Village Q&A: Alex
We continue to hear stories from people who have done Freedom Session and experienced huge life transformation. But those stories aren't just about people who had big overt struggles. The stories often feature people who were going through life thinking or acting like they were doing just fine. This is a conversation we had with Alex, who puts himself squarely in that second category.
Q: What led you to decide to do Freedom Session?
Alex: At first, I wanted to lead and jump into a facilitator role. As cliché as it may sound, I was at a place in my life where I was feeling empty on the inside. Everything externally looked fine; I had a good job, good house, good family, good marriage...heck, even a good community group but there was still something missing. Since I grew up in the church, I had created this "acceptable way" to "feel better" and fill that emptiness. It was to do more.
Q: How did you hear about Freedom Session?
Alex: I was chatting with Pastor Chris De Monyé about leading a community group and he literally walked me down to Pastor Ken's office and we had a chat about what Freedom Session is. Within 45 minutes, Pastor Ken had gotten to the root of some of my issues and he asked me..."Who is looking out for Alex?" "Why do you always feel like you need to be taking care of someone else?"
Over the next 7 months of Freedom Session, I came to realize that I often allowed my pursuit of a "good life" drive me to feelings of shame, resentment, and also conversely, entitlement and pride.
When I could achieve the "good" things in my life I felt good about myself and my identity felt grounded. Pride and a sense of entitlement would creep in and I would get puffed up.
When I failed to achieve the "good" things - usually in the form of conflict with my wife and kids - I would resort to my "drugs of choice" - anger and criticism. I would get upset at the people I love and care about the most, and crush them under the weight of my expectations...the same expectations that I myself could not even achieve.
Q: Was there a "breakthrough moment" for you in the course?
Alex: I think my breakthrough moment was when I asked God to forgive me for the pain and hurt I had caused my wife and children through my anger and criticism. In doing so, I realized that no amount of trying on my part could fix the pain I had caused them.
I was trapped in a vicious cycle. I would hurt my family...then try to compensate by "trying harder" - and when I eventually failed again, I would get angry with myself for failing and then lash out towards my family again.
Once I fully embraced this fact I could let go and surrender the fact that I could not fix my own mistakes by trying harder, and that only Jesus' sacrifice - freely given - could atone for the wrong I had committed. This was when I truly felt "freedom" from shame and guilt.
Q: What was the most impacting part of the course?
Alex: The most impacting part was getting out of denial in order to recognize the true depth of, and need for, God's grace and forgiveness in my life. As I look back, I realize that I was belittling how much it cost God to forgive me. My mindset was more along the lines of "Sure I have some bad days but overall I'm a pretty good guy. So God's forgiveness...that can be saved for someone else who needs it more".
Q: How has Freedom Session changed you? How will you be different now?
Alex: I feel less entitled to be "right" in my arguments with my wife. God has truly opened my eyes especially during these arguments to see the end effect of my sense of pride and has helped me turn to Him more quickly and easily. Not always, (I am definitely still a work in progress), but it has become easier to not get stuck in the whirlwind of negative thoughts and anger that was so common before.
Q: Now that you’ve finished Freedom Session, what’s next for you in your discipleship?
Alex: I think the biggest thing I have come to realize after Freedom Session is that I don't "need" to do that "next thing" in order to experience God... or to feel like I'm doing a "good enough job". For the longest time, I had felt that "if I'm not doing something ministry-wise, then God isn't using me" and that mindset really puts me in the spotlight and the pressure/burdens/burnout comes rushing back. Having said that, I am looking forward to being a facilitator for Freedom Session this coming fall at Village Surrey South. The experience of how God works in the small group of men (or women) as we go through this journey together is just too exciting to pass up!
Q: How would you describe Freedom Session to someone who's never heard of it?
Alex: It is an intense journey that will bring you to your knees and if you let it, the process will drive you into your most vulnerable and exposed state - not for the purposes of embarrassing or shaming you to change your behaviours - but to show you just how amazing our God truly is!
Q: Would you say Freedom Session is for everyone?
Alex: Definitely yes...a wholehearted YES! If you know your life is off the rails and nothing but the grace of God can get it back on track...Freedom is for you.
If you think your life is going just fine...you may actually need Freedom even more. To truly help you understand and experience that grace everyone else seems to be talking about.
If you're interested in learning more about Freedom Session, click here. Registration for our fall Freedom Session closes this Sunday, August 27, so make sure to register soon.