Just Pray Harder

Just Pray Harder

Three words that have been spoken by a multitude of well-meaning Christians throughout the years. Words that have traditionally been a response to another Christian’s unhealthy behavior or lifestyle. It may have been directed towards a particular kind of sin or behavior. And in most cases, it was spoken with completely pure intentions. Yet for many these words were the complete opposite message they needed to hear. In this episode, Frank shares the fallacy AND the significance behind this statement. Also, is recovery all on us? Or is it God’s responsibility to change us? We explore these questions and more.

Measuring Progress In Recovery

This past week, I read a very interesting thought that someone had regarding the subject of progress. Here’s what they said:

“I wish progress was a straight line. It seems so simple: work hard and see tangible progress as a result. But, as we have all learned at some point in our lives, progress is a line that is so far from straight, it even doubles back on itself sometimes.” (Faith Simmons @thesunalsoreads on Instagram)

I have to admit, each time I read that statement this week, I had to laugh because of the sheer truth behind it. That’s just how progress is. It’s rarely something that’s easy to see, something black and white, something we can even put our hands on. Especially as it relates to progress in recovery. I would even suggest that the greatest “progress” we could ever make in our recovery journeys is completely unseen.

In one of my weekly group meetings I lead, I asked the guys in the group what they would consider to be progress in their own lives. There were many different responses and they were all great. Because you see progress looks different for every person. For one person it may be the goal of getting rid of pornography from their lives, killing the habit of masturbation, & fantasizing sexually about other people. For another it could include all of that, but maybe go a bit deeper: The transformation of deep-rooted pain in their hearts. Or what about the way they view other women or men in their lives?

The reality is that progress can only truly be defined by you. So is there really a way to quantify progress? How do you measure progress? I think you would have to ask each and every person for their own definition. As for me, when I look back at the last 13 years of my life, I can truthfully say I’ve made a TON of progress in terms of becoming free of pornography and the way it controlled by life. I no longer look at porn or struggle with masturbation and lust anymore. But there is still an immense about of progress taking place inside of me. Here’s what I’m still learning:

  • How to deal with stress in a healthy way
  • Combatting fear & anxiety with joy & peace
  • Loving others unconditionally

To name JUST a few. There are many, many more things that are very much still in process. I’ve often shared with men I work with how quitting pornography really isn’t that hard. Any man can do it really. But what is hard is digging below the surface. Excavating the deep places within the heart where pain, trauma, and the really hard stuff lives. If we can just get to that stuff, then we’ll really begin to make progress.

Specific to recovery, what are some reasons we are perhaps not seeing as much progress as we would like in our life? I think there could be many reasons for this, but here are just a couple:

First, the fundamentals aren’t in place. What does that mean? There are specific things every man or woman in recovery needs in order to see long-lasting freedom and healing for their life. Take community for example. How can someone grow in isolation? For me (and every man I know), isolation is a prison. We need to be meeting with and around people who will care for our hearts and ask us the tough questions. Community is a fundamental for success in recovery. As is honesty, accountability, transparency, and vulnerability.

Secondly is the failure to celebrate victories of all sizes. So many men I’ve worked with love to keep a track of their sobriety. And for all the right reasons. But when there is a slip or some kind of setback, there is disappointment. The reality is that slips are going to happen. We can’t escape that. But what about all the ways your mind and heart are changing and transforming? You’re literally building new neural pathways in your brain as you seek what is healthy. Even our slips can be opportunities for growth if we allow them to be.

One last note: I think there is a misperception that progress means perfection. That in order to advance means that there’s no room to be left for mistakes along the way. This couldn’t be further from the truth! Some of the greatest progress in my life came through the bumps and bruises in recovery. The moments where I should have gone left and I went right. The times I didn’t tell the whole truth when I should have. Or tried to hide something when I should have just come clean. These are all seemingly negative things and nothing to be proud of and yet there are huge opportunities for growth in these moments.

One day progress may feel like you’re taking five steps forward. Then, the next day you’re taking six steps backward. Take heart! It’s all apart of the learning process. Don’t give up!

One of the greatest ways you can build some great momentum in your recovery is by joining Small Groups Online! SGO makes it incredibly easy to become apart of a healthy community of men or women who share similar struggles as you. Through a weekly Zoom meeting at a time that is convenient for you, you will receive encouragement and support for the journey that you’re on.

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.

