Can You Feel the Pain?

One of the greatest realities I love about recovery is that there’s always something new to learn about yourself. For example, how a person deals with real emotions and pain in their life will directly affect their long-term outcome in recovery. For me, this has been proven time and time again. Let me explain.

I’m approaching my 13th year in recovery from a pornography addiction that nearly ruined my marriage and was on the verge of ruining my entire life. For 13 years, I was totally unaware of the toll that porn was taking upon my heart and mind. I lacked the understanding, and ultimately the real conviction of what I was doing and how it was affecting me and eventually those around me. I also lacked the tools necessary to fight back. But there was one thing I had that I lived very aware of: Pain.

I was living with a lot of pain: Loneliness, insecurity, fear of the future to name just a few. And I really believe to this day that unprocessed emotions and pain really contributed to my need for comfort. For something that would distract me and somehow take me out of that pain. And so I looked to pyrography to fill that void. But it would never deliver on the promise of being everything I needed. It only drove me further from God and further from people really knowing the real me.

I’m thankful today that I’m not that man that I was in 2009. I’ve lived in freedom for many years and experienced healing that I would have never dreamed of all those years ago. But there is still plenty that I’m working on in my recovery including dealing with what is uncomfortable. What is painful. Negative emotions. Anger. Disappointment. Stress. Frustration.

Recently at my place of work, this was tested. And I failed. There’s really no other way to say it. My response to a frustrating interaction to a customer on the phone combined with some other negative dynamics going on that day in my heart resulted in me getting into a serious funk. Looking back now, I’m really thankful for the drive that followed while delivering parts to one of our technicians in the field. It really allowed me to reflect on what was really going on inside my heart that day.

First, I needed to repent for my attitude. That was most important. I hadn’t conducted myself in a professional manor at all, never mind not delivering on my daily mission of bringing the Kingdom of God to work with me instead of expecting it to somehow magically appear at work! 🙂 So once that was done, I began to try and look deeper as to what was going on, but I noticed an interesting thing occur:

I felt a strong desire inside to create. To imagine. Not to fantasize, but to think of something I could do or say to bless someone. This has happened many times in the past as well when I’ve gotten myself in a dark place. Whenever I began to pray for someone else or think about a creative project, my mood seemed to shift. Upon consideration of this a while longer, I began to ask myself if this was really the right response or not?

Had I really processed my negative emotions (pain) or merely distracted myself from it?

Obviously, the things I mentioned above aren’t inherently wrong or evil in anyway. There are obviously ways worse things I could try to distract myself with, but was I in that moment really choosing to sit with the pain I was feeling for a while in an attempt to try to understand what was happening inside?

As I discussed this with a friend, they shared with me that there is a difference between processing techniques and distraction techniques as it relates to dealing with painful, negative experiences. And to be honest, I’m still not completely sure where I land in one of those two places. I don’t claim to be an expert, that’s for sure.

What I don’t want to do is live with unprocessed pain. And I don’t want that for anyone. Sadly, there are millions of people today that walk around with so much pain in their life and no way to deal with it in a healthy way.

Not surprisingly, unprocessed emotion has been proven to have the ability to affect you physically, opening up the potential for immune compromise and illness.

I leave you with with one final challenge: Feel your pain. Don’t stuff it. Don’t avoid it. Don’t pretend like it’s not there. You’re not fooling anyone but yourself.

Pain is a reality of life that we have to face. We live in a fallen and broken world capable of doing so much damage. None of us make it out of here without wounds. But they don’t have to be open wounds. There is a way in which you can find freedom and healing in the midst of your pain and in whatever form that it may take.

If you’re not sure where to begin, Small Groups Online makes it incredibly simple to find a community of people who, like you, are walking through pain and are learning how to process it in a healthy way. That begins in community. SGO offers you a weekly online support group with many days and times available to best fit your schedule. You can even try out SGO at no cost for two weeks to get started.

Don’t allow pain to put you under. You don’t have to live in the shadows of your past. You can have freedom over life-controlling addictions and compulsive behaviors. Check out Small Groups Online to find the group that best matches your need today!

Facing the Truth About Shame

Let’s face it: talking with someone about your addiction to pornography is difficult. Sometimes, it feels downright impossible.

How ironic is it that living in such a sex-saturated culture, we still find it awkward to be vulnerable and transparent about the sexual issues we’re having? I believe the reason for this lies not necessarily within the subject of sex, but in within the subject of shame.

Could it be that shame is really what we’re addicted to? The deep seated belief that we are the problem. That we’re unworthy. We’re unlovable.  This is the lie that addiction really sells us. We’re ushered in with feelings of pleasure and control. And before long we find that we’re not allowed to leave. We can’t escape because we feel trapped.

I’m convinced today this was the sole reason that I struggled for so many years without freedom. I not only felt shame. I believed what shame had to say to me.

