Episode 28: Navigating Faith Challenges with Dr. Julie Hanks

Uncategorized Jul 26, 2021

 

I’m so excited to bring you this interview with Dr. Julie Hanks. She is a psychotherapist and an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. She does so much work in helping members of our church work on their marriages, as well as helping people navigate their faith challenges.

I know that many of you struggle with your faith and are going through some challenges in this area, especially where porn use is concerned. This is something that comes up all the time in the coaching that I offer my clients. But these faith challenges don’t mean there’s anything wrong with you, it's a natural part of developing and growing, and Dr. Julie Hanks is here today to discuss all of it.

Tune in this week as I ask Dr. Julie Hanks your questions about your own faith challenges. We’re discussing some difficult topics, why it’s okay to struggle and not agree with every aspect of the LDS doctrine, and how to decide for yourself what is righteous and what the spirit is telling you.


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What You'll Learn from this Episode:

  • Why there is nothing wrong with you if you find yourself navigating faith challenges.
  • What Julie means when she talks about finding the middle ground in the LDS Church.
  • Why you don’t have to agree with every piece of LDS doctrine to have strong faith.
  • How Julie chooses to think about her relationship with the church.
  • The role that personal authority can play in your life if you choose to listen to it.
  • Why Dr. Hanks doesn’t like using the word “worthy” when discussing faith challenges.
  • How to make sure everyone is allowed their opinions without allowing it to affect your relationship.
  • What you can do to claim your internal authority and personal revelation, to decide for yourself what the spirit is telling you.

Listen to the Full Episode:


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Full Episode Transcript:

You are listening to the Overcome Pornography for Good podcast episode 28, Navigating Faith Challenges with Dr. Julie Hanks.

Welcome to the Overcome Pornography for Good podcast, the show that will teach you to stop viewing pornography and never go back to it. If you want to learn how to train your brain out of a pornography habit, completely shame-free, then this is the show for you. I’m your host Sara Brewer, a certified life coach and member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

Hey, you guys, welcome to the podcast this week. I'm so excited for you to hear this interview that I have to share with you that I had with Dr. Julie Hanks this last week.

She is awesome. If you have not heard of her or followed her yet on Instagram, I hope that you do go and follow her. She is a psychotherapist and she's an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

She does a lot of work just helping members of our church, but specifically with women and families, marriages, helping marriages become more equal and partnership-based. She also does a lot of work around faith and helping people navigate their faith.

I know that many of you struggle with your faith and are navigating some faith challenges. I know this because I coach on this a lot. And I get a lot of messages from those of you who are struggling with faith.

And it's a hard thing. It's a hard thing about growing up. And one thing that I just want to say to you if you are struggling with your faith is that nothing's wrong with you. And I really believe that this is just a normal, healthy part of developing and growing, and developing in your own spirituality. I think it's a really good thing for us to do.

So as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and any religion there's going to be a very wide spectrum of differing beliefs. We probably have our main core doctrine that most of us believe in, but then outside of that there's so many differing beliefs. And we know this, our church might have certain policies that certain members don't agree with. There are a lot of policies surrounding the LGBTQ plus community that really don't sit right with me and that I don't agree with. And I know that many of you feel the same way about that, or other policies, or just cultural aspects of a religion.

So Julie Hanks is here to help people navigate those differences. She gets a lot of messages and DMs from people saying like, “Because of you I feel like I have a place in the church.” So one thing that I just want to mention before we hop into this episode is that you might not agree with all of the things that are brought up, and that's okay. I want you to take what's helpful and let go of anything that isn't helpful.

It's okay for people to approach faith differently. My podcasts were all about getting amazing results. I'm very, very result focused. That's one of my core values in my business, is we're result focused. So we're looking for what will help you get the best results. Sometimes that means challenging beliefs that you have that are a little bit mainstream. I talk about a lot of those on the podcast.

So for some people listening to this episode, these ideas and these concepts will get you amazing results in your spiritual and religious life. It will be freeing to you. For others, it might not be something that you jive with or necessarily agree with. And that's okay. All right? So let's hop into this interview.

