We both love how Matthew has taken the concept of sin and given a breath of fresh air to the topic. You must read this book because in its pages you will finally gain a biblical perspective on sin and what it takes to free yourself from the bonds that so easily entangle!

Gary and Michael Smalley
Smalley Relationship Center
When mental illness afflicts a loved one, how can we understand what is happening and respond appropriately? This biblically-literate and scientifically-informed book offers helpful insight, encouragement, and practical advice. For pastors and for those who hurt for those who hurt, Matthew Stanford offers sensitive and welcome guidance.

David G. Myers, Ph.D.
Professor of Psychology, Hope College and author of Psychology Through the Eyes of Faith.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


Personal stories are powerful. When we really get to know someone and begin to understand the events that have preceded their present circumstances it becomes harder to judge them and easier to show compassion. From time to time I will be posting the stories of the hurting people that I work with so that we all might begin to see suffering with the eyes of Christ.

Joanna was born in Germany where her father was stationed in the military. While appearing happy on the outside the family hid a dark secret and was in constant conflict. Joanna’s father was an alcoholic who physically abused both her and her mother. After the birth of her brother when she was five, Joanna adopted the role of mother/protector and worked hard to make the home environment safe and happy for him. To dull the pain from years of abuse she began drinking and smoking marijuana at 15. “I wanted freedom” she told me, “I was unhappy with my parents trying to control me”. While she would experiment with different drugs (marijuana, crack cocaine, prescription pain killers) through the years, much like her father alcohol was always her main addiction. Despite her heavy drinking she was able to graduate from high school and completed three years of college.

After 25 years of heavy drinking the longest period of sobriety she can remember is 30 months. She has attended seven different alcohol treatment programs but relapsed soon after completing each. Never married she has been involved in a number of unhealthy and abusive relationships with men. She has also been unable to hold a job for more than a few months at a time due to her addiction. “If I’m unhappy, I want to drink and because I drink I’m always unhappy”. When I met Joanna she had just completed her third week in a local inpatient, faith-based drug treatment program that I work with.

At 35 Joanna has no relationship with her father and hasn’t for some time. As I listened to her story I was struck by the amazing parallels between the life of a daughter left empty by the lack of a father’s love and the life of a father who never appreciated the blessing he had been given. She likely began drinking both because of a genetic predisposition passed down to her from her father and the severe abuse that he inflicted on her. As an adult she continued to try and heal her pain with alcohol as she moved from one abuser to another recreating the father-daughter relationship that had so damaged her as a child. In 1997 Joanna’s father was convicted of intoxication manslaughter and sentenced to prison for deaths he caused while driving drunk. Joanna herself has two convictions for driving while intoxicated. The legacy of this family, passed from generation to generation, is alcoholism and abuse. Joanna received it from her father much like he, as Joanna reported, had received it from his alcoholic father (Joanna’s grandfather).

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