Self-Reliance Failed Me

Recently I faced the most severe challenge I’ve had in 18 months of sobriety. An explicit image and message appeared on my phone out of the blue one day when I was in a meeting at work. Like a deer in headlights, I was struggling to know what to do next. I thought it might be someone I had acted out with in the past. I could see enough of the picture and message to realize it was someone looking to act out.

The meeting went on for 30 more minutes. My mind began to race as I started to wonder who it was. I thought I should look at the full size image to see if I could figure out who it was, but how could I view it without being triggered? How did they find me? Which person from the past would look for me? Should I try to act out with this person? How could I get away with it if I did? Should I just delete it or block them? If I do that will I regret it and unblock them later? Lust had me in a weak position, but at least part of me could see I was powerless and the situation was unmanageable. I knew I would need a power greater than myself to restore me to sanity and I would have to surrender if I was going to stay sober.

Thankfully I decided to do the next right thing. I deleted the app completely from my phone before I had a chance to decide what to do with the explicit message. God did for me what I could not do for myself. I am allergic to lust and am not qualified to handle it or make the right decision on my own.

Deleting it brought relief, but I was shell-shocked by the whole ordeal. It made me feel sick to my stomach that I considered actually going back out there. Part of me believed 18 months of sobriety somehow bought me protection from the compulsion. Thankfully I had already planned to go to an SA meeting that night and was getting together with some guys for dinner and fellowship beforehand. This gave me a built in opportunity to check in and share what happened.

By the next day I was feeling back to myself. A trusted SA friend helped me safely retrieve and block the number for good. I had not resorted to my drug. Later that evening I went with my family to see my son in a performance and was filled with joy. The next day, which was Valentine’s Day, I took my wife out for dinner and it was a very pleasant evening.

I was very grateful to be sober for these family experiences! Suppose I had given into lust even a little. Even if technically sober, I would not have been present with my family. I would have been feeling sadness, guilt, regret, shame, and lust. I would have been locked in the prison house of myself.

Self-reliance had failed me. I believe God allowed this to reveal that I was still depending on myself to stay sober, rather than Him. In that moment of temptation, relying on myself, I struggled to find a solution. But through surrender, I recognized I was forgetting Steps 1, 2, and 3. I made a decision to turn it over to Him instead of “self-willing” my way through it.

I learned that when I surrender, God handles any problem.

Robinson N., Atlanta, USA

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