“Connection Calls” by Forest Benedict, MA, SATP-C

The value of reaching out to others in times of need

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LifeSTAR Central Valley Blog

Here is another excerpt from a new LifeSTAR workbook I just finished writing that will soon be available to participants in our LifeSTAR of the Central Valley program.

Connection Calls

In Phase 1, participants learn the Cycle of Addiction and the importance of reaching out to escape this destructive pattern. This is not simply to create a distraction from temptation but to learn how to connect in emotional emergencies. Practicing this skill will help you stop the Cycle of Addiction when it begins, which must be mastered for successful recovery.

Your support network will include your Accountability Partner and others as well. It will include your Sponsor (if you have one) and other members of your group or 12-Step meeting. Utilizing the strength of your support network in times of need means learning to call for help. Here’s an example of how this works practically:

“Sooner or later, the urge…

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Listening Journal – Missing Me

In my recent article on deepening connection with God I shared about the practice of listening and writing what I sensed God speaking to me. This time, I have shared several verses and some lyrics that drive the point home. Honestly, if what I sensed God speaking to me did not align with the Bible, I would not believe it or share it. I pray that God uses these words to encourage you and draw you closer to Him. Please share this with others who would benefit.

“My Child, today my love is active and circulating throughout your circumstances. Every moment, you breathe it in. There is no escaping my love but you do so much to avoid it and act like it’s not there. Much like the wind, it soothes you and fills your lungs with cool, fresh air but unless you sit still and direct your attention to it, you don’t notice it. Like so many of life’s circumstances and problems that you find yourself wading through, I am right there with you, yet you stomp by, failing to see me. With your eyes on your shame and imperfections, you miss my loving gaze. Then you go about your life acting like I just don’t care. Acting like I’m aloof or distant or distracted or busy. Acting like I have better things to do than calm your fears and wipe your tears. But here I am. Right here. Reach out your hand and touch me. Take a moment to stop, sit, listen, and sense my life-giving presence comforting you.”

“The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness;

he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”

Zephaniah 3:17

For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.

Isaiah 57:15

Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.

Psalm 139:7-10

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you,

I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Isaiah 41:10

“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Romans 8:38-39

“And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Matthew 28:20

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you;

he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Deuteronomy 31:6

Let Me Love You – Third Day

Ever since the world around you shattered
You’ve been looking everywhere for something more
Sometimes you feel like your life doesn’t matter
But it does, I tell you it does

Come on let Me love you now
Come on let Me love you
And hold you through the storms
I will keep you safe and warm

Come on let Me love you now
Come on let Me love you
And kiss away your tears
I will always be here
Come on let Me love you

Yesterday you found your heart was broken
And tomorrow doesn’t leave much room for hope
Today you’ll find that My arms are wide open
And My heart, My heart is full of love

Come on let Me love you now
Come on let Me love you
And hold you through the storms
I will keep you safe and warm

Come on let Me love you now
Come on let Me love you
And kiss away your tears
I will always be here

Give up on all the other things
Cause My love can bring you more
And if you take a chance on Me
I’ll give you what you’re looking for

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Listening Journal – Divine Radiance

In my last article called “Moving Beyond Belief: Cultivating Connection with a Responsive God”, I shared about the practice of listening to God and writing what I sensed him saying to me. One of these days he shared the following message with me. I think these words are for all of us and I hope you find it encouraging, as I did.

“My Child, in my presence, all fear is gone. Let my soft, kind voice resonate with the beat of your heart. Let my arms wrap around your quivering frame. Let my Spirit speak life into your weary soul. You need me and that’s totally okay. In fact, I designed you to need me. There’s a reason why time away from the Source makes your energy fade. I am your Source and I fill you in a way that nothing else can or will. Yet, I see you so often seeking the attention and reassurance that sin gives you and it breaks my heart. I think, “that will never satisfy you, you’re chasing after the wind” and it saddens me. I grieve to see you running so intently after nothing. Worse than nothing, running after destruction just to feel better for a moment.

Life with me is not like that. In life with me, you grab hold of something that’s there. And you’re grabbed back by Someone who cares. And if you let yourself, you feel my love melt into your heart. You sit in my radiance and it warms and tans your skin. That stays with you. And it’s the reason you come. Not just for the experience but for how the experience changes you. Ask the lepers. When I healed them, they were never the same. I am doing that kind of healing work in you. Come to me and let me touch your skin, let me caress your face, let me look into your eyes, let me tell you who you are. You’ll never be the same.”

