The shame created by our addictions is a very powerful force and plays a large role in holding us back from the love and freedom that God offers us. Shame plays such an important role because it lies to us about our identity and how God sees us. I know from personal experience that shame can convince us that our addictions define us and that they cause God to become disappointed in us or care about us less.
We must attack these lies head on and replace them with the truth if we want to really experience God’s impossible and unconditional love for us.
The main way shame really impacted me came from how I thought other people saw me. Back in the day, the idea of telling anybody about my addiction to porn terrified me. I didn’t even admit to myself that I was addicted because I thought that accepting that label equaled a social curse that I could never lift.
I assumed that if anyone knew that I looked at porn, or if someone labeled me as an addict, that people would treat me with caution or disgust. I also thought there was no chance that any girl would like me or date me if they found out. These fears of social rejection caused me to keep my porn addiction under wraps for a really long time.
(As a side note, I recommend that girls should hold off dating any guy with an active porn struggle or addiction until they start to see consistent and genuine progress in that area. I’ll be happy to fully explain this in a later blog.)
While that seemed like the best strategy at the time, it really backfired on me.
When no one in your life knows about your biggest sin problem or addiction, the idea slowly creeps into your head that no one really knows you. It becomes very easy to believe that everyone in your life knows a facade or generously edited version of you. That idea plants the doubt in your head that no one actually loves or cares about the real you.
I’ve come to some pretty bad conclusions when I rely on my own logic and don’t share my thoughts with others. One of these conclusions was that because no one knows the real me that no one actually loves me. I came to the very false conclusion that they loved the facade that I presented to them. This conclusion slowly but surely drained all the life from my heart.
Our hearts were made to receive genuine love and gain confidence from the knowledge that we’re loved. My false conclusion tainted all of the love that people showed me and stole all of my confidence. In the past, I rarely felt much confidence or that someone would accept me if they knew the real me.
This is a big problem and it gets even worse.
I only dropped my façade when I was alone and I looked at porn many of the times that I got good chunks of time to myself. After years of looking at porn when I didn’t have on my façade, I started to associate my true self with looking at porn. I slowly came to the conclusion that my porn addiction shaped a part of my identity.
That very false assumption created a huge problem because it cemented in my mind the idea that no one could love me or accept me. I thought that my addiction would always remain a part of my identity even if I stopped looking at it. That thought became a poison in my heart that damaged my relationships, even my relationship with God.
I thought that God saw me as the porn addict and not as His adopted and beloved child. That really hurt my relationship with God because I thought it made Him get frustrated with me or love me less. Those false assumptions caused me to ignore God in my life and miss out on all the joy, peace, and love that He wants to give me everyday.
The only way to break down all these false assumptions, conclusions, and lies is to actively confess our sins to our Christian community. It’s not enough to tell one or two people over the years. We need a small group of Christians who we feel comfortable with and who we confess to every time we fall into temptation.
I still remember the first couple times that I opened up about my addiction to porn and I would not take them back for anything in the world. They were super awkward and it required a great deal of willpower, but they were worth every drop of strength and awkwardness. They taught me for the first time that God’s love, and the love of His children, covers my ugly addictions and problems.
This is not something that we can just tell ourselves and believe in our hearts. We have to experience this truth through confession on a consistent basis or the lies of shame will creep back into our hearts. If we don’t have a consistent experience of the truth, the lies will continually bombard us and slowly wear us down until we believe them again.
If you don’t have a small group of Christians you feel comfortable with or an accountability partner, start looking TODAY. This is something that every Christian needs and is not at all a sign of weakness or inadequacy. Accountability is a sign of maturity and responsibly.
We need accountability and other reminders of God’s unconditional love or shame will devour our hearts. Jesus took our shame upon ourselves and yet we easily forget that after we stumble. Without people constantly reminding us of that truth and reflecting God’s unconditional love to us we will struggle to experience God’s love and light in this dark world.
I have experienced victory and have recovered from my addiction and that COULDN”T have happened without completely honest and ruthless accountability. I told my accountability partner every time I stumbled even when saying it was the last thing I wanted to do. If I hadn’t experienced God’s unconditional love reflected through my accountability partner, I would remain an addict today and probably still present a façade to most of the people in my life.
Do you have an active accountability relationship in your life? If not, what could you do to get one?
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