“Healing takes more than time. It takes intentionality. It takes the humility and courage to call what hurts by its name and the resolve to do the work that freedom demands.” — Jackie Hill-Perry
Recently, near the end of the men’s group that I lead, I was getting ready to pray for all the guys in our group. Every man in the group has an incredibly unique story, and so when the time comes for us to pray together in our meetings, I always find these to be powerful moments for God to move within our hearts.
On this particular night, I felt like a specific word was given to me for all of us to embrace: Investigation.
In the journey towards freedom and healing from our unwanted sexual behaviors, I have found that we go through different phases of restoration: Confessing the destructive choices we’ve made, receiving forgiveness from those we have betrayed, and discovering a safe, healthy community we can belong to. These are all critical and necessary steps we must take in order to heal.
And yet, as important as these steps are, I’ve found only one thing to be the glue that holds all of these other things together: Investigating the heart. Discovering “WHY” we medicate our pain is perhaps the greatest step we can take to finding long lasting healing.
How do we discover the “why” behind our addictions and other compulsive behaviors? For this, we have to go back to the word mentioned earlier: Investigation. How does an actual investigation begin? After some kind of crime has been committed, the goal of law enforcement & other investigators is to discover how the crime occurred in the first place. Evidence must be gathered, witnesses must be interviewed, & ultimately, the person who committed the crime must be found and taken in.
Please understand, I’m not suggesting that you try and police your hearts looking for any and every potential cause to the struggles you face. A person could go crazy trying to figure this out. What I am suggesting is that virtually 100% of the time there is a link between pain and addiction. Behind every addiction is a source of pain, abuse, or trauma of which an individual tries to medicate. This is where the journey begins: Venturing into the unknown places of the heart with a flashlight and looking for the places that have been damaged by the actions of others or ourselves.
Sometimes, the cause of the hurt is from an abuse that took place when you were a child. Sometimes, the manipulation of our minds & hearts started when porn was accidentally discovered in our own home. Or it could even be as elusive as a lie or agreement we make about ourselves that works its way into our thinking.
Wherever the source of our pain stems from, we’re the ones responsible to do the real soul work that is necessary in recovery. Where do we begin?
- Launch the Investigation — One of the most difficult decisions a person will ever make in recovery is doing the heart surgery required for healing. And while this isn’t easy to do, you don’t have to do it alone. Having a counselor come alongside of you who is certified in sexual addiction therapy is a great start. They can ask the right questions and aid you in tracing the potential sources of any unwanted behavior. Oftentimes, they will help you look at your past and your present.
- Discover the Evidence — In virtually every crime scene there is evidence that needs to be discovered by investigators with the goal of leading them to the person responsible. The same is true for our lives in recovery. We have to comb through the places of pain, trauma, or abuse to find what things could have contributed to our addiction. Being involved in community helps this process significantly. And you don’t even have to go far to find it! Small Groups Online offers specific groups that you can become apart of to help you meet others who are walking through the same struggles that you are.
- Identify the Suspects — Our ultimate goal is to find where the source of our unwanted sexual behaviors lie. You might think that the the person who binges on porn every night has a porn problem. The reality is that they have a pain problem. And discovering the culprits hiding behind that pain is crucial. Counselors, support groups and many other resources available to you today can help you discover what’s really going on in your life.
I love the words of Psalm 139:23-24, which says: “God, I invite your searching gaze into my heart. Examine me through and through; find out everything that may be hidden within me. Put me to the test and sift through all my anxious cares. See if there is any path of pain I’m walking on, and lead me back to your glorious, everlasting ways— the path that brings me back to you.”
Remember that the recovery journey is a marathon, not a sprint. It will take a combination of time and intentionality on your part to find the freedom you so desperately long for. But rest assured, YOU CAN DO IT. Never give up on becoming the best version of yourself.