These are a small sample of the stories of the men and women who have been met by God in their struggle, who have wrestled long and overcome, and who are our "letters of recommendation". They encourage us and strengthen us for the long work that we do. We'll occasionally include essays by friends who both struggle and lead in the fight for purity.
If you're ready to tell your own story, check our Testimony Tutorial for a quick guide.
Letter to An Addict
An exercise that prompts us to address our addicted self with an honest, no holds barred reckoning ...
This is long overdue. I want to thank you for almost 3 decades of friendship. You deserve to know the many ways in which you've helped me over the years, but I also need to level with you and be direct about some of the ways in which you've hurt me.
First off, you've given me tremendous pleasure. The ecstasy of orgasm is unparalleled. I've realized, however, that it is eclipsed only by the immense DIS-pleasure in realizing how little control I had over my life, over the realization that I'd become an addict.
So many times, you offered me the sweet relief from stress. Unfortunately, the stress associated with covering my tracks, keeping you a secret, and living in conflict with my core values far outweighs whatever temporary stress relief you gave me.
You've always been one of my favorite methods of escape – distraction from my pain. On the flipside, the pain you have caused far surpasses whatever pain I sought to avoid.
Thank you for helping me to feel confident in those private moments where I felt in control. I gotta let you know, though – you ultimately ROBBED any confidence I had and left me hopelessly and helplessly OUT of control. You didn't give me confidence. You gave me shame. You robbed my self esteem and made me hate myself.
You were there for me so many times, particularly in those awkward, insecure acned years and then later in life when I put on weight. You help me to feel sexy when I knew I wasn't. Unfortunately, I didn't realize you were causing me to systematically begin hating myself, and I now know you can never feel sexy when you hate yourself.
Thank you for never judging me. You were always there for me. You never required me to clean up my act or be courageous, or creative, or thoughtful, or selfless. With a simple click, you were there for me. Ironically, your presence in my life made me selfish and devoid of courage.
Thank you for helping to bridge the sexual gaps in my marriage. I knew I could come to you when my sex life was horrible. However, today I realize that my sex life was horrible because I was coming to you.
I bet you don't know that you kept me from having an affair many times. Unfortunately, I reached a point where you weren't enough, and you ultimately drove me to betray my wife in order to satisfy my increasingly insatiable hunger for intimacy and pleasure.
For so long, you offered me a private way to self soothe. Unfortunately, today I find myself speaking publicly and very openly about all the insidious and embarrassing ways in which you perverted me.
I appreciate the way you offered me a cost-effective (in fact free most of the time) way of relieving myself. Ultimately, though, you've cost me tens of thousands of dollars in therapy andtime invested in learning to undo the damage and understand what normal is again. What's more, you cost me some of the most valuable things I had, such as the peace of mind I had from knowing I'd been faithful to my wife. I can never get that back.
For so many years, you seemed the perfect, private friend. A secret no one needed to know. Unfortunately, I flushed my integrity down the drain trying to hide you from everyone, and when I brought home an STD and gave it to my beautiful, precious, and innocent wife, well, I guess you weren't very private after all.
I used to come to you to feel better about myself – to lift me up when I felt down. In the end, you didn't do this. Instead, you drove a wedge between me and the only One who could do this, who loves me more than anyone else in the world does, the One who, in fact, died for me.
So, as I look back at the ways in which you've helped me and the ways in which you’ve taken from me, my decision to part ways with you is one of the easiest I've ever made. Thank you, but no thank you. I don't ever want to see you again and if you thoughtfully consider what I've said to you here, I think you'll find it easy to understand why.
I found Falling Forward through the recommendation of a friend who’d been through the program. Like so many other men, I found myself ensnared in the dark trap of pornography and compulsive masturbation. My marriage had been struggling. We endured 5 years of nearly sexless marriage after our kids were born. I turned to pornography, which was a huge mistake. The enemy used it as a foothold to nearly destroy my marriage.
Unfortunately, I allowed myself to be deceived and believed that pornography and masturbation weren’t all that bad. After all, it was keeping me from having an affair. As a Christian man, I have no ethical sexual alternatives to my wife. Since she wasn’t there for me sexually, pornography was my own private outlet that wasn’t hurting anyone—that I knew about. I now know that it was destroying me inside. Guilt. Shame. Living a secret double life. I believed I was using pornography because I had such a horrible sex life. Today, I realize I had a horrible sex life because I was using pornography.
