Three months ago, sexual sobriety was an illusion. A fantasy, even. The mere thought of never again web chatting with another dude or watching gay pornography or even masturbating was enough to make me laugh a derisive laugh and say, Yeah, right; dream on, Dreamer.
100 days later, my sexual sobriety still very much feels like a fantastical concept. But it’s easier now, I guess. Now that I’ve been sexually sober for 100 days.
Working with students in recovery, I hear it all the time: get a year of sobriety under your belt, and your chances of long-term sobriety increase dramatically. The science proves it.
When I started this journey 100 days ago, I never quite set out to get a whole year under my belt. But now that I’m over a quarter of the way there and blogging openly about it and talking face-to-face with others about it…well, I kinda sorta really, really want that year.
For the first time since masturbation and fantasy snagged me as an unaware 11-year-old, I find myself deeply wondering:
What would my life look like if I lived out an entire year of my life with sexual sobriety? No illicit web chats, no gay pornography, not even any masturbation?
As a “simple” psychological experiment, this concept intrigues me. I simply have NO idea what my life would look and feel like beyond a year-of-sexual-sobriety scenario.
I’m sure I’d still face temptation, I’m sure I’d still have weak moments, and I’m sure it wouldn’t get magically “easy” because of a colored chip in my pocket and 365 red X’s on a calendar.
But wouldn’t overcoming temptation for one night certainly look and feel and BE more doable if I had a whole year of overcoming to my name?
It’s tough. Even typing this out right now feels silly.
The rest of my life?
Never again acting out — for the rest of my life?
What am I smoking?
Am I just setting myself up for the most disastrous of falls?
Yes. Maybe. And not at all. Maybe. It’s a bit of both, I’m sure.
On the one hand, I feel bolder about combatting temptation and sin when I’m basically dragging my darkness into the “public arena”; on the other, it’s all too easy to make this battle, this fight for sexual sobriety, this never-ending striving my identity, my idol, my everything-I’m-living-for.
It’s all too easy to make recovery itself an addiction.
100 days is a big milestone, to be sure. I stare at my most recently acquired green chip and wonder how in the world I’ve made it this far. I’m checking in today because I’m proud of that number. I’m proud of my progress, and I’m proud of how much better I’ve been able to breathe these last 100 days.
I write more, I relate with others more, and I feel generally less distracted, less obsessed, and more focused.
Yeah, I’m proud of myself.
But I don’t want pride to be my story. I don’t want recovery to be my new addiction.
I just want Jesus.
And truth be told, my relationship with Him has been foggy in these recent months of stepping into a new frontier, both geography-wise and recovery-wise.
I want to continue devoting energy to my recovery and further boldness on this blog, because I do believe individual vulnerability sparks something vital in us all.
Assurance. Bravery. Camaraderie. I’ve seen it displayed by others and felt it myself.
But beyond my sexual recovery, I want to fixate even more of my energy on knowing Jesus.
It’s hard being a Christian kid-turned-adult, because, well, don’t I already know all the Bible stories and lessons and Jesus-isms? What else is there to “know”?
And yet whenever I drive into the Blue Ridge, these beautiful mountains that cup my new home, I can’t help connecting my relationship with Jesus to these puffy green mounds that turn supernaturally blue the further out you go.
We have Jesus here, now, green and leafy and everything we could ever need, and He meets us here.
And yet this same Jesus of the blue beyond beckons us even deeper . . .
I want to set my eyes more on chasing Him into the blue than not navigating to one particular naughty website, or not binging on porn, or not having sex with self. By chasing Him into the blue — reading my Bible again, journaling again, risking conversations with others about Him again — I wonder if I’ll soon start to lose track of this silly tally, if it will just fade into the blue horizon.
I wonder if my life will be marked more by joy in Jesus than in accumulating chips and escalating numbers.
I want my Jesus journey to be real and raw and true and blue. Both online and offline.
I want Him to mean far more to me than the next fix — or even the next refrain.
How do you approach sexual sobriety? How do you approach your relationship with Jesus? How do you merge these journeys together or diverge from them?
* Photo courtesy the author, thomasmarkz, Instagram.