When I first came to Avenue in 2012, I was very deceived about many things. Fear and shame gripped my heart. To cover up for the deficits I felt in my soul, I used religion and religious involvement to fill unmet needs, cover my insecurities, and avoid the pain of isolation and loneliness.
In the worst way I had the form of godliness but did not have the power of a godly life.
Before coming into the program, I couldn’t even go a week without watching porn or acting out. And although my addiction had carried me into the stage of actualizing my fantasies by having sex with a prostitute, I still didn’t think that I had a major problem and fought with the idea of having an addiction. Several relapses later, some of which involved scheming and lying, my denial was broken and my eyes began to open widely to the deception that had been binding me for so long.
Rigorous honesty, openness, and dependence on the Lord and my Avenue brothers is changing my heart and helping me to confront and tear down the devil;’s schemes. Where before I [secretly] had little hope of beating my addiction and being the man of God that God saw me as, this has changed. By employing constructive and realistic boundaries tailored to my addiction, I am learning how to defend against inappropriate behavior and encourage myself towards God-honoring behavior. I have seen more periods of increased sobriety and honesty in the past months than ever before. I am also beginning to feel better and better about myself and the future that God has for me.
My Personal Confession of Hubris
Particular to the “religious persona” that I had developed was an identity as a worship leader and man of prayer. My gifts and abilities and the false image I had created had become an idol that I worshipped and fed. Shortly after joining Avenue, I began to use these capacities less and less, to the point finally when I faced consequences for relapses that necessarily included stepping down from these things altogether. This has turned out to be a very healing decision and much has happened as a result. People know me in my church now as “Jason” and not “the guy who loves to worship or play guitar at every event.” I used to use my guitar and abilities to hide behind so I didn’t have to get to know people.
Now, I am free with who I am and I am not afraid to talk to people. I have seen a recent flowering of many relationships, especially with men, and I look for ways now that I can be in relationship with other men and serve them in the process. It brings great joy to my heart when I share with others and build them up. I am also learning how to maintain the right boundaries with people to protect myself and my time for God’s use. I was very driven before to please others and found it difficult to say “No” for I feared I might lose their friendship or my ability to use my gifts.
Now I see that there is more to life and even to Christianity than being religious and religiously active. God came to give life to us – so much that I can hardly contain it! It is laughable to try to restrict the life He gives just to religious activities or religious involvement. Jesus is LIFE and He overflows!!