Sex addicts are on shame overload. Men who struggle with sexual integrity issues are carrying around tons of shame and it is practically unbearable. In fact for some, the weight is unbearable, thus they off-load it onto other people. If you’re married to someone who struggles with sexual integrity issues you probably know this. Chances are he has shamed and belittled you, perhaps even over petty things, and has attempted to make you the point of origin for many relational problems. Some call it blame shifting; I call it shame shifting.
The basis and root of shame is in the core belief system of the addict. That belief system is flawed for someone who struggles with these issues. They believe they are worthless, defective, unworthy of love and forgiveness. That is not what is presented on the surface though. There is usually an elaborate and complex system of masks the addict uses to project quite the opposite of the core beliefs. The face they put on enables them to fit in, find acceptance or respect and find compassion and nurturing. For many addicts, life can become a giant game of ping-pong. They bounce from relationship-to-relationship, job-to-job, hobby-to-hobby, status symbol-to-status symbol looking for something or someone to provide a brief reprieve from the shame. The painful reality is that along the way, they actually lose themselves. They lose their authentic, true identity. Again, wives of sex addicts easily identify this. I can’t tell you how often I hear a wife say, “he is not the man I know he can be. I’m certain that inside him there is a man of honor and integrity, worthy of my respect.”
I remember what that felt like. To realize and acknowledge that I didn’t know who I was. Scary as hell. Talk about feeling lost, lonely and insecure. I never want to end up their again. The good news is I don’t have to. And neither do you! God longs for us to be who He says we are and is faithful to refine us towards that end. God uniquely hand-crafted you and has a purpose for you. That purpose and identity are firmly rooted in your sonship; in who you are in Him. If lost, lonely and insecure are all too familiar feelings, chances are shame is weighing you down. Spend some time this week researching what God says about you and see if anything strikes a chord. It may help to relieve some of the shame. Here are a few suggestions to begin…
John 15:16, Psalm 139:4,13,14, Psalm 56:8, Ephesians 3:16-18, Philippians 1:6
Lately I’ve been reminded that I’m not the best CEO of my life. Seriously, I don’t manage my life very well. If outcomes are up to me, they probably aren’t going to be that positive. That’s not a statement of shame or of low self-esteem; it’s a statement of fact. If I look back on my track record as CEO I have mostly brokenness to show for it:
- porn addiction
- serial adultery
- emotional abuse
- angry outbursts
- general disrespect for people
When I deal honestly with myself I can say that I don’t run Jason Martinkus Inc. very well. I am inept. I am incompetent. And that’s exactly why I need a savior.
If my own thinking, wisdom, creativity, craftiness, planning and executing served to bring success, happiness, significane to life and meaningful relationships then I wouldn’t need a savior. There would be no space for God’s sovereignty and power, for his miracles, for his grace and mercy, for his peace, or for the Holy Spirit to intercede. If I did a perfect job of learning from my mistakes then I’d have this life down to a science. I wouldn’t need God’s art.
This is the essence of Step 1 of the 12 Steps. To admit that we are powerless over our sin and that our lives are unmanageable. To surrender the notion that we’ve got it altogether. To remove ourselves from the altar of our lives. But it’s more than just admitting and surrendering, it is also redefining our identity. You see, I am incompetent to run my life well, but that is not my identity. I’m not worthless or less lovable because of my inability to manage things. I’m not a lesser human. It simply means I’m not a savior, and that I need a savior. Our identity is found in the reality of God’s infinite love and acceptance of us. Incompetence and all. It’s in the fact that he knew the depth of our brokenness and chose us anyway.
If you’re running You Inc., I encourage you to fire yourself. Hand over the corporate controls to Jesus. You may not be the best CEO of your life – and that doesn’t define you. It means you need a savior.