Tag Archive | addiction

Pray Anyway

You don’t have to believe in God to pray. That’s what our Sexual Recovery Therapist told my husband as he outlined the sex addiction recovery program my husband was about to begin. Having a day bookended by prayer wouldn’t have fazed me too much. As a Christian, I didn’t spend as much time talking to God as I could or should have. Twice a day would have been a stretch. But something I would have readily agreed to as a part of my recovery program.

And yet it wasn’t me seeking healing from a pornography addiction, compulsive masturbation and intimacy anorexia. It was my husband. A man who did not believe in the existence of God.

I was highly doubtful that my non-believing husband would agree to pray. My eyes had been glued to our counsellor’s face, grasping every bit of hope his words were offering us. The hope began to fade as I apprehensively glanced at my husband, anticipating his resistance to this instruction to talk to God every morning and every night. He was hesitant.  I saw the conflict on his face. Desiring freedom, but struggling to accept that prayer was part of the answer.

Our counsellor recognized the wrestling occurring in my husband’s heart. As he offered the encouragement that “You don’t have to believe in God to pray,” my husband slowly nodded his head and agreed to the plan.

I don’t know if my husband did pray every morning and evening. Or if he did, what words and emotions those awkward prayers must have included. What I do know is that twenty six days later, my husband asked me if I would begin praying together with him as part of an exercise to rebuild intimacy in our marriage.

I avoided answering the question. On my own, I pleaded, cried, spewed to God throughout my day. Now it was me wrestling with this strange idea to pray together. Although my husband had begun attending church with me the previous weeks, he was not yet ready to accept his need for a Saviour. And even though he was fully embracing his recovery program, my heart was unsure of just what exactly I was committing myself to by agreeing to establish spiritual intimacy while my pain was still so raw and fresh and our future unknown.

He pressed for an answer. His vulnerability was both endearing and unnerving. He was opening his heart to me, and to the world, and inviting me to do the same. A risky endeavour for both of us. That he was willing to take. Which, in my mind, distorted the dynamics of our relationship.  It had always been much easier and more comfortable for me to portray my husband as the villain. But now, as his character was consistently shifting in a positive direction, it ultimately required me to adjust alongside him lest we exchange roles and I become the monster in his place. I said yes.

He took my hands in his. And then his voice led the way in uniting our three hearts together in one intimate conversation. It wasn’t as scary as I had anticipated. I faltered in my words. In expressing my true feelings and thoughts. It wasn’t an eloquent prayer. But it was us. And I told my husband that night that even if we don’t say the right words, God knows what the prayer in our heart is.

We prayed together the next night too. And the following one. And for every day since that pivotal night on January 29, 2015. Even when circumstances physically separate us, praying jointly remains a steadfast component of our bedtime routines. By phone, text or email it happens.  One of the most loving, romantic gestures I have received was a prayer tucked in an envelope and carefully placed on my pillow the first time we were apart. Another cherished memory was praying together in a plane somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean in the minutes before midnight to ensure our commitment to praying together daily didn’t lapse because of a time zone change.

And then after seventeen months of praying daily together, a hiccup occurred. And this time, only one of us was able to pray. But it was enough…….

My husband was taken by ambulance to the hospital. Conscious, but with complete vision loss and confusion. When I arrived in the emergency room, and was given the opportunity to talk to him, I approached the bed, anticipating that my arrival would calm him. I gently told him I was there. He asked me who I was. I said “Cynthia.” He didn’t know who that was. I said “Your wife.” And he replied that he did not know my voice. He became even more upset and agitated than he already was and began to cry.

I started praying out loud for him. Right there in that emergency room. And as my words flowed, I watched the tension ease from his body and relax.

The next day, he told me that when I started praying, that was when he knew it was me. His heart and altered mental state recognized me by the words and cadence of my prayer. That was only possible because we had been praying together daily. And because I had learned how to pray out loud and was bold enough to use the new skills God had been developing in me. A year and a half earlier, my husband never would have known I was at his side. Or that God was.

My husband was heart broken in the following days that he had missed praying with me that night. I assured him that he hadn’t. I may have been the only one who spoke the words, but our hearts were united with each other and God.