There’s a fantastic new book being released in February from Carl Thomas, CEO of XXXchurch.com and founder of Small Groups Online. It’s entitled “When Shame Gets Real: A New Way to Talk About Sex, Porn, and Masturbation.” In the book, Carl shares how shame is the real threat to us. Shame has the ability to cripple a person for life. But it doesn’t have to be this way!

Carl shares how living in shame prevents us from being fully present to our pain, our needs, and the real desires we have inside. And what we have to realize is that shame isn’t something to be ignored, but to be confronted. The more we ignore, the more we stuff, the more we pretend like something doesn’t affect us, the more we will spiral into our unwanted sexual behaviors. Why? Because we haven’t learned to confront shame.

Here are some common lies that shame tries to tell us:

LIE #1: Shame says you’re alone.

Please understand, NOTHING could be further from the truth. We as human beings not only live in a broken world…but we were born into brokenness and sin. We’re in need of rescue. And God did just that in His son Jesus. First and foremost, Christ is our rescue, our salvation, and our healing. I don’t know where I would be today without the saving power of Jesus in my life. But I also know that in my years of addiction, I wasn’t alone. In my recovery, I’m not alone. Because there are a countless number of other men who also share a similar story as me. Don’t allow shame to convince you you’re all by yourself and you have no hope of freedom.

LIE #2: Shame says you’re unlovable.

WRONG!!! This is one of the biggest whoppers out there. Unfortunately, so many of us have believed it at some point that our secrets stay hidden and we devolve even more. We believe that if people really knew us and our secret lives, they wouldn’t want anything to do with us. And it’s true, some may not. But those people who are safe and healthy will be able to see someone who’s in need of healing. For the longest time, I lived as a person who felt unlovable. I was afraid if people really knew the real me, I would lose everything. So I pretended, lied, and covered up the truth of my porn addiction, which only made things worse. Know this truth: You are loved — first and foremost by the One who created you and by so many others who are helping men and women find freedom every day.

LIE #3: Shame says you have no future.

I and millions of others are living proof that this is a lie. Today, I’m freer and healthier than I’ve ever been. What I didn’t realize for the 13 years that I was addicted was that my life was on a destructive path. And it wasn’t because of some kind of failure in God’s will and plans for my life, it was because of my unhealthy choices. choices. Shame attempts to call this out and direct our attention to it. Make us focus on it. Sell us the lie that we have no future. It took some pretty serious consequences in my life to unfold for me to realize the path I was on. I was living a truly diminished life. I wasn’t become the man God created me to be. But as I embraced the pain I was dealing with and the lies I was believing about myself, I began to find freedom. I did have a future…a very beautiful one at that.

Perhaps the title of this post confused you: “Facing the Truth about Shame”. Well actually, there isn’t any truth connected to shame at all, only the lies as described above. And it isn’t until we identify those lies that shame tries to convince us of that our eyes can be opened.

Small Groups Online is an excellent opportunity for you to confront shame with the help of other men and women who are doing the same! Remember, you are not alone! SGO offers you a weekly safe, secure, online meeting via Zoom which will help build healthy community in your life.

We also want to encourage you to check out Carl Thomas’ new book, “When Shame Gets Real: A New Way to Talk About Sex, Porn, and Masturbation”, which will be released in February.

Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn Proofing Today’s Young Kids

This week, Frank shares an incredible resource for parents to help them begin having healthy conversations with their kids about pornography. If you’re a parent, you’ll definitely want to have this tool in your arsenal. “Good Pictures Bad Pictures” is a ground-breaking guide for parents to have open, honest, and really helpful conversations about pornography in a non-shameful, non-awkward way. In this podcast, Frank shares his thoughts on the book and how he’s using it with his kids too. Go here to grab a copy of the book for yourself.


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If you and your spouse are struggling and would like help on your journey, please feel free to contact us! Or, if you’re a wife and need some extra help from another wife who’s walked through what you have, head on over to the “Support for Wives” section and shoot Tracey a message by filling out the contact form. All communication is strictly confidential.

4 Vital Sources of Community You Can Find Today

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Today, nearly twelve years into recovery from a porn addiction that consumed the better part of my adolescent and young adult life, I’m convinced now more than ever of need for healthy community.

The presence of various forms of community are the greatest tools I carry, even to this day, in living victoriously.

It’s really not an overstatement to say that I don’t think I would be free today without the counseling I received, the encouragement from support groups, and the comfort I received from purity coaches along the way. ALL of these sources of support were needed in order for me to become the kind of man God was calling me to be.

One of my greatest missions in life is helping other men find the freedom that I found. And that includes finding healthy sources of community where they can share their addiction with people who will help them heal. All too often, men who struggle in addiction continue to struggle because they don’t have the necessary sources of community in their lives.

As I’ve gotten healthier and healthier in recovery, I’ve come to believe there are four vital sources of community that are available to every man out there. This isn’t to say that one needs all of these sources in their lives at every moment. But perhaps there are seasons where we keep 1-2 of these sources consistent either daily or weekly, depending on what they are.

