his Imprint on SA Will Last Forever

His Imprint on SA Will Last Forever

Two oldtimers who knew Jess L. personally share some of their personal experiences about this very inspiring member in this ESSAY interview.

HARVEY: Jess L. was a towering figure not only in height but also in personality. I first met him for the first time at the Warm Beach SA conference. It was my first conference but not Jess’s. The cabin we stayed in had four rooms. He and his wife were in one, and I and my wife were in the other. Ted P. and Terry M. with their wives were in the other two. We all became friends from then on.

DAVE: I was introduced to Jess via a cassette tape that a member from our group had received from Central Office from one of the first national conferences. We listened to the tape as we traveled to Cleveland to attend a marathon meeting in October 1985. Jess was a gifted speaker that inspired those two sexaholics on our journey to Cleveland and our first experience meeting with a group outside of our own

Later I would meet him at a conference and ultimately he would become my grand-sponsor. To say that I was in awe of him and scared to death at the same time would be an understatement. Jess’s comprehension of the disease concept and the passion he brought to his talks was both enlightening and intimidating to this sexaholic. As I got to know him I realized that his intensity was driven by his love for his fellow sufferers and his conviction that we’re all dealing with a potentially fatal malady.

HARVEY: Luckily, I did not know who Jess was professionally or else I would have been too intimidated to have asked him to be my sponsor. Jess was a world-famous author who had written a series of books, one of which sold over a million copies. I bring this up since Jess would say to me as I remember it: “Humility is when I say that I am a famous author. By remembering and acknowledging that God gave me this talent I get humility for one more day.”

Since he was famous he would give lectures all over the country. At these various cities he would somehow bring in the subject of SA. Cities in Oklahoma and Utah began having SA meetings after he would share at his book tour seminars. He was a true Johnny Appleseed for our program.
Jess brought his gifts of writing to the fellowship too. He had a great deal of influence on many of our brochures. He was our first member who announced that he was lust-free.

DAVE: Yes, he was. I remember being confused about the term lust when I came into the fellowship in August 1985. I knew I was an addict and that I was totally powerless over compulsive masturbation but I didn’t understand the concept of lust and how it was the driving force behind my behavior.

I don’t remember the event where he was speaking but I remember with great clarity what he said that day when he gave his definition of lust. Jess said, “For me, lust is me wanting something that God isn’t giving me at any given moment.” That statement resonated with me and I have repeated it dozens of times in meetings and as I reflected on my own recovery. For me, lust is me ruminating about someone or something and if not surrendered, can have very bad consequences for my recovery.

HARVEY: Do you remember that Jess would also tell us many stories from the East? One in particular diminishes the concept of the power of a trigger. He would tell us about a guru in India who was with his student walking down a road. All of a sudden they saw a beautiful woman in a flowing gown. She was not able to cross a large mud puddle. The guru picked her up and carried her across the mud puddle and then set her on the ground. Two miles down the road the student was very agitated. “Guru, I don’t understand”, he exclaimed. “You are not allowed to touch a woman, yet you not only touched her, you also carried her.” The guru replied: “Yes student, I picked her up and then put her down on the ground, yet two miles down the road, you are still carrying her.”

He was certainly a great storyteller, full of these valuable stories. He was a super gift for me as a sponsor for almost nine years. He was even a bigger gift to our fellowship. He passed away on February 24, 2000, but his imprint on SA will last forever.

DAVE: I could also tell more stories about him but his definition of lust is one that I will carry with me and pass on to others as I continue to trudge the Road of Happy Destiny. May God bless our wonderful fellowship of Sexaholics Anonymous.

Harvey A., Florida, USA, Dave H., Tennessee, USA

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