Better than I’ve ever been!

The past year has been quite the journey. When the year started I was quite the mess but I have grown so much since. I have learned to see myself in a completely new light. I see myself more the way God does, not the way my porn addled brain taught me to see myself.

being-downI use to see myself as dirt, I now see myself as fearfully and wonderfully made. I use to see myself as unlovable, I now see myself as loved by God and worthy of that love. I use to think I don’t have anything to contribute to others but writing this blog has proved otherwise.

The road has been difficult but worth taking. In the beginning I was miserable and would constantly put myself down. But as my head started to clear because I was no longer corrupting my brain with porn and was filling my mind with God’s word instead I began to feel better about myself.

I was also learning ways to stop my thoughts when they would start to head down the old road. I learned to replace those thoughts with God’s word, praise and worship songs and prayers. Some days it is easy and I don’t have to fight. But other days it still seems like a constant battle. It is a matter of setbacks followed by rebuilding steps. Fortunately the setbacks have gotten smaller and easier to come back from.

gods-love-for-us-christThe hardest thing was learning to love myself again. I think the only way to accomplish this is by first accepting the fact that God loves me first. God loves me because that is who He is, not because of anything I have done or could ever do. His love towards me is truly unconditional. His love cannot be earned or bought. That’s a good thing for all of us. I mess up quite frequently and if my past was criteria for Him loving me I would in no way be eligible. Thank you for saving me Jesus.

Once I was able to accept God’s love and begin loving myself again I was able to start working on accepting the love of others. I say start working on because I am still working on this one. I believed that if people got to know the real me then they wouldn’t like me let alone love me. There were times I would let others in but I always had that thought somewhere buried in my subconscious. It would always eventually surface and I would either push them away or just shutdown.

helping-anotherI was so afraid that people would run away from me when they found out about my porn addiction. It was when I came clean by writing about it in my blog and talking about it with some friends that showed me otherwise. No one left. Nobody was horrified. I didn’t lose any friends. In fact I feel closer to some friends than I did before they knew about my addiction. I have also made new friends and brothers in arms through my recovery.

What have I learned from my experience over the past year? To rely on God and to let Him love me. I have learned that my friends are more understanding and supportive than I could have ever imagined. I have learned that I am not alone in my fight against porn addiction. This problem is more widespread than I ever knew. I’m sure most people reading this have any idea either or are struggling alone unnecessarily.

I think the most important or at least useful thing I have learned is that I can’t do it alone. Trust me I’ve tried for about half of my life. Recovery will not work if you try to go it alone. If you are struggling with this then get help.

How is life different now? I am free! I no longer feel trapped and controlled by my addiction. Instead I am free to experience the love of God and the love of others. I have friends I can truly count on. They have my back. They always have, I just couldn’t see it through my self inflicted shame. I no longer feel ashamed, I feel loved. I am so glad that I finally reached out for help. It was and is the best thing I have ever done.

I want to thank my sponsor/accountability partner for all his help and support, and for putting up with me. I also thank my friends who have been there for me. Also, the men in my recovery group who fight right along with me. And thank you to those of you reading this.

I almost forgot to tell you the best part. As of January 1, 2017 I will have been porn free for one year! Definitely reason to celebrate!

trip to n carolina and lewis' party 033

Advertisements

Doubt and Faith

Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue set free, and he began to speak, praising God.- Luke 1:64

In Luke’s Gospel account he goes into great detail not only about the birth of Jesus, but also the birth of John the Baptist. According to Luke, the angel Gabriel announces the birth of John first. John’s father was serving in the Temple and was in the sanctuary of the Lord burning incense on the altar when the angel appeared.

kc_super_plus-menAccording to Luke, “he was shaken and overwhelmed with fear.” I don’t think I would have felt differently. I know most depictions we make of angels are childlike but I doubt angels look at all like this. Every time someone in the Bible sees an angel they are scared to death. Most of the time the first words the angel says are “Don’t be afraid.” If angels looked like the images we have no one would be scared. They probably wouldn’t be taken seriously either.

