So as you should know by now, my issue is that for many years I sought relief from my emotional and experiential pain through acting out sexually whether it be pornography, masturbation, or sex outside of marriage. Over the last six years I have been steadily growing healthier in these areas thanks to the very difficult emotional work I have been doing, the encouragement of those who know me and love me, and of course the help of God. However, one of the frustrations I have with this journey is the relentlessness of “the opposing force”. Be it old habits dying hard, my sinful flesh, demonic oppression, or Stana himself, I grow weary at times from working my way through the little traps that are so often set for me. Allow me to explain.
A few nights ago Katie, my wife, and I were perusing Netflix. I didn’t want to watch her shows and she didn’t want to watch mine so we set out to find something agreeable. She has a thing for period drama’s and I like history and action and so when we saw that Netflix had done an original series regarding the life of famous explorer Marco Polo we were intrigued and decided to check it out. Within the first 30 minutes of the first episode there were two sex scenes, one of which was easily pornographic. So we shut the show down and moved on, no big deal right?
Now, on a seemingly unrelated note, Katie has been planning a beach trip with her family for a month or so. Our current situation is that money is generally tight because Katie is in grad school and we are living off of the income I bring in from 3 jobs. All week I’ve sensed a bitterness growing in me about this trip. Honestly, I am really glad she gets to go and that it won’t cost us much. She is working really hard on her degree and more than deserves this time away, and yet every time we talked about it there was an unrest in me. It was if their was a little devil on my shoulder whispering resentment in my ear. "Why does she get to go? Why does she get to spend money? She doesn't even get paid. You're the one who works three jobs. You’re the one who needs a vacation." The opposing force taunts me and tries to draw me in to it’s miserable existence. I don’t really believe any of that is true, but those are the seeds that are planted as a part of the masterful set up.
Katie left yesterday while I was at work and will be gone for 4 days so it will just be me and the puppies until she returns. Work wasn’t bad at all. In fact it was a pretty good day with minimal conflict. I have just been promoted at my job to a position which, frankly, I am under qualified for. I’ve been feeling a little insecure about things and I had a head on run in with a situation that is newly under my leadership and is currently a mess. I got home after sitting in those feelings of inadequacy for the afternoon and was ready to just relax for a bit. As I do every evening, I pulled into the driveway, opened the garage door, grabbed my backpack, checked the mail, and headed inside to greet the pups. As I sorted through the mail there was a magazine that was intended for the old owner who has been gone for at least 3 years. Funny thing is, we’ve never gotten this for her before. It was a women’s clothing catalog. Fairly innocuous at face value but to me it was bait.
Here’s what the opposing force wants. He wants me to just throw that on the counter and forget about it for now. He intends to stir that bitterness up some more and then add a little more insecurity to it. Maybe I won’t sleep well one night or have a I’ll have bad day at work where I mess something up and begin to feel alone and inadequate. He will through some random chain of events allow me in that vulnerable moment to “happen across” that magazine. I will pick it up and start looking at the women in it’s pages and make my way to the underwear section. This will be a taste of my old patterns and coping skills and it will whet my appetite for an easy way out of my emotions. I will set it down and not think about it again. I will start doing something mind numbing like watching TV or playing a game on my phone while behind the scenes my defenses will slowly come down. Nothing good, nothing bad, just a seemingly unimportant decision. Then as I grow more tired and more emotionally unaware and out of no where I will remember Marco Polo. He will not get what he wants...this time.
Somewhere along the way we bought into the lie that life is just random, that magazines just get mis-sorted sometimes, that there is no real rhyme or reason to the things we think or the feelings we have. At the risk of being labeled a conspiracy theorist I want to propose that maybe life is more than just chance, that there is an opposing force that is working against our true desires, that life is a series of attacks and defenses, and that it is smarter and more cunning than we realize. You see, he would never just send me a Playboy in the mail, he pokes and prods and pours salt in wounds and then tangles the worm called “relief” on the little hook in hopes that I will bite. And sometimes I do bite, and I hate myself for being so short sighted, but by God’s grace, not today. Today I have chosen to step back and look at the circumstances I am in and see them for what they are, a set up. We are under attack and we will never survive if we don’t open our eyes.