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Posts Tagged ‘stumble’

 

WHAT IF I STUMBLE?


What if I stumble, what if I fall?

What if I lose my step and I make fools of us all?

Will the love continue when my walk becomes a crawl?

What if I stumble?

And what if I fall?

– DC Talk, “What if I Stumble?

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For the sake of your name, Lord,
forgive my iniquity, though it is great.

+ Psalm 25:11

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WHAT IF I STUMBLE?


What if I stumble, what if I fall?

What if I lose my step and I make fools of us all?

Will the love continue when my walk becomes a crawl?

What if I stumble?

And what if I fall?

– DC Talk, “What if I Stumble?

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Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it.

+ Matthew 7:13-14

Why is the Battle for purity so hard?

Why does it seem that the path is so narrow?

And why, when we step off the path, does it seem like going over the cliff’s edge?

I have stumbled this past week and stumbled badly. After a successful and clean trip to San Diego, I have fallen off the path at home and relapsed into a binge of acting out with internet pornography. I returned to the office on Friday and felt that old familiar urge to detach, to experience the buzz of pleasure, to isolate from the real world and find solace in the virtual world of pornography. And I indulged.

I did not call my accountability partners. I didn’t want to — they would just talk me out of what I really “wanted.” I knew I would have to check-in on Monday, but that was a long way away. Not as close or as real as my desire to escape.

I find it frustrating sometimes that the path to purity seems so narrow. And it also seems as if that narrow path is poised along the edge of a cliff. It seems impossible to just take on or two stray steps from the path and then get back on without injury. Every time I step off the path it is stepping over the cliff and I plunge downwards to a hard fall. It is such a narrow path.

To be on that narrow path of purity requires diligence in every area of life: daily prayer, daily phone calls, healthy eating, exercise, maintaining relationships, staying on task at work and at home, reading about purity and doing homework to maintain purity. To stay on the path requires doing ALL of these things all of the time. Let anyone of these things slip and you will soon stumble off the path.

And when I stumble, I usually fall way off the path and over the precipice. The cost of a single misstep is total depravity. It is so frustrating!

The cost of acting out is huge: shame, lost integrity, damaged relationships, isolationg from God and from others.

The cost of staying on the path is also big: rigorous honesty, discipline, prayers, phone calls, apologizing and forgiving, admitting weakness, asking for help, surrendering to the will of others.

But I also know which cost I would choose. I want to pay the price to stay on the narrow path.

I have stumbled and fallen. I have gone over the edge of the cliff and crushed my body and soul. Satan tells me that there is no way to get back on the path, that I do not belong on the path, that I should recognize the truth and give up.

Satan is a liar!

Lord, Jesus:

You gave up your body to pay the price for my sins. All of my sins. There is nothing I can do that you have not already paid the price for. Please forgive my sins and my continual stumbles off the narrow path. I cannot walk the narrow path on my own. I am a sinner. But you can lead me. Please take my hand and place me on your path. I am ready to pay the price. You gave me the gift of my body. I offer my body to you as a living sacrifice. Please accept the offer of this humble sinner. Lord: Save me!!!

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I wrote the following a year ago. After a relapse this weekend, the words feel true again today.

Lord, have mercy on me.


It’s cold now in Minnesota. Currently it is 1 degree (-17c) with a forecast high in the teens. But it is colder still as the wind blows across our frozen landscape. Windchills today are below zero. It’s cold and lonely on the Minnesota landscape.

It’s cold now in the addict’s heart. As the addict goes through another relapse in acting out, the heart becomes colder. And the winds which blow through the addict’s heart make it colder yet. These are the days when the addict acts out but does not know why. Acting out is followed by denial, resentment, justification, and rationalizing. And the addict isolates and becomes colder. Cold and lonely.

Today’s reflection from Hazelden was on point for the addict:

“A [life of acting out] isn’t a happy life. [Acting out] cuts you off from other people and from God. One of the worst things about [acting out] is the loneliness. And one of the best things about [recovery] is the fellowship. [Acting out] cuts you off from other people, at least from the people who really matter to you, your family, your co-workers, and your real friends. No matter how much you love them, you build up a wall between you and them by your drinking. You’re cut off from any real companionship with them. As a result, you’re terribly lonely. Have I got rid of my loneliness?”

So why has the addict returned to acting out? Why be blown into this life of loneliness? Does the addict even have a choice?

Times like these fill the addict with doubt. Despite belief in a Higher Power the addict wonders, can I ever escape this sickness? Maybe the twelve steps can work for others but not for me. Maybe I’m the exception.

Cold and lonely …

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Yesterday I stumbled and acted out with internet pornography.

Today I am traveling to San Diego for an unexpected business trip (I didn’t learn I was going until last Thursday).