Pray anyway. It just may lead to your own blessing and miracle. 

Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always. 1 Chronicles 16:11

Please Don’t Silence the Courage of a Whisper

Apparently my neediness is unattractive. To my spouse. Although he wasn’t the one who told me that. It was a comment left on my last blog post For His Eyes Only. From someone who I will choose to believe intended to offer me helpful advice, as misguided as it was. The words hurt me. They diminished me. Again. And I allowed them to replay through my mind a hundred times more than I should have. Joining the thousands of times beforehand that I had heard and accepted the many variations of “your neediness is unattractive. Even to your spouse.”

And you know what? Maybe my neediness does repel my husband. But if it does, the problem is within his heart, not mine. Because I am not needy. I have needs. And desires. I am human. A woman. And the two go together. Just to set the record straight, I don’t believe my “neediness” does offend my husband. Sometimes he may wrestle with how to meet my needs that are within his realm of responsibility to acknowledge, and yes, supply. But when he struggles, it is because he is trying. Trying to learn how to relate to me and the dance of oneness and separateness that co-exists in a marriage. If he didn’t struggle, it would be then I would worry. Because I wrestle with this too. Discerning what of our own and each other’s needs are my concern and responsibility. And most importantly, what are the longings of our hearts that only God can satisfy.

I do believe that God has created a spiritual void within the human heart that only a relationship and dependence on Him can fill. But those aren’t the needs I am talking about. God created marriage, and a husband and wife, for intimate relationship and to practically meet needs that we can’t on our own.

I have needs that are my responsibility to fill and to protect. I do. And that realization still makes me mildly uncomfortable. Because I have received a life time of messages from those who should have been loving, supporting and protecting me, telling me instead that my needs didn’t matter. Reinforcing that my wants and desires were insignificant, irrelevant, meaningless, shameful. A childhood and adulthood of abusive relationships where the suppression and denial of me was expected and demanded. Where my voice was not only ignored and unheard, it was muted. And it was okay. Even though it wasn’t.

The wasn’t only became clear to me 3 ½ years ago with the full disclosure of my husband’s sex addiction and intimacy anorexia, and the revelation and validation that my entire 25 year marriage was riddled with betrayal and abuse. Emotionally, mentally, financially, spiritually, sexually. I was in an abusive relationship. I was abused. And that is a concept I have not yet completely reconciled within my heart and mind.

I was a victim of my husband and other betrayers. I learned and implemented survival skills that served me well at the time and allowed me to function alongside the unheard screams of my wounded heart. However, as I heal, those survival mechanisms are no longer a protection. Holding onto them now would lead me to be the betrayer of my own soul. The abuse is over. There is no legitimate reason for me to continue living in dark silence.

My voice is still squeaky. Often unsure. But gaining confidence. Continually surprising me. In a good way. The scared, scarred, little girl hiding within me is gloriously transforming into the woman that God created me to be. It is a beautiful experience discovering me. Made all the more magnificent by my husband, and the wonderful recovery community God has blessed me with during my healing journey, genuinely celebrating together with me.

And yet, I have also learned that not everyone appreciates and responds positively when the silenced find their voices. In my experience in other personal and work relationships, as my voice grows stronger, others have resisted, even become angry, at the shifting balance of power. Setting boundaries, standing up for myself, even asking questions has resulted in my reception of displeasure, disapproval and hostility at times. That can still be awfully threatening and intimidating to a person traversing the rocky path of recovery from betrayal and abuse.

I am not doing my recovery perfectly, but my results indicate that I am doing it well. Acknowledging and expressing my needs is an integral part of my healing process. At times the process has been ugly. But learning to value my needs has never been unattractive.

My off tune, wavering voice belongs in God’s glorious choir. It is rising above the cacophony. Soaring to new heights. God has given me a new, beautiful song to sing of praise, redemption and restoration. I was created for good things. I am worthy of good things.

Please don’t silence the courage of a whisper. Bring it a microphone.

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Ephesians 4:29

He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets prisoners free. Psalm 146:7

What is Left When the Music Fades

Music is a paradox. At least to me it is. Many of us can attest to the healing power of music. To that extraordinary song that reached deeply into our brokenness like a salve. Possibly connecting our heart with God’s in an emotional and meaningful act of worship.  Or to the song that became a mighty anthem of courage and renewed strength providing the determination to press onward.

