Final Four

After the brief detour to talk about the many faces of a man in recovery, we’re getting back on track. Time to round out the discussion on Secondary Boundaries. What we’ve covered so far:

  1. Geographic
  2. Situational
  3. Relational
  4. Intellectual
  5. Psychological
  6. Financial

Now for the final 4.

7. Emotional feelings. This is the stuff going on at a heart level that might propel us into the addictive cycle. It is important to identify and acknowledge which emotions increase your propensity to medicate. That said, we have to go to the deepest levels. For example, Anger is easy to identify. However, underneath that anger may be hurt, fear, failure, shame or disappointment. We must identify those. Stress is a common one. But when many people say stress, what they mean is they feel overwhelmed and fearful of failure. Some guys act out when they feel excited and happy. Others when they feel sad, lonely or rejection.

8. Spiritualwhere are you and God? We know we can’t fight this alone. And we know that if God doesn’t intervene we’re hopeless. Sometimes God is near, sometimes far. In one of my groups a guy described his relationship with God like this: “I feel like I’m a member of a large audience, 1000’s of people, and I know God the way I know the speaker on a stage. He doesn’t know me, he just knows I’m out there. I don’t really know him, but I know he’s up there speaking, and I should be listening.” Living in that relational space with God could be a space where you act out sexually. Or perhaps when you feel like God is miles away. Or maybe even when you come off a mountain top high with God, like after a mens retreat. The important thing here is again to raise your awareness and plan for those occasions.

9. Physiological – think body. It is unfortunately too frequent for guys to say that crossed a line and acted out sexually because of some bodily urge. Is there a reality to our cycles of sperm production and the feelings of needing a release? Yes. And did God make appropriations in our bodies for that release? Yes. Which means we don’t have to take matters into our own hands (literally or figuratively). Don’t let natural urges be the driver on acting out. Create plans around physiological boundaries. Limit time laying in bed in the morning, or limit time in the shower. Double check your motive for pursuing sexual intimacy with your wife. Don’t give yourself the excuse that your urges and just natural impulses and thus you are entitled to some behavior. I always come back to this verse when thinking about these boundaries:

Jude 1:10b – and what things they do understand by instinct, like unreasoning animals – these are the very things that destroy them.

10. Technologicalanything related to technology. We’ve heard so many of the stories of guys acting out using playstations, kindles, ipads, cellphones, laptops, etc. There’s an endless supply of media devices to be used for evil or good. Don’t be so careless as to think that using an online device is safe. It is not. There is always a risk, even if you have a filters in place. Create safeguards around how & when you use technology. Make sure your accountability folks know those boundaries and help you be accountable for them.

Hopefully this info is helpful. Another reminder, the goal isn’t to have a narrow, boxed in life. It is to have freedom because we have guard rails that keep us from getting off in the ditch.

3 Things We Must Admit for Recovery

I’ve been thinking a little bit about the core beliefs of sexually addicted men and how skewed they are. Our actions and reactions to life are predicated on our core beliefs. If they are slightly out of whack, not grounded in biblical truth or altogether false we are sure to stay stuck. Here are 3 core beliefs I think every man must acknowledge and admit in order to see his sanctification and recovery process move forward.

1 – BELIEF: Sex is vitally important to my well-being. ADMISSION: Sex is something I’ve come to value too highly and I am willing to trust God with it.

It was a huge hurdle for me to surrender sex. I’d say I trust God with my finances, my health, my business, my kids and their health, etc. etc. But trust God with my sex? Let Him be in charge of whether or not I ever have it again? Yikes. And it was a fundamental shift that was absolutely necessary for me to find freedom. The prayer went something like this: “OK God. I’ve put too much importance on sex. But I don’t want to undervalue it either! So you be the judge and you be the determining factor. If I never have sex again; I trust you. If I have frequent sex again; I trust you. As the author of the act, I trust you”.

2 – BELIEF: If anyone knows the truth about my struggle they will reject me. ADMISSION: I have to face rejection to find freedom.

I hate rejection. Even that little tinge of rejection I feel when I’m at a summer BBQ with folks I don’t really know and it seems like I’m odd man out for the conversations going on. Yuck. Hate it. That little tinge of rejection is amplified exponentially when it comes to shameful things like my sexual struggles. I was deathly afraid of being found out. Yet being found out was the best thing that ever happened to me. Freedom is found in facing your fears. Especially rejection.

3 – BELIEF: My life goes well when I’m in control. ADMISSION: I am NOT the best CEO of my life.

This has been a tough one to learn. Over and over again. And over. Again. When I think I’m the best person to be in charge of my life something inevitably and divinely happens to remind me that its a myth. When I think I’ve got it altogether I’m kidding myself. The objective truth is that I can manage some things really well. I’m gifted in areas and can steward those gifts quite well. And the objective truth is also that when I try to manage every thing in my life, I blow it up. I am not the best CEO and that is exactly why I need a savior.

I often need a reminder of this truth; so I’ve been keeping a little note on my computer. It helps me stay grounded even as I blog.

I would love to hear what you’ve had to admit to see recovery happen in your life. I’m sure there are more than these few. Please let me know in the comments section!

 

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.