Recovery is Transformation…Not Abstinence ~ blog
When someone wants to stop an activity, they have done for years, they find it to be a challenge. This should not be a surprise…right??? For years you may have gotten up in the morning and had a cup of coffee. Then if your doctor says you need to cut out caffeine you are going to be hard to get along with for a while. Your body wants the caffeine you have trained it to desire. Or even more difficult is to stop smoking. Nicotine is very highly addictive and getting through withdrawal from it very hard.
We have this amazing tendency to want to keep doing the things that bring us pleasure. The things that are painful are easy to stop. Backing out of your driveway and hitting your garbage can, knocking it over, and dumping trash on the street is not a hard habit to break because you had to get out, pick up the trash, getting some of it on your clean shirt, having to go back inside and change the shirt, get back in the car and drive off to work. A bad start to what will probably be a bad day for you, but you will probably not do the same thing next week.
We have no problem learning to not do what is painful, but those things that give us pleasure and help us feel good…those things are a real challenge to stop. One of the reasons porn is such a difficult thing to stop is because it is pain in disguise. It looks great, it releases chemicals in our brains that feel great and we end up having an orgasm which might be the most pleasure you can experience on a regular basis, anytime and anywhere.
Then when the moment passes, and we come back to our senses…then comes the pain. We are angry at ourselves for doing once again the thing we said we were not going to do. We go deeper into isolation driven by shame, fear, and guilt. While we are down there, we reason we might as well have another one before we get up and so we go…and fall again.
So, we seek help and create a plan for being abstinent and we try our very best to stop. Trying to stop an addictive behavior that we have developed over years if not decades by all of a sudden trying to be abstinent is like trying to stop a freight train on a dime. You might seriously want to stop immediately but there is momentum working against you. Your behavior has become woven into your schedule and stopping is going to be a process because becoming sober is not demanding abstinence and perfection…
…but by making progress.
It is the “one day at a time” effort that might even need to be one hour at a time just to get by for one day. You will feel so many different things as you try to go without what you have gone with for so long. Welcome to withdrawal and figure you are in for this battle for at least 90 days.
Why do so many try and stop with sincere intentions and fail over and over again? They are trying for abstinence instead of transformation. They are trying to stop a highly addictive behavior in their own power instead of receiving real power to change from two sources.
The first and most important resource we have
as Christian believers is the Holy Spirit.
Yesterday we learned that the Holy Spirit of God has entered your body and He is dwelling inside of you 24/7 and He will never leave you or forsake you. So, you and the Holy Spirit are a team. This is good because even when you try to isolate yourself for another trip to the sexual fantasy world online…He is right there with you.
I wonder what He is thinking and doing while you are pouring more images into your brain and beating yourself off or having sex with someone you should not be having sex with. The amazing thing to me is we have the capacity to completely ignore God who is right there inside of us all the time.
Now, if you were a team playing a pick-up game of basketball and you had Michael Jordan and Lebron James on your team would you leave them on the bench while you were failing to win the game by yourself?
The Holy Spirit is God and He is God inside of your body. If and when you finally resolve to end your addiction to porn and sex don’t you think that He might need to be the most important part of that recovery process?
God spoke and created the heavens and the earth. He brought the sun and the stars into being and formed the earth in all its glory. And He created man and woman from dirt and a rib and created them with sexual desire for each other. Your sexuality is by His design and is for a wife and husband to enjoy.
Yet, the master of this present darkness wants to seriously mess you up. We now have the ability to have a sexual experience anytime and anywhere. We can find something new and deliciously exciting every day and find ourselves addicted and unable to stop.
So, we try quitting porn and masturbation. After a week or two, we begin to feel the real power of our flesh, our sinful nature that wants to be fed. The pull grows stronger and stronger until we finally give up and give in. We get it up and get it off and find ourselves feeling worse and maybe even a little desperate.
And yet…all the while…God the Holy Spirit sits by waiting. He is waiting because He wants to help you stop. He waits and He has all the power to help you and heal you. He does not just jump in and come to your rescue. But make no mistake about it…He cares and hates it when we choose to hurt ourselves with a precious pleasure that only deepens our pain.
I tried my best at abstinence for over 8 years with only a long list of broken promises and failures for my efforts. The problem??? I was remaining in isolation unable to tell anyone my sexual sins.
However, now…I am being changed. It is not me finally being able to change myself. I have learned how to offer my body to God every day, ask the Spirit to fill me every day, and walk by means of the Spirit every day. And as the years have passed I have been slowly transformed by the Holy Spirit so that in my heart, mind, and desires I no longer want or crave inappropriate sexual experiences.
He has done a work of transformation inside of me just as He wants to do inside of you. We will talk more specifically about how He will do that in your life beginning tomorrow.