How Do You Handle Dark Places?


Depression. If we’re honest, most of us experience it—those dark places that try to claim us. If you’ve lived any length of time, you know the view from your exciting mountaintop will inevitably be replaced by a stint in a depressing valley.

That’s the ebb and flow of life. We try to control it, but sometimes the best we can do is focus on moving through the darkness so we can climb that hill again for a glimpse of nirvana.

It’s happened through the years. King David dealt with depression. In some of his psalms, he shares the most beautiful songs of heartache and fear and loss. Even Mother Teresa dealt with the heartache of depression. She wrote of her depression in her journals—of not being lovable enough for God. Continue reading

Revisiting a Quote

Oscar-Wilde (2)I recently posted a blog that used a quote from Oscar Wilde’s, every sinner has a future and every saint has a past. The blog had a good message, but the quote stayed with me long after I forgot the blog.

I looked into Wilde’s life a bit and understood how these words could have come from the depths of his being. Both parents were successful and he, too, was a success. But the examples his parents offered him were filled with selfishness and narcissism. Reality had little importance; perception counted more than anything. Under their direction, he learned how to deal with living a double life. He was on top of the world until he went to court to save his reputation. He lost soundly and his fall was precipitous, instantaneous, and very frightening.

Wilde was heralded as a brilliant man because of his writing ability. But in truth, his life was tortured. Not because of his homosexuality—although his life style landed him in prison—but because he sought after beauty first and then morality … if seeking it suited him at the time.

I sound like I’m coming down on Wilde, but I’m not. In truth, I’m only using his life for an example. Living for perception or living for truth haunts us all. I remember clearly when I stood at the crossroad of Wilde’s Sinner or Saint. I chose a Sinner’s life: seeking beautiful experiences and possessions. It didn’t take long, however, until I realized my life was lacking depth, and something. It was shallow and short-sighted. I tried to fix it with more experiences and controlling the world around me. Nothing fixed what was wrong and my life was circling the drain.

Then God appeared.

He loved me completely. He loved me because he created me. He didn’t judge me because of my brokenness. Instead, he tended to my wounds. And he didn’t let me skate regarding my past choices. Because he loved me, I still needed to deal with the consequences of my bad choices, but he was with me every step of the way.

I appreciate his love more as each day goes by. I remember my sinner days and am forever amazed how God still loves me. Every sinner has a future and every saint has a past fits us all. Don’t allow your sinner days to own you. God’s waiting for you, too.

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39

every sinner has a future and every saint has a past

As we all discuss the plight of Lance Armstrong and the error of his ways, take a moment to read this article. Brokenness is everywhere and we need to remember that we carry our own share of it in the lives we lead.

Entry #4 The Secret

Poster-LoResDuring Launch Week (December 9-15) for Doug Bender’s, Live Second, I have been asked to participate in writing four blog entries telling the story of my spiritual journey as it correlates with four separate entries from his book. Come along and experience … and learn why I live second.

Page 46 – Release

Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?”  “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven! Matthew 18:21-22 NLT

With the help of Scripture and emotionally-healthy friends, I began my journey to becoming not only the person I wanted to be, but the person I was meant to be. I learned that to grab onto the life I so desperately wanted, I first needed to let go of all elements of my previous life that were damaging. I needed to understand as best I could all the areas of my life that had caused me harm.

Supported by prayer and guidance, I allowed myself to look at areas in my life—with honesty and rigorous honesty—that I had spent a lifetime trying to avoid. I looked at old wounds from childhood that were never addressed as well as recent pains that I never wanted to acknowledge. I looked at my choices and actions from long ago to recent reactions that I hated myself for.

I looked at all the ugliness; then I humbly offered it all to God. OK, God, I said, this is who I am; can you really love me like this?

The relief was incredible!! I got a glimpse at how awesome God’s love for me was. He sent his son to take all my disgusting choices and covered them—paid for them—at the cross. He was waiting to forgive me, and all I had to do was admit my need for a Savior and accept his forgiveness. He made it so simple!

But he wasn’t done; he wanted more from me. He wanted me to also forgive those who had hurt me.

Oh, Father, I said in a panic, how can you expect me to forgive them? I was sure I misunderstood. But it was clear; I was to model Jesus’ act of forgiveness.

Again with the support of scripture, prayer and guidance, I learned how to forgive those who had hurt me. I also learned that forgiveness was a choice for me, not a feeling. I was to choose to forgive and trust that God would bring the feelings to match my obedient heart. I was to forgive because I had been forgiven. I needed to only concentrate on offering the forgiveness; I have no control over whether it would or would not be accepted or even reciprocated.

I spend lots of time in prayer, asking God to help me forgive those who caused me harm. I wasn’t sure if I felt like it, but I knew I needed to choose forgiveness…

…and the most amazing thing happened. After a time, my heart started to change toward those who caused so much pain in my life. My anger toward them lessened and was replaced with compassion. I began to see them differently; not as the villains I had once labeled them, but as hurting people who needed a healing touch from Christ. Because I offered forgiveness as God directed, some relationships were healed. Unfortunately, some relationships I needed to walk away from. But the relationships I walked away from, I walked away because it was the healthy thing to do.

