A young man stood in line with his father at the Department of Motor Vehicles. About seventeen years old, he had just bought his first car and was obviously excited. His turn came and the woman behind the counter calculated his fees, around $300. The father’s temper immediately exploded. He complained about how they had already spent $2,000 on the car, then stormed out of the office. His son looked shocked and desperately tried to get his father’s attention. The boy, who had come in so excited, seemed on the verge of tears within seconds. The boy’s father had crushed his spirit and publicly humiliated him. The son followed his dad out the door, pleading, “Dad, dad, dad …”
At a park across town, another man played with his six-year-old son. The father told the boy it was time to leave, but the boy kept running. Looking unsure of himself, the father asked, “Just a few more minutes, ok?” Moments later, he tried again: “Time to go, buddy.” The son kept playing and again the father responded with a question: “Just 5 more minutes, ok?” Perhaps the man is there to this day, waiting for his son to stop playing!
Both scenarios illustrate common complaints about men. A “toxic masculinity” is aggressiveness without restraint. Some men recognize their strength and act rashly, with no sense of compassion. Others lack a sense of commitment and responsibility, never acting with God-given authority.
To strike a proper balance, men can focus on this oft-overlooked quality: meekness. When people hear “meekness” they often think “weakness” but the opposite is true. A meek person is someone who has power but knows how to control it; someone with authority who acts but is also compassionate and kind.
In Scripture, Saint Joseph is an example of meekness. When Mary is with child, he seeks to divorce her quietly until he is told the child is of the Holy Spirit. Later, in dreams, an angel comes to Saint Joseph and tells him to act. Saint Joseph does, with authority. There are no recorded words of Saint Joseph. Saint Joseph is silent, yet in the litany of Saint Joseph we call him the “Terror of Demons.” Saint Joseph is the right combination of power and restraint. Saint Joseph is meek. When people ask Saint Joseph to pray for them, they will grow in meekness as well.
POINTERS ON GROWING IN MEEKNESS:
◗ When things do not go the way we envision, do we strike out against the world? We are not the center of the universe and there is no guarantee things will go according to our plan. Memorize Psalm 37:8: “Refrain from anger and forsake wrath! Do not fret; it tends only to evil.”
◗ Are we embarrassed to act on promptings of Holy Spirit? Vanity can prevent God from working through us to reach others. Choose to be patient and meek in the face of humiliation. The embarrassment is temporary and there is grace through obedience. Memorize Sirach 2:5: “For gold and silver are tested in the fire, and acceptable men in the furnace of humiliation.”
◗ Forget anger and also shyness. Seek to do the will of the Lord. Memorize Psalm 119:9: “How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to Your word.”
◗ Study the story of the woman caught in adultery in John 8:1-11. Notice how Jesus does not say that sin is ok but commands her not to sin again. He also said that one without sin could cast the first stone. Who was without any sin in the scene? Jesus. But He shows mercy in a perfect act of meekness.
◗ Pray the litany of Saint Joseph. He is a great model of meekness, especially for men.
PRAYER TO SAINT JOSEPH
Oh Saint Joseph, whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the throne of God, I place in you all my interests and desires. Oh Saint Joseph, do assist me by your powerful intercession and obtain for me from your divine Son all spiritual blessings through Jesus Christ, our Lord; so that having engaged here below your heavenly power, I may offer my thanksgiving and homage to the most loving Father. Oh Saint Joseph, I never weary contemplating you and Jesus asleep in your arms. I dare not approach while He reposes near your heart. Press Him in my name and kiss His fine head for me, and ask Him to return the kiss when I draw my dying breath. Saint Joseph, patron of departing souls, pray for us. Amen.
© and his wife, Rachel, and their six children (ages 9-17) reside in Willard, Missouri, with three dogs and two cats. Salomon works as a computer consultant. He also serves as a high school youth group leader and a college campus ministry leader. He is the committee chair for Trail Life Troop MO-6:33 and is on the Diocesan Council of Family Ministries. Salomon can be reached at www.kingsalomon.net.
