“God may also have things for us to learn through difficulty as well as ways for us to grow by “walking through the valley of the shadow of death.”
There is a commercial running on tv these days showing a mother entering the bedroom of her teenage son. You can imagine the smell of sweaty workout clothes, leftover food, and perhaps a bed that has not been changed in a while. The solution? Not what you might think. Instead of getting down to a thorough cleaning, or encouraging her son to do so, the mother simply opens up a can and sprays some sweet fragrance all over the room and walks out. Problem solved? Hardly.
Recovery from sex addiction (or any addiction) is a bit like that. In a sense, addictions are temporary “solutions” to deep seated problems. Take emotions for example. When boredom, fear, resentment, anger or other negative feelings arise, acting out with porn or fantasy shows up like the sweet smelling spray. Ah, temporary relief!
But long-term consequences gradually take hold. Secrecy, deception, dishonesty, and broken relationships eventually cascade down on us. By God’s grace we might eventually learn to live with temporary discomfort or painful emotions. We learn this a lot like getting down to cleaning the teenage bedroom from the bottom up. It takes work.
Recovery takes time and effort. Those who want the “quick fix” often bring in same selfish attitude that got them in trouble. This needs changing or recovery eludes us. Honest sharing, meeting attendance, Step work, forgiveness, learning to give instead of take, and a whole lot of “processing” are some of the work it takes over months and years. We were devoted to our addiction over many years. Good recovery will take similar devotion. It is worth the effort as many recovering sex addicts tell us.
“Sex addiction is in part an attempt to guarantee a pleasurable outcome in this life and on our own terms.”
A lot of recovery literature speaks about the willingness to “surrender outcomes.” This not only means “living life on life’s terms.” It also means accepting that “pain is the pathway to peace.” Pain is simply a part of life, a reality many of us have refused to accept, leading directly to our addiction. Sex addiction is in part an attempt to guarantee a pleasurable outcome in this life and on our own terms. This is much like spraying a teenager’s room with sweet air freshener. It not only covers over the problem. It introduces a whole lot of inevitable and painful consequences. In the end, our refusal to accept pain as part of life actually leads to greater pain.
Many of us are learning to accept that not every uncomfortable situation resolves itself on our timetable. Demanding that it does can lead us away from reality and into trouble. God may also have things for us to learn through difficulty as well as ways for us to grow by “walking through the valley of the shadow of death.”
On the cross, Jesus refused to drink the cheap wine that would have dulled his senses. His surrender meant not controlling the outcome. The greatest apostles, Peter and Paul refused to accept the pain of surrender before they “let go absolutely” and followed Jesus.
Our enemy tells us we cannot surrender outcomes. He uses the fact that we have become so used to the sweet smelling but deceptive spray that now controls us. But Jesus wants to show us a better way. He wants to show us that if we are willing to walk with him unconditionally, we will find a life we could never have thought possible. We might just possibly regain our souls. The AA Big Book has a phrase many of us come back to again and again. “Acceptance is the answer to all my problems.” If we can truly accept that God has a good plan in all that happens to us, (Romans 8:28), then we can surrender outcomes for our benefit and for the blessing of those around us. And we will know peace.
In the Lust Bearer,
Living Without Lust
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