Writing my memoir brings old behaviors and thoughts to the forefront. I marvel at the progress I’ve made since the events in this blog occurred. I also marvel at God’s unending and unconditional love for the young woman who struggled to believe she was lovable. It took hard work, prayer, faith and the support of many to convince me that God loved me because He created me. Letting go of control terrified me, but surrendering to God brought freedom from addiction and depression.
“Tonight will be different.” I thought as I turned the key to unlock the door to my apartment. “I can do this.” As I entered the living room, I deliberately avoided looking at the computer, thinking If I don’t look at it, I won’t be tempted.” I walked past the computer once, twice, three times without stopping. Each time my heart beat so hard that I thought it might come out of my chest.
“It won’t hurt to just check my email,” I thought. “There is no harm in that.” My next thought, “I’ll just look at this to see if anyone has responded,” was my downfall.
I didn’t stop with one action. My night ended like all the nights before. When I finally went to bed at 2 AM, I thought, “Tomorrow will be different.” Tomorrow was not different. With each day, the shame increased exponentially. I was a Christian, a leader and yet I could not stop the struggle with sex and pornography.
I thought I was in control
In the late ’90s, the internet was still in its infancy. However, virtual sex and pornography exploded on this new technology. The public shame of adult bookstores was replaced with the private shame of internet chat rooms, pornography sites, and “adult” dating sites.
For me, this was a “safe” haven. I felt in control of every encounter because I could leave the chat with the simple click of the mouse. The chat rooms gave me a false sense of power over the person on the other end of the chat. However, I always felt the same at the end of the chat. Shame, guilt, anger, and disgust filled me every time. Yet, I could not stop. My struggle controlled me.
I cried out to God, “What is wrong with me?” “Why can’t I change?” “I am doing everything I know to stop this!” His answer was simple. Surrender! Surrendering to God frightened me, but what I was doing on my own was not working. I needed to surrender my will to what I knew was right. I needed to let go of the lies about who I thought I was and allow God to help me believe I was more. Capturing my thoughts changed the way I viewed myself, but sometimes I deliberately failed to capture my thoughts. I knew the truth, I practiced the tools, but I had not yet surrendered to God.
I began searching the Bible for some justification to not surrender. Instead, I found the following passages:
But Lord I also know that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13.
Because of this, I offer my body as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, this is my spiritual act of worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
I knew how to stop my thoughts from taking over so I did not give in to the temptation. In truth, each time I chose not to take my thoughts captive, I conformed to the temptations of the world. After some serious struggling, surrender became a daily activity. Sometimes by just saying, “I surrender.” Sometimes when the computer seemed to demand my attention, I simply said, “Lord, I can’t do this, but you can.”
Sounds simple enough, right? However, knowing the truth and living a transformed life is not the same thing.
You have been set free by Christ’s sacrifice, but your mind may tell you that is not true. You may not feel free because you continue to struggle with negative thoughts and behavior’s, but the truth is you are free. You cannot conquer your struggles on your own strength, but you can do all things through Christ. Most of all, remember recovery is a process. You are retraining your mind and your heart to believe something completely different than when you conformed to the world’s standard. It takes time for the heart and mind to believe transformation has occurred.
How can you practice surrendering? Comment with your answer.