Put these two things together and you’ll realize that this sexual sinner is in need of extra prayer.

Let’s start with the stumble.  Things have been going really well lately, so what happened?

Although they are not to blame, circumstances really pitched in to help push me down the wrong path yesterday.  In AA they refer to the acronym H-A-L-T which stands for hungry, angry, lonely, tired.  When any of these conditions show up in a man’s life, he becomes much more susceptible to the temptations of the flesh — including lust.

I have had several of these conditions impinge on my life this week.  As a big Minnesota Vikings fan, I have been feeling some anger and sadness around the overtime loss to New Orleans in the NFC Championship game on Sunday.  But I have also had a bad head cold this past week and I have had some troubles sleeping.  I have been awake at night by myself.  I have definitely been experiencing some of the ALT — I have been angry, lonely, and tired.

I found myself really wanting to masturbate each of the last two nights.  The urge wasn’t necessarily related to lust, but rather a need to escape, relax, and be able to get to sleep.  Unfortunately, whenever I masturbate I also turn to sexual fantasy.  And so I found myself really thinking about women yesterday and ignoring the call to bounce my eyes.  By the time I got home from work last night I felt entitled to act out.  But with some grace, I managed to avoid it until bed time.  Then I started having some coughing fits and another night of sleeplessness was coming on.  I didn’t fight it — I went straight to the computer and to pornography.

I didn’t do some of the basic things:

  • I didn’t check-in with other men about my sleeping troubles.

  • I didn’t plan ahead for what I would do if I wasn’t able to sleep.

  • I didn’t maintain discipline with my eyes.

  • I didn’t use the four-step fire drill.

Now that I’ve slipped, I really want to get back on the right path.  I want to re-engage in the covenant with my eyes, set up boundaries with my accountability partners, and have a clean trip to San Diego.

But this trip is looking like a great challenge.  I will be in meetings all day for both days that I am there.  I will be the face of my company in those meetings (and I am more naturally an introvert).  This will create a great deal of stress for me and I am sure I will be feeling anxious and lonely by the time I get back to my hotel room at night.  And with the two hour time difference it may be too late to call an accountability partner at that time.  So I really really need some prayer.

This is what I will do:

  • I have scheduled some pre-arranged phone call with other men.

  • I am bringing a couple really good books.

  • I will turn off all media by 10:30pm each night in the hotel, but give myself permission to read as late as I want.

  • I will set aside 10 minutes for prayer at least twice each day while on the road.

  • I will report back on this trip when I return to Minneapolis.

So there it is.  I have a plan.  But I can’t succeed by myself.  I need help.  Please pray for me.

Thank you, all!

+++

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Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water!

Blessings, blessings, blessings!  That’s what every step of the Battle for Purity has been for me.  But yesterday I had a misstep:  yesterday I viewed internet pornography for the first time in over four months.  Ouch!

What happened?

I began to feel safe.  I began to think that I had mastered this area of my life and started to relax my vigilence.  I stopped surrendering to every step of the program because I fooled myself into believing that I didn’t need all of those protections any more.

In particular, I stopped exercising complete control over my eyes.  From time to time I have started to allow myself to look at women around me, especially in my work place.  I have allowed myself to feel the buzz of interior lust and joy that comes with such furtive glances.  And after a couple of looks with no consequences, I allowed myself to look a few more times.  I allowed my eyes to focus on parts of women’s bodies other than just faces.  And all of this looking started to feed the demon inside.

By the beginning of this week I was starting to feel once again the hunger of lust.  But I didn’t take heed of this warning sign.  I didn’t renew my eye bouncing.  And yesterday I followed my hunger as a slave.  I clicked a link on the computer that I should not have.  And then I clicked another.  And then another.

So today I star anew.  I am ashamed at this lack of purity.  I have broken the gift that was given to me.

But that was yesterday.  Today I am alone and naked before my God.  I bow my head to the sovereignty of Christ.  His grace is all that I need.  I will ask for no more.  I do not need to display a long record of purity – the accomplishment was not mine to begin with.  No, I am simply happy for today.  I am thankful for the gift of this day.  I am thankful for the gift of free will – I can choose to follow or not.  I choose obedience.

Father:

I have sinned against you in my mind and in my body.  I have used my eyes to commit adultery in my heart by viewing images with lust.  I confess this sin and ask you, in your mercy, to forgive me.

I am thankful for the gift of life, for the gift of free will, and the gift of my body.  I offer my whole self to you as a living sacrifice.  Do with me today and build with me today as you please.  Remove from me the bondage of lust and the bondage of self that I may do your will and only your will.  Grant me victory over lust as a witness to those I would help of your power, your love, and your way of life.  Father, I surrender to you, may I do your will today and always.

Amen

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