Now as I think back, I am amazed at the hearts of many of these men.
March 28th, 2019, was my last night leading a Day Seven group. I had been a part of it for four years. Before that I had been doing intakes part-time for ten years there, but after I had lost a full-time job, the Director invited me to help lead a group for men struggling with porn and other forms of acting out. I would be working under a therapist and an intern. In fact for a few months I was just a regular participant before I started guiding the accountability part of the meeting for 3-4 of the men. I had experience leading support groups in the past. But this was the first with men in the midst of sexual addiction!
Now as I think back at what has passed, I am amazed at the hearts of many of these men. They had a level of passion for the Lord that I have not come close to. For some reason their spirituality struck me as stronger and more real than in most churches today.
One fellow I remember was pretty down when I first met him. He had been convicted of a crime with a minor fellow, and was on parole. His weekly parole meetings were miserable for him. But not long after that he turned to the Lord and was happy with the tiny apartment he had in downtown Lancaster, because at least by God’s grace, he wasn’t in jail. He became a strong member of the group, giving his perspective as one who was a fellow struggler with sexual sin.
For many the pull of the addiction was still very strong, but you could sense the pull of their faith as well as they battled and as they confessed. I remember one night, when a fellow in my group confessed. He had been feeling bad about himself, and was drawn to a gay bar. He knew he shouldn’t and was back and forth about it, but he ended up there anyway. But nothing bad happened there! It was as he walked out and headed away from the bar that a car pulled up and the men inside made an offer he couldn’t refuse. As he related this, he stared at the floor and was in tears. There was such shame and brokenness. He was so open, vulnerable and raw in his honesty.
That’s what stands out overall – the honesty! They exposed their hearts both the bad and the good. Quite a few of them talked in such a deep way about their relationship with the Lord, it was refreshing. He was real to them and a friend to them when no one else would be. They knew He loved them despite the shame of their porn or the family devastation they caused.
To give you an idea here is a reflection of one of the men written after his final night with the group:
For me, it’s been about knowing Him. Sometimes spending hours and hours in prayer pouring out my heart and soul…the good, the bad, and the downright ugly. Holding no emotion back. Begging him to show me who he REALLY is. Asking him to show me who I really am. Not what I’ve been taught or what I’ve always believed but the truth.
Wow, there’s a real passion for the Lord. A desperate passion for the Lord.
So what’s the difference between the lackluster devotion we have and the depth they have. We both have the same Lord and the same basic faith. To me it’s one thing, they are desperate and we are not! Plain and simple!
They have been caught in their addiction, maybe by the police or maybe by a spouse, and they know if they continue they will face dire consequences. Jail, divorce or a life of shame. Yet they feel powerless in themselves to get rid of the addiction. Their only hope is the Lord!
Their situation has made them desperate, but are our sins really any different? Not to the Lord! We all sin and either we hide it very well or its acceptable enough in our society that we don’t feel it’s really that bad. We need to get desperate about it, so that we very contritely confess and then know his grace. We need to see how bad it is and how the Lord really sees it, then we can know His grace. And the more we know His grace, the more he deepens our spirituality.
Maybe our first prayer toward desperation should be, “Help me see my situation from your perspective, Lord.”