There is a mistake I see virtually every man make in recovery. It is the mistake of defending "rightness." Let me explain.
Every man who enters recovery has a history of deception; of others as well as himself. He has told so many lies it would be pointless to try and tally them up. When the truth of his secrets comes to light, the people closest to him recoil in shock and hurt. They feel the sting of betrayal that his lies brought. They wonder if they can ever again believe anything this man tells them.
As the man pursues recovery and begins to experience some healing and freedom, he realizes that the ones he hurt are not so quick to "get on board" with his new life. They remain skeptical, even defensive; even accusatory. And for the man in recovery this causes him to feel the ironic sting of hurt and befuddlement. Few, however, recognize the irony. Instead, they rail against the accusations with a fervor of "righteousness."
This is a bad idea.
To defend being right when your history has been mostly wrong is a fool's endeavor. Even if the man in recovery is totally "correct" in his defense of his new life and behaviors, such defense does nothing to aid in the restoration of the relationship. Sometimes it is much wiser to endure suffering for the sake of reconciliation than to demand rights that will only ensure further relational fissures.
When a man learns to lay down his rights at the foot of the cross of Jesus Christ (the One who understands unjust suffering better than anyone!), there are no accusations that can upset him. Whether the barbs and accusations of loved ones are justified or not, the man learns to find his identity in the grace of Jesus, not in how "correct" he might be in his recovery. This is the humility that leads to repentance and a completely transformed life.
Are you a man struggling with false accusations in your recovery? Do you feel the need to defend yourself? Slow down and follow the example of Jesus. Even when He was perfectly justified to defend himself from his accusers, He chose instead to entrust himself to the will of the Father. While He suffered immensely for remaining silent, His reward was great -- and so was ours: Jesus reconciled us to God!
If you want restoration in your fractured relationships, humble yourself before the Father like Jesus did. You may still have to suffer immensely, but your reward will be great. You will gain wisdom and the blessing of God, which is far greater than simply carrying "rights" -- all by yourself.
Written by Jonathan Daugherty
Founder of Be Broken Ministries
by Jonathan Daugherty
Recovery is a process of healing from compulsions and growing in our God-given identity, for the purpose of serving others with similar struggles.
There is a process to recovering fully from sexually addictive patterns. It is simple: Heal --> Grow --> Serve. In a previous post I wrote about what healing looks like in this process. In this post I want us to explore the next stage: Growing. This stage focuses on three primary areas of growth: emotional, spiritual, and relational.
No one struggling with sexually addictive patterns is emotionally healthy. You might want to pause and reflect on that statement for a moment. You might even want to argue with it. But in my many years of hearing thousands of life stories of sexually addicted men, I have yet to meet one who exhibited emotional health in conjunction with their addictive lifestyle. Emotional health and addictive lust just don't go together.
Therefore, it is essential that emotional health be a high priority when seeking to grow into a man of sexual integrity. This means "growing up" and leaving childish ways behind.
1 Corinthians 13:11
When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.
Most sexually addicted men act like children emotionally. This is largely due to the fact that lust teaches a man to be self-centered, controlling, ill-tempered, angry, and deceptive. Just like a 2-year-old. But in order to be a mature man of integrity, he must give up such childish ways.
Often, counseling can be very helpful in understanding and overcoming childishness. Also, getting into a group of mature men can help sharpen these emotional skills.
The bible promises that if we walk by the Spirit of God we will not gratify the lusts of the flesh (Gal. 5:16). But how do we "walk by the Spirit?" By deepening our intimate relationship with God through Jesus. We must grow in our dependence upon God.
Most of us know the things to "do" when it comes to "spiritual growth," but few engage these activities in the way God had in mind. We know to pray, read our bibles, feed the hungry, care for orphans and widows, and serve the poor. But too often we engage in these disciplines with a "box-checking" mentality, not with a heart eager to know God.
Spiritual growth never occurs through activity alone. God is a Person, to be related to intimately, not as something we do, but rather as Someone we know.
"And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”
Spiritual growth is about knowing the Way, not as a religious ritualistic journey, but as one knows a Person. Jesus is THE WAY! On this journey of growth as a man of integrity, you must know Him. May this change how you engage prayer, bible study, and fellowship with others. These are not means to an end, they are ever-present points of contact with the living Jesus.