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“Moving Beyond Belief: Cultivating Connection with a Responsive God” by Forest Benedict, MA, SATP-C

Do you know about God but find connecting with his love difficult? Do you understand Biblical theology but find yourself reaching to addictive or unhealthy behaviors to manage your emotions instead of reaching out to God for help and comfort? I believe these are common experiences for Christians today. They have been my experiences as well.

For those of us who grew up with a critical, addicted, or non-responsive parent, we often relate to God in the maladaptive ways we learned to respond to emotionally unreliable caregivers. Thus, experiencing a deep, loving, interactive relationship with a God who hears, cares, and responds, sounds like a foreign concept to many of us.

In his book Anatomy of the Soul: Surprising Connections Between Neuroscience and Spiritual Practices that Can Transform Your Life and Relationships, Curt Thompson, MD, explains this from a neurological perspective:

“Our attachment patterns, translated into and through our neural networks, not only affect our relationships with other people, they are one of the primary forces shaping our relationship with God. Whatever our dominant patterns tend to be, we will relate with and assume things about God through those same neural networks. (After all, he created our brains and doesn’t bypass them when he invites us into a personal encounter with him)” (p. 118).

While our patterns of disconnection are wired into our brains, growth is still possible. Before reading Anatomy of the Soul, I honestly don’t think I valued the importance of cultivating emotional connection with God. This has been a significant paradigm shift for me. I’ve found that intentionally seeking God in the ways I will soon describe have allowed me to experience God in powerful ways I will never forget.

Before exploring these strategies, it is important to understand how the process of connection unfolds. Much of the work I do as a therapist is grounded in attachment theory. Basically, wherever we go for comfort in times of emotional distress is what/who we attach or connect to. For many, their primary attachment figure is an addictive substance or experience. I invite you to consider what strength can be found when we seek God for the reassurance we need when we experience emotional pain. Experiencing God’s gentle, compassionate response disarms the driving need to seek addictive experiences for relief.

Reaching out to God and finding Him present, increases our trust in Him. Doing this repetitively helps us develop a “secure” connection with God. In everyday struggles (such as temptations, emotional distress, and experiencing self-criticism), we find that we are not alone and we feel the difference.

This concept of reaching out to God and experiencing His loving response is throughout Scripture. In the Psalms, King David was especially aware of God’s reassuring presence. In Psalm 94:18-19, he wrote:

            “If I say, “My foot is slipping,”
Your faithful love will support me, Lord.
When I am filled with cares,
Your comfort brings me joy.”

See also Psalm 18:6, 32:10, 34:7, 40:1, etc

You may be wondering, “how can I experience God in this way”? Let me suggest four powerful, practical strategies that I have found helpful in deepening my connection with God; journalling, visualization, scripture, and music.

I’ve used journaling my prayers for a long time. I use a password protected word document on my computer so I can be brutally honest and never worry about who may find it (even after I die), but that is personal preference. After I journal my prayer, which often includes me venting and/or expressing my emotions to God, I often have a time for listening. In my listening time, I ask God to speak and I type whatever I feel him saying to me. This is never an audible voice but a message always comes to me. It generally includes the reassurance and encouragement I need in that moment.

I’ve wondered before if this “voice” was not really God but just something I’ve imagined. I’ve decided that even if this is just me talking to myself, it’s still worth practicing because it’s usually a powerful experience that bring comfort and connection. I guess that’s where faith comes in; trusting in what I do not see. FYI: In the near future, I plan on sharing some of my listening sessions on this blog because I believe others will find them reassuring as well (stay tuned).

The second spiritual connection exercise can be described as visualization, which can include imagining an uplifting interaction with God. In Anatomy of the Soul, Curt Thompson shares specific visualization exercises that deepen attachment with God. “Being Known” is one of these experience (It can be viewed here). I’ve also started my time with God with Being Known then allowed Him to continue to speak to me through mental imagery. These too have been life-changing “experiences” for me.

