2 Reasons Why Freedom (Not Sobriety) Should Be Your Goal In Recovery

One of the most popular terms a person coming out of addiction will use to share their success or failure in recovery is the word “sobriety”. In the mainline culture, it’s probably most widely used in Alcoholics Anonymous and has been for several decades. It’s a widely accepted term in recovery and has spanned to former addicts with other sorts of compulsive behaviors. Nothing about the use of the word or it’s implications is wrong. I just have one question:

Could it be that there’s more to your recovery than JUST sobriety? Is it possible that even when you’ve made considerable progress in your journey to avoid a certain behavior, there’s more healing that could be taking place in your life? More lessons you could be learning about your heart? Deeper levels of wholeness available to you as a person in recovery?

It might just be a personal gripe I have with the word. At the end of the day, it’s probably just semantics. But rarely, if ever, have I used the word “sobriety” as I talk with men about my recovery story. Because I think there’s more to recovery than just sobriety; this picture of just getting by and ticking off the number of days I haven’t had alcohol or used porn.

I believe we can experience FREEDOM. The person who is free from sexual addiction is one who has/is experiencing healing on a much deeper level than just abstinence. And so I believe there are at least a couple specific reasons why freedom matters more than sobriety. If I haven’t lost you at this point, please consider the following reasons:

  1. FREEDOM is about healing your heart while SOBRIETY is about managing your behavior.

In my experience working with men, the ones who do the best are the ones who focus on healing their hearts. This includes their mental health, emotional health, and relational health. They’re revisiting their childhood, their adolescent years, the relationship they had with their parents in search of possible traumas or abuse they may have suffered. They’re learning new ways to process feelings of pain and discomfort instead of retreating into isolation. They’re spending time with counselors &/or a support group of other men who can help them process the damage addiction has done. Recovery is about so much more than managing behavior. Freedom cannot be achieved merely by managing your behavior or abstaining from using porn. In SGO, we call this “white-knuckle” change: The attempt to get better externally by simply gritting your teeth and trying to avoid porn or the feelings that could potentially be triggering. In order for the healing process to begin taking place in your life, you must look inward. You must embrace pain, acknowledge why it’s there, and act on it in a productive way that leads to life.

  1. FREEDOM counts the lessons you’re learning in recovery while SOBRIETY counts the days without using porn.

Close your eyes for 20 seconds and reflect on what you’ve learned since coming out of addiction. If you weren’t able to think of 5-10 lessons in the span of 20 seconds, it begs the question: What is your real goal in recovery? Is it to merely tick off on your calendar all the days that you haven’t acted out? Or is it to become the person that God intends for you to be? They are two vastly different goals. If you’re a financial guy, think about it like this: Just because you don’t file for bankruptcy each year doesn’t mean you have financial freedom. Likewise, you might have racked up 30 days or 60 days without looking at something triggering, but through the process have you considered WHY you act out and what your specific triggers are? Sobriety in itself without the real investigation into one’s heart will not take you very far. Unfortunately, I’ve seen men who have been more prone to slips and relapses because they were unwilling to do the real heart work that recovery requires.

Again, at the end of the day, perhaps it’s just a matter of word play. Freedom and sobriety could very well mean the same thing. I just think we have to be intentional in our recovery and know what our end goal is. Otherwise, we’ll coast along not understanding what we’re suppose to be doing.

Make sure you know what you want out of your recovery. Are you simply in a competition with yourself to see how long you can go without using porn? Or are you entering into community with others who are struggling the same way you are? This is where freedom and healing begin!

Small Groups Online makes it really easy to find community where other men will be waiting to meet with you. Through a weekly Zoom meeting and the Live Free community, you will be given the tools you need to help you find the freedom we’ve been talking about. It’s as easy as going to the website, finding the specific group and time you’re looking for and signing up. Go check out Small Groups Online today!

2 Ways Porn Negatively Affects Your Heart (and what YOU can do about it!) (BLOG)

Pop Quiz: What is your most valuable possession in life? Resist the temptation the answer that question quickly, because there is a wealth (pardon the pun) of things in life that we place tremendous value on. Some very consciously and some pretty sub-consciously.

Maybe it’s your 401K that you’ve been saving for years. Or maybe it’s that beautiful boat sitting in your garage (that you haven’t used in years). Sometimes it’s the really good things life that give great value and worth to: Our careers. Our homes. Our marriages. Our children.

