If I don't take my thoughts captive, they will take me captive, and I will become a prisoner to my thoughts. It's like the enemy can whisper one thing, and if I'm not careful, I will take the one word and write a novel out of it. Let's say I lose my temper on my kids, and I'm telling myself, you're just like your father.
Now, I can take this and write a novel and make it true, or I can take the thought captive, bring it before God, and if it doesn't hold up in this court, I have to fight to dismiss it. Welcome to Family Life Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I'm Ann Wilson. And I'm Dave Wilson, and you can find us at familylifetoday.com or on the Family Life app. This is Family Life Today.
So, we went to a counselor last year. Let's just tell the world about that moment. Actually, I did as I was going through succession at my church, and I really needed to sit down and work through some things.
But then, this guy was so good, Greg Dempster, and he works with Christian leaders all around the country. I said, I gotta get Ann. We gotta bring her back. Because she's super messed up. No, I just thought, Ann, your wisdom and insight, we need help for our marriage. And one of the things that Greg drew out that I knew but never really put my finger on was how you felt unseen almost all of your life, especially in your family. Yeah, I mean, I have a great family.
My dad was great. But I also knew as the youngest of four, I felt very unseen, unnoticed, and like my life didn't matter. And then you put sexual abuse on top of that, and you put not being able to measure up to the standards of the family and performance. And now you've got a problem.
I did. I had a problem because I was filled with shame. I felt like, do I not matter? Does my life not matter?
And will I ever be good enough? Yeah, and one of the things that hit me in that moment with Greg was on our 10-year anniversary when you said, I've lost my feelings for you, you felt unseen by me. Right, because I felt like everything else was more important to you than me.
Yeah, and so I think this shame that you just mentioned, that you carry, I think a lot of us carry, is something we need to understand and get victory over. Because Dave, I don't think a lot of us know when we're growing up, everything feels so normal. It's my life.
It doesn't feel like it's broken. It feels like this is just my life. And so then you get older and you see your brokenness, you see how you're messed up, and suddenly you're starting to think, where did that come from? And so that shame piece that I think a lot of us feel and we carry, we don't know what to do with it. Yeah, and we carry it into our marriages. If we don't do something with it, we're going to give it to our kids.
Yes. And it's going to become a legacy. So we've got some help in the studio with us today. Noe Garcia, who was with us yesterday, is back to talk about—you didn't know this, you're going to talk about shame today. Love it. Sounds good.
Let's do it. You're a pastor in Phoenix. You've got four kids and a wife and a busy life. But as you wrote in your book, Repurposed, how God takes your mess and turns it into His message, as I was listening to you yesterday, you described a life where you carry shame. First chapter of your book's called Shame. So what is that, and how did it manifest in your life?
You know, think about shame. It just paralyzes you. It makes you focus on the past.
And you're stuck in the present because you're so focused on the past, and it blinds you to the future. Now, how would you define it? Man, I would define the shame as by this overwhelming emotional state that puts you in a position to where you are living in this false narrative.
And here's what I mean by that. I don't mean the experiences were not real. But I mean it puts you in this emotional state, this paralyzing state where you're continuing to feed yourself these lies. You're continuing to be stuck to what is true, but you tell yourself you can never get out. You tell yourself it can never change. You tell yourself nobody will understand and accept it.
And so you stay in this state. And shame lies to you. It tells you God can never forgive you and God can never use you. Shame tells you that other people will never understand.
They'll judge you and they'll look at you differently. It paralyzes you. And so I think it's produced from really traumatic circumstances, whether it's decisions that we have made or things that have been done to us. It's both.
That's why it's so powerful because it's true and it's real, but it doesn't show you the way out. Well, I can remember as a five-year-old going through sexual abuse and it happening again to someone that I knew. And as a five-year-old, after it happened multiple times and this last time, I remember thinking, it must be me. Something's wrong with me.
And that was the switch. And that's what I think shame is, is suddenly it feels like there's something wrong with me. It isn't I did something bad.
I am bad. It's an identity. And you mentioned yesterday as you came out of a home of abuse, you were abused, you were in drugs and alcohol and at the same time, you know, thriving on a basketball court as a way out. But you described yesterday, you get to the point where that shame you were carrying, which is somewhat hidden, puts you in a place where you almost tried to take your life. Yeah. Is that what shame can do?
Yes. You know, for me, when you're sexually abused more than once as a child, your soul is shattered and it is not a deal with that. And you are covered with shame and you feel like you have done something wrong or you have done something that has brought that on yourself. What did I do that opened the door for that?
What's wrong with me? Then you start living with these emotions and you start feeling like, okay, there's this shame on me because of what took place. How do I suppress that feeling of shame?
