Sitting in a Rowboat Throwing Marbles at a Battleship | Being LDS and Overcoming Pornography Addiction


I see addiction in a different way. I see a six-year-old boy in a tiny rowboat in the middle of the ocean with a handful of marbles. A grey, armored battleship is steaming towards him. He can hear it coming, but he can’t see it very well because thick fog surrounds him. He is trying to sink the battleship by throwing marbles at it. I am the six-year-old boy. My sex addiction is the battleship. Those marbles are my efforts to overcome the addiction on my own. The fog is misinformation, confusion, bias and judgmental attitudes about addiction. It keeps me from seeing two stark realities: (1) this battleship is enormous—as big as a football field—and (2) I am alone in a tiny rowboat trying to stop it with marbles! Because of the confusion caused by the fog, I have the idea that if I can just throw those marbles hard enough, I will eventually pierce the hull and sink the battleship. I can even hear some of my marbles pinging off the side of the ship as I throw them, so I’m convinced that I’m causing major damage. Although I tell myself with conviction that soon I will have conquered my “little problem,” it will obviously never happen as long as marbles are all I have to throw.

During my lifelong battle with the enemy in the ship, I kept looking for reinforcements. I talked with psychiatric professionals about my inability to control my periodic compulsions to act out sexually. The doctors shrugged and said they didn’t really see sex as a problem. One told me that if I didn’t like what I was doing, I should stop. I figured the doctors must not be too concerned about it or they would have taken my pleas more seriously.

I also asked for help from bishops and stake presidents. The church leaders would assure me of the Lord’s love and concern, and suggest more sincere prayer, more diligent scripture reading, along with a broken heart and a contrite spirit. Apparently, I needed more repentance. I felt the genuine empathy of these priesthood leaders and resolved to them, to myself, and to God that this time, I would prevail. I would slay my Goliath! Of course, those of us with a limited, mortal perspective all had in mind a wrestling opponent of similar size, weight and skill. By the way, one thing I also noticed was that talking with someone about my problem relieved my burden somewhat and made me more hopeful. But there was still a huge problem. Now I was sitting in my lonely, little rowboat, praying and reading my scriptures—before I once again started throwing more marbles at the battleship.

I have a friend who spent years living in emotional and mental turmoil. She had overwhelming feelings that she was unworthy of God’s love, that she was a failure as a mother and wife, and that other people were better or better off than she was. At times she considered taking her own life. One day, I was struck by the thought that I knew something she didn’t.

My wife and I sat down with our friend and I talked to her about depression. I explained that oftentimes, people feel debilitating unhappiness and assume that it is because of some spiritual deficiency. “If I were more spiritual (or righteous, or compassionate, or goal-oriented),” they reason, “I would be happy. If I am not happy, it must be because of some moral or spiritual shortcoming.” I told her that depression was different from sadness. Sadness is an emotion that follows unwanted or troubling experiences and events in our lives. When bad things happen, sadness is the appropriate emotional response that occurs inside us. That’s not what happens with depression.

Depression is the product of a broken brain. Something doesn’t work quite right, and as a result, the depressed person is physically and mentally unable to feel and enjoy happiness. What’s worse, the depressed person’s emotional state may range from merely miserable on good days to intolerably miserable on bad days. Whatever the root cause may be—missing brain chemicals or disrupted electrical impulses or something else—depression is the result. It is not a spiritual malady. It is a physical disease of the brain.


Comments

Sitting in a Rowboat Throwing Marbles at a Battleship | Being LDS and Overcoming Pornography Addiction — 32 Comments

  1. Andrew,

    Thank you for your book I’ve been sharing it with people since you spoke to a group of us [at a fireside in Utah].

    Your book helped me take the hard step of attending my first ARP meeting and later SA meeting. (I’ve only been to one SA meeting, I didn’t find it to be like you described in your book here in UT)

    I’ve been attending ARP meetings and seeking sobriety for the last 4 years. I was able to have long stretches of sobriety my longest lasting 10 months last year. I’m currently working on 153 days of sobriety, but this time I’ve just finished the arpsupport.org 90 program.

    During the program I was finally able to see the devastation my addiction has caused, and I was able to ask God to take away my lust. Up until the day I offered that prayer I always thought I just needed a little help… I almost have this thing beat… I just need a little more help.

    When I finally prayed and told God “I want to lust, I want to look at pornography, and I want to masturbate, but I hate the devastation these things cause in my life. Wilt thou please take this character weakness away.” God did take it away that day. and everyday since as I pray for him to humbly.

    I’m now sponsoring people in the arpSupport.org program and finding progressive victory over my character weaknesses.

    Thanks for your well written book, I’m glad you had to ability to put into words what I’ve felt.

    • Mike,

      I just wanted to share my experience with SA in Utah briefly.

      I have been to SA meetings in Provo, Pleasant Grove, Lehi, and Sandy. I tried out a lot of meetings because I wanted to meet more guys in real recovery and not just stick with my home group.

      I went to one meeting and I was very off put. It felt like people shuffled in, said stuff, and shuffled out. I really did not intend to ever go back. But it is a very convenient time and location for me so I went back. It was a very good meeting. I felt connected to the other guys and was very glad I went. In the weeks since, that meeting has been one of my favorites.

      One of the meetings I attend has a part of the script- “we recommend you come 4-6 times before you decide if this is for you.” I think that is great for the program, but would suggest 3x minimum on a particular meeting.

      Regardless, I hope things are going well for you.

      • Thanks, Things have been going really well. I’ve been to that same SA meeting twice now. And my second meeting was worse than the first. For me ARP support’s 90 day program and the ARP meetings is working well. I will still plan on visiting the SA meetings in the future. Thanks for your feed back!

      • Post script: a few months later I shuffled into a SA meeting and Michael went out of his way to make my first experience a very good one. Because he stuck it out, and kept going, I am now a regular attendee and beginning recovery in a way I never thought possible.

  2. I am super grateful for all the information on this blog. I am grateful for your courage to share your strength, hope, and wisdom to all of us who struggle with the gripping addiction of lust. I look forward to your posts, it has become a part of my daily meditation and study. Again thank you.
    Will

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