We all like having options. When we commit ourselves, we limit our choices. When we commit to recovery, we don’t simply embrace an idea, we take certain steps. For example, we find a group or recovery program and begin to attend meetings, we start seeing a counselor, we disclose our actions to people who’ve been affected, and we get rid of the things that might tempt us to act out again. We throw out pornographic materials, set up filters or accountability software on computers, delete secret email accounts, sever ties with affair partners, etc., etc. We put plans in place and commit ourselves to a course of action that we will continue to pursue even after our initial resolve fades.
Of course, none of this is easy. To be more precise, following through on any of these things is not easy. Desire is easy, following through is hard.
In the immediate aftermath of some bad experience, where we are confronted with the magnitude of our problem, it’s easy to feel a strong desire to change. We might feel deep remorse for what we’ve done, and resolve to live differently. If we’re in a relationship that has been hurt by our behavior, we likely feel a strong commitment to repair the damage that was the result of our sexual acting out.
Pastors, therapists, and addiction counselors are accustomed to hearing people earnestly express their desire to change. 12-Steppers call this “Step Zero” … it’s what happens to people before they even get to Step 1 in the 12 Steps. It’s the overwhelming sense that “things aren’t working,” often accompanied by strong feelings of remorse, guilt, and shame. But everyone needs a reality check at this point: Resolve and remorse are only Step Zero.
The all-important moment of recovery comes when we commit. When we commit to make the changes we need to make to live differently. Most everybody who sins sexually gets to Step Zero. At some point everybody faces the fallout of their actions, even if it’s only an internal sense of being disappointed with oneself. Many people get there quite often. But we start recovery when we realize that we need outside help – God’s help administered through a program of recovery – and start to pursue it. Fewer people get there.
I came across an email that pastor Rick Warren sent out to people in his church. What he has to say about change – and the reasons we find it hard – are great reminders we can apply to recovery. Listen to what he has to say:
“Change requires making choices. It’s not enough to dream of changing. It’s not enough to desire change. In order for you to change, you will need to make a decision. You must choose to change.
Change is intentional: Are you going to be any different in six months? Are you going to be better a year from now? Are you going to be healthier, stronger, and more mature? Are you going to be happier? Are you going to be less in debt? Are you going to be more like God wants you to be?
I can tell you the answer right now: It will only happen if you choose to change, because it isn’t going to happen accidentally. … It requires a choice.
A lot of times we think we’re waiting on God to change us. No, you are not waiting on God. God is waiting on you. He’s waiting on you to say, “Yes, Lord, I’m willing to make these changes.” (Rick Warren, DAILY HOPE, Jul 22, 2011)
Well said! Are there some things you need to change about yourself, about your life, about your marriage? What are you waiting for?