Recovery Means Mastering the Basics




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Carl Thomas

Pastor | Live Free Founder | Lover of Jesus, Philly sports, fitness, tattoos, sarcasm, and craft beers.

Last week I started sharing with you some of the lessons I’ve been teaching my son in regard to basketball and refining his game and shot.

Lessons that are essential for success, but are also applicable to the recovery journey.

The first lesson I shared with him (and you) is that recovery means embracing failure. 

The truth is if you neglect to seize the opportunity failure affords you to grow and move forward, you’ll most likely remain feeling stuck and frustrated. Failure is not fun, but it’s part of learning and growth. 

The second lesson I had to teach my son was just as important.

Recovery means mastering the basics.

Like I said last week, my son has a pretty decent shot for a kid his age. He can definitely hold his own on the court with his friends from the neighborhood. But honestly, unless he is willing to take some coaching and go back to mastering the basics, his potential is fairly limited.


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This is why when I started working with Hunter I couldn’t just settle for tweaking a few things. I had to completely deconstruct his current game and start from the ground up.

This entailed…

– Nailing his footwork.

– Squaring his shoulders.

– Aligning his shooting arm.

– Teaching him how to follow-through.

– Learning proper load and hip movement.

– Forcing him to dribble with his left hand until it felt more natural and fluid.

If that sounds like a lot, that’s because it is. But it’s necessary, because if he can’t master the basics and have a really solid foundation, anything he tries to build on top of that foundation will be severely flawed.

There’s no doubt having to start from the beginning can be frustrating.

But often in life, and especially in recovery, unlearning the “bad stuff” is just as important as learning the “good stuff.”

Over the years I’ve seen so many guys come into the recovery journey loaded down with unhealthy and flat out harmful misconceptions about purity, sexual integrity, marriage, and even masculinity. Stuff that not only serves to frustrate and condemn them, but prevents them from really embracing the process of healing.

And so, with guys like that, the first step is a simple one:

Go back to the basics.

This means…

1. Learning God’s intended purposes for sex and its true design.

2. Understanding that the nature of addiction and unwanted sexual behavior is about suppressing pain and shame, not a lack of willpower or an out of control sexual appetite.

3. Focusing more on examining your intentions and heart, and less on adhering to strict behavior modification practices. 

4. Embracing the need for community and support rather than remaining in isolation.

5. Recognizing that success comes from doing the work and not a magical prayer or BIG “aha moment.”

6. Utilizing tools like blockers and filters as boundary helpers and not crutches to be leaned upon as the “answer” for their poor decision-making.

7. Accepting that recovery is a gradual process and not throwing in the towel when they don’t see an immediate change.

8. Choosing to be accountable daily and not leaning on software to do the job for them.

9. Doing whatever is needed to expose deep emotional wounds that need healing so they can move forward with a renewed heart and mind.

These basics are not easy by any stretch. 

And like basketball, there will be many times when you might catch yourself slipping back into old habits… and that’s OK. 

But if you want to find freedom in your life, you need to master these things so you have a solid foundation to build your recovery efforts upon. Because if you don’t, when things falter you’ll have an impossible time figuring out exactly what happened.

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