My Life as a Red Herring (Day 9) “Gifts: Part 1”

Today I’m going to tell you about a journey that I have been on for the last two years. I’m going to have to ask you to suspend your opinions about my naivety as you read it, and just read it as my experience. Hopefully my experience will help you to trust Jesus even when it seems clearly silly to do so. So here goes…

I can remember sitting through one of my Fathered by God groups about two years ago. I was leading the group through what’s called the “boyhood” stage. If there is any brokenness in a mans life, more often than not, in my experience, it occurs within this stage. It tends to happen from some type of wounding, sometimes it’s horrific, other times it’s seemingly minor but still painful enough to the individual that it can stick, and many time the Father figure isn’t intentionally trying to wound yet it still happens. I won’t pretend to understand how this works, or even the psychology behind it, but I have seen time and time again the devastating effects that it can have on a man.

Boyhood is marked by the stage of a mans life where he is a boy in his father’s house. For most of this stage the boy is utterly dependent. This is the stage of a young boys life where he learns that he is the “Apple of his Father’s eye” that the boy learns to see his Father as someone who loves him like crazy but also is a symbol of strength and protection in his life. Many men have had moments of wounding in this stage occurring from the father being absent or abusive or just apathetic. Other times the father was trying to take the place of the Heavenly Father in their lives and I’ve seen this also cause wounding…anyway enough definition back to the story…

My “core” wounding occurred around the age of four where I have a memory of my Father leaving the house for what felt like the last time as my parents where soon getting a divorce. In that moment for some reason my little mind began believing the lie that “I am not enough to keep Him here, therefore no one is enough for me.” This became a core belief in my life and drove much of my childhood rebellion, strangely it also drove a growing ungratefulness in me. I didn’t believe that anyone was enough, so no gift or gesture was going to be enough to satisfy this lie…I was mistaken.

In April of 1990, through a woman who was my former Sunday school teacher, I saw a love for me that was unwarranted and unconditional. I knew my mom and sister loved me, but I had no reason to believe anyone else in the world did, and I couldn’t deny that she did…love me. I saw, in her, a picture of the Heavenly Father’s love for me and it was so irresistible I wanted it. The love of Christ was the only thing that broke through the lies and rebellion in my life. That day I asked her why she treated me like she did and she told me about a man named Jesus who was head-over-heals in love with me and had been since before I was born. She told me about a gift, the gift of this Father’s son, in Jesus, and that I could receive it if I wanted and exchange all my sin for His payment on the cross. I prayed that day and asked Jesus into my heart. That day I became a “found” son of the most high God.

Unfortunately because my image of the Father was still pretty broken, the core lie “That no-one is enough for me” began to creep it’s way back in. It showed up in my life in many ways, one of the chief ways being a sexual addiction which started around four years old. It was something I could control, and it felt good. I believed I could be “enough” for myself, through this addiction, and yet as anyone who’s ever dealt with addiction knows, nothing is ever enough. Addictions are progressive and this addiction is no different. This meant magazines where ever I could get them, movies that my friends had, and eventually the mother of all sexual addiction feeders, the internet. In high-school and in college I attempted to get accountability partners but without addressing the core wounding in my life, all I was doing was trimming the broken parts off of the tree of my life when what I really needed were some roots dug out. This cycle continued with weeks, sometimes a month of “sober-drunkenness”, until I started coming to Quest, the church I am part of. Quest had just begun a recovery ministry called the Mat and one of the recovery courses that was offered was called Men’s Integrity. Where men who lived with sexual addiction could come, not be judged, and find freedom. I went, after arguing with God for a year that it wouldn’t make a difference, like everything else I’ve ever tried. It was amazing, I finally got some tools to help me lead this addiction and at one point I actually saw a year and a half of freedom, but that ended the same as it always had, with me returning to the vomit that is “No one is enough for me, so I must be enough for myself.” I had ceased checking in with the guys in my group, I was anything but humble, and I was deeply disappointed in myself.

Lets fast-forward to this year. A good friend of mine came up to me and told me: “Jesus wants to heal you and give you freedom and He wants to have me pray over you when you are ready.” That was it, that was all she said, and honestly I didn’t have any idea it could be anything more than maybe Jesus wanted to heal me of my ADD. I still was so locked in my broken thinking. I didn’t even imagine that Jesus would want to give me a HUGE gift…like heal one of the deepest wounds in my heart. The lie that NO ONE including Him could ever be enough. Because sin is familiar and because I can be lazy I didn’t do anything about it for almost 2 months. This friend came back to me in that time and said, I can’t wait to ask Jesus to give you freedom in your sexual addiction. WHOA Slow down! #1. She is a woman, so that was a little weird. #2. I had never shared my story with her directly, or that I was still struggling with my addiction so what the heck?. However uncomfortable it felt in that moment I knew Jesus was pursuing me. He wasn’t going to let the lie win the fight, even if He had to send someone though brick-wall of my hopelessness to make it happen. Two weeks later after talking it over with my wife and friends, over and over and over again, I called her. I invited three other people who I trust, guys that have been part of this process with me to pray along side me. That day was July 13, 2014. I sat down with friends, and through prayer, Jesus took me back to that moment of watching my dad leave the house. I saw myself a small little boy sitting at a plastic fisher price table embracing that lie, and Jesus was seated right beside me, knees to his chest sitting (rather humorously) at the little table with me trying to catch my face in His hands and tell me “I (Jesus) Am Enough.” I finally heard Him say it. What’s amazing is we didn’t directly address my addiction, He spent time healing the wound that had caused so much brokenness in my life. Through finally hearing Him speak those three words, I believed Him and my addiction and so many other things in my life broke. That was 107 days ago today. Today I am 107 days free. This is a gift beyond words. What more could I ever need from my Father. What more could I ever ask for, and yet the Heavenly Father beckons me every once in a while to ask for, what seems like in my mind, ridiculous things. I am so grateful, and humbled that He would choose to do such a thing in me. I am in awe of His love and His faithfulness.

There is another part to this story, but I’ll share that in part 2. I know this was long, and I imagine for some people reading it, you too may be battling an area of your life where you have little to no hope of it ever changing. Please borrow hope from my story, 30 years of addiction broken, because He really is enough, Jesus is enough.

“Hope is kindled.” -Gandalf Lord of the Rings: Two Towers

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