Here are 4 vital sources of community you can find today:

  1. Coaches — I mention this one first because I believe there are so many “purity coaches” that are widely available at any given moment. There are countless ministries and organizations both locally and online that can be sought out for this purpose. A purity coach doesn’t even have to be a certified counselor. They simply need to be a person who has shared similar struggles and has found freedom from addiction. While I don’t hold any sort of counseling degree, I’ve long considered myself a purity coach to other men. I’ve spend countless hours on the phone and in in-person meetings with men as well as produced podcasts and videos in an attempt to coach individuals who want freedom for their lives. If you’re struggling today and need some coaching, I’d love to help you out.
  2. Groups — Mark my words: There is something about gathering together with 4 or 5 other guys who share the same (or different) struggles as you do. There’s something you can only receive and you can only give within the context of a group setting. Some of the most powerful moments of healing in my life came on Monday nights early on in recovery where I gathered with just a few other guys in the same room to talk about our week. The trust, the tears, and the camaraderie we shared is something I will never forget as long as I live. It was truly a priceless experience which helped me in so many ways. It was in that season where I felt my call deepen to help other men the same way I was being helped. Today, it can be hard to find groups like these in your local area. Factor in that along with the difficulties Covid has made in meeting together. But online organizations such as Small Groups Online make it incredibly easy to find a group at the time of your choosing that you can become apart of.
  3. Counselors — Spending time with a licensed counselor can be one of the most valuable opportunities for someone dealing with a sexual addiction. I often recommend to men to try and find a therapist in their area who is a certified sexual addiction therapist (CSAT). This person has specific education and training in this field. I was fortunate enough to be able to spend some time with a licensed Christian therapist who really helped me to understand the addiction I struggled with. The down side of counseling is that it can be incredibly expensive. But if you can afford even 2 sessions a month, I would encourage you to dedicate a season to try it.
  4. Pastors/Churches — While the local church isn’t the first place I would recommend someone go for support, I would definitely not disqualify it either. Many pastors & churches are not trained to be able to effectively help individuals in the area of sexual addiction. But finding a spiritual family where you can foster healthy relationships, receive solid biblical teaching, and participate in spirit-filled worship is one of the best things you can do for yourself in recovery. Remember, you’re building your support structure and getting yourself out of isolation. When you allow people in to see the real you, feelings like shame, anxiety, and hopelessness cannot survive. Your spiritual family can be an excellent source of support along your journey in recovery!

Here’s what you need to know: YOU ARE NOT ALONE IN YOUR RECOVERY. There are so many sources of support and community available to you. But YOU must be the one to want it and find it.

Contact Small Groups Online today if you’re interested in starting the journey of knowing and being known by others who also struggle like you do. Each week, you’ll have the opportunity to jump into a Zoom meeting hosted by a trained group leader waiting to get to meet you. You’ll also be invited to download and join the Live Free app where further communication and discussions are available to you throughout the week.

The 7 Best Feel-Good Alternatives to Replace Hugs

This is an excellent article from Amen Clinics on the power of human touch and boosting important brain chemicals. Enjoy!


In times of our greatest celebrations, our darkest sadness, and in the moments in between, we seek out hugs from family, friends, and loved ones. Big bear hugs make you feel safe, warm, happy, comforted and connected. But with the pandemic, people aren’t getting these much-needed embraces. That’s bad news, because hugs don’t just feel good, they come with a host of brain benefits.

BRAIN BENEFITS OF HUGS

Some of the psychological and neurological benefits of wrapping your arms around your loved ones include:

  • Triggers the release of oxytocin. Sometimes referred to as the “cuddle hormone,” oxytocin is a hormone and neurotransmitter that promotes a sense of well-being, relaxation, and bonding. It may be best known for its involvement in childbirth and breastfeeding to strengthen the bonds between mother and baby. More recently, it has become known as “the love hormone” as it brings forth feelings of trust, security, connection, calmness, and contentment. Some research suggests that intranasal oxytocin may be used to enhance relationships interpersonal connections.
  • Boosts moods. Hugging increases levels of the feel-good neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin to elevate moods. Receiving a hug also helps protect people from negative moods, according to findings in a 2018 study in Plos One.
  • Decreases the stress hormone cortisol and lowers stress levels. Hugs protect against chronic stress, which reduces “brain reserve,” the extra cushion of brain tissue you have to deal with the curveballs life throws your way. Uncontrolled stress is also associated with reduced immune system function, increasing your risk of infections and illness. To keep stress at bay, it’s a good idea to “hug it out” on a regular basis.
  • Lowers anxiety, depression, and feelings of loneliness. The simple act of embracing another human has positive impacts on psychological well-being. For example, a 2013 study from researchers at the University of Amsterdam found that hugs help reduce anxiety and fears in people with low self-esteem.

Read the rest of this article by going here.