Using scripture is the third way to deepen connection with God and I’d like to put a new spin on that experience. It is one thing to read scripture to learn and quite another to read it to connect. For those of us seeking to increase connection with God, I encourage the reading of scripture with this focus in mind. Dwell on verses such as Zephaniah 3:16-18, which reads; “On that day the announcement to Jerusalem will be, “Cheer up, don’t be afraid.  For the Lord your God has arrived to live among you. He is a mighty Savior. He will give you victory. He will rejoice over you with great gladness; he will love you and not accuse you.” Is that a joyous choir I hear? No, it is the Lord himself exulting over you in happy song” (Living Bible). If deepening connection is the goal, then looking for promises and stories that reflect God’s faithfulness, kindness, and loving response will be important to read, reread, and pray through, talking to the Creator Himself. This does not mean that the other verses are not important or that God does not have other parts of His character but it does allow for new experiences of His genuinely loving and tender nature, which are foundational for increasing intimacy.

The remainder of this article will focus on the fourth way I recommend fostering deeper connection God; through music. Music is a wonderful medium because it often connects to the emotional part of our brain. Combine that with lyrics that remind us of God’s “attunement” to our cares and needs and you have a great opportunity to experience God in new ways. I have created a Connection Playlist (CD and Spotify) and many of the lyrics from it are written below.

Remember, there are many Christian songs about God and about truth but these songs specifically speak of deeper connection, using imagery such as open arms, comforting words, reassurance, eye-contact, and feeling God’s loving presence. As you read them, I invite you to allow God’s voice to speak directly to your heart, strengthening your assurance that He is available and responsive and allowing yourself to experience your feelings as they surface.

“You’re Not Alone” – Meredith Andrews

I searched for love when the night came and it closed in
I was alone, but You found me where I was hiding
And now I’ll never ever be the same
It was the sweetest voice that called my name, saying

You’re not alone for I am here
Let me wipe away your every fear
My love, I’ve never left your side
I have seen you through the darkest night
And I’m the One who’s loved you all your life

You cry yourself to sleep
Cause the hurt is real and the pain cuts deep
All hope seems lost with heartache your closest friend
And everyone else long gone
You’ve had to face the music on your own
But there is a sweeter song that calls you home, saying

You’re not alone for I am here
Let me wipe away your every tear
My love, I’ve never left your side
I have seen you through the darkest night
And I’m the One who’s loved you all your life

Faithful and true forever
My love will carry you

“In Your Presence” – Jason Upton

Father I am waiting,
I need to hear from You.
To know that You’re approving
of what I say and do.

Cause nothing really satisfies
like when You speak my name.
So tell me that You’ll never leave
and everything will be okay.
In Your presence, all fear is gone,
In Your presence, is where I belong.

Father I’m returning
to things I used to do.
Cause somewhere on the journey
I think I lost hold of the truth.
But nothing really satisfies
like when You speak my name.
So tell me that You’ll never leave
and evertthing will be okay.

“Feet Of Jesus” – Steven Curtis Chapman

In the stillness I can hear my Savior calling out
Come to me and lay your burdens down

So I will lay down my struggles
I will lay down my shame
All the fear I drag around through this life
like a ball and chain
(All my questions and confusion)
I will sing Hallelujah to the One who sets me free
And you will find me at the feet of Jesus

In the arms of Jesus I will find my peace and rest
I hear him calling come to me and rest
Carried by my shepherd cradled tightly to His chest
There and there alone my soul finds rest

So I will rest in the shelter of my Savior’s embrace
Hidden safely in the refuge of His mercy and His Grace
And I Will Sing Hallelujah to the One who sets me free
And you will find me in the arms of Jesus

“Fly” – Jars of Clay

Be still
Let your hand melt into mine
The part of me
That breathes when you breathe
Is losing time
I can’t find the words to say
I’ll never say goodbye

And I’ll fly with you
Through the night so you know
I’m not letting go
I’m not letting go
Tears like rain fill up the sky
Oh my love
Hold still and let your
Hand melt into mine
I’m not letting go
I won’t let you go

“Ever Lifting” – Christy Nockels
You’re lifting my head so I know You’re near me
You’re lifting my eyes so I see You clearly
You are where I belong
I’m lifting my voice just to sing a new song
I’m lifting my hands just to show You I know
Where I belong
You are where I belong
You are ever lifting me

You fill my heart to know
The length of Your great love
And where You go I’ll go
You set my heart above
And nothing on earth compares
Oh, God when I’m with You
You take me higher