But what happens when the healing power of that same special song not only fades, but sends your spirit into a fast spinning downward spiral?

I have long been aware that there is a significant contrast in the way my heart and mind will respond to different songs. Or perhaps more accurately, to the memories and emotions associated with the songs. There are entire time periods of music, and not just a particular song or artist, from dark seasons of my life that I have learned to avoid. Within the first few seconds of hearing the melody and lyrics I am transported back to a time of confusion, bad choices and pain. The flood of regret and shame is instantaneous as I am reminded of how grievously I sinned against myself and others. The darkness threatens to overtake me and the fight to put it all back in the past where it belongs is so tiring that sometimes I allow it to linger longer than is necessary or healthy. And so, I intentionally strive to control the negative emotions that secular music triggers within me.

My husband once asked me why I only listen to Christian music. I don’t believe there is anything inherently wrong or evil with most secular music. But for me, it has the ability to slice through the healing I have achieved and plant poisonous seeds in my heart and mind. And even if it doesn’t cause harm, the weeds seldom inspire or infuse my soul with joy or peace.

But lately I have been recognizing a growing discomfort and aversion to some Christian music that once  soothed, comforted, empowered and energized my weary soul. And I am finding myself needing to disassociate from the memories and feelings they currently evoke.

Firstly, are my old favourites from my teenage and young adult years. One of the same time periods where I find the secular music particularly triggering for me. I feel a pang of emptiness and my body physically reacts every time I scroll through my playlist and my eyes alight on those artists or albums. It doesn’t seem that my mind wants to revisit either the good or bad moments of those years.

Secondly, are a couple of the songs that provided me immense comfort and strength as I began healing from sexual betrayal trauma and the effects of my husband’s sex addiction three years ago. Anointed songs that enveloped me in God’s loving arms where the tears were wiped from my eyes and a foundation was built beneath my feet for the recovery journey ahead of me. Lyrics that once spoke so deeply to my heart that I had them printed out and close beside me on my desk at work available to encourage me throughout the day. Now I can barely tolerate these songs. Maybe it is a case of too much of a good thing. It parallels my twenty eight year aversion to apple juice. I had an extreme case of hyperemesis during my first pregnancy and the only sustenance I received was from sips of apple juice. It nourished my body. The songs nurtured my soul. They both did their job in bringing healing to my sickness. But I’m not sick anymore. And remembering that I was elicits sadness and makes me feel less whole. When I feel less whole, I am easily deceived and susceptible to spiritual attacks. I am quite adept at filling the void with lies of hopelessness and despair.

For me, music is both healing and destructive. It mends my shattered pieces. And it threatens to break them apart again. My spirit may soar, or it may plummet. Sometimes I am aware, and sometimes I am caught by surprise. That is the nature of triggers. I forever must stand on guard to protect my salvation, recovery and ongoing healing journey to wholeness. Some things are black and white. Good or bad. But so much more are caught in the middle ready and waiting to change the direction of my heart. Good or bad…..

Be self controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 1 Peter 5:8-10

The Case of the Missing Wedding Rings

We were playing Exploding Kittens last weekend. The card game. That I once packed in my carry on luggage and was warned not to mention in the vicinity of airport security ears unless my desire to be detained and patted down was greater than my desire to reach my destination.

But it isn’t the game that is important. It was the hand holding the cards that most caught my attention. Or to be more specific, the ring on the fourth finger of the left hand of the man holding the cards. The scratched, slightly scuffed wedding ring of my husband.

And those little nicks made me smile. Why? Because that meant the ring was being worn. And not taken off. The covenant promise of the wedding ring was being valued.

I never had to wonder if my husband was wearing his wedding ring. And he never had to worry about losing or misplacing it. Because we both knew where it was at all times. Collecting dust in his jewelry box. Where it had been every day since our wedding day. Not so that it would be easier to cheat with other women. Which he didn’t physically do anyway. The reasons he provided me were that he didn’t really like it, and it didn’t fit well. Which was true. But I translated that to mean that the universal symbol for marriage, for our union as husband and wife, was not important enough for him to invest any energy, time or money into rectifying. The wedding ring I gave my husband seemed to have little worth in his eyes.

