My road to purity has been full of joy, not the ‘hehe’ sort of joy but the Hallelujah sort which only comes from knowing that we are living faithfully. I’d like to share some of the strategies I’ve used to escape from the trap of my addictions.
Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. James 5
My greatest joy in recovery has been the men’s groups, second only to the joy I have found in discovering the relationships with my wife and with God, but I attribute even those relationships to the groups.
My theory is that I was taught intimacy by the men in the groups (from God, through the men) allowing me to move that up the ladder to having intimacy with my wife and finally I moved my new found intimacy all the way up to intimacy with God.
Put men in your life: not just any men, but men of honor, men of valor, men who are willing to hold you accountable and who are in turn willing to be held accountable. Develop a healthy lifestyle in 3 key realms: Physical, Emotional/Mental, and Spiritual.
a. Eat right; think of the old adage: “Breakfast like a King, Lunch like a Prince and Dinner like a pauper.”
b. Get adequate exercise; both aerobic and some strength training at least 3x / week.
c. Get at least 6 ½ hours of solid sleep each night.
d. Get regular, age appropriate, physical check-ups. This will allow you to avoid the anxiety caused by worrying about your health.
e. And, of course, avoid unhealthy habits like tobacco use, over-eating, over-drinking and dare I say, MASTURBATION. All of those habits will shorten your life and make the life you do have less satisfying; addictions are never healthy.
a. Start with a vision; who do you want to be? If you want to be a great writer of books for your grandchildren, somewhere along the line you'll need to start writing.
When thinking about your vision, especially your spiritual goals think about the advice from CS Lewis: "Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither." Don’t short change yourself.
b. Once you’ve got a vision, begin to break that down into 1, 5 and 10 year goals. Construct an implementation triangle for each major goal. Don't go crazy, prioritize goals in each lifestyle realm and construct the implementation triangle (see pagevii) for only those goals which come first.
c. Avoid stress producing activities like flirting, and procrastination; learn to value time and to use it wisely.
d. Learn healthy ways to deal with anger; angry outbursts are NEVER helpful in any relationship; even with you OR with God.
e. Learn to be HONEST; each dishonest word or deed requires a mental cover-up making your life overly complex. Each cover-up increases anxiety as you struggle to plausibly maintain your secrets.
f. Learn to relax; take time off with your loved ones.
g. Stimulate your mind and grow mentally:
i. Read books to engage your mind; to provide instruction and guidance with life’s challenges.
ii. Increase knowledge for your vocations and for your avocations.
h. Protect yourself from temptations:
i. Get accountability software and maybe a filter on your computer.
ii. Avoid TV and movies which you know or suspect will contain carnal temptation.
iii. Stop checking out women’s body parts; yes they exhibit beauty created by God; but lusting after another’s wife is prohibited by Him.
iv. Learn your triggers and appropriate boundaries.
i. Use mentors for advice and insight; respect and learn from people who have been there and done that; you can learn from their mistakes.
j. And did I mention? Attend a healthy men’s group focusing on virtue!
a. Learn to respect yourself as God’s son; always ask Him if what you are doing is worthy of that role.
b. Learn to think of the women in our lives as God’s daughters; treat them as He would have you treat them.
c. Follow the 10 commandments (unless you have a better plan).
d. Adopt a habit of directed morning and evening prayer; I suggest using a pen and journal to converse with God. Check out pp 86-87 of the AA big book (aa.org/bigbookonline) as a great guide for this process.
e. Regular confession; it is, as they say, good for the soul.
f. Volunteer; Volunteering is a great way to give yourself HOPE as you give it to others.
g. Seek to understand scripture as a way to open your mind.
h. Memorize scripture; as a way to ‘overwrite’ portions of your memory you’d rather forget.
i. Exercisevirtue in all things; be kind to all people; it makes life easier.