September 16th 2023
#36: Fighting a Sexual Addiction? Embrace the Exhaustion and the Encouragement
Imagine embarking on a marathon, not only strapped with your running gear but also with the weight of guilt, shame, and frustration.
Can you picture yourself crossing the finish line? This episode is your cheerleading squad, equipping you with the support and encouragement necessary for a spiritual race of such magnitude.
We draw parallels from the biblical narrative of the prodigal son, reflecting on our own episodes of faltering faith and the feelings those periods stir.
We implore you to reach out in prayer, lean on your spiritual community, and embrace the love of a Father who is always ready to welcome you home.
As we continue on this journey, we analyze Hebrews 12 and its application to our pursuit of sexual wholeness.
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We discuss the powerful image of “a great cloud of witnesses”, likening it to a stadium filled with cheerleaders urging us on. This discourse is a clarion call to invite others into our lives, not only for community but also as constant reminders of our commitment to wholeness.
It’s a challenging journey, no doubt, but as we keep our gaze on Jesus, we find solace in the assurance that the Father cares, and is there to strengthen and support us.
So come along, and allow us to be your cheerleaders in this spiritual marathon.
You’re not too far gone, and the Father’s loving embrace awaits you.
Transcription: Fighting a Sexual Addiction? Embrace the Exhaustion and the Encouragement.
Andrea Smithberger [00:00:00]:
We had just moved to the neighborhood. I remember getting an email asking us to join the Baltimore marathon, and I almost deleted the email because I do not I do not run. Also, we had just moved, and also I had just had baby number four. But I kept reading the email, and I saw that it was an invitation from the organizers of the event not to join in the actual tool running. But since our neighborhood was part of the marathon course, that organizers were asking for us to be cheerleaders, neighbors along the route were asked to make posters and wave and just shout encouragement. Now that now that I could do. So I got my little artist to work, and we made all the posters. And on Saturday, we went out on the deck, and we waited for our runners from where we were.
Andrea Smithberger [00:00:53]:
We had a great view of them coming in. They’re coming around the corner. And when we saw them, we stood and we cheered, and we lifted our posters high above our head. It was awesome. Some of the runners weren’t even phased. We definitely clapped for them, definitely clap for them. But the other runners, the ones who were struggling, who looked like they were just willing head down, 1ft in front of the other. Come on, let’s do it.
Andrea Smithberger [00:01:21]:
Oh, man. We kicked it up for them. We got loud, and we shouted, you got this. Because when you’re running 26.2 miles, it turns out you need more than a great pair of shoes and a good night’s sleep. Every now and then, you need to hear, you got this. You need people who know that just around the corner, the course might get just a little easier. As I was praying for you on this journey, this memory of a marathon led me to the parable of the prodigal son. So if you would close your eyes and listen and take in this story that Jesus wants to offer you now, then he said, there was once a man who had two sons.
Andrea Smithberger [00:02:14]:
The younger one said to his father, father, I want right now what’s coming to me. So the father divided the property between them. It wasn’t long before the younger son packed his bags and left for a distant country. There, undisciplined and dissipated. He wasted everything he had after he had gone through all his money. There was a bad famine all through that country, and he began to feel it. He signed on with a citizen there who assigned him to his field to slop the pigs. He was so hungry, he would have eaten the corn cobs and the pig slop, but no one would give him any that brought him to his senses.
Andrea Smithberger [00:03:06]:
He said, all those farm hands working for my father sit down to three meals a day, and here I am starving to death. I’m going back to my father. I’ll say to him, father, I’ve sinned against god. I’ve sinned before you. I don’t deserve to be called your son. Take me on as a hired hand. He got right up and he went home to his father when he was still a far way off. His father saw him, his heart pounding.
Andrea Smithberger [00:03:36]:
He ran out, embraced him, and kissed him. And the son started his speech. Father, I’ve sinned against God. I’ve sinned before you. I don’t deserve to be called your son ever again. But the father wasn’t listening. He was calling to the servants, quick, bring a clean set of clothes for him. Dress him, put the family ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.
Andrea Smithberger [00:04:01]:
Then get a prize winning heifer and roast it. We’re going to feast. We’re going to have a wonderful time. My son is here. Given up for dead and now alive. Given up for lost and now found. I wonder if you’ve ever run away from God on this journey. I wonder if you’ve stacked a solid streak of time where you didn’t look up porn or masturbate.
Andrea Smithberger [00:04:30]:
If you’ve gone months without sleeping around, then the streak is broken, and so is your belief in you and in this work. Frustrated with yourself for, quote, unquote, messing up, feeling shame. For going back to old habits, even disappointment in yourself or in the dang journey for not being a clear cut path with an endpoint. All that can make you feel like you want to run away from God, right? Or it can make you feel like you have no business getting near Him. But you know more. You’ve experienced more. Maybe you need others to shout encouragement to remind you of who you are and who God is. Right? Now might be a great time to begin praying for God to surround you with those precious people after you’ve run away.
Andrea Smithberger [00:05:34]:
And as you’re making your way back to the Father, you’re going to find yourself at the top of the driveway. I bet that driveway feels like a marathon. I bet that distance feels like it might just be too much for you. But then again, so is the loneliness. Even with the apps and devotionals and podcasts that you listen to, you might just need more people. Hebrews Twelve says therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders us and the sin that easily entangles us. And let us run with perseverance, the race marked out for us. Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.
Andrea Smithberger [00:06:24]:
For the joy for the joy set before Him. He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinners so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. We could sit with that verse forever, but for the purpose of the marathon and the driveway, and you, let’s focus on this phrase a great cloud of witnesses. The Greek word for cloud is Nephos. Nephos doesn’t just mean a fluff in the sky kind of cloud. It also means the highest seats in the bleachers of a stadium. What does this tell me? Life is not meant to be lived alone.
Andrea Smithberger [00:07:16]:
God knows how hard this battle is and wants to surround you with a stadium full of people to encourage you, to remind you, push you, love you. Ask the Lord to point you to the right people to invite into your stadium. Ask the Lord for wisdom on who gets the loudest voice in your life. All right, so we’ve covered marathons and driveways and stadiums. All of it points to the need for others. We need others in this journey to sexual wholeness. As you pray for those people, here’s some encouragement for you right now. Here’s my poster, and I’m standing up for you.
Andrea Smithberger [00:08:02]:
The Lord know I’m going to cry. The Lord knows the way you take, and he’s praying for you. When your spirit grows faint, it is God who knows your way. If you call on Him, he will answer you. He sees the strength already in you and increases it. He makes you stronger. Are your eyes on yourself? Fix your eyes on Jesus. Lift your chin.
Andrea Smithberger [00:08:25]:
What do you see? Notice the birds and the trees and the flowers and how much God cares for them. How much more does he care for you? I can see Him in the distance. Keep going. You got this. Your Father’s heart is pounding and he is running to embrace you. You are not too far gone. You are not too dirty. You are all he’s been waiting for.
- Have you ever been in a situation where you needed encouragement? How did it make a difference in your journey?
- How does the story of the prodigal son resonate with your own experiences of running away from God or making mistakes?
- Why do you think it is important to have people cheering us on and reminding us of who we are and who God is?
- How can we identify the right people to invite into our lives to provide the necessary encouragement and support?
- In what ways have you experienced feelings of shame or disappointment in your own journey towards sexual wholeness?