Who have you forgiven today? Was it a family member who did not live up to your expectations or was it some random person who happened to annoy you in some way? Whoever it was the Lord encourages us to forgive others as he does. Forgiveness is an amazing thing, by forgiving we let go of negative emotions that would otherwise lead us to become bitter or worse. So what happens when we forget to resolve our own issues, when we live in sin and ask forgiveness only to re-enter that same cycle over and over? Well, this leads to guilt and guilt if not dealt with will lead into several other possible issues. This could manifest as bursts of anger (projection), or frustration leading to depression, or someone might cope by attempting to block out such feelings by taking drugs, drinking or watching porn. The latter issue leads to addiction since porn for example is not an addiction but watching it can become an addiction. You need to things to create a successful addiction, that is a continued problem and a comforting distraction. So lets look at the problems that can lead to addiction, we have covered guilt but we also have depression and don’t forget anxiety, oh and low self esteem which includes an inferiority complex and feelings of self worth. While I’m at it I need to mention anger, bitterness, hatred and self pity. With drink and drugs we can easily chemically blot out such ‘nagging’ feelings for a short while. This is self medication and once it becomes a regular thing we have effectively set the foundations of an addiction. The downside of drink and drug abuse is the after effects which only amplify the original feelings. So the addict re-medicates in order to tone down or blot this out so continuing the cycle. There is nothing logical about this, its an emotional response to unwanted feelings. We can apply this model to anyone type of addiction including Porn which is probably the widest form of abuse only we don’t hear much about it as it doesn’t kill people (ok, apart from the odd heart attack ect.). The short term gains do not require an explanation but we can attribute them to a temporary distraction. What’s so destructive about porn addiction is it will often lead to feeling of guilt,shame and quite possibly depression.
So what is the answer? How do we break an addiction? First of all, don’t think for one second that will power can break all addictions all the time because emotions are much stronger than logical thought. For example, imagine driving a car along a busy high street with people and car dodging in and out. You, the accomplished driver copes with the situation, is able to focus and not hit anything or anyone. Now imagine trying to do the very same task but being told that you have only three days to live. What then will you direct your concentration on? Would it be the road or the prospect of dying? So regarding a solution to a particular issue such as drink, drugs or porn we should automatically rule out anything chemical. Talking to someone might help but personally it could also lead the other way, not work and lead to feelings of humiliation. You could also spend a fortune and waste a lot of time trying different therapies but even if you do break the addiction it may not break the negative feelings. I believe that we need to treat both the mental, physical and spiritual aspect of an addiction. There is a process to recovery and will only work if you acknowledge the spiritual aspect, otherwise the issue will either return or manifest as something else. If you know of anyone struggling with addiction or has tried different therapies but failed then here is an approach they may find useful.
1) Identify and acknowledge your addiction.
Rationale: You cannot resolve an issue that does not exist.
2) Identify the times, events or feelings that lead you to engage the addiction.
Rationale: when does the desire to carry out the addiction happen, how are you feeling at the time? The point of this exercise is to identify the emotions you felt. Write this down and also whenever you get this urge always write it down. If its more than one feeling then include this in the list.
3) Do you want to break the cycle?
Rationale: Are you serious about stopping for good? If not, then quit now because if you tackle this half heartily it will fail and re-enforce doubt and the inability to escape this misery.
4) Pray to the Lord.
Rational: The Lord may have saved you but the Lord knows what he is doing when sometimes issues still remain. I wonder if the Lord only takes away those issues you truly do not want and lets you retain the ones you are reluctant to let go of (see step 3). Tell the Lord of your concerns, and that you are out of control. Confess your sins and ask him to break any strongholds (demonic oppression) that may be leading to these negative feelings. Remember, the action of drinking, taking drugs or using porn is a distraction from the negative feeling, a process of self medication. The Lord knows this but he wants you to confess it so that he can forgive you.
5) Acknowledge your own limitations.
Rationale: There is no saying what God may or may not do? Some people would find their problems are resolved right away whilst I suspect many will struggle to break the cycle. If you fall back into ‘self medication’. Ask for God’s forgiveness and guidance, but do not beat yourself up over it. It’s early days and the Lord will put this right for you, trust in him.
Rationale: Revert back to step 2. Identify the emotion, understand this is the trigger. Also think about the after effects, that nothing will be resolved and will only result in increased negative feelings. Ask the Lord to keep you strong and resist temptation. Always uphold faith in God, he is not a liar and if you stand firm in the faith he will take away the issue.