What’s A Reasonable Amount Of Sacrifice? {Book Club}

A brief note about February’s book: We are going to enjoy Elizabeth Von Arnim’s The Pastor’s Wife. I’ll be honest, I picked it because it’s free and her Enchanted April is the only novel that made the cut as I’ve moved my library around. What a treat we are in for! Following up this month’s book, I wondered how we’d keep the rich themes going. Next week I’ll give a proper introduction to the The Pastor’s Wife, for now just know you won’t want to miss this one. You can get the book in various form for free here, on kindle, or audio.

*****

Today we’ll end our rich time exploring Kay Bruner’s book As Soon As I FellAs much as I don’t want it to end because we’ve had rich talks, I also know I don’t need to worry about it leaving me or us. In sharing her story, Kay has created space for us to go beyond the “Wow, I’m glad I’ve read it,” allowing us to have meaty conversations. If you’ve missed them, the previous two weeks are here and here.

Today we’re going to end our talk with a look at family transitions, how we handle conflict, and pornography. And as if that weren’t enough, Kay has also said she’s open to “Ask an Author.” So, if you’ve got questions you’d like to ask Kay directly, you can in the comments.

Kay, understandably wrote the discussion questions with an eye towards how family transitions, conflict, and pornography impact marriages and the people in them. This is the beauty of a story like Kay’s, we can all connect to it at times whether it’s our story or not. Maybe the conflict you’ve experienced wasn’t in your marriage but with a teammate. Or the transition you experienced wasn’t as a family, but as a single. And though I’d rather think of pornography as a “guy” problem, let’s not fool ourselves and make it all the harder for women who wrestle with that particular beast.

Again, thank you Kay for doing the heavy lifting and coming up with questions :)!

Marriage and Family Issues

Family transitions

  • Think about the normal transitions a family faces: couple to couple-plus-baby, to young family, to family with adolescents, to empty nest.
  • How have those transitions impacted you? Either in your family of origin, or as an adult?
  • How did life overseas impact these normal family transitions for the Bruners?
  • What were the benefits to overseas life for the family?

Conflict

  • How did personality differences impact the ability to handle conflict for Kay and Andy?
  • What mistakes did they make with conflict?
  • What did they learn about resolving conflict?
  • How has conflict impacted your life?
  • What elements of reconciliation did you find in the story?
  • How have reconciliation attempts failed or succeeded for you?
  • What do you do, when the conflict is not a personality difference, but instead a sin problem?

Pornography

  • What’s your perception of how pornography impacts the church today?
  • How did the pornography aspect of the story impact you?
  • What is your personal and family plan for boundaries with pornography?
  • Does your church talk about this issue?

Kay’s given us a lot to run with. Where would you like to dive in? Grab a cup or glass and jump on in to chat about transitions, conflict, and pornography. I’d love to hear what questions you have for Kay!

See you in the comments 🙂

Amy

Disclosure : Amazon Affiliate links included in this post.  If you click through to Amazon, any purchase you make supports this site. 

18 Comments

  1. Amy Ludwig January 26, 2015

    I think pornography impacts the church more than we are willing to admit. It is a silent, insidious struggle for so many. During a sermon a pastor might list it as a battle we face, but what is really being done to lead to healing? Drugs and alcohol seem to be more “acceptable” addictions to discuss. 

    1. Kay Bruner January 27, 2015

      Thanks, Amy.  I think you’re right–it’s not something the church is really prepared to deal with.  In fact, I think a lot of pastors hope it will go away quietly!  Pornography is a huge, huge issue and the silence around it (except for “thou shalt not”) keeps everybody trapped.  Sexuality and shame just seem to go hand in hand so often in the church anyway, and porn takes it to a whole new special level!

    2. Melissa Toews January 27, 2015

      When you look at the statistics of how many pastors are themselves involved in pornography, that answers why the church isn’t ready to deal with it. Pornography is such a secret sin, it’s very easily hidden and not dealt with. Also, it’s often written off as something that everyone struggles with, and not really identified as a serious addiction and sin issue. Honestly I think the scientific world is quicker to call porn a concerning addiction than the church is! I agree that in our churches I’ve heard it mentioned in a sermon a few times but never seen any sort of help or support offered.