My conversion to the Catholic Church took about three seconds. I was an arrogant fool sitting in on my very first Mass and watching it like I had watched a National Geographic nature film. I was analyzing away—“Those pews are so phallic, who are they kidding that this isn't all about a patriarchy?"—when I heard something Jewish. A cantor sang the Psalm. It caught my attention and stopped the haughty drift of my thoughts. I began to be interested. What else might they have stolen from the Jews? This led to other discoveries, like the parading of the Gospels. “Well, if Jesus does claim to be the Jewish Messiah, I guess there should be Jewish elements in the worship,” I thought dismissively until it occurred to me I had never seen Jewish elements in the Protestant churches I had attended as a girl. Why not? I puzzled that one for a while. About the time for the consecration (I had no idea what it was called at the time), I had come all the way around to the skeptical thought, actually accompanied by a quiet sarcasm-laden snort, “What if all this were true?” Then I was hit in the head with a 2 x 4—that process took all of three seconds. I say that comically but wave upon wave of revelation breaking over my stunned mind was actually very painful. It was also beautiful, exquisite and utterly horrifying. I saw things, felt things, all in quick succession with the complete clarity of the words, “It is all true,” ringing like a bell. Then an actual bell rang signaling the consecration. Jesus Himself was upon that altar and I was done. I had a choice to make and it was my very last chance. It was true. I could never again deny the truth of it but I could still deny Him. A ‘yes’ would cost me every friend I had, the community I had built, my reputation. Everything. Was I willing to give it all up? Oh, God, yes! Then I came back from that heady place to reality where the Mass continued before me. I was Catholic now but that priest up there on the dais was the first one I had ever been in the same room with. I was Catholic now, but my husband was not. What now? I was Catholic, but I had no idea what that meant. I decided to start with the little pamphlet my husband had given me on a whim as we walked past a display on the way into the church. It was on the rosary. As I read through the mysteries all I remembered of the life of Jesus came back to me. Then I came upon the Assumption. "The Assumption?" I thought, "What the hell is that?" (The conversion of my heart was won; my conversion of behavior was incremental). The Mass ended. It was a daily Mass so there was not a crowd. The priest was at the back of the church talking with a woman. They both greeted my husband and me warmly, the priest asking a few questions of the new people. He quickly discovered my husband was an ex- Catholic and I was not anything I was willing to own up to publicly yet. I said I wanted to join the Catholic Church and shot a guilty look at my husband. I knew it was not nice to tell him like this, but I did not have the guts to face him all at once. Maybe he could get over the initial reaction and be polite by the time we got to the car. Then I blurted out my question before I lost my nerve and before the polite chit chat wound down. “What's an Assumption?” “The Assumption?” the priest looked surprised. He gave an answer too small to satisfy my hunger, “It was when Our Lady was taken to heaven to reign as Queen Mother.” I pressed for more information and he asked me to make an appointment. I was there the next day and in RCIA by the end of the week. I was a thorn in that program’s side. I read book after book and, completely ignorant, each question generated more questions. I took to carrying a notebook to jot them in. People would actually groan when at the end of the RCIA class my hand would go up when they asked, “Are there any questions?” I had pages full. Somebody in heaven took pity on my classmates and drew my attention to a bumper sticker with the local Catholic radio station on it. I tuned in my dial and there I found the depth and breadth I craved. My husband was kinder than I knew. He had been uncomfortable with the direction our spiritual life had taken us and was relieved to come home to the faith. He joined a Landings Group and began his own Catechesis. Meanwhile, my conversion was a big secret from my family and friends. There were two reasons for this: my family and my friends. My family was Church of Christ. While it was never spoken of from the pulpit, growing up the handouts available on the tables in the vestibule often held tracts that spouted things like the Catholic Church was the whore of Babylon and the Pope was the Anti-Christ. A few people in the church had family members convert to Catholicism. This news was greeted in the same manner as people whose family members had come down with cancer: with condolences, disbelief, and