Steve Austin was in the throes of serving as a pastor when he found himself in the darkest place he’d ever been. Two hours from home, isolated and depressed, traumatized by a past he hadn’t faced, he made the choice to end his life.
Last week, the world suffered yet another tragic loss when Pastor Jarrid Wilson, from Harvest Church and co-founder of Anthem of Hope, “a Christian mental health organization dedicated to amplifying hope for those battling brokenness, depression, anxiety, self-harm, addiction and suicide,” ended his own life by suicide.
The fact is, depression and suicide are not uncommon to man, even if we are followers of Christ.
What is uncommon, is our lack of willingness to talk about this very difficult subject in honest and vulnerable ways. But if we hope to be a beacon of light to a hurt and broken world, then we must acknowledge our own hurt and brokenness.
This week, I had the honor of sitting down with Steve Austin, who fortunately survived his attempt to end his suffering through suicide. Instead, he woke up in the ICU and eventually found restoration and healing that continues to this day. In a raw and honest conversation, Steve shares his journey from “the pulpit to the psych ward.”
Join us as we talk about hard things. Then share the conversation with someone you know who is also struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts. Share it with someone who’s not. Just share it. We can only overcome the darkness when we’re willing to shed some light on it. That starts here. That starts with you.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call: National Suicide Hotline 1-800-273-8255
To learn more about Steve or to access any of his free resources,
including his free book, check out his website catchingyourbreath.com
Consider walking in or sponsoring someone walking in the Out of the Darkness walks, raising money and awareness about suicide and the prevention thereof American Foundations for Suicide Awareness (I’m walking in our local walk and have a page HERE if you’d like to contribute!)
Finally, please reach out to us if you are hurting and don’t know where to turn. We will help find you resources as best we can. You can EMAIL US anytime. We’d love to pray for and with you.
According to recoverymonth.gov “National Recovery Month, sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), is a national observance held every September to educate Americans that substance use treatment and mental health services can enable those with mental and substance use disorders to live healthy and rewarding lives. This observance celebrates the millions of Americans who are in recovery from mental and substance use disorders, reminding us that treatment is effective and that people can and do recover. It also serves to help reduce the stigma and misconceptions that cloud public understanding of mental and substance use disorders, potentially discouraging others from seeking help.”
As a huge proponent to the belief that we’re all a little broken and we all use potentially harmful coping strategies to varying degrees, I am an avid supporter of recovery programs. There are a variety to chose from, from Alcoholics Annonymous, to Celebrate Recovery to my own favorite, The Genesis Process, there is something out there to help absolutely anyone. These don’t even take into account one-on-one counseling, group therapy or residential treatment.
The fact is, the only reason we stay stuck in our negative cycles is that we struggle to even acknowledge that we’re using faulty coping mechanisms. Like the Big Book says: The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem.
So what about you?
Do you find yourself, like the apostle Paul continuously doing the very thing you hate and unable to do the thing you want? If so, you are not alone!
Join me as I sit down with my own recovery mentor and guide, Dr. Kathy Rodriguez, PsyD, to talk about what recovery looks like, who needs it and, its place in the Church.
Be sure to comment or email and share your own experience with recovery. Or, if you are realizing that you’d like to find a recovery program but don’t know where to start, drop me a line and I’ll be happy to help you find some resources that are local to you.
If you happen to be local to my area, near Sandy, Oregon, I will be starting a Genesis Change Group at our church in October 2019. Again, feel free to let me know if you’d like to be a part of it!
Truly…from the bottom of my heart…I don’t believe my family would even still be together, much less thriving, were it not for the hard work that happened through recovery groups. It’s a difficult and on-going journey, but the rewards are too numerous to count and I can’t encourage you enough to take the time to examine the unhealthy areas in your life and then do the hard work of surrendering the root problems to God, who knows you better than any doctor ever could, and has the answers for your heart’s greatest longings.
Enjoy this conversation with my friend and mentor, Kathy!
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God.” – Matthew 5:9
What if we have it all wrong? What if being a peacemaker means we actually ruffle some feathers. Turns out, that’s exactly what it means. Peacemaking isn’t for the fainthearted. It’s messy work, but it’s what we’re called to.
In this week’s episode, Matt and I talk about how and where we typically “find” our identities and where, as Christians, we should look instead. Even if you’re not a Christ follower, there are a few things that God says about who you are and what you’re made to do.