But what if there were something within every single one of us that we were told is our most valuable possession…and we didn’t even know it?! The book of Proverbs says this:

“So above all, guard the affections of your heart, for they affect all that you are. Pay attention to the welfare of your innermost being, for from there flows the wellspring of life.” (Proverbs 4:23 TPT)

I love that in this single verse it essentially talks about the very possession we should guard above all other possessions: OUR HEART. We’re told to take care of our hearts. Not just our physical hearts from disease. But the very essence of who we are from unhealthy stuff in this world that tries to sneak in.

Most likely if you’re reading this article, you’ve found yourself in a place like I did where you discovered pornography and you just couldn’t stop consuming it. Perhaps you would say porn ultimately consumed you. Please understand, I don’t want you to feel shamed. I was in that same place for 13 years where I felt incredible guilt and disgust for what I was doing. I didn’t understand the gravity of what pornography was doing to my heart.

Thankfully, this August I’ll celebrate 12 years walking in freedom and healing from sexual addiction. And you can too! But it’s important to understand how pornography negatively affects our hearts to begin with. The effects can be long lasting and very harmful if they aren’t dealt with in a healthy way.

1. Porn teaches your heart to objectify people.

One of the most subversive effects that pornography and other sexually explicit material has upon the human heart is that attempts to teach us that people are simply objects devoid of value and worth. It says that men and women can be used, abused, undressed, and consumed simply because their job is to provide us with pleasure. THIS IS A LIE. The perversion of sexual intimacy isn’t a new concept. It goes back thousands of years and has only become worse in the society we live in. Which is why we need to combat this lie that people are simply meant to be treated like objects.

Psalm 139 speaks of the incredible value and worth of every person, because we have been created by God: “You formed my innermost being, shaping my delicate inside and my intricate outside, and wove them all together in my mother’s womb. I thank you, God, for making me so mysteriously complex! You even formed every bone in my body when you created me in the secret place, carefully, skillfully shaping me from nothing to something. You saw who you created me to be before I became me!”

Don’t allow pornography to turn your heart into nothing more than a product. Your heart is valuable and so are the people you’re so tempted to fantasize about.

2. Porn undermines your ability to deal with pain.

The human heart was created to feel an array of emotions. From moments of intense joy and happiness to deep places of sadness and anger. The reality is that we’re all going to experience a vast array of emotions through our lifetimes. The question is: How do we deal with those powerful emotions and feelings?

One of the byproducts of pornography addiction is that it subverts an individual’s responsibility to deal with those emotions in healthy ways. Instead, we run from anything that is painful or even remotely uncomfortable. Boredom, loneliness, anger, stress, and fatigue are some of the most common feelings that an addict deals with. We often used the acronym B.L.A.S.T. (Bored, Angry, Lonely, Tired) in our online group to help us discuss the ways in which we’re triggered. It’s so important that we understand WHY we are driven to act out the way that we do.

A major turning point in a person’s addiction to porn is when they’re able to be honest with themselves about the kind of pain they are medicating with pornography. Pain must be addressed. It must be looked at before any kind of healing  can take place in a person’s life.

Remember, pornography is a problem. But it’s only the medication. The even greater problem is the pain underneath the surface you’ve refused to deal with for so long. That’s what you must get at.

“SO WHAT CAN I DO ABOUT ABOUT IT?” 

Glad you asked! There’s a ton you can do to get your heart healthy from porn addiction. Here’s a quick list:

  1. Find a trained therapist — Preferably one who is certified in sexual addiction therapy. CSAT’s are trained to specifically help those dealing with compulsive sexual addictions.
  2. Get accountability in your life — 2-3 safe, healthy people will really go a long way in your recovery journey. Meet with them weekly at the very minimum for encouragement and so they can ask you the tough questions.
  3. Protect your devices — I can’t tell you how many men I’ve talked with about their addiction that have no software protecting their devices. No filtering. No reporting. It’s almost as if you’re inviting porn to walk through your front door. That’s how easy it can be. Start with some great software that we trust: Ever Accountable.
  4. Join a support group in your community or small group in your church — Community is essential in recovery. We can’t be the men that God is calling us to be by trying to white-knuckle our way to healing. Small Groups Online offers a dynamic solution for this. Imagine a weekly Zoom meeting with 5-7 others men who share many of the same struggles as you. You will be encouraged by others and also have the opportunity to be the encourager in these meetings. Click here to find out more about Small Groups Online.

