by Dan Wobschall
Director of Gateway to Freedom
When you hear or read the words "rear-view mirror" what nearly automatically comes to mind?
If you’re like the majority of us it’s the flat surfaced mirror attached to the upper center portion of a car's windshield.
What's the Purpose of a Rear View Mirror?
Have you ever asked yourself what the purpose of the rear-view mirror is? Seems almost silly to ask, right? But is it? What is its purpose?
When I did a Google search to answer that question I received a response of 874,000,000 results in 0.65 seconds. Kind of crazy, right?
Here’s the top answer: Your car's rear-view mirror serves a multitude of purposes that help keep you safe as a driver. The rear-view mirror promotes an alert driving experience by allowing you to see behind your vehicle without turning your head. By checking the rear-view mirror, you can monitor traffic and prepare for any potential dangers. (
Our cars also typically have two outside rear-view mirrors also. I’ll admit I don’t often think of them as rear-view mirrors, but they indeed are, but from a different perspective or viewpoint. Nonetheless, they have a rearward view and help us see blind spots the center rear-view mirror cannot see.
Here are two more questions to consider: How often do you and I check those mirrors and how frequently is it recommended that we do?
Here’s the answer from the same article mentioned above: Most driving instructors suggest checking your mirrors every five to eight seconds with a glance. A glance does not mean studying the mirrors, but more along the lines of a quick check. It’s important not to stare off into your rear-view mirror as you can miss hazards in front of you.
How is a Rear-View Mirror Connected to Recovery?
I can imagine a number of you wondering where in the world I’m going with this and what it has anything to do with sexual integrity recovery and a transformational path ahead. Hang with me.
Dr. Eddie Capparucci writes in his book, Going Deeper - How the Inner Child Impacts Your Sexual Addiction, this discovery; “the road to recovery from sexual addiction goes through your childhood.”
Dr. Capparucci came to this observational conclusion while undertaking a 10 year study of the men he worked with.
Taking this observation and then applying it to sexual addiction recovery, it is going to require a man to look back on his childhood for some critical answers. Sounds a bit like looking in a rear-view mirror doesn’t it?
Taking the time to look back reflectively on my own childhood continues to reveal dangers and hazards I ‘ran over’ along the way. In transparency I’ve recently discovered the answer to a repeating struggle in my own life.
I’ll spare you all the details of the discovery but In looking back, after reading Dr. Eddie’s book and conversations with my bride, that I had not properly identified a childhood wound, how it was impacting me yet today.
This new discovery from my "rear-view mirror" is enabling me to step into the grieving and healing process to release the grip of my ill response to perceiving or feeling I’ve been disrespected. It wasn’t a pleasant revelation, but I’m glad to have made it.
This is a real and recent lesson for me from the rear-view mirror.
Why You Must Look Back to Move Forward
Looking back on our childhood can be very difficult and for some of you reading this it may be incredibly painful, even to the point of your mind blocking much of it out. The memories for most are still there, yet buried deep.
The road to recovery from sexual addiction goes through your childhood. The wounds that give us the need to seek a broken medication cycle must be sought out and identified to enable us to treat, grieve and heal.
Without the preceding process being undertaken, finding real and lasting transformation and freedom will be practically impossible.
I’m not leaving God out of the equation of this process.
In fact, our Helper and Counselor, Holy Spirit, is vital in the journey of discovery. See we get really good at locking the doors to those dark and dingy rooms of our lives where all this painful crud resides. Some of this junk has been there for so long, we forgot where we stuffed it.
When Hope Comes Into View
When we choose to submit to the Holy Spirit’s authority and desire to help us heal toward transformation and healing, life changing things can begin to happen.
Hope begins to rebirth. And when hope comes back into view we can begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel. (Likely a long tunnel…but there’s light at the end.)
The Apostle Paul wrote a lot of the New Testament. As I read the verses below I see a metaphorical picture of the hope within Paul as he wrote of our imputed righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ.
