At EMB I spend a few minutes talking about humble pie. In case you don’t know, humility is the currency of relational redemption. It is humility that allows a grudge-holder to forgive, a trespasser to repent, and broken relationships to be healed. Think about it- do you really want to be close to someone who is prideful, arrogant, entitled and/or self-righteous? No way. We want to distance ourselves from people like that. If we are to draw people close to us we must assume a humble posture. That is true whether you apply it to friends, kids, spouses or mentors. If we’ve damaged one of these relationships we cannot will the other person to like us, forgive us or reconcile with us. We have to eat a large slice of humble pie and work towards being forgivable.
Too often I hear men lament that someone (usually their spouse) is required Biblically to forgive them, yet refuses to. Usually I’ll ask them if they’ve been forgivable. The answer to the question is evident in the very manner in which the guy answers: either in a humble, contrite emotional way or in a defensive, indignant, prideful way. If the latter, the issue becomes obvious.
If you are in the process of restoring broken relationships I hope you’ll have a large slice of humble pie. It is the currency with which you’ll make deposits into an entirely over-drafted account.
A friend from EMB, Steve, gave me this picture at the EMB 2.0 event. He said he was on a trip to Wales, saw the restaurant and took a pic as a reminder. Now it sits on my desk between a current picture of Shelley and I, and our wedding picture. It is a great reminder for me too.
Last weekend we hosted EMB 2.0 in San Diego. If you haven’t heard, it was an alumni event open to anyone who has attended an EMB workshop. We had guys there who went to EMB 10 years ago to as recent as 2 weeks ago. It was a great crowd. There was an energy and relaxed feel to the room the entire weekend. You could see that some guys were walking in a new freedom; a new life that was birthed at EMB 1.0.
At breakfast one morning a gentleman shared with me a few details of his journey thus far. After 40+ years of sexual addiction, he attended EMB in 2010 and began to faithfully walk out what God was calling him to. He lamented the difficulty of not going back to the addiction and the reality that sometimes he misses it. In fact, over the weekend, he had plans in the back of his mind to act out with an old mistress. He was determined to stay the course, yet struggled with giving in to the thoughts of acting out.
Then God showed up.
While considering how to engage the old addictive patterns this man pondered the opportunity to leave the workshop premises and drive to meet someone. On the way to the workshop he noticed his transmission acting up a bit though. Once he arrived on site, he got out of his car, entered the hotel and checked in. When he went back out to move his car it wouldn’t engage. The transmission simply would not go into gear. HE COULDN’T LEAVE. So he called a towing company and the car towed to a repair shop.
Later, he again was struggling with temptation. He began thinking about texting a woman. “Maybe she could just meet me here, at the hotel”, he thought. In the meantime he needed to respond to a legitimate text, so he took out his phone, clicked into the text screen and began typing. When he hit send, the phone responded with a message indicating text service was unavailable. HE COULDN’T TEXT. He literally showed me the phone that morning and attempted to send a text. I witnessed the phone message and the inability to use text service.
This isn’t the first time I’ve heard a story like this. God is faithful. He will show up. We have to look for Him. When you’re tempted, take time to think about why, and consider how God might be offering you a way out.
1 Corinthians 10:13
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
There is an interesting phenomenon that happens with addicts; even sexual addicts. It begins just after they make a commitment to change. They start to envision life without their old friend (the addiction) and it gets a little heavy. They think about what life will be like without the old coping mechanisms and thought patterns and, while they know in the long run life will be better, in the short run it seems unbearable. Then a thought kicks in: “just one more time. One last hoorah. Just indulge this one last time and enjoy it, because you will never experience it again. You deserve it”. Some say it’s the Accuser. Some say it’s the addict inside. Others say it is the mind playing tricks. However you explain it and wherever it comes from, it is entirely fraudulent.
A lot of men experience it though. It promises to fulfill one last time and, just like every other time, is a complete disappointment. What’s worse is when someone buys into the lie, they dose themselves with more shame, which perpetuates the acting out cycle and pushes them further from recovery. We hear this story all the time at EMB. A guy has been signed up to attend for a month and the week of the workshop he’ll act out. He will even say he felt like he had to have one more go ‘round. It’s like we have this core belief that we are losing something close to us, something important to us. And the truth is, for many, it is important and close. It is the security blanket of comfort and self-reliance that we’ve counted on since being a teenager. But it’s time to let it go. It is time to rely on God to be our comfort and security.
Please don’t buy the lie. Whether you have 1 day, 1 month or 1 year of sobriety, remember, you’ve begun your recovery! Don’t turn back now! It will just disappoint you again. If you are signed up for the EMB workshop, don’t take that last hoorah. You’ll thank yourself later.