, worthless, useless, powerless, and hopeless.  I already had severe acne and was very self-conscious.  This was all I needed.  The icing on the cake.  The precipitating factor that would drive me over the edge.

In an effort to ease my pain, I turned to many bad, self-destructive, and addictive behaviors.

### The above text was taken from our new book #SlayingLifesDragonsandBeasts and sanitized to make it more appropriate for this blog. ###

[For Part 2, please click here.]

How We See Ourselves

 Recovery  Comments Off on How We See Ourselves
Jan 272013
 

Life happened this week, as it normally does. I said and did things that were both good and bad, other people said and did things and lashed out at me because of their insecurities. I came away feeling guilt, shame, and perhaps some self-hatred.

perfect-4

So, I woke up Saturday morning, and had to deal with this junk. I started by reading the Word. I turned to Psalm 139:14 and started reading, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

And then to Genesis 1:27, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”

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I then looked over to the right-most column of the right most page in The Life Recovery Bible and found the following write-up [comments within brackets are mine]:

Self-Perception

“If we have lived in bondage to our compulsive behaviors for a while, we probably see more bad than good inside us. Many of us tend to see life in terms of all or nothing. As a result, we probably think we are all bad. But in recovery, we need a balanced understanding of ourself. We need to see that along with our bad points we have also been gifted with strengths. It’s not an either/or proposition. A balanced view of ourself will help us better understand our shortcomings while also giving us greater hope in our potential.

At the end of the fifth day of creation God had made everything except the first people. The Bible tells us that when he looked at what he had made so far, “God saw that it was good.” Then God created the first man and woman. “So God created people in his own image; God patterned them after himself; …God blessed them and told them, ‘Multiple and fill the earth and subdue it. Be masters over the fish and birds and all the animals.’ …Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was excellent in every way” (Genesis 1:25, 27-31).

God distinguished between the human race and the rest of creation. He made us in his very image, with capacities far beyond those of mere animals. God was (and is) excited about us! He gave us abilities and responsibilities to reflect his own nature in all of creation. When he created us, he was proud of what he had made!

Although, we have a sinful nature [or flesh] that came as a result of the Fall, we also must remember that we were created in the likeness of God. There are excellence and dignity inherent in being human that should cause us to ponder our potential for good as well as for bad.

[The Life Recovery Bible: New Living Translation. (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1998), p.5]

I would love to hear from you. Do you struggle with self-perception or self-hatred? What has helped you in this spiritual battle against the Evil One?

I cannot believe that this day is finally here!

 Slaying Life's Dragons and Beasts  Comments Off on I cannot believe that this day is finally here!
Dec 012012
 

Update:  A sample chapter is now available!  Sample Chapter with Covers for high speed internet connections and Sample Chapter for low speed internet connections.

I cannot believe that this day is finally here! Praise God! Our book is finally available! 

http://garyleemillner.com/slaying-lifes-dragons-and-beasts