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.

Revisit Your Routine

With every season that passes I’m sure you re-examine your routines between school, work, and family. Our schedules, structures, & way of life changes from season to season. The same is true for our recovery journey. On this episode, Frank shares about the importance of re-evaluating the things that are working and not working on your journey. Take time to see what needs improvement or modification in your life so you can continue to grow, heal, & find freedom the struggles you have faced.


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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.

The Value of Coaching in Recovery

Podcast:


I never played a lot of sports when I was younger, but I did wrestle a couple years in high school. The level of physicality and endurance needed in wrestling is out of this world. I actually believe it could be the toughest sports in existence. Unfortunately, I started too late in high school and didn’t win a ton of matches. I wish I had started learning when I was much younger.

Looking back now upon my season wrestling, there are many memories I have. But one of the greatest memories will always be the quality and solidarity of the coaching involved. I don’t keep in touch with them today, but I remember my coaches names: Matt and Rodney. Matt was younger and a little more easy going, but still tough. Rodney was…there’s really no other way to say, he was hard. I think he may have had the personality of a bull dog! But something I will always remember about Rodney: He always noticed if you were giving 100% OR if you were giving anything less than that.

In athletics, coaching is critical. Ultimately, it comes down to the performance of the individual athlete. But without someone who is willing to teach you, come alongside you, and stand in your corner, I firmly believe a person has no chance at excelling. Whether it be in sports, in life, or even in recovery.

I’ve talked and written before about the power of having safe, healthy people in your life who you can be honest with about your recovery. If you’re currently doing those things already, way to go! But I think we’re living in a time now more than ever that the need is arising for a different form of support: One that is intentional, consistent, and focused.

We need more coaches in recovery. Those who have walked through addiction, found freedom, and continue to find deeper levels of healing in their own lives. And because of those things, they are willing to pass down what they’ve learned to the next guy. And at the end of the day, they’re standing in the corner, cheering that guy on no matter where he’s at.

I believe our recovery is lived out in seasons. What do I mean by this? As I reflect on my earliest days in recovery, I was blessed to be able to sit with a specialized therapist who was specifically trained in helping individuals dealing with sexual addiction. I probably spend several months off and on with this particular counselor, but it was one of the best seasons to help me understand what sexual addiction was and who I was in the midst of it.

Next came a season that I’ve always felt was the most special time for me personally: Being apart of a support group. Sitting in the same room with other men who also were addicted to pornography and other forms of sexually compulsive behavior.  Sharing my story and listening to other’s stories was beyond powerful. It was life-changing. I feel like I grew significantly in that season. So much so that I fell in love with helping other men the same I was felt helped and supported.

Today, I’m in a totally different season. I’m free from porn addiction and have experienced an incredible amount of healing. I feel like my role has shifted in many ways from one of receiving to one of giving. For years I’ve tried to help other men through the means of technology. Producing content like podcasts, videos, and blogs to help equip them on their journey.

I feel like the Lord has called me to be a coach. More accurately, a purity coach. One who helps other men give specific focus to their hearts and what’s going on inside. Even writing that sentence feels a bit strange because I know how wild and untamed my own heart can still be at times. I’m still in need of coaches for my life today, who will come alongside of me to both encourage and challenge me when I need it. I’m grateful that I can think of at least 3-4 men who I would consider to be a coach.

If you’re desiring to recruit some coaches in your life, it doesn’t have to be hard. Again, I always encourage people to find SAFE and HEALTHY individuals that are willing to walk with them through their journey. This is a starting place, not an ending point. I do believe a coach is someone who also has experience and qualifications in a particular field. So it may take you some time to find someone you would call a coach, but don’t give up!

Here are a few places you could check out to get started in finding a coach:

  1. Church — There are often many ministries within a community of faith that are trying to help individuals and families grow in their relationship with God. You may even want to start with your very own church to see if there are older, seasoned believers who would make great coaches. Talk to your pastor about the people in your church. Some churches have pastoral counselors available as well.
  2. Counseling — Search for solid, Christian counseling in your area with therapists who are certified in sexual addiction therapy. Counseling can be expensive, but it may also be a great option to try for 2-3 months to help get some expert guidance in your life. Sometimes, counselors can make incredible coaches, even for a season of time.
  3. Online — This will require some extra work as you want to make sure you’re researching someone credible and knows what they’re talking about. Look for more than just a profile. Look for a website and testimonials about the individuals you find.

Over the last year, Zoom became one of the most visited and highly utilized video conferencing services because of all the shut-downs and closures between school, work, and many gatherings the required you being in the same room as the other person. Many counselors and coaches today will offer Zoom sessions in place of in-person meetings. Many individuals have found this to actually be a much more comfortable and much more private environment.

Are you in need of a coach for your life? Someone who can help you walk through some kind of sexually compulsive behavior? I would love to be able to be of service! Please visit our ministry, Purity For Life. Drop us a message through the Contact section of the website and we’ll be sure to get back to you.

Perhaps you’re also looking for more community in your life. Small Groups Online offers an incredible online group experience through weekly Zoom meetings with other individuals who share and can empathize with your struggles. It’s one of the best (if not, the best) ways to get yourself out of isolation and into community with others who will encourage you and walk with you. Check out SGO 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 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.