So here's what I did. Drugs, alcohol, immorality, thinking that that would suppress the feeling of what took place when I was a child. But it only brought more shame because now I was disgusted with myself and embarrassed and shameful of what had been done to me, but then what I had done to try to cover it up. I can tell myself, maybe this wasn't my fault. The other, I did this. I did this.
I made these decisions. I'm horrible. I'm disgusting. I'm filthy.
The soul is not created for this kind of impurity. And so you feel this and you feel like you're drowning. You feel like nobody will ever forgive you. You feel like if you say these things out loud, people may look at you differently. They'll treat you differently. It changes your path of life.
So you don't say anything. Did you fall into depression? I fell so deep into depression. You know, if you ever dealt with depression, you just begin to live in this false world where everything is negative.
Everything is bad. Every thought, every circumstance. And then if you do have a moment that is a mountaintop moment, you think it's not going to last long.
You're afraid of this moment. You're afraid to enjoy what's good because you don't think it's going to be there long. So you wire yourself not to get attached to the good things because good things don't last is what I thought. And so when you have these good moments, don't get used to this is not real life. This joy, this happiness, this is abnormal. Brokenness is normal. So don't get used to the joy and happiness because brokenness is where you're used to living. So I taught myself and trained myself how to not get too attached to good things.
Relationships, I would push people away before they got too close because I didn't want to get hurt again because everyone I let in hurt me. So I taught myself to put people through trial runs. Let me see how long they will stay. Oh, they've stayed this long? Let me show them another piece of me, see if they'll go. And I began to unfold it. Oh, you're going to stay? Let me show you some uglier stuff to see how long you'll stay.
It's like it's so messed up. But I did that. And then when they'd stay long enough, I thought, oh, they love me and I love them. How do I break this off? Is it too late? What am I going to do now? So I would burn the bridge. I would destroy a relationship so that I had the power to destroy it before they destroyed me. And then you got to the point where you thought, I don't even want to do this anymore.
Yeah. And so from five to 18, you live your life like that. You're tired of broken relationships. You're tired of the shame. You're tired of being guilty. And I was guilty. And the shame has you running when nobody is chasing.
It has you hiding when nobody's looking for you. And I got tired of running and I got tired of hiding. So one night I remember sitting there not knowing if there was a God, but if there was, asking him, please, my soul is empty and I'm tired and I'm broken and I'm 18. And I'm saying, I'm tired of life. I'm tired of pain.
I'm tired of not having a father. There's no affirmation. There's no security. There's nothing. And I asked him for a sign and he doesn't give me a sign. So I sit there and start crying. So I thought, if God doesn't want me or love me, I have no chance in life. That there's no chance if God doesn't want me. And I thought he didn't want me.
I thought he was like my earthly father. That he just walked out and didn't need to come back. And so I thought, if God doesn't want me, if my earthly father doesn't want me, if there's all these broken relationships, what's the point of living through this? But thankfully I didn't succeed. I thought I locked the door, but my friend came in and found me and he was like, what are you doing?
And I said, I don't know. And I just started crying and sat there and I knew something had to change. I'd hit rock bottom and I was so desperate. My soul was so hungry and I didn't know how to feed it.
At this point, I'm playing basketball at the Salvation Army. And for about two years when I'd go play basketball, they make you stay for a devotion. And I'd always make fun of the Christian guy speaking. I just thought they were so cheesy.
It was the same story. That's great for you, but it doesn't match who I am. And then the guy stands up, just got out of prison.
Tattoos, I have tattoos. And I'm like, okay, you know God? How do you know God? And so I listened and he's sharing about this Jesus who would forgive you of your sins.
And he has my full attention because of the way he looks like me. I'm thinking, okay, if this is real, I want some of this then because I know what I just tried to do and it didn't work. So I get up during the invitation and say, I don't know if you're real, but if you are, will you forgive me of my sins? And when you take my life, because I can't do anything with it. And I surrendered and I confessed.
And let me tell you what happened. It's like I came out of living in the dark, out into the light. And the things that I cultivated in the dark began to have so much power over my life. Because I didn't know then, but that's where the enemy has his battles, is in the dark. That's an interesting way that you put that, the things you were cultivating in the darkness.
What do you mean by that? Well, I gave it life. Yeah, by feeding it. By feeding it.
Yeah. I gave it life by feeding into this lie, whether it was thoughts or an action. I cultivated it and it was so powerful.
It was so strong. And it feels right to do it. Oh, it feels normal. You don't know you're doing it. It feels normal. And the enemy's having a field day and he's producing this fruit out of it.