Sara: Okay, welcome to the podcast. Welcome to Overcome Pornography for Good this week. I have a really, really awesome guest that I'm so excited to introduce to you all today. Her name is Dr. Julie Hanks.

I have been a follower and a student of hers for a while and she has been really helpful for me with a lot of stuff that I've been going through. I didn't say this to you before we started, Julie, but a couple months ago I was having this conversation on my Instagram story with my listeners and asking about faith and how many of you are struggling with your faith? I was just really, well, not that surprised, honestly.

But the results were 85, 90% of people who responded to that poll were like, “Yeah, I'm really struggling, and I could use some help in this area.” And I was like, “Oh, wouldn't it be awesome if we could get Julie to come and talk to us a little bit about this?”

Julie: Well, thanks for the invitation, Sara.

Sara: Yeah, I'm so, so excited you're here. I will just introduce you really quickly and then I'll let you say anything else you'd like to say about yourself.

Julie: Great.

Sara: So, again, you guys, this is Julie Hanks, she is a psychotherapist. She empowers LDS members, especially a lot of women, but members in general through coaching, courses, podcasts, and books. She has a number of courses as well on her website where she focuses on finding the middle ground in the LDS church, creating partnership families, managing difficult family relationships, grieving, and healing unmet childhood needs, rediscovering yourself while mothering, mixed faith marriages, teaching children the difference between culture and doctrine.

And she covers a lot of healthy sexuality, teaching things without shame, how to be healthy sexually. Is there anything else you want to add about you and your background?

Julie: Let's see, I've written a couple of books. I'm owner of Wasatch Family Therapy Clinics in Utah. And I've been married 32 years and have four kids, and soon to be three grandkids.

Sara: Awesome. Cool. So for those of you listening, I had you ask a bunch of questions around faith that we want to address with Julie today. You shared these with me on my Instagram story.

Really quickly, before we get into those, what I noticed on your website, you said that your most purchased course is finding this middle ground in the church. And this is what many of my listeners and clients struggle with as well. You know, not agreeing with church policies, cultures, having conflicting beliefs here. And so I want to dive into some of those questions that some of my listeners have.

Julie: Great, let's do it.

Sara: The first one is tell us what does it mean finding the middle ground in the church?

Julie: I think what I mean by that is hopefully I'm giving people permission to interact with the church in a way that works for them. So in LDS Church culture there tends to be a very black and white approach. You're all in or you're all out, it's all true or it's all false.

And so that doesn't work for everyone, or it doesn't work forever for everyone. Because a lot of times, eventually you come across something that's like, that doesn't resonate as true. And a church leader said that, how can that be?

And so it's just kind of finding a place that works for you where you can take all of the good, and you also have permission to not agree with every single thing. And you can kind of go, “That doesn't resonate for me.” And for me personally, not everything resonates, but a lot of it resonates as true.

And so I think of my relationship with the church just like any other relationship, there's going to be some really great parts and there's going to be some not so great parts And that that's okay. That's an okay relationship to have with the church.

Sara: Yeah, because I think that's probably a question that comes up after we hear this phrase, the middle ground in the church, like is that okay. Is that okay?

Julie: So just that question, Sarah, points to a problem. And that is we are looking externally for permission instead of internally. Right? Well, is that okay? Says who? So when you claim your personal authority you decide, is it okay?

But we're taught to look externally for all of the validation and like, “Is this okay? Should I do this? Should I do this?” And I think the goal is to balance that with internal authority.

Well, what resonates as true for me? What is the spirit telling me? Do I have confirmation of this? Because personal revelation is a really great thing. And other people can't tell you what your personal revelation is.

Sara: Yeah, and I think some people might get that confused with if I'm not all in on every belief I'm being lazy, or lax, or have one foot in one foot out of the church. Which is something that we're encouraged not to do or not to be.

But what I'm hearing you say is that it's kind of just another level of maturity and finding your own spiritual authority Which is something like let's talk about that for a minute. That's something that you mentioned personal, is it personal authority versus general authority?

Julie: Yeah, so the general authorities give general counsel, have general authority over the general church. So they're giving broad brushstrokes. We each have a little tiny, fine brush that we're going to fill out our own life, our own missions, our own relationships with.

