...and a Powerful Testimony of Healing
Last month I shared about a wonderful resource I highly recommend to our Circles of Faith community called Foundations of Freedom. It's a five-part DVD set presented by Bob Hamp, a pastor who also has mental health credentials/licenses. (If you missed that article click here.)
I will continue to write about the content of the series and why I'm so excited about it next month. This month, however, I would like to devote my space to a dear friend's wonderful testimony about how the series impacted her life.
Read on to see the crisis my friend was in and how she was able to apply the principles of the Freedom series at a time of confusion and many significant losses.
I know you'll love it!
The key word in Bob Hamp’s series is “freedom.” Now a woman of “a certain age,” I came to faith in Christ at age 14 and have enjoyed a personal relationship with Him ever since. Often finding myself in positions of leadership in the
church and in the educational profession, I developed lasting friendships and married a wonderful man whom I met at a Bible study. If anyone asked me did I know that I was “saved by grace through faith,” I would have instantly replied, “Of course!” I even would have been able to cite all the relevant Scripture verses if prompted.
Yet, I found myself broken after the Christian school where I was the principal downsized, my husband lost his job, and we managed to total both of our cars on the same day in separate incidents.
Until then, I hadn’t realized how much I derived my sense of identity and value from the roles I fulfilled and the things I did and had.
Although I knew I had done my best, worked, prayed, given of my time and talents, I was devastated that my efforts were “not enough.” On a deeper level, I somehow expected that if I tried hard enough and had the right attitudes and beliefs, that my life would be happy and I would have the things and positions I sought. I was disappointed and confused when I realized I was wrong.
It was then that Susanne shared the Foundations of Freedom series with me and I came to realize that I was like the person who misses the Gospel message by 18 inches – the distance between my head and my heart.
Intellectually and consciously, I knew the truth that it wasn’t good deeds or even right attitudes that earned God’s approval, but on a deeper level, it wasn’t real to me.
I wasn’t able to grasp that God had provided all I needed in Christ. With an upbringing of high expectations and perfectionism, down deep I was still relying on my performance. When things didn’t work out as I expected, I believed that God was mad at me and I had failed.
A persistent, underlying feeling of unrest and guilt, not “feeling” accepted by God had actually been with me as long as I could remember. As I viewed the series, I found out that “trying harder” wasn’t the answer. In fact, I discovered that I was operating on a mental model that was a counterfeit of the true Gospel of grace.
As I placed my identity not in what I do, but in who He is, I realized that living the Christian life isn’t up to me.
It depends on connecting to the power source: Christ, who is Life. Instead of being exhausted in my own self-effort and mental gymnastics, I became able, through prayer, and confiding my journey to trusted friends, to release daily concerns to God and let Him do the heavy lifting. As I took time to spend in God’s presence, learning to listen and viewing the Scriptures as a love letter from God, God’s Word became a guide, not a list of rules to adhere to. I stopped organizing my life around being good enough or achieving external success, and I began to develop a genuine trust in the character of God. Letting go of self-sufficiency in various areas of my life, I surrendered my trust to Him on a daily basis.
I was set free to be who He made me to be, both in my work and in my relationships, especially my relationship with God.
An awesome bonus was that my husband, not accustomed to watching random sermons on a screen, was even more affected by the Foundations of Freedom series than I was. He discovered that Jesus came to help us live in the moment with power to connect to Him right now, without fear of judgment or comparing ourselves with others’ success or failures in their work and relationships. This series so transformed our understanding of God’s Grace and our identity in Christ, we even bought multiple copies to give as Christmas gifts to our closest friends.
I'd also like to recommend a 30-minute teaching by Bob Hamp called The Problem Jesus Came to Solve. It will whet your appetite and help you decide if you'd like to go on and order the series.
Foundations of Freedom is one of the most powerful teachings I’ve come across in some time. If you check it out, I’d love to hear what you think.
Susanne Ciancio, LPC, is a Licensed Professional Christian Counselor. She has been serving the Christian community as a professional Christian counselor in Essex county and the surrounding area since 1986. Beyond her private practice in West Orange, NJ she is involved in teaching, consulting, and pastoral supervision in various churches in the area. Click here for Susanne's website.
EDITORS NOTE: While Susanne can’t answer specific counseling-related questions, she welcomes your thoughts, comments, and suggestions about what kinds of topics you’d like to see addressed here at Circles of Faith. Click here to contact us.