shocked horror. Although my mother and father made it clear they did not approve of the tracts, neither did they approve of Catholics and their beliefs. I grew up with the impression that they were a strange cult, like the Moonies. My friends were an entirely different matter. They loathed Christians, especially Catholics. One had told the story of her son accompanying her to visit her mother at a senior facility. Some little old ladies in the lobby had made semi-rude gossipy comments about them as they walked past. The little boy got on the elevator, rolled his eyes and said, "Probably Christians." His mother laughed as she told that story, as did everyone present; I did not. As far from Christianity as I was, I thought she was training a bigot and that is never funny. I told one friend what was happening with me. She was pretty neutral except that she was worried how it would change the dynamics of our relationship. We still loosely keep in touch. The others were a different story. I announced my conversion and endured tears, anger and, finally, a scathing acceptance of my truth. I had lost all credibility and, in their eyes, any claim to intelligence. After a few abortive attempts, all contact with that group of friends was lost. No one would return my calls or even my Seasons Greetings cards. Finally, after a few years I just started sending Christmas cards thinking what could lose? One responded and now we exchange biannual letters. The others dumped me because they could not be friends with someone like me—an “intolerant Catholic.” Hard to believe an average bunch of gals could be so anti-Catholic in this day and age? Not in the New Age. We were actually a group of goddess-worshiping pagans and I was a priestess. I was a leader in the community. I taught classes, wrote songs, and led rituals, the whole shebang. For those of you who do not believe in these sorts of things, I was able to do all sorts of unbelievable things, like mild prognostication and other creepy stuff. The allure of these “gifts” is such that I will not go into details. Suffice it to say, my group was astonished that anyone would be willing to give up such power. Now that I am free, it amazes me how enslaved I was to it all. I did not see myself as worshiping the devil or demons, I just thought I had found a legitimate power source. I was amazed at the “miracles” I could perform. I was heady with it. The power is the bait. It hooks you and then turns on you. The people involved stagnate and become trapped into continually cycling through personal issues. It is similar to the stagnation of the personality caused by alcohol and drug abuse and the experience is very much like an addiction. With this much personal dysfunction, the groups can get ugly. One of the most chilling comments during my confession to my group was from the group leader, “There's a reason we used to kill oath breakers.” She did not mean our group in particular but the groups in the largely recreated neopagan past. Her reference was historically dubious but I was so glad to dust myself off and move on in my life. I found myself filling my days not with the chatter of friends but the chatter of Catholic radio. It was a lonely but wonderful time. I was discovering things and growing as a person in ways I never could have imagined. My husband was also undergoing a transformation. Our marriage had never been better. Incrementally, I was learning just how self-centered and sinful I was. I was also learning how much I was loved. All my life I had yearned for something unknown. Now I knew what that was, and I had that something. In the midst of this, I told my parents. They were not pleased but they were not condemning either. They said they would tell the rest of the family for me, meaning aunts and uncles. It was their way to spare everyone any unkindness or awkwardness stemming from the initial shock. Then my parents said something that surprised me: “This will be good for your family.” That they found some good in my conversion was an incredible surprise at the time. Of the two groups, family versus friends, I had expected the opposite reactions. I had feared that my family would disown me and expected my friends to work out a new relationship with me. Exactly the opposite occurred. I was disowned by my friends, but my family and I have worked things out. Why did I visit that church that day? Like any convert, I was looking for something and found more than I bargained for. I was considering attending the Catholic Church because I wanted a community large enough to hide myself in. I wanted respectability without having to actually be respectable. In a sense, cafeteria Catholics evangelized me. I walked in that door thinking I would go to the cafeteria to pick and choose what I wanted from the table and I would remain unchanged. God had other plans.
