The time must come in every man’s life where he looks himself in the mirror and decides to take charge. For men in generations past, there was always a definitive moment for that to happen. They would go off to war, they would have to take on the responsibility of providing for their family at a young age or they would go through an initiation ritual to signify their passage from boyhood to manhood. But today, many men are lost. Many of us have never had the need to face ourselves and man up. We can skate on by being weak and without purpose. We don’t have to go to war if we don’t want to. We can stay living at home with mom and dad as long as we want. And we no longer have the fraternal brotherhood of fellow men to push us toward what we’re capable of. This has left us with many men who are still little boys well into adulthood.
But at some point, every man will have to shed the mask and face themselves. My prayer is that moment has come for you. There’s a reason you’ve come to this page. There’s a reason you’ve gotten to the point in your life that you’re willing to take action. Maybe you feel like you’ve drifted away from God and you need to rededicate your life to him. Maybe you’ve let yourself get out of shape and you feel like you could lose a few pounds and gain some strength while you’re at it. Maybe you feel like half your life is over and you’ve accomplished nothing. Maybe you’re not the husband you should be and are jerking off to porn instead of being a devoted lover to your wife. Maybe you’d rather throw back beers and watch football than spend time reading a book to your kids.
I say all of this, because that was me. My life in a nutshell was a phony Christian, cheating husband, absent father, fat and lazy lame excuse for a man.
This is my story.
I grew up, almost literally, in the church. My father was a pastor and I grew up under the spotlight of being a preacher’s kid. I never had a relationship with Christ for myself. I was only a Christian (If I was even truly saved) because it was how I was raised. I searched for meaning and purpose in life everywhere but through God. I sought fulfillment in music, sex, drugs, booze, and money. You name it, I tried it.
I got married and had children, but I was still a rebellious teenager even into my 30’s. . I have battled pornography addiction almost my entire teenage and adult life. And it didn’t stop there, it spiraled into a full-on sex addiction and led to many sins that I am so ashamed to admit I hate even thinking about it. I disregarded time with my children to pursue my own selfish desires. I had a secret life. I’d been caught a bunch of times, but it didn’t matter. I just got better at lying and better at not getting caught.
Even when I was home and present, I certainly wasn’t leading my household. I ignored my wife and kids. I’d snap on them if they interrupted me or dared to “bother” me. My wife and I were roommates at best. My kids only saw me for a few minutes a day and when they did I was grumpy or dismissive. I was pounding back beers like it was going out of style. I ate and ate until I hated myself; because I did. I used every opportunity and resource at my disposal to mask what I truly was, a fraud and a loser. I spent thousands of dollars to keep up the appearances of being a great Christian, husband, father, and businessman, going into a ton of credit card debt in the process. Everything I did was to cover up who I was and keep anyone from discovering the truth. I self medicated my pain with sex, alcohol, and money.
I tried for years to stop, to gain control, to turn my life around. I knew what I was doing was self-destructive behavior, but I couldn’t stop. I wanted freedom. I sought counseling. I prayed harder. I tried harder. Nothing worked. The hole just got deeper and deeper and deeper. I was stuck in an endless cycle of addiction.
Then, finally, something changed. To make a long story short, I was finally exposed. The lies came out. My true, secret life in the dark was brought to the light. I was revealed as a fraud. I wasn’t the good husband and father that I looked like I was on Facebook and I wasn’t the devout spiritual Christian that I showed myself to be at church.
I had to look myself in the mirror and confess who I truly was. And I hated what I saw. I decided that I finally needed to fight back. It wasn’t a Hollywood style “I’ve seen the light” moment or anything like that. I didn’t instantly give up porn or go right to the gym and lose 30 pounds. My marriage didn’t just heal itself and I didn’t all of a sudden become an amazing man of God. But it was the start of God making a change in my heart. I finally stopped searching for my fulfillment and purpose in this world, and looked to God to lead my life. I found that when I turned away from the things I used to mask my pain and sought God instead, I found the peace I was looking for. When I opened up about who I truly was on the inside, God opened up pathways for healing. When I confessed my sins to my family, they forgave me.
Change is not easy. I kicked and screamed and fought God every step of the way in my journey. But the moments when I truly committed to change, were when He showed his amazing power. I used to be afraid of change. I felt safe in the routine. I was uneasy with the unknown. What if I failed? What if people discovered my secrets? However, when I committed to change and didn’t give up, amazing things happened. When I started to read my Bible every day and spend time in prayer, I found hope, peace, and the purpose I was looking for. When I stopped looking at porn and sleeping with nameless women, I saw how truly beautiful my wife was and how deeply I loved her. When I turned off the TV and put down the phone, I created memories with my children that will last forever. When I stopped eating and drinking like a slob and hit the gym, I felt healthier, stronger, and had more energy. When I became a husband, father, and man worthy of being respected, I earned the respect I had previously tried to demand.
But in order to become the man I wanted and needed to be, I had to go through an initiation. I had to face my demons. I had to go through a period where I was challenged, and instead of bowing to my selfish desires, I had to conquer the forces trying to take me down.
In the Gospel of Luke, chapter 4, the Holy Spirit led Jesus “into the wilderness” to be tested for 40 days. Jesus faced the temptations that all men face. He was fully God, but also fully man. He faced physical hardship. He faced emotional hardship. And he faced spiritual hardship. Each time he stood firm with His foundation in the Scriptures and fought back against the devil who was trying to take Him down.
I’m calling on men to go “Into The Wilderness”. In order to transform our lives, we have to face our demons. We have to challenge ourselves physically, emotionally, and spiritually. My mission is to help men overcome sexual addiction and challenge them to transform their lives by renewing their faith, re-energizing their families, and restoring their masculinity. There will be physical challenges as we need to treat our bodies as a temple and keep them sharp and ready. There will be emotional challenges and tough questions that you’ll have to answer. You may have to come to terms with some issues that you don’t really want to face. And there will be spiritual challenges. We have to ensure that we are spending time in God’s Word and in prayer, or all of this is pointless.
So I ask you, no, I challenge you, to come on this journey with me. I’m certainly no guru or expert, and I need this challenge just as much as anyone else. But I’m asking you to fight alongside me, to stand up against the forces of this modern world that are trying to keep men from becoming the true men of God they should be.
I also offer one-on-one coaching if at any point you feel like you need a brother to come alongside you and support you. I’d be happy to get on a call with you to provide personal guidance to create a plan to fight your addiction and accountability to keep you on track. I’ve already helped dozens of men overcome their addictions; all who thought they were helpless. I’ve discovered that every battle with sexual addiction shares the same few threads that, once unraveled, release you from the chains of addiction. I’d love for you to be the next success story!
Join me, brother, as we journey “Into The Wilderness” to become the providers, protectors, and pastors that God has called Christian men to be.
Timothy Reigle is the founder of www.intothewildernessblog.com, a blog dedicated to helping men overcome sexual addiction and transform their lives by renewing their faith, re-energizing their families, and restoring their masculinity. He is a licensed Chaplain and works with men through Bible study, preaching, and coaching to overcome pornography addiction and become better men. He lives in Pennsylvania with his wife and two daughters.
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