by Mike Genung
In the summer of 1991, my life was a mess. I was binging on porn daily, and had just told my wife that I’d committed adultery with a prostitute, which blew our marriage apart. I had no idea what the path to freedom and healing would look like… or if it was even possible.
Looking back, this is the plan I would have given myself for the first 90 days:
I would attend one to two meetings with a support group every week.
I was deeply isolated; I had no close friends or anyone I shared with on a heart level. I needed a group of men who I could lay everything out on the table with who would accept me and provide support and direction. For those who are in as deep as I was, there’s no other way. Isolation is a fertile breeding ground for lust; this hard ground must be exposed to the light and broken up. No man who’s in deep can beat sexual sin on his own.
I would have made 90 phone calls in 90 days.
Support groups wouldn’t have been enough to break the chains of isolation and shame and provide victory over temptation. I had been binging on porn daily, and my mind was soiled with lust. Temptations came fast and furious, and I wasn’t strong enough to say no on my own. I needed to be on the phone every day, to ask for help in time of temptation and keep myself afloat. I would also pray with my brother every time we talked. Today I know that prayer makes a huge difference; all it takes is one person interceding for us on a consistent basis.
I’d have examined all of the things and situations under my control that caused me to fall, and eliminated them for the first 90 days. I wasn’t strong enough to say no to lust; I’d spent years saying yes to it and defeat was all I knew. The best way to regain lost ground was to eliminate every source of temptation that I could, until I had at least six months of consistent victory under my belt and had discovered how to face temptation without crumbling. This would have meant turning off cable TV, ceasing business travel for 90 days (the pull to watch porn in the hotels always won), asking my wife to call Victoria’s Secret and have them stop mailing us their magazines, installing porn blocking and accountability software and giving my wife the passwords, and, today, it would have meant trading my smart phone for one that didn’t have internet access. I wouldn’t have allowed myself to compromise in this area, and would have been accountable to my support group and my wife about it.
I’d pray with my wife every day.
My marriage was in pieces; and we desperately needed God’s help. I’d have made sure that Michelle and I prayed together every night, no matter what was going on or how we felt. I once read than couples who pray together divorce one out of 1,000, where couples who don’t have a 50% divorce rate. Prayer would be a critical component of our recovery and healing.
I’d make the healing of my marriage as important as my recovery from sexual addiction.
I’ve heard of men who told their wives that “they’re too busy with their own recovery to spend time on the marriage.” This is a cop out, and it sends the message that we don’t value our wives enough to do the hard work to dig in and do what it takes to heal the relationship. For a married man there is no relationship that is more important than that of his wife; there’s no one else in Scripture who we’re commanded to love “as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for” (Ephesians 5). Since I had destroyed our marriage, I needed to work at rebuilding it. I would have met Michelle for lunch, or taken her out to dinner at least once a week. We’d have jumped right into marital counseling with a Christian counselor who knew what he was doing. I’d have spent time reading and learning on what I needed to do to help her heal, and followed through with consistent actions.
I’d work on becoming a servant.
I was utterly selfish and self-absorbed. The only way the stronghold of self gets broken is if we start putting others first; a great way to do this is to get our focus off ourselves and start helping others. I would begin by looking at how I could serve at home… doing the chores around the house that would help my wife; I’d make at least one meal a week, and would clean the dishes every night. I wouldn’t have let myself get involved with helping out at a ministry or church for the first 90 days because I had a bad habit of doing good works to look good in front of others. I needed to serve in ways where I could be unnoticed, which makes home the best place. I’d also look for ways to serve others at my place of employment; there are always ways to serve there without striving for attention.
I’d immerse myself every day in God’s word and prayer, with an emphasis on learning all I could about God’s grace, love, and forgiveness.
I’d ask Him to reveal Himself to me and all the wonderful blessings that are mine because of His grace. God’s love always seemed out of reach for me, and my relationship with Him was one of trying to please Him instead of receiving what He wanted to give me.
If I’d have done the above in the first 90 days, a solid foundation would have been laid that I could have built on for the next stage of the game.