Guest Post: Metamorphosis

Hi, there.  My name is Bob Sinclair.

Dwight has been “under the weather” this week so I am going to be guest posting this week.

If you don’t know me, I am the “silent partner” in this blog.  The words that appear in this blog are Dwight’s, the pictures, punctuation, and spelling are mine.

Now that we have introduced ourselves….

Believe it or not, this blog, in its present form, it almost a year old.  It came out of a need to communicate to whomever would listen that Dwight’s porn addiction was no longer going to be his dirty little secret.  (Satan loves working in the dark.)

“For you are all children of the light and of the day; we don’t belong to darkness and night.” ~ 1 Thess 5:5

For Dwight, writing these blogs have not been easy.  If you look through the entrees for the last year, he has opened himself up and shared may difficult things that were going onto in his life.    His porn addiction.  His temptations.  His frustrations.  His joys.  His growing closer with God.  His recovery.

But equally as difficult, is the physical process that Dwight must go through to write these blogs.  Since he can not move without assistance, he uses a specialized computer system where he uses his eyes to look at his keyboard to type out what he wishes to write.  For more info, click here.   The process is time consuming, tiring, and tough of the eyes.

But through the blogs, we have been blessed to witness the metamorphosis of a person from someone giving up a twenty plus year porn addiction to the person he now is, or as Dwight said himself a couple weeks ago,From ‘Least of These’ to Masterpiece.

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! ~ 2 Corinthians 5:17

Believe it or not, you reading this blog has made you a part of this growing process, not only for Dwight, but for all of us. While Dwight may have thought in the beginning that he would be shunned by announcing his revelation, he discovered that the people around him were extremely supportive. I thank you all for your continued support. All the comments have been very encouraging.

“So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.” ~ 1 Thess 5:11

I know that in sharing this journey with Dwight, it has changed me.  I am sure it has affected you.

Take this opportunity to share below in the comments.  Tell Dwight what this blog has meant to you.
Advertisements

Joyful in Trials

I know you may be thinking that the title of this blog is a little ironic. I thought of this as absurd despite the fact that James 1:2-4 tells us,

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” –  James 1:2-4 ESV

My problems

I definitely don’t feel joyful when I am going through trials or difficulties. I went through what I considered a rough time for the last two weeks or so. I didn’t really see how the above verse was true to my situation until yesterday.

I’m sure not all of you reading know this, but I have great difficulty with my speech that makes it difficult for me to be understood. I do have a device to help me speak but I can only use it when I’m in my wheelchair. Luckily, for the last two years, I haven’t had changes in my nursing coverage. So, I mostly had nurses who knew me when I could speak well. As my speech slowly got worse, they slowly started to understand my new speech patterns.

Unfortunately, my primary day nurse stopped working with me a few weeks ago. This left at least five shifts open. The other day nurse has been working those days until at least one or two other nurses can permanently work the open shifts.

I have anxiety and worry when I have new people work with me, to begin with. I have had a few bad experiences with new nurses over the 22 or more years I have had nursing care. So I am a little apprehensive with new people.

But now, on top of learning my routine and limits, the nurses have to get used to my speech also. I have had frustration with my speech ever since it got bad. Sometimes I even take it out on others or at least get short tempered with those not getting what I’m saying.

Since I started going through recovery I have become better about this. Part of that recovery meant that  I’ve started being more consistent in my relationship with God by staying in the Word and doing devotionals.

I was doing everything I could on the days new people were training and working to stay calm and at peace. A lot of meditation and prayer was involved. Despite this I still had frustration but it was less than it would have been a year ago. I handled stress better. There were days that I felt like my endurance and patience were pushed to the limit.

Looking at things objectively

I didn’t see this as a trial because I always assumed that James 1:2-4 was referring more to things like persecution for our faith. Then yesterday I was reading a devotional and decided to look up some of the words in the verse in Strong’s Concordance. The word trial in this verse actually means “adversity, affliction or trouble.” The concordance further defines trials as, “sent by God and serving to test or prove one’s faith, holiness, character.

My situation was definitely testing my character in the area of patience and peace. I thought adversity, affliction and trouble sounded much rougher than what I went through. So, I looked these words up in the dictionary.

From this devotional, let’s take personal inventory.

adversity: (a state or instance of serious or continued difficulty or misfortune): Yep.

affliction (a cause of persistent pain or distress: Yep.

Trouble ( to agitate mentally or spiritually :  worry, disturb):  Yep.

Continued difficulty? Yep.

Persistent distress (pain or suffering affecting the body, a bodily part, or the mind): Yep.  Not to mention the exhaustion I have experienced.

