Angry?

I think I might be angry.

Partly I think I’m angry with myself for not being too careful but partly I’m angry with others for blindly accepting things without question. So…

As you know, I’m a bit obsessed about Bethel church. Mostly this is because it is becoming a very large player in the Pentecostal community. 

Any church which is paying royalties for their music and thereby tacitly accepting them is either 1. Accepting of them or 2. Too stupid to see what is going on. 

If ever there were any siding doubt as to what side of the line they stand this article from Kris Vallotton will clear it all up:

Prosperity nonsense 101
This man is widely looked to as a leader. Some 315000 ‘like’ him on Facebook which is a good deal more than ‘like’ this blog! Popularity is not equal to being correct…. 

I was going to stop looking but I can’t. 

I have a choice to make. Either I stick with my new friends and let the church off its hook, or move on and seek a different way forward. I ought to act quickly to prevent damage. I will be sad. Many have been friendly and will struggle to understand why I can’t be in their ‘gang’. I will be thrust back into a reduced social state. How do others do community without doing ‘church’?  I’ve never had a community outside of church. 

I’m actually quite nervous. 

I’ve got resentment then. Am I prepared to pray for those I resent? Of course I am. Am I prepared to forgive? Of course. 

It’s not over yet. But it’s close. 

Hallelujah…

I have a name for my problem so I now completely identify with The Joker in the first Batman film with Jack Nicholson:

I have a name for my pain…
So what is it for me?

I’ve been wondering what it is that I don’t seem to have worked out quite right. I understand and believe that God is there. I’ve said it before, I found him in a room with people who were prepared to be vulnerable in order that they may recover from Sex addiction. Who would have thought that God would seem most present in that place? 

On the face of it, you really wouldn’t think of God wishing to commune with transvestites, exhibitionists,the porn addicted and the sex obsessed. However it makes sense through the lens of Jesus’ life. 

So God found me and made me confront all my years of church attendance where I couldn’t be a part because Sex addiction was holding me back. Church had to change and I left the cosy baptists and joined the Pentecostals. I could be a part! I’ve thrown myself in for 16months and there are lots of good points. But

There are things that are niggling me and I need to address them. After much google mining I think I know what they are and I can name them:

1. The teaching is lightweight. Like, really lightweight. I’ve never met weaker. It has some good application points but, to be fair, I’ve a better grounding in theology. And I’m a Sex Addict who has not been in any position to comment.

2. There’s a pretty strong leaning towards Bethel/Hillsong in the worship. This is limiting and I’ve been looking into Bethel, who are heavily linked to Hillsong and I don’t like what I read so…

3. New Apostolic Reformation – I think our church may be heading towards joining this movement- slowly and steadily,  but moving that way. There’s quite a lot of points that would back this up.

4. A visiting ‘prophet’ from Australia- I wasn’t there but I’ve heard the podcast. It was pretty much anything that could have come from a ‘cold-reading’. 

5. ‘Giftings’ eg tongues – lotsa babbling going on but no interpretation. Am I wrong in thinking that they should be interpreted? 

6. Emotional manipulation- lighting, keyboards etc, no-one rolling on the floor yet noted but hey! There’s time.  

However I must be careful. I know that I’m way too prone to the casual whims of my thinking. Funnily enough I’m writing this  whilst listening to a sermon on ‘spiritual posture’ which on the surface seems perfectly fine and it’s partly illustrated by this from Ephesians 4

Ephesians 4:14-15 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 

I also know that by the time I’m raising these issues, I’m already too far from the vision of this church and need to be completely honest. 

I’m also slightly concerned that the type of church with which I am currently aligned is  designed to manipulate emotion and therefore alow the release of dopamine. In this way it is one more obsessive ‘process’ which is only slightly healthier than the process of sex addiction. It’s only achieving the same result. 

Questions questions 

Hello

I’m still here. I’m still a sex addict. I’m grateful for my sobriety at the time of writing but am fully cognisant of the ever looming threat of slips and relapse. 