I did wear my wedding rings. For awhile anyway. I lost the diamond in my engagement ring while doing handstands in a hotel swimming pool approximately ten years into our marriage. I was upset. But even more so when my husband indicated we did not have the finances to replace the diamond. I removed the ring, gave it to my husband and suggested he save money and have the diamond replaced for our twenty fifth wedding anniversary. My ring sat forgotten alongside his.

The one remaining ring stayed on my finger for several more years. Until I removed my wedding band one day to squish raw ground beef into hamburger patties. After I washed my hands, I picked up the ring and instead of twisting it back onto my finger, I placed it in my jewelry box. I don’t even remember when that was exactly. It is not a time stamped memory. Just a moment of annoying inconvenience that the ring was getting tighter to slide on and off. And then the decision to not bother trying anymore. It was a bittersweet recognition that my wedding band had lost its symbolism and become merely another accessory.

Because I did not intentionally remove or return my ring to my husband as a direct response to his sex addiction and infidelity, I cannot pinpoint the time, even to the year, that I stopped wearing it. But I do know that I was ringless for several years prior to our recovery.

After attending my recovery support group for two months, I returned home from a meeting with a seed of hope planted in my heart and mind. I mentioned how one of the other women had recently renewed her wedding vows and had shown us her new wedding ring. My husband looked down at my hand. When he lifted his head, his face was filled with sadness, hurt and confusion that there was no wedding band on my finger. He asked me where it was. I interpreted his question and the pain in his eyes to mean that he believed my missing ring represented a recent disconnection from our marriage.

My heart ached at the sight of his brokenness and the acknowledgement that his behaviour was the likely cause of his ringless wife. But then…….But then my heart began to wrench with my own hurt at the bitter realization that not only had my husband been oblivious to my bare finger for years, but also that he had remained unaware of its absence for the past two months of our healing journey. He had never even noticed it was gone. I felt invisible again.

Three months later, we went shopping together to purchase new wedding bands for both of us. I delightedly chose a ring with tiny, sparkly diamond chips to replace the diamond I lost many years before. My husband wisely chose one that he liked, and that fit him.

One month later, on June 24, 2015, we ceremoniously presented each other with our new rings. Slipped them on each other’s fingers and sealed the new covenant with a kiss.

We just celebrated three years of wearing wedding rings. A symbol of our new marriage. That still makes me smile every time I return my ring to its rightful place after squeezing raw meat through my fingers. That still warms my heart every time I see the evidence that his ring remains steadfastly in place.

Our wedding rings have immeasurable meaning now. They tell a story of pain, redemption, restoration and a hope and commitment for our future. The one is slightly battered, the other glistens. Melded together they are us.

Since they are no longer two, but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together. Matthew 19:6

Hope and Contentment Collide

I want my hope back after all.  Once again, God has shown up to give me a kick in the butt. Good thing He is God, or His foot would be awfully sore by now considering how many times He has had to forcefully propel me out of my comfort zone because I willfully chose to ignore the gentle nudges.

As I was whining to my mentor and friend about my discouragement and the seeming hopelessness of building mutually fulfilling sexual intimacy in a once sexless marriage ravaged by porn addiction, emotional abuse and infidelity, I said to her, “I sound like a broken record, don’t I?” The slight pause on the other end of the phone was answer enough. Which was the honest response I needed.

One of my personal flaws and weaknesses is my impatience and frustration with broken records. I am passionate about the healing wonders of recovery and of God. The two together fill me with awe. And so I confess, that when I think the answer to someone’s dilemma is apparent, and yet they remain immobilized, it tends to exasperate me.

My lungs deflated and my heart sank as I humbly realized that I was my own irritant. That motivated self reflection. And that led to the recognition that up until now, I had fully embraced my own personal recovery from sexual betrayal trauma and my own adultery. I had actively pursued and utilized many resources and materials available to partners of sex addicts: counselling, a recovery support group, workbooks, a 12 step program. I was intentional in separating my ability to heal and grow personally and spiritually from my husband’s recovery. And yet, now I was waiting for him to bring me the healing of our sexual intimacy.