And so you can use both. You don't have to pick like, “Well, I'll discount everything they say.” Or “I'll discount everything I feel.” It's like how do those work together? And how can personal authority confirm general authority? And when is it different? Because sometimes it's different.

I mean, not in the basic commandments, right? Well, I guess even that, right, Nephi was commanded to break a basic commandment, to kill Laban. So personal authority can actually sometimes go against what the general counsel is. I think that's often the exception, but it happens. And it can happen in our own lives.

Sara: Well, I even think that's the message of Eve. When I hear the story of Eve I often think of this principle, we have our own personal authority. And she wasn't supposed to take the fruit. Also, wasn't she?

Julie: Right. We have to claim our agency and that we get to choose to act. And sometimes in the quest for conformity we surrender our agency.

Sara: Yeah. Well, that's really good. I heard Jennifer Finlayson-Fife say, or I read her say once, “I believe in a God who values –” How did she say it? “I believe in a God who values the pursuit of truth over rigid conformity or strict obedience.”

Julie: Yeah, yeah.

Sara: And too, I love this concept. I know recently on your Instagram story you shared how thinking of it this way really allows people to stay in the church or stay with some of the beliefs that they've been brought up with. And it creates a lot more space for people to be here instead of pushing people away or allowing people to leave, whatever that means.

Julie: Right. Right, that black and white thinking, if there's one thing that doesn't resonate as true, then you have to leave. But my message is, no, it's okay. You're not going to agree with everything that anybody says. And there's so much good and so what if we could create that space to hold more nuance, to hold more disagreement and more tension and let that be okay.

Sara: Yeah, awesome. I love it, thank you so much. So let's go to the next question. I had someone ask, “I have two brothers who are LGBTQ. I love the church, and I love them, but they can't be in the church. It seems like families are forever, but only if you aren't gay. Do you have any help for me around this?”

Julie: First of all, that's a common question. So the church is living. That means it's changing, evolving, and growing. I personally do not believe that our LGBTQ brothers and sisters will not be with their families. So I'm not sure how that's going to work out, but I believe in an expansive theology that includes our LGBTQ brothers and sisters. So I personally don't believe that. So that's what I have to say to that.

Sara: Well, I love that because even you saying that, like I don't believe that. I personally don't believe that, and I still am a member of the church. And a faithful member of the church allows people space to do the same.

Julie: Yeah, I have a daughter who's not in the church and I don't believe she's not going to be with me. In fact, she asked me that. She said, “Do you believe I'm not going to be with you in heaven?” And I said, “It's not heaven without you. So why would I want to be somewhere where you aren't?” So I think it's so much bigger than what we have at this point, than what we understand.

Sara: Kind of with that, the LGBTQ talk is huge, and we could talk on that for a whole episode. That could be a whole three episodes, let’s be honest. I mean, there are a whole podcast dedicated to that.

But with that, something that comes up and my listeners shared is, “I struggle being a part of an organization, something that seems to hurt so many people through its policies.”

Julie: Yeah, that should be a problem. So it's okay to struggle with that and try to change it. And I live in the United States, and I don't agree with all of our policies. I don't agree with how we've handled many situations in our history. And I still live here.

So it's okay to struggle and not agree with everything. And it's okay to advocate that things change while staying. And it's okay to leave too. A lot of people are like, “I just can't support this.” And that's very valid and understandable. But for me, personally, I feel called to stay and try to help change some of the hurtful policies. And to create space for more people to feel welcome.

Sara: I love that. And I love that analogy too, of being in the United States. Like I can be here, and I can be grateful for all the things that I'm offered here and be really against some of the policies or the laws here.

Julie: Right.

Sara: So tell me, what do you do if you are someone who is feeling this inner turmoil and struggle with being a part of something that's policies are hurting other people? How do you handle that discomfort when it comes up around the church, or at church, or when people say stuff at church that just doesn't sit right with you and it's painful? How do you handle that?

Julie: Yeah, I think you allow yourself to feel it. I think you can raise your hand and say something. And there are helpful and not so helpful ways to say things in church meetings. And I think it's important to be sensitive, but it's also important to be authentic.

