The Truth About Looking - Don't Feed the Fear
Chris's Journal Entry
I’ve been around this ministry for years now and more recently I’ve been riddled by thoughts – will I ever change, am I going to keep making the same mistakes over and over again? OK, so I asked those questions just about every four months. But I’m still not interested in wearing a t-shirt that says "Lifer at LIFE". I want to move on, I want to be married, so I’ve been motivated to consider living another way.
What has taken place is a shift in thinking based on a revelation that has not only brought me joy, but a cool flow of God’s presence into my life. It isn’t the instant "poof" change that many of us long for. So God, why am I still attracted to men?! He showed me that it was my choice. Now before you get yourself all in a tizzy, let me explain. Not that I chose the pain, but even after I knew the truth, I chose to believe what the pain said about me, and the natural outgrowth of believing ungodly twisted pain over truth, is sin. To come out of the lies is a choice – to listen to encouragement rather than ungodly desires which only lead to hopelessness, guilt and shame. It is a choice to listen to the voice of truth, no matter how faint it may seem.
I wanted Christ to set me free because He said He would. And when I found LIFE, I thought, this is it! I’ve found the answer. But after years of working through the emotional quagmire, I was still in bondage and asked, what is my problem?!? Why am I still in this mess!??
While I journalized, counseled, prayed out demonic influences and read the Word, I neglected actually fighting the key things that propelled me to the fix – fear and inadequacy. But how am I supposed to fight? I can’t just, ‘not be afraid.’ I can’t just, ‘feel adequate’. I knew they were both problems, but couldn’t God just free me from their power?! I was under the deception that no matter how hard I’d try, I’d fail. Fear constantly gripped me because I felt so bad about myself. So many times I’d wake in the middle of the night, anxious for no reason at all or be paralyzed in fear when I was asked a question in the office. But God showed me that I finally had to embrace living by truth – in everyday circumstances to walk in faith and not fear.
Growing up, my father was such a perfectionist. He had a sharp tongue and a tendency to be hypercritical and judgmental. That, and being the occasional target of his arbitrary fits of rage, indelibly instilled fear in me. At times I felt so trapped and was so enraged that I wanted to kill him. What I wouldn’t have given for a sense that my father genuinely loved me and didn’t just want me to get everything ‘right’. If that wasn’t enough, I became my older brother’s dumping ground too, since he was the other victim of my father’s pressure and abuse. But my brother had a more direct approach, daily pressing in to me that I was a "faggot, idiot, loser, queer, fatso, dork." The lie was established that I was totally inadequate and always would be. I learned that men were the cause of many of the wrongs in the world and that women were kinder and gentler. No question, this was the case in my house, and since I couldn’t relate to men, I played into mama’s hands to find rest, but unfortunately, her major issue was fear. Now that’s a fine hiding place.
The thoughts festered until, one day I chose to believe them simply because they felt real. On the inside, I felt miserable. On the outside, I covered-up. I knew I was a mess and was afraid that I’d be pounced on if people really knew how weak I was. I was terrified that I didn’t look right, that I didn’t perform right, that I’d screw-up, that I’d say something stupid. And even though I looked friendly, I was a loner and a veritable outcast from kindergarten to college. And, though I worked hard to look OK, my shortcomings sprouted like weeds. My emotional heritage was in full bloom; fear, rejection, judgment, criticism, perfectionism, inadequacy, anger, rebellion, avoidance, hopelessness and a dash of paranoia for good measure.
Now, I figured the best alternative to sexual sin was cruising and occasionally, looking at pornography. Looking at men is much safer than having sex and I wouldn’t ruin my reputation by people thinking I was some twisted pervert. But I didn’t realize that every time my eyes would drink in a guy, I was drinking in poison. I was killing myself with the lie that I was less than a man and needed someone to affirm me.
Now, I admit, I could see how seeking out porn on the internet was clearly sin, but I responded, "So I’m looking at a man because I feel bad about myself. It’s about time I get what I want." I’d turn on the computer and would purposefully go towards sin without remorse. It was a chance to look at a man, on ‘my terms.’ Sometimes it was because I felt angry that God was unfair to me, other times, I so felt miserable about myself, I wanted something "sweet" to ease the pain, other times I’d feel great and want a reward, and finally there were the times I was simply bored and wanted something to make me feel alive. The thrill was fleeting and I knew I was covering up feeling completely inadequate. Afterwards, I’d always feel spiritually stripped and raw. I joined in with the lies and I was inflicting the emotional and spiritual abuse on myself. While God was trying to build me up as His loved child, I was aiding the enemy in eroding my sense of worth.
I finally stopped joining in with the lies and God woke me up. He showed me how I have unique gifts that He wants to use. And after years of bondage, it started infuriating me that I wasn’t achieving my potential, simply because I joined in with fear and inadequacy. But what fed my sense of inadequacy was no longer my family, it was me. Whenever I stared at a guy, unbeknownst to me, I was choosing to accept; "I’m not good looking enough, I’m not smart enough, I’m not strong enough, I’m not clever enough, I’m just not enough of anything." Believing these lies day in and day out, kept me in the mindset that I was weak, hapless and hopeless. And since I joined in with such consistency, when I was tired or felt like I deserved a break, I’d fall into pornography or occasional trysts with men. So now, if I cruise, I count the cost, which is continuing to feel miserable about myself and not achieving my potential in life, but more so in Christ.
