New Beginnings

In Uncategorized by benjamin

New Beginnings

Life is changing for me and family. I want to give you a little backstory and a tiny glimpse of the future still forming. I wasn’t sure where else to post this message, so here it is.

By the way… This is my new blog. Yes, I know, it’s 2018 and I’m starting a blog. I’ve always been cutting edge (early adapter with the Zach Morris haircut, too).

Here’s why I haven’t blogged until now:

• I felt like my blog’s success needed to be MASSIVE to be worth it. I’ve had a comparison problem. Instead of simply allowing Seth Godin, Tim Ferriss, and the like to inspire me, there’s been a part of me that compares my weakness to their strengths, and then I stumble out of the gate, insecure.

• I haven’t been clear about my goal.

Now I’m clear. I’m not doing this to be impressive. I’m not doing this to make money. These are my reasons:

• I’m a good writer. And writing more is only going to help me become a great writer.

• It’s therapy. By writing every day, I’ll become a better student of myself, life, God…

• People will be inspired. It doesn’t matter if it’s 10 people or 10,000 people or more… someone other than me will benefit.

• This marks a season of change.

For the past six years I’ve had the privilege of leading a church in Huntington Beach, CA. It’s been a joy. We got to see the church grow from less than 200 to almost 2,000 in weekly attendance in a very short amount of time. Lives changed, life-long friendships formed, and much good was done in the community. It’s been beautiful.

And, now we’re embarking on a new chapter of our journey. I’ll give you a little context… Probably not enough to satisfy, but hopefully enough to respectfully honor all the parties involved.

A few months ago, my ex-wife (of 12 years) made some derogatory comments about me in a public setting. The hurtful part is that her comments were exaggerated and false statements about my actions 12 years prior.

Don’t get me wrong… At 26, I screwed up my former marriage. That reality has grieved me, and I pray she can forgive, heal, and find peace. I don’t know her motivations for her comments, but she is a unique person doing great things and I won’t hold any grudges.

In fact, as painful as the past few months have been—and they’ve been brutal—I have total confidence that God is already bringing good from bad. It’s His specialty. I’ve seen Him do it; and He’ll do it again.

You see, I grew up in a time and place where being a good little Christian boy seemed really important. I was also the first born of my brothers and all the grandkids on the “pastor” side of the family, so I internalized extra pressure. It was no one’s fault but my own. I convinced myself that I thrived on the high expectations and pressures to perform and seem near perfect. But I didn’t. I was leaking.

I was also a hormonal, teenaged boy when the internet came online, and while the weight of expectations was intensifying on my scrawny, spiritual shoulders. At the same, the youth group was on fire about “true love waits.” So wait I did! Er, well, sort of, technically, I guess. I “waited” while also developing a secret porn problem.

When we’re not taught how to deal with pressures and problems in a healthy way, we feel feelings we don’t like and we want to feel different feelings. That’s where our compulsions come in—quick-fix escape patterns that feel good, then hook us. I got hooked on porn. For others it’s social media, overeating, abusing drugs or alcohol, workaholism, co-dependency, shopping… The list goes on, but they’re all the same.

All our compulsive habits rob us of the present moment. And this is the only moment we experience life, our true-selves, and our Creator. When we surrender to our compulsions, our lives are hijacked in a search for better feelings. And the shiny alternative that enticed us back there, never delivers on the promise today. In an effort to feel better, we try more—more of our habit, drug, or coping mechanism—to try and achieve the quick-fix feelings of the past. The stakes and consequences get higher as we get older. The struggle escalates and we either have to become better at hiding, or we need to get help.

I lived that journey long ago. My porn problem escalated as my first marriage deteriorated, and I found myself visiting several massage parlors. Me, the Golden boy; the prude youth group kid; the former “celibate” Captain of the USC Men’s Volleyball team. Me! And then, divorce. I didn’t recognize my own life.

Especially at that time—a dozen years ago—and in the years since, I’ve done vast amounts of counseling/therapy—healing significantly, and developing healthy ways to express feelings and manage stress. I’m thankful to say that the compulsions of my younger years have long lost their grip on me. (Also, I’m a dude, and not naive to think I’ll never be tempted.) I’m grateful for grace and freedom… I’m grateful for therapists… I’m grateful for friends who walk through the messy parts… And I’m forever grateful to my loving wife of 9 years, Hilary.

And, she joins me in this difficult announcement today.

We are very sad to be leaving the church we love so much and have invested in so heavily. I disclosed these historical events/struggles from my past when hired at the church, but, in light of our current cultural environment, it seems any accusations—even false ones—come with a cost. I’m going to step out of the institutional church, at least for the time being, and hope to protect the organization I’ve been serving from any unwanted, potentially negative, attention.

I must also add that Hilary and I share a level of excitement about the adventure in front of us. My recent sabbatical brought to the surface passions and ideas I’ve had (on the back burner) to reach more people outside of the church walls with my message of GRACE and GROWTH. (If interested, please stay in touch and I’ll keep you updated.)

There is so much division in our world right now; so much accusation; so much aggression and distrust. I don’t want to contribute to the problem. I want to be one of those cultivating grace and catalyzing growth. We’re all the same—broken, wounded, finding our way back to childlike. We’re all the same…and we’re totally unique. I’m almost 40, but I’m still discovering the unique me and the divine calling within me to encourage others. I figure I’ll just keep doing that.

Thank you for reading. Thank you for your grace and support. Thank you for letting me be human, with an imperfect history. And let’s all be thankful for a God who sees us as His pure and innocent children—a God whose mercies are new every morning.

– Caleb (and Hilary) Anderson

P.S.: My future posts will be much shorter (Chewables) and encouraging for whole and healthy living (body, mind, heart, soul).

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