Tag Archives: Healing

Forgiveness: Making Space for Grace

Forgiveness is often spoken of, attempted by many, occasionally understood. Nan Brown Self unlocks the secret to experiencing and practicing this fundamental key to walking in freedom from our past offenses in her newly released book Forgiveness: Making Space for Grace (Brown Books Publishing Group, March 2017).

Nan has a passion for applying the teachings of Scripture to everyday life and has taught on the subject of forgiveness for over thirty-five years. But it was her own exhaustion and load of emotional baggage carried far too long that brought her to the foot of the Cross. “Why do you continually bring your burdens of unforgiveness but never leave them there,” she sensed the Lord saying. In seeking to answer His question, she found fresh perspective on one of the most fundamental teachings of Scripture and more importantly, experienced the grace of forgiveness that left her “past” where it belonged ­ at the Cross with Jesus.

Lana Bateman, president and director of Philippian Ministries states, “Nan Brown Self has given us a treasured gift in her book, Forgiveness: Making Space for Grace. She helps us understand how the grace of forgiveness brings peace and harmony to our souls. Open your heart now to God¹s amazing love as you learn to make space for the grace of forgiveness. It can set you free!”

Now everyone has the opportunity to truly understand and experience this same grace of forgiveness through Nan’s latest work. Forgiveness: Making Space for Grace is profoundly practical. With biblical insight, Nan helps the reader identify the roots of unforgiveness, experience healing of old wounds, begin the journey of restoring relationships, and maintain their walk in peace and freedom. Each chapter concludes with practical questions, a worksheet, and a prayer, making it ideal for study groups or private devotionals. Drawing from her personal encounter with the grace of forgiveness and the immutable truth of God’s Word, Nan charts the course to freedom from our past grievances and offers a prescription to maintaining that freedom on a daily basis.
“Forgiveness is the gift of grace from the heart of Jesus,” states Self. “He carried your sins to the cross and bore the pain of those sins so that you might be pardoned from their binding power and consequences. Through His grace, you receive a release from sin that you have not earned or deserved. In order to receive this gift, you need to accept His forgiving grace.”

From the moment I picked up Nan Brown Self’s book, Forgiveness: Making Space For Grace, something wonderful began to occur. I became keenly aware of the power of forgiveness and how much God wants us to be free of the guilt and shame of the past. If you need to forgive someone, including yourself, this book offers real hope, help and healing!

– Babbie Mason, award-winning singer, songwriter and author

www.ForgivenessByGrace.com

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April is National Sexual Assault Awareness Month

April is National Sexual Assault Awareness month, as well as National Child Abuse Prevention month, survivor Shannon Deitz speaks out on the pervasiveness of sexual assault nationwide.

Sexual violence, including child sexual abuse, spans across all ages, genders, races, ethnicities, and economic backgrounds. According to a Child Maltreatment report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Children’s Bureau, 60,956 cases of child sexual abuse were reported in the United States in 2013. On top of the guilt and shame that abuse can bring, most victims know their attackers, which can lead them to be silent about their traumatic experience. Staying silent, however, does not lead to healing, according to Shannon Deitz, abuse survivor and founder of Hopeful Hearts Ministry. Below is a Q&A with Deitz on this important topic.

about shannon2

Q: What do people need to understand about sexual assault and child abuse? How have these tragic crimes continued to take place and have they grown over the past 5 years?

A: Both sexual assault and child abuse are issues that render discomfort and disbelief when discussed. In both instances it takes an extensive amount of courage to speak up and tell someone what has happened or is going on in the home. The stigma of shame and displace guilt often keep the victim quiet and in fear.

However, the more we can bring awareness to both issues, especially during Sexual Assault Awareness and Child Abuse Prevention month, the louder survivors can be with their stories, and the more prevalent the issue can become in the public eye. The statistics (from what is reported) rarely change. 1 out of 6 women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime and 15% of them will be under the age of 12 the first time they are assaulted. Often when one is assaulted the shame and guilt are embedded so deep that their defenses become lower and they find themselves in the same situation repeatedly throughout their lifetime.

Child abuse is more difficult to determine the true statistics because those reporting the abuse are often outside of the home, however still, 3.6 million referrals are made a year.

These crimes continue to remain stagnant in numbers because it is inherently a difficult, uncomfortable subject which forces us to pay attention and react and respond instead of turning a blind eye when we notice something out of the ordinary, or when a friend admits to an assault.

One young man confided when he was a freshman in college and rushing a fraternity he walked out of the bathroom at his frat house’s party to find a line of his ‘brothers’ waiting to ‘rape’ a young woman in the bedroom. While he didn’t participate, he also didn’t do anything to help the young woman. To do something would have meant to take a stand, to cause waves, and people instinctively shy away from confrontation. Yet that moment missed to help her still haunts the young man today.

