I’ve built a huge part of my career around the idea that nothing is more destructive than a wrong belief. Often, these come from a misinterpretation of something that happened to us in the past… but what about those instances where to do something that really is self-destructive or just plain immoral?
I realize that this is a sensitive topic and can be even more so coming from someone like me, who speaks from a position of spiritual beliefs which you may not share. However, I want to reassure you that I won’t be trying to convince you of what is or isn’t wrong today. I only want to encourage you to take a hard look at yourself, and perhaps to remember what you believe is right.
All my life, my feelings and emotions have been much stronger than almost anyone else I know—just ask my family. I cry easily at movies, in conversation I love to go straight to deep (and for some people, uncomfortable) topics, and when I was a little kid, my nickname was “tree hugger.” Of course, that includes my feelings of guilt and shame. Once, my mother caught me with a Playboy that a friend had given me. She handled it gracefully and didn’t make a huge deal out of it—but I felt so dirty and ashamed afterward that it really was like being sick.
Here's the thing. Like most young men, I struggled with lust for a long time after that, and for a time I was probably addicted to it… but I wasn’t feeling sick with guilt and shame every time.
On the surface, of course you could say that’s a very good thing. As a follower of Jesus, I believe that sin has been paid for, and the best response to stumbling in my own life is one of gratitude and renewed faith, rather than despair. But in a way, I think this sort of familiarity and acceptance of our own vices can also come from despair.
At a certain point, when a person is unable to change their behavior, they will transition to making excuses for it, and eventually even to defending it as good, or at least necessary. Well, that’s a wrong belief— “wrong” not because I believe it is, but because deep down, they do. Since you’ve passed the point of feeling much guilt or shame as an immediate result, it can be easy to persuade yourself otherwise, and difficult to face up to the task of trying to fix it.
I’ll tell you this: you don’t know how much energy is being sucked up by participating and trying to excuse behavior you don’t really believe in until you stop making excuses. Or to put it another way: the first step in solving any problem is recognizing that there is one.
The trouble is that these sorts of problems are usually things that the person has tried to solve before, perhaps many times. I’ve spent my career searching for solutions to things like this, and my methods: Trilogy and the Healing Codes, are the best I’ve ever found. Both are available for free, and I’d encourage you to try them. But there’s something else even more fundamental.
That is, the willingness to confront the truth of what you really believe. To accept the possibility of failure and keep trying anyway. I said before that shame and guilt need not define our failures as long as we are giving our best effort—and it is willing effort, along with a genuine pursuit of truth, which leads us to peace and growth.
Have a blessed, wonderful day!
Dr. Alex Loyd