The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies - Official Teaser Trailer
[A follow-up to my post, The Anatomy of My Porn Addiction]
I used to be a really anxious kid. Even in elementary school, I struggled with insomnia and sat awake at night wondering if I was going to be OK and if there would be a place for me out there in the world. But as I entered my teens, this anxiety seemed to fade.
Then, a couple years ago, it came back in full force. My obsessive tendencies seemed to worsen, and I even experienced a couple mild panic attacks. What had changed?
As I looked back, I noticed that my anxiety was indirectly correlated to my porn use. It seemed to have dissipated in my teen years, because that was when I started looking at porn. And the further I got from porn now, the more my anxiety returned.
That was when I realized that I had always been an anxious person, I had just been self-medicating by distracting myself with pornography. And now that porn was out of the way, my anxiety was returning.
In my previous post, I wrote about how porn offered me the lie of an escape into a fantasy world I could control. Writing that helped me to wrap my mind around how to recognize my triggers and stay away from them.
But I’ve also reflected on it since then, and I’ve realized that the lie of my porn addiction—and my anxiety—had its root in a perfectly legitimate desire:
I wanted wholeness within and harmony without.
If I could find a healthy way to feel OK with myself and right with the world around me, not only would I know how to stay away from porn, I would also know what to run toward instead.
And I knew exactly where to look.
Am I the person I’m supposed to be? Porn made me feel like I was.
The fantasy and control porn offered made me feel like I was perfect. In Porn World, I was faultless and desired, and everything I wanted was right for me to want. And the high I got from this feeling of wholeness was enough to make me feel like I was OK even after I closed my browser window.
But it was a lie, and the wholeness porn offered was a counterfeit. That’s why, when I stopped looking at porn, the anxiety came back.
Jesus, of course, is my real source of wholeness. In Him:
In Jesus, I have a new identity. I am already exactly who I am supposed to be.
Do I fit into the world around me? Porn made me feel like I did.
The fantasy and escapism porn offered made me feel like I was right where I belonged. In Porn World, everything was allowed, everyone was happy and anything was possible. And the high I got from this feeling of harmony was enough to make me feel like the world was OK even after I closed my browser window.
But this too was a lie, and the harmony porn offered was also a counterfeit. The anxiety came back.
Jesus, of course, is the real source of harmony—not just with the world—but the with the Creator of the world Himself. In Jesus:
In Jesus, I am made right with the Creator of everything. I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.
Missing the obvious
None of this was news to me of course. I’ve always known these ideas and the verses that promised them.
Yet knowing I was changed as a person and made right with my Creator didn’t make me feel like I had “wholeness within and harmony without.” Why did I still doubt and feel anxious?
Upon further reflection, I’ve realized that my belief in God’s promises was inappropriately based on my own ability to bring them about. Subconsciously, I believed that God would only change me if I first learned followed the rules, and I would only be OK in the world if I first upheld my own responsibilities.
And working off this false premise—that God’s promises depended on my performance —inevitably led me to anxiety. Because we can’t possibly earn God’s work in our lives.
Thankfully, we aren’t expected to:
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.
Wholeness within and harmony without are part of the salvation we have in Jesus. It is grace—unearned. It’s a gift—freely given. And we experience it through faith—not performance.
The more I accept this, the more porn’s lies lose their influence on my life. And the more God’s promises take their place, the more anxiety loses it’s foothold too.
By god’s grace, I’m moving past the unexpected resurgence of anxiety, and I’m learning to live with faith in the promises of my Savior and my Creator.
Wednesday, July 16, 2014 - Rainy day
Thursday, July 17, 2014 - Mom volunteered at a children’s worship arts day camp at church that our niece attended. Their shirts match!
Friday, July 18, 2014 - My run took me within a few yards of this tough guy. He had a gruesome fight scar.
Saturday, July 19, 2014 - I visited Ashley at work, and she made me a latte.
Sunday, July 20, 2014 - Ashley’s first 14er! (Mt. Bierstadt, 14,065 ft.)
Monday, July 21, 2014 - I’ve finally started organizing my scripture sketches in protective binders.
Tuesday, July 22, 2014 - In a rare turn of events, I made dinner for Ashley tonight! Usually she’s the one who cooks and I do dishes, but she said it was too hot to stand by an oven. (This is serving your bride, boys. Take notes.)
This is a great question. It shows your heart for submitting your relationship to God, which is awesome.
One recommendation I immediately think of is H. Norman Wright’s 101 Questions to Ask Before You Get Engaged.
My wife, Ashley, and I went through this one when we were dating, and it really helped us to get to know each other better. There were some questions we never would have thought to ask, and there were others that helped us to clarify what we thought we already knew. Either way, it’s a really helpful book to go through.
Unfortunately, I can’t think of any others I’ve read specifically for dating couples. But, because a lot of the same relational principles apply, you might branch into books written for married couples. (Just make sure you skip any chapters on sex until you’re actually married or at least engaged; you won’t do yourselves any favors by discussing sex too soon.)
A marriage book Ashley and I read while dating was Emerson Eggerich’s Love & Respect.
It does a good job of outlining how men and women differ – generally – when it comes to what they want from their significant others, so it should spark some interesting conversations.
Bible studies are much easier. Just choose a topic you’re both interested in and go through a book on it together. You might choose something as complex a DVD series, but it can also be as simple as a commentary by an author you both like. Ashley and I went through N.T. Wright’s Matthew for Everyone together during our engagement.
Reading and studying the Bible together is a great habit to get into, and it will serve your relationship well if you maintain it after the wedding. At the moment, Ashley and I are reading sections of the New Testament each evening.
Anyway, those are the three books we have done together. I hope that gives you some guidance.
Thanks for the question!
Peace, love and Jesus,