Before I knew it, I had peace for the first time in my life. No fanfare or balloons came with my new peace. Just the quiet comfort that I could look those around me in the eye and not turn away. It was simple: I had been forgiven and I had forgiven others. For the first time in my life, I was free.

I realized that God didn’t want me to earn his love as I thought for all those years. He just wanted me to accept it. Through years of brokenness he waited for me. I had turned my back on him, but he never turned his back on me.

And he continues to be good. I have heard God’s leading and am dedicated to telling others about what waits for them if they only give up the illusion of control in exchange for peace.

My name is Robin Gilbert Luftig, and I’m second.

To read the entire story, read Entry 1, Entry 2 & Entry 3.

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Entry #3 – Am I Worth It?

Poster-LoResDuring Launch Week, (December 9-15) for Doug Bender’s, Live Second, I have been asked to participate in writing blog entries telling the story of my spiritual journey as it correlates with separate entries from his book. Come along and experience … and learn why I live second.

Page 43 – Addict

I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. Romans 7:15 NLT

The day that I realized I was addicted to relationships (co-dependent) was the best day—as well as the worst day—of my life. The best because I learned that there were other people just like me who learned to control their compulsion and that if I followed their example, I would be able to manage my compulsion, too. And it was the worst day of my life because I realized I had an emotional condition that could never be healed; only controlled. Just as those dealing with Diabetes who need to take insulin on a regular basis, I would always need to manage my compulsion.

Listening to healthy people who understood my addiction, I learned that there were aspects to this condition that I was responsible for, and they guided me in addressing what mistakes were mine. I learned to accept the fact that if Paul, hero of the First Century church, struggled with doing what was not right, I needed to stop expecting perfection from myself. God wasn’t interested in me pursuing my perfection, but accepting his. That included being transparently honest about my brokenness; with Christ as well as the support system around me. In addition to learning how to be honest, I focused my time searching Scripture for promises from God telling me that I was worth it.

After my last divorce, I knew I needed to look at my life differently. I asked God to be my first love. I asked him to put blinders on my eyes so I could stay focused on only two things: getting closer to him and being the best Mom I could be to the children he blessed me with. As I read scripture, his word came alive with promise after promise. I often returned to some of my favorites in difficult times: Jeremiah 29:11, Proverbs 3:5-6, and Hebrews 13:5.

I came to the realization that because I was addicted to relationships, I needed to steer clear of them. Just as a recovering alcoholic needed to stay away from alcohol or where alcohol was used, I needed to stay away from men. Once I accepted what was controlling my life, I knew I had to live differently. I stopped dating completely. I concentrated on what I needed to do to be healthy. I focused on my children and my Lord. I read my Bible every day and spend much time in prayer. I was in church every time the doors were open. I focused on being the parent I needed to be to my children. I had a plan again, but this time it was centered on who God wanted me to be.

And God met me where I was. I was still co-dependent but learned that I could be thankful for my condition. In my addiction—my brokenness—I was able to clearly see my need of a Savior. I needed to be second.

I was so close. I knew what I wanted and I knew what to do to have it. But knowing was only part of the battle. I had to do what God wanted me to do. I still needed to understand and trust God. Would I—an addict—be willing to put God first? Follow me into the last blog of this series and see how I find release from my demons.

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Entry #2 – All I ever wanted …

Poster-LoResDuring Launch Week, (December 9-15) for Doug Bender’s, Live Second, I have been asked to participate in writing blog entries telling the story of my spiritual journey as it correlates with separate entries from his book. Come along and experience … and learn why I live second.

Page 42 – Enslaved

When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the obligation to do right. And what was the result? You are now ashamed of the things you used to do, things that end in eternal doom. But now you are free from the power of sin and have become slaves of God. Now you do those things that lead to holiness and result in eternal life. Romans 6:20-22 NLT

So I’m codependent. What does that mean? When did that start?

When I was young, all I ever wanted was to have a special person love me. Was that too much to ask? I’d seen good relationships, so I knew they were possible. But storybook relationships always seem to be illusive to me; always out of my grasp.

What started out as something very good—having the goal to be in a loving relationship—turned into something very damaging. It wasn’t long before I went from wanting to be in a relationship, to needing to be in one. I was obsessed.

This obsession started when I was seventeen. I decided—with all the wisdom that I could muster up at that age—to fix all my life’s problems, I would need to be married. I reasoned that I would be happy if a fella stood up in front of our families and friends promising to love me forever. That, I reasoned, would make my storybook life come true. That’s when I would have everything I ever wanted. Then I would be ready to start living my happily-ever-after life.

But it didn’t happen that way. By the time I was twenty, I was married … and divorced. Yet my failure did not deter me. I still had a plan. I soon set out in search for my next special relationship ( or should I say victim).

