Celebrate Recovery’s first lesson is Denial. Have you ever heard someone say: “I’m actually not in denial; I’m just dabbling,” or “I can quit any time I want”? I love these statements. My personal favorite was: “I’m not addicted; I’m a Christian.” While I cannot remember which one I used or if I used a combination or even simply ignoring the issue or redirecting the question, I know that I was here for the last two or three years.
So principle #1 is:
Realize I’m not God. I admit that I am POWERLESS to CONTROL my tendency to do the wrong thing and that my life is UNMANAGEABLE.
This is based on Mt 5:3, “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” Step #1 is we admitted that we are POWERLESS over our addictions and compulsive behaviors, that our lives have become UNMANAGEABLE; based on Rom 7:18, “I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.” (Smart Note: Rom 7:18 deserves a special note since many scholars disagree over the meaning of this passage. Is Paul talking about himself pre-Christ or post-Christ? Or is he speaking about a hypothetical person or something else entirely? Obviously, CR has chosen autobiographical Christian view. Regardless of whether one believes this to be true; it is at least partially true of the carnal Christian.)
One of the good things about CR is that it helps you remember the stages by giving acronyms. Denial here stands for (which I condensed more for memory sake):
Isolates from God
Lengthens the pain.
(I have a hard time with the last one because I constantly want to say LONELINESS; however, that would be redundant from I and A.) This based on Jer 6:14, “You cannot heal a wound by saying it’s not there” (TLB); “They have healed the brokenness of my People superficially saying ‘Peace, Peace’.”
Denial disables your feelings and makes you numb to both spiritual principles/convictions, moral compass, and emotional issues/problems. We choose to repress instead of allowing our emotions to impress upon us. We choose to believe that feelings are a sign of weakness instead of owning up and facing them. CR uses quotes 2 Peter 2:19, “They promise freedom, while they themselves are slaves of destructive habits–for a man is a slave of anything that has conquered him” (GNB). I remember when I was struggling through this phase; I talked about myself in the 3rd person! I remember plainly even talking with a guy quite knowledgeable when it comes to filters (being an employee of a company similar to Covenant Eyes) that I was disembodied watching myself talking to him devoid of feelings and emotions. My wife has often told me that she doesn’t trust my judgment because my moral compass has been so compromised through rationalizations and straight rebellion.
Any user of pornography can tell you that porn drains your energy for a variety of reasons. Loss of energy due to partaking and masturbation. Loss of energy from hiding, running, and covering up keeping up with the lies and hypocrisy trying to motivate yourself and “love” your spouse. Loss of energy from constantly looking over one’s shoulder, from being anxious, dreading being caught. However, the Bible tells us “He frees the prisoners…he lifts the burdens from those bent down beneath their loads” (Ps 146:7-8) and “cast our cares on him because he cares for us” and “be anxious for nothing but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God and the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:6-7).
Denial not only disables our feelings and causes us to lose energy, denial also negates growth. While common sense may tell you this, there are many pastors, lay leaders, seminary students and elders/deacons who struggle with internet pornography. We cannot grow until we stop denying our problem, stop wrestling with God over this sin issue (which he will not budge from since it is against his nature). Instead we only need to cry out to Jesus (as Third Day sings about) and he will rescue us from the darkness, death and our chains.
Denial also isolates us from God. When we practice pornography we walk in the dark out of fellowship with Jesus (1 Jn 1:5-7). I remember constantly thinking that I was banging up against a glass ceiling like a cold basketball team trying to get a goal through the glass covered hoop.
Denial alienates us from others causing us to feel alone and in complete solitude. The power of porn is its secretiveness. We think we are getting away with it but we aren’t! People know something is off and wrong but they just can’t put their finger on it. Eph 4:25 says, “Stop lying to each other; tell the truth…when we lie to one another we are hurting ourselves” (TLB).
Finally denial lengthens the pain. It not only lengthens it but also intensifies it. While we may believe denial protects us from pain, it really leads us to shame and guilt. It paralyzes us. And it causes others pain and more pain.
Do you realize there is a higher power? Do you recognize there is a God? Do you agree and believe that you are truly powerless to control anything? In what areas of your life are out of control? How will taking this first step help? How do you handle pain and disappointment?