Crazy-Making
Semester #1:  Jan 3 - Feb 5


Have you ever kept doing something you don’t want to do?

We all have these patterns in our lives that we just can’t seem to shake. No matter how disciplined we are, how much willpower we drum up, or how many times we seek accountability, eventually we find ourselves sucked back into repeating the same patterns again. It’s crazy-making!


Everyone’s struggle is different. For you, it might look like criticizing, substance abuse, over-working, sexual sin, people-pleasing, or hundreds of others. Jesus has given all of us a way out of these crazy-making cycles, and it has nothing to do with white-knuckling our way to freedom. Join us in this four-week study as we explore where these patterns come from, why we keep repeating them, and how to stop the crazy and live in the freedom Jesus makes possible.


To access the teaching videos for this series, click HERE

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We’re All Driving Ourselves Crazy!

WEEK #1

As a group:

  • Have someone pray to open this study. Invite the Holy Spirit to prepare your hearts to experience more of God’s love and freedom.
  • Connect question: What is one thing that’s been relaxing or rejuvenating to you in the last three months?


Watch the “We’re All Driving Ourselves Crazy!” video.



Discuss:

1. On a scale from one to ten, with one being unaware and ten being completely aware, how aware do you feel of your own crazy-making cycles?


2. Many of us feel like we should be better than having these repeating patterns, so we beat ourselves up about them and try to hide what is going on. Why do you feel the pressure to be better than your cycles?


3. How does the need to control show up in your life? What are the things in your life you care deeply about controlling?


4. While guilt is thinking, “I did something wrong,” shame is thinking, “I am wrong.” As Wendell explained, it’s the feeling that no one can bear our true selves. How often do you feel this way in your own life?


5. When you sin, what is your gut reaction? Do you justify yourself, hide from others, seek out counsel, spiral into shame, bring it to God, pretend it didn’t happen, or something else?



Apply:

As followers of Jesus, we are called to let his truth and grace transform our real, here-and-now lives. Especially with our repeating patterns of destructive behavior, we tend to jump into “fix it” mode before we understand what is really going on with us, and we often try to “fix” our cycles without God’s help. Spend one minute of silence as a group and individually pray this prayer:

  • God, show me the patterns and cycles that you want to free me from.


Willpower Is No Power

Week #2

As a group:

  • Pray to open this time together. 
  • Connect question: What is one thing on your bucket list—something you’ve always wanted to do, but haven’t yet?


Watch the “Willpower Is No Power” video.


Discuss:

1.   What stood out to you about Wendell’s story?


2.   Why is Wendell’s people-pleasing cycle just as destructive as his pornography cycle?


3.   Wendell shared about how shame drives this cycle and then keeps us trapped in it. On a scale of one to ten, how aware are you of your shame?


4.   What are some of your shame messages?


5.   As you look at this cycle, which stages jump out to you the most, or which stages do you most identify with? Which surprised you?



Apply:

If you know that a situation is coming that often triggers your crazy-making cycle, tell a friend or family member. Ask them to remind you that Jesus is in control and is bigger than your temptation.


Each morning, set aside five minutes to let God tell you, “It’s good to see you, daughter,” or “It’s good to see you, son.” See what comes up for you when you receive that. When your unhealthy self-thoughts start to kick in, look to scripture for what God says is true about you. Write down the verses that mean the most to you over this week. Set aside a time every day to physically remind yourself that Jesus has overcome your cycle. First, clench your fists as a symbol of your desire to control. Then release them, placing your palms up as you remind yourself, “Jesus has overcome my sin and my shame. I can rest in him.”


Pray to close out this time together.

Stepping Out of the Crazy and Into the Light

Week #3

As A Group:
  • Pray to open this time together.
  • Connect question:Where do you feel most yourself in your life right now?

Learn:
  • Have someone read James 1:1315 and 1 John 1:7 out loud for the group.
And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else. Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death. So don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters. Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.” James 1:1317
 
“But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.”
Now, watch the “Stepping Out of the Crazy and Into the Light” video.1 John 1:7


Watch the “Stepping Out of the Crazy and Into the Light” video.


