At The Cross

Steve Arterburn

As you travel the long, difficult road that God’s calling you to walk, you must bear a cross.  That cross represents the burdens you bear as a follower of Christ.  But the way of the cross always leads to resurrection and a new life.

As God leads you to do his will you may wish there were some other way.  You may feel fear, a lack of confidence, deep anguish, and a host of other emotions that threaten to stop you in your tracks.  Regardless of your feelings, you mustn’t let them cause you to turn away from the path God sets before you.

Jesus understands your fears and your struggle to persevere.  He had similar emotions.  The night he was arrested, he cried out, ‘My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death’ (Matthew 26:38).  He wondered if there was some other way and prayed three times for the suffering to be taken away, if possible.  But he always ended his prayer, ‘Yet I want your will, not mine’ (Matthew 26:39).  Jesus found the grace to accept God’s plan.

You may be overwhelmed as you consider the cross you’ll have to bear on the way to a new life.  But during such times of struggle, you can go to Jesus for encouragement and express your deepest emotions.  As you cry out for help, you can be confident that you will be given the strength you need to do God’s will rather than your own.

Life After 2 PM

It came across to me one Sunday that I do not listen as well to the Spirit of God when I am out of an element of Godly fellowship or church related activity. As an example, on church days I am able to cage my internal ego knowing I am going to be fed and experience some good ole God joyfulness (especially during ‘praise and worship time’) at my church. At church I believe and experience the Spirit of God speaks to me. This is a place where I let God reveal things to me, comfort me, confront me and challenge me (that is where this article is coming from). It seems to follow me from the rise of the morning to the service and somewhat into the early afternoon. But then something happens! Somewhere around 2 PM, my internal ego is let out of its cage: I got it, I’m good, I can do it God.’ Then the rest of the week begins the wrestle of ‘who’s the boss here?’

Most commonly, at that point I do go on and deliver my week of obligations, promises and commitments to social systems and family. But as the week tarries on, it appears that my life becomes a highway I have entered onto and it speeds up ever so quickly. Internally, while on the highway of life, I truly am waiting for the next off-ramp to pull over and take a rest as in the animated movie ‘Cars’ when Mac is driving Lightning McQueen to the California coast for his big race. On the way they are driving late at night and Lightning wants Mac to pull an all-nighter to get to the coast before the challengers do. Mac being aware of his strength, energy and regulations (rules and boundaries) tells Lightning that he is tired and should pull over to rest.

But Mac gives in (against his better judgment) to Lightning’s promptings to drive on only because Lightning exclaimed he would stay awake with him the whole trip. As expected, Mac is left alone in the late hour, driving to keep himself awake while Lightning is fast asleep. In the mist of this late night journey three cars come around and taunt and tease Mac as he is swerving on the road (because he is falling asleep). And that is exactly how I have observed and experienced not tending to care or protect my life from the ‘highway of life.’ And life after 2 PM on Sunday seems to be the spot when we get onto the highway and proceed and exit only if truly necessary. And often against the better judgment of our heart and soul, our ego says drive on. It is there we place ourselves into a dangerous circumstance. As when Mac was having difficulty staying awake and swerving on the road he then became vulnerable to the three other little cars directing and pushing him around on the highway. And Mac being a huge truck is moved around easily by little sporty cars.

Do you think that you are so big that nothing could truly push you around? Are you one who tends to hit the road with the family (or by yourself) and NEVER stop till you make your destination? And if you do have to stop, does it cause you to become angry, annoyed or frustrated with those who have to take a ‘potty/stretch break?’

It seems a bit interesting that author M. Scott Peck titled his book ‘The Road Less-Traveled.’ In that book, the author challenges readers to consider the path they chose and why they pick it with regard to their healing and faith in Jesus. In avoidance of any difficulty and struggle for growth, many appear to take a fast way of living: the highway. For example, as a sexual addict, you may select a supposedly quick fix path for recovery (like: I’ll just read “Every Man’s Battle” and I am good from here on). Taking the ‘road’ implies taking-in the environment you are traveling through and where you have come from. While the ‘highway’ implies ‘just get me there.’ Irregardless you are left with the choice when it comes to 2 PM on Sunday. Either you can start a journey at the ‘road’ or the ‘highway.’ The most enjoyable, nurturing, fulfilling and healing seems to always be taking the road in life. But then again, now its 2:07 PM and you can either exit onto the road of healing or, zoom-on missing the healing and rewarding life God has for you from your sexual addiction.

