I can clearly remember the crushing weight of carrying my secret porn addiction onto the church stage each week. It felt like a million pounds on my chest. At times I wondered whether or not a person could die from stress. If so, I certainly felt like a candidate.
I would regularly commit to myself that this will be the last time, only to find myself feeling frustrated and defeated after ‘acting out’ again. I felt like I had tried everything. I used X3watch. I tried avoiding the internet. I got “accountabili-buddies.” I prayed, pleaded, and begged God to save me from myself. But no matter what I did, the problem only seemed to get worse.
My life went on like that for twelve frustrating years before I finally found a sponsor, a support group, and, eventually, my sobriety. Since then I’ve not only learned how to break the bonds of addiction in my life, I’ve also learned a lot about what I did that kept me living out destructive patterns over and over again.
If you’re anything like me and you are still carrying around a secret that is killing you, watch out for these things. One or some of them could be why you’re still struggling to find success.
1. Pride is chronic.
Everyone is prideful to some degree – no one is immune. It was pride that drove me to say things like, “If I could just…” or “All I need to do is…” But the truth is, I was powerless to control my tendency to do the wrong thing. And my life had become unmanageable. (If those last two sentences sound familiar, it’s because they’re two of the twelve steps in recovery.)
If you’re struggling to conquer your sin, a prideful attitude may be what’s standing in your way. In that case, the prescription is to work toward understanding that you’re powerless. This can be tough for pastors and church leaders, because we’re supposed to have all the answers, right? But even we are powerless against our addictions, and the sooner we accept that, the sooner we can get a handle on them.
2. A jacked-up view of God.
God is all powerful, right? Of course He is! I never had a problem believing that. I grew up going to church and was always completely familiar with God’s power. My problem was that I didn’t believe God wanted to help ME. I prayed fervently for God to remove my affliction. When He didn’t seem to be doing so, I took it as evidence that He was done with me.
If that resonates with you, then you’re experiencing shame. Shame is the belief that, while others simply make mistakes, you ARE a mistake. Breaking away from shame is no easy task, but it can be done. If you need a good place to begin, start with what the Bible says about you in 2 Corinthians 5:21; Romans 5:8; Romans 8:37-39.
3. It wasn’t painful enough yet.
One time I called my sponsor after I had just relapsed. I whined about my defeat, and asked why I had failed. I’ll never forget his response:
“Any living creature, in pain for long enough, will eventually do something about it. I know you’re in pain, but maybe you’re not in enough pain to do what is necessary for you to get better. It’s not the end of the world. It just means you haven’t hit your bottom yet. Don’t worry you’ll get there.”
I did, and it hurt. But it finally hurt enough for me to do something about it.
Do you see any or all of these three things happening in your life? Today can be the day of your redemption, the day you turn it around for good.