I’m happy to report that by taking responsibility for my own wellness, confession, and accountability to the men of Falling Forward, I’ve not looked at pornography since March 14, 2015. For any man who is struggling with sexual purity, I think Falling Forward is an outstanding means for sustained recovery.
January 5, 2009. At a church conference back in the 90's I was moved by the Spirit to say to the Lord, “I will follow you wherever you want me to go.” Just an hour later a woman spoke about her work in the slums of some Asian city where men could not go or they would be killed by the gang members who controlled the place. I was devastated because I knew that I was not ready to follow Him at the expense of my life.
When God first spoke to me, he said 3 things, only two of which I clearly remember. The first thing He said was, “Why are you running from Me?” The next thing He said was, “Walk with Me.” As I was reading today's devotional in My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers, Jesus said to Peter, “Follow Me” in John 21:18. This was an invitation in external martyrdom. As I was reading this last command I remember the third thing He said to me that day: “Follow Me.”
“Why are you running from me?” This day in the mid-90’s I was stoned, on a fishing boat, leaving all my problems on the dock I had just departed 20 minutes before. As I watched the waves pushed up by the boat propeller and saw the land disappearing I felt a huge relief as my problems were disappearing at the same rate. It was then that God spoke the question.
I was blown away by the pressure the question posed to me and bewildered. I looked around to see who might have spoken these works that rocked my soul and pierced my heart with the truth. Everyone on the boat was just zoned out in silent thought like me. My thoughts raced wildly back and forth with the slow realization that the Lord might have been speaking to me.
Before this day I had never heard the Lord speak to me that I can remember. I guess from my church experience in the Vineyard, I knew it was possible but the Lord had never spoken to me before. I couldn’t believe he was speaking in that moment to a derelict sinner. I was incredulous. But as I calmed down my wild thoughts and tightly gripped the guardrail a second statement came directly to me, “Walk with Me.” This time I felt my knees buckle as I looked quickly back and forth to the uninterested men besides me who were unaware of my experience. The words I heard had been for me only.
Here I was, stoned out of my gourd, using drugs, alcohol, and masturbation to find some temporary relief from my problems. I thought, “God doesn’t speak to sinners. Why would he care so much about some wayward man like me who was disobeying every rule the “father” laid down for peaceful living on this planet?” This was my myopic understanding of the Lord at this time. I could not believe that He really cared about me since obviously I didn’t care about Him. If I did care I wouldn’t have been carrying on like I had in this way since I was a teenager.
It became more clear that “Follow Me” was the third command the Lord spoke to me that day. The answer to the first question God asked, about why I was running from Him, was fairly obvious to me. I knew I was a terrible sinner and thought God wanted no part of a son who wouldn’t obey His commands. I was indeed like the older brother of the prodigal son as well as the prodigal …. since while there was a party and a feast going on (for other good church goers, I mistakenly thought) I remained on the outside, mistakenly believing that I was not welcome since my sin was too great. I believed God was angry with me and was punishing me for my sins. It made sense to me: this was why my life was in the toilet.
This distorted belief of the nature of the Lord that I had is common among men who struggle with sexual sins, I've found. This lie about God is what is keeping us from the healing we so desperately desire.
This distorted belief is only half true, however. God was not punishing me for my sins since Jesus’ work at Calvary already did this for me. However, God was content to let me come to the end of myself. As my life spiraled downward those next 5 or 6 years God was after my self-sufficiency. He could have stepped in and made my business more successful during those dry years but that would have only prolonged my suffering. This is because if I had all the financial wealth I wanted and enough business I didn’t need him nor would I really come to know Him and His plans for me.
Most of us really feel betrayed when God doesn’t step in to help with our current problems, dilemmas, money problems, our lack of much needed jobs, or a love relationship, or of marriage problems. We feel like God is punishing us. But what is really happening is that the ladder we're climbing is on the wrong wall. Or that the house we are trying to build is in a landslide area. Or that the job we so desperately desire will lead to more disappointment. We think we know what we need but the Lord knows better what will really bring us the peace and love and life we desire.
