hopequest blog

Journey – Week Twenty-Five

We all experience denial as part of the grieving process. Recognizing where we are is the only way we can begin to embrace truth, reality, and God’s healing process in our lives. (Next week) we will talk about walking out of denial and into truth.

Let’s close today with a look at what God has to say about the reality of life.

“There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven—a time to give birth, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to uproot what is planted. A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to tear down, and a time to build up. A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance. A time to throw stones, and a time to gather stones; a time to embrace, and a time to shun embracing. A time to search, and a time to give up as lost; a time to keep, and a time to throw away. A time to tear apart, and a time to sew together; a time to be silent, and a time to speak. A time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.” – Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (NASB)

–Melissa Haas, The Journey: Book One

Walking Free – Week Twenty Four

Honesty vs. Hiding

Yesterday we dealt with the concept of minimizing. Each of us tends to minimize our failure when confronted with the truth. We joke about the man who buys a Playboy magazine “because I like to read the articles.”  Yet, to some degree, we say the same thing every time we do not fully take ownership of our thoughts and behaviors.

So today, rather than talk about minimizing, let’s talk about maximizing: maximizing honesty and exposing the way we hide. This will be one of your greatest challenges. Most of us have become very adept at deceiving others. The sad reality is that some of us have lied so much, we no longer know what is true about ourselves.

And it takes a lot of energy to lead a double life. Trying to remember who you are supposed to be when you are acting like someone else is exhausting.

It’s time to live differently.

– Troy Haas, First Steps

Trek – Week Twenty-Four

The tool we use to communicate for connection and healing is called the IFAB Statement

— I feel…about…because…

When we need to talk about our feelings, we always start with the words “I feel,” followed by a feeling word. Then we use a short phrase describing the situation and end our sentence with the reason we feel that way.

I feel ————— (Feeling Word)

about ————— (Situation)

because ————— (Reason)

Yes, it really is that simple.

One word of caution, however.  Sometimes instead of using a feeling word, we say things like “I feel like…” or “I feel that…” These statements are really beliefs masquerading as feelings, and they will interfere with emotional connection.

–Melissa Haas, Emotions 101

Journey – Week Twenty-Four

There is one other major way women experience denial on the journey—they get busy and stay that way. You’ve probably heard of people who lose a spouse and never cry; they just pour themselves into their jobs or a cause or something, staying perpetually busy and active. Why do they do that?

Because if they slow down and get quiet long enough, the pain will overwhelm them. And they don’t want to do the pain. Understandable. Right? And we do the same thing. We find out our husband has been sleeping with people every time he goes out of town on business or downloading pornography every time he gets on the computer, and we shut down emotionally. Our life becomes a series of tasks and to-do lists. Somehow we keep going, a shell of a woman, consumed with activity to avoid the pain of our reality. When I talk with women experiencing this kind of denial, I often hear horror stories of what their husbands have done, and yet, the stories are related with very little emotion. No anger, no tears, no sorrow. When I ask why they don’t seem sad about it all, inevitably the reply will be, “I don’t have time to be sad.” Busy-ness. It’s a great way to avoid grieving, and unfortunately healing as well.”

–Melissa Haas, The Journey: Book One

Walking Free – Week Twenty-Three

How do you talk about the behavior that brought you to Walking Free? Do you hear yourself telling the group that your bad choices “just happened” or that your unaffectionate wife is to blame? Do you tell your spouse that she is “over-reacting” or that “it could be worse?” Do you think to yourself that you are not like the other men in the group and probably don’t belong?

Or is your heart moving toward the place of personal responsibility? David, the ruling king of the nation, was so mortified by his behavior that he admitted to God, himself, and others that he had done evil. And he accepted that others were justified in calling him out over his sin. David didn’t push back; he bowed down before the Lord with a broken and contrite heart.

Whether you are resistant or repentant or somewhere in between, God still loves you, friend. He wants to come alongside you and help you change. The Bible is clear: God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6). He draws near to those who are brokenhearted and willing to take responsibility for their sins.

Owning is the only way to overcome.

– Troy Haas, First Steps

Sexual Integrity Leadership Summit 2019

What if local church leaders could gather together to share insights, tools, and resources that would allow them to address sexual integrity in their own unique environments? What impact could that have on the Church as a whole?

Introducing the Sexual Integrity Leadership Summit.

This collaborative, three-day event will bring together experts in the field with those who are ministering to the hurting body of Christ. Gain Biblical wisdom, practical tools, and clear next steps to lead others toward sexual wholeness. Join us to move from feeling helpless to feeling hopeful.

Sexual Integrity Leadership Summit

May 2-4, 2019

Marietta, GA

Only $99 Through February 28th!

Here’s what a few attendees from our inaugural 2018 event had to say:

“It seemed like there were a lot of people and ministries that didn’t know each other existed, but it was amazing to see the contacts being made, and people realizing they don’t have to do it all alone.”

