GETTING READY - PREPARING FOR CHANGE
Making a life change such as stopping use of a drug or an unhealthy behavior, whether it is a compulsion or addiction, is a significant undertaking and should be treated as such. Addictions, as we’ve already mentioned and will discuss further in chapter 8, “Your Brain on Porn,” are strongly linked to your brain chemistry. Clearly, it’s called an addiction for a reason.
As we prepare for change, it’s important to understand what purpose pornography use served for us on a deeper level. To begin with, we need to look at pornography as a “medication.” This medication serves an important purpose in your life. While it may not have started this way, pornography use became a coping mechanism, a way to deal with unpleasant life events and emotions, and in some cases it even served as a reward for handling difficult events. Pornography use can be looked at exactly the same way as alcohol abuse. While a person may not have initially used alcohol to cope with life difficulties, the benefits of masking emotions and problems quickly became a reason to drink, and for some, to drink in excess. Like alcohol, pornography overstimulates the dopamine receptors and pleasure reward centers of the brain. The added problem with pornography is that the desire for sex and personal intimacy are a core part of our existence as human beings. We are wired for it. Pornography simply distorts and perverts this natural aspect of our humanness and, in so doing, enslaves us into craving the false intimacy and lies offered by pornography rather than the authentic intimacy that God designed us for in healthy, loving relationships. We naturally crave sex and union with others, but we do not naturally crave alcohol, cocaine, heroin, or other drugs.
The commitment to eliminate a medication, especially one that is relied upon as a coping mechanism, can not only be difficult but even raise intense feelings of fear, shame, desperation, and doubt. It can even trigger depression. All of these feelings and more are perfectly normal!
Take a deep breath.
Say a prayer.
You can do this!
You may feel such shame and embarrassment that you think God doesn’t love you or want anything to do with you. Or you may fear that your faith isn’t strong enough or you didn’t pray enough; otherwise God would have given you the strength to simply stop or at least taken away the temptation.
The fact is, God does love you. He loves you so intensely that He has put it on your heart to have the desire to turn away from this behavior and to invite Him into your life more intently and closely—to build a stronger relationship with Him. God has led you to this program to enable you to escape the bondage you are in and finally enjoy the freedom of His love.
1 Corinthians 10:13(NRSVCE) No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.
So frequently in this battle to become free of addiction, we feel it is too hard or is just not worth it. What’s even more defeating, and many times the core of our problem, is that we believe we are not worthy of love, especially the love of God. Listen to what Jesus tells us in Matthew 11:28-30:Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
Get it out of your head right now that YOU can manage this on your own or that if you just “try harder,” you can get it under control. Let yourself off the hook. Read and reread the previous Scripture passage. Jesus WILL give you rest and freedom if you let Him.
I will admit that getting free from pornography or sex addiction can be extremely difficult and the effort may even seem futile at times. I was a love, sex, and porn addict for well over 30 years. I know personally the profound feelings of emptiness, unworthiness, and loneliness that are deeply rooted in this addiction. But I am writing this book to tell you another important truth: It does not have to be this way. I feel I have been personally called by Christ to tell you this as well as guide you to freedom. You ARE NOT ALONE! Pornography is the biggest addition ever to plague our world. It ties to the very roots of our human existence. In the pages to come, you will see how and why. The addiction is strong; please don’t attempt to fight it alone!
You CAN do this!I did it, and I’ve helped countless others do it!
Studies show that nearly 50 percent of men and 20 percent of women would anonymously say that they feel addicted to pornography. There are countless statistics like this listed on our RoadtoPurity.com website.
You may have tried to beat this for a long time without success. We as humans frequently do what we don’t want to do and have a difficult time doing the right thing—this fact is actually revealed in Scripture. Paul stated this two thousand years ago and its truth was regarded as so important that it was included in the Bible!
Romans 7:15-24(NRSVCE) I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good. But in fact, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me.
The feelings of shame, embarrassment, rejection, loneliness and countless other emotions that result from pornography and sex addiction are all lies. This is not what God wants for you. It doesn’t have to be like this! God has revealed this single truth to me personally and has put in my heart a mission to tell others this single truth. Freedom is possible!
Awareness that the addiction is larger than you and that something more powerful than you is needed to conquer the behavior is a very good sign—it means you are ready to change.
For the best chance of success, you need to be prepared and have a battle plan. The next several sections will help you prepare.