Knowing the ROCK: Knowing TRUE Intimacy in Recovery: Part 2

David Mackey

Just as false intimacy was part of what fed our addiction, True intimacy will strengthen our recovery. So this series will look at 4 of the many facets of intimacy which can be found in an intimate relationship with God AND with others.

This is our design: to have intimacy with both God and Others.

Last month we looked at the Psalms and discovered that David used the word pictures Rock, Refuge, and Fortress interchangeably. For David, God, as his Rock, Refuge or Fortress is intimacy. Most often when David uses these descriptions they are associated with terms and phrases that are actually part of intimate relationships. In other words, David equated knowing God as his Rock, Refuge, and Fortress with knowing God intimately.

Perhaps one of the more common and basic counseling issues I come across in my practice has to do with shame. Is it any surprise? We are a people based in shame. It can manifest itself in so many different ways. It is first seen in the Garden of Eden after Adam and Eve sinned and we have carried the shame mantle ever since.

Check out our primary text: Psalms 31:1, In you, O LORD, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame’‘.

David begins by equating taking refuge in God with never being put to shame. Again, in Psalm 25:20 David says ‘let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.’ Yet again in Psalms 71:1, David repeats Psalm 31:1 saying In you, O LORD, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame.’

Is there any greater source of shame then the misuse of our God-given sexuality? That’s why it was such a well hidden secret. We wouldn’t have dreamed to actually share this with anyone. Certainly we carry shame in our sin.

What a wonderful invitation God gives us through David! God invites us to know Him as our Rock, Refuge, and Fortress and in so doing never be put to shame! This is what He wants in our relationships with others as well.

One of the more profound observations at the EMB (Every Man’s Battle) Workshops is to see men arrive Wednesday night with shame (along with fear) written all over their very countenance.

Then a remarkable thing happens. The men tell their stories in all their shame to other men and strangers in a small group. And perhaps for the first time they know they are being listened to, heard and understood and NOT put to shame. In understanding they are accepted. In the listening is heard repentance and sorrow. They are tasting of an aspect of intimacy. They have shared their shameful secret with another and they have been understood and accepted. They have allowed ‘In-To-Me-See’ and have been accepted; not judged, not condemned, not belittled.

These men also find themselves on the giving end of intimacy. They listen to another’s story; they see into another and find themselves listening and understanding and accepting that man.

Everyone connects, perhaps in a way never experienced previously. False Intimacy had hindered and destroyed any possibility of True Intimacy in the past. Now they are experiencing it for perhaps the first time. This needs to be a piece of recovery.

God, of course, offers us a far greater acceptance. He will not put us to shame as we let Him be our Rock, Refuge and Fortress.

Certainly He throws our sin as far as the east is from the west’ because of the work of Christ on the cross. But that is not the emphasis David focuses on. He focuses on the picture of a man sitting in the safety of the cleft of a Rock or within a Fortress or Refuge. God is that Rock and so surrounded by, held by, and protected by God we share our sin, our struggle, our failure and He only holds us tighter, listens more deeply, protects use more. He does NOT put us to shame. He just accepts. He just loves us deeply.

Intimacy: Knowing God as your Rock.

What will recovery be like knowing God in a way in which we are no longer put to shame? We can sit and look Jesus in the eye and share our deepest struggles.

What will recovery be like knowing others in a way in which we are no longer put to shame? We can sit and look another in the eye and share our deepest struggles.

One final thought: Intimacy is a two-way thing. It is not just being able to share with God but him, through His Word and Spirit shares with us. He lets us look into His heart and mind. How wonderful is that?!! And how powerful is that in recovery?

In our recovery, we need to develop intimacy with God and others. We also need to invite others to find shame-free safety in finding intimacy with us.