      1. Kay Bruner January 27, 2015

        I think you’re right, Melissa, that lots of pastors–and Ms!–struggle with this.  We do seem to have a schizophrenic relationship with this issue.  We either ignore and hope it will go away, or we freak out and ostracize the person who has the misfortune to be caught in some way.  There is a lack of proactive help, which I think makes our Enemy do a happy dance every day.  And I think that leaves us, as women, in a place of needing to educate ourselves, be prepared with good boundaries, and find support FOR OURSELVES if need be, as we consider what to do in our individual situations.  We forget how powerful we can be in our own families, even when the church is lagging!  There are online resources for users and spouses, like xxxChurch.  Andy really likes the resources at Pure Desire (again, users and spouses both), and he recently read Surfing for God and liked it a lot.  And just in general, the Boundaries book (and Boundaries in Marriage) by Henry Cloud and John Townsend is highly recommended.

    3. laura r January 27, 2015

      Many years ago my husband and I were at a marriage seminar where the speaker talked about pornography and what he said has forever changed my perspective… He said that as a church culture we have done such harm by vilifying men who deal with pornography issues.  This was life changing for me.  Seriously.  There is so much truth to what he said and I have come to really believe that as long as we continue to vilify men, to discuss sexuality in church rarely, if ever, and to heap shame upon those who have turned to pornography we as a church will remain in darkness.  In Romans 5 it says that Hope does not put us to shame.   I love this!  However, when it comes to pornography in the church (and really, I would go so fas as to say sexuality in any form) we have not let hope break through our fears and false beliefs as much as we should…. thus leaving far too many people living under a heavy cloak of shame which, in His grace and mercy, was broken at the cross.

      1. Kay Bruner January 27, 2015

        Yes.  Vilifying certain issues exacerbates the problem, for sure.  Creating a “hierarchy of sin” means that you’re either better than others or a hopeless mess.  Or, a hopeless mess pretending to be better than others!  Or, “knowing” you’re really better, but pretending to be a hopeless mess so other people will tell you you’re really not that bad!  We end up, one way or the other, completely focused on ourselves.  But Hope never, ever puts us to shame.  I love that so much!

  2. Lydia January 27, 2015

    Something that my husband and I were talking about recently is what is the right sacrifice. Are we sacrificing the very things that God desires for us, like a truly deep and loving marriage or our relationship with God? I’ve spent a lot of time in the past year “doing things for God” but not spending much time with Him. It hasn’t led to me being a very healthy or content person and I doubt the ministry that I’ve focused on has been very deep. My word for the year is “thankful” and I’m coming to realize that thankfulness flows out of face time with God. I have to recognize His faithfulness. It’s far too easy to focus instead on the things that must be done and make grudging sacrifices, even sacrificing the things that will most reflect God to a lost culture – our love for Him and our love for each other. The last year for me has been a transition (marriage and overseas ministry) and I think transitions are a key time when we can leave the most important things to deal with the new urgent needs if we aren’t careful.

    1. Brittany January 27, 2015

      Lydia, I really resonated with your comment because I feel like it’s been a struggle my whole life to sacrifice the wrong things, the very things I should be protecting.  The Lord as been showing me that my focus for far too long has been on the wrong things.  My relationship with Jesus and my family are not things that should be taking a backseat to *anything*.  We transitioned into the field 15 months ago and it’s so easy for the new/urgent things to take over!  What a challenge we are still fighting!

      It’s ironic how much my relationship with God has been overshadowed by my service to Him.  Would you believe that I have never successfully read through the Bible in a year?  And have struggled constantly to have a consistent time in the Word where I long to read it and savor it?  But God is so gracious to press on us.  He’s been pressing me, showing me my desperate need for this time, not to check it off my to do list, but to rest in and savor HIM.  It has been a delight and it’s quite possibly the most consistent I’ve ever been in His Word (and even reading AHEAD in my reading plan!).  I’m finding that this time with Jesus, though not always as focused as I want it to be, has been a sweet time to also pray Scripture over my husband and my littles which then helps me in the conflicts that we inevitably have each day.

      I have to say, Kay, that honestly, I’m impressed with the way you handled your husband’s pornography addiction.  Oh that I would have your grace when responding to my husband’s sin!  So many of the young women I’ve discipled have husbands with this addiction.  It is such a prevalent issue in the Church!  On the one hand, (at first) I thought that your organization’s way of handling things was extreme and didn’t allow much room for grace and restoration.  But on the other hand, one dear friend who is walking through this with her husband has found their church community to kind of just slap her husband’s wrist and say, “Listen, we all struggle with it.  It’s just the sin that you are going to struggle with.  We understand and we’re here with you.”  There’s not much talk of YOU’VE GOT TO PUT THAT SIN TO DEATH!  Yes, there is grace (your sins are forgiven), but there’s also the repentance (GO AND SIN NO MORE!).