So delivery is important. If you stand up and shame other people for their beliefs, that's not going to be helpful. But to say, “I don't see it that way, I see it differently.” In fact, I did that after the LGBTQ exclusion policy.

There was a discussion going on in a church meeting about it. And I asked, “How can we say we love our LGBTQ brothers and sisters, and then say we are not going to baptize their children?” I just asked that, like, “Explain that to me, because that makes no sense to me.” So I felt bold, and I felt like I could say it in a way that at least people could consider it.

And so it's not always the right time to say something, but it's not always the time to stay quiet either. And so you just have to kind of go with how you feel and what the Spirit prompts you to say. Because I think people need to start speaking up.

Sara: Yeah, that's kind of a punch to me. Like a punch in my heart where I’m like, “Oh, you're right.” I have this tendency to stay quiet and what that really does, I love that word that you used, authenticity. It's me not being authentic in these areas that are changing for me.

Julie: Yeah, and that doesn't mean you always have to say something.

Sara: Sure.

Julie: Like someone made a brief comment in a recent meeting, and it was actually incorrect. The church has actually changed its policy or belief on it. And I could have said something, but just kind of passed and I was like, “It's not worth it at this point. It's not the time.” It just didn’t feel right to me. So you have to kind of be sensitive but also be strong and balance that.

Sara: Which kind of brings on a whole new meaning of being strong. The church talks about being strong and defending your beliefs.

Julie: Right, what about when those aren't totally aligned with the status quo?

Sara: Yeah, it's a whole other way to think of that.

Julie: But if we are witnesses of Jesus Christ, I can witness of all the teachings of Jesus Christ, like wholeheartedly. The other stuff we're talking about is not the core of the gospel of Jesus Christ. And so I feel like that's fair game.

Sara: Yeah, and then let's talk about that a little bit, the difference between culture and doctrine. How would you describe that?

Julie: So there isn't really a good definition of what is doctrine, I mean, people say different things. But a lot of church leaders have said something that's taught consistently over time by many people is doctrine. But then I'm like, “Well, there are certain policies that were taught a lot over time.”

So I guess my point is, there’s not this clear defining line. But in general, culture is the way we do things. So there is a way we do things in the church that is impacted by doctrine, by policies, by all this other stuff.

And so doctrine, just in general, is just teachings. And culture is the way we implement those teachings. The way we frame it, the way we interact with each other. Kind of the way that it gets lived in our lives and in our communities.

Sara: And those things, well, I mean, even doctrine the message is it's okay to question, it's okay to go inside and ask what you really believe.

Julie: Yeah, we are entitled to confirmation about everything and anything. That's what personal revelation is.

Sara: So the next question here, how about this, how do I handle the pressure to do everything? To minister, to go to every meeting, there's the whole list of all the things, it just feels like a lot.

Julie: How I think about that is that's what agency is for. You get to decide what is most important at any given time and what's not that important. So accepting you're not going to do everything all the time, the end.

So getting rid of that unrealistic expectation that you're going to do this flawlessly. You're not, you're going to drop the ball all of the time. So I think about it as what is most important for me to focus on right now?

Sometimes that is sincerity and prayer. Sometimes that is reading my scriptures. Sometimes that's writing in my journal. Sometimes that’s serving. Sometimes that's being more present with my family. Sometimes that is really putting my heart into a calling.

And that changes all the time. And so we get to decide what we're focusing on. And we have to let the rest go into the background or we will burn out. And also think about trying to do everything, why? A lot of times it's to earn love, and approval, and feel worthy. But our worth doesn't come from what we do anyway.

Our worth is separate from our behavior and our performance. We exist as children of heavenly parents, that's where our worth comes from. And so we can stop trying so hard to prove that we're worth something, or that we're worth loving, or that we’re accepted.

Sara: Yeah, something that I've talked about here on the podcast, for those of you who are listening who might have missed it, is I talked about the difference between being worthy, and worth something, and just a worthy human, and temple worthy. And it seems like we almost get those confused. And we think that temple worthy also equals being worth and being enough.