Was it testing my faith? Yes, it was testing my faith in the fact that God is with me through all circumstances. Testing my faith that God would get me through this. God would guide me and give me the discernment to know if the person would be a good fit.

James also says that the testing of my faith produces steadfastness. Other translations use perseverance or endurance but they all have very similar definitions.

New List:  Goals that God has for me

steadfastfulness: firm in belief, determination, or adherence

perseverance: continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition

endurance: the ability to withstand hardship or adversity; especially :  the ability to sustain a prolonged stressful effort or activity

My endurance was definitely being worked on and developed. I couldn’t tell you how many times I had to repeat myself before being understood. The more time that went by people began to understand me more and more.

In James 1:4 we are told to, “Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything ~ NIV.” Some translations say perfect instead of mature. After a trial we aren’t suddenly perfect but the trial is to be used to make us closer to the image of Christ.

You may be asking where joy comes in. The joy is in understanding that whatever trial you are going through is a chance to be more Christ like. A chance to develop character so that you will better be able to show Christ to others. We are after all called to make disciples.

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” – Matthew 28:18-20 NIV

I am not good at seeing my trials in this light. I know it to be true but it seems like that knowledge completely escapes me in difficult situations. I whine and ask God why he’s doing this to me. In reality, most times he isn’t causing the difficulty but rather using the difficulty to give us the opportunity to grow. I say opportunity because we do have a choice. We can choose to complain and insist on doing things our own way. Or we can choose to draw closer to God so we can see what he’s trying to teach us or what attitude he is trying to adjust.

I had to choose to see what God was trying to do in my trial. I had to choose to see that he was working to develop within me patience, peace and trust. I needed to trust him to get me through every single day and hour some days. I also needed to have peace because it is very difficult to be patient when you are full of turmoil and worry. It’s just as hard to trust God and others.

—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.

Do everything without grumbling or arguing,  so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life.

 So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.  ~ Philippians 2:12b-16, 18 (NLT)

I hope the next time I go through trials or difficulties I will choose to count it all joy.

From “Least of These” to Masterpiece

 

Paul

The Apostle Paul was a very unlikely person to impact the world. Before his conversion, he was “breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples.” He was traveling around Israel hunting down believers in Christ. He was not to be messed with.

God struck him blind for three days just to get the stubborn man’s attention.

There was a man named Ananias who God used in Paul’s conversion. He was told by God to go to Paul and pray over him. This guy was scared to death because he knew of Paul’s reputation.

“But Lord,” exclaimed Ananias, “I’ve heard many people talk about the terrible things this man has done to the believers in Jerusalem!  And he is authorized by the leading priests to arrest everyone who calls upon your name.” Acts 9:13-14

Even by Paul’s admission, he didn’t feel he was up to the job.

For I am the least of all the apostles. In fact, I’m not even worthy to be called an apostle after the way I persecuted God’s church. ~1 Corinthians 15:9

He also said..

This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I am the worst of them all. 16 But God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners….  ~1 Timothy 1:15-16a

God used Ananias to open Paul’s eyes both physically and spiritually. I find it amazing how God uses the unlikely and unknown to accomplish his will.

When he was finally able to see he took to the gospel like a fish to water. He immediately started preaching in the synagogues. He was also responsible for taking many missionary trips to spread the word to the gentiles. This is amazing since Paul was a Pharisees who strictly followed the law. For someone like him, this would be unthinkable since entering a non-Jewish person’s house would make him ceremonially unclean.

He was an advocate for allowing the gentiles to be believers on equal footing with the Jewish believers. He started as many as 14 churches and wrote most of the new testament letters and died for his belief in Christ.

And to think, God used Paul while he was in prison (about five to six years worth).  With help with the people around him, notably Ananias, Timothy, Apollos, Titus, Philemon, and others, he was fundamental in building the early Christian Church.

Helen Keller

Helen Keller seemed to have an impact on those around her from a very early age. People could see both her potential and her tenacity. If it wasn’t for her tenacity we would never have know who she was.

Most people probably only know of the obstacles she overcame to communicate and obviously are moved by this. But she was so much more. She was the first deaf woman to graduate from college with a bachelor’s degree, at a time when it was unheard-of for someone with any sort of disability to attend college.

She changed people’s perceptions of the deaf and blind. People no longer saw the deaf as dumb. I wonder how much longer it would have taken for laws to be enacted giving the disabled access to educational establishments.