      So many things to discuss in this book.  What a rich topic of conversation!

      1. Kay Bruner January 27, 2015

        Thanks, Brittany.  I am grateful that the organization took it seriously.  (I still wish they’d been able to distinguish between the person who did the thing–him–and the other person who didn’t do the thing–me!!)  We were pretty much left on our own for recovery, but at least pretending wasn’t an option, and that was very helpful indeed.  It’s really hard for women to stand up against this on their own.  I think we’ve been taught to be sweet, be pretty, put out, and that will take care of it.  And NONE of that is the issue!  It’s about grace and truth, good boundaries, and lots of falling and getting back up again.  I’ve read recently that 5 years is a reasonable timeline for recovery, and that’s assuming the addict is working a program.

    2. Kay Bruner January 27, 2015

      I think you’re right about transition being a time when you find yourself just putting out fires.  The problem in overseas living is–when are you ever NOT in transition?  It’s always something!!  And then, without sustained, deliberate attention, the deep things of life are never being attended to.  And pretty soon, I’d find myself not wanting to attend to those things, because it was all way too much now.  Pandora’s box–if the lid came off, everything would fly out and destroy the world.

  3. Sherri January 27, 2015

    Kay, I really appreciated your willingness to share your story (and Andy’s). You didn’t sugarcoat it, yet you didn’t act like a victim either. You acknowledged your responsibility in the situation. I saw a lot of myself in your book. I agree we need to attend to the “deep things of life” but so often I have just had to keep plugging away, taking care of others, because there wasn’t any choice: the kids were little and sick, my husband was sick, there was no one else to help, etc. Then when it was “convenient” to process, the emotions wouldn’t come. How can you know if you’ve fully felt an experience or if you’ve just buried the emotions? We had to leave our last country, and I wonder if I’ve fully grieved. How can you know if you’ve fully grieved? I imagine it’s not a one-time and you’re done process, but just like with a physical death, you grieve over and over when you are reminded of that person or place. Thanks again for sharing your story!

    1. Kay Bruner January 27, 2015

      Thanks, Sherri.  Yeah, since we’re all human, we’ve all got stuff.  And even in a situation where “I didn’t do anything wrong”–there’s always growth.  God uses EVERYTHING to bring us toward Home.  I hear ya about not having time to attend to my own soul, with all the STUFF that comes with transitional living.  There’s just never a good time to stop and have the meltdown you really need!  I think you’re so right, loss is an ongoing process of grieving over time.  People talk about stages, but I think it’s more like what Anne Lamott says:  “Grief is a lazy susan.”  And you never know what’s going to land in front of you at any particular time.  I would say, you could try giving yourself 15-20 minutes a day of quiet time and see what comes.  Research shows that 20 minutes of journaling per day can be enormously helpful.  And I think it doesn’t matter if you write about the loss per se.  Start with the emotions you feel right now:  sad, glad, mad, scared.  Frustrated, exhausted, excited.  Whatever it is.  And then let yourself reflect on other times you’ve felt that same way.  That lets you into your own history in a pretty natural way, and once you get used to connecting those emotions that way, it gets easier to access older emotions.  And I think as we become more accepting of our emotions, we’re not quite so panicky when they come around again.  It’s more like, “Oh, hello, anxiety.  I remember you.  Let’s just breathe together until we both feel better.”

  4. Melissa Toews January 27, 2015

    Kay, I just want to say thank you, thank you so much for your book!  So much of it really resonated with me. At one point I told my husband that if he wants to understand my thought-processes and emotions better he should read the book because I could have written it myself! Not quite true of course, but frighteningly close. Reading your story has helped me recognize pitfalls in my own mindset and choices. Thank you!  God bless you for your vulnerability in sharing!

    1. Kay Bruner January 27, 2015

      You are so very welcome!  It’s a dream come true for me to have written something that helps other people put words to their experiences, and to say “me too!”  I felt so terribly alone in my own experience at the time, and I so wanted other women to know that they’re not the only ones.  It lifts a huge burden of anxiety, for me anyway!  And if it helps lead to better understanding in some marriages, well, cherry on the sundae.