After the angel tells him of the coming pregnancy and birth and how John will prepare the way for the Lord, he isn’t convinced. He knows about how old Abraham and Sarah were when she had Isaac. I doubt Zechariah and Elizabeth were nearly as old. He had an angel sent by God standing so close he could reach out and touch Him. He still doubted. Because of his doubt he was made mute until the birth.

haggai-and-zechariah-pict-3It’s easy to judge Zechariah some 2,000 years later, we have the benefit of knowing how the story ends. I wonder how many of us would have doubted the same way he did. I know so many of us doubt God’s ability to use us. We forget about people in the Bible that seemed like unlikely choices that God used to do great things. People like Gideon, an old man named Abraham, a stuttering man named Moses and a humble shepherd named David just to name a few.

If God could use them, he can use any and all of us.

Even though Zechariah doubted in the beginning, when he finally was obedient in the naming of John the first thing he did was praise God. The scriptures say that when he wrote the name John, immediately his speech came back and he praised God. I find it interesting that he could speak only after he was able to show obedience. I wonder how often God is waiting for us to step out in faith before giving us the breakthrough we are waiting for.

I also notice that when Zechariah praised God he didn’t say anything about John or himself until the end. He first praised God and the coming Messiah. How easy would it have been for him to focus on what his own son would accomplish. It seems obvious to me that the whole experience changed Zechariah’s heart from one of doubt to one of faith and praise.

022-zechariah-john

I hope that this Christmas we all can focus on Jesus and what He has done for us instead of the busyness of the season and the gifts.

Being used by God

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. – Luke 2:4-7

joseph-and-mary

Shortly before Jesus was born Mary and Joseph traveled to Bethlehem to be counted in the census decreed by Caesar Augustus. Because of this, Jesus was born in Bethlehem which fulfilled the prophecy foretold by the prophet Micah.

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah,
out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” – Micah 5:2

I find it mind-boggling when I think about how God caused Ceasar to decree this without taking away his free will. God could have just sent Gabriel again and commanded them to go to Bethlehem. But He chose to use the leader of the Roman Empire. But I’m getting away from the point I want to make.

Mary and Joseph were insignificant in the eyes of the world. But God used them in accomplishing the miraculous. He used them to bring Jesus, God incarnate, into the world to live among us and to later sacrifice Himself so that we could be with Him forever.

God not only used the insignificant, but He used the significant, again in the eyes of the world. Caesar was the ruler of an empire that spanned most of the known world. He had absolute power over those he ruled. He could have anyone killed at any time on a whim.

dwightandnic
Dwight & Nic Vujicic

What I want you to take away from this is that regardless of your station in life God can and will use you to accomplish His will. No matter how insignificant we feel, we are significant to God. How do I know this?

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. – John 3:16

The Faith Of Mary

“Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he will reign over Israel* forever; his Kingdom will never end!” – Luke 1:30-33

Can you imagine how scared Mary must have been?mary-learns-of-christs-birth-from-angel-gabriel

First, an angel appeared to her which is amazing and scary by itself. But the angel Gabriel told her she, a virgin no less, would give birth to the Son of God. We still can’t wrap our heads around it today.

Sure, we have in vitro fertilization. But we’re talking about the supernatural here. It took a lot of faith for her to believe this would happen.

She would be risking her reputation and her marriage to Joseph. She would be labeled an adulterer. Who on earth would believe her?? “I swear I’m still a virgin.”  ” Yeah. Right,” would be the reply.

And not to mention the responsibility she would feel beyond the responsibility of a regular pregnancy and motherhood. The Son of God!

Despite all this, Mary’s response was obedience.

obedience

Mary responded:

 “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” And then the angel left her. – Luke 1:38

This advent season, I want to strive to have that type of obedience. The type of obedience that does what God asks no matter how ridiculous it may seem to me.

I also want to remember that God uses us to accomplish His will.