We have a tradition here at Belt of Truth Ministries where I send out a Christmas letter recapping all that has happened in the previous year.
Now, you’re probably thinking that’s not anything new. Everyone does that, right?
Yes, but I do mine a bit differently. Rather than merely listing the highlights of the year, I try to be honest and share the stuff I’m not super proud of as well, since I believe not hiding your junk is one of the fundamental practices that helps keep you free from bondage.
After all, trusting others to love and accept you right where you’re at is often the first step in trusting that God loves and accepts you right where you’re at.
So, in the spirit of “practice what you preach,” I give you the 2015 Belt of Truth Honest Christmas Letter:
If I had to put a label on 2015, I would call it the year of Job 42. For those of you who are not familiar with the book of Job, chapter 42 is where God restores to Job all that he had lost in ways far exceeding what he hoped for or deserved:
So the Lord blessed Job in the second half of his life even more than in the beginning. For now he had 14,000 sheep, 6,000 camels, 1,000 teams of oxen, and 1,000 female donkeys (Job 42:12).
I may not have received a herd of donkeys this year, but I have nevertheless been blown away by His unending grace and mercy.
Marriage Update #1
If you’ve read my book, you already know of the call God put on my heart to wait and pray for reconciliation with my former wife. In fact, I’ve had many readers contact me asking how things turned out and whether or not we’ve gotten back together. As it turned out, she married a really great guy in the fall of 2014, closing the door on the possibility of us reconciling (at least as a married couple).
To be honest, God had been preparing my heart for that moment for a while, so there was no mourning the relationship as I’d always imagined there might be. On the contrary, I was genuinely happy for her and her new husband. I will admit that it’s an odd thing at first to see your former wife married to another man, but now, only a year later, it no longer seems strange at all. In fact, I just saw them holding hands last week and thought to myself, that’s cute. I’m glad they’re happy.
Marriage Update #2
During those years when I was still waiting for her, there was always the question in my mind of what I would do if she did remarry, releasing me to date again. I’d be lying if I said I’d never thought about marrying anyone else.I always knew if I started dating again, there was only one girl that I would even consider pursuing. Luckily, when the time became right and I told her how I felt, she had the same feelings for me as well. We both knew we were a good fit for each other because we’d already been friends for years, so we ended up dating for only a few months before making it official. I rented a live owl to deliver an engagement ring to her (naturally), and we were married last March.
You may think that’s moving pretty fast, and you’re probably right. Patience is clearly not our thing, though, because we also managed to get pregnant only a few days into our honeymoon. We already planned to start a family quickly, but this was a bit sooner than expected. We’re super excited though, and like to think of our new little girl as God’s wedding gift to us.
For most people, getting married and having a baby would be enough major changes for one year, but not for us. We recently had an offer accepted on our first house, and hope to close by the end of the year. So, for those of you keeping track at home, that means we’ll be having a baby, celebrating Christmas, watching Star Wars, closing on a house, fixing up said house, and (hopefully) moving—all in the next two months.
I think our New Years resolution should be to not make any more changes in 2016 (although who am I kidding, we’re totally getting a dog).
It has been an amazing year to say the least. But in true “Honest Christmas Letter” fashion, there are a few things that I wish could have been different.
Walking in Freedom
In last years Christmas letter, I admitted to the following:
“Even though God has set me free from the chains of my addiction to porn, I still walk back into its trap once or twice a year. 2014 was a ‘twice year,’ but I have hope that 2015 will be a ‘once year.’ Perhaps it will even be a ‘none year.’”
Well, I’m excited to share that 2015 was indeed a “none year.” That doesn’t mean I’m prefect through. There were a few times where I’d allowed some old patterns to creep back in that required dealing with.
For instance, we moved into an apartment with a swimming pool, which I quickly realized was not a safe place for me to spend time alone given the propensity for girls to be there tanning in their swimsuits. There was a big part of me that wanted to not only hide that struggle, but to justify and embrace the temptation as well. I’m pleased to say that I did bring it up with the guys in my group, as well as with my wife, and invited them to check in with me regularly to make sure I wasn’t heading to the pool on my own.
Now, for some of you reading that, you may be rolling your eyes at how minor it sounds. Many of you will also find it insulting or discouraging that I’m considering the pool my biggest struggle with lust at this point. I get that. Keep in mind though, I’m years into my recovery. I have known what it’s like to struggle with porn daily, and I also know what it’s like to be set free from that struggle. More importantly though, I know that no matter how free I become, I’m still only a few bad decisions away from being right back to where I was. That’s why I treat these seemingly small struggles with the same importance that I would treat a full-on relapse.
As many of you know, I published my second book, DONE, earlier this year. It was well received from the start, but sales have since dropped off significantly. 10 Lies Men Believe about Porn, followed a similar path at first, however, it is slowly picking up momentum. Either way, I’m not exactly headed for the New York Times best-seller list any time soon.
I knew that writing a book on porn addiction wasn’t going to make me rich, but that’s not why I wrote it. I wrote it to try to get this message out to as many people as possible and help them find the same freedom from addiction that I have found. That’s why it’s hard for me to see my sales numbers remain low each week. I know there are hundreds of people who would benefit from my books, and I strongly believe God wants this message out there, but I just can’t figure out how to get these books to rise above the endless sea of titles being added to Amazon every day.
On my worst days, this discourages me to the point where I consider walking away from writing altogether. “What’s the point?” I think to myself, “No one will read this stuff anyway.” I know that’s the enemy talking though. I believe God has called me to write, so I will continue to write… regardless of how many people are going to read it. After all, even if one guy finds freedom through reading my books, it’s worth it.
The Lord Blesses Job…
We are told that Job was blameless and upright, but I can tell you I was definitely not. I was clearly the one who screwed everything up and caused the majority of the destruction in my life. Yet, regardless of my guilt, God has still chosen to restore me in the same manner that He restored Job. That, my friends, is grace.
I pray that you may experience this same lavish grace of God in your life this coming year, regardless of whether or not you deserve it. Because let’s be honest, none of us deserve it.
With His love,