Julie: Right, I don't like the word worthy because the root of it is worth, and that has nothing to do with your worth. So I like to use qualified or prepared. Are you prepared for the temple? Are you qualified? So worthy, yeah, we need to change our language, I think.

Sara: I agree.

Julie: If I were in charge, which I'm not. But I like prepared or qualified better than worthy.

Sara: Yeah, I agree. I totally agree. It seems to bring a lot of pain thinking of it that way. Especially, you know, my podcast, my coaching all about quitting pornography. And let's talk about that question a little bit. Because that's a question that comes up a lot in my coaching is, well, I don't know if I'm worthy to go to the temple. How do I answer this question?

The question right now is, do you strive for moral cleanliness in your thoughts, words, actions, and deeds? And sometimes my clients have a really hard time, like what exactly does that mean? I want someone to give me an exact answer. Like did I look at porn in the last month? Yes or no, instead of kind of a more general question how you feel how you want to answer that.

Julie: Yeah. So the key to that question is, do you strive? It's like what are your desires? Where are you heading? What's your trajectory? Then it comes down to your personal relationship with the Savior and your heavenly parents.

Ultimately, those questions are for you to judge yourself. So ask for help to decide. If you're not sure, ask for help from your heavenly parents in how you should answer it. Because it's a personal answer that only you can give and it's for you to evaluate yourself.

Sara: Why do you think that's such a hard thing to shift into for a lot of members of the church? Shifting into like trusting yourself and trusting your experience with spirit instead of trusting someone else to tell you.

Julie: Because we're taught to trust external authority more than we're taught to trust our personal revelation. And I think the church is trying to change that and kind of emphasize personal revelation more, which I think is really great.

But like with little kids, we teach more about conformity and obedience than we teach how to tune in to the Holy Spirit, how to listen to your conscience. Maybe we're teaching the wrong things to young children. Not the wrong things, but we need to also teach how to listen to yourself and trust yourself.

Sara: And it's kind of funny when we look at our church and how it began. It was someone asking questions and asking himself and Joseph Smith going to, not to anyone around him or his parents or his church leaders but going to God. And so it's kind of funny how that gets lost a little bit in our messaging.

Julie: Yeah, we have kind of exchanged conformity. Like we've exchanged faith for conformity in a way. It’s like instead of having faith, we want conformity. And it's like it’s actually the opposite of what Christ taught when he was on the earth.

Sara: Yeah. Right?

Julie: It’s the opposite.

Sara: Yeah.

Julie: So maybe we need to look at that.

Sara: Yeah, and I like to think of it too, like when you start going through a little bit of this faith, struggles or questioning it's such an amazing opportunity. And if we didn't have this opportunity to really question our faith, we would probably miss out on a lot of the growth that's available here.

Julie: Right. A lot of development comes from asking new questions and seeing things differently. And we think about a little child like, “Well, why is this? Well, what color is this? What are we having for breakfast?” They're asking questions, and somehow, we kind of beat that out of people, like, “Stop asking questions, just conform.” And that's actually not what Jesus Christ taught.

Sara: No, and there's so much goodness on the other side of that. So for you listeners, like if you're going through it and it's hard, and it's just painful to be struggling with your faith, I just want you to know that this struggle that you're having with your faith does not mean that you are less than or worse than. It means that you are going to come out stronger and more empathetic. And whatever it is you decide to believe or do, it's going to make you a better person.

Julie: Yeah, it’s part of your journey.

Sara: It's part of your journey. Okay, patriarchy. I know this is another one we could talk about for hours.

Julie: Yep.

Sara: I’ll just throw all the hard ones at you. Do you have any thoughts– Here's the specific question, “Patriarchy, I struggle so deeply with the patriarchy in the church, and I don't know how to handle the anger and resentment I feel here.” Any just thoughts about that?

Julie: Yeah, it's okay to struggle with it. It's okay to feel anger and resentment. You probably don't want to stay there and just park there and never move away from it.

I think it's helpful, at least for me, to zoom out and recognize that the patriarchal structure is likely because the church was reborn, well born and most of the time lived through patriarchal cultures. So it's the larger culture in which the church exists.