BUT FIRST, a little glimpse into one of the towns that I, Brandy and the teens stopped in on our road trip this summer, Wallace, Idaho.
Wallace’s population, in its peak in the 1940s, was well over 3,000. It is now estimated to be a mere 758. But what it lacks in people, it more than makes up for in charm and history. Established as a silver mining town, it continues to thrive as such.
I share some fun facts about Wallace and laugh uproariously while doing so. Seriously…I laughed so hard I almost fell out of my chair while recording. (We really ought to video these things!)
Left: The Stardust Motel still stands. The spaceship out front is part of a little diner where we had “The Best Huckleberry Milkshake.” The people inside this little diner were, hands-down, some of the nicest people we came across our entire trip. They were top notch with customer service. Right: The manhole cover that declares that very location in Wallace, Idaho to be the Center of the Universe. I mean…there’s a manhole cover that says it, so it must be true.
Please, go check out this cool, historic town. There is so much to uncover here and I only touched on a few little things. I look forward to exploring it more in years to come.
Wallace, Idaho…thank you! You promised to be a great place to visit and you delivered!
Quote at the start of this segment was taken from Psychology Today. “Examining Our Sense of Identity and Who We Are. Written by Michael J. Formica MS, MA, EdM. Posted Oct. 25, 2009. Below is a link to the entire article: Full article
Psychology defines identity as the qualities, beliefs, personality, looks and /or expression that make a person or group. It relates to self-image, self-esteem, and individuality.
Webster’s New World Dictionary defines “identity crisis” as: the state of being uncertain about oneself regarding character, goals, etc, especially in adolescence.
Places we often look to for validation or in order to discover who we are:
* Social media
* Self-help instruction
* Personality quizzes and assessments
* Employment/job titles
WHAT SCRIPTURE SAYS ABOUT WHO WE ARE:
“For You formed me in my inward parts, You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Your works and my soul knows it very well.”
We have a RELATIONSHIP with God: “See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are.” – 1 John 3:1
We have an INHERITANCE: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ…” – Ephesian 1:3
We have been TRANSFORMED: “He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to himself, according to the kind intention of His will…In Him, we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace…” Ephesians 1:5 and 7
We are ACCEPTED: “Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” – Hebrews 4:14-16
We are SECURE: “Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril or sword?… But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, no life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor heights, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 8:35, 37-39
We are SIGNIFICANT: “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God…” – 1 Corinthians 2:12
We have PURPOSE: “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” – Ephesians 2:10
“Woe to the one who quarrels with His Maker – an earthenware vessel among the vessels of earth! Will the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you doing?'” – Isaiah 45:9
A PERSONAL NOTE: After the busyness that has been my life recently, I had a health-induced rest for a couple of days. That being said, I am still working on getting a PDF made with a bunch more verses that speak to our identity in Christ. I am also still working on getting transcripts for the most recent shows. Please forgive my delay. If you happen to know of someone who might want to volunteer to do our transcripts, please have thememail me.
As a follow up to last week’s discussion wherein Matt and I shared what it looked like for us to recover after an affair, it seemed only fitting to also share with you some things we have learned that made our marriage vulnerable in the first place.
It is our desire to equip and encourage married couples to not only stay faithful but to thrive while doing so. It’s true that God’s grace and power are big enough to heal a marriage, but wouldn’t it be better to just avoid that crisis in the first place?
Some common pitfalls that any marriage may stumble into:
* Pornography and an indulgent fantasy life
* Unrealistic expectations from your spouse
* Comparing your spouse to an idealized version
* Believing it could never happen in your marriage…every marriage is vulnerable!
Some practical steps to keep your marriage protected (this is NOT an exhaustive list!):
* Guard yourself against pornography and sexual triggers
* To “spice up” your sex life, look to Christian resources (a few links below)
* Understand that the person you marry isn’t a project; they may ever change (and if you’re hoping they will, it might not be time to marry them, just yet)
* See your marriage as a team effort; you’re working toward the same goal. Act like it.
* Tend to your own pasture…the grass is never greener. Trust me.
These are some of the things we talked about in this episode. Of course, we didn’t cover ideas about finding shared hobbies or interests, or how to effectively listen to your spouse or any one of a hundred other ways you can foster a loving relationship. Those, I’m sure will be covered in future episodes.
There are so many more resources available for the Christian couple. Whether you’ve got questions you’re uncomfortable asking anyone else, you want some ideas for how to put the spark back in your marriage or you simply want to know how to make your spouse feel more loved, there is a myriad of books out there.