“By Your Side” – Tenth Avenue North

Why are you striving these days
Why are you trying to earn grace
Why are you crying
Let me lift up your face
Just don’t turn away

Why are you looking for love
Why are you still searching
As if I’m not enough
To where will you go child
Tell me where will you run
To where will you run

‘Cause I’ll be by your side wherever you fall
In the dead of night whenever you call
And please don’t fight these hands that are holding you
My hands are holding you

Look at these hands at my side
They swallowed the grave on that night
When I drank the world’s sin
So I could carry you in
And give you life
I want to give you life

‘Cause I, I love you
I want you to know
That I, yeah I’ll love you
I’ll never let you go, no, no

“You Are A Child Of Mine” – Mark Schultz

I’ve been hearing voices
Telling me that I could
Never be what I wanna be.
They’re binding me with lies,
Haunting me at night,
And saying there’s nothing to believe.
Somewhere in the quietness,
When I’m overcome with loneliness,
I hear You call my name.
And like a father You are near
And as I listen I can hear You say

You are a child of Mine
Born of My own design
And you bear the heart of life.
No matter where you go,
Oh, you will always know
You have been made free in Christ.
You are a child of Mine

And so I listen as You tell me who I am
And who it is I’m gonna be.
And I hang on every word,
Knowing I have heard
I am Yours and I am free
But when I am alone at night
That is when I hear the lie
You’ll never be enough
And though I’m giving into fear
If I listen I can hear You say

You are a child of Mine

“Busted Heart (Hold On To Me)” – For King & Country

Winter has come back again
Feels like the season won’t end
My faith is tired tonight,
And I won’t try to pretend,
I’ve got it all figured out,
That I don’t have any doubts,
I’ve got a busted heart
I need You now

Hold on to me
Don’t let me lose my way
Hold on to me

I am the wandering son
Enough is never enough
I keep chasing the wind
Instead of chasing Your love
I’m screaming out Your name,
Don’t let me fall on my face
I’ve got a busted heart
I’m in need of a change
Yeah, I’m desperate for grace

Broke Your heart a thousand times
But You’ve never left my side
You have always been here
For me

You never let me go
Don’t ever let me go

Winter will come to an end
Soon the season will end
I surrender tonight
You meet me right where I am

“Be Still And Know” – Steven Curtis Chapman

Be still restless heart of mine
Bow before the Prince of Peace
Let the noise and clamor cease

Be still and know that He is God
Be still and know that He is our Father
Come and rest your head upon His breast
Listen to the rhythm of
His unfailing heart of love
Beating for his little ones
Calling each of us to come
Be still

“Steady My Heart” – Kari Jobe

Wish it could be easy
Why is life so messy?
Why is pain a part of us?
There are days I feel like
Nothing ever goes right
Sometimes it just hurts so much

But You’re here
You’re real
I know I can trust You

Even when it hurts
Even when it’s hard
Even when it all just falls apart
I will run to You
‘Cause I know that You are
Lover of my soul
Healer of my scars
You steady my heart

And I will run to You
And find refuge in Your arms

 I’m not gonna worry
I know that You’ve got me
Right inside the palm of your hand

“Sound Of Your Voice” – Third Day

I ran away from your love
But you waited for me
Yes, you waited for me
And then I heard your song
Singing over me

Now that I hear you, Lord
I want to know you more

Sing your song to me
Oh, there’s no greater thing
Than to listen to the sound of your voice
When I hear your song
I want to sing along
And listen to the sound of your voice

Lord, I am calling your name
And I’m waiting for you
So won’t you show me your way
And I will follow you

“Remind Me Who I Am” – Jason Gray

When I lose my way,
And I forget my name,
Remind me who I am.
In the mirror all I see,
Is who I don’t wanna be,
Remind me who I am.
In the loneliest places,
When I can’t remember what grace is.

Tell me once again who I am to You,
Who I am to You.
Tell me lest I forget who I am to You,
That I belong to You.
When I can’t receive Your love,
Afraid I’ll never be enough,
Remind me who I am.
If I’m Your beloved,
Can You help me believe it.

I’m the one you love
That will be enough

“Without You” – Shane & Shane

I can walk through the storm
I can walk by faith when my sight is gone
Just as long as You are here with me

Here I am, I’m calling out, “Father,
Can You hear me, can You hear me?
I don’t wanna go without You
Here I am, can You talk a little louder
So I can hear You? I want to hear You
I don’t wanna move without You.”

