Okay, now this is it. I know I just failed again, but this time it’s going to be different. I am never going back. First, I’ll block any and every little thing that could tempt me on my phone. Second, I’ll make sure to bounce my eyes everywhere I go. Oh, and if I’m ever tempted, I’m going to take the thought captive, right away!
Am I going to tell anyone else? Well…no.
Unfortunately, this resembles the illogical thinking of my addicted brain. Yes, I was more determined than ever, and yes I sincerely hated the sin. And I truly believed I had the power, the willpower, to fix my problem. Why wouldn’t that be the case? I could work hard and achieve results in other areas of my life: at work, at school, at the gym.
However, the freedom I so desperately desired required something I had never been willing to do. When my sexual addiction was exposed––that’s when others became involved in my recovery. In fact, one of the first things Dr. Ted Roberts recommended was that I join a men’s Seven Pillars group in my area. This was just one of many evidences of the Lord’s towering goodness during such a vulnerable time in my life.
Over the next year I realized why my many attempts to fight this battle alone had failed.
1. I AM NOT ALONE
What was it that kept me from involving others in my recovery? Why was that the one thing I always resisted? The answer is fear: I feared judgment, rejection, and the consequences of my behavior.
It was this fear of others that bound me to the lie that isolation would protect me. However, isolation is a dangerous friend to have, for the baggage of shame always tags along. If we are living in hiding, then we clearly believe something is wrong with us. This is something others must not know, lest they look down upon us. Shame tells us we are the only one still fighting this battle, and especially the only one still failing.
The statistics on sexual addiction tell a different story. The reality is that a majority of men and an increasing number of women fail in this area every day. Scripture affirms that “no temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man” (1 Corinthians 10:13a). Sadly, the vast majority of those who struggle do so alone, hidden in fear.
When my first Seven Pillars group formed in 2015, the initial thing we did was sign a Covenant to Contend. I didn’t know it at the time, but this public commitment to one another laid the foundation for the journey ahead of us. It started with a declaration that we were doing this together—not alone. A Pure Desire group offers the unique space to come out of hiding and lock arms with those who are doing the same.
2. I AM BROKEN
From the outside looking in, I had a thriving marriage, a calling for ministry, and a gifting for leadership. This was a stark contrast to the inner reality of my emotional incapacity, spiritual dryness, and an escalating sexual addiction. Rather than peering within to make sense of my life, I instead settled for avoidance of reality and self-gratification. The battle for self-awareness was far too painful and toilsome for the failing addict.
I often see those caught in the noose of sexual addiction with a deadly misunderstanding of who they are. It pains me each time I hear someone get up to share their testimony, and what follows is simply a rap sheet of their past sin. I recently heard Rodney Wright declare at the Pure Desire men’s conference, “You are not just the sum of your worst mistakes.” Unfortunately, when one lacks clarity on the “why” behind their addiction, all that is left is a shameful view of self.
My Pure Desire group guided me through the process of putting together my story for the first time. This included the wounds of my past, the lies of the enemy that bound my soul, and the destructive ways that I had learned to cope. This newfound clarity mended my shame, as my focus was no longer solely on my failures. I was not just an evil person with a lust issue, but I was a wounded person who had learned to cope. Not only did this restore my soul, but it also gave me a hope and a direction for recovery.
There is immeasurable value in putting together your story in the context of a Pure Desire group. What you will experience is an ability to relate. As a group member entrusts to you the wounds, lies, and addictive behaviors specific to their story, you will discover unexpected commonalities with your own story. What quickly follows is the courage for you to look deeper within, putting you on the pathway to healing.
3. I AM REDEEMED
We’ve all come from the same broken world, and none have come out unscathed. Author Monica Brands puts it simply: in our world, hurting people hurt other people, often terribly.
We’ve been let down, deceived, abused, conditionally loved…we’ve been hurt. Whether we know it or not, we vow to protect ourselves from others, especially in the areas concerning our deepest struggles. Dr. Ted Roberts simply describes vows as curses on our soul. With that in mind, I want to offer a new paradigm to consider: healing people heal other people.
Stop and ask yourself, “Have I ever been invested in a group of people who were actively working toward healing?” I’m not talking about a Bible study, a men’s group, a small group, or even a few individuals who will ask if you’ve looked at pornography this week. Have you ever made a covenant to contend with those working toward restoration and redemption in the depths of their soul?
As I progressed in my recovery, I gained an understanding of who I was; again, not just a duplicitous missionary, but one for whom the Lord had chosen to intervene and set apart for redemption! When such discoveries are made in Pure Desire groups, an amazing thing occurs. Suddenly, there is no longer the need to protect, perform, or project to others in the group. Walls are broken down, authentic selves are brought to the table, and healing interactions follow. It is these God-given moments that redeem the wounds resulting from others in our pasts. This communal healing is essential to achieving long-term sexual health, and it cannot be experienced alone.
I entered a Pure Desire group hoping for some accountability and a couple new acquaintances. I left with three truths that saved my life, having settled deeply into my soul. Regardless of where you are in your recovery journey, I urge you to join a Pure Desire group. The culture around us is promoting the lie: you are the only one, you need to try harder, and you must hide from others. My prayer is that the Lord will give you courage to find a group near you and discover the truth about who you are.
Scott is the Associate Director of Mobilization and Talent Acquisition at East West Ministries International in Plano, TX. He is also Pure Desire’s Volunteer Regional Group Leader for the Central Region, overseeing, developing, and encouraging group leaders in his region. Scott is passionate about men and women finding the healing that God can bring when people are willing to do the work necessary to break free from addiction.