How’s Your Plan Working?

For some of you reading this, Every Man’s Battle is still a fresh experience; you’re still on the mountain top, and your recovery is exciting. For others who may be a year or two removed from an EMB workshop, things have drifted back to the routine, and some of the ‘warm fuzzies’ of the workshop have faded. Whichever group you find yourself in, one thing is for sure: for your recovery to be successful and meaningful, it will be extremely important to stick to the action plan that you developed at EMB.

One of the hardest parts about sticking to the action plan, is that sometimes it gets a little mundane, a little routine. I can still picture Joe, in sweatshirt and jeans, flexing his muscles while reminding us that as guys, we’re more ‘hero’ oriented than ‘routine’ oriented. ‘Give me a burning house and a baby, and I’ll show you what a hero I can be,’ he’d say. ‘But ask me to take out the trash or get up 15 minutes earlier to put on coffee for my wife? C’mon, that’s a little boring.’ Yet that’s what recovery is all about, doing the mundane, doing the routine, and doing it consistently.

What’s the action plan that I am talking about? Well, by way of a little refresher, let’s go over the things that Joe and the EMB staff want us to do after we leave EMB. I am not going to go into the detail that Joe does, but I’ll hit the highlights. One of the things is to make sure to get an accountability partner and an accountability group. Find someone who isn’t afraid to ask you the tough questions, and who will see through if you’re trying to manipulate. This person does not have to be in recovery from sexual addiction themselves, although that is helpful, but they do need to be available, and willing to meet with you on a weekly basis; and they do need to be honest with you and demand honesty from you. If you’re married, it’s important that this person have full access to your wife, and can call her about anything that is going on in your life that is inappropriate.

Another part of the plan is for you to be seeing your pastor, or someone in leadership at your church. This will help you stay spiritually focused. And speaking of staying spiritually focused, starting off your day with some prayer and Bible reading is the best way to let your Heavenly Father know you’re grateful for all of the gifts He has given you.

Recovery is all about: doing the mundane, doing the routine, doing it consistently!

In all of the follow up calls I’ve done with EMB alumni, I have never once had a guy who was struggling or who had relapsed tell me that he was closely following his action plan. On the flip side, most of the guys who are doing well are doing most or all of their action plan. How are you doing with your follow up plan? If you don’t have a church home, call New Life–we may have a referral for a church in your area. And if you’re not spending any time with the Lord during the day, carve out 15 minutes today to do that. They may not sound like the most exciting things in the world, but it’s the ordinary things in life that we do consistently that keep us in recovery.

 

The Task of Loving

 0d064150dcb1519378afa0369507b1d3[1]When we love, we utilize all parts of ourselves. You literally bring your entire being to bear toward helping and becoming close to someone, God or human. This is why love cannot be reduced to simply an emotion, a thought, a behavior, a choice or a commitment. It involves the whole person, investing our very souls for the sake of another, loving with heart, soul and mind (Matt. 22:37).

This is why loving is so costly. To give yourself to the task of loving another isn’t worth a lot unless there is a cost involved. Time, effort, vulnerability, humility, and self-denial, are a few examples of the price tag. Yet this whole-self love has great benefits for both the lover and the receiver. The one who receives is loved well, which is the fuel for life; and the lover’s heart and soul are expanded from exercising of learning this highest attribute of God. God’s heartbeat for love was so costly that he lost his life ‘ and even then lots of people spurn it. Yet he has no regrets about loving so lavishly.

As we are loved well, and respond responsibly to the love we are given, we begin to feel a sense of gratitude for what we are receiving from God and others: we love, because we are loved (I John 4:19). Our gratefulness drives us to be concerned about the welfare of the other person, and our loved state gives us a safe foundation from which to venture out and begin helping and loving back.

Altruistic love is the most mature love. It is a giving type of love. It doesn’t need the other person’s support, and can love freely without depending on that other. It means that we have been loved so much and have used that love to mature, that we are rooted and grounded in love (Eph. 3:17). We are in a loved state, with enough emotional memories internalized through our experiences to sustain us. At the same time, altruists are never without regular, sustaining relationship with God and others in their lives. But they are deeply involved in things like charities, ministries and helping activities with those who aren’t in a position to give back to them. This is the love that constrains God to act on our welfare (John 3:16).

If this seems like a tall order in learning to love, you are right. And yet, there is no more worthy activity. Ask God to help you grow in faith and hope, but especially in love (I Cor. 13:13). It brings His grace and character into your life, both today and into eternity.

Are you struggling to love or to receive love? We’d like to help. Consider joining us on one of our Weekend Workshops or call 1800-NEW-LIFE (639-5433) for more information

 

Relationships and the Wish for Eden

There was a time when everything was perfect. It was called paradise, and the Bible refers to it as the Garden of Eden. In that place, everything was “good.” But, as the rest of the Bible tells us, and history confirms, Eden has been lost, and we live in an imperfect world. What that translates to in the world of relationships is that we will always be in relationships with people who have imperfections.

To the extent that someone has come to grip with this reality, he or she can have satisfactory relationships. He/she can accept others for who they are and solve problems. But if you still have a wish to be in the Garden where things are perfect, you will always be frustrated with the people you find yourself connected to. You’ll always want more, you’ll judge and protest the reality of who the person is and there is very little safety for love to grow.

Narcissism and perfectionism are killers to real relationship. Real love can only grow where someone’s “real self” can be known and accepted by the other person. If there are demands for perfection and the “ideal person,” then love is blocked.Love can only exist where there is freedom. Our attempts to control what another person thinks, feels, wants, does, values, believes, etc. are destined to drive him/her away, and ultimately destroy love. Love only exists as we see another person in his/her own right as a separate individual, who as Jesus said is free to do what he/she wants to with what is his/her own. Look at what Matthew 20:15 says: ‘Is it against the law for me to do what I want? Should you be angry because I am kind?’ When someone says “no”, we are to respect it. When others have choices and wishes that are different from ours, we are to respect them as well.

Are you struggling to love or to receive love? Are your relationships strained?  We’d like to help. Consider joining us on one of our Weekend Workshops or call 1800-NEW-LIFE (639-5433) for more information.