Philippians 3:12-14 (ESV) “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
Paul acknowledges he’s not made this journey on his own. Jesus has given him new hope and strength to have obtained this righteousness. We too can obtain this freedom birthing righteousness in and from Christ on this journey to sexual wholeness and integrity.
While Paul is fully aware of his past and humbly speaks of his condition, he also encourages us how to see.
Paul has looked in the rear-view mirror and seen his past, learned from it but chose to leave it behind. “Forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead…the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."
Paul also wrote in Galatians 5:1 that “it is for freedom that Christ set us free.” Let us choose to not look back on the bondage of slavery. Use the rear-view mirror to locate those dangers that linger and even creep up on us from the past. Then use those discoveries to strain forward to what lies ahead. Jesus, the Author and perfecter of your faith.
We use the rear-view mirror to look for dangers that pursue us, but not to live in and with those dangers that are no longer a threat.
Learn from what’s behind, but leave it behind.
Cut the bondage rope. Use all of our rear-view mirrors to be aware of the blind spots and trust God to reveal any unseen dangers.
Learn from your past, but let’s not live there. Live in the forward moving vision of transformation and freedom, not the bondage of the past.
by John Fort
Director of Training
Summer is almost here and while many of the changes that come with summer are positive for your child, there are also some challenges that may affect their safety. Safety, in this case, is related to a child’s sexual integrity. Here are some things to think about.
SOME CHALLENGES OF SUMMER
Summer usually means increased unstructured time. Children have always had a greater tendency to “get in trouble” in the months they were not involved in structured educational activities. This does not mean children should not have free time or get a break during summer. Children may need help knowing how to use free time well, however.
At first unstructured time feels freeing to a child when summer starts, but often that freedom turns to frustration. I remember laying on the floor as a kid during summer and complaining loudly, “Mom, I’m bored!” Kids sometimes get into trouble in their attempts to cure boredom.
Any form of sexual stimulation, including fantasy, is exciting. It is also easier and faster to look up excitement online than to find excitement in a more healthy way. Quick and easy is attractive when a kid is bored.
Some children may feel disconnected if they are used to seeing other children every day, or at least more often during non-summer months. Children, like everyone else, need interaction with peers. Isolation is not good for anyone, much less children.
Sexualized media can feel like being connected to others, which is compelling if there is a sudden decrease in interaction with friends. It is a lot easier to indulge in sexualized content than to go find friends to play positive games together with.
Filling the Void
Sexual temptation for a child is often just a desire to “fill the void.” The void may be boredom or isolation. During summer months, both boredom and isolation often happen more frequently to a child.
SOME SOLUTIONS FOR SUMMER
Kids do not naturally know how to emotionally regulate themselves. When a child feels upset they do not know how to calm down without help. When a child feels depressed they do not know how to lift their spirits on their own. Parents are a child’s emotional regulator until the child learns how to regulate themselves.
However, you can not always be there when your child needs to regulate emotions. This is why it is better to help your child learn to respond well to negative emotions rather than you always “fixing it” for them.
For example, if your child is bored, rather than come up with something for them to do, help them brainstorm their own solution. Then, the next time they say they are bored you can say, “I showed you how to think of fun things to do. Why don’t you try it on your own this time?” Or, perhaps a stepping stone in the right direction might be, “Why don’t you go make a list of possible things you can do, then come back and tell me what you came up with?”
The more unstructured time your child has the more often they will need to resolve emotions on their own. Don’t expect them to be able to do this very well at first. While you may need to help a lot at first, your goal can be to wean them off of always needing you to be directly involved in helping them find positive things to do.
Teach Time Management
It will help your children if you set some basic guidelines for time management. When are they allowed to use digital devices? When can they go play with their friends? When is reading time during the summer months? When is it time to do chores?