These crimes are not fading, however, and the more we continue to bring awareness the better chance those listening to other survivors’ stories will be apt to recognize the abuse they are suffering and want to speak out, and or make safer decisions. In bringing awareness we offer the opportunity for survivors to speak out and help others to know that they are not alone and to inform generations to come, encouraging them to get beyond the discomfort of confrontation. *statistics taken from RAINN and Child Help

Q: What do people need to understand about survivors of abuse?

A: Survivors of abuse, both male and female, are not fragile individuals. They are strong, worthy individuals who have overcome a great amount of suffering whether it was physical, sexual, or verbal. Every single form of abuse affects the person emotionally, lowering their self-esteem and sense of worth. Often survivors hide or bury the facts and the deep effects of the abuse out of fear, shame, and lack of support. The best way for a survivor to heal from the affects of the abuse is to give a voice to what has been done or said to them; to be heard and to know they are supported and loved.

Q: What has inspired you to reach out to others?

A: I am a survivor of rape and incest. The years I kept the facts of these traumas within me led me down some dark paths that were filled with bad decisions based on my lack of worth and self-esteem. I want to educate and reach out to other survivors before they get entangled in that dark path and make decisions that can affect them for the rest of their life, adding to the trauma of what has been done or said to them in the past.

Q: Why do you feel it is important for you to share your story?

A: When I began to live my life in the freedom of being a survivor, no longer tethered to chains of negativity, pessimism, and insecurity, I realized how much I longed to see others free from these same chains. I knew the only way to reach others was to tell my story in its truth and entirety. What affected me in my healing process was to hear other stories similar to mine and to witness their successful triumph and victory overcoming their past. I began to realize if they could do it, I could too. I want to share both the stumbling and the victories so that others can relate and recognize that they can also be victorious over their past.

Q: How has sharing your story with others helped you in your journey to healing?

A: The more you share the truth about your experience the easier it is to accept it and move passed it in order to embrace your present and future. By sharing my story through speaking to groups and leading retreats, I find that it gives me strength and fortifies the healing process. What has been ‘done’ to me is a part of who I am, but it doesn’t define who I am. In fact, I’ve come to the place where I can thank God for every aspect of my life, the dark and ugly moments, along with the joyous times, because He has brought good from it all and allowed me to recognize that I am stronger because of it.

Q: Low self-esteem, especially among teens, has become a national epidemic. What do you want someone struggling with feelings of low self-worth to understand?

A: My instinct is to respond, “You are worthy! You are unique and there is no one else in this world just like you and this world needs you and the skills and talents YOU have because each one of us has been given a specific purpose to use these talents and gifts and no one can replace you.”

But I also have been in a place that I have felt extreme unworthiness and insecurity. I know that if I heard someone say that I’d doubt what those talents or gifts were, because I wasn’t like everyone else. To that I say, “Would being like everyone else make you happy? Would going against who you are, what sparks interest and joy inside of you just to get others attention bring you joy? Most likely not.”

In this day and age of social media, self-worth is defined by the number of followers we have on Instagram or how many ‘likes’ they give to your posts. It is important to realize that those are numbers and most of those people have so many numbers because they ‘follow’ and ‘like’ everyone just to get more numbers. When it comes down to knowing you, who knows you best?

You, my friend, are worthy of life and others would be so lucky to know you, who you really are and share in the gifts and talents you’ve been given.

Q: What is your goal with Hopeful Hearts Ministry and what motivated you to start it?

A: Hopeful Hearts Ministry strives to help those who have suffered abuse not just survive, but to thrive.

When I was called into speaking on a national and international level on various topics regarding faith, the most popular message I gave, the one that resonated best with audiences at least, was when I spoke of my own personal journey, the abuse I incurred and how I overcame the stigma of shame attached.

As the years progressed and my voice became stronger, God led me to more and more opportunities to work with survivors of all ages, especially those in my generation and generations ahead of me who were taught to keep skeletons in the closet. It became very clear that there was a desperate need to empower all survivors to have a voice, to educate the world on what abuse is, to teach others how to listen to those who have suffered abuse, and to learn how to stop the generational cycle of abuse. In 2012 a dear friend of mine said to me, “Why don’t you start a non-profit? Think what more you could do.” Hence, Hopeful Hearts Ministry was formed.

