The power of the Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist never ceases to overwhelm me. How one moment I can be lost at sea with temptation, anxious to get home from church so I can voraciously dig back into my sin; how I can’t keep my eyes off women, and don’t really want to; how I can be feeling like hell, smothering under the weight of depression, feeling not a bit the presence of God in my life, entertaining the thought that all of this is bogus, all too aware that I’m not living my life as if I really believed in Him, so maybe I don’t really believe at all…
Receiving Him, going back to my pew, kneeling; not really feeling anything. Oh, well. It’s not about whether I feel anything or not; my faith is not built on feeling. Sometimes I am just depressed. I can’t expect to feel something all the time…
And then the next moment, out of nowhere — total peace. All of my despondent thoughts laid to rest. All of my hurts, all of my fears, laid down. My temptations: Suddenly I find myself bowing before the Almighty. Those sins slipping from my humbled hands, being laid on the altar. Those things I wanted to do seem so insignificant now, before His grace. And I am overwhelmed. Someone is here, with me, inside me. I feel my mind, my heart being conformed to Him. Becoming Him. His flesh is my flesh; His mind, my mind.
I tell myself this is just something psychological; that I feel these things because I want to feel these things; that I lay down my sins because I want to lay them down. But that moment: Even when my faith is at its lowest, He overwhelms me. Every single time.
Mondays have been easier lately. Sunday is always a revivification: the Eucharist gives peace and strength and grace to my soul. But used to, I would come home and Monday would hit me like a ton of bricks. The attack of the enemy would find me all too vulnerable. I was always the man, being freed from an evil spirit, who swept his house and put it in order, only to be re-invaded by the same spirit and seven more. But the real problem was that I never actually swept my house clean, especially not earlier this year. I would come home to a hard drive full of porn and girls, who would welcome and beckon me the moment I felt weak. But now Monday is blessed. I feel so refreshed and full of God’s love, and I come to the Lord in prayer with a renewed spirit.
I’ve been reading about how the brain, being rewarded in a habit by positive reinforcement, like a rush of powerful endorphins as in orgasm, forms neural pathways — trenches dug into the neural landscape, furrows worn deeper and deeper by a road traveled again and again and again. And I’ve been trapped in that furrow for twenty years of my life. And now I’ve clambered out, but am still walking precariously along the edge — knowing all too well how easy it is to fall in again.
My brain has these habits, these paths down which it has learned to direct thoughts and feelings and actions, and has grown so accustomed to them. I’m now in a place of rewiring, trying to avoid those old behaviors and consciously direct my thoughts and feelings and actions to new ones. Reprogramming myself, away from inappropriate responses to appropriate ones. Why my reaction should be when I see a pretty girl; what thoughts I allow and indulge. What I do when I’m sitting at the computer, and what I don’t do and can’t do.
I know that this will be a long road. But I pray every day that these deep furrows, these wounds I’ve carved so deep into my soul, will begin to heal. That the precious flesh of the Eucharist will fill in the holes, be the putty to my gashes, the tissue graft to my gravest trauma — that by His stripes I can be healed, and all my hurt replaced by only Him.
For years, engineers struggled with the problem of designing aircraft structurally sound enough to withstand the aerodynamic forces of breaking the sound barrier.
For me, the barrier has always been at forty days. I was doing well. I was running a good race. But on the fortieth day, I buckled.
In fact, the barrier recurs at forty-day increments. Before and after Christmas, I actually made it to eighty days — but on the eightieth day, I crumbled.
The problem for me, of course, is not structural integrity, but moral integrity; not a function of design, but of the will. I am weak. Christ is strong, I know; and He always has the strength I need to withstand any temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13), if only I accept His grace and stand in it. But I am so weak.
The nearly two months since then have been more down than up. The loss of the grace I had, that I’d put so much faith in those forty days — the hair of my Samson — left me despondent, despairing. But that grace was nothing of mine to begin with, was it? It was all a gift of God. And I can take it again. My failure, my feebleness, is not enough to exhaust the merits of the Cross.
Today is Day Three of my standing. Which I think is a record for the past few weeks.
I’m reminded how much I’ve come to depend on this as a narcotic. My anxiety level has been through the roof the past day or two. Depression gnaws at my heels. All the thoughts and issues I don’t want to face, that I expend such effort in trying to escape, are once again before me. The cure so often seems worse than the disease. At least in the hole, I was holding it together. I was peacefully numb, oblivious to all the things I was letting fall down around me.
It would be so easy to fall again, to let myself go again. A voice — the Accuser — tells me it will just be a matter of time. I can’t hold it up; I will fall again. But I have free will. I can make this choice. Grace gives me this choice.
Since my Reconciliation Sunday, I’ve felt that God was standing beside me, and I was holding His hand — clinging to Him, like a child, as we go to face the one who has hurt me so much before. I feel safe. I know it can’t hurt me as long as I hold on.
So I’m back again. I was blogging here under a different name some months ago, but that name was rather unkind to myself and a rejection of the hope I cling to. I also was too graphic, I’m afraid, in my posts, gave too much personal detail, and rather allowed myself to gloat in my sin, rather than pursue the purpose for which I intend to blog: to give an account of my struggle with sexual addiction, as a young man and Catholic Christian who believes the grace of Christ can set me free.
I’m not quite sure how often I’ll blog or what I’ll share, but I feel the need to pour myself out again, to let out these words and feelings that boil beneath the surface. If anyone happens to find my blog, you are welcome to read and follow along, and I pray I will find encouragement and healing here.