Review-Surfing for God: Discovering the Divine Desire Beneath Sexual Struggle; Michael John Cusick
I wrote this review nearly seven years ago. I like this book every bit as much as I did then. If you’re struggling with sex addiction it’s a great place to start in order to find healing. Better yet, attend one of Michael’s Surfing for God counseling intensives or email me at [email protected] and get started on your recovery today.
“If you are losing the battle, please read closely: following Jesus consists of so much more than trying harder and white-knuckling your way through it. You can be free. God has charted a path to freedom that men before you have walked. You can discover this path leading to authentic transformation in your soul, a path that consists of so much more than sin management. You also need to know that your masculine soul is deeper and truer than your desire for porn.” -Michael J. Cusick
Back in January I found out that one of my former professors was about to publish a book about sexual addiction. As a counselor who is always looking for resources to recommend to my clients, as well as reading for my own continuing education, I immediately contacted Michael Cusick to inquire about the book. He graciously sent me a PDF of the book for me to read in advance, with the caveat that it was for “my eyes only.” Since then his book has caused me no small amount of trouble. I work with sex addicts in my counseling practice. Most of them show up at my office carrying a mountain of shame, wanting desperately to be free and wondering if that’s possible any longer. Within the first few pages of Michael’s book I knew I was holding a gem, a resource that would be lifegiving to my clients. The “trouble” I jokingly refer to is that I’ve had to tell clients the past couple of months, “there’s a really helpful book on its way if you can just wait a little longer.” Good news, it’s almost here! (It’s now available for pre-order on Amazon).
So Michael Cusick is a favorite former professor of mine, and perhaps I was predisposed to like his book, just as I’ve loved books by other favorite former profs. But I can honestly say I had no idea what I was getting when Michael sent it to me. I had no idea it would be this good, this compelling.
Surfing for God is an all-encompassing book about sexual addiction, including a look at “Your Brain on Porn,” with helpful explanations that make brain science understandable and interesting to one who’s struggling. Michael does a thorough job showing the things going on in a man’s soul that makes porn attractive and addicting. Those tempted to believe there’s a surface reason with a quick and easy fix are invited to consider deeper, soulish reasons we get addicted.
Michael doesn’t sugarcoat anything, he tells it straight about the damage porn does to relationships and the the soul. And he does it in such a hopeful way. There’s an unhurried sense about his writing, such that I came away feeling a deep rest about how much God loves us, how committed he is to our freedom, and that we don’t have to hurry to “get ourselves fixed” so he can stand to be around us. Intimacy with God is available now and it’s the pathway to freedom.
I like the focus on centering prayer. I’ve been guiding men in the direction of lectio divina and centering prayer, and it was reassuring to see that direction confirmed by someone with far more experience working with men who are sexually addicted.
If you’ve ever been addicted to something–and I believe that’s everyone currently breathing (e.g. some are addicted to power, some to approval, some to helping; it’s more than porn or chemical substances)–this book will help you. If you struggle with sexual addiction you will definitely be drawn to the book. Drawn, because it’s full of good information and clearly organized, but especially because you’re getting it from one who struggled and suffered with a sexual addiction and found freedom and can offer the rich hope dripping from the pages of this book.
Some books start strong but lose momentum halfway through; the author said some compelling things early in the book and the rest seems like filler to make the book a certain length. Surfing for God starts strong, with an intriguing story in the introduction about a skylark losing its feathers, gets you fully in its grip with Chapter One, “Getting Your Feathers Back,” and finishes even stronger, with a Conclusion titled, “Becoming the Hero That You Are.” All the while you feel like you’re taking a leisurely walk or getting coffee with a friend.
If you’ve struggled for very long with a sexual addiction you want to be free of you have likely tried many approaches and read several books to help you figure things out. Reading one more book may be the last thing you want to do, but please read this book. I promise you, you won’t be sorry.