Hopeful Hearts Ministry is a 501 c3 National Non-Profit.

www.HopefulHeartsMinistry.com

Hopeful Hearts Ministry Provides a Voice for Survivors

Screen Shot 2014-04-01 at 9.45.44 AMApril has been designated as National Sexual Assault Awareness month, as well as National Child Abuse Prevention month in recognition of the pervasiveness of sexual assault nationwide. Sexual violence, including child sexual abuse, spans across all ages, genders, races, ethnicities, and economic backgrounds. According to a Child Maltreatment report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Children’s Bureau, 60,956 cases of child sexual abuse were reported in the United States in 2013. On top of the guilt and shame that abuse can bring, most victims know their attackers, which can lead them to be silent about their traumatic experience. Staying silent, however, does not lead to healing, according to Shannon Deitz, abuse survivor and founder of Hopeful Hearts Ministry.

“Both sexual assault and child abuse are so devastating to most of us that we don’t even want to think about them being present in our society,” Deitz says. “This makes it difficult for any victim of assault or abuse to feel comfortable enough to speak out, which is exactly what they need to be able to do. Be it a child, a teenager or an adult, anyone who has been abused needs to be able to speak about what has been done to them without question or judgment.” With this in mind, Hopeful Hearts Ministry started the “I Have a Voice” abuse awareness project where survivors share their personal stories of abuse (domestic, sexual, incest, rape, neglect, emotional and verbal) through intensely personal and honest YouTube videos. The videos show the power of giving a VOICE to survivors that was once kept hidden, and not only aides in their personal healing, but shows others they are not alone and there is reason for hope.

Deitz has the unfortunate firsthand experience of being a survivor of sexual abuse both as a child and as an adult. She sees the month of April as an opportunity to encourage other survivors to speak up and speak out, knowing that it is a crucial step towards healing. “The shame, despair and inability to cope with the painful events can lead to depression as well as dangerous behavior, as survivors tend to seek other ways to block out the memories and dull the pain.” comments Deitz. “My main goal is to help others see their worth and become the best they can be.” Through the power of her own testimony, she helps people see that they no longer have to live as a victim, but are worth so much more.

For those who know someone who has been abused or assaulted, she encourages them to be good listeners. “Survivors want to know they are being heard and that they will be safe and protected,” she explains. “We do not need to be silenced because our situation makes others feel uncomfortable. To the contrary, we need people around us who are willing to listen and willing to stand up for us if we choose to go public.” April is important because the more people who become aware of just how prevalent this problem is in our country, the more beneficial it will be for everyone. Being able to share our story with others serves to help prevent future abuse from taking place. If there is a survivor in your midst, be willing to listen. Be willing to hear their story.”

Deitz’s willingness to share her story in her award-winning book, Exposed: Inexcusable Me, Irreplaceable Him, as well as listen to other survivor’s stories through the Hopeful Hearts Ministry, has created hope and a safe place for abuse survivors of all ages and backgrounds.

Mary from Canada shares, “I am blessed and thankful for the support I received and continue to receive from Hopeful Hearts Ministry. It’s a good feeling knowing that no matter how rough my road to healing may be, I always have genuine caring support.”

The “I Have a Voice” videos are opening new doors for Hopeful Hearts Ministry outreach. After watching the video ‘Child Sexual Abuse and Forgiveness’, a gentleman personally contacted Deitz in appreciation. “Your sharing of your story, your truth, was very powerful. It really hit home and I was moved by your honesty, courage, and willingness to stand up for and speak out on behalf of the abused child. Your ministry is powerful, important, and needed.” Deitz continues reaching out to those who are struggling through her speaking engagements, blog, Just Show Up, and ministry website.

www.HopefulHeartsMinistry.com

I Have a Voice

A Letter from Father to Son

RoyPageRoy Page is a father of two and an owner of an established marketing firm with multiple locales. He is also divorced. Not uncommon in this age where over half of all marriages end in divorce. As the divorced father who manages a successful business, spending time with his children was more difficult. Page decided to write an old-fashioned letter to his son Evan. Pouring his heart and thoughts onto each page, it became the kind of letter every child needs to receive and read. Once this was pointed out by his counselor, Page made the decision to allow the letter to become the opening chapter for A Letter to Evan: An Average Dad’s Journey of Discovery and Discernment Through Divorce. Page is not a counselor or advisor.  He wants to share with other parents the healing that can occur with divorce or any other life challenges (separation from children, sickness, travel relocation).

 

Q: Why did you feel it was important to write a letter to your son, Evan?