Every sexually addicted person has damaged relationships. Lust and love are not synonyms. Therefore, in order to move forward to a life of integrity, you must grow healthy relationships. You must learn to relate well with others.
1 Peter 4:8
Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.
Healthy relationships require stuff that doesn't exist in addiction. Stuff like sacrifice, forgiveness, sharing, communication, honesty, faithfulness, patience, and lots and lots of love. These are not characteristics that tend to come naturally, especially if you have had lots of practice being a self-centered, addicted jerk. But there is good news! These are skills, therefore, they can be learned.
The best context to grow relationally is -- in relationships! Duh. So, talk to your wife. Spend time with your kids. Share your story with someone. Connect, connect, connect. Don't worry about "messing it up." There is no such thing as a "perfect" relationship. But you can have healthy ones, if you will work on growing in the area of relating well with others.
Growing is essential in becoming a strong man of integrity. There are no shortcuts on this journey. But from a solid foundation of healing, you can grow into the man you always wanted to be. And from there, well, some pretty amazing things can happen...
by Gerard Terry
Our reality is composed of what we do in a day, what we think about and who we interact with (including who we care for and who cares for us). For a week, our reality is what we did, what we thought about and who we interacted with for seven days. The same goes for a month and a year. Cumulatively, these form our life.
Today, I went to a couple’s house after church, where I found several other people I knew. I brought ingredients for nachos, while others brought meat, potatoes, beans, drink and desert. We spent nearly five hours watching football in one room and talking in the kitchen. I left there thinking I experienced love and fellowship. I was so glad I went and so glad I did not stay home and isolate with my computer and TV. At my decision point on whether to go, it was uncomfortable to step out of my comfort zone.
Tonight, I am thinking of what I would have done if I had stayed home. TV and a computer are not healthy companions. Through them, my fantasy life takes root and I search for media which will further it along. I predictably give in to lustful thoughts and a craving for pornography. Then follows the guilt. Then follows the shame. I am embarrassed to say this occurs way too often, and forms a substantial part of my reality.
Defining Our Own Reality
Did you know that our experiences shape who we are? Fortunately, in most cases, if we exercise discipline and spend our time thoughtfully, we get to decide what we will be thinking about later as we reflect on our day. Through fellowship, we can have memories of laughter, love, and encouragement as we interacted with others. The opposite of fellowship is isolation. Through isolation, we can have feelings of loneliness, emptiness and regret which accompany isolation, guilt and shame.
One of the most common characteristics of sex addicts is that we have few friends. If we are not intentional about how we spend our time, our drift is toward decisions of isolation. Isolation is easier and appears more restful. Unfortunately, isolation is where sin thrives. When was the last time you openly sinned in the presence of a group of friends?
Your Reality Costs Something Either Way
Just like the consequences of time spent looking at porn (broken relationships, guilt, and shame), building relationships has a price. The cost always includes energy to step outside our comfort zone to interact with others. It is work to ask good questions, give genuine compliments and meet the needs of others. I also risk embarrassment that I won’t measure up, or that I may encounter conflict. Yet interacting with others has an upside: we become fully alive as we live the way God intended. People are good for us.
God Values Fellowship
Time spent with others is usually God honoring. We are made to have fellowship with others. In that time, we can encourage and be encouraged. “We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.” (1 John 1:3) In the end, fellowship is designed to result in greater connection to God for all involved.
Interacting With Others in Relationship is Guilt Free
The most wonderful emotions I feel tonight are the joy of connecting with others and the lack of guilt from what I did today. My day was spent in valuable experiences building great memories. I laughed. I listened to others and what they had to say. They valued me too. Someone even told me they loved me. That is the reality I want to purposefully build for myself.
Be Intentional, Don’t Drift
With something as valuable as building your reality, don’t just let it happen. Don’t lay around the house waiting to see who will call or watching TV. Call someone to come over. Get out of the house. Attend God honoring events where like-minded people will be found. With intentional planning, you can have purpose in your day and control what memories of your day, week, month and year will look like. You can build a positive reality as you live the way God planned for you, in fellowship with other believers.