“It is for freedom that Christ has made you free.” (Galatians 5:1)

This scripture runs through my head at least once per day. Paul wrote it in his letter to the Galatians. The church was dealing with the pressure to add to the grace given by Christ. He accused them of turning to a different gospel, “which is really no gospel at all.” (1:7) The people were like many of us being thrown into confusion by the opinions of this world, the rituals, and the traditions that tell us how we should think, feel and act in order to be acceptable or even “normal.” 

When I think about the things our world is broadcasting these days, it’s not all bad. I’ve enjoyed learning the science behind calories, simple carbs and complex carbs. I love getting into a deep conversation about classical education vs traditional. Even a light political discussion can be invigorating, as I pretend to know the ins and outs of the constitution; but, when I am not careful, these things begin to suffocate me. Condemnation creeps up and condemns me for not measuring up to the standard, and pride creeps up as I judge others for not reaching my standard. Then, I begin to see gluten-free eating as the standard for all and classical education as God’s best. Even political leanings can begin to look like a leg of the Gospel.  

 

These thoughts and feelings hold me captive; I become a slave to them. I rise, and in order to satisfy my conscience, I strive to eat that gluten-free muffin. When it comes to politics, I begin to ignore an obvious wrong in efforts to stay aligned with the “right” political party. I continue classically educating my kids even though I may find myself overwhelmed with the process, while there is a great traditional school right down the road. And just like the Galatians, I enter again into a system of works, trying to earn my righteousness, being a slave to the law. While reminding the Galatians that their salvation came through faith in Christ alone, Paul also admonished them not to add again the works of the law (namely circumcision) in efforts to maintain their salvation.

There was a time in my life that it was all about maximum effort in hopes of maximum results. If you are like me, it’s exhausting maintaining a standard imposed on me by popular culture. Paul reminds us of the freedom we have in the finished work of Christ. Breathe easy, my sisters and brothers, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Doesn’t that feel good to read this scripture releasing us from our works and inviting us to rest in Christ? I can just hear Christ’s invitation to “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am meek and lowly at heart and you will find rest unto your souls.” (Matthew 11:29)

 

Martina is a wife and mother of four wonderful children. She began as a participant of RYH groups and is now an RYH Ambassador. The Griffins live in Orlando, FL.

 

 

Restoring Your Heart was designed to help people grow towards spiritual maturity by experiencing emotional healing. The process was aimed specifically at individuals.

However, as more people participated in RYH groups, their families began to change. People learned that their past, though over, was still having an impact on their present life.  They also learned what makes a healthy family and then applied those principles to their children. When husbands and wives both participated in RYH groups, the benefit was even greater. Marriages improved as people better understood themselves and could talk about their hurts with their spouses. Communication improved. Both spouses learned about healthy families and became better parents. 

The natural outcome of healthier families is healthier communities. We have been so encouraged to see this happen over and over again. It makes participating in a RYH group all the more valuable. Not only are you receiving your own personal healing, the benefit spreads to your family and friends.

We believe the implication for communities is huge.

We’d like to share a testimony from a person who participated in a RYH group simultaneously with her spouse. 

“A friend of mine took Restoring Your Heart and described to me how powerful and life defining it was for her.  I became intrigued as she talked about how it led her to take a personal & spiritual inventory of her life.  I will boldly confess before you today that as engrossed as I was in her story – literally hanging on her every word – the woman lost me when she told me the length of the group, and I felt myself shut down when I learned the cost. 17 weeks and $30 was a bit more of a commitment than I was accustomed to surrendering for a Wednesday night group.   

She laughed at my shock and awe.  And told me that if I put in the work and attended the group, she guaranteed I would get at least $30 worth of restoration.

I talked to my husband about it and we thought it would be neat to do the group together.  We could discuss our answers and get to know each other a little better.  There’s always more we can learn after 16 years of marriage, right?  

There are two types of Restoring Your Heart groups. One focuses on the losses in our lives and the other on understanding emotions.  I signed up for Understanding Emotions and my husband signed up for Processing Pain.  It turned out to be the best thing for us individually and as a couple.  We were still able to share our answers, but not cover the exact same content.

We started talking about Restoring Your Heart so much that the title got to be too long so we just referred to it as RYH.  If something happened in our family, we’d be quick to say, “Oh! This is a RYH moment!” 

