Monday, April 7, 2008

BIBLE PRINCIPLE #1 CONVINCTION OF MY SINS AND HURTS

::: 8 BIBLE PRINCIPLES TO OVERCOME LIFE'S HURTS, HABITS, AND HANG-UPS :::

This week we began our 8 week study of Lifes Hurts, Habits, & Hang-ups, with a lesson #1: Conviction of my Sins.

Someone once said that the two greatest thoughts a person can have are:
1. There is a God
2. And, I’m not Him

John Baker was an alcoholic and a Baptist minister. He is the founder of “Celebrate Recovery”. In his book “Life’s Healing Choices”, he writes about today’s subject. Here are some of his insights.

1. We are born with and struggle all our lives with our “sin nature”.*

2. The desire to be God is humankind’s oldest and most prevalent problem.

a. we try to control what people think of us.
b. we try to control people’s actions.
c. we try to control our problems.
d. we try to control our pain.

This attempt to control is futile! We are not God. We can not control things. We certainly can not control people. God, in His wisdom, has chosen not to!

The consequences of the futile attempt at control are:

1. fear
2. frustration
3. fatigue
4. failure

What is the cure? The Bible teaches that in honestly admitting my sins and weaknesses, I actually find strength and that strength is God. “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

Say out loud the followings statements.

  • I admit that I am powerless to change my past.
  • I admit that I am powerless to control other people.
  • I admit that I am powerless to cope with my harmful habits and actions.
  • God, I need help!

Now, for my story:


Prior to Doug's sending me this weeks lesson, he was aware that I've been going through some "stress" in my life, & that I am in the process of healing from the things that life has thrown at me. What he was unaware of is that I'm where I am in life because of being brought to the point of having to give up trying to control these things, & allowing God to take over for me.


Doug sent me this:
The Holmes-Rahe Scale for Stress and Emotional Distress lists the top 10 as:
1) Death of a spouse or child
2) Divorce
3) Separation from spouse
4) Imprisonment
5) Illness
6) Loss of job
7) First year of marriage
8) Retirement
9) Pregnancy
10) Sexual struggles


I was amazed to see that I had not only experienced 7 of these 10 over the past few years, but that I had experienced 4 of the top 6, in a mere 3 months last spring! Surprisingly, after many month of misery, I'm now appreciative of these experiences because of how they've strengthened my relationship with the Lord, because of how well I'm doing because of this renewed relationship with Jesus, & because God has been able to use me in so many ways ever since.
I shared with the class this Sunday, where life's taken me & how God got me through it. 11 years ago I married my best friend of 3 years. What I was unaware of at that time, was that he was bringing quite a few secrets into the marriage. Many years later, he revealed to me that he'd struggled with these problems since he was a teenager, but that he had to hide them from me because I would have never married him if I'd know who he really was……. He was right. He also thought that getting married would fix his problems…….. He was wrong.
From the very start of our marriage, my husband was violent & unable to control his actions. In our 1st year of marriage he struck me. This was the only time he physically assaulted me, I made sure that I "controlled" that situation immediately. He continually damaged our property when he was in his rages, I "controlled" this too, by making him fix it when he'd calmed down. I even "controlled" it when he started physically assaulting our 8-year-old son, by immediately getting the whole family into counseling, so that we could get a handle on his violent behavior. I just knew that if I put forth the extra effort, I could fix everything. We could be the family that I had always dreamed of. I believed in him, & I believed that he felt the same.
As we began our family counseling, I stumbled upon his internet pornography addiction. I was crushed. Once again, I knew we could work through all of this so we added his addiction into the counseling, along with every available resource for overcoming & understanding sexual addictions, and even going to a psychiatrist. He was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder & given a plethora of medication. All of this, along with the counseling was sure to fix our problems……. It didn't.
Over the years, he continued to physically assault our son. He moved out of our bedroom & for years he slept in the guest room. He was prone to rages & then fits of crying over what he'd done. All the while, we continued the therapy, continued seeing the psychiatrist, and constantly tweaked his meds, in an effort to help him be the person I thought he wanted to be. In December 2005, the 1st time in over 2 years that I left him alone with our son, he physically assaulted him again. He was turned over to DHR, & I told him to move out.
For the next 18 months, I allowed him to visit, supervised, with the kids anytime he wanted. I still believed in him & I was using his mental illness as an excuse for all of his behaviors. We were together all the time, he just lived in a different house. At 1st we weren't looking at reconciliation, but eventually, we did start working towards it. He seemed to be doing much better. He even had the psychiatrist fooled. On May 26th of last year he moved back in & then out again that same day, for good.

Now we're to the part where I went through 4 of the top 6 stressors in just 3 months.

