Sacred Grief – saying goodbye to your addiction


August 29th 2023

#32: Sacred Grief – saying goodbye to your addiction

What if we told you that it’s okay, even necessary, to grieve the loss of your addiction? 

It’s a bold idea, but bear with us. In this thought-provoking episode, we open up about the often overlooked but essential part of recovery: grief.

We delve into the sense of loss that can accompany walking away from past habits like pornography or casual sex. While these served as a comforting escape, releasing them is crucial for healing, even if guilt attempts to sneak in.

During the second half of the episode, we further explore how embracing grief, sans guilt, can lead us to a profound connection with the divine.

Drawing inspiration from Dan Allender’s wisdom, we ponder how our hearts are most open to God’s kindness and presence when we are in the throes of grief.

As we guide you through this healing journey, we’ll share practical ways to healthily express your grief—be it through journaling, prayer, or seeking solace in scripture.

✋ If you enjoyed this episode of Sacred by Design, please head over to Apple Podcasts, leave a rating, write a review, and subscribe.

This episode is a heartfelt exploration of grief as a vital component of recovery and the transformative power of naming and honoring your feelings.

It’s a journey towards sexual wholeness, one where grief is not a foe, but a friend.

Transcription: Sacred Grief – saying goodbye to your addiction

Andrea Smithberger [00:00:00]:

I’m hugging a pillow. Because the work of becoming whole, walking in freedom, living out your true identity sounds and is triumphant. The goal is lofty and it comes at a cost. You gave up your addiction. And while that is a triumphant yes, it is still a loss. If you have felt it or are feeling that sting, I’m with you. That sting or ache you might feel from time to time in your walk away from masturbation or pornography or hooking up is a sign that you may be grieving. Does that feel weird to say? Or does that make sense to you? There is something both sacred and necessary to naming your grief as you heal.

Andrea Smithberger [00:00:58]:

It is okay. It is expected that you might miss the distraction, the relaxation, the intensity and the high of your past behavior. Masturbating, pornography, hooking up was an easy way to escape those difficult feelings. And you’ve lost your buffer. Don’t be surprised if guilt might come knocking real loud even as you consider the idea of grieving the loss of your addiction. And you might think to yourself, how could I feel sad about saying goodbye to masturbating when I know the shame that it brings? Or why would I miss looking up the same porn or people to ease my loneliness when I know how it ends? Let’s ask guilt to leave. Let’s ask those questions because it’s okay. Grieve the loss of the search.

Andrea Smithberger [00:01:58]:

Grieve the loss of your addiction. It’s part of the process. It’s a good part of the process to healing. Just hear me out. Grief will show up in reaction to the intense changes taking place in your heart and in your mind and in your body. Grief is going to show up as you’re making these big changes. So be ready. What would it look like to welcome grief minus guilt? Because it makes sense.

Andrea Smithberger [00:02:32]:

Okay? It makes sense that the predictable nature of your unwanted sexual behavior felt comforting, that it felt safe. Addiction is predictable and that predictability, can feel comforting and safe even when it hurts you. I know if you’ve done the work to discover the source behind your porn habit or your pool to casual sex, knowing that source definitely gives you an understanding of the why and how of your addiction and how it served you. But that can also feel sad. That can also feel painful. Your addiction no longer serves you. There is a lot of learning and understanding in this sacred process of becoming sexually whole. Right? Right.

Andrea Smithberger [00:03:29]:

There’s a lot. Understanding and accepting this process of grieving helps recovery to be less of a mystery. There is a lot of joy in the triumph of recovery and walking in freedom. And that joy is blessed and it’s holy. There’s a lot of grief in the triumph of recovery and walking in freedom. Your grief is holy, just like your joy. Dan Allender says, the tenderness of God is always present, but the human heart is never more available to God’s kindness and presence than when in grief. If you feel grief well up, consider kicking guilt to the curb and instead make a seat next to you for God and allow him to be with you in it.

Andrea Smithberger [00:04:25]:

Take time to lament and grieve. Let’s practice what good, healthy grief looks like. Read through the Psalms for some really great examples. Journal cry it out. Sit with it or pray. God grief is filling my throat. It’s gripping my chest and it’s swirling in my head. Father in Heaven, allow my grief to become an act of embodied surrender.

Andrea Smithberger [00:04:52]:

I’ve come to the end of how I manage my pain, and I’m feeling it. I need you, God. Help me feel the depth of my sorrow. And thank you for letting me feel the depth of my sorrow and for staying next to me. I know that we’ve talked about Martha and Mary here before, but we’re doing it again. So go into John. Eleven. This is the scene where Lazarus is dead, and Jesus arrives on the scene.

Andrea Smithberger [00:05:23]:

And Martha runs to Jesus with her grief and says, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. And then she defends her faith and covers her where are you? Kind of anger with knowledge of Scripture, with knowledge of Jesus. But when Mary walks up, she starts with the same exact words if you had been here. But then she falls to the ground and cries, and then Jesus weeps. This, as Kurt Thompson teaches, is an example of when grief is fully in the room, without distraction or debate or denial. That is, when Jesus acts. Jesus acts. When we name our grief, there’s something both sacred and necessary to naming your grief as you.

Andrea Smithberger [00:06:16]:

You ask Jesus to help you name it, to weep with you, and to move forward from your grief, your blessed and holy grief.

Discussion Questions:

  1. How does the concept of grieving the loss of addiction resonate with you? Have you experienced this in your own journey?
  2. How do you distinguish between guilt and grief when it comes to letting go of addictive behaviors?
  3. In what ways can addiction provide a sense of comfort and predictability, even when it is harmful? Can you relate to this in your own experiences?
  4. How does understanding the source or root cause of an addiction contribute to the grieving process? Do you find it helpful or challenging?
  5. Discuss the idea of joy and grief coexisting in the process of recovery. Have you experienced both emotions simultaneously?


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