Even though I believe
You’ve taken up a home inside of me
And You’ll never leave
I still need to know You’re here with me

If Your presence goes, I don’t wanna stay
If Your presence stays, I don’t wanna go
I need You

“I Am” – David Crowder

There’s no space that His love can’t reach
There’s no place that we can’t find peace
There’s no end to Amazing Grace
Take me in with your arms spread wide
Take me in like an orphan child
Never let go, never leave my side.

I am,
Holding on to You.
In the middle of the storm,
I am Holding on,
I am!

Love like this, Oh my God to find!
I am overwhelmed what a joy divine!
Love like this sets our hearts on fire!

This is why to You I run

“The More I Seek You” – Kari Jobe
I wanna sit at your feet
Drink from the cup in your hand.
Lay back against you and breath,
Hear your heart beat

The more I seek you,
the more I find you.
The more I find you,
the more I love you

This love is so deep,
it’s more than I can stand.
I melt in your peace…

“Your Love is Strong” – Jon Foreman
I look out the window
The birds are composing
Not a note is out of tune
Or out of place
I look at the meadow
And stare at the flowers
Better dressed than any girl
On her wedding day
So why do I worry?
Why do I freak out?
God knows what I need
You know what I need
Your love is strong

Two things you told me
That you are strong
And you love me
Yes, you love me

“Running in Circles” – United Pursuit Band
I’m so forgetful, but You always remind me
You’re the only one who brings me peace
So I come, Lord I come
To tell you I love you
To tell you I need you
To tell you there’s no better place for me than in your arms
To tell you I’m sorry
For running in circles
For placing my focus on the waves, not on your face
You’re the only one who brings me peace
In the storm

“Wrap Me in Your Arms” – Michael Gungor

There is a God who loves me
Who wraps me in His arms
And that is the place where I’m changed
And that’s where I belong

Take me to that place Lord
To that secret place where
I can be with You
You can make me like You
Wrap me in Your arms

“Sound Of Your Voice” – Steven Curtis Chapman

There’s a mockingbird singing outside my window
There’s a little girl calling my name
And I hear Your voice
It’s the sound of Your voice
There’s a gentle breeze whispering
Stories and secrets through the branches of the old willow tree
And I hear Your voice
It’s the sound of Your voice

God, You know how much I wish I could just hear You say the words
And answer all the questions everybody’s asking
But until I hear You speak
Will You help me hear the songs You’re singing over all this noise
I will be listening for the sound of Your voice

There’s a little boy’s eyes looking up from a postcard
He’s asking “Will you show me love”
And I hear Your voice
I hear the sound of Your voice
There’s a woman who’s crying ‘cause her hope is dying
And a friend whispers “You are not alone”
And I hear Your voice
I hear the sound of Your voice

And I’ll close my eyes for a moment
When I open them again
You’ll be standing there face to face
And I’ll sing for joy
And I will finally hear Your voice

With every sunrise You tell me again
How Your mercies are new
How Your love never ends
I will be listening for the sound of Your voice
In the crash of the thunder
In the roar of the waves
I hear Your strong arm calling my name
I will be listening for the sound of Your voice
I am listening

After reading the above lyrics, how do you feel? Do you sense God’s reassuring presence? Can you more vividly imagine God’s love and compassion toward you when he senses your feelings? It is my hope that this article awakens you to new possibilities in your spiritual journey. May these new experiences with God help you to “grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:18-19). May that love be your eternal source of comfort and reassurance.

Continuing the conversation: What songs, lyrics, verses, and quotes can you recommend that help you experience God as a loving Father who responds to the feelings & experiences of His children?

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“From Under the Rock” by Forest Benedict, MA, SATP-C

I wrote this article in 2013 and it was first published on the LifeSTAR of the Central Valley Blog. I often share this piece with those I work with. While it is specific to sexual addiction, I believe the concept fits all addiction. Enjoy.