Set up schedules early in the summer, not day by day. It can feel quite unsettling to a kid to wake up during summer, excited to have a day off, then be surprised to learn they have to do a list of chores. It would be helpful if the child knew ahead of time about the chore instead of being surprised by it.
If your child is eight or older, it is good for them to have some days where you are not deciding their schedule. You may have a couple of hours of the day that you have planned for them, but they do need to learn how to structure their own time.
Know What Your Kids are Doing
Extra unstructured time also gives a lot more opportunities for your child to get into things that can be harmful to them. Harmful situations often occur in the digital world, such as phones, tablets, TV, YouTube, electronic games, and so on. However, I will not discuss that here.
You can learn about digital safety at home here: A Family Digital Safety Plan
The only thing I will add here is that summer is not a time for your child to suddenly increase his or her use of digital devices. Whatever limits you have in place for digital devices during the school year should remain in place all summer. The extra free time in summer is not for your kids to play more video games or watch more movies.
What parents sometimes forget, however, is that the Internet is not the only place kids are exposed to sexual scenarios. The second most common source children are introduced to sexual topics and situations are other kids. This includes siblings, relatives, and kids in the neighborhood.
The scenarios include hearing sexual jokes, sexual stories, learning sexual terms, sexual experimentation, and potentially sexual abuse. Children introduced inappropriate sexual ideas and situations to each other long before the Internet existed.
I do not want you to suddenly be afraid for your child to spend time with other kids. Isolation is not healthy for any child. However, it is good to know where your child is, who they are with, and what they are doing.
Here are some family rules to consider:
I did say it is important to teach children how to come up with things to fill time on their own. That does not mean you should not help now and then. Your kids should get to do something really fun a few times during summer. Sometimes kids need a little help expanding their thinking.
Make a Family Calendar
A family calendar is where you put all the ideas in this blog together in one place. I would highly suggest using a large desk calendar rather than a digital one. These have lots of space to write and kids can see an entire month at a time. This helps kids see when something exciting is coming up if it is more than a week away. Put the calendar somewhere that everyone sees frequently.
Get the entire family together and create the first month together. To get by in from the kids, start by writing in a few fun things they want to do instead of starting with chores. Let them see when they get to do things they are really looking forward to.
Here are some things you might add next:
These are just a few ideas to get you started.
Your Child’s Free Time Schedule
You might have your child brainstorm a list of things they want to do during free time. If they want help, you can make a few suggestions, but try to help them come up with most of the ideas. Then, when free time comes have them get their free time list and pick something to do.
Help your child balance alone time with other children and even adults. Some children will gravitate toward time alone and others will want to always be with friends. Kids need some of both. If your child’s list is all alone activities or all group activities, challenge them to come up with some ideas on both sides.
This may sound overly structured, and it may be for some children, but it is a good place to start. If you see your child is doing well after a while you can ease off and see how they do on their own, without your reminders.
There will be Mistakes
No matter what you do, it is likely that your child will make mistakes during the summer. They might hear a sexual joke. They might see an inappropriate image. There is no reason to panic about this.
When something like this happens it is not because your child is a monster. Your child, like all other children, will sometimes make poor choices. When a child makes a poor choice it is an opportunity to teach them how to make better choices in the future.
Prepare for a Great Summer
Get started today!
You are the right parent to do this with your kids. You can do this. Now is a great time to plan for a safer summer!
by John Fort & Anne Kerr
Starting with Your Childhood
John: In my book, Honest Talk, I challenge parents to share with each other things about their past that they may have never shared with anyone. I ask couples to share something their parents did not tell them about sex that negatively influenced them. I also ask them to share with each other how they imagined God viewed sex when they were teenagers. Shortly after the book was first published a young couple told me that they had never talked about what shaped their sexuality when they were young with each other. They shared how much it helped their marriage to be able to talk about their childhood past. They learned things about each other they never knew and could better understand each other.
