Learning to Live Within Limits in Our Recovery

Clint Thomas

Do you like to live within limits? Chances are, if you checked your Sunday school answers at the door, you answered no. Sometimes it becomes very easy to think like our individualistic culture and say, ‘everything I want can and will be mine.’ We may begin to think very much like an entitled two-year old whose favorite word is ‘mine.’

Unfortunately this attitude can hurt us in the long run.

Have you ever watched TV all day, or eaten nothing but junk for one day? By the end of the day you feel no energy for anything. It might have been enjoyable in a small dose but excess leads to misery.

And so it goes in our recovery. We have taken a good thing that God made (sex) and overused and misused it to the point that it is no longer truly satisfying.

Because we tend to dislike limits we tend to think pushing the limits will increase satisfaction when all it does is lead us into a prison of misery that may feel hopeless to escape.

This tendency to push limits and want more may have cost some their job, wife, children, and /or dignity. More subtly it produces a lack of intimacy leaving relationships feeling empty and unsatisfying. It also may lead to habits that become so ingrained that they go unnoticed.

One of these is hyperstimulation. You know this one. It plays out like this-someone during a meeting at work says something and you smirk because you thought about the obscure sexual innuendo. Your colleague asks you what is funny and you say embarrassed, ‘Oh, nothing.’ Or how about the way the eyes wander when and where they are not supposed to automatically. It’s enough to make a man want to throw his hands up and say, ‘this is just the way I am wired’ and give in to the impulses. What’s missing is an understanding that you have trained yourself to live without limits.

Now its time to train yourself to live within limits.

Proverbs 7:7 says, ‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.’  We have been fools that need wisdom and discipline. God’s Ten Commandments give us perfect picture of what this wisdom and discipline look like. I once had a wise teacher who gave a picture of how the Ten Commandments operate. Imagine life is like a playground. On the playground are lots of games and playground equipment that are fun and good for play. There is a fence around the playground. The teacher tells you that you can have lots of guaranteed safe fun within the limits of the fence. He also tells you that you have the freedom to go outside the fence but he cannot guarantee fun there, in fact you may get hurt.

Gentlemen some of us have played outside the fence and have gotten hurt. The good news is God lets us come back on the playground and have fun with the rest of the kids. This does not mean that the games you played outside of the fence aren’t still attractive or that the games inside the fence seem as fun at first. We now have to go about the task of deadening our taste for those games on the outside and develop a taste for the games on the inside.

Practically we may have to increase accountability about Internet use or terminate it altogether for a time. We may have to get rid of cable. We will need to develop some real intimacy with others and get an accountability partner and an accountability group. Engage in effort to get to know your wife better. Actively engage in more Bible study, meditation, and prayer.

Developing and practicing habits like these will begin to ground you and you will grow to appreciate and even cherish the limits of your recovery.

For more help on this subject, see Every Man’s Battle.
If you have already attended Every Man’s Battle, please join us–with your wife–at our next New Life Weekend.

6 Renewable Resources for your Recovery

New Life Ministries

1. Time: We never feel like we have enough, yet one day turns into a week, turns into a month. Take the first step by setting a short term goal, and do it today. Do not put off till tomorrow’ .

2. Work: God has put you in the work or ministry you are in to serve his purposes. Begin each day by asking ‘What Lord would you have me do today’?

3. Possessions: Learn to hold on loosely to the things of this world, or they will hold on to you. Another question you can ask, ‘What Lord, would you have me to do with this possession?’ It isn’t wrong to have things, it begins to cause trouble when the things have us.

4. Insights: When God gives us insight, it allows us to develop discernment. Don’t ignore it! Write it down or share it with someone. Ask God how he wants you to use your insight to help others, or yourself.

5. Relationships: Sometimes we think others exist to serve us or our purposes. Even if we don’t say it out loud, we experience self-centeredness from time to time. Pray that God will bless your relationships that they would serve to bring him glory.

6. ‘Chance’ meetings: Sometimes we dread meeting new people; parties and potlucks hold us captive to our fear of not measuring up. Begin to look for the opportunity that God provides for his purposes. Connection doesn’t happen without our cooperation.


6 Steps Toward A Richer Spiritual Life!

New Life Ministries

1. Learn to fast. Whether it’s denial of food or some other pleasure for a period of time, deny yourself in order to find yourself in a greater relationship with God. Fasting can satisfy various spiritual needs, not the least of which is as scripture says ‘humble your souls.’

2. Use a journal to note your spiritual journey. Spend a few minutes at the end or beginning of the day to pour out your thoughts to God in writing (or on your PC). By reviewing what you’ve written, you can discover how much you’ve grown or not in your walk with God.

3. Go on a pilgrimage or retreat. Look for retreat opportunities, visit holy places, sacred sites, and spend extended time in prayer, meditation, and conversation with God. Retreats offer time away from our routine, and we can learn new ways to connect with God.

4. Create a place of prayer in your congregation. Designate an area in the building that is quiet and private, that can be an open door to people who are seeking to connect with God. Do the same at home, find a quiet place to meet God regularly.

5. Practice acts of kindness. Look around your neighborhood, read your newspaper about those who are hurting, be alert to the needs of the down-and-out, the poor, the shunned. Then do what you can to help with a kind word, a helping hand, a donation. Commit to do at least one such act a day. In doing so, your focus will be less on your needs and wants and more on others.

6. Read God’s word daily. When you fill yourself with the wisdom of God at the beginning of your day, you don’t look around to other people, things, and activities to fill your life. God will satisfy the needs of your lives if only you will seek him.