Have you ever wondered if it’s even possible to win the victory over unwelcome thoughts in your mind? The Bible offers some simple, though not easy steps to show us how to achieve victory.
There is a very important reality about addiction, lies, and relationships we need to address. When we’re active in our addiction, or even at the beginning stages of recovery, it can be difficult to understand why confession is SO important. The enemy tells us we’re protecting the people we love by not telling them what we’ve done, and that WE certainly are better off if we keep those secrets. As liars ourselves, we believe these lies pretty easily. But keeping secrets in a relationship shatters the foundation of trust needed for success. And as far as our own recovery is concerned, the consequences of telling lies are absolutely detrimental, dragging us back into the addiction again and again.
Often, when lies have defined a relationship for many years, we’re left wondering, will I ever stop waiting for the other shoe to drop? Even after years of solid recovery, many of us find ourselves struggling to believe we’re not still being lied to. How can we ever know for sure; we wonder? What if we’re being naïve or foolish? What if He got a whole lot better at hiding it? Why didn’t God reveal the truth sooner the first time? How can I be sure He’ll reveal it this time? What if… How could he… Why did He… How will I… The questions are endless and maddening! So how can we put a stop to them before we lose our minds, and bankrupt our faith?
We’ve been studying what the Bible has to say about communication, and this week it’s all about how important it is that we all tell the truth. All the time. We need to be deeply committed, as the saying goes, to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth in our marital communication, and you better believe we’re going to need some help from God!
We’re talking about what it means to communicate God’s way, and last week we talked about some of the most common ways we use manipulation (gaslighting) to mess this up. We all sometimes choose to play games rather than speak plainly and honestly, but as we discussed last time, there are some whose hearts are black with evil intentions bent on control rather than mutual respect and understanding. While the manipulation tactics we talked about last week are often employed even by those who wouldn’t fall into this category, this week’s tactics are far more indicative of a very serious problem.
We can’t adequately cover the topic of communication in this series without addressing the ways in which we choose to manipulate and play games rather than speak plainly and honestly, or the times when we’re more interested in “winning” or controlling than in hearing and being heard. The reality is, I doubt there is a single one among us who has never been guilty of employing at least one of the manipulation tactics we’re going to discuss today, so we each need to carefully evaluate our own selves and bring our hearts into submission to God.
However, while we all fail to shoot straight some of the time, there are those who are so bent on control that communication has become nothing more than a way of exploiting the weaknesses of another in order to gain the upper hand in every conversation. Such people have no interest in hearing anything other than themselves, and don’t care to take the time to gently help others understand their perspective. They simply want to dominate. While we must be careful that we’re not guilty of manipulation in communication, if we’re married to a person like this, we also need to learn how to recognize these manipulation tactics and how to set up strong healthy boundaries around communication to avoid falling victim to these abusers.
I spent decades of my life as a slave to sexual addiction, all along wanting out (on some level) and believing I could and would get out soon. Instead, it just spiraled further and further out of control until my whole world started to cave in around me. When God suddenly broke through and got ahold of me, He began to reveal lie after lie I’d spent far too long believing. Each of these “lies addicts tell themselves” kept me from fully embracing recovery. They kept me in the chains of sexual addiction.
I’ve been putting off writing about this part of our story for months. It’s one thing to tell you all about me and my love. We’re both adults who have mutually decided to share our story. But talking about our kids in depth is another thing. Like me, they didn’t ask to be thrown into this story. They’re victims of the terrible decisions of another. I want to protect them as much as possible. Still, deciding how to handle the family dynamics after intimate betrayal is a major problem that everyone in this situation has to navigate, and my readers have asked again and again for more information on why we decided to tell our kids, how we did it, and how they’ve handled it. So, here goes.
Refusing to confess our sins leads to misery and defeat. On the other hand, a life lived in complete honesty – allowing sin and guilt to come out into the open – will be cleared of guilt, and will be rewarded with the joy that comes from being forgiven. The truth will set you free. The result is victory! How different the Christian life would be if we truly understood why confession is important; if we all had the humility to live it each and every day! Lord, humble me so that I will be quick to confess my sins and shortcomings and live in the victory You offer!
One of the most difficult parts of recovering from intimate betrayal is learning how and when to start allowing trust to be rebuilt. This becomes especially difficult when there have been multiple betrayals strung out over long periods of time, with periods of believed sobriety in between. How can we ever know what’s true when life has been one huge lie after another? How can we ever believe that the evidences of change are real this time when they’ve been nothing more than a mirage so many times before? While things are going very well for us right now, I’d be lying if I said this isn’t still a huge (HUGE) struggle for me. The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 13 that love always trusts; and the life of a Christian is supposed to be defined by love. So, it’s vital that I learn how to find truth and who, what, why, when, and how to trust.