I may have looked like a mild-mannered family man, but during my years of active addiction I was hooked on excitement. Chronically dissatisfied with myself and my life, I developed a craving for stimulation—the same sort of craving that drives the cocaine addict or the meth addict, the compulsive gambler or the over-spender—and began engaging in risky sexual behavior.
I became addicted to arousal, and the illicit nature of my behavior intensified the excitement it produced, even while it multiplied my shame.
My sin made me miserable, of course. That’s what sin does. Like any addict, I developed a tolerance for my drug that compelled me, over time, to take ever-greater risks with increasing frequency. In the process, my ability to experience pleasure steadily declined.
My public life was turbulent in those days. I careened from crisis to crisis, alternately playing the hero or the victim in some drama of my own making. I sought the spotlight, launched campaigns, schemed to make millions. Like that tragic biblical hero Samson, I nursed the hope that with some outsized accomplishment I would be able to compensate for all my failures and redeem my failed life. I was desperate to succeed, and I was certain that I must win big to win at all.
That’s why I resisted when my first sponsor advised me to slow down, sit down, shut up, and just breathe for a few years. He said I needed to learn how to live an ordinary life. I should embrace routine, he said, concentrate on developing healthy daily disciplines, pursue predictability.
“Boring is good,” he said.
He was right.
As it turns out, there is wonderful clarity that comes with a modest and orderly life. When my desperation to succeed in some huge way is replaced by a determination to live right-sized today, when I stop trying to take God’s place and choose instead to be content with whatever place he gives me, life gets simpler. As I participate in real life, my ability to enjoy its pleasures is gradually restored. Troubles still come—we live, after all, in a fallen world—but I am happy to report that the chaos of my former life is mostly a memory today. I no longer need excitement to get me through the day, and I don’t miss the insanity. Boring is good.