People Are More Important Than Things

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Few of us would argue with the title of this article. Yet, in our daily lives, and particularly in the lives of men who suffer from sexual addiction, the truthfulness of this statement is not translated into daily living.

Several days ago the following comments were made in my office: ‘I was enjoying a serious conversation with my son when his cell phone rang and instead of letting it go to voice mail he answered it. He spent ten minutes talking to someone else. I was infuriated! After he hung up I told him that he was rude, that he didn’t care about me, and that I didn’t want to be in a relationship with him if he was going to treat me like that.’

The man who made these comments is a 60-year-old man who is trying to re-establish a relationship with his 40-year-old son. He has a long history of addictive behaviors with alcohol, marijuana, and multiple affairs. Now, after a lifetime of avoiding emotional intimacy with his family, my client is coming to realize the importance of relationships. Yet, at the first indication of conflict or devaluation, he was willing to throw out all that he had worked for with his son.

Certainly he had justification to be hurt. His son was acting rudely by spending so much time with the person who was calling on the phone. The message received by my client was that the caller was more important. But the message explicitly conveyed in anger from father to son was that the whole relationship was being terminated. As he related this story to me in my office, I was struck by the fact that he was still serious about ending the relationship, even after several days to cool down. People are just not that important to him. His relationships with alcohol, marijuana, and sex have been far more loyal over the years than his interpersonal relationships with people.

If we are made in God’s image, and we were made to be in relationship with Him, then the need for interpersonal relationships is woven into the very fabric of our being. Turning to a pseudo relationship with ‘things’ rather than people is like trying to spend your life using counterfeit money. It seems to work at first, but such a life is based on lies and deception, and it always catches up with you. Substituting objectifying sex for true intimacy is no different than using counterfeit money.

When people have become the source of pain, either unresolved pain from the past and/or pain in the here-and-now, the allure of ‘things’ becomes so much greater. It can be argued that obsessive preoccupation with any material thing is actually a smokescreen, a way of avoiding painful wounds of past relationships. Giving up the things of this world, whether it is drugs, sex, food, material things like a new car, or even some relationships, will expose us to that which we are running from and trying to avoid at all costs.

In those moments of exposure, do you find yourself in places of safety, or, do you find yourself in places where you will be hurt again? To open up and talk about the pain with someone who has been deeply hurt by you might not be the best place to start. You’ll only confirm the belief that people are too dangerous and intimacy is an illusion. To face deep emotional pain without preparation, planning, and support is a recipe for catastrophe. Your wife and family deserve better. It would be like trying to save someone who is drowning when neither of you can swim.

Don’t let the things of this world STOP YOU from taking care of yourself!

Therapy, Every Man’s Battle conferences, and even trustworthy friends may be the best place to start the recovery process, rather than with a wife or relatives who are already hurt and emotionally invested in you. The chances of your successful recovery will improve dramatically if you seek ongoing support and help from people who have been where you are now.

People are more important than things, and that includes you too. Don’t let the things of this world stop you from taking care of yourself in the way that promotes healing, better relationships, and a closer walk with the Lord.

For more help, consider attending one of our Weekend Workshops or call 1800-NEW-LIFE(639-5433) for more information on Every Man’s Battle.

Will She Ever Trust Me Again?

Building Trust

While conducting the Every Man’s Battle seminar, a question I often hear from married men is: ‘I’ve admitted my sin, apologized to my wife and tried to make it right. She says she forgives me but can’t trust me. Will she ever trust me again?’

Rebuilding trust is like rebuilding credit. It can be done, but only through a combination of time and consistency.

So if broken trust is a challenge to your marriage, let me offer you three ideas on how to rebuild it.

First, get a solid structure put in place. A solid structure is a combination of accountability, daily prayer, Bible reading, and regular consultation with a pastor, mentor or Christian counselor. Find yourself a good men’s accountability group, or a good Christian therapist(call 1-800-NEW LIFE if you need help with that) An accountability group is a great option since connection is a necessity to having transformation in your life! I encourage you to also begin a daily habit of devotion, personal prayer and some time spent reading scripture. Let your wife know, in writing preferably, what your structure is. List the name of your group leader, your counselor, and the schedule you’re adopting. Give her a copy, so she knows what program you’re following, and tell her she can watch you to see if you’re sticking to it. You’ll probably be surprised how much trust this alone can build.

Second, set aside a weekly time – maybe an hour or so to do nothing but listen to her. Tell her it’s her time to tell you how she feels about your marriage, about your progress, about herself, or anything else that’s on her mind. During her ‘listening’ time, try not to interrupt her or argue. You simply listen carefully to her concerns, and make sure she knows you share them. This habit will show her that, in contrast to the selfishness you displayed through your sexual sin, you’re now putting her, and her needs, first.

Finally, don’t rush her. She’s been wounded, and wounds are healed, not erased. So give her time. Give her the time and space she needs to be angry and sad, as she grieves over the blow your marriage has endured. By patiently waiting for her confidence in you to rebuild, you’ll show her that you take responsibility for your behavior by not expecting her to ‘just get over it.’ She needs that from you. So if both of you will patiently invest in time and consistency, you’ll reap an enormous level of strength and intimacy in your relationship. In the end, the trust she’s lost can be restored, added to, and treasured.

Join us for one of our Weekend Workshops or the couples group for rebuilding marriages affected by lust, pornography, or infidelity. By God’s grace, your marriage will be renewed and transformed.

Moving On

Whether you attended our first Every Man’s Battle Workshop in Chestertown, MD, or one of our more recent workshops, I would like to take a minute to extend a heart felt greeting to each of you, and to give you a word of encouragement. A five day seminar on sexual purity that you knew little about before coming can be a very scary thing. I think you guys are to be commended for your bravery and willingness to take a look at yourselves in that way. I hope the days since you ‘graduated’ from Every Man’s Battle  have been good ones, and that you are experiencing more and more of God’s love and grace.

Before I go any further, let me tell you a little about myself. I have been in recovery from drugs, alcohol and sex addiction for a little over nine years. I was involved in the use of pornography, as well as massage parlors and the occasional escort service. One day a friend invited me to Saddleback Church in Southern California, which I began attending on a regular basis, and which I loved. Saddleback had a program that met every Friday night called Celebrate Recovery. As I started attending Celebrate Recovery, the Lord started working in my life. Gradually, I gave up the drinking, drugs and sexual immorality.

One thing I know for sure is that I could not have done it without a support system, without being ministered to by people who were struggling with similar things. God, working through Celebrate Recovery, my support system, and my own personal quiet times of prayer and Bible Study, got me to a place of sexual purity. It wasn’t easy; it was, and continues to be a battle. Like we say, it’s Every Man’s Battle.

How about you? Do you have a support system? Do you have some friends to hold you accountable when you travel? Are you in the Word and talking to God on a daily basis? Perhaps are you a ‘lone ranger’ in recovery? If you feel that you can do this on your own, that you don’t need other people in your life, if you’re isolating and not connecting with some type of support group, then it’s no accident that you are reading this. God wants you to be in relationship with others, He’s wired you that way. If you are “lone rangering” your recovery, I urge you to reach out to a support group, or find an accountability partner. If you need help call 1-800-NEW-LIFE, we can help connect you with a New Life Group