Because of the costs involved in living in 2 separate households, I decided to take a full-time teaching position at Hillcrest High School last Spring to help make ends meet. My husband was being very generous in his support of us, so I thought, but we still need more to pay the bills. I was also finishing up my masters degree that semester & was a full-time student, taking all of my classes at night. My husband couldn’t be alone with the kids, so every night I had class, they were in-tow (fighting with one another the whole time, & driving me batty). I've always heard that God will only give you what you can handle, & I was there.
Then, my daughter broke my hand. I had to have surgery on it. Supposedly a very minor surgery, "3 stitches & a band-aid" I was told. I woke up with an incredible amount of pain, my hand in a huge cast & sling. Ends up, they found a bone tumor while they were in there & they had to cut it out. By the way, cutting out a bone tumor hurts! The next week my doctor died. The bone tumor was benign, thank God.
The classes I taught at Hillcrest were challenging, to say the least. I was not yet prepared to handle the types of classes I was given. I loved working there so much, but it truly took the life out of me. By the end of the year I had finally gotten the hang of teaching & was looking forward to coming back the next year. Especially with my new found teaching experience. Although I was told in my hiring that this teaching position would be available the next year, the school had to do some "re-shuffling" in order to hire a new football coach. I was notified the last week of school that my position was being given to a coach…… I was crushed.
A week later, my husband moved back in. I only shared with one person what we were doing. I asked a good friend of mine to pray for us as we tried one last time to make our marriage work. She assured me that she would, and boy did He answer her prayers! Later, I asked my friend what she had prayed. She told me that all she prayed was that God would reveal anything that needed to be revealed……. He did.
In the process of the move we surprised my husband at his apartment. While we were there, we discovered that he had a side business that we never knew about. He was making a lot of money, a whole lot of money. None of this money had been claimed to the IRS & he wasn't carrying any liability insurance for the work he was doing. We could have lost everything. He had also purchased guns, DHR had said that we need not have guns in the house. I had asked him a week earlier if he had bought any guns & he told me no. The most upsetting discovery of all was that his sexual addiction was not under control as he had led me to believe. He had escalated from internet porn, to prostitutes. He wasn't getting better at all, he was just getting better at lying. He even fooled his psychiatrist.
This was it. This was more than I could handle. I could no longer control anything. I couldn't even control myself. For the 1st time in my life, & hopefully for the last time, I became depressed. I have had times in my life when I wasn't happy, times when I thought that life just stunk, but I've never experienced anything as debilitating as what I sank into immediately following all of this. For 2 months, all I could do was sleep & cry. Every second of the day I felt as though I didn't have the strength to even get out of bed. I would get up & take the kids to swimming, go home & sleep. Get up & take them to karate, go home & sleep. Get up & take them to church, go home & sleep for the night. My depression was robbing them of their mother.
During our marriage I became disconnected from God. I tried so hard to force Him back into my heart but I just couldn't do it. I prayed & prayed to feel His presence, but it never came. I knew God in my head, but not in my heart. I asked a friend about it, she said that there must be some sin in my life that was keeping me from experiencing God. I didn't like her saying that! I was doing everything right. I was the one keeping the family together. It wasn't me, it had to be him! Her words stayed with me though.
Finally, after 2 months of miserable sleep, I realized that I absolutely could not control anything that was happening in my life. I realized that I had not ever been able to control what was happening in my life. My life had been controlling me. At that moment I prayed to God for him to take control of everything & for Him to carry me through it. I prayed that He would help me to recover from my hurts and that He would take care of me & my kids. I even prayed for my husband, even though I was snarling as I did so.
I immediately began to feel God’s presence in my life again. I was still damaged, still am for that matter, but a bit better. He led me to Celebrate Recovery, where I received the love & support necessary to begin healing. I even went to a psychiatrist, for myself this time, & began treatment for depression. I'm not completely healed, I'm sure it will take a lot of time, but I am so much better. I am happy again.
I had let myself come to the point of not ever wanting to be around people, let alone speak to anyone. I mistrusted people so much that I was alienating myself from everyone. Now, I'm somewhat comfortable around people again, & I can talk about what I've gone through somewhat comfortably.
Life has not been perfect for me since my "Job semester", as I call it. At the end of the summer, as I was just beginning to heal, a deer wrecked my car. All I could do was laugh. My kids thought I was nuts, but all I could think of was "you've got to be kidding....what's next?" I am going through the divorce still, that continues to be a major stress in my life. I fell behind in my masters degree because of everything that happened, but I'm set to graduate next month! That too has brought me some stress. I even took on homeschooling my 8-year-old daughter this semester. If you know her, you'll understand, that's a stressor. But no matter how stressed I get I have to remember not to try to handle everything myself but to trust in God. To let Him be the controller in my life.