 

“Taking some of these measures was like killing off part of me, they were so much against my natural inclinations.” (Sexaholics Anonymous, 2001, p. 167)

The true story of Aron Ralston’s near-death experience in a canyoneering accident was vividly portrayed in the Academy Award nominated film “127 Hours.” The movie depicted Aron’s outdoor adventure, which came to a halt when his fall into a steep crevice loosened a massive rock. As he and the rock fell, it tumbled on his arm, pinning him down. The account of Aron’s struggle to free himself provides a fitting metaphor for sexual addictions recovery. Just as Aron was pinned under an 800-pound boulder, people with sexual addictions find themselves trapped under the weight of an immobilizing force.

With deadly consequences in the balance, how does someone conjure up the necessary strength, endurance, and fighting passion to escape? This question is essential as sexual addicts begin the healing journey.

Beginning Efforts

In the film, when Aron found himself trapped, he turned his efforts toward dislodging the rock. He attempted to chip at it with his knife, angrily pushed against it, and even created a pulley system as another creative attempt. Similar to the addict who implements whichever tricks he can conceive to outsmart his drive to seek out unhealthy sexual experiences, these efforts led only to frustration. So often, the recovery process begins with the addict doing as little as possible, rather than as much as necessary.

As the White Book of Sexaholics Anonymous describes this pattern, “instead of running joyously to heaven, we seem to back away from our hell, one step at a time” (Sexaholics Anonymous, 2001, p. 69). But the denial that drives that mentality gradually diminishes with the increasing recognition that the “rock” of addiction is not budging. As described in the “Big Book” of AA, “half measures availed us nothing. We stood at the turning point” (Alcoholics Anonymous, 1939, p 58-60).

The sexual addict has many challenging experiences under their “rock”. Being stuck, unsure of the possibility of escape, can lead to an array of uncomfortable emotions such as anger, despair, loneliness, sadness, helplessness, and hopelessness. If this were a scraped knee, the remedy would be obvious and simple. But the circumstance a sexual addict sits in has a hidden and complex solution. The way to freedom from this trap is mysterious and frightening.

When faced with seemingly insurmountable odds, Aron gradually realized that his pathway to freedom would be agonizing, requiring the amputation of his arm. The sexual addict faces a similar dilemma; in successful recovery they must submit to the painful removal of a significant part of them. Though it may be difficult for some to understand, a sexual addiction has sentimental value. In fact, for many it has served as a long-term source of comfort, enjoyment, and escape. Though the consequences of this pattern are destructive, the sexual addiction has served a purpose, providing a coping mechanism throughout life’s trials. So, saying goodbye to the addiction is essentially severing a close relationship.

Making Necessary Cuts

Watching Aron begin to slice his arm is excruciating. Skin, muscle, bone; there are no exceptions for his dull, army-knife blade. Anything separating Aron from his freedom must be removed. Similarly, recovering from a sexual addiction requires many uncomfortable “cuts.”

These choices may include personal stretching, such as:
• Walking into treatment
• Disclosing “secret” behaviors
• Acknowledging consequences

Varying behavioral changes may be necessary, such as:
• Implementing skills for resisting temptations
• Choosing to limit access to certain conveniences,
entertainment, or situations
• Practicing new self-care habits

Challenges of relational growth will likely be required, such as:
• Being honest & vulnerable
• Learning how to emotionally connect with others
• Learning how to create safety for a traumatized spouse
• Accepting help and care from others
• Growing in relationship to a Higher Power

Emotional challenges can be expected, such as:
• Learning how to acknowledge, access, and express emotions
rather than numbing
• Looking at underlying issues resulting from painful past
losses or traumas
• Enduring the slowness of the entire process

The recovery process will not look identical for everyone. What will be consistent is the requirement of great sacrifice.

The Frightening Path Ahead

Intimidating, isn’t it? One might wonder, if recovery from sexual addiction is such a massive and life-altering experience, why submit to the process? Aron’s ultimatum of life versus death was clearer than the choices a sexual addict faces. Certainly there is the choice to seek help or remain hidden in the comfort of the shadows, in the companionship of pain and shame. It is a draining, enslaving existence. Still, it is what the addicts knows. And often the fear of walking into the light, uncertain of the responses of others and terrified of facing their inner emotional turmoil, burdens addicts like a ball and chain.

Under the addict’s rock, they are suffering, as they experience deterioration of their relationships, selves, and souls. The prospective of escape is hopeful in theory but actually choosing that path takes a tremendous amount of courage and motivation.

