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 Lie of Illegitimate Solutions

made4relationship
We are made for relationships. The Bible is full of all kinds of relationships: relationship with God, towards others, and even towards ourselves. The trinity themselves are a model of relationship. Even more than that, it is a model of intimacy. It has been said that people who have addictive tendencies are much more aware of their spiritual nature–their deep need for relationship and intimacy. Specifically, there is an acute awareness that something is missing deep inside; a longing for a deep connection and seeking some kind of oneness, fellowship.

This need for intimacy is God ordained. We are designed for it. We know from the Bible, being made in the image and likeness of God that this is actually true, and short of having an intimate relationship with God and others, addiction may be as close as we can get to our divine design in this earthly life.

As sex addicts, we lack connections with others and in our failure to get our ‘legitimate needs met in legitimate ways,’ we isolate and withdraw into our acting out patterns as a poor substitute for what we really desire, addiction instead of relationship; intensity instead of intimacy. As individuals isolated and alone we don’t stand a chance!

Sexual addiction for most of us, became a way of connecting with ourselves in lieu of knowing how to connect with others on that deep personal level. By the time we had passed through our adolescence and into our twenties, it became a substitute for intimacy with others. A secret self of privacy that was isolated had developed. We didn’t have the communication or relationship skills to do otherwise. Intimacy, the kind that allows us to be fully accepted for who we are, just didn’t happen for us.

The world makes all kinds of false claims and promises, like, if we would only do this or seek that, the special connection we long for will indeed occur. ‘NOT!!! It may satisfy for the moment or even a season but not for a lifetime. Our particular choice, sexual addiction, in the whole scheme of alternatives is at least focused on the crown of God’s creation, woman. In our worship of women, or at least her body or body parts, in whatever form we have particularized, is still going to fall way short.

As men, what makes us so vulnerable to this form of addiction is that we are hard wired as visual creatures. In the United States, it is my belief that we are trained to become sex addicts. We’re told that men stand alone, that being needy is for wimps. We hear messages communicating that women are to be exploited. We hear that anything goes and everything is relative. We’re easy prey for the plethora of hyper-stimulation we receive through the portals to our souls, our eyeballs.

As individuals, isolated and alone we don’t stand a chance. We are dead meat. So we try as best we can. We stumble and fumble along, alone, isolated. We make promises and covenant with God and others. We are deceived into believing that all we need is more determination or will power and effort. We should be able to overcome it alone, on our own, in our own strength. And then we fail again and again. Oh, wretched sex addict that I am, what can I do?

One of the powerful experiences that takes place during our 5 days together at Every Man’s Battle is the transformation from isolation into community, large group as well as our break out groups. For some of us this may be the first time ever, or at least since we have become entrenched in our addiction, that we have been so open and transparent, felt safe and free to express our brokenness, our neediness honestly without judgment or criticism, and to be vulnerable about our pain.

Enough written. You get my drift. Stay connected. Utilize the tools that have been emphasized from the conference. By staying connected, the ability to manage our addiction will be one hundred times easier.

For more information on Every Man’s Battle, please call 1800-NEW-LIFE(639-5433)