Editor’s Note: This article is apart of content that was published from 2005-2010 under the direction of Jason Wenell. In March 2012 Darrell and Allison Vesterfelt became the new owners of Prodigal Magazine. Check out the new vision and direction of the publication.
This is the final entry of a three part series
Another turning point came. This was at a Promise Keepers conference. One of the speakers made this point about men and sexual sin. “God will not deliver you from your friends”. I came to realize that day that my addiction was my friend and I didn’t really want to give it up. It was the most honest I had ever been to myself about my addiction. Something even more important came out of that conference. I was able to recognize a truth about God and began to integrate that truth into myself. That truth was that God love me and cared about me no matter what. His love never changes no matter where I am in my life or what I am doing. I can really come to Him just as I am. He will not turn me away or reject me. He will hold me in His arms and He will guide me. God had a plan for me, a plan I was completely unaware of all along the way. I know there were many times and sometimes years that I felt far from God but He was there, right there, working His plan. I invited God into my life when I was sixteen years old. Into my life He came. I cannot really say I felt His presence or His hand working in my life. As I look back over my life, I see clearly now that He was there and He was working. I found a real sense of freedom. I found the freedom and peace of knowing God’s love, grace, and forgiveness. This gave me a new perception of my addiction and my path to recovery. It was a slow process, but I came to accept and personalize the Love of God. He would not tease me or criticize me. He would not reject me. He would always understand me and accept me just as I am. This gave me the new understanding and the willingness to take a new look at myself. It was a more honest look. I lost my identity as a failure and a sex addict. Yes I was a sex addict and yes I had had many failures or incomplete successes. However, all of it was part of the journey to better understanding and acceptance of who I really was.
Today my life is different. The shame and loneliness have faded to almost nothing. I continue to work as both a nurse and a psychologist. God has a purpose and a plan and a calling. One of those callings is to reach out and help other men who are having a similar struggle in their lives. Sexual addiction is a product of personal life experiences and our personality make up. It is not just a behavior to learn to control. It has a purpose in our lives. When we take it away we are left to deal with all the things we have been hiding and running from. These are powerful and painful feelings. God’s love, your understanding of yourself, your patience with yourself and your acceptance of yourself are all important components of success, not only in over going the addiction behavior but in many other areas of your life.
If you need help, find it. Find a group of other men. The healing power of the group process cannot be denied. If you have to choose between a group and individual therapy, choose the group. If you start with individual therapy, set your goal to find and attend and participate in a group. There are many books on the subject and most are good. If you find one and you feel it is more legalistic and judgmental, put it aside and find another. I have read most and will suggest Breaking Free by Russell Willingham. I am impressed with his focus on the personal relationship with God as fundamental to recovery. For deeper understanding of sexual addiction, I suggest Out of the Shadows by Patrick Carnes. This will reveal much about yourself and the influence of your past on your addiction. If you have this problem, get help. You cannot do it on your own. Even if you read all there is on the subject and get a PhD, you will not find success without the help of others, others just like you. You have tried to do it alone just like I did and each time, just like me, your success fell far short of completion. Maybe this is your time to take the step in right direction. If you have accepted Christ into your life, you are saved. God loves you and He is with you always. He is working in your life. Open your heart to that love. Let Him hold you just as you are. The strength of His love gives you the strength to take the journey of recovery. There are many paths in your journey. Many appear dark and others seem more like steps backwards. These paths are often filled with more insight and understanding about yourself. The knowledge that God loves you no matter the outcome provides the strength and the endurance to push on in the quest to be a better man of God. We cannot honor God by trying to appear perfect and hide our imperfections. We honor Him by facing our imperfections and coming along side others to help and be helped.