Reflection by George Crone
I considered myself a Christian my whole life, but in hindsight I now realize God was just someone I begged to fix stuff. I gave him little to no thought when my life was “comfortable”.
Enter addictions – the compulsion to drink alcohol, smoke marijuana and view pornography was trying to medicate a cavity in my soul that no level of success, reward or recognition in my career or material gain and pleasures in my personal life could reach.
Then one morning in my mid 40’s I cried out to Jesus Christ and since that exact moment (January 3rd 2011 @ 8:30am) I have not had another drink or drug.
Justification is immediate but sanctification is a life long journey
Looking back over the last 6 years (as of this writing) I’d say my reality, world and life changed dramatically in that very moment, however, that’s not to say that I instantly became the man God created me to be, the path is difficult.
I believe the grace of God pours into us in that authentic moment of conversion which is what allows us to honestly (maybe even for the first time) look into the mirror through new lenses and re-evaluate our choices, behaviors and character over our lifetime, however long or short that may be. And it is that “truth” shift which catapults us into a new beginning.
My Life has become unmanageable“.
Every 12-step recovery program or discipleship workshop seeks to expose the inner world of chaos that exists deep in the soul and then provide a God-sized vision and structure for moving into healthy manageable routines that combat those negative inner patterns.
Patrick Carnes (arguably one of the best researchers on Sexual Addiction) describes the Cycle of Addiction this way:
Cycle of Addiction
In his book, “Out of the Shadows,” Patrick Carnes writes about the cycle of addiction. The cycle of addiction is a pattern of behavior a sex addict continues to participate repetitively. One will continue to think and act out the same behaviors when there is stress or boredom. The cycle is a way for the sex addict to manage feelings and their lives.
Carnes says those who are addicted to sex have negative core beliefs hidden in their unconscious.
These core beliefs might be one of the four
- I’m not good enough
- I can’t trust others to meet my needs
- they wouldn’t like me if they really know who I am
- sex is my most important need
These core beliefs affect the way one thinks about themselves on a daily basis. One’s automatic thoughts may be riddled with thoughts that are born from core beliefs buried in the unconscious. An individual who is overwhelmed by critical thoughts of themselves and others may began to attach to thoughts that give them an escape. These thoughts turn into a preoccupation. One will stay in thought about what he or she plans to do to get relief. These thoughts build up causing a high level of stress on the body.
Throughout my own personal experience and years of study I have come to believe that EVERYONE has had experiences in their childhood that created high levels of stress and the process of “self-soothing” or “coping” becomes necessary.
On some level EVERYONE has to learn how to navigate the powerful emotions of fear, insecurity, resentment, anger, abandonment and frustration early in life.
Coping skills are gained through one of three ways
- Nurtured – the child is lovingly guided by intentional and fully-invested parents who teach their children maturity. This upbringing contains both affirmations and correction
- Apathy – Little or no intentionality. Parents are too consumed with trying to cope in their own lives that their children become something they roommate with. They may model good or bad behavior but seem to yell more than engage.
- Abandonment – There are so many physically, emotionally, mentally and/or spiritually abusive homes in this world. These children out of intense experiences of abandonment or abuse are forced to “figure out for themselves” how to survive the internal world of intense emotional completely on their own.
For me I clearly recall many scenes at the tender age of 4 or 5 where my parents are fighting as usual. The sounds of yelling, my mom crying, objects being thrown or broken echoing throughout the house. And where am I? Masturbating in my bedroom with tears running down my face listening to every sound. The only tools I had to cope with the intense emotional trauma and fear was to “medicate” the situation away.
I now realize that being beaten and molested as a kid and growing up in an angry alcoholic household was the foundation that kicked off a 50-yr cycle of wearing brave masks to the world and becoming successful in my career however always suffering with a secret inner-world that had no hope or ability to cope with reality. I could only seek different forms of escape that became stronger and darker and less effective through the decades.
Today however I have come to discover there is a “pattern of success” that can overcome these deeply ingrained cycles of relapse.
Christ + Education + Structure
God is the pathway through the shame into a whole new reality
Only when we gain the courage to honestly assess our condition, begin clearing the wreckage of our past, surrender our life and will over to the care of God and ( only after those things) then press into the discovery of our “calling” and move into it will we find true freedom and self-worth.
Before Christ I spent thousands on reaching a state of pre-clear in Dianetics, on self-help books and therapy and going to to “spiritual” seminars to “fix myself”. None of those did anything long-term internal transformation but instead was just pushing the peas around the plate.
It wasn’t until I began to pursue a relationship with Jesus Christ that things began to change in a profound way.
The Choice is Yours
We must fill our lives with “something new”. Our old patterns of Sin, Regret, Relapse can carry us all the way to the grave if we don’t disrupt the patterns. It will take a full life immersion into new patterns of living to break the cycles.
These are some of my most cherished resources in my battle for soul reclamation
- Find Jesus – get on your knees, confess your life of sin and the giant sized whole in your heart and ask Him for a new life. HE WILL MEET YOU THERE!
- Start attending a Trinity-believing bible-teaching church with a new heart of anticipation to “hear from God”. He wants to show you a new way to live
- Get involved in open-share recovery group(s). Begin to learn about the 12-steps of AA, NA, SA or Christ-centered groups such as Celebrate Recovery. Begin to meet with others already on this journey and answer for yourself “do I want what they have”. If they answer is yes then “do what they do”
- Get involved in educational recovery programs such as Every Man’s Battle, Pure Desire, Wild at Heart or other Men’s Groups where you can begin to learn about how God created you to thrive in this life and gain accountability and support in your life like you’ve never experienced it before.
- Get new friends. We must be surrounded by positive people who are seeking the same things we are. Preferably Christian men and women who are humble enough to say “I haven’t arrived” but “God isn’t finished with me”.
- Get Therapy – a Christ-centered counselor who specializes in addiction and relational recovery can help navigate the shark-infested waters of our personal history – both the pains caused us and the pains we have caused others and help guide you into new awareness’s and patterns of living that really work.
Or… keep doing what you’ve been doing and let me know how that works out for you.
Either way, the CHOICE is yours. Are you going to pursue change and humbly, fearlessly and relentlessly follow that path to wherever it leads or are you going to continue to cave into your addictions and suffer the slow internal death that millions of other people are stuck in as well.
Check out the rest of this website for many resources such as prayers, recommended books and videos, community and recovery links and more.
And if you’d like to know more about my personal journey with faith and recovery you can check out my blog page at Journey of Redemtion
Blessings in Christ