I have been having some trouble coming up with what to write this week. I think I need a jolt of inspiration.
That’s better. I think I can write now.
Hurricane Matthew just came and gone, but it was not the only storm in my life.
In 2013 I thought I was having a good relationship with God. I was in the Word pretty much daily, my prayer life was pretty good and I felt close to God. I was even studying to be a Christian counselor. I wasn’t really struggling with lust or pornography.
I met a nice Christian girl in an online bible study. It didn’t take long before we became friends and started to develop feelings for each other beyond that. She, like me, had her own set of health problems. So I felt like we were able to understand each other’s struggles in that area.
Sometime during that year I just didn’t have the energy to continue my studies and dropped out of school. This was hard to take. It felt like I was admitting defeat to my disability. I was depressed for a little while but kept going and was able to get past the disappointment. I was still happy and doing good.
Near the end of that year, the girl I met and I talked about being in a relationship. She said no because she didn’t think she could handle that because of her health. I should also add that we lived about 1500 miles apart.
We were good friends so we kept talking. Then about halfway through the following year (2014) it started getting hard for me. My feelings had grown for her. I just kept praying to God during the emotional storm. Praying for guidance. What do I do with these feelings toward this person who I can’t be with?
Eventually, the situation resolved itself. Well, she resolved it when she told me she loved me. I was quite happy as you can imagine. So we started our relationship.
I need to backup to the beginning of 2014 for a moment. During the first couple months, I was having a struggle with lust. Unfortunately, a few times I gave in to the temptation and looked at stuff I shouldn’t have. Luckily God or something inside of me never let me cross the line and think about her when acting out. Then at some point, the struggle stopped. I was turning to porn instead of God for comfort. I screwed up.
So 2014 ended on a high note in the relationship department.
Then shortly before Thanksgiving my mom’s pacemaker or defibrillator went off while we were at a dinner at church. There were people there who happened to be nurses and paramedics or EMTs. The paramedics from the local firehouse got there very quickly and took her to the hospital.
This started a six-month season of both of my parents going in and out of the hospital for heart problems. It was a scary time. The first few times turned out to be relatively minor. There was one procedure where we thought my mom wasn’t going to make it. It was what cardiologists consider routine but they didn’t take into consideration that she had a weak heart.
One of the times when my mom was in the hospital for a week, my girlfriend spent time with me every night. It was online but her condition steals her energy. I know it must have taken most of her energy, if not all of it. If it wasn’t for her I would have gone crazy. Some people may say that ship sailed a long time ago.
I wish I could say that my relationship with God stayed strong during that storm, but I would be lying. At first, it was easy to stay close to him. But as the months went on and the hospital stays began adding up I grew further and further away from God. Rather than trusting him and resting in him I went in the opposite direction. I drew away from him.
Again I started struggling with lust, fantasies, and pornography. I was medicating the pain instead of turning to God. Again it was only a few times but it was worse than last time. I still wasn’t willing to call it what it was, an addiction. I wasn’t letting God work on me through the storm. God wasn’t done trying to get my attention. He just needed to use a bigger baseball bat.
The temptation went away again but came back every once in awhile. But I was so ashamed and so afraid of my girlfriend finding out that I started acting or at least feeling awkward around her sometimes. We would watch a show together and if there was a sexual innuendo or something I would be thinking if she only knew. Or she’ll find out and think I’m a fraud, she’ll leave me. Whether or not this was rational I don’t know.
Then my 40th birthday comes around (2015) and the day trip I went on was a bust. After the rough year with my parent’s health, that was all I needed. I put up a good front but I felt like I was falling apart inside. I was getting depressed and feeling worthless.
I began thinking I was crap and no one would want to have anything to do with me. For the previous two to three months my girlfriend’s health was deteriorating. She didn’t have much energy at all so she couldn’t talk to me as often as either of us would have liked. After spending some time with me on my birthday she wasn’t able to do anything with me for a month.
Between my feeling sorry for myself and the way other women in the past had blown me off I wasn’t thinking clearly. The longer she wasn’t able to talk the more I heard this lie in my head telling me she was avoiding me. This led to a conversation I wish I could take back. I told her what I was thinking and told her I wasn’t even going to try to contact her until she told me she was better. Yep, real boyfriend of the year material!
Two days later I came to my senses and contact her to apologize for being a jerk. I get a reply from her mother telling me that she was really sick and couldn’t talk to me. I kept checking on her through her mother and was able to write her a letter. But instead of simply apologizing I made excuses thinking I was just explaining myself.
This was at least the second time I thought I was being a jerk and when I apologize find out she got sick. You do the math.
I kept waiting and waiting. Then about two weeks before Christmas, I got an email from her breaking up with me. I took it very hard and obviously blamed myself. Her email didn’t explicitly say why but sounded like her health. So whether it was me, her health or both I don’t know for sure.
It doesn’t matter what the reason for the purpose of this post. I finally hit bottom and started to take my addiction seriously after a ten-day binge. I was devastated and completely broken.
God kept trying to get my attention but I wasn’t listening. He finally had my attention. I was finally listening. I haven’t looked at pornography since. I have still had my struggles but I’m growing. I’m far from perfect.
The first three months were hell. I didn’t think I was going to make it. I now realize that God loves me. I realize I am worthy of love and that I have value.
It took a major storm in my life to have a major change in my life.
After Hurricane Matthew, the lead pastor at our church felt led to preach on the story in Matthew 14:22-33 where Jesus and Peter walk on water. I’m sure that’s the part most of us remember.
Our pastor decided to not focus on this part but rather to focus on the storm and how God uses the storms in our lives. You can find the sermon on our church website, gochristfellowship.com, or on YouTube at https://youtu.be/N6XppqzzXxs
This sermon got me to thinking of the storms in my life, especially the most recent ones. So I want to reflect on how God has used those storms in my life.
I had to get off the porn. I had to fight to get back with God. Just as Jesus calmed the storm for his disciples, He gave me the strength I needed to fight the addiction.
Even though I thought my world was crashing around me, it served as the motivation to get back on track.
I am happier now. Better than I have been in a long time.
And the fight continues.
Thank you, Jesus.