“Excellent speakers! Excitement over the growing unity and response to sexual issues in the Church.”

“The table group discussions were so diverse and eye-opening. Very helpful to get different perspectives and ideas for my own ministry.”

“The speakers were awesome, not only in their own proficiency, but in their ability to relate and their accessibility.”

“It helped having a pastor’s perspective. I thought it brought a good dose of realism to the talks. I appreciated his emphasis on taking time and working within a church’s particular culture.”

NOT A PASTOR, MINISTRY LEADER, OR COUNSELOR?

We want to help equip the people leading your faith community. Please consider forwarding this email to someone who should know about the event, or click here for other ways to share.


 

Trek – Week Twenty-Three

It’s important to know… that how we share our feelings can either promote emotional connection or sabotage it.

When we use “you” statements to communicate our feelings, the normal reaction other people have is to get defensive. They might get angry back, begin explaining what happened, minimize the problem, or tell the offended person that he/she is over-reacting.  “You” statements trigger a person’s deepest fears — fear of failure, fear of abandonment, fear of rejection, fear of worthlessness, etc.

So, “you” statements are out.

–Melissa Haas, Emotions 101

Journey – Week Twenty-Three

The third kind of denial women like us on the journey can experience is a bit different. It is not a denial of your husband’s sexual addiction but a refusal to acknowledge the pain and loss his behaviors have brought in your life. In my experience, this kind of denial shows up outwardly in two ways in a woman’s life: consuming anger and frantic busy-ness.

Let me try to clarify something about anger. Anger is a normal part of the grieving process. In a healthy grieving cycle, anger comes in intervals lasting a few minutes to several hours. Sometimes these are periods of intense, murderous rage that demand some physical action. These are the times you feel like hitting him or hurting him in some way. Other times the anger is less explosive but more pervasive. You might feel like you’ll vomit if he touches you, that you can’t stay in the same room with him. As long as you are talking through your anger with safe people, journaling, exercising, or using some other physical outlet to deal with your anger, and feeling other emotions besides anger, you are probably experiencing the normal anger that comes with grieving. There is a different kind of anger, however, and it lends itself toward denial. Let me explain.

When we are angry, our bodies respond physiologically, preparing to act in some way. We feel more powerful, more in control, and less vulnerable. Getting angry at your husband’s sexual sin and betrayal is normal and healthy. Staying angry is not. Why? First, anger keeps you from feeling sympathetic emotions and prevents you from connecting with others. When you are angry, you are on the defensive. All self-protective walls are up and you have two goals: to protect yourself from getting hurt and to attack the one who is trying to (or already has) hurt you. This consuming anger keeps your husband as the bad guy, and you are unable to see yourself clearly. It also shields you from feeling the pain of your losses. That’s where the denial part comes in. Your heart says, “If I don’t let myself feel the painful stuff, if I stay angry, I won’t have to suffer and I won’t have to acknowledge that my life as I know it is over.” Of course, that’s all a subconscious process. We’ll talk more about anger later this week, but I do want you to be aware that if you are struggling with constant anger toward your spouse, you are also denying yourself the opportunity to feel the real losses you are experiencing and to heal. (You are probably also damaging your body greatly. Chronic anger and good physical health cannot co-exist.)

–Melissa Haas, The Journey: Book One

Walking Free – Week Twenty-Two

Owning vs. Minimizing

I know there is a battle raging inside you. You want painful consequences removed and life to be normal again. You want to be free from the struggle and free from shame. Part of you just wants to run away from it all. And then there is the part that really wants some kind of sexual release.

Remember, friend. One day at a time.

This is one battle that you must win in order to walk in freedom. Everyone who has ever walked where you are walking has fought the battle of minimization. I have, and I know you are. Fight this fight early, and fight it hard. We must fully own what we have done. One of the most damaging things we can do to ourselves and to the ones we love in the restoration process is to minimize the effect of our sin on others and ourselves.

I’m not talking about shaming yourself. Negative self-talk won’t help you change. In fact, it will prevent you from finding freedom. What I am talking about is taking responsibility for what you’ve done – without minimizing, justifying, or blaming someone else.

– Troy Haas, First Steps

Trek – Week Twenty-Two

Remember, without healthy relationships, we don’t change and we don’t heal.  So, learning to express our feelings to others in ways that they can hear us and know us is the next step in our trek toward recovery.

First, we recognize and identify our feelings — EMOTIONAL AWARENESS.

Then, we share our feelings with others — EMOTIONAL INTIMACY.

–Melissa Haas, Emotions 101

Journey – Week Twenty-Two

I don’t want to belabor this point, but let me give an illustration from my own life.