And what's so interesting is our theology actually doesn't support patriarchy if we believe we have a heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother who are equal in power and glory. And then it's like why isn't that partnership reflected in the church? And so I think that's a growth area where the Living Church can continue to evolve and actually move closer toward our theology of partnership between people instead of hierarchy.

Sara: Yeah. And I think that's a common theme I hear a lot. It’s like I love the theology, and I love the things that I learn and hear. But when I go to church it's hard.

Julie: Yeah, it is. And sometimes I'm like, “There's no excuse, we have the theology to be on the forefront of equality, come on.” But we're moving there. It's slow. It's so slow, but I see it moving. And so the hope of that kind of helps me personally with the anger and resentment.

Sara: Yeah, and I love that you say too, like it's okay to feel We might just have to go through some anger and resentment. And I think people are afraid of that and they think that's a problem. If I'm going to feel anger and resentment, something's wrong.

Julie: Right. And it's just a sign that something is wrong, but it's not something wrong with you. It doesn't mean something's wrong with you. It means something's wrong.

Sara: And it's okay for it to be wrong and to be angry about it.

Julie: Yep.

Sara: And then family, let's talk about family a little bit. First, the question, this one's been coming up a lot, even in just the past couple days for me and my clients and other people messaging me. “How can I handle my family judging me for having these questions around my faith?”

Julie: So there are a lot of different ways to take this because I want more information, I want to ask a lot more questions about that. But in general, you can't control them, you can’t control their thoughts, right? If they're from a very black and white frame, they're going to judge you if you are more nuanced. Because that's what black and white people do.

So the first thing is tolerating that. Going, “Okay, they get to think what they want and that's not my business or my problem.” Now, if they're saying something to you, you can reflect back the impact of what they're saying. So if they're like, “Oh, you're not wearing your garments”, or “Oh, I noticed you haven't been to church for a month.”

If they're saying things to you, you can say, “Mom, that feels really judgmental, and it puts a wedge in my relationship with you. Is that what you want?” Like what's the impact of what of this? So reflecting that back. What's the impact? It makes me feel like I'm not close to you, like I can't really trust you. And I don't want that for my relationship with you, dad.

Sara: Yeah, that's really good. And I am assuming you do that and, I mean, it might not totally stop. But it's going to really make them think about the things that they're saying that they didn't maybe see was so judgmental.

Julie: Yeah. And if they don't stop you can say, “Brother, I'm not interested in your comments about my faith journey. Please don't make any more comments.” Make a request.

Sara: I think that's hard for people because they're afraid of causing more riff in their family relationships. If you're part of a member of a church and your family is all very active, and then you kind of leave a little bit, that's already creating a little bit of a rift there. So I think they're afraid if I say something, if I set some boundaries here, it's going to create even more of a divide. Any thoughts on that?

Julie: Yeah, it might. If your family values conformity more than connection, it will put a wedge. It'll make a rift. And that's part of growing up, is being willing to upset other people, to disappoint other people, because you are living your life, not theirs.

Sara: That's part of growing up.

Julie: It’s part of maturity, being able to tolerate other people's discomfort, disappointment, and dissatisfaction. You don't have to like it, but part of maturity is tolerating it.

Sara: And then with that, the other question is, how do I be there for someone who has left the church? My sister recently left the church– This is the question, “My sister recently left the church, how can I be there for her while also keeping my faith?

Julie: I think the best thing that we can do is to listen and to not take it personally. So often, when people criticize the church, it's taken as a personal attack. You're attacking my faith. No, they're sharing their experience, it has nothing to do with your faith.

So your sisters journey has nothing to do with you. So if you can kind of separate that out, listen, validate. You don't have to agree, but you also don't have to get defensive. The church doesn't need you to defend it.

Sara: That's so good. That's so good. Especially, we take it personally, and I have absolutely done that in the past. When I get angry about someone else's choices, it's because I'm taking it personally. Making it mean something–

Julie: It’s not about you.

Sara: Yeah.

Julie: Your sister leaving the church or whoever, it's not about you. And they can criticize the church or say, “Oh, I found out about this, this, and this.” And you can be like, “Oh, that must be so hard.” It has nothing to do with your faith. And the church is big enough that it doesn't need you to defend it at the expense of your relationship with your sister.