He planted the seeds and I'm watering it and the fruit's being produced. But that's where he fights, is in the dark. Yeah. When I came out into the light, it's like it lost its power. And all these things that had shame over my life no longer had this power over me.
It's like, you lost. Here I am fully forgiven. And yes, that's my reality. Yes, I'm ashamed.
But God being rich in mercy, here I am. This is why even today, I didn't start speaking to me being molested until I wrote the book. Wow. So, until a year ago, this was all pretty silent? I didn't tell a lot of stuff. Why did you decide to start telling it? Here's why I didn't.
Because I didn't hear anybody else talking about that. I never heard a pastor talk about this, ever. I think unintentionally, I was groomed to believe you don't share stuff like that.
It's not okay. So, I still lived in the dark, although I was free in that area of my life. So, Noe, here you are now. You're a new creature in Christ. Old things have passed.
New has come. And that happened to me, and I was thinking, now I am a new creature. And yet, after a while, I was still battling those same thoughts. I didn't realize, because I had cultivated them for years, I probably had neurological pathways that were deep, man. You know, I just go on that path every day. And so, I was still feeding myself these lies of you're nothing, you're no good, you're not worthy, you'll never succeed, you'll never do anything worthwhile. And then I remember reading Romans 12, too. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. How did that work out for you?
Did it change overnight, or was it a process? It's still a process. Yeah, me too. I know these truths. I preach them every Sunday. But I also know that we're broken people, and that we live in our flesh, and that we have to still deal with the scars of yesterday. How do we break free? Because, largely, your book's based on Romans 8, verse 1, one of the most famous, powerful, there's no condemnation for those of us who are in Christ. If that's true, and you just said it, and we just said it, how do we get stuck not living a free life? So here's what happens. And it happens to all of us. When you become a new creature in Christ, there's still the renewing of your mind. And what happens is, when I have moments of, say I lose my temper with my kids, and it reminds me of my father. The enemy will tell me, even today, say you're not really different.
Look at you. You're just like your father, even today. And then the shame will overwhelm me. I have to battle the, am I different?
Am I changed? So it happens today. Let me share with this. Romans 8, verse 1, therefore there's now, now, no condemnation for those that are in Christ. The word condemnation is a legal term. Okay, so picture us in court. Your crime is brought before the judge. The judge is saying, he is dismissed, he is forgiven, bang the gavel. So that term there is saying, look, now, today, your yesterday, today, and tomorrow are forgiven. Which means the crime that you commit tomorrow doesn't have any power before the judge anymore because of what Christ has done.
So here's what happens. When I sin, I have to retrain my thought by doing this, by taking my thoughts captive. If I don't take my thoughts captive, they will take me captive. And I will become a prisoner to my thoughts. It's like the enemy can whisper one thing, and if I'm not careful, I will take the one word and write a novel out of it of how I'm horrible.
So I take this one word, let's say I lose my temper on my kids, and I'm telling myself, you're just like your father. Now, I can take this and write a novel and make it true, or I can take this before the courts of heaven and ask, is this a true statement? So I take the thought captive, bring it before God, and if it doesn't hold up in this court, I have to fight to dismiss it. That takes a lot of work. I was going to say that. It takes intentionality. It's exhausting because we said yesterday we have thousands of thoughts a day, much of them negative, and you've got to grab every one and take it captive. It's exhausting, but the novel that we will write with the lies is devastating.
So we have to pick. I found that I would have those thoughts at night when I put my head on the pillow. You, Dave, you go right to sleep.
I was like, how does he do that? But I would lay in bed at night and just go over and over my failures of that day. And I'll say this, the enemy, the accuser, would go over those stories each day. And so I got into this habit of taking because it's such a lie, and it doesn't do any good to go over what you, you can confess it, Jesus. I give it to you. I confess it.
I'm free. So I'd picture myself handing the lie that I was believing or maybe the sin I committed. It's forgiven.
So I would hand it to him, and then I could fall asleep at night. And it's hard, though, not to entertain the lies. It's hard.
Really hard. And this is what the enemy's been doing since Genesis 3. The fall in the garden, what took place was they changed what they thought about God and what they thought about themselves.
It's why they hid, because they were filled with shame, and they were hiding from God. And so when we sin, what do we think? Oh, man, how does he view me? Does he still love me?
Is he going to use me? And then we view ourselves differently. We're horrible. We are defined by our failures, right? And it's just this ongoing battle, and it's a lifelong battle. I don't think it ever stops.
I think we get better at the battle. I don't think it ever stops. I mean, are you living in victory now? There are days where I'm not.
Man, there are days where... And you're way too honest. Really? I know you're not. I love it.