The 4 Pillars of Recovery

My own time in recovery has helped me to identify four of the most important areas I need to stay on top of in order to find healing and become the man that God has called me to be. I hope these are encouraging to you or someone you may know!


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.

3 Ways Love Overcame My Porn Addiction

As I continue to walk in recovery from a pornography addiction, I often remind myself that it is only by love and grace that I’m at the place I am today. Eleven years ago, I received an insurmountable amount of forgiveness from those closest to me, including my wife. And even as I continued to minimize or justify the relapses I would have and the lying that accompanied it, I would experience healing in life. Little did I know then the ways in which freedom would come.

At the age of 16, I invited Jesus into my life and accepted the free gift of salvation He died to give me. And while I thought I was giving Him all of my life, I really wasn’t. My secret life of binging on pornography that had started at the age of 13 only continued, many times late into the night. It wasn’t until the age of 26 that I hit rock bottom and started to walk in freedom & healing. My secrets were uncovered. I had finally chosen to shine light upon the darkest places of my heart.

I truly believe that most of the change in my life has occurred through the love of my heavenly Father and the grace I experienced from others. How does transformation happen in a person’s life? For me, I believe that my life changed through pain, position, and purpose:

  1. Pain — Before I could begin walking in freedom and healing, I had to acknowledge the damage that I had caused myself as well as the pain I had caused others because of my addiction. Throughout the course of my battle with porn, I’d been given so many opportunities to get healthy and yet nothing really stuck. I lived in so much shame and guilt over what I was doing. I was convinced people would think I was a pervert. I’m so thankful to this day that the Lord used even the most painful moments in my life for good. The moment my fiancé slid her engagement ring across the table was one such moment. It helped me to see that I wasn’t healthy. I was sick. And so I think pain was one of the only effective means left for me to see who I was and who I was becoming.
  2. Position — It wasn’t until I literally took action upon my addiction that I began to see any difference. My routine, schedule, and priorities all needed to change. There needed to be movement in my life where for so many years I was stuck in one place. Thankfully, through the help of counselors, pastors, and support groups, I was able to find freedom from the quicksand of pornography addiction. Again, it wasn’t until I got off my butt and took action. I couldn’t wallow in shame forever. Or point the finger at someone else as the cause of my behavior. If I wanted to get better, I needed to embrace healthy outlets for processing emotions and feelings I had long ignored. My position had to change.
  3. Purpose — As funny as it may sound, when I began walking in recovery, I found a passion begin to stir inside for helping others do the same. Strangely, one of the bi-products of my addiction was that it helped me to find purpose in life. Today, I tell people that I sometimes feel like my former porn addiction was one of the best things that could have ever happened to me! It was because I had found a sense of purpose that I felt like I could really be an influence in someone’s life. I could help someone else find the healing that I had found for my life. I believe that is something we’re all called to do in our recovery journey. Get all the healing you can, but don’t let it stop with your life. Be a funnel, not a flask.

As I reflect upon my recovery journey, I can see how love overcame my addictive behavior through pain, position, and purpose. Each one of these ways has been instrumental in helping me take further steps to become the man that God wants me to be. This process continues daily until I take my last breathe in this world. I’m of the belief that it was Christ’s death on the cross that is really what has made my recovery possible. Jesus’ death on the cross has helped me to understand there is no challenge, no circumstance, no addiction too big for God’s love to overcome. How could I do any less than to honor Him with a life of sexual integrity after He has given me so much?

For me, 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 sums it up pretty well: “For it is Christ’s love that fuels our passion and motivates us, because we are absolutely convinced that he has given his life for all of us. This means all died with him, so that those who live should no longer live self-absorbed lives but lives that are poured out for him—the one who died for us and now lives again.”

You may be reading this convinced you’re trapped in a vicious cycle that never ends. You’ve tried time and time again to stop your behavior on your own or maybe you haven’t even tried at all. And yet, you feel the emptiness inside. The well inside of your heart has no end.

Believe it or not, there is hope. Whether you feel it or not, freedom is possible. But it can’t be found by yourself. You can’t get better alone. Healing requires that you allow people into your world to see the real you. Do you want that for your life?

