I sent this to a friend today, thought I’d copy it here as it’s a good reminder of … me …
Ok… got myself up at 5:30 wondering why I got myself up so early and then got up here and now I know… I’m writing you. 🙂
I have nothing to offer you but brotherhood. And camaraderie. You know those words better than I, I think, with pieces of your background. But I am learning about them. And I am loving them. I have a friend named Rob who lives in Nashville, TN. He started out the friend of a friend but is now one of the closest guys I have in my life (don’t know if he knows that or not). I can call on him anytime, anywhere… and he helps me makes sense of stuff. He is, to use the Bible’s words I guess, CLOSER than a brother.
With that said, here’s a little of my story. Maybe we’ll find some connection points. Actually I’m sure we will. I just don’t know what they are yet. 🙂 My life has dramatically changed in the past 2 years. I am not going to dwell on the past too much, but let’s just say ever since High School, I had a problem with lust as well. Visualizing things. Imagining women for who they weren’t. It grew from junk in the head to stuff on the computer, and THANK GOD that’s as far as it went, but that was way too far. I got caught. I remember that night. Erin approached me… “What is that stuff on the computer?”… and that moment was my moment of truth. Turn and face it, or blame it on popups or any other thing I could think of. I think it was God jumping in my mouth and saying something like, “let’s go talk about it. I’ve messed up.” Because I see that as my crossroads. I’d tried to “deal” so many times, in so many ways, but I’d never gotten help. I’d never admitted I was dying inside and wanted to live. Man those were some hard months. I got called some names I well deserved but that hurt me to the core. We got some real counseling that took me back YEARS into things I have never thought before, but not made sense. And when all was said and done (figuratively), the thing that I remember most was this: “The people I need the most are the people I one’s I’ve hurt the most.” I remember that phrase hitting me like a refreshing ton of bricks to the face while I was driving down State Road 42 towards Cloverdale to buy a stinking PIZZA of all things. I cried my eyes out. I yelled. I screamed. Man, that was a release I needed sooo bad.
Fast forward several months… stuff is still rocky, but I’m not headed towards divorce or being murdered anymore. 🙂 I’ve dumped some responsibilities at church that I just wasn’t ready for at this stage of my life, and had enough people in my life helping me that I knew it wasn’t time to jump back into the water just yet. Very few people know this story… Erin, Cliff, my counselor, 3-4 friends around the country… very few… but they are my closest friends anywhere, especially at that time.
Ok now REALLY fast forward… I’m finally finding my “spot” in life. It’s not service. Man that’s what I thought it was supposed to be. Man that was a good, up front, nice sounding calling. Being a deacon. Being there for people… that, to be completely honest… is not my gift. Doesn’t mean I don’t do it, but it’s not what I’m designed to do. God has given me a heart to lead. Not to lead people in the sense that I march in front of them, but to lead people in the sense that I help them find their own hearts, find what THEY excel in, and what makes them COME ALIVE, and then SET THEM FREE to do it. Oh, I have some stories to tell there… but I won’t right now, as this is already long. People like Sara and Deanna, Dewey and Rob… I’m not doing anything important in their lives other than coming along side of them and helping them focus on who God made them to be, and it is AWESOME to see them spring to life. I’m thrilled now when I lose a leader from one area because they finally discover their heart is really somewhere else, and they are going to follow it, dark narrow road or not.
God’s also put youth on my heart. Specifically, for some reason, older teenage boys. I have stories there too but won’t get into them now, but man, He’s put some dreams in me that will never happen without his doing.
So that’s where I am… even though that got long that is oh, so shallow. You know what I mean. There is so much more to our lives than these snippets, and I long to share them. But that’s me… and that’s what I have to offer… me. (and that’s about it :)) Just another broken and healed man, walking on the path, trying not to step off it but sometimes falling in the ditch, dragging myself out and also occasionally getting dragged out while I’m still unconscious. But not JUST that. I am also a child of the King, a brother of Christ, a friend of the creator of the universe, and a heart set FREE. So anyways… 🙂 don’t know where that’s going…
You asked me a few things, and I’ll give you brief answers… because they are my answers, and obviously aren’t the same for everyone.
Input on the lust thing… well you have some of my story now. And I know what you mean, in my version of that story. I “struggled” (and I use that word specifically) with porn, masturbation, lust, thought life… all that stuff. It wasn’t till I was confronted with it and really started getting help that I realized part of the key was to quit fighting a losing battle. Quit giving up. Quit fighting alone. Stop “struggling” and start “battling.” (I love that word now). Like you said, taking thoughts captive is HARD. It doesn’t make them go away – much to the opposite, they seem to keep charging in… but recognizing them as impure lies from the pit of hell and man… for me… just saying so out loud, or writing it down, or just… wow, I don’t even know what the “trick” is because I haven’t found it, but you’re right, we have to take them captive, immediately. One friend of mine who fights this has his own mental “God’s Holy Trashcan” that he consciously wads up thoughts and throws them in.
How I keep in God’s word daily… that’s an easy one, and a hard one. I use the Daily Audio Bible. (www.dailyaudiobible.com) It’s a combination reading plan / community project / audio book. Basically we have a reading plan (I could send you the link if you want) and go through the Bible once every year. Simple enough. Ordinary enough. I’ve tried and failed at that time and time again in my life. But what’s different here is two things… The first is a bit minor. You listen to it. A guy named Brian reads the reading for each day and you can put it on your MP3 player or listen to it right from a website. I follow along sometimes in my Bible, on the computer, or other days just go for a walk or listen to it on the drive in. But I’m up to almost 730 days of this now (that’s two years, I think), and I can honestly say I finally found something that STICKS, for me. It doesn’t work for everyone, but it does for me. The other difference from my attempts in the past, which is much bigger, is that we do it in COMMUNITY. You’re reading the Bible along with thousands of others across the globe each day, and we not only come together to talk about it a bit, but we also KNOW we’re not alone in the endeavor. We get behind. We get off track. But we come back, realize we’re not failures and not alone, and get back on it. It’s hard to explain, but it’s a HUGE part of my life. Right now we’re in 2 Chronicles, Acts, and then also a Psalm and Proverb each day. Let me know if you’d like more info – I think the big difference between this and what you or I have tried is the community aspect – the camaraderie, the shared journey.
Ok, it’s about 45 minutes later now and I’m running out of words. I’m running on empty now, as I’ve spilled my heart out to you. I love sharing this story, and even though this is ever so long I hope you know it comes deep from in my heart and I care about sharing it with you, and walking this walk with you. I’m praying
for you – the things you mentioned, and just for you.
Stay strong. Be courageous. We are children of God….