I know that we have all heard stories in the Bible when God speaks to His people. Sometimes we are not sure how that was manifested: a feeling, a message spoken through someone, a voice booming down from the sky. Almost every month I come across at least one person—a friend, an enlightened blogger, a televangelist—who uses the term “God spoke to me,” “God spoke to me and told me you need to sign over your yacht, that vessel is keeping your soul in the devil's grip!” I sometimes wonder how God actually spoke to them. I have experienced many ways in which God is very clearly leading me, directing my path, and speaking to my heart in a way that just somehow perfectly answers the questions before me; it is usually a moment of true wisdom and understanding. He has also spoken to me through someone completely oblivious to my predicament, 22 Shalom tidings September/October 2018 someone who says exactly what my soul needed to hear at that moment. One time, I literally heard God speak to me. I heard His voice. No, I do not need to seek out a psychiatrist. It was ten years ago. I was changing my two-year-old son, Christian’s, diaper. My older son was three years old, my daughter was one, I had recently miscarried my fourth and was newly pregnant with my fifth little one. As I peeled back Christian’s diaper, I gasped. There was blood. I checked for lesions and soon realized the bleeding was coming from something internal. He had also developed a fever, so I was worried about a possible infection. I took him to a medical clinic and they sent us to the emergency room (ER). An ultrasound revealed he had a tumor on his right kidney. They were quite certain it was what is called a Wilm’s tumor: cancer. The tumor and his kidney would have to be surgically removed. He also had a blood infection—unrelated to the cancer and the source of the fever—and they could not operate until that was resolved. For two weeks I lived at Sick Kids with my son. My two other little ones were being cared for by various family members. It was so painful every time they would call to inform me that the toddlers were not adjusting well to my absence and, yet, I knew Christian needed me more. He was terrified by every poke and prod, so confused by everything that was happening to him. One day, my mother-law called to say that my one-year-old was very sick. She was not able to keep anything down and had been lethargic for days. She would need to go to the ER. My husband dropped her off to me and I sat holding her in the waiting room. I was so worried about her. Already small for her age, she looked especially fragile. When it was my turn to speak with the attendant, he began to ask me a bunch of questions about my daughter: “When did the fevers begin? How much had she been drinking? How long had she been lethargic?” Every question was painful for me, as I mustered out a feeble “I’m not sure. I haven’t been with her.” Then I fell to pieces, stammering, “My son has cancer. He’s up on the eighth floor right now recovering from surgery. I haven’t been there for my little girl. I’m so sorry but I can’t answer your questions.” I could hardly get the words out as tears streamed down my face. Up until that point, I had been so strong. I had not even cried and I had resided in a state of calm and trust, feeling that somehow everything was going to be okay. Suddenly, the reality, the magnitude of all I was facing was hitting me full on. The world seemed to drop out from beneath my feet. I thought of my baby girl, my sick little boy, my other baby boy at home who was feeling completely abandoned by his mother and I felt like the biggest failure. The world was pressing down on me. I was too weak to stand and kept thinking that if I could not handle this how would I be able to care for the little one still growing in my womb. I could not take the oppressive, crushing weight of it all. I could not breathe. Then, all at once, it was lifted. Everything was taken up off my shoulders and I felt like I was being carried, enveloped, and inexplicably wrapped in peace. That is when I heard the voice. I heard it as though it was being spoken aloud. It was clear and powerful. I felt each word resonating in my heart. I knew no one else could hear it. I knew it was from within but it was real, almost more real than anything I had ever experienced. He said, “See this is how it would be if I were not carrying you.” I breathed in His graces and once more I was calm, serene, and unafraid. From that point on I seemed able to meet each demand with grace. My daughter soon recovered from her illness, I was able to return home to my three-year-old son and, after six months of chemotherapy, Christian was completely cancer free (he is a healthy twelve-year-old now). I gave birth to my daughter, Mary, a month after his last dose of chemo. I know that God almost never speaks to us with a clear, audible voice. He does not usually work that way. I was already madly in love with Him, I had already placed my life in His hands, but much of it stemmed from the gift of faith. Everything up to that point was simply a sense of His presence, a continuous knowing that He was with me and a state of amazement, time and time again, as I experienced personal miracles and direct answers to my prayers. Faith is such a precious gift given to His children and I never needed a physical voice to confirm the reality of who He is: a loving Father who desires to work for our good, for love of us. He left a profound mark on my heart that day. I wanted to share this story because so many people close to me are really hurting, finding it hard to surface, drowning in life's trials. I wanted to share His message that if we place our lives in His hands, He will lift us up, pulling us out of the suffocating anguish. He may let us experience a taste of it, a moment (or sadly a period of greater duration) where we are overcome by distress. It should only serve to help us understand how greatly we need Him, how lost we would be if it were not for His great love for us, and His desire to draw us back up into His arms. This message is not some crazy, religious platitude. He has remained constant and faithful throughout the ages, His voice ever clear, cutting through the chaos.