To see Christian books only and not be worried about being bombarded with potential triggers or porn, check out Christian Book Distributors.
“Life is full of little mercies like that, not big mercies but comfortable little mercies. And so we are able to keep on going.” – Alma Winemiller
Tennessee Williams; Summer and Smoke
We were sixteen years old when we met.
He was a transplant student, having arrived part way through our Junior year of high school. I was introduced to him along with a group of my friends, as we sat at our usual lunch table. Our theater teacher led him over and told us we had a new student in the drama program, would we please take him under our collective wing and welcome him into our group.
It wasn’t hard to do. He had shaggy blond hair, golden sun-kissed skin and dimples that melted my heart with his first smile.
Within that first year, we did a scene together from Tennessee Williams’ play, Summer and Smoke. He played the naughty little boy, John and I played Alma, the sweet minister’s daughter next door. (Our roles should have been reversed.) In that scene, we had our first kiss, a quick peck on the cheek.
Six years later, we walked down the aisle and promised to love, honor and cherish each other till death do us part. What easy words to say and mean when you’re caught in the throes of love and wonder.
Slightly harder when reality crashes in and you’re suddenly met with the very real fact that your life now includes caring for someone else’s needs more than your own on a daily basis. Oh, sure, you still mean what you said that hot June day, but actually living it out is harder than you’d imagined it would be.
And then one day, those vows get lost in the selfishness of your own desires and soon, the life you’d always imagined you’d build together begins to crack in a thousand different ways until you’re looking at nothing more than a pile of rubble.
When we sat across from each other 15 years into our marriage and decided that we were going to stay side by side and fight for what we’d built, we started with a very practical exercise.
We went back to the beginning.
What made me “me” and what made Matt “Matt”?
We shared stories of our childhoods. Going back to the earliest memories we could muster. We shared the first time we were let down by someone we loved, we shared the moment we first realized that Mom and Dad can’t always protect us from the bogeymen that walk among us. We talked about rejection and shame. We cried over the memories that scarred us, leaving us damaged, broken adults.
And what we realized in the space of a few hours was that, though we’d grown up in different places under different circumstances, we were really, pretty much the same little kid deep down inside.
We were both insatiably curious about anything and everything. We both loved a good story and had rich imaginations. We both felt really small and often unheard in a world full of giants.
Brandy, approx. 5 years old; circa 1978 Matt, approx. 4 years old, circa 1977
What we realized was simple: we were two adults that had been hurt in life as little kids (because let’s face it, we all get hurt in one way or another) and we had carried those hurts and fears into our adulthoods and ultimately, our marriage. Those places of childhood hurt had resulted in us each seeking different ways to fill or replace whatever we felt had been lacking.
It didn’t make us bad people. It just made us broken people.
Seeing each other through a new lens, that of a child has helped us to understand and appreciate each other more. We’re more patient and understanding than we used to be. We recognize more easily when the other is being reminded of a loss or hurt that reaches the depths of the subconscious. We’re gentler, kinder and more sympathetic.
We’re not perfect.
We still have our moments, but more often than not, when I look at Matt now, I don’t just see the adult version that stands before me, with a beard and a job and a mortgage to pay. I see a little 4-year-old, crouched in the barn, with a head full of dreams and a heart already feeling the effects of living in a broken and fallen world.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery;’ but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” – Matthew 5:27-28
Not a very pretty word is it? But there it is. In black and white. You can sugar-coat it and call it something different, but it’s all the same ugly sin.
This week, we dive headlong into our own journey of adultery and the grace and redemption that God provided. Eight years have passed since the news came out that shook our world to its core.
We invite you to step into this conversation with us because we hear, on a near daily basis of so many other marriages that are struggling with their own battles of infidelity. We want to bring hope and encouragement to those of you currently walking this path and in next week’s episode, we want to provide some common pitfalls to avoid or overcome that oftentimes lead to an affair.
If you are struggling in your own marriage, please listen. Please reach out. To us. A pastor. A counselor. There is grace. There is healing. There is a new beginning available to you and your marriage. You are not alone.
We can also be found in Apple Podcasts (formerly iTunes), Stitcher, iHeartRadio, Spotify and pretty much any podcast app. Please share with your friends, neighbors, people you love, and people you love to hate because everybody needs a little encouragement and grace.