I don't have an icon yet for No Stones. But I think in terms of "ooh, new ongoing topic, make an icon!" so I probably will.
This is a class I'm attending at The Mat. It's a women's sexual integrity group, based on the book No Stones, by Marnie C. Ferree, using a curriculum workbook published by Life Ministries, developed from the men's integrity course and the No Stones book. This post will look trés silly if I don't go back and fill in the bits I'm missing as I type this out.
I started this course last year. I started going to The Mat pursuing the Food Group, based on Thin Within, which didn't start right away. So I attended the Freedom in Christ group, a sort of catch-all, generic healing and recovery in Christ sort of thingie. Heh. When I started going to the Mat, Christina asked me if I'd be attending No Stones or Revive. This is what comes from doing life together, fully open and honest with each other. She knew my stuff and knew both classes fit me. But I wasn't ready for No Stones yet. And, I figured I had to pick one, and the Food Group was a more concrete place for me. I thought.
Then the Chili Cookoff came, and they added an early class time. There was to be an open group for No Stones in the early slot, and the Food Group would be starting up, in the normal, later slot. Prod, prod, I can take a hint. I took this as a big kick in the butt to do both. I dove in. Working the curriculum for the Food Group, learning amazing things about Remaining in Christ, depending on Him, leaning on Him, having a nice concrete practical area to give over to Him and see the results of a daily walk. And I figured out how any brokenness can be easily brought to Him.
And darn me, if I didn't keep that lesson anywhere near my heart? Oh yeah, I dived in alright. I had my morning quiet time, and really felt a thirst for prayer, for reading, for listening for His word. But that No Stones class? While it was open, it was "merely" a big ole support group. Oh, we kind of glossed over what the seven principles were (related to the 12 steps, kinda tuned for the specialty as it were), and then we went round the table talking about our past week. And honestly, I didn't see where anything I had to address in this group was current events. I mean, it was all past, right? But I plugged along, and then the group closed, and we started to dig into the curriculum. I remember doing the one of the really early assignments while I was on women's retreat, which was Mother's Day weekend.
And I just bogged down. Stuff came up that interrupted going to class. Stuff came up that got in the way of doing the work. I wasn't seeing amazing results in the Food Group. And somewhere along the way, I slipped back into my busy, lazy life, but with a bit more community kept in. Going to Life Group pretty faithfully. Started being really hit and miss about getting to the Mat. Not making Celebration a priority, and then even starting to miss some weekend services - and just not quite getting around to catching up with the podcast.
Then I got involved in one of the teams supporting Questapalooza, and I was busy with that, and somewhere along the way, Flar saw me always gone at church, never involved enough at home. We had this talk, and I said I wanted to put God first, but really, I could put my finger right there, and point and say yeah, I pulled back a lot from spending time in a big way at church.
I even missed Life Group a few times, to oversleeping. And then missed one or two promises to help on a Sunday. I can't remember if I asked Christina for the lunch, or if she asked me, but we met and we talked. I'd been building up some pretty solid walls again, and I needed help knocking them down. And a biggie. I needed leadership, and I hadn't been asking for it. We talked and talked, and one of the things that came out of it was me needing to go back to the mat.
Now, honestly, I still didn't understand why.
Last week, I started over. Went back to an open meeting, even spoke up - cause I'm really not shy that way anymore. And ended the meeting still not understanding why I needed to be there. I talked to Christina later and got some wonderful clarity about current decisions I needed leadership in. And I was ready to continue going to to class on faith that my leaders said I needed it.
Tonight, I got to the Mat late. I slipped into the worship service while they were screening a short film that had someone putting voice to Christ's words of love, with accompanying pictures. I didn't catch the name of the piece, but the effect on others was easy to spot. And the words that we sang in the praise songs did a work to soften up my heart in preparation for class.
In class, we talked about the several different problems that come under the umbrella of Sexual Addiction. I could see myself (yes, mostly past activities) in most of them. And then, we got to Binge and Purge and talked about shutting down completely, and how that's not healing. In the pattern of All or Nothing, "Nothing" is not FREEDOM</a> No, I can't right now understand how I would slip back into old patterns. But I do see how I am living with consequences, and somehow it got through to me that the work I needed to do, was to heal the brokenness in me, so that I could be a whole person ready to then work through the consequences.
What I was doing before - and this is SO a duh-moment as Christina calls them, I mean how could I not see the sheer irrationality of it - was to actually think that I was going to No Stones to heal my marriage, that somehow it was to fix the consequences.
I have to heal the brokenness in me.
Then I get to find leadership in heal the brokenness in my circumstances.
Other excerpts from my notes.
Our own choices have built up barriers. is she just looking straight into my heart, or what?
Definitely Stuck in the Consequences
Important to separate:
⓵ Heal the Brokenness in Me
⓶ Heal the Brokenness in my Marriage
Romance and Fantasy are a layer (or more) removed from Reality
How long have I been living in a false reality? I can remember sensing that at times, in the middle of the fighting.
On the other hand, if you did muddle through all of that, and any of it made sense to you in a personal way, if you're local, I'd love to take you to The Mat with me next week (when Helen will be teaching on the Mark 2 story of The Mat) or the next week, for the Chili Cookoff, and lots of stories of amazing recoveries and healing.