Today I met a man. He has got to be a foot taller than me. He has quite a few pounds on me as well and I am no longer the perfect size six I so want to be! I met this man at a grocery store about twenty minutes from where I live. Actually, to be more precise, I met him in the parking lot outside my grocery store or, to be even more accurate, I met him as I was leaving the parking lot. You see this man was actually sitting in the median between the entrance and exit of this particular shopping center. He sat on a scooter-/walker-type thing holding up a sign that read, “Disabled veteran. Need help with gas, food, kids.” I pulled up in the lane next to his chair. I did not make eye contact. Seeing “those people” often makes me want to cry. The problem of poverty is so overwhelming! How could we ever hope to combat it? Even Jesus said the poor will always be with us. I am a struggling single mom of five boys. What difference can I make? I slowed as I pulled up to the red light. I was the only car waiting, and I was glad to pass this nameless man sitting in the median without having to stop by his side, without having to look at him. I reverted to childishly hoping that if I did not see him maybe he would not see me. Childish. Foolish. Selfish. Me. I waited for the light to turn green. I thought of the turkey I had just asked the cashier to put back. I could pay for it another day. We are still on a tight budget and I buy only what I can pay cash for. I thought of the donations I had just made leaving the grocery store to the Stuff the Bus campaign which would donate food to Catholic Charities. The bag I handed over was not much, but I had literally just donated a canister of oatmeal, a box of pasta, and a bag of brown sugar. The brown sugar was not on the requested food list, but I felt like a bit of a rebel buying it and smiled, hoping it might help some family make Christmas cookies together this season. I had done enough, more than many would. If the veteran in the median needed help, he could go to the front of the store where they were stuffing that bus. I was on my way to Adoration. My rosary beads were in my pocket. I would say a prayer for this disabled Vet, this nameless man, but what more could I do? I had done enough. I watched the light turn green. But while I was playing the Pharisee, patting myself on the back for all the good I do, another voice was speaking gently to me, calling me, telling me to go to the man whose eyes I would not meet. I pulled into the intersection and turned my vehicle around, heading down the entrance ramp. The man should have stayed on my left, but he had picked up his chair/walker and began shuffling his way toward the parking lot. I drove toward where he met another man standing by a little, beat-up vehicle. The new man popped the trunk as I pulled into a space a few yards away still unsure of what I was to do. I sat awkwardly in the car, fidgeting, stalling and feeling a bit like a stalker as the two men talked and occasionally sent curious glances my way. I was uncomfortable. They would think I was stupid. I was sure of it. What kind of high and mighty person did I think I was approaching them? And for what? I had already spent all my cash. I reached into my car’s ashtray. There was $3 I had saved for emergency milk money. I had one more in my pocket: $4. That is all I had today. I wondered about the two suspicious men. What if they were scammers? What if they used the money for alcohol or drugs or something worse? What if they did not really need it? What if …? The what ifs threatened to take over but there was a quiet, gentle, “What if…?” I heard as well. What if the man did really need it? What if he did really need money for food, gas, kids? What if he is not a scammer? I thought of the rosary beads in my pocket, the ones I was about to use at Adoration. They were a cheap plastic set I had found the day before in an old pocketbook. I had other rosary beads. Did I need them? What good were they doing in my pocket? I opened my car door, fought down the uncomfortableness in my belly that told me I was foolish, and listened instead to the gentle, quiet voice. “Go.” I approached the man from the median without knowing what to say. He was still seated and I put my hand out and touched his shoulder, “Thank you for your service,” I said as I would to any of our nation’s veterans. His eyes softened and a spark lit inside. He put his hand out. I took it and we shook introducing ourselves. He was not unnamed at all. He was Anthony Monroe. Big Anthony’s hand was dark, smooth, cool and massive. It enveloped mine quickly and held mine with a tenderness that belied the giant man’s great size, stumbling shuffle and stuttered speech. We spoke for a few minutes. I told him I was a single mom of five boys on my way to prayer and that I would