Celebrate Good Times

Too often men who struggle with sexual integrity issues are so ashamed they are unable to celebrate the good times. It’s vitally important to remember that some days are gifts; they’re good days, untainted by lust and licentiousness. Sure, it’s easy to get down in the dumps and feel depressed and hopeless after acting out again. But whether or not there is progress is up to you. And that progress will be highlighted and accentuated by celebrating good days and victories.

In the midst of an addiction, we often end up measuring life by the days since we last acted out. Whether it’s a couple days or a couple months, we attribute our sense of well-being and worth to the amount of time that has elapsed since we “did it again”. This, unfortunately, keeps us locked into believing lies about ourselves. The lies go like this:

– “You’re a hypocrite; you call yourself a Christian? You just looked at porn ___ days ago”

– “It’s only a matter of time before you do it again – don’t get your hopes up”

– ” You’re a pervert. You would be completely rejected if anyone knew what you were really doing”

– “You’re unworthy of love and forgiveness”

– “The world would be better off without you”

You see, the truth is, some days you are striving to be a man of integrity. Some days you do have character. Some days you can hold your head high regarding your husband-ship or your parenting. Some days you can be proud of your ministry. And those days have to be celebrated. Maybe not by the people closest to you. In fact, probably not by your wife or anyone else you’ve hurt by your actions. But internally, between you and God, I urge you to take a few moments and acknowledge that the day is a good day. To thank Him for the gift of integrity that day. You might find your spirits lifted and the veil of hopelessness start to lift if you begin to measure your life by the days that you do live with integrity, rather than the days that you don’t.

 

 

I’m not the best CEO of my life.

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
  • objectification
  • lies

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.

Exits & Off-Ramps

“Is there something you need to tell me?”

On at least two different occasions during the first few years of our marriage Shelley would ask me that question. I’ll never forget one night as we were lying in bed about to doze off, probably 10:30pm, she asked me completely out of the blue. No prompting, no warning, no preface or qualifiers; just the most cutting question I’d ever been asked to that point. Panic ensued internally. My answer?

“Nope. Nothing. Good night.”

In hindsight, I can see what it was all about. It was God’s grace. It was his Spirit stirring in her soul to give me an opportunity to end my addiction. I simply wasn’t willing to take it. Freedom was a confession away and I was too reluctant to grab hold of it. God tells us clearly in His word that he’ll show up to offer us a way through and out of temptation:

1 Corinthians 10:13 – The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.

Once we’ve taken the on-ramp to the highway of lies and acting out it is easy to fly past all the possible exits. Unfortunately, when we’ve got the cruise-control set and we’re headed towards wrecking things again, exits don’t really look like exits; they look like road blocks. It can feel like there is no way off the turnpike and we’re paying tolls with our sanity. At first  glance it appears like we would be crazy to crash ourselves into them.

Full disclosure is one such exit. It seems ludicrous to think that telling someone every dark detail of our story would help end our addiction to sin. It feels like things would only get worse, not better, to tell our spouse the truth. But it may just be the way God has planned for you. It was for me. He gave me multiple opportunities to end my addiction by coming clean and telling Shelley the truth. I was unwilling to take the off-ramp. That is, until the day came that I realized I would die if I didn’t stop. Literally, I almost drove my truck off a north Dallas highway early one morning after acting out again. Perhaps God has already shown you some possible exits in your life? Confiding in a friend or pastor, joining a support group, or attending an EMB workshop to name a few.

Sometimes the way out of temptation looks nothing like we thought it would. God, in his loving wisdom, knows exactly what we need and when we need it. Often His offering of hope comes when we least expect it in a way we wouldn’t expect it. If you’re struggling with sexual temptation and sin keep your eyes wide open for exits and off-ramps. God is faithful to show them to you.