Of course, healing a sexual relationship does need to involve two people. And it’s not as if I did nothing at all in the last three years to mend my own broken sexuality. I have read many great books and blogs and worked through exercises both on my own and together with my husband. I even branched out from my sexual addictions recovery counsellor and had a couple of sessions with a Christian sex therapist. But then I somehow determined that there was nothing else I could do. That things were out of my control now and I just needed to learn to be thankful and content, accepting the level of intimacy we had managed to build. Stop wanting and expecting more. Being satisfied with less.

And then I read this, from The Sacred Romance by Brent Curtis and John Eldredge: “Sadly, many of us have been led to feel that somehow we ought to want less, not more. We have this sense that we should atone for our longings, apologize that we feel such deep desire. Shouldn’t we be more content? Perhaps, but contentment is never wanting less; that’s the easy way out. Anybody can look holy if she’s killed her heart; the real test is to have your heart burning within you and have the patience to enjoy what there is now to enjoy, while waiting with eager anticipation for the feast to come.” This excerpt was taken from a book about drawing closer to the heart of God, not a marriage partner, and undoubtedly the intention of the authors was not to reignite my sex life or anyone else’s. But still, the parallels struck me deeply. And really God can, and does, use anything to get our attention. The fact that I was reading this page, in this book that had been sitting on my bookshelf untouched for months, the same week I was struggling with the definition of hope and contentment, well, that was a God-incidence.

And then God began to fill my heart with conviction and courage. A new strength and boldness is growing within me. And I am letting it. In answer to my prayer the week before for clarity and a vision for our present and future sexual intimacy, God is preparing me to find out.

This is a catalyst of sorts. Change is about to happen. One way or the other. My sexual needs and desires do matter. And I’m going for it. Accepting the challenge to begin expressing myself sexually and more openly in the bedroom. I’m giving myself another pep talk here.

One of two things will happen. We will receive an encouraging promise of freedom from the joint fears, insecurities, and inhibitions that have remained an unwelcome third party in our lovemaking. Or we will panic, stumble and be forced to address the elephant in our bed that just pushed us out and onto the floor. Either way is a breakthrough from the bondage currently entrapping us.

I anticipate a win-win situation. Now I just need patience while I wait for my miracle.

Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6

My Hiding Place

Some days, well, most days, I feel an overwhelming need to escape to my hiding place. Sometimes I run, other times I limp. I have even crawled to my place of comfort, where my soul is soothed, even if only momentarily. This is where I peel off my protective bandage and expose the wounds of sexual betrayal and abuse to the fresh air.

 I often get mixed up with the what, where and who of my hiding place. And by mixed up, I mean I settle in and pitch my tent with the wrong thing, location or person in my attempt to relieve the pressure of my emotional pain.

The wrong thing is often obvious. Using alcohol, drugs, sex, pornography, gambling to pacify the screams of the heart. But there are other methods of medicating emotional pain that may seem innocent enough, but the temporary release only infects and deepens the wound rather than heals it. Things such as food, shopping, TV, video games, romance books, over sleeping, busyness, etc. This is where my jar of peanut butter and jumbo size package of chocolate chips fits in.

My where is not so much an inappropriate place that I shouldn’t be, (although I do have places and gatherings I avoid that trigger negative emotions in me) but perhaps not being in the location I should be to face and process my pain. When my daughter moved away from home, her bedroom became my office. It is a wonderful sanctuary for me in many ways. It is where I do my daily devotions and Bible reading, where I write. But sometimes I retreat there instead of sitting on the couch in my living room with my husband confronting my inner turmoil.

My who. This is where I frequently muddle the order. I have many safe people with whom to connect for support and guidance. My recovery support group, counsellor, pastor, friends. My husband. God. All sources of refuge. But sometimes I share my pain with others instead of, or before, my husband because I still fear his rejection and abandonment. And sometimes I lay my pain and confusion at my husband’s feet before bringing them to God’s. As the wife of a recovering addict, there may be times when I need solid advice from a trustworthy source before tackling an issue with my husband. And my husband is the physical heart, arms and ears that God has provided me on earth. But……

God is my hiding place.