She is remembered as an advocate for the disabled, especially the deaf and blind. She spoke in 25 countries on the condition of the Deaf. She started her own foundation for research in vision, health and nutrition. She worked for women’s suffrage and was an advocate for the working class who at the time worked under deplorable conditions. She also helped to found the American Civil Liberties Union whose mission is to “to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to all people in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States.”

If it wasn’t for those who helped her during her childhood and college years, she would have accomplished none of this. She may not have learned to speak. In her autobiography of her early life, she speaks of how some people’s kind and encouraging words would keep her going through times of loneliness and frustration. There were others who opened up a whole world to her like Anne Sullivan and Alexander Graham Bell.

If it wasn’t for those people she wouldn’t have been able to inspire and help as many people as she has. This is true for all. We don’t know when our simply being there to give a word of encouragement to someone will cause a domino effect. You encourage them and they go on to encourage others.

At the time of her illness that left her blind and deaf, who would have guessed she would accomplish so much?

Me?

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. ~Ephesians 2:10

When you look up “God’s masterpiece”, I am not the picture you expect in the dictionary.  A disabled, recovering porn addict puts me in “the least of these” category that Jesus was talking about.  ( “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’ ~~Matthew 25:40)

But God surrounded me with great people.  People who didn’t see me how the world saw me, but how God saw me.

I starting to build a closer relationship with God, and starting speaking about it.

People tell me that they are encouraged by this blog.

People tell me that they were encouraged by my testimony.

Every once in awhile, we get a small glimpse of our effect on others. This week, I was blessed by one of those glimpses. This past weekend, our church shared the story of a young woman with a disability who found the church and got baptized. She was baptized after hearing our pastor tell the story of my baptism.

On Baptism Sunday, I watched Pastor Todd preach the importance of Baptism, and what that declaration of faith means to each one of us.  He told us about a story about a man named Dwight, who’s a paraplegic and in a wheelchair just like me who finally left his house because he decided it was his time to attend a campus to be baptized.  Something came over me at that moment.  But I can’t explain.  It was a feeling.  Like I couldn’t leave church without being baptized.  If Dwight could do it, why couldn’t I?  ~Nahdias  (on the video starting 1:30)

This story touched me to the point of tears. It is amazing to see one action affect someone else so many years later. When I got baptized, it wasn’t to inspire others. It was just out of obedience that I acted. If we all were just obedient when the spirit moved us, imagine the impact we could have on the world. It could just be a kind or uplifting word that could change the course of someone’s life.

I would have thought you crazy if you would have told me at the time that my getting baptized would have any effect on anyone.

What do Paul, Helen, and I have in common? Faith. None of us were looking to be great. That’s why God chose us.

To look at us by the world’s standards, we are the last people that would affect anyone else.  But look at what God did.

I encourage all of you to be faithful in whatever you do. No matter how insignificant it may seem. You may be encouraging the next Billy Graham or the scientist who will one day cure cancer.  You just may be increasing the kingdom.

Getting OnTrack

Last week I mentioned how things have been a little more difficult for me and how I need to get back on track. I want to take this week to share a battle plan of sorts that I have made a commitment to keep for the next month.

Coming up with a plan is advice I got from a podcast called Porn Free Radio. If you click the link you can get more details on making your own plan.

The first thing I had to do was decide what my motivation is for not wanting to go back to pornography. It couldn’t be done for the sake of someone else. I had to have a reason that was internal or selfish so to speak. Basically, I had to say I don’t want this, I want this. For me it was, I don’t want to be and feel isolated, I want to have better and stronger relationships.

Pornography causes a person to not know how to have a real relationship with anyone. And it isn’t isolated to romantic relationships. Watching pornography is all about the viewer. The person watching is solely focused on his or her own gratification.

If we keep feeding that selfish thinking it spills into all other areas of life. That’s what happened to me. The more I watched the more selfish I became, the more selfish I became the more isolated I felt and then I would watch more porn further continuing the cycle.

The next thing was to be aware of things and situations that are potential triggers. It’s important to write them down to make them concrete. Also, it’s good to look back at what you wrote to remind yourself.

This way if you find yourself in these situations or feeling these emotions you can take action to get out, to do something to lessen the emotions or do something to keep yourself from going down the wrong path. Those actions are different for everybody but what works for me is meditation, prayer and relaxing music.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:6-7 NLT

For me, stress and worry are signs that I may be getting into trouble if I don’t calm down or distract myself. I have stress and worry when it comes to my Healthcare and nursing. I don’t constantly worry about it but when there is change or a nurse needs replaced, then my worry tends to kick in.

The next thing is consequences for relapsing. It can either be not doing something you enjoy or doing something you don’t enjoy. We’re not talking about torture, though. It can be something as simple as doing the dishes for a month. I decided that my consequence is not playing Dungeons and Dragons with my friends. I’m such a geek.