Sara: Yeah, so tell me a little bit more about that, the church doesn't need you to defend it.

Julie: It's big. It's a huge organization. It's fine, it's not going anywhere. So it feels threatening, because it feels personally threatening, but it's really not that threatening to the church.

Sara: And I love that too, it doesn't need you to defend it at the expense of your relationship.

Julie: Right.

Sara: So good. So good.

Julie: Thanks.

Sara: Thank you. Yeah, thank you. Do you have any other thoughts about anything that maybe we missed, or that you wanted to pop in here before we close?

Julie: I just want to say to all of your listeners, that you can trust yourself. You can trust your personal revelation to guide you to truth and goodness.

Sara: Thank you. And it takes courage. And it takes a new level of maturity. And it takes a lot of growth. And it's such a good thing.

Julie: It's worth it.

Sara: It’s worth it, and like what does God want for you? He wants you to be able to do that more than he wants you to conform blindly without being authentic to what you're thinking and what your heart's telling you.

Julie: Yes.

Sara: Thank you. One thing that I'll add in here too, is as I've been going through faith journey– That word, I kind of cringe sometimes when I say journey, it sounds a little cliché. I don't know, but it has been a big faith journey for me. And when I say to people, when I'm explaining it, I'm like, “I have never struggled so much with my faith. But I've also never felt so close to God through this.”

And I know that might not be the experience for everyone. But there is a lot of beauty and a lot of opportunity to be really close to God. Even if you are moving away from that black and white thinking to a little bit more in the middle ground of the church.

Julie: Yeah. Yeah, and you bring up a really good point that religiosity is not the same as spirituality.

Sara: Yeah.

Julie: If you stay in the church, hopefully you have religiosity and spirituality, right? Those don't necessarily go together. You can leave religion and still be spiritual. You can be in religion and not be spiritual. You can have both. And so I think it can be helpful to separate those. That your relationship with something bigger than you does not depend on religion.

Sara: Yeah. Yeah, so good. And that's a big mindset shift.

Julie: Mm-hmm.

Sara: So, whatever is helpful for you. Like I always say, if this is helpful for you. We're more focused on the results in your life and if this conversation is helping you get good results, use it. If it's not, hey, feel free to take what you need.

Julie: Leave whatever you want.

Sara: Yeah. But like I said at the beginning a little bit is allowing yourself to have these perspectives and following people like you, Julie Hanks, or other Instagram accounts that are a little bit more on the edge, they allow people to stay. They allow so much more room for people in the church. It's not a threat to the church.

Julie: That's my hope.

Sara: I know that sometimes you get messages about it being a threat to the church, but it’s not.

Julie: I'm like, “I'm not worried about the church, it’s doing fine.”

Sara: Yeah, I love it. I love it. Thank you. So how can my listeners find more from you?

Julie: Yeah, so at Dr. Julie Hanks on social media, particularly Instagram. And drJuliehanks.com, so D-R juliehanks.com. I have lots of articles, lots of resources, I have an Empower Her Circle membership, I have courses like you mentioned earlier, and lots of fun things.

Also I have a podcast, Ask Dr. Julie Hanks, and so that's been a lot of fun to start this year.

Sara: Yes, and you just celebrated over 100,000 downloads this last weekend.

Julie: Right, just last weekend.

Sara: And number like 16 or something in the rankings for mental health.

Julie: It was it got up to like 14. It's been in the top 100 consistently, so that's been really cool.

Sara: So she's an amazing resource to you. And I'm excited that if you haven't heard of her yet, now you're introduced to her.

Julie: Thanks so much, Sara.

Sara: Yes, thank you so much for being here, really appreciate it.

Julie: Thank you.

Sara: All right, you guys, have a great week and we'll talk to you next week. Bye bye.

If you’re ready to apply what you’re hearing in this podcast and finally overcome pornography for good, I’d love to be your coach. I’ve created a virtual program with the intent to give you everything that you need to quit. Once you join, you have lifetime access to the content and lifetime access to individual support through coaching calls and coaching boards. For more information check out sarabrewer.com/workwithme.

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