I think I’m able to accept that this is a condition for which I will suffer for the rest of my life however I’m also satisfied that the solution is more powerful than the addiction should I choose to live in it! 

In truth, I sometimes choose badly and I really can’t plan to be perfect. I’m human and flawed but I can thank God for the lessons I learn. 

I’m also quite encouraged by looking back on the journey I have madd so far and the changes I have made which are for the better. I know I have some way to go and the journey may never end but at least I can have healthy pride in what has been achieved. 

Normal

As the British public seek to find a level after a recent terror attack, im left with a number of thoughts and I’d like to look away from that. However, I wonder if the events in Westminster will be hijacked by those who seek an agenda for a different way of interacting with society…

In a similar way, I’ve noticed that there is a slight drift towards the normalisation of sexual violence in film. In the last 50 years there has been a gradual loosening of the reins surrounding ‘morality’ and as a direct result we are facing some of the most complex questions regarding sex and sexuality. But overall we have got to the point where it is perfectly fine to have pornographic material as general entertainment – Game of Thrones. 

Moving on from there, I would dare to suggest that the recent film releases: Elle (18) by Paul Verhoeven, A cure for wellness – Gore Verbinski (18) and Nocturnal Animals (15) by Tom Ford (15 for goodness sake!), mark a shift to allowing sexual violence to be part of ‘entertainment’. They’re not the first; Gaspar Noe’s rather hard watch ‘Irreversible'(18), has violent rape as its central plot point but at least had the good grace to slip into the ‘extreme cinema’ category and not be widely available. 

This denotes a contempt for women and a distinct lack of any kind of understanding of the damaging effects of sexual exploitation on the mind of the viewer.  I understand that some would throw their hands in he air and label me a ‘prude’ but I’d rather that than see the contemptuous and sneering disrespect that is shown towards women and society by this shift.

Sex and porn addiction are damaging and this kind of thing begins to make it normal and it ought to stop. 

Oh really? Really?

I just shared this with my SAA fellowship: 

“Morning all, I just need to check in some resentment. About 3 weeks ago I was involved with some work via church to help with gardening and painting at local schools. For me it was an excellent chance to spend time working alongside people and build healthy connections. I was also able to make a difference to the life of some children. 

All good you might think. 

However. It was not well supported and, despite being promised many volunteers, I was down to only one other on two of the days. The organisers were nowhere in sight. This caused some resentment but I dealt with this by giving constructive feedback to the organisers and they were receptive to this. There are many feelings that this process generated but I think, in part, that it added to my recent wallow in the middle circle. So why check this now? 

Last night I was at a meeting where one of those who had pledged their support for the work was present. Not long back this person enrolled on a training programme with the church to develop their faith. Part of their commitment to the programme is to be involved with small groups, like last night, tell their faith story to the church (which they did a couple of weeks ago) and tell of how the programme is helping them, and be involved in the bigger projects like the one with which I was involved. I was therefore pretty upset to discover that this person has stacks of free time because they are currently unemployed, have been for some time, and therefore they are ‘devoting their time to the church and church things’. Cue: my intense resentment which, coincidentally, has just crystallised as I have written this. They had pledged their time to the work but were nowhere in evidence for the whole week. 

If you read this far, then I thank you for your attention and apologise for the rant. I am now taking time to process my resentment and move forward. I recognise that my personal prejudice has a part to play and that I have discovered another little corner which requires some tidying up. Thanks. ”

Resentment is a bugger. It can be hard to overcome and, in truth, that was not the only resentment that surfaced last night. I’ve been tasked with leading the next one (I volunteered) but I might withdraw for a while as I think the resentment triggers could be too great. I manage far better with a group of sex addicts of various types…

The way of things

Luke 11:24-26 “When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first.” 

The above piece of scripture is a microcosm of how it is to be in addiction. The clearing out is not easy but it leaves a hole and it is hard to guard that hole from harm. Yesterday I intimated that I had questions. In truth I don’t even yet have a clear view of what those questions are. I guess this will be something for me to develop. 

