When the Wound Doesn’t Heal

Sam Fraser

Rarely is the road to recovery straight forward. It takes many twists and turns as God teaches us His way after we have been doing it our way. Recovery is more like a dance than a road really. It is three steps forward, two steps back, interspersed with one step ahead and four steps backward. However, one of the main ways to keep dancing backwards has to do with woundedness that has not yet been healed.

Being wounded keeps us in bondage. It is God’s truth that nothing in this world can keep us from the surpassing love we have found in our relationship with Jesus Christ. ‘By His wounds we are healed.’ That is a Scriptural truth. We are destined for experiencing freedom in Christ. Yet, we remain stuck in this addiction. Why the wound doesn’t heal can take several forms and so this article should help identify several of the main roadblocks.

This is the first part of a series in which we will go in depth to explore and highlight what may be occurring if we seem to be stuck and are not making any headway into recovery. This article will highlight these possibilities overall and the next articles will go in greater detail.

First off, we have to be patient. We need to pace ourselves. It is more about running a marathon than a 100-yard dash. If we rush forward we will not be able to sustain that pace over the long haul. This wound did not develop over night and it won’t disappear that fast either. I have found in my own life and working with many men that God’s intention is to teach us to identify the issues and then trust Him to show us His better ways to address them. That takes more time than we wish. But God not only wants us to get free but also stay free, thus the need for the time it takes is a process rather than instantaneous delivery. Sorry about that! This is often the best way to get the wound healed. It is akin to giving a man a fish to feed him for one day or even better to teach a man to fish and he can do so for a lifetime. The skills needed are to be utilized for the rest of our lives. Getting frustrated and discouraged, can make us end up in despair and want to quit.

Next, do you have an action plan? It is one thing to say I want to stop but unless we have alternative ways to deal with feelings and behaviors we will return to the very behavior we want to eradicate. It is like holding your breath. Some can hold on longer than others, but guess what? You are going to have to take a breath sometime. And so it is with acting out, we have to replace the former behavior with a new one. Have you developed an alternative behavior scheme to replace your old way of acting out? It is essential that you have found other options to dealing with your emotional needs.

Another important step of recovery is getting accountable. No longer ‘efforting’ it alone, by ourselves in isolation. That is a recipe for disaster. The basic root wound of this issue has to do with intimacy. We have gotten into this routine because we are not able to connect in a more fulfilling way. We need relationships. Without our being more connected to others we will return to connecting with ourselves, i.e., acting out again. So it is important that we begin to reach out for help by getting someone to hold us accountable for our behaviors. To connect with others meets the true needs we were designed for and replaces the false sense of intimacy that our acting out attempts to achieve.

This addiction is about connections and the lack there of. We need to have relationships with others and when we don’t, sexually acting out becomes a mode of coping. If none of the above mentioned factors are creating success and you are still not experiencing sobriety, then counseling by an experienced therapist who understands sexual addiction or a person, group or ministry team probably needs to be consulted. These possibilities are not the entire list. But often if you will begin with this list it can eliminate a lot of extra pain that will delay your recovery.

For more help see Every Man’s Battle.

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.

Finding Ms. Right

Sam Fraser

If you read Bob Parkin’s article, Healthy Dating in Recovery, you will find that he gave some important insight for single guys and dating regarding accountability, boundaries, and intimacy. Continuing along those same lines, I’d like to give you a couple clues to finding Ms. Right.

There is a reason God says wait until marriage for sexual intercourse. Among the myriad of reasons, one sure-fire reason is that it is for our own protection. As men, we are often identified as having two brains, (I think most of you know, and the rest of you can guess, where the second brain is, right?). Not sexualizing a relationship is the absolute best remedy for keeping our judgment clear and our priorities straight. But if that bridge is crossed prematurely, our reasoning gets all discombobulated and our judgment becomes blinded. Guys, sex changes everything. Once sexual activity is introduced into the equation, we lose an important part of our sensibility. Our sexual desire, or lust, can become the primary motivation for pursuing Ms. Right Now instead of Ms. Right! How much you desire her body has nothing to do with her being right as a marital partner for life. Don’t be blinded by that second brain. Just because it feels good, doesn’t make it true.

Let’s face it guys, sex is overrated as the answer to all of our problems. God’s plan for finding Ms. Right is much broader than how she makes us feel sexually. If that becomes the main focus, disappointment will soon follow. Sex was never intended as the be all, cure all. Once sex falls short as the answer to all of a man’s problems, some men will turn to sexual addiction as a cheap alternative to the real deal.

So, then, what is the real deal? How do we find Ms. Right? What is she like and how will we recognize her?

A much better criterion for the long haul is to develop a deep friendship with someone that you find attractive–attractive being the operative word, which is something much better and more noble than mere lust. Over and over I have encountered this common factor in successful marriages. When the husband says that his wife has become his best friend, take it to the bank.

Being married to your best friend will provide the emotional spark that can be fostered and kept alive with time and effort. This will keep the connection strong. If you cannot be vulnerable and share your deepest needs, dreams and fears with your girlfriend now, then seriously ask yourself why not? If it isn’t happening now, marriage will not cure it.

One thing that is a common theme for Every Man’s Battle participants is they have a secret life. Having a secret life is the opposite of having marital intimacy. A man who gets married without having the skill or courage to disclose important feelings and thoughts is sure to feel very lonely and isolated. So it is crucial to develop an openness during dating. If you can’t open up now, openness just won’t magically occur once you are married. Therefore, don’t underestimate the importance of having a woman with whom you can develop an intimate friendship. With that said, here are a couple of key factors for evaluating potential Ms. Rights:

1) How well do you share your feelings with her now? Is she safe and trustworthy or does she bring out your dirty laundry and shame you with it already? It needs to be discussed and resolved. If she can’t be a person who is safe and trustworthy then it is better to find that out now rather than later. Most women desire that kind of connection, and nine times out of ten, she will be accepting of our fear and shame, and will reject or humiliate us when we disclose them to her.

2) Take some risks and share feelings that are painful. Women respect men who have feelings and share them, particularly feelings that are hard to share, or that have previously been kept secret. From a male’s perspective, we don’t place such a premium upon that need; so if you can develop that with her in intimate friendship, then you are well on the way.

The interesting thing is that developing that intimate emotional bond with your future wife now will naturally translate into greater romantic intimacy later. Then sexual fulfillment will take care of itself.

The greatest testimony to this is that older couples with secure relationships are far more likely to have highly gratifying sex lives. That is because those couples have special bonds of deep friendship and devoted love for one another, bonds that have been built and strengthened because they have become best friends to one another. Think about it…