God is the One who knows me better than I know myself. And He loves me anyway. I find an overwhelming comfort in that knowledge that both calms and brings tears of wonder to my soul. Me and God. God and me. We have some special hideouts to hang out in when I need the safety, security, assurance and protection of His love and grace.

When my heart needs an infusion of peace and stillness, my Abba Daddy takes me by the hand and leads me to a treehouse nestled in a tranquil forest grove where the quiet beauty of His creation surrounds us. Rays of sunlight filtering through the vibrant green foliage. A gentle breeze. The sound of a stream rippling nearby. A curious chipmunk. The hurts and chaos of every day life melts away from my heart, mind and body as the soothing warmth of God’s presence envelops me in this place where no person or thing can find me. Where the sign on the treehouse reads No Pain Allowed.

There are other times when my heart is searching for acceptance and belonging. It is then that God and I gleefully build a magnificent blanket fort. Armed with our flashlights, a Bible, colouring books and pencil crayons, we huddle cozily together whispering and giggling, delighting in our companionship. As we share gummie bears, chocolate chip cookies, hot chocolate from a thermos, soft pillows and fuzzy blankets my heart is filled with contentment and joy that there is no other place God would rather be than right there with me. Just as I am. Just as we are.

This isn’t escapism. This isn’t avoidance. This is the promise that when the burdens of my bumpy healing journey begin to overtake me, God will provide a refuge and allow me time to rest. Sometimes minutes is all I need. Sometimes the minutes become days, or weeks. However long I need in my retreat, I emerge empowered with a calmer, stronger spirit ready to continue the daily battle of recovery. Victory belongs to team God and Cynthia.

You are my hiding place; You will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance. Psalm 32:7

Where is your hiding place? Or favourite place to hang out or visit? 

Who would you take with you? Or would you go alone?

What I Found When My Husband’s Porn Addiction Lost

A man. That’s what I found when my husband began to battle his porn addiction and intimacy anorexia. I found a broken, lost, little boy standing in his own puddle of tears make the courageous decision to grow up and face his pain rather than continue running from it.

A husband. I found a man who desired a wife with whom to share his heart, life and home. A man, who with determination and commitment, embarked on a daily quest to honour, respect, and love me, his wife.

A father to our children. I found a man willing to share parenting responsibilities. A man attempting to channel his remorse and regrets into repairing and building relationships with his children.

The seemingly logical follow-up to my previous post, What I Lost When My Husband’s Porn Addiction Won, would be a simple reversal of my list of losses. But that’s not how it works. Firstly, there is nothing simple and easy about healing from the effects of sexual betrayal trauma. But most importantly, my husband choosing to fight for healing and freedom from his wounds and addiction does not, and cannot, restore my heart and return everything to me that I lost. No matter how successful and miraculous his recovery journey is, it is his recovery journey.  When he triumphs over pornography, he wins.

Certainly, having a healing husband with consistent and believable recovery behaviours has made my life easier and things in our home flow more smoothly. He has created a supportive and loving environment conducive to my own healing. And yes, some of the losses that were dependant on his behaviour alone have been returned to me. Fidelity being one. And there are other losses, such as companionship, where his new participation in our relationship has provided me the opportunity to regain what I lost should I actively choose to accept the offering.

But the deep wounds of my emotional and spiritual brokenness are something that only I have the ability to heal. The removal of pornography from my husband’s life and our marriage does not magically restore my own self worth.  That is like expecting that if we both were injured in a car accident, the cast on my husband’s leg would mend my fractured arm. Addiction and sexual betrayal trauma are each a separate injury to a different person thereby requiring individual healing.

I have been diligently working on my recovery for three years. It has become a new and rewarding lifestyle. And because of that, many of the losses I suffered have been returned to me. I laugh more now than I remember doing at any other time in my life. Other losses are still a work in progress. Trust and intimacy take time to re-establish. And others, like learning to dream, haven’t yet arrived. But I believe they will. My path is leading me to wholeness.

What I found when my husband won, and his porn addiction lost, was a transformed man. The healing I have found in me would have occurred whatever the outcome of that struggle because my war is no longer against pornography. My battle is with my own heart and mind.

Don’t copy the behaviour and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:2