When I rejoined Troy a month after his abrupt dismissal and departure, I was in a very vulnerable position emotionally. I had just been through a very difficult delivery of our second child—he almost didn’t make it—without Troy there. I had packed all of our stuff alone, said good-byes, left the home in Africa we had come to love and fellow missionaries who had become our family, and Troy had disclosed some of his sexual sin to me. I was very lonely. I felt like no one could possibly understand all of my losses and the one person who I had given my heart to had let me down in a big way. All I really wanted was for Troy to love me again and for everything to be okay between us. If our marriage could be saved, I felt like life could go on. I didn’t know if I could make it without Troy.

So, my first response to the man who had by his actions ended my missionary career, exposed me to sexually transmitted diseases, cared more for himself than me or our children, damaged the good name of God and the reputation of our mission—my first response was to wrap my arms around him and to say, “I love you. I forgive you. Everything will be okay.”

Three weeks later when I began to feel some of the anger for all of the losses, I exploded at Troy. His response to me was, “You said you had forgiven me. It’s not fair for you to keep bringing up the past!” The problem was that I had not even dealt with the past. It was a very hurtful and confusing time for both of us. I realized then that I had “forgiven” too soon. The forgiveness I had offered Troy really wasn’t true forgiveness. It was an attempt on my part to manipulate his feelings and emotions so that he would meet my need for love. I had not truly released him from the debt he owed me. I didn’t even truly understand what the debt was.

–Melissa Haas, The Journey: Book One

Walking Free – Week Twenty-One

What does surrender ultimately accomplish?

Take a deep breath in and let it out. Now reach up and feel the pulse in your neck. Every breath you breathe – every heartbeat you feel – is an act of God’s mercy. You would not be alive if it were not for Him. You are, in fact, completely dependent on Him.

Our pride leads us to live independently of the One who created us. Self-reliance is the opposite of surrender. Our surrender restores us to a right relationship with God – a relationship of dependence on Him.

In Isaiah 1:2, God says through the prophet, “Hear me, you heavens! Listen, earth! For the Lord has spoken: I reared children and brought them up, but they have rebelled against me.” The book basically goes on to share the story of how God allowed great difficulty in the lives of His people for the purpose of restoring their relationship with Him. This too is our story.

– Troy Haas, First Steps

Don’t Miss It! Stay Connected

We always have many things happening at HopeQuest and we try to keep our friends and partners informed and engaged.  We would like to take a few minutes and briefly share the ways you can stay connected with us!

Our Website 

Our website had a big facelift last year and is a great way to connect with us.  The site has a great deal of information available about our programs and other resources.  The tabs labeled “What We Treat,” “Treatment Programs,” and “Training and Consulting” found on the front-page share more about who we are and what we do.  To make a donation or volunteer your services please click on the “About Us” tab and scroll through the drop-down menu to “Donate or Volunteer.” 

Our Blog 

On the HopeQuest Blog, you will find general articles of interest, happenings, and announcements. Additionally, “weekly” highlights from our support groups such as TREK, Walking Free, and Journey are also posted here along with snippets from program materials that offer help and insight to recovery living.

If you want to read more posts specifically about Trek, Walking Free, or Journey, simply click the highlighted tag at the end of the post.

Social Media

If you are on the go, social media makes it super easy to stay connected and engaged.  Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

Facebook: @HopeQuest

General program and ministry information is available here, as well as encouraging and informative Posts and Notes for you to engage with…

Twitter: @Hopequestgroup

Tweets throughout the day for you to connect with….

Instagram: @hopequestgroup

Here you will find pictures of the campus, volunteer work, events, and other things to engage you….

LinkedIn: HopeQuest Ministry Group, Inc.

If you do have a LinkedIn account, consider connecting and engaging with us professionally!

 

Trek – Week Twenty-One

Okay, so usually when someone starts talking about expressing feelings, people start experiencing some predictable reactions. I’ve heard everything from “You’ve got to be kidding me” to “No (bleeping) way!”

The fact that most people are so resistant to expressing their feelings should be a clue about how terrified we all are about being rejected or being seen as weak.  It’s also usually a huge sign that no one really knows us and that we are very, very alone.

Alone enough to get swallowed up by an addiction.

–Melissa Haas, Emotions 101

Journey – Week Twenty-One

Some women are truly blown away by the discovery of their husband’s struggle. They may have felt a little disconnected from him or had some conflict in the past, but the idea has never crossed their minds that he is struggling sexually. Usually in these situations, the truth is discovered accidentally (i.e. the wife finds pornography on the computer or discovers receipts or charges from an adult bookstore or strip club) or through some crisis brought on by the addict’s behaviors outside the home (i.e. being arrested for soliciting a prostitute or getting fired for looking at porn on the job). This wife may experience denial in other ways.