4 Questions You Should Ask Before Meeting With An Accountability Partner

As I approach twelve years in recovery from a pornography addiction I can tell you that many things have changed in my life. I no longer look at sexually explicit material nor do I desire to. Lustful thoughts that used to race through my brain in my adolescent and young adult years no longer have power over me. I’ve learned the devastating consequences of my behavior and how it was not only affecting me but also those around me. And I’ve found tremendous healing through grace, love, honesty, and a willingness to do whatever it takes to be the man that God is calling me to be.

But one thing hasn’t changed: My incessant need for community. For accountability. For people to see the real me.

I want to tell you a little bit about of my best friends: His name is TJ. He’s 33 years old, is married, and has two children. He’s a driver for UPS. He’s one of worship leaders at the church our family attends. And he’s quite simply one of coolest human beings I know. I love him for so many reasons, first and foremost for his deep love and faith in God.

TJ and I share a deep level of respect for each other because we know each other. And because we know each other, we’re able to care for each other’s hearts.

Oftentimes, we’ll call or text each other throughout the week and there’s one question that many times will arise to the surface:

“HOW’S YOUR HEART?”

And I know that whether the question is coming from me or from TJ, that things are about to get real. They’re about to get honest. Real honest.

Because I believe at the core of accountability is a desire to know and be known by others. And as often as I’ve said this to other men, it bears repeating here: You cannot make it through recovery alone! And further more, we as men cannot live on desserted islands away from real, meaningful relationships with other men.

Rewind back to the garden of Eden. God had created the world. The heavens and the earth. Animals. Plants. Man. But he found it unsuitable for man to be alone. And so he created a “helper” for him: Eve. And while this sets up a specific Biblical mandate for marriage in the Scriptures, at the core of this moment is an inherent need for Adam: compansionship. Man was never meant to be alone. This is true in marriage, but it’s also true in our accountability relationships within recovery.

Finding 2-3 people you can invite into your story and regularly meet with is imperative for your recovery. Let me say it again: You can’t recover alone. No matter how hard you try. We’re all designed to live & thrive in the context of community.

So what are some questions that are necessary to ask as you seek out safe & healthy accountability relationships?

1. Is this person a Christian?

I believe the faith background of the people we meet with to share the good, the bad, and the ugly with really matters. Why? Because I don’t simply need good advice for my struggles. I need encouragement, challenge, and support that points me to the person of Jesus. What kind of man is God calling me to become? These are the words and thoughts I need reflected back.

2. Are they spiritually mature?

Determining if someone is a Christian opens the door to further communication with them. But what begins to lead me through that door is understanding their maturity & depth as a beliver. Do they have an understanding of forgiveness and redemption? Are they struggling with freedom in their own life in some way? Can you tell the trajectory of their relationship with Jesus? Try and find someone who maybe has a few more years on you as it relates to walking with God.

3. Do they have your best interest in mind?

Are they trustworthy? Can you share in confidence with them that they will keep your story private (barring any kind of risk to yourself or others)? Are they able to not only encourage you, but ask you the hard questions about your addiction? A great accountability partner isn’t just someone who only nods their head and strokes your ego. They will be willing to step on your toes, but always offer to help you back up when you fall.

4. Are they familiar with addiction & recovery?

While they don’t have to be experts or counselors in the field of sexual addiction, it would be ideal for them to have some understanding of how this addiction works. Sexual addiction is very difficult for the person walking through it, but for those who are tasked with offering support, it may be more than they can handle. Some people simply aren’t able to offer the kind of support & encouragement needed. Not for lack of desire, but for lack of knowledge.

Asking these questions are crifical before you ask someone to be an accountability partner or someone who you will be regularly sharing your story with. These people may come from your church, a small group, your work place, or perhaps even in your family. The point is to seek them out through the filter of the questions above. Start today!

What Do You Want From Your Recovery In 2021? Pt.2 (PODCAST)

If I were to ask you to make a wish list of your top five destinations you’d love to travel to in the entire world,  what would they be? Or what about a bucket list of ten or twenty things you’d like to do in your lifetime? No doubt many of you have already had those dreams.  Here’s a question: What do you want from your recovery in 2021? If I were to ask you to envision what kind of person you’d like to be on December 31, 2021, what kind of person would that be?  I really believe every year around this time we should be looking in two directions: backwards at the previous year we just walked through and forwards towards the new year. How have we grown? What lessons have we learned? Perhaps even a couple harder questions: Where have we struggled? Where have we declined in our progress?

We hope you you enjoy the second part of this series from Pure Gold! 

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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.