Measuring Up

Are we measuring our recovery by what we’re not doing anymore?

In the beginning of recovery it is important to celebrate the victories of not acting out. While taking it one day at a time, we need the motivation and encouragement of seeing the end of a day lived with integrity. We also need the hope it brings; that maybe these days can be strung together to form weeks, months or even years.

But somewhere along the way that has to change.

There comes a point where we can no longer measure down, we have to start measuring up. We can no longer measure our recovery by what we’re not doing, but instead have to look at what we’re being called to. I hear too often, after an integrity lapse, a man say “well, at least I’m better than how I used to be” or “at least I’m not doing what I used to do”. I think in many ways this excuse/rationalization is a way to hold onto hope. It’s a coping mechanism to avoid slipping into the despair that comes with feelings of failure and disappointment. It is an attempt to escape the shame of sin.

The good news is that our hope is not in our best behavior; it is in our Savior. God promises through the words of Paul the Apostle that He will complete the good work He began in us. He is committed to our sanctification and will empower us to fight another day.

Don’t let yourself be lulled into measuring your journey down, against what you aren’t doing anymore. Instead, be committed to measuring up, setting your sights on becoming the man God is calling you to be. Each day lived a little more like the men He is calling us to be is another day farther from being the old men we were.

WeDared

In a recent WeDared Challenge email there was a powerful section describing lies and how Satan would have us believe there is no hope. Specifically the lie was: learning to bounce and starve your eyes is impossible so why try.

What a ridiculous statement! But it was one I believed in my addiction. In an effort to explain my inability (and on some level, my unwillingness) to change, and to justify my sinful behavior, I started to believe that it is impossible to live with integrity. I began to resign to the fact that I am just lustful and that being able to live without staring, oogling, objectifying, etc. was something God apparently had reserved for better Christians than me.

Another lie.

The truth is, God is still in the business of changing hearts and habits. Just because you’ve lived a certain way for a long time doesn’t mean you are bound to that lifestyle from here on out. You are not the sum total of your bad behaviors. Your mistakes from the past do not have permission to define your future.

Three things have helped me, thank the Lord, change that lustful behavior. Maybe they can help you?

  • Having a mantra. Seriously, every time I’m tempted to look lustfully I say to myself (and sometimes out loud), “there’s nothing I need, guaranteed”. You’d be surprised how awkwardly someone looks at you after you blurt out this phrase – especially someone you might lust after! This little saying reminds me that God is the ultimate meeter of my needs. Not some woman. Not even my wife.
  • Or if you’re single, perhaps AccountabilityCam or GodCam. The idea is that if Shelley could watch a TV screen that showed my every move, she could hear everything I say, and a ticker tape at the bottom showed my every thought, she would be honored by it. I want to live in a way that, even if I am in a struggle, she would be honored by the way I fight it.
  • To remember that anyone I might want to lust after is a walking story. That woman, in that moment, is living with the culmination of the things she’s done and the things done to her. She is a hurting human, with a need for Jesus just like me. To lust after her is to take advantage of her; something Jesus was pretty adamantly against.

These help me, but I’m curious to hear what helps you. Is there something you do to help change lustful looking?

And by the way, if you haven’t seen the WeDared Challenge yet you should check it out – www.wedared.com

Silent Struggle

Last week Shelley and I both had the privilege of speaking at Biola University in La Mirada, Ca. We’ve had other opportunities to speak to students at schools and ministry events through Campus Crusade for Christ, and every time we are blown away.

There is so little pretense.

It is almost like they haven’t had enough time in the Christian sub-culture to figure out they need to wear masks. Or maybe better said, there is still enough sensitivity in their heart that when they are invited into authenticity and transparency they can throw caution to the wind and enter that sacred space.

Shelley and I challenged the students to make a decision to be radically vulnerable about their struggles. We urged them to risk rejection and take the first step to open up. We tried to help them understand the value and reward of true intimacy. We talked about teenage pregnancy, bestiality, shame, guilt, pornography, sex addiction, anorexia and body image, work-aholism, abortion, forgiveness and redemption.

The stories that were relayed back to us from students covered all these topics and more. They were vulnerable, gritty, sometimes empowering and made us want to cheer, other times painful and hopeless, bringing us to tears.

Interestingly, two consistent themes came out as we engaged the students’ stories. First, the reality of a silent struggle. So many times we heard, “I’ve never told anyone” or “I’m afraid to tell anyone that I’ve…” I even received a handwritten letter from a student describing her shame and disappointment of struggling with repetitive sexual sin, and I’m the first person she has told [written to].

The second theme was that of divorce in the home. Several students came up and said their folks are currently or have recently divorced due to sexual integrity issues. One girl, in tears, talked about how at 20 she’s realizing that her father’s sexual sin has affected her deeply. It pains her to see her mom so resentful and bitter, and her dad simply declares it covered in the blood of Jesus so it doesn’t need to be spoken of again. Heartbreaking.

All in all, I walked away from that campus with hope. Hope because of the raw, unfiltered, willingness of the students to engage difficult topics. Hope because the faculty and staff decided its important enough to address from the main stage and create an open dialogue about. Hope because God is still in the business of redemption and those stories we heard are, for many, a turning point that will change the entire course of their lives and legacies.

If you are in the silent struggle, it doesn’t have to be that way any longer. If you are the ones divorcing with college age children, it doesn’t have to be that way any longer. Change, real lasting change, may be right around the corner.