Take Personal Responsibility Early Before Things Get Out of Hand

The Tenth Step wisely exhorts us to take a stitch before the whole seam is gone, to fix the leaky faucet before we have a flood, to keep checking the oil level to protect the engine from damage. The Tenth is the taking-care-of-business Step.

There's nothing fun or exciting about maintenance. While it's essential to ongoing well-being, it can seem tedious and annoying to reflect back on each day with a critical eye. And we don't enjoy repeatedly seeking out and admitting our faults. But the discipline of a daily Tenth Step is the best precaution we can take to safeguard our gains and prevent further losses.

Like a mirror, a daily Tenth Step gives us a clear, realistic picture not one distorted by despair or wishful thinking of who we are and how we're doing. And just as we use a mirror, we need only check ourselves out and go on with our business. A Tenth Step takes only a minute or two.

A daily devotional excerpt from the book, "Days of Healing, Days of Joy" by Earnie Larsen. You can get the book here: Days of Healing, Days of Joy: Daily Meditations for Adult Children (Hazelden Meditations)

Step 10: We Continued to Take Personal Inventory and When We Were Wrong, Promptly Admitted It

Every one of us makes mistakes, it is a fact.  Except for Christ, none of us on this earth are perfect beings.  Nevertheless, what we do when we make mistakes is more important than trying to be perfect.  We are not perfect. We are not to think of ourselves as perfect (Romans 12:3a). Thinking that we will be mistake-free can lead us to keeping secrets and not asking for help when we are struggling or when we do make a mistake.  We need to come to the understanding that this Step clearly states "when we were wrong" not "if we were wrong".  We will make mistakes in life, sometimes small, sometimes huge. It is how we handle these mistakes and confess them that will define our recovery path.

If we don’t admit when we are wrong and make amends, the guilt will eat at us at a much deeper level that will eventually cause us enough guilt to want to medicate the subconscious feelings. .. Even the smallest wrongs we have done to ourselves or others can disturb our serenity.  It is important that we admit our wrongs as soon as possible . We are to settle our matters quickly with those we have offended so that we don’t get into a worse situation (Matthew 5:25).  The longer we wait to settle these matters, the more the guilt and shame can overcome us.  .. not admitting when we messed up will harm our honest character.  When our honest character is harmed, we will feel the guilt rising up from within.

It is imperative that we not allow our wrongs to brew in a stew of our character defects as it will become a powerful weapon against our abstinence from our sexual sin.  The longer we wait to admit our wrongs, the more powerful the weapon becomes and the more devastating the results of our wanting to medicate these feelings.

Once we admit we were wrong, we make sure not to castigate ourselves for our wrongs.  We remember, as followers of Christ, the old is gone and we are a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17).  Our sins have already been forgiven by God so the ultimate punishment of separation from God cannot be inflicted on us.  Therefore, there is no need for us to punish ourselves severely for having made a mistake. This is not a Step for self-loathing.  We remain gentle with ourselves, using positive internal dialogue. For far too long we have spoken to ourselves negatively, especially after having made a mistake.  We used negative internal dialogue like “I’m an idiot” or “I’m so stupid” for having made mistakes.  Some have even used abusive, profane language toward ourselves after having made a mistake.  Using profane language with ourselves, or others, is abusive and should not come out of our mouths (Ephesians 4:29).  It’s time to be gentler with ourselves when we make mistakes. After all, if one of our loved ones made a mistake, would we respond with the same language toward them?

This self-love and understanding comes from the recognition that everyone makes mistakes, but thankfully, in recovery, we are healthy enough to admit them.  Many people will continue through life not being able to admit they have wronged another or admit having made a mistake.  We show pity to these people because they are trapped in a prison of false perfectionism.  For us, however, we come to realize that our healthy selves do not need to be perfect to be a good, lovable person.  We are not perfect. We are a work in process and we will make mistakes. However, He who began the transformation in us will bring it to completion when the time comes for us to meet Jesus Christ face-to-face (Philippians 1:6).