What the Lord is trying to do is to get us to trust Him and to “Follow”. He needs a “Thy will be done,” from us to proceed. He doesn’t want to put a bit in our mouths and turn us around like a wayward stallion. He wants us to make a decision of our own accord to trust His good intentions for us. He doesn’t want to take our strength and neuter us. He wants to redirect and intensify the power and strength he gave us to make us like the Peter and Paul found in the bible: Men who knew where they were going so they weren’t afraid of dying. Can you imagine what your life could be like and what it could amount to when you say to the Father about everything, everything good, evil and everything in between, “Thy will be done”?
Our healing will come. Our restoration will come as we lay down our lives and obey His command to “Follow Me”. This Falling Forward program is all about saying to the Lord, “You know what I need to live. Let it be as you command.” When I meet with men, I come with only this thought and prayer in mind, “I need to lay it all down. God help me to lay it all down.”
Death or Liberty, by Andy Comiskey
‘You took your sons and daughters whom you bore to Me and sacrificed them as food to the idols…you slaughtered and sacrificed My children.’ (Ez. 16: 20, 21)
Unthinkable. A father leaves his 22-month-old son in a hot car to die while he exchanges nude selfies with six women. Monstrous.
Think again. The monster lives in us, tempting us to abandon our own dignity and the lives of those we love most. The end of sexual addiction—in truth of all illicit sexual acts—is death. Few among us have not experienced the lure of sexy images or love objects whose presence promises a rush of pleasure so intense that we might just forsake all others for its demands.
Two things become clear in the tragedy that came to light in a Georgia courtroom last week: first, addiction enslaves desire. It takes our good and normal longing for love and twists/perverts/intensifies those desires by attaching them to false objects. Neither the real woman who conceived that child, nor the child left to die, was on the father’s mind as he trembled with anticipation for the next disembodied image on his I-phone.
He had entered the dreamy, demonic world of phantoms—unrealities far removed from bills and diapers and human need. Vengeful deities promised him relief at the cost of real life. These demons demand blood.
Besides enslaving our desires, addiction blinds us to impact of our compulsions. Addicts cannot recover while they live in the lie that their enslavement impacts no-one but themselves. Thus the wake up call to self-consumed addicts is a loved one who stumbles upon the affair or the thousands of websites on the home computer.
Whole-enough spouses and friends sound the alarm: ‘What kills you kills me too. I will no longer participate with our slow death. Get help. Not getting help means you are making the choice to seriously limit, if not end, our relationship.’
Heather King says it best: ‘We try to be pure because someone else needs us to be pure. Someone in pain needs us to refrain from using another, whether in reality or fantasy, to anesthetize our own pain. Maybe that person is standing in front of us in the grocery line with three screaming kids. Maybe that person is our spouse.’
Sound the alarm. Wake up to the nightmarish impact of your dreamy gods and goddesses. They enslave you and demand the blood of persons you love most. Remember the real faces of the one you married, the ones you sired or conceived, the faces of the kids your lover has abandoned to dance with you. Our God is just and will punish persons who stumble ‘little ones.’ See their faces and repent while you still can.
I marvel at the darkness that hovers over Christian families today in which the mother or father facing same-sex attraction is given a ‘pass’ to explore his/her gay destiny because the poor one cannot help it. So a parent abandons his/her family for a gay ‘spring break.’ In the name of compassion, we are sacrificing our children to the idol gods. Justice has stumbled in the streets.
Wake up. You have a choice. Get help. You cannot overcome this alone. It takes a village. Find a group desperate for God and for a daily commitment to loving real people. Like any drug addict, be prepared to go through withdrawals. Cry out for mercy constantly. God always hears that prayer and at some point that mercy will invade your heart. Worship Jesus. Turn off ‘Blues in the Night’ and sing ‘Amazing Grace’. You are both a wretch and a beloved child of God. Your destiny is love.
‘If I choose to act in such a way that separates me from my infinite destiny, I move closer to the abyss of not being free, that is, of not being able to love any more. I can be rescued only when the attraction of infinity wins over whatever is attracting me away from it. That is the redemption of my freedom.’
Msgr. Lorenzo Albacete, as quoted by Christopher West in The Heart of the Gospel
(Andy Comiskey is the founder of Desert Stream. He has struggled long, experienced great victories over addiction, and helped many to wholeness. Read more at andycomiskey.com)