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 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 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!
Doctor Peter C. Kleponis
is a licensed clinical therapist and assistant director of Comprehensive Counseling Services in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania. He holds a master’s in clinical-counseling psychology and a doctorate in general psychology. Dr. Kleponis has more than eighteen years of professional experience working with individuals, couples, families and organizations. He specializes in marriage and family therapy, pastoral counseling and pornography/sexual addiction recovery. Dr. Kleponis has been a guest on several EWTN television programs. He is the author of two books, “The Pornography Epidemic: A Catholic Approach” (2012) and “Integrity Restored: Helping Catholic Families Win the Battle Against Pornography” (2014). Dr. Kleponis is also founder of the Integrity Starts Here Catholic recovery program for pornography and sexual addiction. He works with individuals and couples from around the United States and internationally in person, by phone and via Skype. For more information, visit his website, www.PeterKleponis.com. Reprinted with permission from www.IntegrityRestored.com.
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.
Edmund Hilary was the first person to conquer Mount Everest. The first time he tried, however, he failed. The Queen of England knighted him and at the gala occasion, on the wall behind the head table, was a huge picture of Mount Everest. The people gave him a standing ovation for even daring to attempt the climb. When they ceased applauding, Hilary turned his back to the audience, faced that picture and said, “Mount Everest, you have defeated me once and you might defeat me again. I will come again and conquer you because you can’t grow, but I can.” With Tenzing Norgay, Hilary conquered Mount Everest in 1953. Hilary spoke to the mountain and he conquered it. If you do not talk to your mountains, your mountains will talk to you. Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him” (Mark 11: 23). Jesus chose a mountain to represent our problems. Mountains are big. They seem permanent, as if we cannot do anything with them. A lot of times we pray about our mountains: “God, please help me conquer mountains of temptations. God, please take away mountains of fear and anxiety. God, please cast out mountains of sickness and sorrows.” It is okay to ask for God’s help, yet this is not sufficient. When you face a mountain, it not enough just to pray. Rather, you must speak to or command the mountains. You can speak to mountains of temptation, fear, anxiety, sickness and sorrows. You need to say, “Fear, I command you to leave. I will not allow you in my life.” If you have health problems, instead of begging to the Lord to heal you, you can declare to that sickness, “Sickness, you have no right in my body. I’m a child of the most-high God. My body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. You are not welcome here. I’m commanding you to leave my body.” You need not worry in speaking to your problems. As Saint John says, “You are of God. The one who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4: 4). We are of God—what an assurance and reinforcing promise! Do not underestimate what God can do through you. Reverend Mathew Naikamparambil is a pioneering Charismatic preacher in India. He once shared with me one of his healing experiences. Once, he and his team committed to a three-day preaching and healing service in Manchester, United Kingdom. They were almost ready to go when two of the team members were found to have chicken pox. The office staff at their retreat center made arrangements to isolate them. A day before having to fly out, Father Mathew also found two bubbles on his hand. Instead of preparing to isolate, he decided to command to this mountain of chicken pox. He said, “My body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. You, chicken pox, have no authority to control me now. You are not welcome here. I’m commanding you to leave my body. I will preach the works of the Lord in Manchester next Tuesday.” Faith succeeded: the mountain of chickenpox disappeared. He flew to Manchester and offered the healing service. If you have dealt with long-term sickness, depression or addiction, it may seem like it is never going to change. When you speak words of faith, something will happen in the unseen realm. Mountains crumble, the forces of darkness are defeated and the enemy trembles. What is the logic of this sort of prayer? When you declare and speak to mountains, you do it not in your authority but in the authority of the Son of the Living God. All Heavenly forces come to attention and become alert in working for you. The mighty army of the Lord will stand behind you. As the Psalmist says, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for you are with me” (23: 4). He continues: “No evil shall befall you, no scourge come near your tent. For He will give His angels charge of you to guard you in all your ways” (91: 10-11). Since we are of God, the mighty warriors of the almighty are always with us. No power can stand against our God. Let us rekindle the gift of faith given to us. When you speak and you do not doubt, the mountain will be removed. Pope Francis says, “Christ has fully triumphed over evil once and for all, but it is up to us, to the people of every epoch, to welcome this victory into our life and into the actual situations of history and society.” In your trials, sufferings and disappointments, remember Christ’s victory. Invite the reality of Jesus’ triumph into your life. Hilary conquered Mount Everest not in a day or in few months. At each stage of success, he celebrated. Never fail to speak to the mountain that you will conquer it one day. Your mountains may look the same month after month. Do not worry about it. In the unseen realm, things are changing in your favor. The very first day you start speaking to the mountain in faith, its foundation starts crumble. Scripture tells us that once when Jesus was walking through a town, He saw a fig tree and went to get something to eat. The tree did not produce any fruit. Jesus looked at the tree and said, “You will not produce anymore.” Jesus talked to the tree. Jesus walked away and it did not look like anything had happened. The tree was just as green and healthy as it was before. I am sure some of His disciples whispered, “See, our Master’s word didn’t work. Jesus must have lost His touch because He said for it to die but it didn’t die.” What they failed to realize was that underneath the ground, in the root system, all life was cut off to the tree the moment Jesus spoke. When they came back through the town a little later, the disciples stood in amazement. They said, “Master, look! The fig tree which you cursed has withered” (Mark 11:21). In the same way, when you speak to your mountains in faith, the forces of Heaven go to work. The Lord releases favor. He moves the wrong people out of the way, sending healing, sending breakthrough, sending victory. You may not know what God has done for some time. That mountain may look just as big and permanent and strong as it was before. If you stay in faith and keep speaking to the mountain, all of a sudden you will see that the mountain has been removed. Your mountains will respond to your voice in faith in the power of the Lord. Regularly reading scripture passages that inspire you to speak to your problems encourage you. Jesus spoke to the storm (Luke 8: 24), He spoke to the fever (Luke 4: 39), He spoke to the spirit of the mute (Mark. 9: 17) and many others. You probably have talked about the mountain long enough. Now you need to talk to the mountain. Faith in Jesus is one thing. Faith of Jesus is another. We talk more about faith in Jesus. Indeed, it is significant. Yet, it is only a starting point. More significant for us is to speak about faith of Jesus. This faith helps us speak to the problems rather than speak to the Lord about the problems. Prayer: O Lord, share Your burden about Your people with me as you shared it with the Prophet Nehemiah, so that I may be able to pray eagerly, love gently, and minister confidently. Help me to understand Your unfathomable ways of leading Your people to an eternal city of God. Let my hope and trust never tremble when I walk through the valley of challenges. Amen.
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