It didn’t take long for me to find someone else; and soon I was married again; this time I was additionally blessed with two children. It wasn’t long before I decided I wasn’t happy after all. Another divorce. Next time, I reasoned, would be the right one, for sure!

When the next relationship came around, I remarried without hesitation, adding one more child to my nest. Yet after a few years this relationship, too, had a disastrous end. By the time I was forty, I had three marriages and divorces behind me.

I was a Christian. How did I allow this craziness into my life? I always thought God wanted me to be happy. I was trying to find that happiness the best way I could. Yet with all my efforts, my life was still out of control. My days were filled with either depression or anger. I had tried—really tried—to do what I thought I was supposed to do. Yet I dealt with one failure after another.

Could it be that I was out of line with this relationship thing? It became clear that my need to be in a relationship was more important than anything else. This need for someone special was controlling me. And the relationships I was choosing were not healthy ones. What a fool I had been for all those years. I thought I was in control, yet my life was a train wreck. What had happened to my plan? It looked so good when I started; it made sense at the time.

With the help from healthy Christians, solid friends and getting back to scripture, I realized my focus was all about pleasure. My obsessions—relationships with men—were my masters. Instead of controlling my surroundings, my surroundings were controlling me. Instead if finding the happiness I always wanted, all I had in my life was shame, guilt and resentment.

I needed to make a change. But was I too damaged? Could this destructive cycle even be broken? Could I break this life of addiction and learn how to live a healthy life? After so many years of selfishness, did I really want to put Christ first and live second …?

Find out in my next blog how I learned to deal with addiction.

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Entry #1 – Hello, my name is …

Poster-LoResDuring Launch Week, (December 9-15) for Doug Bender’s, Live Second, I have been asked to participate in writing four blog entries telling the story of my spiritual journey as it correlates with four separate entries from his book. Come along and experience … and learn why I live second.

Page 40 – Confession

Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. James 5:16

Hello, my name is …. I use to make fun of those words. How many times had I heard those words spoken on television? Losers, all of them. If they would just get it together ….

I certainly wasn’t a 12-stepper. How could I be? I was a deacon at my church. I was the glue that held my family together. I was the one who helped others. I certainly didn’t need the help. All the people around me were the ones with the problems. And besides, I loved Jesus. How could I have any problems if I was a Christian? Wasn’t life supposed to be better once I had a relationship with Christ?

But I was anything but in control of my life; I, in fact, was a real mess. And here I was, secretly attending a meeting that I heard might help.

I was in an emotional fog the first Thursday evening when I stepped into a 12-step meeting. It was in a private side room of a local church. The smell of strong coffee hung in the air as I listened to nondescript chit-chat before the meeting was called to order. Everyone refilled their drink and found their place in the circle of folding chairs.

As the leader began reading from a worn notebook, a hush fell over the room. After the reading of the Serenity Prayer, everyone took a turn introducing themselves, stating their compulsion, and sharing a bit about their week. I was surprised at the different walks of life that was represented in the room. There were professionals and laborers … mommies and grandpas.

When it was my turn, I just gave my name and said I was there to listen and learn. There’s no way I’m going to talk, I thought to myself. I’m not one of these whackos.

I don’t remember much about the discussion that followed. All I knew was that I wanted to get out of there; I wanted to return to the world that was familiar to me. Maybe, I thought, that world wasn’t really all that bad.

But as the days followed, I couldn’t get the 12-step meeting and the people I met there out of my mind. These people—these self-described failures—had a peace about them that I couldn’t explain. Especially a lady called D. Young, pretty, and confident. Why was she there? She appeared to be everything I wanted to be. And there was no mistaking the sense of peace around her. I reasoned that if I went back and just talked with her, she could share her secrets to finding this peace. As Thursday grew closer, I knew I needed to return to that meeting.

Like the week before, once everyone had their coffee, we all found our way to the circle of chairs. I made sure to sit by D, thinking that I could help glean her secret by proximity. Once the meeting started and the Serenity Prayer was read, people once again introduced themselves and their compulsion, and sharing their low points as well as their victories since the last meeting.

When it came to D, she began sharing how during the past week she had experienced—once again, she said—how she needed to trust God enough to share her brokenness with him. She shared how she tried to hold it together on her own—yet again—but it had proven to be impossible, just as it had been impossible in the past. She knew she had to share with the group—confess her shortcomings—if she was ever going to get her peace back. She needed to be honest—rigorously honest—with God and her trusted Family of Choice if she was ever going to have what she wanted.

I knew at that moment that I had walked into a safe place where I could learn to be honest as I had never been before. I knew I was where I needed to be to learn more about giving control over to God. I didn’t know how it would happen, but I realized in that moment that I would need to be second …

Hello, my name is Robin and I’m … co-dependent.

Follow me as I discovered why I did what I did … and who was really my master. Follow me as I learned to live second.

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