Small Groups Online is an incredible opportunity for you to meet others who are struggling the same way you are. It promises a safe and healthy atmosphere. Through communication with others in the group about your addiction, you will find a renewed sense of courage spring up in you to become a person of sexual integrity.

Check out Small Groups Online today!

3 Steps To Discovering Why You Are Addicted

In this episode of Pure Gold, Frank talks about three steps you need to be taking along your journey to discover the reason for your sexually compulsive behavior. Discovering the “why” behind addiction is so important for long-lasting healing & success in recovery.


VIDEO:


AUDIO:


ARTICLE:

“Healing takes more than time. It takes intentionality. It takes the humility and courage to call what hurts by its name and the resolve to do the work that freedom demands.”

Jackie Hill-Perry

Recently, near the end of the men’s group that I lead, I was getting ready to pray for all the guys in our group. Every man in the group has an incredibly unique story, and so when the time comes for us to pray together in our meetings, I always find these to be powerful moments for God to move within our hearts.

On this particular night, I felt like a specific word was given to me for all of us to embrace: Investigation.

In the journey towards freedom and healing from our unwanted sexual behaviors, I have found that we go through different phases of restoration: Confessing the destructive choices we’ve made, receiving forgiveness from those we have betrayed, and discovering a safe, healthy community we can belong to. These are all critical and necessary steps we must take in order to heal.

And yet, as important as these steps are, I’ve found only one thing to be the glue that holds all of these other things together: Investigating the heart. Discovering “WHY” we medicate our pain is perhaps the greatest step we can take to finding long lasting healing.

How do we discover the “why” behind our addictions and other compulsive behaviors? For this, we have to go back to the word mentioned earlier: Investigation. How does an actual investigation begin? After some kind of crime has been committed, the goal of law enforcement & other investigators is to discover how the crime occurred in the first place. Evidence must be gathered, witnesses must be interviewed, & ultimately, the person who committed the crime must be found and taken in.

Please understand, I’m not suggesting that you try and police your hearts looking for any and every potential cause to the struggles you face. A person could go crazy trying to figure this out. What I am suggesting is that virtually 100% of the time there is a link between pain and addiction. Behind every addiction is a source of pain, abuse, or trauma of which an individual tries to medicate. This is where the journey begins: Venturing into the unknown places of the heart with a flashlight and looking for the places that have been damaged by the actions of others or ourselves.

Sometimes, the cause of the hurt is from an abuse that took place when you were a child. Sometimes, the manipulation of our minds & hearts started when porn was accidentally discovered in our own home. Or it could even be as elusive as a lie or agreement we make about ourselves that works its way into our thinking.

Wherever the source of our pain stems from, we’re the ones responsible to do the real soul work that is necessary in recovery. Where do we begin?

  1. Launch the Investigation — One of the most difficult decisions a person will ever make in recovery is doing the heart surgery required for healing. And while this isn’t easy to do, you don’t have to do it alone. Having a counselor come alongside of you who is certified in sexual addiction therapy is a great start. They can ask the right questions and aid you in tracing the potential sources of any unwanted behavior. Oftentimes, they will help you look at your past and your present.
  2. Discover the Evidence — In virtually every crime scene there is evidence that needs to be discovered by investigators with the goal of leading them to the person responsible. The same is true for our lives in recovery. We have to comb through the places of pain, trauma, or abuse to find what things could have contributed to our addiction. Being involved in community helps this process significantly. And you don’t even have to go far to find it! Small Groups Online offers specific groups that you can become apart of to help you meet others who are walking through the same struggles that you are.
  3. Identify the Suspects — Our ultimate goal is to find where the source of our unwanted sexual behaviors lie. You might think that the the person who binges on porn every night has a porn problem. The reality is that they have a pain problem. And discovering the culprits hiding behind that pain is crucial. Counselors, support groups and many other resources available to you today can help you discover what’s really going on in your life.

I love the words of Psalm 139:23-24, which says “’God, I invite your searching gaze into my heart. Examine me through and through; find out everything that may be hidden within me. Put me to the test and sift through all my anxious cares. See if there is any path of pain I’m walking on, and lead me back to your glorious, everlasting ways— the path that brings me back to you.’”

Remember that the recovery journey is a marathon, not a sprint. It will take a combination of time and intentionality on your part to find the freedom you so desperately long for. But rest assured, YOU CAN DO IT. Never give up on becoming the best version of yourself.


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.