Life is good,
Amy

If you are at a time in your life where you're struggeling from lifes hurts, habits, or hang-ups, I encourage you to check out Celebrate Discovery. Without my support group from CR, who knows where I'd be right now. (probably still hiding & hoping that no one would notice me). CR is not just for recovering addicts, as I once thought, it's for anyone that has any hurt, habit, or hang-up.

For more information on Celebrate Discovery click on this link http://www.churchattuscaloosa.com/templates/System/details.asp?id=31211&PID=289015

or, you can contact Doug Wells at doug@churchattuscaloosa.com

5 comments:

Luke Gilkerson said...

Thanks for sharing your story with the world. Pornography addiction can really create horrible problems in a marriage.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on some blog posts I've written on this topic in the past few weeks:
http://www.covenanteyes.com/blog/2008/03/11/husbands-who-watch-porn-what-are-their-wives-saying/
http://www.covenanteyes.com/blog/2008/04/08/husbands-who-watch-porn-part-2-wives-you-are-not-alone/

Amy said...

Thanks Luke, for sharing your blog address with us. I related to quite a bit of it.
Although my husband (soon to be ex), has not reached the point of wanting to give up his addiction, I do know that recovery can occur for him.
Sexual addiction, like any addiction, can only be controlled, when the addict himself decides to take steps towards recovery.
I really feel like we, as a society, make it harder for sexual addict to seek the help he/she needs because we assume that it is constant choice, unlike that of other addictions. We assume that the person is choosing to view pornography, rather than the addiction controlling the choice.
It's easy to understand that drugs & alcohol are "physical" addictions because they, themselves, are a physical substance. Pornography on the other hand, is a "visual" substance, but the result it has on the brain is physical. Studies have shown that this release of chemicals in the brain causes the actual physical addiction.
Until this becomes common knowledge , society will continue to judge sex addicts as "perverts" that chose their actions. The results of this type of labeling are that many addicts will not seek the treatment necessary for recovery.
In the end, the addict, along with anyone that loves him/her, will suffer immensely.

Anonymous said...

I too have/had (once an addict, always an addict) an addiction to internet pornography. By the grace of God I can live free of the bondage, one day at a time, one moment at a time...

I had been convicted of my sin for years, but was powerless to permanently walk away from the pornography and (gasp!) masturbation. I knew it was wrong, and I would "give it to God", over and over. I claimed the verse "If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1 john 1:9) but still was a slave to my sin. It wasn't until I was willing to reveal my sin to and to become accountable to others before I experienced true freedom. Now in addition to 1 Jn 1:9, I also claim James 5:16, "Therefore, confess your sins one to another that you may be healed." (Oops, that's after step 1!)

This sin is so hard for men, Christian men to admit to because there is such a stigma attached to sexual sin. It's acceptable to be an alcoholic or drug addict, but a SEX ADDICT! We feel so completely alone, unlovable, dirty and perverted; Satin and his demons whisper in our mind: "Even God can't love you, just think what others will think of you!"

I don't mind telling of my struggle with pornography, to both men and women. I know that men understand the drive, the allure of pornography, but I worry that women will think of me as sick or perverted, but from my experiences over the course of 4 years I have found that women too are understanding of addiction in general. I do however hesitate in giving my name out in a public forum, I don't want this to come back to hurt my young children. Many people at TCAT know of my struggles through Celebrate Recovery, and I hope that some men will be able to take the first step in breaking free of pornography by knowing they are not alone, that there is a way out.

Amy said...

Anonymous, my friend, thank you for sharing.
It is comforting to know that persons who suffer from sexual addictions can experience healing. Had I not researched this subject extensively as I tried to support my husband through his addiction, I too would have judged you, which is a shame.
I now know, & understand, that this addiction is no different from any other addiction & it is one that can be overcome, as any other addiction. I am so proud of you for where you are today and for where I pray you'll be tomorrow. I am privileged to have you as a friend.
A~

Anonymous said...

Amy,

I was looking at church websites for the Tuscaloosa area and I came across your Blog... Sin is not always the cause of the difficulties in our life. Consider the case of the blind man in John 9: 1 - 3...

It is most likely very difficult right now to know why you are going through so many trials. However, I believe that God will carry you through and one day, you will know the glory that will be revealed in you... Romans 8:18

Remember this, you are God's child and He has plans for you. Jeremiah 29:11

Another verse that you might find helpful is Psalms 30:5

It is my prayer that God's grace and blessings shower upon you. James 4:6...

Bryan Ward
Pianist / Adult Discipleship Teacher
Eastside Baptist Church - Winfield, AL