Time of Reflection:
  • Spend five minutes in silence to contemplate and meditate on 1 John 1:7. Reflect on this passage in silence, re-reading it, taking notes, and praying. Use the prayers below as a guide if helpful.
As I read this, God please make it clear what word or truth you want me to understand more fully.God, show me areas of this verse that I struggle to fully trust you with.God, what do you want to communicate to me through this?
 

Apply:
This is not a theoretical study or an intellectual exercise. Following Jesus requires doing what he says and stepping into the light. We want to invite you to share your cycle with this group if you feel you have built enough trust to share. If you haven’t, or you do not feel safe in this group yet, that is perfectly okay. However, you do need to identify one person that you can commit to sharing your cycle within your life—this is how we step into the light and out of the crazy. As 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NIV) says “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” This is the way God has provided out of our crazy-making cycles. We can bring our cycles into the light with another.
 
Many of us struggle to identify who is safe to share with and who is not. Here’s a reminder of a few things to look for to determine if someone is safe:
  • You have experienced their integrity.
  • They are consistent with what they say and how they live.
  • They model vulnerability. One way to evaluate this is whether they have other people that they openly share within a trusting relationship.
  • They do not try to fix you, belittle you, or preach at you.
  • They will maintain confidentiality. One way to evaluate this is by their tendency to gossip or talk about others.
  • You trust that they would respond with gratitude that you shared and be able to walk alongside you moving forward.
No one will respond perfectly. Only Jesus is perfectly trustworthy and consistent. But Jesus often loves us through the arms, eyes, and voices of those we trust in our lives.
 
Share:
  • Feel free to take a few moments to think through the following questions.
TIP: If in a group with men and women, it is often valuable to periodically meet separately as men and women to foster an environment for vulnerability. This might be a great time to do that as a group.
  • My cycle usually looks like…
  • I think some of my triggers are…
  • The self-thoughts I struggle with usually sound like…
  • The hardest part of the cycle for me is…

When whoever is comfortable sharing with the group has gone, discuss the questions below together.
  • If you didn’t share your cycle, share who you will share with over the next week.
 
It’s frightening to share so vulnerably with a group, and sometimes afterward we feel a spike of fear. “What do they think of me now?” might go through our heads. How can you all love and encourage each other over the next week, reminding each other that you are loved, that you belong, and that you are a beloved saint?
  • Pray to close out this time together.

Starting the Journey Together

Week #4

As A Group:

  • Pray to begin this time together.
  • Warm-up question:What is one thing your closest friends or family would say is a strength of yours?


Watch the “Starting the Journey Together” video.



Discuss:

Choose a few questions that jump out at you from the list below to process as a group.

  • What stood out to you in the video?
  • What has been your experience with accountability, either good or bad?
  • How are permission and protection different from accountability?
  • What makes it difficult to walk with each other well in our crazy-making cycles?
  • How do you personally receive love and protection? What does that look like and not look like for you?
  • Is there anyone that currently has permission to speak into your life? Have you specifically told them this?
  • “Submission” is a hard word for many of us. What makes someone feel safe to submit to?


Exercise:

Spend five minutes individually processing the questions below.

  • What is something I would like to change in my life?
  • Who could I give permission to help me with this?
  • When and how will I reach out to this person?
  • What will it look like to submit to their strengths if they agree to walk with me in this struggle or area of improvement?
  • If I submit to their strengths and they help protect me from my weaknesses, what do I hope would be the outcome months from now?


Apply:

It’s easy to either never talk about these cycles again or become the behavior police for each other. Neither is helpful or loving. How can you as a group walk alongside each other in your crazy-making cycles? Talk about it practically and tangibly. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Pair up and commit to pray for your partner’s joy, freedom, and awareness of God’s love over the next month
  • Pray to close out this time together.