We don’t like pain. We do everything we possibly can to avoid it. We’ll ignore the elephant in the room and live in complete denial sometimes to avoid dealing with the dark pain in our lives.
We’re quite good at this self medicating, I certainly know it to be true in marriage as well.
As you’ve previously read in Part 1 and throughout the rest of this series, I’ve faced many demons in my life, least of which was the noose of pornography. Though these mistakes in this series are limited to 10, trust me when I say I could go on and on for months on end.
I don’t know why I’ve always had to learn the hard way. Perhaps it’s because I’ve grown up with trust issues, and have always found it difficult to trust where others have been and what others say. Or perhaps it’s been because I was abandoned by my father, and even after looking him up, meeting him one afternoon, he still refused to have anything to do with me. Whatever it is, I’ve always had to figure things out for myself.
Oh I can see the beautiful redemption in that now, but it hasn’t made the grief any easier to handle.
But then there’s that, knowing that God promises to never give us more than we can handle, or more appropriately communicated as He’ll always give us what causes us to rely solely on Him.
And for me that’s written some very painful chapters in my story.
So it’s hard to continue this story and tell you that getting caught wasn’t just about pornography. That what didn’t stop there ultimately led to affairs, and separations, and the near divorce of my marriage.
When Mary left that first time, as I said I was shocked. Naturally I reacted defensively and immediately tried to recover, attempting to make things sound not near as bad as they truly were. Of course then, I couldn’t see through the log in my eye, to see just how bad things were.
No unfortunately it took several more dark nights of the soul, several more separations, several more come to Jesus meetings for the veil to be lifted.
Because of all the hard work in counseling and therapy I’ve done, I now know, that for this issue, the enemy’s greatest weapon is in convincing men that there is this sliding scale with porn. That there are categories of wrongness. Divisions which require different responses.
That’s a lie. There is no justification for this sick sin.
Let me be perfectly clear for a moment. Pornography is a dangerous sin, and scriptures tell us one very clear thing about sin. It leads to death. Period. The End. So if you’re reading this and somehow sitting on the fence or struggling in any way, shape, or form, stop. Get help. Nothing, no nothing, will change in your marriage or in any relationship, while you’re secretly indulging in this depravity.
There is good news though! Luckily for all us, Romans chapter 3 doesn’t stop at verse 23. There is a verse 24. And that verse 24 gives us hope.
So how have Mary and I survived? How have I learned to walk in freedom?
Well I’ll let Mary speak for herself, but I can tell you firsthand, I boast in only two things with regards to my marriage — The Gospel and Grace.
Were it not for The Gospel, we would not be here. Our marriage would not have survived and our kids would have become just another statistic, just another product of a broken home.
Even still what has that looked like?
It’s looked like hours upon hours of counseling. Countless numbers of tears shed in rooms filled with those that love us dearly and those that have said hard things, spoken truth in love to us (me).
Specifically for me, it’s looked like being known by a small group of men, and allowing myself to be spoken to man to man. But most of all, it’s been the divine work of The Father in my heart and life.
For years I tried everything. I performed my way, and worked my way using every trick and tool available, unable to see that I was my own worst enemy. I was my own problem. Because at the core of all those attempts, all that trying, was me trying to accomplish something in me, of me, by me, and for me.
And you know what that was?
Me trying to be my own god. And the scriptures are pretty clear about that as well. That’s called idol worship.
Only Christ has the power to lift the veil that covers our eyes, that keeps us from seeing ourselves clearly. Oh we try real hard to do that ourselves, but it’s always in vain. It’s always a foolish attempt. Our lives would be better served to just simply get out-of-the-way and let The Spirit do his work.
I have learned that only when the adoration of Christ is at the center our life, do we experience freedom.
Experiencing the gospel means that whatever was our treasure, has been replaced by The Treasure of Christ. (you can tweet that if you like)
Now does all this mean that Mary and I’s marriage resembles the iconic facade that was the made famous in Leave it to Beaver? No, of course not. But I would say, now more than ever, it more closely resembles the metaphor that Christ intended it to be.
Marriage is His creation, and His ultimate vehicle for you and I to be made into more of who He created us to be — in His image.
I cry tears of joy when I speak about how what I know of God’s grace, I’ve been taught by my beautiful wife. There is no one on this planet who I’ve harmed more than her, and yet through it all, no one has shown me more grace, love and acceptance.
There is no one I’d rather be living this story with, than her.
My heart aches for those that currently struggle in hiding, and the marriages that are secretly hurting. Part of why I’m so passionate about speaking and teaching on authentic community is because I’ve experienced the gospel firsthand through them time and time again.
We have an enemy who tries to tell us that no one will understand, that we’ll be cast out and unloved because of our dark secrets, but the truth is you are not alone. And the only way you’re going to experience that for yourself is by taking the first steps towards authentic community.
Thank you to those who have shared their stories with me via email, in the comments below, on Twitter and Facebook! Continue to do so, you never know who is reading, and being encouraged to take the next step because of what you share!