For more help see Every Man’s Battle and our Resources for Men.

Martin Fierro

Rejection in Recovery: Handling an Earthquake to the Heart

Pastor Ed Grant

The rain-slick highway was more dangerous than it appeared in the headlights, especially through the blurry eyes of someone who had indulged in a few too many drinks. But Bob knew the way home, and he had driven it countless times before without any problems. He had called his wife, Denise, to say that he was on his way home and assured her that he was fine to drive. However, once outside the tavern, he stood for a full half hour telling a friend about a recent fishing trip. Denise worried: it was only a ten minute trip from the tavern and her husband had yet to come through the front door.

She decided to drive there to see if something had happened to him. Bob knew she would be angry for a time – as she always was. He’d stop drinking for a while, attend a few AA meetings, and Denise faithfully came along side him to cheer him on. As Bob approached a curve in the road his front tires lost all traction. He began to slide across the double yellow line just as a car came around the curve the other way. In his headlights he saw the terrified face of a woman: it was Denise. To avoid a collision she went off the road and hit a telephone pole, demolishing her car and breaking her leg in two places. Surgery was necessary to repair the damage: steel rods, pins, and screws – equipment better suited for a metal shop – now held her leg in place until it would heal.

It was now three months since the accident. Bob attended AA meetings faithfully and hadn’t had a drink since the accident. He was excited about his sobriety and grateful to God for sparing his wife’s life. He was also terribly sorry for the pain he had caused his wife. But, truth be told, Bob was growing increasingly frustrated with Denise. She was cold, somewhat distant, suffering both from physical and emotional pain. He longed to have his cheerleader wife back in his corner again and was both sad and miffed that she didn’t celebrate or even seem to notice all the changes that were taking place in his life.

But Denise could not cheer him on. She had a wounded heart and a broken leg – and he was the cause of both.

Bob was feeling rejected by his wife, one of the most painful emotions we can experience. Those in recovery feel it even more acutely because they have stopped medicating their pain with drugs, alcohol, or pornographic fantasy. They are fragile and self absorbed, typically more aware of their own pain than of the pain they have inflicted on others. They want to move on with their lives, wanting everyone around them to notice what they’ve accomplished, to cheer them on and to trust them again. The trouble is, the cheerleader’s leg is still broken.

Emotional Pitfalls on the Road to Recovery

1. Unrealistic expectations
Those in recovery need to remember the years of pain, deceit, broken promises, and hardships created by their addiction have had a greater negative impact upon their loved ones than they can possibly know. Their loved ones require selfless support throughout the healing process. We can’t ‘fix’ our loved ones or undo what we have done, but through sincere and patient love we can help create the climate in which God can bring healing.

2. Riding the ’emotional Ferris wheel’ with loved ones
Those in recovery often give their wounded loved ones the power to dictate their feelings. If the loved one is hopeful, they feel hopeful; if he is having a bad day, they don’t feel they have the right to be happy. While riding the emotional Ferris wheel is normal for our wounded loved ones, it is unhealthy to take a ride with them. It is a nasty trap that keeps us from recognizing and celebrating what God is doing in us, making it difficult for us to leave shame in the past and to fight the temptation to return to the addiction.

Finding refreshment for the Journey

The road to recovery is too demanding to walk alone. Sponsors, mentors, pastors, and support group members are prepared to offer the encouragement that loved ones are not able to give at the moment. This requires time, energy and a willingness to allow others to minister to us.

Finally, time spent with God in prayer, meditation and the reading of His holy Word are indispensable assets for recovery. St. Paul reminded the congregation in Rome of this, ‘For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope. May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves’May the God of peace fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit’ (Romans 15:4 & 5, 13).

For help with alcohol or drugs, call our Resource Center at (800) 639-5433.
For help with sexual integrity, please see Every Man’s Battle.