Sobriety is not recovery.

If addiction is an illness to which there is no absolute cure, then healing is more of a process than a finality. Sobriety is only a part of the daily surrender necessary to recover. There is so much more to my healing, like abandoning myself to God, offering myself to Him, finding and doing His will, and doing the work of each of the twelve steps.

When I suffer under the bondage of lust, I may not abandon all that I know will help me stay sober. At that point sobriety is an anchor. To yield to my temptation is to cut the anchor line. Then I am free to float aimlessly in the darkness back toward the pit of self satisfication. My own self interest is the only thing I Iook after and helping others becomes a mere platitude.

The way through lust is to surrender, not by giving in but by admiting I am powerless to control the temptation. I can’t turn back from its enticingly sweet pleasure. I can’t go around its grip on my heart nor my mind because when I resist in this fashion, it is like quicksand pulling me deeper toward my compulsions. But I can move through it as through a wisp of smoke when I recognize it for what it is, a temptation that I cannot resist on my own. Only by humility in complete surrender to God will I pass by to the other side.

We came to to realize that we were powerless over lust. This is a communal act we must do in fellowship. Going on alone does not work. Keeping secrets starts the snowball rolling down the hill and before long it is too big to stop. We end up crushed in the deep snow having to pick ourselves up to start once again on the path of recovery.

Staying Sober Today

Draw near to my soul, redeem me; ransom me because of my enemies!” Psalms 69:18 ESV http://bible.com/59/psa.69.18.esv

“When my soul was embittered, when I was pricked in heart, I was brutish and ignorant; I was like a beast toward you. Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalms 73:21-23, 26 ESV http://bible.com/59/psa.73.21-23,26.esv

Addiction is as much a spiritual condition as it is a physical longing. When I long to take a drink of lust, I should realize that I need to seek God more intently. My flesh, the temptation that ensnares me, and my heart, the center of who I am, may fail, but God is the strength through which I keep my sobriety.

Even when I respond from instinct, when I’m drawn to look with intent at people or pictures to titillate my craving, God holds my right hand. He does not forsake me even when I make a selfish decision that sends me down the slippery slope. My heart is pricked with the longing to act out. I become like a starving animal hunting for food. I am brutish, carnal and sensual. I choose to be ignorant of that which I know will help me overcome temptation. My mind plays tricks on me with the intent to trap me in the hunt. My heart pounds in my chest. My breathing is fast and shallow.

I sip the salty nectar of the pleasure that haunts me. Even now it is hard for me to stay calm and focused on God. I yank my hand away to break the trance. I inhale, hold in the life giving air and exhale deeply to release the grip that lust has on me. I must turn toward God and receive his life giving will. God grant me the serenity to accept myself as you accept me. God is my portion. He is just the right amount of everything I need to stay sober.

Humility

Humility is a cornerstone of recovery. I used to think of myself as a humble person, but it was a kind of counterfeit humility. I lacked a correct view of myself. I was selfish, using lust to meet my most cherished and intimate needs. I traded short term pleasure for long term pain.

Self loathing became the standard. I did not like who I was, and I was trapped in the downward spiral of my addiciton. Pride and fear were at the root of my lack of confidence. I was more concerned with my image and how people thought of me than I was about doing the right thing and being honest about myself.

When I acknowledged to myself that I was same sex attracted, I was set free of the bondage of living with the lie. This was the beginning of having a truer picture of myself, acknowledging that I needed help and starting a real humility. Having a more realistic view of myself is a major part of my recovery. I am powerless over lust and my life was unmanagable. Humility based on honesty is creeping into my life and filling my cracked spirit with life giving acceptance and love.

Of what am I afraid?

“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me? Then my enemies will turn back in the day when I call. This I know, that God is for me. In God, whose word I praise, in the Lord, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me? For you have delivered my soul from death, yes, my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of life.”

Psalms 56:3-4, 9-11, 13 ESV http://bible.com/59/psa.56.3-4,9-11,13.esv

My greatest fear is rejection. I dare not trust too deeply because I might be rejected or humiliated. I am threatened by my own mistakes. I try to ignore them and hope they will pass me by or vanish. But until I admit I have done something wrong or stupid, I am lurking about, trying to hide in the shadows.

Impatience undergirds my fear. I can be so attached to getting a task done that I sometimes finish it mindlessly. I don’t take the time to understand something or to ask a question and end up making a mistake. Recently, I ordered propane tanks through a hardware store for our place in Arizona. I went to a retailer near the park where we live and the attendant said I should go to Home Depot. I never explored what size to order so I fixated on the 100 lb tanks which ended up being over ten times the size of the ones that we were replacing. We have enough propane for at least ten years in one tank.