Ok…

I feel sufficiently rested from this to re-engage but I’m intending to do so in a different way. 

In recent weeks I’ve been sexually sober and, apart from a recent brief foray into the middle circle, free from anything that I would consider as sexually unhealthy. (Since first trying to write this post, I have stayed within the middle circle and I’m finding it hard to escape. I neither want to go further nor want to pull back.). However, after much effort, I am back living a fully healthy life. I strayed close to the edge of the cliff and therefore acting-out but kept this side. The final warning signs were hard to accept but I found enough strength to turn back. I wonder if this ever gets easy? When I’m ‘in the bubble’, all I can think about is how I can act-out and how I can achieve the elusive ‘big hit’. It is genuine insanity, and potentially very dangerous. I do worry about those who are porn addicted and the potential for them to slide into sex addiction. 

What I’ve discovered is that I do find my recovery is best managed with regular check-in and fellowship. This does not need to be with other Sex Addicts but can just be any activity which takes me out of isolation.

Last week I decided to cut off my regular contact with my sponsor but in retrospect I think that was just me trying to create the right environment to act-out. There is much that I resent about having a sponsor and having to engage with sex addicts anonymous but in the end I have to accept that it has helped and without it, I might find that I would be in a more dangerous place.

I do find that engaging with church and the people of church helps but it has started to throw up some questions. These questions are not simple and maybe they are at the very heart of my relationship with God. Sometimes it is hard to be someone who is questioning but at the same time I need not to question the nature of God. How I view and treat God,  is central to how I view and treat myself and others. 

Conspicuous 

I’ll be about here from time to time but I think this method (blogging) has run its course for me. I have a Whatsapp group which is allied to my SAA group and that is the place for my check-ins. I’m also grateful to be able to check in with the crossdressing healing support prayer group. I’m journaling again but doing that in a different way.

I think I might have lost touch with God recently. I’m quite good at trying to hide from him and I think that if I turn away, I can’t be seen. Eventually I work out that this is nonsense. He sees all and he is there but it is I who chooses to be blind. I therefore have need of making sure that my connections with God are kept alive. Church helps but I often get the strongest connections through the SAA group. I’m going to have to be quite careful to spend more Thursday nights with them rather than splitting them with church house group. This is needed because I’m not that good if I don’t keep up my recovery work. 

I’ll be around but anyone who wants me knows where I am 

The art of failure

I thought I was doing well. 

I thought I was fine

I shouldn’t really have tried thinking

I might well have been ‘caught out’ in middle circle behaviour of ‘lingerie browsing’. 

If you’d asked me ‘why’ I did it, then I couldn’t really tell you. It was a mindless thing prompted by a small trigger. It’s been hanging around on my eBay ‘recently viewed’ for ages. The reason it has sat there is because I looked a while back and left it there because I like to look from time to time. It’s not my inner circle but I figure it’s not harmful. That’s why it sits in my middle circle – it doesn’t cause me harm. 

However. 

That’s not how it might be perceived by someone who catches you looking; as may have happened. We won’t discuss it. That would never happen so it’ll just be one more of those things that we never discuss. I kind of wish we could and then maybe I could ask for a bit of help. I could use an accountability person for my internet use and that can’t really be my 12 step sponsor. I don’t really want to have to go through everything with someone who is just a friend, as they really won’t understand, but it needs to be someone who I would be unhappy to disappoint. I would also love to be able to even have the kind of discussion with my wife where I can even honestly state my position. It need not have detail but at least I could then have mutual recognition that I am, in fact, a sex addict. Maybe that’s not right but I’d happily pay for her to attend a course to help partners of sex addicts.

Although this was a minor thing I have to look back at all the progress I have made. I look at all the things I no longer do and some of the thought processes which have been brought under control.  I have made tremendous leaps forward and I am mostly free of the problem but I know that there is work still to do…