Lost in the Wake of Lust

I remember, as a boy, constructing a model boat and setting it sail in a bay lagoon. I was thrilled that it remained afloat and was so hopeful that it would reach the other shore. But its journey was cut short when a ski boat, more concerned about staying on plane then obeying the posted no wake zone, sped through and capsized the model. My anger turned to sadness as hope was dashed on the rocks of selfishness that summer afternoon.

Few things can turn a marriage and family upside down more quickly than adultery. The Lord Jesus, in the fifth chapter of Matthew, makes it very clear that adultery is more than jumping into bed with another person. It begins with the imaginations and intentions of the heart. The apostle James affords us a word picture of a fisherman luring his prey from its place of safety when he writes, ‘But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust.’ (James 1:14) He continues to record the results of this self-centered pursuit: ‘Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.’ (James 1:15)

Sexual sin causes significant hurt in the lives of wives and children. Laurie Hall honestly expressed her pain in a letter to her husband, who was addicted to pornography. In An Affair of the Mind she writes, ‘Later you called ‘ and you wanted to talk with the kids. Why? You never had time for them before. Sandy collapsed. Talking with you brought all her angers and fears to the fore. She was crying so hard, she couldn’t catch her breath, and I had to catch her as she fell. Ian spent three hours on the phone (with someone else) ‘ he couldn’t tell me how he was feeling ‘ Dear God, it’s already started. My babies are dying, and I can’t do anything to save them. I don’t even have the strength to save myself.’ (p. 46)

Exhaustion, confusion, embarrassment, disgust, anxiety, depression, shame, shock, anger, loneliness–all these and more represent the thoughts and emotions of those lost in the wake of lust. Coming to grips with the separations that one’s sexual acting out has perpetrated is a necessary and healthy aspect of the healing journey.
Let me suggest an action item if you are tracking with these thoughts. If you’re ready, this exercise will shift your sobriety into a higher gear of recovery.

  1. List the names of the people you hurt with your behaviors and words.
  2. Think of how you hurt each one.
  3. Reflect on how each person must have felt.
  4. Write each one a letter (you may want to write only one or two a week) expressing their feelings and hurts, along with anything else you may want to say. Do not, at this point, mail the letters or share their content with those you have offended.
  5. Read the letters out loud, one at a time, imagining you are talking with each individual.
  6. Share the import of this exercise with your therapist, sponsor and/or accountability partners.
  7. Make appropriate amends, when ready.

This process could take some time depending on the number of people affected, but it will give you an open and honest platform for building relational health. However, let me share a word of caution: DO NOT CONTACT THE PEOPLE ON YOUR LIST UNTIL YOU HAVE EITHER WORKED THROUGH STEPS 8 & 9 OF AN APPROPRIATE 12-STEP PROGRAM WITH A SPONSOR, OR YOUR THERAPIST GIVES YOU THE OK.

That summer day long ago I determined to rescue my sinking boat. So, fully dressed, I jumped into the lagoon and swam hard before it was too late. I retrieved the model and rebuilt it, but I always looked in all directions before letting it set sail again. Are you willing to do whatever it takes to restore your marriage and family? I encourage you to take unusual measures to protect them, care for them, nurture them, and reorient your heart toward them. Chart your new course today.

To get some help, please join us at Every Man’s Battle or New Life Weekend.

David

Steve Arterburn

We know more about the spiritual life of David than probably any other person in the Bible.  The extensive record of his life and the Psalms he wrote show us that he studied and meditated upon God’s word, he fasted, and that his entire life was yielded to God’s service.  

Two things he did stand out to me:  he worshiped and he prayed.  These spiritual exercises renewed David’s spirit over and over again.

For example, David’s first role in the king’s court was as a musician.  His ministry of worship touched Saul’s heart, as it has untold millions of others since David lived.  His worship is so powerful because it’s a natural, unforced mixture of David’s heart (when he was up and when he was down) with an unwavering faith in a gracious, almighty God.  

His prayers often begin with an honest confession of anger, despair, or frustration.  He didn’t hide his feelings from God and he didn’t pretend that he was ‘super-spiritual.’  Spiritual renewal flows from the freedom to be totally honest with God.  Psalm 145 is a good example of what I’m talking about.  Read Psalm 145 and you will see David’s progression from anxiety and distress to faith filled assurance and confidence.

When you consider the worship and prayer in David’s life, you soon recognize that being someone after God’s own heart doesn’t mean you never fall’it means when you fall, you look to God to restore your spirit, and you fall to your knees in worship and prayer.  

Honesty and Forgiveness

Steve Arterburn

Emotions are a funny thing. We all know what they are, but where do they come from? They seem to flow from the core of your being, from deep down inside. And if you’ve developed the pattern of denying or hiding your feelings, you’ll lose the very sense of who you really are—who God created you to be.  Don’t believe me?  Consider the prophet Jeremiah.

When you read the Old Testament book of Lamentations, which Jeremiah wrote, you’ll see that you have nothing to fear about bringing even your most raw or maybe what you think are embarrassing emotions to God.

Jeremiah was intensely honest in sharing his broken heart with God.  But what follows his grief?  When Jeremiah finished his grieving, he turned to God to seek forgiveness.  The book ends with a question of remorse: ‘Are you angry with us still?’ the prophet asks.  Have you ever asked that question?  Behind this question is Jeremiah’s humility, coupled with his hope that God will start the process toward reconciliation and forgiveness.  Jeremiah knew God’s heart, so he knew that God would forgive.  If you truly repent of your sin, you can be sure that God will forgive you too—no matter how great your sins and failures.  You need to come humbly before him and place your life in his strong, gentle hands.