“…. from the time I was 12 I have struggled with pornography. I feel like I go 6 to 8 months without any problems and then all of a sudden the urge is so strong and I just fall down. You keep thinking that you are past it or that the struggle is all over, but then it’s not. It’s so frustrating”
That was what a friend told after meeting together. I listened to him and wanted to help him. But I thought, “How can I help him when I’m just as messed up? How do you speak into someone’s life when you don’t have it all together?”
My story is also one of struggling with pornography since I was 12. I have known what it’s like to go on binges and to feel the drug of pornography take over you. And you know it’s wrong, and doesn’t give you the best and isn’t what God intended – but you still go back over and over. You know it’s going to hurt your family, your ministry and way in the back of your mind you know it’s going to make your relationship with God a little awkward for a while, but you still go there.
1. There is hope… and yes you have probably heard it before, but don’t let it just become words – Jesus does matter in all this. The reason for the title “Grace for the journey” is because I believe that is what we are given. Most of us will not just wake up someday without the desire to look at porn anymore. For the select few that are able to walk away and leave the struggle behind and not “look” back, God bless you – honestly, that’s so awesome. For most of us though, it will be a lifetime struggle. And there will be times when we fail and fall down. Please don’t get me wrong, that’s not an endorsement or an “oh well” when we do, that’s a “get up and keep walking” – God is ready to help you back up. Find some guys you can talk to, who will truly help you up and stick with you on the journey. And know that it’s not just about “behavior modification”, this is about becoming a full fledged disciple of Christ. This is about being changed by Him in words, and in deeds. The point isn’t just to stop looking at porn – but as followers of Christ to become more and more like Jesus each day.
2. Don’t believe the lie that you can’t walk with or help others on this journey until you are perfect. That’s crap! We’ve all been taught that for too long. I received great advise from a friend of mine when I told him I couldn’t help because I hadn’t mastered it. He said, “Who better to understand the struggle and to show grace and offer hope than you and others like you.” And I think that advice goes to many of you. If we continue to struggle in silence because we are afraid of what other’s think – that’s garbage. It’s time to talk to a few others, it’s time to help one another and stop pretending it’s not happening. We need to have safe places in our churches for guys (and girls) to share their struggles and get help. Obviously, there are always consequences for our actions – sometimes very small, sometimes very big depending on the situation. But silence and struggling alone has it’s own and debilitating consequence in itself. It keeps us in a cycle of repeating the same things. So even if you think you can’t help, just by being open to a few people – it can very well open a door for them to share back. God can use you, even while you are working through it yourself. If it was true that we can’t help others until we are fully healthy and perfect ourselves, no one could help anyone else. Jesus couldn’t have left His message and the church in the hands of disciples – we’re all screwed up… the Bible tells us so.
“Some people consider the use of words like messy spirituality rude and audacious. ‘How dare you suggest that people are messy? What are you proposing? Are you suggesting sin is okay, that we should condone less than a 100 percent effort to serve God? You are too negative. It is no helpful to emphasize our flaws.’ But the truth is, we are a mess. None of us is who we appear to be. We all have secrets. We all have issues. We all struggle from time to time. No one is perfect. Not one. (I have just paraphrased Romans 3:10.) The essence of messy spirituality is the refusal to pretend, lie, or allow others to believe we are something we are not… When you and I stop pretending, we expose the pretending of everyone else. The bubble of the perfect Christian life is burst, and we all must face the reality of our brokenness.” (from “Messy Spirituality” by Michael Yaconelli )
There is hope though, Jesus came for that… for us. Grace, love and change comes from Him. “Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matthew 9:12-13, TNIV)
We may not be perfect, but that doesn’t mean we can’t grow, change or help one another. We will fall down, but we can get back up…
… God gives us “Grace for the journey”.