I have been silent for well over a year on this blog. I have had little to share that was more than theories I’ve picked up here and there, and frankly, while some of it has been helpful and pointed me in a better direction, nothing had me close to the finish line. So there was no point in me writing or you reading my bloviations that would not have been helpful, especially because I have a tendency to overstate my good points and minimize the failures. I always have.
In searching my heart the past 8 years or so, I have finally concluded and mostly accepted certain facts, some of which I’ve stated before in older posts. I wish they were not true. I wish I was the person I thought I was and who I have tried to project to others, but much of that has been and is a performance. Surely there has been good in my life. I have loved and cared for others, including my wife, in some ways. But I have also been unloving and selfish and cruel to her, in that I have not yet broken my sexual addiction and truly started on the road to recovery. I have claimed I was in recovery and believed I was, but recovery first involves a stopping of the addiction. Addicts call it sobriety. It is where you cease totally from acting out or medicating in your drug of choice. I’m not there yet, though I always think I am this time right up until the next failure.
We can get all kinds of technical in this and perhaps make a case I’m really there, or I am so much better off than I was, but that really is not helpful and is one of my biggest problems – minimizing. Minimizing is just lying but trying to make it sound better. There’s lots of things I no longer am doing but that isn’t enough. I am still being unfaithful to her whenever I open any door for lust in my life.
To help me correct my perspective, I was asked [as an example] that if my wife started going out once a month and committing adultery, would that be okay with me? Of course not! When Jesus set the standard in Matthew 5, he defined lusting after another woman as committing adultery. That means if I look at another woman, or fantasize, or dream about sins from my past, or look at any kind of pornography, or certainly go out with another woman in person with lustful intent, I have committed adultery. It also includes all other types of lust, from self-gratification to homosexuality to stuff I don’t even want to think or know about.
The bottom line is, though I have made what I have told myself is progress in many other areas, still my specific sin of choice has managed to capture me in one way or another whenever I have entertained for a moment any thoughts in that direction. The problem is I have a terrible time telling myself ‘No!’ in some areas of my life. Yes, I’m a grown up and know better and expect everyone else to do this right. But after all these years and all this pain I’ve inflicted on my wife and all this supposed knowledge of how to break this and have a new heart, I can’t pull it off. And yet this is the final key, which I keep ignoring – I can’t do it myself. But God can.
Perhaps there are many of you who have successfully broken from sexual addiction. I hope that is true. Most addicts in my experience are simply guys living at a level of maintenance that involves some level of behavior modification, dependence upon other guys to keep them straight, and an acceptance of periodic failures or binges. That’s where I’ve been for years, trying to convince myself I’m better off and my wife should be grateful I’m not the beast I used to be. But I am. And like me, maybe you’ve stopped one manifestation of your addiction or sin, as the Bible calls it, but that may still leave the 95% hidden underneath that goes with addiction, like an iceberg with destruction lurking just under the surface. Many times we ourselves don’t even know all that other stuff is there. Pornography isn’t the only problem if you’ve been at it a while, it is one piece of a much bigger problem.
I don’t claim to be an expert or even all that useful for others in the area of addiction recovery. But especially in the past 8 years, I have seen and experienced much on my road to trying to break out of my past and my present. Like Edison, I know a lot of ways not to make a light bulb. However, now I believe a light has come on inside me as to how to proceed, but the proof is a light that both burns and stays lit, not a theory. How I long for that time when my light is shining for real and it can give light to others in the same struggles I’ve been facing.
So, while I believe God can help recover sex addicts in many different ways, even for those who just call him a higher power or deny him completely, my intent is not to examine nor return to those kinds of hybrid generic god plus trying really hard solutions and all that entails. I believe there are some helpful aspects of most of the places I’ve been, and I formed some good friendships with guys who have helped me along the way. However, at the core thinking of most of the groups I’ve been a part of is a set of absolutes that go against Scripture that hamstring their usefulness in their attempts to not offend anyone or scare them off. So, in my experience in their meetings, the Bible is left at home, or banned altogether. You cannot offer help to anyone, for you might make them feel worse by saying the wrong thing, and besides your advice might be wrong and you are just as bad off as them and not trained to help anyone. So, you spill your guts and ask for help and you get a pat on the back and maybe a phone number to call in a few days, or maybe not.
Probably the least helpful place for me that I expected the most help was in churches. They simply don’t want to talk about this. As human institutions supposedly to help others in God’s name, most of them ignore their own big problems hidden under the surface at all levels and certainly don’t want to deal with yours. If you do have a church that is involved, they want to have some level of control over what is going on, which is not unreasonable, but can hinder progress and honesty. After all, what elder or deacon or preacher can dare show up at the recovery group meeting at his own church? Might as well resign if he’s there other than on official business. That’s what the institution of church has come to in most circles. So, the leaders hide when they get trapped in sin, and then they are powerless to help anyone else and don’t really want the subject brought up in fear of discovery of their own sinful habits.
But I digress…
My intention at this time is to focus on a few areas in my life that need serious work. The primary one is the original purpose of this blog – to examine and allow God to change my heart. If that does not happen, the rest is delayed even longer. The second purpose is to discuss what I’ve learned, good and bad, in my recovery journey the past several years. My experience is very limited, but it’s mine and it’s real. I’ve read plenty of books and listened to plenty of messages and conferences and counselors as well as attended a variety of men’s groups, so I have some knowledge about this, however tainted or myopic it may be. Hopefully it will be helpful to some.
Recently I had a good conversation with my new friend Bruce which was so helpful I asked him if I could post some of it on here. He has agreed and I will make it my next post as soon as I can. Also, my wife Sue has written extensively on both addiction recovery and our marriage, and has been a constant help and counselor for me throughout this process (in which she was the one who paid most for my sins). I will refer to some of her posts as I move forward, and may repost others that were particularly helpful to me. You can find her writings at Walking Wounded. I’ve also received some good help from some brothers who were part of the Samson Society in Nashville, and I have many good notes from my Silas that turned me around and made me face myself in ways I needed to hear and address. I very much appreciated him and his commitment to helping me and not just making me feel better, and the rest of them for their patience and support.
A third and critical part of my recovery and this blog is my growing relationship with God. For me, this will be the key to all the others, I am convinced. I believe he can change me at the heart level in ways no philosophy or human effort can. I am still made of flesh and all that brings with it, but I believe and have seen lived out in a few others what God can do to change those who believe in him, love him, obey him, and truly draw near to him consistently in their lives.
Thanks to all who are still following me after all this time, for whatever reasons. I hope this will be helpful for some of you as I kick this back off again. Please keep me honest, but be respectful and patient as God changes my heart. Your input and comments are appreciated.