So I try to hide my embarrassment by ignoring the mistake. I resent my wife for talking about it. Until I took the step of acknowledging that I did not want to ask someone because I would have looked stupid, I was haunted by a simple error. No one is perfect, and there is always room to learn something from our mistakes. But my default is to ignore my own ignorance and rush ahead.

So, be ready for a fight if you wish to have victory. Without struggle and striving,you cannot win the reward of patience. If you refuse to suffer, you will be refused the crown. But if you desire to want the prize, strive bravely and endured patiently. Without effort of fighting, you cannot be victorious. – Thomas A Kempis

Hope

“For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Romans 15:4, 13 ESV. http://bible.com/59/rom.15.4,13.esv

Hope is a byproduct of living through difficulty with endurance. If Peter’s denial of Christ means anything, it gives us the confidence that, by God’s grace and mercy, there are second chances. We will make mistakes. We will deny Christ in word and deed. But if we acknowledge our errors and remain faithful in believing, by the power of the Holy Spirit we may abound in hope.

None of this is our own doing. It is through the God of hope that we may be filled with joy and peace in believing. Our task is to find encouragement in the Scriptures, to remain in Christ, and to endure. We must learn that the most profound lessons of life are given by God for our good. Life will throw all kinds of shit at us, and it takes discipline and also patience to endure it. Our God is a God of hope and he sends us his Holy Spirit so that we may also be alive with hope.

Without hope we are dead. We live like corpses, dumbfounded as if sleepwalking. There is so much more to life, if we are just a little willing to live with hope. And hope doesn’t have to stretch into the distant future. We can hope that this afternoon God will instruct us in His will. He makes known to us the path of life, bit by bit, not all at once. This is for our own good, because if we had the entire plan, we would be discouraged and crushed under the sheer weight of its entirety. So don’t worry about tomorrow. Today has enough to deal with so save what hope you have for this afternoon. God, by his great grace, will show us the way.

Guidance for the Next Generation

“. . . you may tell the next generation that this is God, our God forever and ever. He will guide us forever.” Psalms 48:13-14 ESV http://bible.com/59/psa.48.13-14.esv

We recognize we know only a little. God will constantly disclose more to us. God, what can I do today to help anyone who is still sick? I want my relationship with you to be based on your truth and your will for my life. I abandon myself to you. I am an addict. I objectify myself and push limits of lust. Help me to stay sober today. I am powerless over lust and I cannot manage my own life.

I’m on the path of recovery but I’m also struggling. I’m trying to keep people around me by going to meetings, calling my sponsor and inviting folks over for dinner. But I can’t be with people all the time, and the truth is that I’d rather isolate myself than deal with recovery.

None-the-less, I’m trying to focus on others. Helping the next generation see that this is our God for eternity and that He will guide us forever is important in keeping me sober. It helps to focus on others instead of myself and my disease. I want attention. I crave positive feedback. I still get defensive when someone says something that challenges me. I am too easily paralyzed by a negative word or sometimes even a glance. I am insecure so trying to help others is frightening. I am in bondage to my self image. Relieve me from the bondage of self that I may better do your will. May I do your will always.

Addiction is a Spiritual Problem

“My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,”. Psalms‬ ‭63:5‬ ‭ESV‬‬

http://bible.com/59/psa.63.5.esv

“He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.” Psalms‬ ‭103:10‬ ‭ESV‬‬

http://bible.com/59/psa.103.10.esv

The notion that a soul can be satisfied with fat and rich food would suggest that the spiritual and the physical are inseparable. It stands to reason then, that my addiction is not merely a physical problem. It is rooted in something deeper, something more foundational.

Any addiciton is a substitute for God in our life. Everyone, whether they believe so or not, has a God shaped space. We call it a heart or soul, but whatever it is called, it is meant to be filled by a loving God. Yet, we look to fill it with pleasure, love for self or selfishness, alcohol, food, sex, codependency or a host of other things. This is why Chesterton says that when we enter a brothel, we are really looking for God. Our need to fill this space will be satisfied, if with some counterfeit to God’s deep love.

So to resist the temptation toward our addiction, we must not only stay sober from whatever our addict desires. We must also reshape our attitude toward ourselves, that we are created for good, and reform our thinking to acknowledge the need for a power greater than ourselves to overcome our addict.

Thankfully God knows of our tendency to look to fill the spiritual void in all the wrong places. The Bible calls this sin, and no matter what you call it, God does not deal with us accordingly nor does He repay evil with evil, but with love.

“The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.” Psalms‬ ‭103:8‬ ‭ESV‬‬

http://bible.com/59/psa.103.8.esv