pray for him. I wished I had more to give him as I pressed the $4 and my plastic rosary beads into his hand. All doubt about Anthony washed away. I shook the other man, Peter’s hand. I could not read him when I looked into his eyes but hoped he was good to Big Anthony. I stepped back to talk with Anthony again. He told me he had four children. I did not stay long enough to learn more. I did not stay long. I left these two men who were so different from me in the parking lot, placing the chair and the sign in their trunk, Big Anthony leaning heavily on the car as he walked to his door. I drove off and entered the little chapel up the road. I knelt before our Lord and began the Sorrowful Mysteries of the most holy Rosary minus the beads I had planned to use. I wiped away tears as they fell. I am guessing there are some who would say I was stupid for approaching two men I do not know. I value myself enough as a creation of God to know I am expected to be careful, to treat myself well, avoiding unnecessary risks and respecting the dignity the Creator gives each of us. But it was daylight and the parking lot was populated. I am guessing there are some who would say I was naive and probably just got scammed and I know it is possible. The $4 I contributed is not going to make or break any addiction while I can hope that some part of the love I tried to show might if it comes to that. I am guessing there are some who would think I must have felt good about myself for leaving my comfort zone and making a little donation, but I felt no pride for having reached out. Instead, I found sadness, overwhelmed with disappointment. I knelt before the Cross praying the mysteries, reflecting on the first decade and Jesus’ time in the Garden. I did not think of how beautiful a garden should be but how it was such a place of pain for our Savior. At the fourth decade, I reflected on Jesus’ carrying of the cross and of how earth should be such a place of beauty yet is often such a place of suffering. I thought of how heavy are the crosses so many bear. I thought of Big Anthony and how, in my nervousness, I talked when I should have listened. I had pressed the $4 and my newly found rosary beads into his cool hand, but I should have stayed longer. I should have listened to his stories, taken some of his burden and invited him to join me in prayer, if nothing else. I thought of our veterans and how so many are hurting and alone. I thought of how much a single mom has to be thankful for that would not be possible without the sacrifice of those willing to give me opportunity and freedom. I thought of the trouble in our nation and how divided we are. I thought of how much good we could do if we looked into each other’s eyes, shook hands and realized each of us is named and called by God. I thought of how we look at one another with such suspicion, presuming others guilty without first seeking to know them. I thought of a Facebook friend who suggested we exchange news feeds so I could see her liberal view and she could see my conservative view. I had not written her back yet because I knew exchanging news feeds would not be enough. I was thinking of asking her to spend time with me and allow me the gift of spending time with her instead. Today, I realized that spending time with others needs to go far deeper than what I had thought of proposing. We are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus. We are called to live the Gospel and make a difference in this world. That is impossible when we see first with suspicion: when we see the veteran in the median as a scammer, a drug addict, a threat, when we choose the worst attributes and cast nets over the masses. I do not know if I made any difference in the lives of Big Anthony or Peter, but they made a difference in me. I am grateful for the few minutes in that parking lot and for how my views have deepened my certainty that we are called to reach out to one another. I am most grateful for the gentle whisper that told me to “Turn around. Go.” What a gift it was for me to get to meet these men, two children of God. How I wish I had been a better representative of His love for them. The next time I pull over to speak to a homeless veteran or another of God’s children, I will be more prepared. I may not have any money or may decide not to offer it even if I do, but I must offer to listen more, speak less and thank God for all His children. Listen for Him telling you to “Turn around. Go.” Seek out those who are different than you, those who are struggling and those who need to be shown true love. Offer God’s love both in prayer and in concrete ways. Big Anthony and Peter, wherever you are tonight, I am praying for you now and hope to listen to your stories when we meet again in Heaven one day. Thank you for a few moments of your time today.
