Friday, March 8, 2013
Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Author’s Note: Recovery from sex addiction is not just about stopping fantasies, it is about replacing those fantasies with a vision.
Sex addicts must develop a vision. A vision is a clear idea of God's calling, plan, and purpose for one's life. It is a picture of where we want to go with our lives. If we don't know where we are going, we can't get there. The Bible says that people without vision perish (Proverbs 29:18).
When the addicts develop a sense of their true calling, their vision, they have a much easier time staying sober. Everything they do falls in line with achieving higher
Here are examples of vision statements for sex addicts:
- I seek to serve my spouse and not hurt her anymore.
- I want to share the message of hope and sobriety with other men who still struggle.
- I want my children to be raised in a safer home that I was.
- I hope to be able to repay all the money I spent on my addiction.
- I seek to make amends to those I've harmed.
This is not an exhaustive list. Notice that these vision statements help strengthen your resolve to stay sober. In my own experience, the vision of no longer hurting my wife kept me from acting out countless times.
Vision statements become the foundation of outlining specific strategies. Marvin's vision was to share his mes¬sage of hope with others. He approached his pastor and asked if there were other men the pastor knew who struggled with sexual addiction. Marvin arranged meetings with these men and told his story. Later, these men planned a workshop at their church and brought in a speaker to address sexual purity. After the workshop, over fifty men signed up to be in a support group to stay sexually pure. Marvin's vision led to a dynamic ministry at his church. While he was pursuing it, it gave him the conviction and strength to stay sober so he could continue to be a witness to others.
Having a vision creates energy because it aligns us with God's purposes and enables us to find our true giftedness.
Living out our vision may even include using the pain of past experiences to reach out, witness to, and help others. Paul says God is the Father of all compassion and comfort, "who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble" (2 Corinthians 1:4). Even those who have lost careers because of addiction may find that recovery opens the door to God's larger plan. In the early days of my recovery, if anyone had told me I would one day speak, teach, write and counsel others all over the world, I would have thought they were completely crazy. These are the kinds of doors God opens when we seek his will in our lives.
I have described how fantasy is an attempt to meet needs and heal wounds by imagining false solutions. Vision, on the other hand, is imagining God's plan for our lives and finding that in so doing, we legitimately meet our own needs and heal our wounds.
Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Thursday, January 17, 2013
The healing journey is a process of changing old addictive and destructive behaviors into new and healthy ones. It has several stages. I often talk to people who want to be healed in a hurry. They are discouraged at how long the journey takes. But a life that took a lifetime to destroy may take a lifetime to rebuild. Don't be disheartened. Some positive and joyful changes do occur immediately, but enduring and life-transforming change has its ups and downs and is a long journey.
It is helpful to understand the process of change as we embark on the healing journey. Old behavior is sinful and destructive. It is the old status quo. Old behavior is how we have coped and survived since we were children. Like sexual addiction, even though it may be killing us, it is what we know.
Awareness happens when we identify a behavior we need to change. Perhaps someone challenges us or we read about healthy behavior. Or we surrender our lives to Christ and realize we much change our sinful ways. Every sex addict encounters countless times when he or she is aware of the need to change, but, old behavior is so familiar and so strong the addict keeps going back to it.
Steve had been looking at pornography and masturbating since he was in middle school. He had also been sexual with several girls in high school. In college, he continued his pattern until he met Jean and fell in love. Jean was a Christian and wanted to follow biblical values about sex. Steve went along because he loved her so much. He found himself masturbating more but thought that would stop when he and Jean got married. Steve became a Christian and accepted that he too needed to embrace sexual purity as his goal. Despite this awareness and his love of Jean, he couldn't stop looking at pornography and masturbating. After getting married and having a normal sexual life with Jean, he was shocked and despondent at his inability to stop.
Chaos occurs when we become willing to change and make real efforts to do so. Since this is new ground, we don't know how to act or what to do. The old behaviors are gone, but we haven't learned new ones yet. Chaos is confusing, frightening, and painful.
Steve finally stopped his sinful sexual behaviors. He was proud of himself for that, but he also became more anxious and depressed. He was confused by this because he thought finding moral "victory" would eliminate his behaviors.
In the next stage of change, we practice new awareness, new skills, new relationships, and new spirituality. We keep doing what pastors, counselors, and wiser people tell us to do.
Steve kept going to support group meetings and to therapy. He and Jean also worked hard on new experiences with emotional and spiritual intimacy. It was difficult and there were often setbacks, but Steve held onto his vision of sexual purity.
Ultimately, we practice long enough that new choices become new behaviors, the new status quo. We also add other new behaviors along the way that impact our faith, our relationships, and all of our actions. Each time we seek to change, we experience a great deal of anxiety and pain. However, as we mature and develop, this anxiety diminishes each time we make healthy changes. This is the journey of healing.
I like to think of the process of change in the context of the epic Old Testament journey that led the Jewish people out of captivity in Egypt and into the Promised Land.
(from Healing The Wounds of Sexual Addiction by Dr. Mark Laaser ~ Process of Change based on the theories of Virginia Satir)