May this blog be a blessing to you as you seek to understand the why's behind addiction and where to go from here.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Thy Rod and Thy Staff, They Comfort Me

God chastises (punishes) those whom He loves.

I think that we as habitual sinners (my definition of the word 'addict', from a Christian point of view) need to learn to love God's ebb and flow in our lives. Certainly, there are a number of things in our life that have happened merely as a result of a fallen world and because of sin, whether our own or the influence of others. But it is also evident that God works directly in our lives at particular times, especially when the reset button needs to be set. Certainly He allows and even engineers all things to happen, and as a Christian we accept this and realize that all things work for good for those that love God.

For me, I had been addicted to porn for 40+ years, the spiritual bondage starting back to when I was a small child, too young to understand right from wrong. Porn became so inculcated into my life, it became normal, just an average part of my life; and the deception to cover it up was as normal as my mother's deception to cover up her drug habits, or to lie to keep from getting in trouble when I broke the rules, lest I get beaten severely. As an adult, my heart had been hardened to the consequences of my sin because it was so ingrained in me, I didn't see the damage that it was truly doing. I'm not sure I even thought about it logically. There was some level of conviction that what I was doing was wrong, went against God's ways, but the rewards of the flesh at the time were outweighing the rewards of the Spirit - I hadn't learned enough about God's love to realize that there was so much more fulfillment in Him than the pixels on the screen.

So God crushed me. Many times over.

My relationship took many, many hits over the porn thing. My wife, who had an immediate hatred for porn before we were even married, made it clear that she would NOT accept a man that was looking at other women's naked bodies. We continued as a family unit, and I think that my wife held on to a hope that I would change as I matured, but our hearts became hardened toward each other 18 years ago. A handful of explosions happened over the years, and each time my wife cyclically caught me looking at porn it chipped away at any hope that she had for our relationship. My children became exposed to porn several times accidentally, and they sometimes drew pictures of what they saw. I lost a solid job of 5+ years (along with the great benefits, including pension) because I had no self control and viewed porn on the work network. It took very little after that to put my wife further and further into depression and apathy for our marriage, much less anything that needed to be done for our family.

In August 2015, my wife finally put her foot down and said NO MORE. She wanted separation, possibly divorce. In fact, she seemed to be hoping for divorce to be rid of the man that she hated so much. It took me a few months to realize that I shouldn't have blamed her, based on all of the crap that I put her through over the years, as my selfishness evidenced itself in so many other ways than just viewing porn.

I have errantly blamed God for my sin over the years, saying that surely I couldn't help being affected toward porn the way that I have. But I have been missing the boat entirely, realizing that He wants to affect a miraculous change in my heart and that He has so much more to offer me. I was making Him into my enemy, an oppressive tyrant, when He has always been the disciplining Father that was trying to get me to stop my bad behavior and allow Him to heal me.

So I have learned to accept His discipline. I am currently alone, more lonely in a physical sense than I have ever been; but I'm not nearly as lonely as I was in my broken marriage, having viewed my marriage as the center of my joy that had been so utterly destroyed. As I refocus my life on Christ, I am somehow more full and feeling less lonely than I did with a household of people (family of 10).

I take trips home to serve my family as best I can - watching kids while my wife gets chores done, doing some dishes when needed, making dinner, reading to the kids before they go to bed. I am glad that I am allowed to have this interaction. I love my kids. And I love my wife more than ever before. I look in her eyes more, though I feel a sense of guilt that I have taken the glimmer out of her eyes that she once had as a younger woman. I look at pictures of her all the time and think about how each year, her eyes seem to get more dull with the weight of her husband's sins. I hope and pray that God will put that light back in her heart and in her eyes.

There seems to be such a spiritual funk that hangs over my house. I knew it before, but it is even more evident now. I'm working to bring my family before the word of God each time I visit, but it seems to fall on indifferent ears. Nevertheless, God's word will not return void, and I trust that He will do His work in their lives in His own time. I am praying for their healing, that they would seek God and heal from all of the hurt, bitterness, and frustration.

My current societal purgatory and the associated eye-opening revelations as to the impact of my own sin are completely necessary for my repentance and growth. I'm learning not to seek penance to pay for my sins (tetelestai, it is finished), and I am realizing that God brings us low so He can build us back up again. There is no reason to shake my fist at the heavens anymore. Instead, my hands are open, and I hold them up in praise. And I sing songs openly with tears in my eyes. God is so good to me, his rod and his crook bring me back into line with His will for my life, and it has begun to bring comfort to my soul to know that He cares enough to discipline and train me. Glory be to the one true God, who deserves all praise and worship.

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