When I was a porn addict, I attended a small group at my church. We confessed to each other and encouraged one another through prayer and counsel. I made some really close friends in that group. There is something powerful about the ability to be truly vulnerable with another human being. (Tweet This!)
In our common struggle, we used a certain kind of language to speak about our struggles that hinted at our difficulties without always going into the grungy details. Much of this language was pulled from popular books at the time and from some passages in scripture, while much of it was simply what we felt.
One of the most common phrases we used was “it’s every man’s battle.” It felt good to know we were not alone there in that tiny office. And it certainly felt like a battle, so we adopted a lot of warfare metaphors and terminology. In some of our gatherings, you might have thought you were in a VFW meeting.
What we perhaps didn’t realize was that as we spoke that way, we reinforced a paradigm that we had adopted of our struggle. This paradigm dictated how we approached that struggle and infected the way we saw the world, our God, and ourselves. It did passive damage.
After many years of battle, I started to grow weary and began asking some important questions about this paradigm. It seemed deeply unhelpful to climb deeper and deeper into a war that most people, including most pastors who spoke about the issue from the pulpit, told me could never be won – only fought. Over and over again, I heard that in Jesus we were free, but we will always struggle.
It was in the scriptures that I began to find a way home; back to myself and back to the Spirit that created my sexuality. There’s a story in the New Testament: the Temple Guard was arresting Jesus shortly before he would be hung on a cross and executed. One of Jesus’ disciples pulled a sword to defend his Master and Jesus called out to him: “Peter! Put away your sword! For he who lives by the sword will die by it.”
And that’s where it hit me: it was time for a new paradigm. I had been living and dying by the sword: I’d been seeking battle, so that’s what I’d always found. (Tweet This!) I wondered what it would look like to seek peace. Would I find it?
Searching for a new paradigm, I turned to another treasured book in Christian lore: Pilgrim’s Progress. In John Bunyan’s classic allegory, he paints a picture of a man who has adopted his humanity not as something to be escaped or fought against, but rather as something that needed to be rechristened. And so it was that I came to see my addiction not as a battle but as a pilgrimage. (Tweet This!) And in this paradigm, all that was required was the next step – a step that was blessed and covered in grace. And instead of finding my power in the sword I carried and in all of the control mechanisms I wielded against my enemies, I instead found authority – that mysterious ability to move mountains, heal and be healed, and cause demons to submit. No sword necessary.
Lacey Clark Ellman, author of Pilgrim Principles: Journeying with Intention in Everyday Life, says that a pilgrimage is a journey that has been infused with meaning and intention. She claims this infusion makes a journey sacred, meaning the light of divine grace and power saturates it. So what if we borrowed that same thought, switched our paradigm, and blessed these addictions we carry as part of a sacred journey? What if we infused this addiction with the meaning of and the intention of redemption?
I believe we can discover real power when we adopt this paradigm. This has been my experience. So lay down your sword, join with other pilgrims on the path, and start walking one step at a time into an unknown that is infused with grace and mercy. See you on the road.
Are you ready for for a new pilgrimage? Are you ready to break free from the holds of porn addiction? Sign up today for a FREE preview of the upcoming new workshop My Pilgrimage, A Guide On The Road To Redemption.