In Psalm 31, David starts with one of the deepest aspects of intimacy perhaps because we all long so deeply to be free of our shame. We long for someone to look ‘In-To Me and See’ past our ‘ugliness’ and find value and wonderment. Remember, God told Samuel that David was a ”man after my own heart.’ Perhaps this is because David, as seen in the Psalms speaks to God, full of emotion, with heart, soul, mind, and strength.

In your recovery pursue the path of true intimacy with all you being. This is not a command from God but it is an invitation. Terrifying, in our sin to be sure, but it is what we were created for and it will bring real fulfillment and a strong recovery.

Part 1, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5

When Doubt Invades The Heart

Bob Damrau

There are two universal qualities that are foundational to this week’s topic. First, every man having been made in God’s image and likeness is a person of dignity.  Then God spoke to Adam and said, ‘Every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat(Genesis 2:16-17). Adam then made a character choice. Today, it is our’s.

Second, every man since Adam (except one) is a person of depravity, i.e., we sometimes make wrong choices. The third chapter of Genesis informs us that ‘he ate.’ When Adam saw his wife being deceived and that she broke God’s law he had no confidence that the goodness of God would resolve the mess Eve had created. After all, forgiveness was never required up to that point in time. So, Adam attempted to solve this new problem by joining his wife in sin. Eve doubted that God was good. Adam doubted that God was good enough. That active disposition to abuse freedom in a self-centered manner has been passed along to you and me.

VERTICAL DOUBT

A client once said to me, ‘God seems far away.’ This man had lost his job and his house. His wife’s physical health was deteriorating and his own emotional health was marked by depression. Antidepressant medication didn’t seem to help. He doubted God and was angry at Him because of what he perceived as His mistreatment of him. All this, in his eyes, deprived his life of meaning.

When we perceive God as malevolent and unpredictable’despite everything His revelation in the Lord Jesus tells us’we can become sick in mind, emotions and body. When the trials of life seem to strengthen our doubts, we tend to take control in an effort to make up for what is thought to be God’s lack of goodness or greatness. We shift our trust from Him to someone or something less.

HORIZONTAL DOUBT

When doubt invades the heart it affects each of us at the relational level. The fall brought about a reversal of man’s rule over the earth to the point that it fights back with thorns. Man’s task went from trimming and dressing the garden, to toiling against the soil in order to eke out an existence. Whenever we give up on this task, the impact of the reversal becomes evident. Instead of subduing the earth, we allow the environment to dictate our behaviors.

A core desire in every man is to pursue and deeply impact a woman. Coexisting with this desire is the core reality that our drive to initiate leaves us at great risk of exposing our inability to fully understand a woman. We doubt ourselves. We tend to feel inadequate. Our thoughts reflect a shameful self-image as we think, ‘I don’t have what it takes to love a woman.’ In his book, Inside Out, Dr. Larry Crabb says, ‘The problem (men face) is threatened sexuality, an inevitable consequence of moving away from God. The symptom of the problem is sinful sexual expression. The function of the symptom is to provide a counterfeit, momentary sense of maleness . . . (but) that, too, is sinful.’ It appears easier to pursue a fantasy and maintain a false intimacy, while the genuine article seems to evade us.

OVERCOMING DOUBT

There are two more universal qualities that are germane to this discussion.
First, every man is a dependent person. Our first, ever, problem is recorded in Genesis 2:18, when God, Himself, said, ‘It is not good that man should be alone.’ We need one another in order to survive in a place that can not fulfill our deepest needs. You don’t have to, nor are you required to go it alone. Get healthy and stay connected.

Second, every man is a person of duty. ‘God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to tend and keep it(Genesis 2:15).

We are designed to serve Someone greater than ourselves. When we do not come to grips with this characteristic, our behaviors often reflect our depravity. Some call this a worship disorder.

Until we are adequately connected to God and others, we will try to preserve our fragile self-image, but when the focus of our love is only inward, we can not adequately build the relationships our hearts long for. Love God with your whole heart and others from your heart, and doubt will diminish.

