Sixteen years ago, today, my world of living a double life and having the truth be revealed happened. I thought I would share with you what happened and hopefully give you all some hope as you walk out your own recovery. I am not holding my example up as something you should try and imitate…because everyone’s recovery is different. Some things are universal, and some are unique to who you are, what you have done, and how your spouse needs to respond.
I am deeply thankful for the immeasurable depth of the grace and mercy God has shown to me and my family. For at least the first year I did not know if we could or would stay together.
Someone told my wife these prophetic words…
“Your Old Marriage is dead…
But God is going to give you a New Marriage.”
And He has done that. However, only after both of us put in the work that was necessary.
His repairing the damage my sexual sins had produced I liken to having a root canal. Decay has gotten down into the very roots of the tooth and what was once alive and necessary for the health of the tooth has died and needs to be dugout. So, for you to be able to lay there without screaming and ripping the arms off the dental chair they inject some Novocain.
Then comes the high-pitched sound of the drill that puts the fear of God in you. When the drill bit hits the enamel, you hear a different sound of the drill creating a larger hole in your tooth and sometimes you see and smell the smoke coming out of your mouth.
Once the hole is large enough then comes the file. The file is a miniature dagger with a sharp end so that it can be jammed down into the dead pulp and absolutely all the pulp must be removed and then you receive the filling…something called Gutta-Percha which is a rubber-like substance to keep any further infection from entering the tooth.
My disclosure of my sexual sins to my wife was like a root canal on her soul with no local anesthetic available. She heard me tell her the truth…things that would have been her worst nightmare. This man who had promised to love and protect her and to be faithful to her with no exceptions sat before her weeping and confessing years of porn addiction and multiple marital infidelities. It seemed like I was stabbing her in the chest with each confession of my multi-faceted forms of adultery.
Then there was the confession to our four adult children. Their father and their pastor confessed to 8+ years of porn addiction and being unfaithful to their mother. As I told them over that weekend the train had wrecked…the damage was done…and it was up to all of us what would happen next.
Would they be overwhelmed with anger and condemnation? What would it take to receive their forgiveness for the absolute worst-case scenario they would have ever imagined? Only time would tell. I am sure all 5 of them would have to receive from God any forgiveness they might be able to give me. But at the end of that weekend, after telling my oldest son of 24 years and hearing him scream; “How could you do that to my mother??? I hate you!!!” And hung up on me.
The train wreck that I so deeply feared had happened. But would it be enough to keep me to continue down the road of doing whatever it would take to find restoration from God and forgiveness from my family? And it all hinged on one thing…would I be willing to do whatever it would take for me to get the help I needed and stick with my recovery for the rest of my life or not?
If I ever committed another act of adultery, then my marriage would be over. My wife knew that for anyone in addiction recovery to be able to become perfect was very slim and so there has been grace since over the past 16 years I have looked at porn and had some relapses. Those have all been confessed to her and to the leaders of 180 and to multiple Online Support Teams.
Thankfully both my wife and I knew we needed counseling. I started going to a men’s group for those who had become addicted to porn that next week and attended every week for 9 months and then served as a leader in that ministry for 3+ years.
My wife found a wonderful counselor whom she went to weekly for about 18 months to learn how to deal with what I had done. And then returned a few years later to work on some of the emotional trauma from her childhood.
As I made progress in the work I needed to do to battle against sexual sin and she made progress in becoming more whole in her being…it was slowly becoming time to work on two things. First, both of us daily working on spending time with the Lord and listening to what He wanted us to do. Second, as we were both growing closer to the Lord, we were slowly being drawn closer together.
There was always another hurdle to face, and we worked on having a new marriage. She was making progress in being able by the Lord to forgive me and I was making progress in being open and accountable to her any time I would have a fall into porn and or masturbation.
She learned that I would tell her the truth if I had a relapse, and I would tell her quickly…the same day if possible. She also knew that I had a dozen men to whom I was weekly accountable, and they would keep me accountable for any slips I might be having.
Recovery happens slowly and rarely will it be without any slipping back into temptation or even having a fall. We all have a sin nature within us, an external enemy battling against us in this world, and the internet gives us everything we might be lusting for online in a matter of minutes…and almost anywhere thanks to smartphones and Wi-Fi.
However, after 5,840 days of working out my recovery, I rejoice that God has given me freedom from my former porn addiction and blessed me with an incredible ministry helping other men find freedom too.
You need to have hope that the Lord will walk with you every step of every day and that by His Spirit living in you He can bring to you the healing you need…but you will have to work for it as well.