In RYH, I learned how to handle and process emotions that I had long suppressed.  I had cracks in my spiritual pottery that I didn’t know about!  Or the cracks I did know about, I didn’t worry about repairing.  I studied emotions from a Biblical perspective and took a look back at circumstances in my past that were driving how I respond to life today.   I learned that how I respond to situations in my life flows through the very spiritual cracks lined with decades of past, unresolved emotions.   So how you respond to stress, strife or struggles in your life is directly related to your past unresolved hurts.  There’s no way around it. 

I had THE best small group in the world.  Together we chose to let the light of Jesus shine through our spiritual cracks and made ourselves available for Him to refill them with the Holy Spirit.  We’ll never forget our journey together. “

So now that I’ve completed one group, I’d like to write a public service announcement for RYH.  If RYH was a Visa commercial, the announcer would say…

RYH Group  $30

Time Investment  17 weeks

The Spiritual Transformation & Freedom   PRICELESS

We start with one person and God, then the benefits of healing fan out to everyone around them.  When will you start to heal your community by healing yourself?

 

Grief at a Wedding by Sarah Johnson

Just a couple of Saturdays ago, I was a bridesmaid in a dear friend’s wedding. Of course, we had the wedding rehearsal and the rehearsal dinner the night before so the whole weekend was wedding centric. In all the prep and celebration, my mind lingered on the many tender father daughter moments I witnessed: the bride’s father tearing up while practicing giving her away, his gently teasing speech at the rehearsal dinner, him walking her down the aisle during the ceremony, the two of them dancing at the reception. My mind focused on these moments in particular because they filled my heart with both joy and pain and a longing for something I will never experience.

My friend’s wedding made me remember my sister’s wedding almost two decades earlier, when my own daddy’s eyes filled with unspoken emotions from giving his daughter away. It’s an expected rite of passage for many fathers and daughters. After my sister’s wedding, I would often imagine my daddy’s reaction to my wedding day and what he would have to say about his baby girl getting married. I had the song for our father daughter dance picked out by the time I was twelve years old. But, these things will never come to pass. 

The cancer took my daddy fifteen days before my twentieth birthday. I didn’t even know who I was at that age and my daddy would never get to know the woman I would become. During the months that followed his death, the weight of all the moments that we would never share crushed me. No proud daddy at my college graduation. No concerned father to check in with during my solo trip overseas. No sage advice as I purchased my first car. No wedding dance. Any children I have will enter the world down one grandfather. I have long since healed from feeling crushed by my daddy’s absence but I still grieve these lost moments whenever I’m reminded of all the nevers. 

 

“The guilt and shame slid away when I realized that my pain didn’t fail Jesus. Grief becomes a blessing, as sadness and joy intertwine to remind me how passionately I am loved.”

In the years I spent processing and healing from the loss of my daddy, I encountered some churches and ministries that reacted to my grief as though my feelings were sinful. They told me that my grief failed to show the Savior’s redemptive work in my life. My sadness made Jesus-the-giver-of-unconditional-joy appear to be a liar. I should just choose to be happy. All this well-meaning advice only served to heap guilt and shame on top of my grief.
My need for healing brought me to a Restoring Your Heart group, which helped to undo the good intentioned but terrible advice about grief I had received. Through RYH, I learned that my feelings of grief weren’t sinful because God created all emotions, including the so-called negative ones, for our good and His glory. The guilt and shame slid away when I realized that my pain didn’t fail Jesus. Grief becomes a blessing, as sadness and joy intertwine to remind me how passionately I am loved. 
As I recently celebrated my friend’s wedding with all the father-daughter moments, I didn’t just mourn the loss of what I’ll never have; I also rejoiced that I am a precious daughter of the King of the universe. I may never have a father-daughter wedding dance or someone to walk me down the aisle but I do have a Heavenly Father who knows me intimately and loves me deeply. While father-daughter moments remind me of what I’ll never experience in this lifetime, they also reflect how my God loves me, which is a comfort that reaches to the foundation of my identity.

Throughout all of Scripture, God promises He will meet our needs for value, security, acceptance and connection

Throughout all of Scripture, God promises He will meet our needs. In the second chapter of Genesis, God says that it is not good for the man to be alone. That’s because when God formed the man from the dust and blew His breath into him, He blew in the needs for value, security, acceptance and connection. And by creating a woman for the man, God was meeting those needs. He was at once revealing Himself to the man and drawing the man close to Him.

