Monday, February 2, 2015

Shapes from the Past

We are products of our past. However, it isn't our past specifically that creates the product of us.

Our experiences, how we respond to them, and how we make future decisions in light of those experiences, define the character of our heart.

The Bible says, "For it is from within, out of a person's heart, that evil thoughts come--sexual immorality...adultery, greed...deceit, lewdness, envy...arrogance and folly." (Mark 7:21-22, NIV).

Thank God that redemption is readily available to those who earnestly repent and seek His face.

I'm going to touch on some of the defining moments from my past that led to my choices of infidelity.

In hindsight, self-examination, and soul-searching, I was able to identify several points in time when I experienced pain, loss, grief, and betrayal. Those moments allowed me to believe that I was worthless, and that all loving relationships end painfully.

Infidelity begins with selfishness. Selfishness attempts to compensate for feelings of worthlessness. If we learn to see the value in ourselves as new creations in Christ Jesus, selfishness will never be an issue.  In Christ Jesus, we have immeasurable worth.

I'm not going to get into the intricate details of each of these defining moments here. I can expand in future posts. I simply want to give a brief road-map, or bird's-eye view of the major life events that shaped my self-image.  

Moment of pain #1
When I learned that I had been adopted, my heart filled with thousands of questions, "Where is my real mom?" "Why didn't she want me?" "Why did she give me away?" Abandonment. Worthlessness. Lack of Identity. Rejection. Those were feelings that haunted me for many years.

Moment of pain #2
When I was around 7 years old, I found a small stack of adult magazines outside of my house. I was intrigued and thought these images of beautiful women were wonderful, and quite funny. I took them into the house to show my mom. I thought she'd find them entertaining as well. I was so wrong. She immediately yelled at me - scolded me - told me how nasty "those kinds of things" are. I was shocked and embarrassed. What did I do wrong? Why was mommy yelling at me?

I'm pretty sure I remember hearing a semi-heated discussion later that night between my mother and father.

I never received a follow-up talking to or counseling session from either parent. (Back in the 1980's, parents didn't talk about the dangers of porn with their children...I don't know that they really actively do even in today's society...but they should.) I did receive plenty of curiosity and a kick-started interest in girls after that though. Rejection. Sadness. Solitude. Confusion. Embarrassment.

Moment of pain #3
I was raised in a highly conservative Christian home. We went to church every Sunday morning, every Sunday evening, and every Wednesday evening. I knew right from wrong. As an adolescent, I vowed to save myself for marriage.

When I was in 7th grade, I met a girl. I'll just call her "V." V lived in a group home. She was also highly persuasive, pressuring me over and over to give in and sleep with her. She knew my convictions, and convinced me that we would end up getting married. That was all the justification I needed. At the age of 13, I compromised my vow to God and to myself and lost my virginity.

Less than one week later, I caught V in bed with another guy from our school. Betrayal. Insurmountable Pain. My Heart Ripped From My Chest. Numbness. Worthlessness.

 Moment of pain #4
Around the late Summer of 1988, I met a girl at church, "D". We hit it off really well. We spent every free moment possible together. We promised not to sleep together, even though she was aware of my mistake with V. After over a year together (and some rough spots in life as described below), D cheated on me. Not to the extent that V had, but cheated nonetheless. D kissed a guy at a party that I hadn't been able to attend. Betrayal. Pain. Heartache. Broken Trust. Affirmation of my Worthlessness.

 Moment of pain #5
At the age of 15, I lost both parents the same year. My dad suffered a mental breakdown around May of 1989. He was never the same after that - merely a shell of a person, living on strong medication which kept his "chemicals in balance." Later that same year, my mom (who lived with Cerebral Palsy) went into a coma and died after a week on life-support due to kidney failure.
Abandonment. Solitude. Loneliness. Depression. Anxiety. Heartache.

I was a 15 year old boy, on my own. I learned that people are not to be trusted. I learned that I was not valuable enough for someone else to honor. I learned that even if I fully committed and gave my heart to someone else, they would never give me the same in return. I learned that I will either lose or at the very least, get deeply hurt by anyone that I truly love.

Moment of pain #6
I was a leader in our church's youth group when I lost my parents. It was also in this time period that D cheated on me. To get revenge on D, I sought out sexual relationships with a couple of girls in our youth group. Within a few short weeks, gossip spread throughout the whole church. I was kicked out of church. They told me I couldn't set foot back on the property until I had undergone therapy. I was completely alone. I was ousted from the one place that I needed most - my church, my foundation for any semblance of truth or hope, my youth pastor - the one adult figure who up until that point hadn't let me down or rejected me. Rejection. Sadness. Abandonment. Shame.

And thus...the stage was set for a pattern of seeking sexual relationships to fill a void.

I met my wife when I was 16 years old. I asked her to marry me when I was 17 years old. I was not in any kind of position (emotionally, or psychologically)  to get married - not if I were going to be a man that my wife could trust. In turn, I did to my beautiful, loving, and devoted wife what so many others had done to me. I am so deeply sorry for that.

You can see by the theme of my blog, that eventually I did learn to face my past. I also learned to trust. I learned to become vulnerable. I learned to not only seek true forgiveness and repentance, but also to finally forgive myself.

I shared this brief history because I feel that a back story is important to come to a place of understanding.

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