Addiction doesn’t define you

So many people are searching for their identity. Who they are. Why they are on this planet. Wondering if anyone loves them.

It’s called identity crisis.

I’ve been there. I know all about it. I spent most of my life searching for those same answers. For 33 years, I was identified by a porn addiction that I just couldn’t seem to shake.

And therein lies the problem.

My wife and I spent so many years trying to change the fruit of my addiction, but the problem wasn’t the fruit. It was the tree. A bad tree will never produce good fruit. No matter how hard we try and modify behaviors.

Check out this excerpt from my book, Addiction to Adoption.

In Matthew 7, during the famous Sermon on the Mount, Jesus spent six verses (15-20) talking about trees and fruit. I believe He was specifically speaking about false prophets, but the entire segment can be applied to anyone. We will know people by their fruit. What catches your eye first? Tree or fruit? I’ve read that passage thousands of times by now, and every time, I focused on the fruit.

What if I told you the emphasis should be on the tree and not the fruit? That the passage in Matthew is pointing to our created value and identity? Go ahead and take a few minutes to wrap your head around the idea. I had to as well. When I finally took my gaze off the fruit and dug into what Jesus said about the tree, everything became clear. At that moment, change began to occur in my life and our marriage.

We were eager to “fix” my addiction and somehow find peace in a relationship which desperately needed a change. We discussed completely getting rid of the computer, but I always reverted to the argument for my writing efficiency. I was at a crucial point in my desire to write fiction and get published. I began to write poetry and song lyrics in high school, but when I discovered the joy of writing suspense stories, I didn’t want to stop.

The first solution we landed on was Sex Addicts Anonymous. This message greets you from their homepage:

“If you believe you have a problem with sex addiction (or are wondering if you might) and you want to change your behavior, we recommend that you find and attend a meeting of Sex Addicts Anonymous as soon as possible. We have found that the path to recovery begins with meetings. You may attend as many meetings as you like, and they are free of charge. The only requirement is a desire to stop your addictive sexual behavior. We wish you well in your recovery.”

We were excited. The message was what I wanted and needed. And let me say this before we continue; I’m not trashing SAA or any of the methods they use to help people recover from a myriad of sexual addictions. I am strictly describing my personal story and how I eventually reached complete and astounding freedom in Christ.

I found a local SAA chapter and inquired about their meeting times. I remember the very first night I attended. I asked my dad to go with me, because I had no clue what to expect or if I would even speak. He agreed which was a huge relief. I always hated exploring the “unknown” in any situation by myself. The more I write about this and think back, the more I remember. My first impression of SAA was such a feeling of depression. The people were very friendly and incredibly inviting when we walked in, but a heaviness filled the entire room.

It was almost as if I had entered into a war for my life, prepared to battle against an addiction on my doorstep, but given a plastic gun and rubber knife with which to fight. There was much talk about higher powers and sponsors, but everyone appeared to be hanging on to the edge of a cliff by merely their fingernails. Clawing to gain ground and avoid tumbling into the abyss of failure.

I listened intently as one after another stood up and re-affirmed their identity as a sex addict and then described their many disasters and few triumphs. I can’t remember if I said anything during that first meeting. There was a brief moment of commotion when a woman barged in and began to yell at one of the leaders.

In the aftermath of all the confusion, we found out it was his ex-wife, and they had a couple of children together. He had been in SAA for a few years due to peeping Tom issues. I can’t recall everything she was shouting, but she apparently didn’t have any faith in the program. After attending meetings for a few weeks, I asked that very same gentleman to be my sponsor.

I diligently progressed through every one of the twelve steps with his help. I could call him anytime I wanted if the urge to surf porn threatened to overtake me. I opened up to him about everything in my past and spoke about all the current issues in my marriage. If there was anything I didn’t want to discuss in a meeting, I could talk with him in private and seek guidance. I guess he was a free psychiatrist.

In reality, and this is something I have just recently learned, he was taking the place of intimate relationship with my Heavenly Father. Within my reach, I had the One who created the world and humanity by merely breathing, but I couldn’t see it. I was born into the original fall of man in the Garden and blinded by sin. All I had to do was go into my room, close the door, and commune with God in the secret place. However, the enemy had me bound by guilt, condemnation, and shame, and it was impossible to boldly approach the throne of grace at that time.

As I neared completion of the steps, my sponsor informed me he was finally able to look at Playboy magazines without the avalanche of lustful thoughts and desires overtaking him. That revelation shocked me a little because I was in the program to stop being tempted by that trash, not to look at it without getting aroused. I began to wonder if he was even the right person to be “leading” me on the road to recovery. I started questioning what I was even doing there.

My wife and I decided I should at least finish the steps, and then we would discuss our next plan of action. I completed everything I promised to do, but there was no change. The desires to look at porn still lurked within me. The entire SAA adventure had been a mere mortal man trying to crush something only God could handle. It was an utter failure in every way possible. Instead of feeling as if I had claimed any victory over my addiction, I realized hopeless defeat was the only outcome.

I don’t want to speak judgmentally against 12 step programs, but for me, they would never work.

We are not defined by addictions.

We are defined by the Creator of life.

 

You can purchase Addiction to Adoption from Amazon.

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