Consequences are good but it’s also important to celebrate successes. I realized I haven’t done anything specific to celebrate milestones in my recovery. This makes it a chore. As I grow in my recovery I should feel more joy. This won’t happen if I don’t celebrate once in a while. I decided to go to the movies with a friend after the first month.

The next thing is commitments. More specifically commitments that move you forward in your recovery. The number of commitments will vary but they should be active. Just having a list of things not to do will drive you to frustration. If you know certain activities usually lead to trouble then that probably should be listed. I personally don’t have coffee after 2 pm. I know having it later can cause me to be jittery when I’m trying to get to sleep.

My other commitments are to meditate and pray at least once a day, read the bible daily, contact someone from recovery daily and to stick to my morning routine. My routine is to meditate for 15-20 minutes and then to do a combination of devotionals, Bible reading, and prayer for 40-45 minutes.

The commitments should include things that give you life or joy. You have to include things that you actually enjoy doing. I personally have to make sure I consume some form of entertainment. Whether it be some tv, a movie, a book or podcast.

That is what I am doing this month to get back on track. Once you make a plan you aren’t stuck with it for life. That is why you do a plan for a short amount of time. You can adjust it as your needs change.

From Darkness Into Light

Last week, I started talking about a journey that Helen Keller, Paul from the bible, and I have in common. A journey from darkness into light.   In one way or another, we all have the journey.

I was reading The Story of My Life by Helen Keller, and I was drawn into the story of her going from a world of isolation to one of joy and love. She described the illness that caused her to become deaf and blind, and how she became accustomed to it. She said,

helen-keller“Gradually I got used to the silence and darkness that surrounded me and forgot that it had ever been different until she came—my teacher—who was to set my spirit free.” ~ Helen Keller

This seems to be what happens with addiction. A person becomes so accustomed to his or her dysfunctional behavior that it is normal to them. This is how my own addiction developed.

It started as what seemed to be harmless curiosity and slowly developed into an obsession that consumed much of my time and energy. I would go so far as to say that it consumed my heart and soul. It wasn’t until I found Christ that I realized that what I was doing is wrong.

Just as Anne Sullivan came to set Helen’s “spirit free”, Jesus came to set my spirit free. It wasn’t an instantaneous transformation for either one of us. It is and was a long and difficult path.

Helen was very frustrated when Mrs. Sullivan first started working with her. She would have fits of anger. But Mrs. Sullivan was patient and just as stubborn as Helen. Helen just couldn’t make the connection between the signs Mrs. Sullivan made in Helen’s hand and the objects they represented.

a-good-ideaThen one day something clicked and she made the connection. When she was finally able to make the connection between language and objects, a whole new world was opened up to her. She was freer but as new challenges came up she would at times revert to frustrated outbursts.

In my case, I wanted to change but I had all sorts of bad programming in my brain that needed changing. In the beginning, the battle was constant. Then one day I realized that I wasn’t struggling nearly as much because my brain was reprogramming itself and in turn, my attitude was changing.

Then one day, as with Helen, something clicked and I made a connection.  There was  a connection between my spiritual life  and the behaviors that I was engaged in.  Getting closer to God made me freer, but I have to admit that things have been more of a struggle lately, causing frustration.

So what do I do? I get back on track. I get back to doing the things required to make my recovery work. I need to be disciplined in order to work on my recovery, especially when I am feeling good and doing good.

laurelI need to keep my eye on the prize.  My sobriety and my relationship with Jesus.

I want to be like Paul the Apostle, who said:

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.”  ~2 Timothy 4: 7-8

In the same way, it took consistent repetition for Helen to continue learning and growing, I need to be consistent in order to keep growing.

Having said all of this, I think this applies to all of us. We don’t have to be an addict or overcome a physical adversity to apply this.  It is true of any of us who want to make a positive change in our lives.

If you are a Christian, you may have had times in your life where you weren’t doing life God’s way. Or where you have distanced yourself from God because of past hurts. You too may have gotten used to the darkness to the point that it became normal.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. ~ Hebrews 12:1

If God can change the heart of a murderer who was hell bent on the destruction of the church, like the Apostle Paul, He can change the heart, mind, life and attitude of any of us.

If God can find the right teacher to open up Helen’s world…

If God can change a porn addicted, guy in a wheelchair like me….

I am praying that my Holy Teacher will guide me so that even though I get complacent and stubborn, people will see Jesus through the cracks of an imperfect me.

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. – 2 Corinthians 4:6