Awakening Passion

Aron was ready to die under the rock, until he found deeper inspiration. His fighting passion was finally stirred by a powerful love. In what seemed like his last hours, he saw a vision of his future son. In the film, as Aron watched himself playing with this yet unborn boy, he smiled, tears filling his eyes. This potent experience awakened in Aron a hope, determination, and fervor that was previously lacking.

As Aron undertook his own amputation, his mission was accompanied by music and the lyrics “if I believe, there is more than this” (Dido Armstrong & A.R. Rahman, 2010). In that moment, there was no doubt that Aron believed there was more to his life than dying under that rock. He found his reason to fight.

The sexual addict must conjure up an intense passion for freedom for healing to occur. They must determine their “why.” This means finding reasons that stir in them a compelling desire to leap from their realm of comfort, embracing the possibility of a better life. This can start with an image of their spouse, their children, or their hero. It may include a yet unfulfilled dream or values that inspire them.

That reason plays a foundational role. The key to Aron’s freedom was found in the visualization of the beautiful life to come. More-so, the love for his future son was a force that was previously untapped. And it was that greater power that energized him to do the seemingly impossible.

Daily Inspiration

There are many strategies a sexual addict can utilize to conjure up their necessary inspiration on a daily basis. The following strategies may be helpful for sexual addicts to use at set times of the day and when undergoing moment to moment temptations or challenges:

• Reading a paragraph from a book, a quote, a scripture passage,
a letter written to themselves, or their list of motivating
reasons to be free
• Listening to a specific song or playlist that grounds them in
their spiritual beliefs, feelings of closeness to family,
their true identity, a future vision, and an uncompromising
attitude
• Watching movie clips that arouse motivating values and a
fighting mentality
• Praying/meditating to foster feelings of connection with a
Higher Power and a sense of greater purpose
• Viewing pictures of family members
• Holding symbols of recovery

Another excellent way to tap into that greater power and motivation is through the connection with others who are fighting similar battles, whether through groups, retreats, or other experiences. There is something deeply motivating about spending time within a culture or community of others committed to recovery. Powerful too is the experience of making phone calls to tap into the strength of another, connect emotionally, and mutually encouragement one another.

When a person in recovery practices whatever infuses them with the power they need to fight for their freedom, the recovery process is made visible at a level never before witnessed.

The Hope of Freedom

In a TLC interview with Aron Ralston, he described the excruciating experience of cutting off his arm. He then shared, “I was free. It was the happiest moment of my life. There will never be a more powerful experience for me. It was absolutely the greatest feeling, to be given the chance to get out of here. Looking down canyon I knew I had a trip left. But at least I was not going to die right here. And the power of that was astonishing” (TLC, 2005).

In recovery, the same opportunity presents itself. Just as Aron traded his arm for his new life, recovery means trading the old for the new. Losing much, gaining more. The movie ended informing the audience that “Aron’s premonition came true”; he was married and had a son. Then real images of Aron living his life flashed across the screen. Alive. Well. Loved. Armless. If you asked Aron if his current life was worth sacrificing a significant part of him, I believe he would emphatically say it was. Certainly his son would agree.

It is an honorable step of courage to seek help with a sexual addiction. Sadly, there are too many who resort to living a life as a victim to their addiction, holding tightly to the only life they know, however desolate and lonely it may be under their rock. When someone arrives at LifeSTAR, they are no longer isolated as they pursue the new life of recovery. LifeSTAR provides a community of trained experts who have helped many in this area. This team of caring professionals can gently guide people through the painful process, providing many resources and much support to help them take the necessary steps in letting go of the addictive lifestyle.

Joy Waits Ahead

May we all, on this journey to wholeness, be willing to fight with determination, the battles before us, however fear-inducing and difficult they may be, knowing that something better awaits us on the other side.

There will be times when relapse seems like saving grace, but know that in those moments of discomfort, there is relief for those who reach out and push through. May we all invest the time and effort needed to find profound power and inspiration, to fight the battles that matter most to us.

In light of Aron’s endeavor and the one before us, may we remember that “we are the doctor in this soul-surgery, and we perform the operation without any pain-killers. Thank God we’re not alone; those who have gone before us have put themselves under the knife and have come out into the bright sunlight of a new life, emerging to know themselves, others, and God, and the very beauty of life itself. This is our finest odyssey” (Sexaholics Anonymous, 2001, p. 104).