I want to preface this post by saying not all experiences are similar, and sometimes the generalizations made don’t apply to all individual circumstances.
With that said – I want to disclose that yesterday I relapsed.
I watched pornography and lusted through masturbation. It’s terrifying to admit this – to air my dirty laundry.
Also – you may be surprised at my use of the “m” word – usually forbidden in Christian circles.
I am convinced that taboo nature of masturbation has allowed that sin specifically to fester in darkness; nameless it devours as men and women say “I’m struggling with lust”.
Regardless – that’s what I indulged in yesterday.
The feelings started to innocent – anger at my girlfriend gave way to entitled thoughts. I said, “I was treated so badly – I deserve to look at this”…sick and twisted right?
This entitlement was paired well with lust when a long-time friend of the opposite sex reaching out through text – quickly giving way to a flirtatious conversation. All warnings signs and guardrails were blown through – my heart was set on medicating my anger. The illicit conversation turned quite sexual – and I used that conversation to get my release.
Immediately – shame and self-loathing arrived. They had been invited by their good friend Lust to join the party in my heart and mind. Caught up in my twisted desires – now burning with hatred for my own decisions – I wanted to give up. On purity, on my relationships, on my family, on my Lord. I don’t deserve any of them. I am wicked and twisted full of darkness. And I will never tell anyone of this moral wreck I had engineered.
As I lay in bed, I reached over for my book Unwanted. The chapter I was on (unknowingly) was specifically addressing vulnerability. The premise was simple – you deal a blow to shame when you choose vulnerability. You cannot be truly loved unless you decide to be truly known.
I was heartbroken as tears welled in my eyes. Here I was – hours after relapse, choosing to be my own God and follow my own desires – and God was speaking to me. He was pursuing me. He was loving me – even when I didn’t want to love myself.
I picked up my phone and left a friend a message disclosing what had happened. His response the next morning sounded something like this, “Hey man, thanks for sharing that. I want you to know this doesn’t change how I feel about you. I’ve been there, and I know there is freedom. Keep being honest and open about your struggles, and we will walk through this together.”
Wow. Did you feel it? Could you sense it? That’s the love and grace of God. God spoke into my life through my friend. I know my behavior is unacceptable and unbecoming of a Christian – but my God still loves me, still calls me His own, still holds me in His hand. There is a spirit within me that cries “Abba, Father”.
You see – this relapse started over a week ago – with one small interaction, one small feeling. I allowed this feeling of anger to pick up steam – as I dwelled on it, meditated on it. It started to pick up steam in my mind. Before long – I was amid an avalanche of my own desire, swept away by my fleshly passions, and after the rush was over, sitting in the mess and debris I had created.
See, this relapse sucks. It is a setback. But, it does not define me. The Lord defines me. If we take our relapses, instead of allowing them to beat us down, and examine them with curiosity (like a detective at a crime scene), we will discover the root of that relapse and setback. We can then address it and put guardrails in so that next time – we can stop that anger (or whatever it is) before the thought turns into an avalanche of desire.
If you have relapsed recently, or are struggling with your worth and value, I want you to join me in implementing the following.
Find community. A community that will build you up, give you grace, yet hold you accountable. We are called to carry the burdens of one another. How will someone help carry your burden when you won’t admit you have one?
Meditate on the promises of God. Every morning be speaking these promises of God over your life. Our mind will be filled – let’s choose to be intentional about what it is being filled with. That is something I stopped doing the past few weeks as I slowly gave in to my anger and sense of entitlement.
Use your relapses. God uses everything to bring about our sanctification – relapses are no different. Examine what led you to relapse with a curious heart – put in place extra accountability where you are weak. What if, instead of being filled with self-loathing and shame, we used setbacks as fuel for growth, learning and growing together through not only our victories, but also our mistakes.
If you found any of the previous helpful – please comment or share. I would love to get some feedback on agreements, possible disagreements, and how I can help you! Thank you for reading and God bless you.