Excerpts from the book, “Castimonia.” You can get the book here: Castimonia Sexual Purity Recovery Book

Trials: The Test of Spiritual Growth

Excerpts from a message by Dr. Tony Evans and The Urban Alternative

"Consider it all joy, my brothers and sisters, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." - James 1:2-4 (NASB)

"When a goldsmith heats up gold, to purify it - the question is, how does he know when it's ready. All goldsmiths use the same standard to know when the gold has been purified, and when it is ready. It is always when they see their reflection in it. God uses trials and He uses heat, until He sees Himself in you. Trials are designed to conform us to the image of Christ." - Tony Evans

"One of the things runners want to do, when they want to increase their speed, is increase their stretching. You see the players out stretching, because stretching gives you the ability to run faster, to go longer, to broaden your stride. When God wants to take you further, he stretches you - it's called a trial. This process of maturity or becoming like Jesus Christ demands that your faith is tested." - Tony Evans

Listen to the short message here: Tony Evans - Trials: The Test of Spiritual Growth (Essentials of Spiritual Growth Volume 2)

Weakness is a Strategy of Grace

Grace has granted us a new identity. “Christ, who is your life.” That's a direct quote from Colossians 3:4. When we came to Christ, we came to a cross, and the cross means death. We came to our death when we came to Christ, so that He could live in us. 

If you think you are going to fiercely strong-arm your lust problem away, it will not happen. We do not fight by doubling down or buckling down. Although we make a firm decision to deal with our sin, willpower alone is like shadowboxing. We are saved by grace through faith, and we will win the fight of our lives the same way, by grace through faith. Grace is a power. The power for sexual purity comes by Grace. 

The law exposes but grace delivers. The law doesn't help me with my sin. Rather, it exposes my sin. The law does not make me stronger. Grace delivers me with a new strategy; Grace trains me where the law fails to change me. Grace applied is the true New Testament strategy that actually trains me to live in power through purity.

Grace will train a humble, receptive heart – never a self-confident heart. Grace meets us in repentance and trains us. When I failed during this process, I'm in a good place to learn something. When I am weak, then I am strong, for the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ mentors and trains me to renounce my ungodly passions and ungodly sexual patterns, and mentors me in trusting the power of His life.

Our new strategy from Christ and the Apostle Paul is, “Be weaker.” If you are strong, then what is Christ supposed to do?

If you are frustrated and disappointed with yourself, then, sadly, that means you were trusting in yourself. You were trusting in your own strength to get up and be good for Jesus' sake! That may be religion, but it is not Christianity.

Do you want to be stronger? Then set your mind on being weaker. Weakness is a strategy of grace.

Excerpts from the book, “The Fight of Your Life” by Tim Clinton & Mark Laaser. You can get the book here: The Fight of Your Life - Manning Up to the Challenge of Sexual Integrity

You Can Recover From the Effects of Porn Addiction

Can you really have an addiction to what is, after all, the normal, naturally occurring process of sexual release? The elements of addiction are all there: a physiological “high”; the compulsion to seek out a “fix”; increasing tolerance of the “drug,” which requires increasingly bigger fixes;

But a newer view of addiction holds that addicts are first and foremost, caught in a web of expectation. They anticipate pleasure from getting a high, and an escape from anxiety and depression, and this anticipation creates a persistent state of semiarousal.

A screen-generated orgasm triggers a rush of “feel-good” chemicals, including endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin. It does not, however, discharge oxytocin, the attachment hormone. ... Porn simply makes you want more porn.

To maintain equilibrium in the nervous system, the brain shuts down the receptor sites that take up dopamine, and response to dopamine slows down. This is like pleasure fatigue. As physiological tolerance rises, more and more stimulation - be it of cocaine, alcohol, prescription painkillers, sex - is necessary, just to feel normal, let alone high. In one study, Paul Johnson and Paul Kenny, neuroscientists at the Scripps Research Institute in Jupiter, Florida, found that overeating rats resulted in dopamine deficits in their brains and further compulsive eating.

There is good evidence that avoidant folks are more susceptible to addictions in general. If you cannot find your way to healthy attachment, you go in search of a substitute.

Clinicians are finding that if men can abstain from porn for a period of time, their physiology eventually recalibrates, their sexual performance improves, and their libido rekindles.

Excerpts from the book, "Love Sense" by Dr. Sue Johnson. You can get the book here: Love Sense

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