  5. laura r January 27, 2015

    Family transitions:

    I was an MK as a child and knew from a very young age that I wanted to continue in my parents’ footsteps.  After getting married, my husband (who comes from a family that has not traveled or lived abroad- seriously, his parents have never been on a plane) and I spent a year living and working in Japan.  So… when we had our first kiddo and it came time to sign up and serve overseas I just knew it was going to be a walk in the park!  Well, not really.  Truth is – NOTHING prepared me for life overseas as a parent.  NOTHING.  Of course, there were some ways in which my childhood helped in the situation- I was very comfortable with the notion of the village mentality of parenting, I wasn’t too afraid of strange food or tropical diseases (not that I wanted my child to get them but I did know that I have lived through a crazy amount of things that most Canadians have never had, let alone know about).  But goodness… there was nothing to guard my heart as his broke with the endless goodbyes, nothing to answer his deep questions about the poverty and abuse we saw right in front of our eyes with eloquence, nothing to be done to prevent the bullying he endured at the hands of other expat children.

    When I was growing up I never understood why my parents left the field.  As a mother I came to a place where I no longer have any questions about why they did what they did.

    All this to say, I am so thankful for the rich life experiences my son and I have had.  I know full well that moms anywhere in the world face struggles that can best be described as “same, same but different” than mine.  There are no guarantees and I need to rely on His mercy and grace to enable me to open my hands around my kids and place them in His.

    1. Kay Bruner January 27, 2015

      Yeah.  I think raising our kids overseas is a big “AND” experience.  It’s fantastic, AND it’s also a monumental grief and loss.  They learned so much, AND they missed out on so much.

  6. VJ January 27, 2015

    Again… so much to process and discuss.  Kay, I bought your book months ago, but the short Amazon description let me know that it was going to strike some cords and I needed to read it when I had time to think deep.  I’m thankful that VA book club pushed me to it…

    My husband was exposed quite “accidentally” and subsequently became addicted to porn when he was 12 years old.  (My oldest child just turned 12 — that JUST struck me) Anyway, it was a defining piece of his adolescence … he was in a Christian home, leader in the youth group and in FCA at school – a “good Christian kid” with hidden sin and a double life. We were in college and had been dating about a year (I was certain he was the one I was to marry) when he confessed it to me.  I was devastated, prideful, condemning, hurt.  It was a rough few weeks as I wrestled with what this meant and if I was willing to walk this road with him.  He says that one of the keys for him was bringing it to light — he confessed not only to God, but also to his youth leader, pastor, his DAD, our M leaders (we were already in discussions with them at that early stage), college dorm parents, the dean of men…. he didn’t go around shouting it from the roof tops, but all the significant people in his life now knew and there was no hiding it.  Even so, it was very difficult to find someone willing to keep him accountable.  It wasn’t until we were actually on the field ten years later that he found a good guy friend that was willing to consistently ask the hard questions.  Until then, I was the only one that followed through on promised accountability.  I would not recommend being your husband’s accountability partner in this area… but it was better than him fighting the battle alone.

    Looking back, I am SO SO thankful that God dealt with this relatively early in his life — though it was a significant shaping factor of his teen and early adult years, he hasn’t fallen in this area in 14 years.  He is able to lead our sons in purity by example and I am so thankful for that.  Because of his experience we are very careful with internet boundaries and proactive in talking with our kids about the challenges ahead as they move into puberty.

    It is encouraging to see how God redeems our lives and uses even the most hurtful, sinful, difficult situations to bring glory to His Name.  Because of our own journey through the minefield of pornography addiction we are humbled – aware constantly of our need for His sustaining grace and His power over sin, compassionate – able to help others face the sin in their own lives without condemnation, hopeful – having realized the victory of Christ personally.

     

    1. Kay Bruner January 27, 2015

      Thanks so much for sharing that.  12 years old–a child, and having to deal with something like this on his own.  That is such a normal, sad story.  I’m so glad he was able to talk to you and to the other important people in his life.  I think that truly is the most important part of healing.  Not just “not looking at porn”–but having nurturing relationships in your life and that give you something to turn toward.  I agree it’s not a good idea to be your husband’s accountability partner!  And I’m so glad he’s found community with this now, even though it took a while.  I think it’s almost impossible to be too careful with internet boundaries, and bless your willingness to be open with your kids.  I’m so, so grateful that Andy chose to be open with our kids early on about his own struggles.  Of course that means our kids are sometimes painfully open with us now!!!  Which is wonderful and also terrifying…  It’s community within our family in the best and most heart-breaking way.  Which I think is how real community is in this life:  it heals you and breaks your heart.  Sometimes both at once.  Anyway, thanks so much for sharing!

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