Slow Steady Steps of Growth

Growth sometimes happens in an instant like a light bulb flipping on to illuminate God’s truth. More often, growth happens through the slow steady steps of obedience as we trudge along making daily decisions. Often we know where God wants us to go, but it seems so far away. We have no idea how to get there. So, God gives us a small step that points us in the right direction. For a time, we ignore Him or procrastinate, but eventually we muster our courage. Moving in any direction feels better than standing still.

This weekend I took a small step…

I asked the Twin Cities Covenant Women’s Retreat if I could offer a breakout session on sex. I’ve spoken to women many times over the last 5 years but I’ve never asked to speak. People invite me  because they’ve taken an Awaken-Love class or someone told them about me. I have been too afraid to ask  if I could share about sex.

Step of Faith

That might not seem like a big deal to you, but for me, asking to speak was a step of faith. I have been afraid of rejection since I was a young kid. I remember the crushing  blows of selling Girl Scout cookies door to door. What  might have been a simple “no thank you” felt  like personal rejection.

What if the Retreat Committee said no? What if no one came to listen? Could I be satisfied from simply living obedient to God’s prompting?

I also had to believe that God has given me something unique and important to say. I don’t have all the answers but I have seen God move in my life and in the lives of other women. My ideas about sex have been revealed through God’s word and refined through the sifting of lies and baggage. God has given me a burning desire to share with others what He has revealed to me.

Taking a step of faith cannot be dependent on getting the results we want. We can’t barter with God by saying, “ok God, I will do it, but you had better show up and make it worth my while.” My step of faith was about learning to trust and obey God regardless of the outcome.

Humility or Pride?

Over the last couple of years, I’ve realized how I disguise pride as humility. I’ve spent my life sitting in the back of the room in the name of humility. Someone else can do a better job than I can. I’ll just help set up chairs or clean up.

But maybe I sat in the back of the room because I was prideful and could not endure criticism or rejection. I limited myself to things I could accomplish on my own. Then I didn’t need God. Maybe surrendering my life requires that I do what God calls me to. No matter how ill equipped I am. Can I trust that He can work through my weaknesses?

What if suffering with Christ requires that I allow others to criticize or ridicule me? Am I willing to make a fool of myself for God and trust that He will make something good from it in the end?

For at least 6 months I’ve felt God gently prodding me to take a step.

“Ask pastors to advocate for you.”

“Ask others writers to promote Awaken-Love classes…”

“Ask to speak at retreats”

“Ask…”

People might say no. They might ridicule me.

“Maybe it won’t change anything, but ask…”

“Do you trust me?”

God just keeps prodding me towards growth and to trust Him.

Our Marriage Bed

It’s really not all that different than when God calls us to growth in our marriage bed. He asks us to take small steps out of obedience – regardless of the outcome. When God called me to physically express I was giving my body to my husband, I decided to perform a strip tease. As I awkwardly danced around the room my embarrassed husband didn’t know what to do. I can laugh about it now, but at the time all I wanted to do was hide. But I have no doubt that awkward strip tease was a small step towards freedom in my marriage bed – both for me and my husband.

When my husband stretched to use his words to arouse me, it wasn’t easy. He had no idea what to do and it did not come naturally. At first speaking in bed was really hard for him. He didn’t know what to say. But he took small steps of obedience in learning to love his very complicated wife. The more my husband used his words, the more I responded. Now if I ask him to spin a story, I think he actually enjoys it as much as I do.

Growth in our marriage bed happens because we have the courage to take a small step.

Courage

Growth is hard work. We must hang onto who God created us to be and trust that He has more for us to experience. We must trust that good will come from even hard, uncomfortable situations. When we feel God’s prompting, we gather our courage and take a step.

After months of standing still, I took a deep breath, emailed the women’s retreat leadership and asked if I could teach a breakout session on sex.

At retreat I nervously wondered if anyone would come. But over twenty brave women entered the room from churches across the Twin Cities. Young women, grandmothers, white women, black women, curious women, and women with a purpose. We gathered to talk about sex. For ourselves, our husband, our kids and for our friends. Together we read God’s word, wrestled with His intent for sex and shared our struggles. The need for conversation in the churches was evident. As we ended our short hour, I prayed over the women and asked God to make them into Warriors – ready to take back sex from the world.

My Calling

Six years ago, laying in my bunk at Women’s Retreat, I argued with God as He called me into ministry. I had no idea why he was calling me to share about sex. I had never taught a class, didn’t do public speaking, had no formal training and did not write. The entire idea felt preposterous.  Where in the world would I start?

My first step was to tell a close friend as we walked along the lake. I was shocked as she tearfully admitted that she and her husband were struggling.  God immediately confirmed my calling to strengthen marriages.

Over the past 6 years  I have taken countless small steps in my calling. Some clearly ordained by God, others winding detours. I have taken steps that felt easy and others that seemed impossible. Sometimes my steps dance with energy and other times I can hardly move my feet. So I just keep putting one foot in front of the other and trust that God has a plan.

God has called all of us into battle. Maybe you just need to take that first step. Start an Awaken-Love video class with a group of friends and open up the conversation.

Comments 3

  1. Ruth – I thank God for calling you into ministry! Your hard work has blessed me tremendously. You and a few others including Paul Byerly have played a vital role in my journey to freedom from porn. My vision for my life and our marriage has been largely informed by you, Byerly, John Eldredge, and Dan Allender. I remain hopeful that this vision may one day yet become reality at least to some degree.

  2. Hi Ruth, way to go — I’m so glad you’re doing the good work you’re doing! We need more people like you in the world. Thank you for your positive voice!

    Have you written any posts or any advice for individuals that are interested in your course but are timid / shy about approaching friends to start a group? Any specific counsel or help you can give them?

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