To break it down again, in longingly staring at a man, I am making three statements: 1. "I believe that I am inadequate." 2. "I need a man as the answer to my problem." and 3. "It’s hopeless, God can’t free me because he hasn’t done it yet." On the surface, my emotions would tempt me, "Just do it. It’s no big deal. Get what you’ve always wanted. It’s not that bad anyway. You can always get forgiveness." Dig a little deeper and find that again the demonic fuel for the desire is, "You’re inadequate, you always will be and you need a man to make you feel better." Think about it, I was looking to a complete stranger to tell me that I’m OK. It just doesn’t make sense. I am much more than a stranger’s thoughts of me. I am much more than just a body. And any guy looking back at me isn’t interested in being my answer anyway, he’s only interested in me being HIS answer and using me to make him feel better about himself. I was looking for a sense of identity from another man, rather than from God who truly loves me.
It’s crazy. I always thought I was the victim, but I was the one feeding my own sense of inadequacy all along. I was feeding the flames of addiction by joining in with some drivel that I was just not good enough. I’m realizing now, that I have a choice of what to believe, either the lies that tell me I’m a hapless idiot or the voice that says that I am actually good. So, the choice is mine, I can feel miserable about myself or good about myself. Now when you’ve come from an abusive background, I understand it’s difficult to accept the truth, but still, isn’t it an attractive possibility to think that you are worthwhile? We are, and we have to realize that we do have a choice of what to believe about ourselves.
Recently I had a conversation with my parents. They’ve known the battles I’ve had for years now and they asked, ‘Is it something we did?’ And, I didn’t let them have it – a marked sign of improvement I’d say. What came out of my mouth even surprised me. I said, "There’s no doubt that at times you really screwed me up. At times, without even knowing it, you were used by the enemy for my destruction. But, now, this is my life I have to take responsibility for my choices. I’m the one who’s got to live with my decisions, not you and I can’t blame you anymore." I was shocked, I finally began to take responsibility. No longer did I play the victim of my upbringing, but a man with the ability to make choices in his own life. In that moment I actually forgave them. I felt like I went from childhood to manhood simply because I took responsibility.
This has been an incredible time of rejecting demonic lies and believing that I am truly a terrific man. We are only freed from bondage when we listen to truth and act on it. God has good in store for us and, as difficult as it may seem at the time, if we want a change in our lives, we have to act on truth. We have the answer to freedom right at our fingertips but it takes believing the truth about God and about ourselves.
But I’m so tired of fighting, you say. So many of us have tried so hard to do the right thing for so long that we just want to give up. But the truth says far better things about you than the lies do, so, try joining in with the truth. We are not missing anything by abandoning sin, but gain everything by believing God. You are more than adequate, created by God, you are His poem (Ephesians 2:10). Join in with the still small voice that says, ‘You are wonderful and I love you. I am on your side and there is nothing to fear. My thoughts for you are for hope and a future.’ Could it be true, could there be even the slightest possibility that God really is good and on my side? Yes, yes and yes. He is on our side and desires complete freedom for us.
I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. (Matthew17:20) Sometimes it’s grain of dirt by grain of dirt, but stick with truth and the earthquakes will come and the floods and the raging tempest against the enemy, simply because "He delights in us." (Psalm 18) and desires complete freedom for us. Practice even the slightest bit of faith in Him, "Like a mustard seed which, when it is sown on the ground, is smaller than all the seeds on earth; but when it is sown, it grows up and becomes greater than all herbs, and shoots out large branches, so that the birds of the air may nest under its shade. (Mark 4:31,32). That’s what we are meant for. As we choose to walk in faith and truth, we will flourish like that tree and can be used by God to lead people to freedom.
And here’s the exciting part, decision by decision, engaging the truth in my life has even been eliminating the seeming ‘reflex’ urges for a man. I am amazed, when I reject the lies and join in with the truth, I don’t desire a man at all. The lie is being replaced with a genuine desire for truth. Funny, all this time, I’ve been seeking perfection in a man, but the lies have kept me diverted from the truth that perfection only exists in God; perfect love. And perfect love drives out all fear (I John. 4:18). I don’t want to feed this sense of fear or inadequacy in me any more. It’s taken too much of my life already and I’m tired of being a doormat for the enemy.
Satan is out to kill us, and more so to kill the testimony of God. There are people out there hungry to experience God through our lives if only we’d join in with the truth and let it flow through us. I can’t live any longer by these old emotional lies that choke the gifting God has placed in me. It’s time to practice truth and exercise faith. And the more I do it, the more I can feel God’s power shifting into gear. As He promised, the truth is setting me free and I am finally moving into the fullness God has in store for my life. AMEN!