Two primary factors that keep people from seeking help for pornography addiction are guilt and shame. While they often act together, they are two very different emotions. Guilt focuses on the behavior while shame focuses on the person. Both need to be resolved for a healthy recovery. GUILT Guilt is an emotion that focuses on actions. It is the emotion that says, “Okay, you’ve done something wrong and now you have to correct it, fix it, or clean it up.” As uncomfortable as this emotion may be, it is actually very healthy. It requires a person to take responsibility for his actions and atone for them. To do this, one must embrace the virtues of honesty, humility, responsibility, courage, faith, hope, and love. Taking responsibility for one’s addiction and recovery can be very healing for individuals and for relationships. It shows that you understand how wrong your actions were and that you are taking positive steps to end your pornography use. This resolves your guilt and can reunite you with loved ones. The same effect happens in our relationship with God. When we sin, it damages our relationship with God. Here is where God uses guilt to bring us back to Him. To be reconciled with God, we must admit our sins, take responsibility for them and confess them. In many cases our penance can be to make amends for our sins. By confessing your sexual sins and doing penance, you resolve your guilt and are reunited with God. Addressing guilt is also an important part of the twelve steps of recovery. Steps four through ten state that we: 4. made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves; 5. admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs; 6. were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character; 7. humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings; 8. made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all; 9. made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others; and 10. continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it. While it can be difficult to take responsibility for an addiction, doing so actually strengthens a person. It takes the addiction out of the darkness and brings it into the light. This can diminish much of its power over you. While some people may be hurt and angry with you for a while, most will forgive. In the end they will respect you for admitting your guilt and resolving it. Guilt can help you address your addiction while still affirming your value as a person and as a child of God. SHAME Shame is the emotion that focuses on the person. It is the emotion that says, “You did something wrong and because of it you are a bad person. You need to hide so that no one will ever know how bad you really are.” This is not of God. Ultimately, this is a tool of satan to keep a person trapped in his addiction. It fuels the five faulty core beliefs by which many addicted people live: 1. I am unworthy of being loved. 2. If people really knew me, they would reject me. 3. I cannot count on anyone, including God, to meet my needs. 4. I must find something I can control that will meet my needs. 5. Pornography/sex is my greatest need and source of comfort. Shame can result from sinful acts you have committed, such as viewing pornography. It can also develop out of sinful acts committed against you. For example, a person who was abused as a child might feel responsible for it and develop a deep sense of shame as a result. Both sources of shame can lead a person into addiction. Regardless of where your shame came from, it is important to know that your worth as a person is not determined by your actions or the actions of others. When God created you He instilled in you an infinite worth that no one can diminish. It does not matter what kinds of sexual sins you have committed or how often you have committed them, you are still a good person. There is no need to hide. God still loves you. He is always ready to take you back and cleanse you from your sin. As you take responsibility for your addiction, you will find many people who still love you regardless of what you have done. Letting go of shame can be very difficult for many addicted people. If shame is a major stumbling block for you, I recommend you consult with a therapist and/or a priest. They can help you let go of your shame and bring your addiction out into the light so that you can overcome it! EMBRACING YOUR TRUE IDENTITY It is important for all people who are addicted to pornography to understand that you are not defined by your addiction. Guilt and shame are proof of that! Guilt focuses on the action, not the person. By addressing your guilt and making amends you actually strengthen your ability to recover from your addiction. Others will also respect you for your work in recovery. Shame is not of God and thus does not define who you are. No matter what your addiction has led you to do, God still sees you as His beloved child. This is how you also need to view yourself!
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