After being baptized, taking umpteen Bible studies and later teaching them, Southeast Christian Church member Sandy Gross thought she had buried brokenness of her life. She loved Jesus 100 percent, read her Bible and studied as if her life depended on it.
In many ways, it did.
“I came out of the water changed, dedicated and 100 percent in love with Jesus,” she said. “But what I discovered later in life was that my brokenness was well-managed, but I’d never done the work of what I call wellness.”
That brokenness put her on a journey toward healing through Christ. Coming out on the other side makes Gross sure that wholeness and healing is not only possible, but it’s what God wants for every believer.
In the last 30 years, Gross has been a youth director, worked in urban outreach, women’s ministry, helped found organizations such as Metro Leadership Foundation and the Institute for Christian Psychology and enjoyed a successful career in the business world. However, in 2012 Gross left corporate America to pursue her passion for full-time ministry.
With a group of women that called themselves the “Basement Bible Babes,” Gross wrote and then taught a Bible study called “You Are Potential” with the goal to take women on a journey to freedom, authenticity, vulnerability and spiritual and emotional wellness.
“This study is a time to get real with ourselves, with God and with others about who we really are and what we desperately want to become,” Gross said. “Too many well-intentioned Christians are simply living their lives behind closed doors. They are afraid to share their true struggles, failures and emotional pain, worried they will be judged or cast out. That’s not the way it should be.”
Gross said the studies are a safe place to share and learn.
“We create a safe place and advocate for one another,” she said. “Each one knows that if they have fallen, if they mess up or do some hideous thing, we’re on their side. I take authenticity seriously, so I’m the first one to share my stuff, and that opens the door for others to be vulnerable.”
“You Are Potential” is now available as a workbook and a DVD series so small groups can use it as they meet each week.
Southeast member Candy Konkler said “You Are Potential” has made all the difference in her own life.
“I’ve taken a ton of Bible studies,” she said. “This study is about healing. You have to know you’re broken before you can be healed, and this study revealed my brokenness. I never doubted God’s love for me. I understood grace and forgiveness, but this went far deeper.”
Lindsey Tichenor describes the study as a genuine look inward at what makes us work and not work well.
“This study pulls back the layers of hurt and brokenness we’ve covered up,” she said. “We can put Band-Aids on wounds but not actively treat them. Through this study, I saw contradictions between what God’s Word says about me and what I believe about myself. Those contradictions blocked me from becoming who God created me to be.”
Personal brokenness in her own story was the catalyst that led Gross to study wholeness and healing. She grew up in a family that dealt with alcoholism and divorce. Shuffling from family to family began a downward spiral of drinking and partying that culminated in depression and homelessness.
“In those years, God was pursuing me and revealing Himself to me,” Gross said. “Though there was no one around to guide me, God kept showing up in some of the most authentic encounters in my life.”
The study shines light on lies and broken beliefs that many Christians still hold: “I’m not loveable. I have to earn God’s love. If I work hard, maybe God will love me.”
“My broken beliefs were that I have to bring value, perform and be good enough. I have to be all these things, and then I’ll be loveable,” Gross said. “We believe some tragic things about God, ourselves, the church and others. So many times, we manage our mess and brokenness instead of dealing with it. If we bring it out into the light, we can find healing.”
In a typical study, Gross teaches for 20 minutes, then the group breaks into groups of four or five to discuss a list of questions, then gathers for additional teaching.
Southeast member Renee Isaac used one word to describe what the study has meant in her own life: “unbelievable.”
“I’ve done a lot of different Bible studies with a lot of different facilitators,” she said. “This has made the biggest impact on my life. It transformed me and how I view myself.”
Gross said everyone is broken to some degree.
“It’s time that we join together in true Christian community to take back our God-given potential,” she said. “This study helps us do that.”
“You Are Potential” is available as a workbook and DVD series. You can learn more by visiting Renewing Me Ministries at www.RenewingMe.com.