“I Am What I Do Today”

Journal entry, March 22. 2009
Background: My mom’s death, March 13, 2008, was the event that kicked off my journey of recovery and transformation from pornography use and self-harm (and many other things). (Jokingly, I like to say that “18-1” that February might also have had a little something to do with it…) A little more than a year later, I wrote a series of very introspective entries about what I had learned – how I had already changed – in those short twelve months of recovery (and eight months of sexual sobriety). [Minor edits in brackets.]

This entry is entitled “What do I mean by ‘I am what I do today?'”

I am what I am – a man who must follow some strict behaviors in order to be sexually pure for his wife.
man who believes fervently in God and Jesus.
man who takes one moment at a time.
man learning to be whole.
whole man, fighting to stay that way.
man who is loved, by God, by his family and friends.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stands against the devil’s schemes.
Ephesians 6:10-11

What do I mean by “I am what I do today?”

This statement is in the present tense. Now is all I can affect. I can not change the past. The future will always be something yet to come.

While it is true that what I have done can be used to define me, whole-ly, without considering my recovery, it is most honest, and most considerate to me, to look at what I am doing now. In this sense, these eight months [since my suicide attempt in July] do outweigh the previous 32 years [basically, since puberty].

This is why I introduce myself as a “recovering (present tense) child of God” at [my sex addict support] group. I am a man with a past that contains perversity and deprivation BUT I recognize and admit that my actions were sinful (and there is only one kind of sin). I have confessed (past tense) those actions and been forgiven (past tense) for those actions. I am a believer in God and His Son, Jesus, and His plan for my salvation. Each day is my chance to show and live this.

The keyword in “I am what I do today” is “do”. Faith/belief together with action is expressed by this word. It shows that I know I must live by/within limits – because I am (present tense) how I have been made (past tense) to be. This is the only way my past is a part of me today. I need, I must adhere to strict behaviors or risk falling back down to a level I, with God’s help, have risen [above] and continue to rise daily above. [I think I kind of stress God’s part in the recovery more in 2016.]

Some will say, “Once a pervert, always a pervert.” All I can say is, “I am what I do today, not what I have done yesterday, nor what I could do tomorrow.”

If a man is condemnable for his past or future, then we are all bound for hell, for we all have had or will have moments or [even just] thoughts of sin.

So, do not throw the first stone. [This was my first realization of “Judge not, lest you be judged.”]

[End of entry.]

Today (2016), I can see that this line of thought was one of my first steps on the path of forgiving myself, (and truly accepting God’s forgiveness of me). In retrospect, it is easier for us (those filled with shame and guilt over the things we did after we were warped by the things that were done to us) – it is easiest for us to forgive others and hardest, still, to forgive ourselves. Because of this difficulty, we have a hard time understanding how God forgives.

When doubt about God’s existence hits me, doubt about my forgive-able-ness follows right behind, and I again cycle through James 1:8

A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways.

“The past is history.
The future is a mystery.
Today is a gift, that’s why it’s called the present.”

Thanksgiving, 2008

In 2008, the Patriots went 18-1, my mother passed away, and I began recovery after hitting rock bottom in acting out, and again with a suicide attempt. On that incredible, miraculous eventful day, however, Jesus finally got through to me, and completely changed my life.

This is my journal entry for Thanksgiving 2008 [with a few minor punctuation edits, some comments in brackets, and some emphasis in italics]:

“Slept in – awake 8:30! 2008 what a year. I still miss my Mom. I’ve got a scar I can’t [see]. A memory that will never be forgotten. I’m 100x closer to my wife and trying to get that close to my children. I’m breaking forty-year-old habits. And making something happen. [My motto had always been “waiting for something to happen”.]

“A year of pain, terror, great love. And the biggest change (although, maybe not, because He has been with me all along – I just didn’t realize it): God and Jesus in my life. 2008.

“I feel amazed at how much I’ve been through this year – how many moments I don’t think I’ll forget. Awestruck like a child, but with a tinge of sadness for what has been lost and what still has to be lost – for what had to be necessary to bring me to this day. ‘It’s that in me which wants to run and hide’ (Nov 24 [see my previous post]). To change. To learn. To fix. To improve. And to take time to rest and reflect (like today) and to play, too. But to keep moving forward, no matter how painful – because there will be joy again.

“God, I’m so sad right now, writing this. The next few years will be emotionally the hardest for our generation, because the previous generation, their time done, will all be called home. My Mom was just the first. And the world will look to us.

“But let me not focus on sorrow.
‘Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.’ Psalm 30:5

“Joy. Joy to simply be here, able to write this today, able to write on this topic, given this year 2008. I am alive, and I have a reason to be alive. A reason to be thankful.

“I am blessed. Blessed to be who I am, a very interesting series of thoughts and experiences am I! Blessed with enough – despite the ‘hardships’ and extravagances of this decade. I sit here in warmth, with a pantry full, in a happy home – knowing that we will continue to move forward, having learned [the meaning of] ‘enough’. What a word! Blessed with family, unique each, full of potential, capable, and loving, (although, a challenge 🙂 ).

“I am blessed. I am awed at that. That Jesus – even the mere concept of Jesus – (who in this world would conceive of Jesus – it’s unlikely; it’s so unlikely so it must be true) – that Jesus would consider me bless-able. That is what – more than anything else – inspires me to want to fix, learn, improve, CHANGE.

“Change. The only unchanging thing in this existence. Change… chain-ge… Bound by it, we are. Consider a sports team [yes, I’m a lifelong Patriots fanatic]: the players change, come and go, but a well-managed team succeeds despite; the sum of its parts. For a brief time, so brief; so brief we are not even aware of it – aware that we are ‘there’, in a time of joy; a time when all seems well, fun, simple, complete, at peace, operating smoothly. But, change.

“Even in a family. Children grow, expand, become more each day. Even each of us, growing, learning, fixing, improving, changing. But, so often, we find a spot in time, and try to hunker down in it. I think I realize that now – the no time will ever last long – long enough – in this existence. That’s the concept of heaven: all those times of joy, lasting. I feel understanding about this. I’ve always been resisting of change, working to stay in those joyful times. Not accepting that need for opposites: no joy without sorrow. A thing has no meaning without its opposite – no distinction. So change in the pendulum’s swing between opposites, left/right, right/wrong.”