 A: As any parent separated from his or her children by divorce knows, being an effective and loving parent when you are not an active part of your child’s daily life is difficult. When my son, Evan, who is an exceptional athlete, suffered a lateral tear to his right shoulder and opted to have surgery to repair the damage, it forced his mother and I to put aside our differences and focus on his needs. I spent my days at home with him and as I witnessed the remarkable way he handled his situation, I was amazed by his grace and courage. I began to think of all the things in my heart that I’d never shared with him, the things I hadn’t done or said, and the ways I had failed him as a father. So I did what comes naturally to me. I began to write it all down in a letter, pouring out my heart. I wanted Evan to know how proud I was of him, how much I loved him and that no matter what happened, I would always be there for him.

 

Q:  What made you decide to share such a deeply personal letter with others?

 A:  After I shared the letter with a trusted mentor who told me it was the kind of letter every child needed to receive, I decided to share it with others as a way of honoring Evan. Our children can often be our greatest teachers and my son has certainly been one of mine.

 

Q:  In the book, you mention feeling as if you had lived through a “perfect storm.” What was that “perfect storm”?

A: Within the short span of two years my father died and everything that was familiar and comfortable to me was ripped away. My marriage of 20 years failed and my once-thriving business of almost 15 years began to change and erode. Fueled by bitterness and desire to win legal battles at any cost, my net worth began to evaporate. At the same time, I was incurring a host of new financial obligations in an effort to maintain a large home for my ex-wife and the children and also a small house for myself. The emotional stress that came with all this change was significant and everyone around me was sucked into my own personal experience, whether they chose to be or not. I realize that what I endured might seem trivial to some, but for me, it all came together in such a way to fit my definition of what a truly perfect storm can be.

 

Q:  Do you believe you are able to show your love for your children as well now as you did before?

A:  While I have never loved my children less than I do now, I truly do feel that it is easier for me to show my love and affection now than it was before my marriage ended. Prior to the divorce, when the tension in my relationship with the children’s mother was high, I was never in much of a hurry to get home from work and even looked for excuses to avoid going home. And when I was home, I wasn’t really present most of that time because I was too preoccupied with my own anger, resentment and frustration to be fully aware of what was going on around me. None of my family relationships were at their best during that time. Now I can fully commit my energy and attention to being a father. I can intentionally invest in my children and enjoy our time together. I am a better listener now, a better advisor, and most certainly, a better parent.

www.ALettertoEvan.com

A Letter to Evan

letter to evanIn 2009, after having spent decades steadfastly climbing the social ladder of success, both Page’s marriage and the business he founded were eroding. Eventually so much damage was done that the life he’d worked hard to create sent him toppling from its top rung. At the same time, along with watching the disintegration of his marriage and his business, he was also forced to watch helplessly as his own father — the man he’d once considered invincible — wasted away from the ravages of Alzheimer’s.

By 2011, left with nothing but the ashes of his previous life, Page was not only struggling with his own anger and bitterness over what had transpired, but gravely worried about the strains his new role as a divorced father were placing on his relationship with his children.

“I decided I wanted to write to Evan,” Page said, “when he was recovering from surgery to repair a lateral tear in his right shoulder. It wasn’t life threatening, but for him it was a time of high anxiety and he handled it extraordinarily well. Witnessing his sense of peace and grace as he dealt with it forced me to put away my own pride and self-righteous attitude and focus solely on him. As I witnessed his courage, it struck me on a deeply emotional level and for a change; I began to think about him instead of me. I wanted to share with him how I felt about him, how I saw him, and how I loved him, so I chose to put my words on paper in the form of a letter.”

What Page discovered was that living, loving and forgiving is a choice.  Each day we make a decision to choose to see either the positive things that are happening around us, or we choose to dwell on the negative. Choosing to focus on his son by writing him a letter, and not his own difficult circumstance, helped Roy to move forward in his life with a new direction and healing.

Page is not a counselor or advisor.  Finding himself still working through pain, he wants to share with other parents the healing that can occur with divorce or any other life challenges (separation from children, sickness, travel relocation). His goal is to be an encouragement to other single parents in their relationship with their children, family and friends, to give them hope.

“Later, when I realized we weren’t alone in what we were going through, I knew I had to honor my son,” Page added, “and share our story with not just other fathers and sons but also family members and friends who have experienced the pain of life and the pain of mistakes made and hopefully, the healing that eventually comes.”

Co-authored by Sarah Horton, A Letter to Evan is a missive of love, enlightenment, and inspiration. Evolving from letter to book, it is a poignant reminder that the seeds of blessing are present in every challenge and that while we are given all we need to triumph, whether we do or not is always a choice we must make. 

Evan

by Roy Page

with Sarah Horton

Lucid Books / April 28, 2013

ISBN: 9781935905569

208 pages/Trade Paper/$14.99

http://alettertoevan.com