The Courage to Come Out of Hiding

Sam Fraser

One of the consequences of the fall is that shame makes us hide. It is the natural outcome of eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. When we sexually act out, instead of turning to the Father and asking for help we run 180 degrees in the opposite direction. Moving out of the light to conceal our secret into the darkness to hide our shame and sin. We put on our fig leaves and hide our nakedness. We prefer the wilderness instead of remaining in the garden in His Presence. We know we have sinned and have done wrong and our first impulse is to hide. That is what shame makes us feel. We judge and condemn ourselves.

Then there is the self-talk: you did it again, how could you? Was it worth it, the bad feeling in the pit of our stomach? How dare you ask for forgiveness again? We can get depressed. We beat ourselves up. Often many of us will essentially voluntarily isolate ourselves, feeling unworthy and deserving of banishment. Our sex drive seems impossible to overcome. As rebellious reprobates, we deserve judgment and punishment for our failings and shortcomings. So we feel we have no other choice but to do what Adam and Eve did–we’re naked so we hide and cover ourselves. We stay exiled, self-imposed. Because of our shame we feel we have no other place to turn. Even though we know there is good news because of what Jesus has done on the cross, it no longer seems to apply. We may feel that we have already used up all of the grace from what Jesus had done on the cross. Even though mentally we know this is not true, it feels like it is true.

Let’s spend some time unpacking that spiritual truth in this context because what good is this truth if we can’t apply it to real life situations? And this qualifies as a real life situation. It takes trust to believe that we are forgiven. That this latest acting out or series of failures is under the blood as well. Particularly after we have failed for the umpteen thousand millionth time. The audacity to believe that God’s love for us can once again be extended to us takes real bravery of the most spiritual kind. It takes trust that His love is still greater than our self-condemnation. It takes faith that this is true. We know that mentally, but to let it minister to our hearts is more difficult.

For some of us, we can accept that the Lord has forgiven us. We can believe that alone with the Lord, but to share it with someone else can be frightening. It takes courage to once again confess our acting out and the resulting shame and humiliation time after time. Feeling hopeless and full of despair we often prefer to quit than to open up to someone else and risk humiliation. We feel like quitting since there is nowhere to turn, and we can’t seem to resist this powerful drive. We may feel that there is no hope, and we are to remain as an outcast. We can play church, but as a hypocrite, in our shame and guilt, concealed by our fig leaves. To be exposed in our naked state and remain there takes courage of the most spiritual kind.

We need to realize that we have gone as far as we can alone by ourselves in isolation. We have to choose disclosure. The isolation of trying to wrestle with this issue alone only result in more of the same, bondage. We have to come out of hiding. It is important to find other men that will provide a safe compassionate place for us to confess our sin and shame and allow them to be Jesus with skin on for our repentance. Being associated with Every Man’s Battle, the workshop, we have seen over and over again the power of God being ministered one to another because of the fellowship that takes place there. The information and tools that can help us move into recovery is important. But by far the most common feedback we get is how powerful it is to be in the fellowship of other men who struggle with this same issue. The experience of being with other men who love God and love their wives and at the same time are shamed by this bondage is extremely salutary. Almost to a man the report is that they thought they were the only one. The healing power of being in the presence of other men and finding a common bond in the sharing the shame and humiliation of this addiction and having other men confirm their own struggle is very redemptive.

It is sin that many of us act out in isolation, or if it is acted out with someone else, we dare not share with people who care about us. It is a precarious situation. There are men and groups that can offer that place of mercy and compassion. We may have to spend some time and energy to seek out these individuals or groups. Sex addicts need the body of Christ for support and encouragement to experience victory. At this point we cannot do it alone anymore. My prayer is that you will find such a place. If you cannot, maybe the workshop is the place to start. There is also a roster of men that have been to Every Man’s Battle, the workshop who are willing to make themselves available for contact. You can also call 1-800- NEW LIFE to find other resources.