________________________________________________________

When I was a kid, my family lived in Dallas, Texas. It so happens that Dallas is the hometown of the famous department store, Neiman Marcus. In the 1950’s, Neiman Marcus was THE place to shop in Dallas. There was only one location, and it was downtown, since the shopping mall had yet to be invented. A visit to Neiman Marcus was a special adventure.

My daddy, who was a family-oriented kind of guy, was pretty involved in my life, especially for activities that were outside the home. So, around the age of 5, when I needed new “dress shoes”, my daddy took me to Neiman Marcus downtown to get them. The only details I remember about that outing were actually being in the shoe department of the store and spying THE shoes. They were soft black suede Mary Janes with rhinestones all around the front edge. I instantly fell in love with them and saw no need to look at any other shoes. I remember trying them on and my daddy saying, “Now are you SURE those are the ones you want?” They were indeed the ones, so he bought them for me. Although I don’t remember many details of the outing, I DO remember the feeling of being loved by my daddy. He wanted me to have the shoes I liked and was taking the time to make sure I was satisfied. And not only that, he was glad to be with me as I picked out something he otherwise would have no interest in at all. He wanted to be with me and he wanted me to be pleased.

In just that one simple outing to buy new shoes, my daddy met my needs for value, security, acceptance and connection.

Why do I remember that one random outing with my daddy?

When that memory plays back in my head, I instantly feel valued, secure, accepted and connected. Since those are the emotional needs that God Himself created within me, when I remember that day, not only do I feel all those things from my daddy, I also feel them from God. Remembering makes me smile.

When we are children, our parents (or other caregivers) don’t always adequately meet our emotional needs. When they don’t, we as children will figure out some way to get them met, and it usually won’t be a very healthy choice. When our needs aren’t validated by an adult, we might assume that our needs are wrong, or that there is something wrong with us for even having needs.

The beauty of the RYH process is that it helps us understand and accept those needs. We learn to look to God and also to healthy relationships with people in order to get our needs met. In the process, God reveals Himself to us and draws us close.

 

I was very blessed when recently three people I know went out of their way to tell me how much being in Restoring Your Heart groups had helped them.  I also found it very interesting to hear how God had used the same material to help each of them in different ways.

The first one was a Filipino pastor I know from my trips to Quezon City in his country.  He had been through a rough time when my team met him on our first trip to The Philippines.  He felt like he had failed God and his ministry because of some circumstances that are not as important as the fact that he had repented of them and come back to God.  But he still felt guilty and was doing secular work.  After talking to some of our men and completing a Processing Pain group he says he is feeling much better about himself. He also feels that his relationship with God has been restored and he has returned to the ministry. He is very excited about being in an Understanding Emotions group now with the same group of men whom he got to know so well the first time.  He also wants to be trained to be a Restoring Your Heart group leader because he wants to help others work through the same material that helped him so much.

The second person is a lovely American woman who became a Christian as an adult.  She tells me that she was very happy to be a Christian but found it difficult to settle into a church and to grow spiritually. Her life changed very little because of her conversion experience.  When she heard about Restoring Your Heart groups, she knew she wanted to be in one.  She completed a Processing Pain group and went on to do Understanding Emotions and Conquering Shame groups.  She found that some of the emotionally based problems she had experienced in the past had been preventing her from growing spiritually.  After dealing with many of these problems in RYH, she found a good church that she loves and started attending a Bible Study there also.  She reads her Bible regularly and understands it on a new level.  She now prays regularly and has many Christian friends. Most importantly she now feels close to God.

The last person who shared with me is a very youthful middle-aged American woman in full time Christian work.  Her relationship with God was not her problem.  Because of her past she found it very difficult to trust anyone except God, her husband and her children.  She had become a Christian years ago and wanted to have Christian women friends but found it very difficult. When she heard about Restoring Your Heart groups she also knew that she wanted to be in one.  While she was participating in the Processing Pain group she began to discover what had happened to her in her past that made it very hard to trust people.  She has worked through the restoration process and has experienced a great deal of healing in the areas of trusting people and self-esteem.  She also developed some wonderful friendships with the women in her group and found she could trust them.  That Processing Pain group went so well that the women decided to do an Understanding Emotions group next and then went on to do a Conquering Shame group together also. This group now has regular reunions and feels like God has knit their hearts together as sisters in the Lord. My friend is so happy to have a place were she “belongs” with other women.

My conclusion from these three stories and the many similar ones I have heard in the past is that Restoring Your Heart groups really are discipleship groups.  They help us to grow spiritually, to draw closer to God and other people and to be more effective in our ministries.