No, I'm kidding. I love that, because like you, so often the church and the Christian community just hides. Like Genesis 3, we put on the leaves, we hide. And it's rare that somebody brings the darkness to the light, and the light sets you free. When you bring it out in the light, you become free. And that's why I love your being that honest. I'm a professional confessor. Honestly, there's people, you know, if I ever go see a counselor, they'll say, is there anything that you've never told anybody? I'm like, no, I can't live that way, man.
No, I'm getting it all, probably too much at times. But I just, I want to be free. I don't want to have any secrets or dirty hands. I want to be free.
Not perfect, but free. And so, I still have tough days. I got to be honest. If I have a bad day, and I send my anger and whatever it may be, man, I'm shaming myself the rest of that day. I wish I could tell you, no, I'm everyday victory.
But I'm not. I remember the day I, the first year of our church, 1990. So, it's 30 some years ago where I shared from the pulpit my struggle with pornography. And I remember my co-pastor, Steve, came over and said, you just changed this church.
And I thought it was bad, like, oh, did I lose my job? Because, you know, especially then, he says, no, I think you just turned this church into a place where people will bring their full self and say, I got to be real here. Will I find acceptance here? Is there victory in Christ here? In the middle of the struggle? That's what you're talking about, right?
A hundred percent. This scares churches and scared our church. I'm not asking to lower the standard of holiness. I'm talking about opening the window of grace. Because for so long, we had the standard of holiness without this window of grace. And, but when you open the window of grace, I think it's easier to pursue the standard of holiness. That's what I'm trying to do. And so by me being vulnerable and transparent, I want to help people to know that we are imperfect beings, but it doesn't stop our pursuit of holiness. It's not one or the other.
It can be both. You're listening to Dave and Ann Wilson with Noe Garcia. If you've ever been tempted to buy some anti-aging cream, well, stick around. Dave and Ann and Noe have something that's even better. But first, Noe's book is called Repurposed, How God Turns Your Mess Into His Message. You can get a copy at familylifetoday.com. Just click on today's resources to find it.
Or you can call us at 800-358-6329. That's 800 F as in family, L as in life, and then the word today. You know, earlier today I was going through some of the reviews of Family Life Today, and I was super encouraged to read a couple of the messages that have been posted there. One person said, this show has been a blessing to me and my family. Another person said, great content, great guests, and engaging interviews. This is consistently valuable. And one other said, Dave and Ann Wilson are so genuine and wise.
They have a wide range of guests with different experiences and areas of expertise. I am super grateful to have found this podcast. Keep them coming. And we will keep them coming.
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All right, here's Dave and Ann with Noe Garcia. And I think, you know, one of the things we're talking about is if you hold on to the secrets and the struggle, and it's just a hidden secret. Yeah, if they're in the dark. Shame stays. First of all, you confess to God, you find forgiveness, but when you tell a brother and you tell a sister, you know, James 5 says, healing is where that happens. I think that involves shame because then we can do work on the shame. As long as it's hidden, it's in the dark and the dark wins. Once it comes into the light, am I right? God's like, I can now take this and remove the shame.
Not instantaneously, but I can put you on a path of healing where you're going to find freedom. It's Psalm 32. David says it. You know, when he kept silent, it says that he felt like God's hand was heavy upon him. He felt like his body was withering away day and night. He is miserable, but when he confessed it to the Lord, then he found this freedom.
He found this refuge. So absolutely, it wears it. I believe shame and secrets, it'll wear you down, it'll tear you down, it'll age you.
You will be exhausted. And so, man, I pray for my kids all the time that I pray that if they have any secrets in their lives, that they can't sleep or eat until they confess it. Oh yeah, we prayed that prayer a lot. That's my prayer all the time.
I pray over my church too because I know that the enemy wants to take you somewhere with this stuff. And so if you get it out to the light, he loses the battle. So the word for the day is, here it is, take off the mask. I'm not talking about the pandemic mask.
If you want to keep wearing that, maybe that's the safe thing to do. I'm talking about the fake mask of hiding your struggle. Tell God, tell a brother if you're a man, tell a sister if you're a woman, tell a couple if you're a couple, and let God begin the healing process. I mean, that's a beautiful story that you've shared.
That's the result. Today's your day to start. What if you were going through a crisis while you were struggling with the loss of someone close to you? That might make you angry with God.
But what if that happened while you were pastoring a church plant? On Family Life Today, David and Wilson are joined tomorrow by John Onwachekwa, who explains the uproar this caused in his life and how he dealt with the grief, the pain, and frankly, the liar he became. That's tomorrow. On behalf of David and Wilson, I'm Shelby Abbott. We'll see you back next time for another edition of Family Life Today. Family Life Today is a production of Family Life, a crew ministry helping you pursue the relationships that matter most.
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