She may choose to forgive him immediately (or after a day or so) and let the past be the past—as long as he promises never to do it again. There are several problems with this reaction. The first big problem is that a guy who has been struggling with sexual addiction for months or years and has been deceptive about that struggle is not trustworthy. He won’t keep his promises. He hasn’t been keeping them all along. A wife who chooses to believe a man she knows has been lying to her for an extended period of time is in denial. She wants his promises to be true so much that she is willing to ignore what the facts are telling her and believe her husband’s words instead.

The second problem with this response to a husband’s sexual betrayal is that true forgiveness is not possible without mourning the losses. Why do I say that? Because in order to offer forgiveness with integrity and true commitment, we have to know what we are forgiving and also be able to accept the debt we will bear as a result of our forgiveness. To forgive prematurely is to sabotage not only a true work of repentance in our husbands’ hearts but also God’s healing work of grief in our own.

–Melissa Haas, The Journey: Book One

Walking Free – Week Twenty

How do you make it last?

If you are like me, you have a history of great starts with good intentions and lousy finishes with no lasting results. I understand your fear and doubt. I’ve asked myself the same questions: “Can I really change?” and “Can this time really be different from all the times before?”

This time can be different, and you can change, but you are going to have to start living just ONE DAY AT A TIME. Each day brings its own unique challenges. God’s way is to provide for us what is needed to successfully navigate THAT day. If you look past today, you will stop thinking about your relationship with God and start worrying about other things. Jesus tells us not to worry about what tomorrow will bring. Instead our focus should be on TODAY.

– Troy Haas, First Steps

Trek – Week Twenty

When we are learning to recognize and identify our feelings — a.k.a. emotional awareness — we begin by thinking about the general bucket it goes into.  Is this an emotion I am enjoying feeling or would I rather it went away? That gives us a clue as to the broad category it falls into (Joy, Peace, Confidence or Fear, Anger, Sadness). From there we can choose a word that best fits the intensity of the emotion.

Easier said than done, you say?  You’re right.  But don’t give up yet.

There are so many words to describe our feelings that it can be overwhelming — especially for those of us who are just beginning to learn how to recognize and identify our emotions.

–Melissa Haas, Emotions 101

Journey – Week Twenty

Trust me on this one. (We’ll look at God’s perspective at the end of the day.) It is very necessary for you to take a good long look at the painful stuff in order to remain in truth and walk with integrity on this journey. The opposite of acknowledging your losses and the pain they are causing you is denial. This is the aspect of the grieving process I want to focus on today.

What exactly is denial? A look at the dictionary will tell you that denial is a disbelief in the existence or reality of a thing or a refusal to recognize or acknowledge. All of us as wives of guys struggling with sexual addiction will experience this aspect of the grieving process in some form.

You may be thinking, “Wait a minute, Mel. I’ve never buried my head in the sand about his addiction. Since I found out, I’ve been more concerned about his recovery than he has!” Okay. What about the months or years before you found out? All of those times your gut told you something was really wrong and you dismissed it? What about the “choice” you made just to forgive him and let the past be the past? What about the fact that you rarely cry and struggle with a little bit of anger or a lot of anger all of the time?

There are a myriad of ways we protect ourselves from facing the reality of the situation. Many of us suspected for years (or were even certain) that our husbands were relating in inappropriate ways to us and others sexually. Only after sexual sins became public knowledge or some behavior was so offensive or hurtful that we couldn’t ignore it anymore did we really face the fact that the worst was really true. All of that time we spent telling ourselves things like, “No, I’m just crazy. That can’t be true;” or “He would never hurt me like that. I’m just being overly sensitive.” All of those times, we were experiencing denial. Our instincts and God-given discernment were screaming at us to take notice, to act on truth, but we dismissed them for whatever reason—a husband telling us that we were just over-reacting, feeling unable to face the pain of the truth, having our own agendas that were more important than the truth, being scared that no one would take care of us or love us if we acted on the truth.

–Melissa Haas, The Journey: Book One

Special Announcement

HopeQuest and its Board of Directors are pleased to announce that Troy Haas has been named Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the HopeQuest Ministry Group.  Troy has been a part of the HopeQuest team since its inception.  Prior to being named Chairman and CEO, Troy has served as the Executive Director of HopeQuest for the past 5 years, leading HopeQuest in the day to day operations and giving oversight and vision to the Executive Team.  Previously to serving as the Executive Director, Troy was the Director of Restoration Ministries at the First Baptist Church of Woodstock, GA for 15 years.

Please join us in welcoming Troy Haas as our new Chairman and CEO.

Walking Free – Week Nineteen

It costs us something to surrender. The apostle Paul said it this way:

“I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)

Dying to ourselves is painful, but unless we do that pain, we will never experience the life God has for us. I encourage you to surrender your life to the Faithful One, so that He can build you into the man He created you to be.

– Troy Haas, First Steps