The Battle for Emotional Survival
We are all engaged in a battle for emotional survival. There are causalities in this battle. People get hurt and, of course, hurt people hurt people. Painful memories clutter the deserted battlefields of our wounded souls. Internal pain bubbles to the surface of our awareness, reminding us of our own neediness and propelling us in the pursuit of porneia. Our addiction presents itself as a quick and easy ‘fix’ for broken relationships, never-met needs, and childhood traumas. The ‘fix,’ of course, fixes nothing because it focuses itself on self, and not others.
When will I realize I am not alone in the battle? My opponents are also fighting for their emotional survival. Perhaps the pursuit of my own healing is incidental to a higher objective – that of helping others do the same, even when I am estranged from those who need my help and healing touch. Who knows? I may need them as much as they need me. Perhaps there is a reason Jesus commanded me to “make friends quickly with [my] opponent.”
“If therefore you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar, and go your way; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering. Make friends quickly with your opponent…”
— Jesus, Matthew 5.23-25a NASB
If the pain caused by broken relationships is an impetus for sexual addiction, does it not stand to reason that the healing of these relationships can reverse the addictive trend? Resolution of conflicts with difficult people, then, becomes central to the goals of recovery. We can overcome sexual sin, but we cannot do it alone. We need reconciliation as much for our benefit as for those we may have once wished to never see again.
“And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.”
— Jesus, Matthew 7.3-5 NLT
Forgiveness releases the miraculous power of God’s Spirit to do the impossible. Imagine your difficult relationships as a log jam. How do you loosen the jam? You can step out into the middle of the river and remove one log at a time. However, log picking your relationships is a very dangerous endeavor and discouraged by Jesus Himself:There is another, equally as damaging option… dynamite! That will definitely end, but can never fix, a relational log jam. The dynamite solution causes irreversible damage. When you utter what you’ll soon regret, burn a bridge, hit below the belt, betray a friend, or offend anyone with hurtful words, your relationship is over, probably for good.
“It is harder to win back the friendship of an offended brother than to capture a fortified city. His anger shuts you out like iron bars.”
— Solomon, Proverbs 18.19 TLB
There is a better way; a safer and more redemptive alternative to log picking (trying to change people) or dynamite (ending relationships with people you cannot change). If you raise the level of the river the logs will simply float downstream. Forgiveness elevates the water level in hard interactions, making it possible for the logs in everyone’s eyes to float gently away. Forgiveness unleashes the power of God and releases the rivers of living water in an addict’s soul. Bitterness and resentment, petty differences of opinion, minor conflicts, and longstanding hostilities are not the only logs that get washed downstream. For reasons I cannot explain, porneia sometimes goes along for the ride. Your decision to forgive can break the stronghold of sexual addiction in your life.
“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. ”
— Paul, Romans 12.18 NIV
Your recovery is not just about you. It’s about you and the people God placed in your life. Remind yourself often that others are engaged in their own battles for survival. Try to love and understand them. Nurture a spirit of compassion and empathy toward problem people. Trust Jesus and be a peacemaker. Forgive your adversaries, for in so doing, you are reinforcing your defense against the spirit of porneia and building hope for peace in your own battle for emotional survival.