Anne: Sexuality is a central and integral part of being human. Sexuality is shaped over a lifetime beginning with the emotional bonds parents form (or don't form) as infants. Because of the ways past sexual encounters impact you, they can shape your views of yourself, your view of others, your world, and God.
Because sexuality is so significant to your life and because sexual experiences impact you so deeply, sexuality can also be an area of significant growth for you. An important part of that growth involves acknowledging the experiences and encounters that helped shape you.
Your stories matter. In many cases, they hold the key to healing from sexual wounding or finding freedom from recurring sexual struggles. As you think about your childhood experiences you can then respond with compassion to the child within you. This will then help you respond with grace and compassion to your own children and identify with the challenges they may face.
Preparing to Help Your Child: Remember what Childhood is Like
John: We are inviting you to take some time alone with God to think about some of the ways your sexuality has been shaped, starting in childhood. What messages did you hear about sex when you were young? Was sex portrayed as dirty or beautiful? Did you encounter pornography and what was your reaction if that happened? Did people refer to you in sexualized ways or objectify you? Did you come across a sexualized story or hear a sexual joke? Did you have other encounters or experiences with sex?
It is important to remember that most of these situations were beyond your control. Even those that you may have had control over, you certainly did not understand how to navigate them as a child. Make a list, mentally or in writing, of all the things that affected how you viewed sex and what your feelings were about sex as a child and teenager.
Anne: I hope and pray that you’ll consider doing this exercise, though it may not be easy. As you do, be kind to your younger self. Don't criticize or condemn. Remember that you were a child with limited information as sexual things began to enter your world. Perhaps you weren't protected or loved well. You likely experienced feelings of pleasure related to sexual encounters, which is completely normal. It may be helpful to let this inner child speak freely now. Often children are silenced in their most vulnerable moments by fear, threats, guilt, or shame.
I'd like to share some things to consider and pray about before you begin this exercise: Knowing your sexual history can be helpful but it may also be difficult to process or express. Deep feelings are often attached to these memories and you'll likely need to address some of the beliefs that surfaced from your experiences. Often it is not the trauma itself that causes the most damage but the lies or beliefs we adopt as a result of it. Such beliefs may be related to identity or worth. Ephesians 1:1-2:10 contains beautiful truths related to our true identity in Christ.
John: I suggest showing this post to your spouse if you are married. If you don’t feel safe sharing this information with your spouse, perhaps a close friend of the same gender. Then ask if they would be willing to share their answers with you and you share yours with them. If you can think of no one, consider seeing a counselor to help with this.
The purpose of this sharing is actually not about you, although I expect this process would benefit you. The purpose is so that you can be more helpful to your children as they navigate their own emerging sexual feelings, confusion, and questions. If you have not worked through your own childhood experiences with sexuality it will be difficult for you to have helpful conversations with your children to help them in theirs.
Questions to Discuss
Anne: All of your past experiences can and will be used by God who promises to work all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purposes (Romans 8:28). Trust God in this. He was there then, He is with you now, and He will guide you into whatever is next for you.
We are hoping that you and your spouse will be able to do this exercise together, but if not, whoever you decide to do this with, here are some things to discuss together:
Be Kind to Yourself so You can be Kind to Your Children
As you look with fresh eyes at the various influences that worked to shape your sexuality, remember to be compassionate and kind to your younger self. Ask God to lead you to the next step in your own recovery and/or redemption journey.
Remember, as difficult as this work may be, you're in a tender place with God. Becoming more comfortable with your stories and finding any needed healing will reap huge dividends as you work to become an ally to your child in today's culture.
Here are some resources for you as a parent that may be helpful in your own journey:
by Jonathan Daugherty
Founder & President of Be Broken
There is a process to recovering fully from sexually addictive patterns. It is simple: Heal --> Grow --> Share. In a previous post I wrote about what healing looks like in this process. In this post I want us to explore the next stage: Growing. This stage focuses on three primary areas of growth: emotional, spiritual, and relational.
No one struggling with sexually addictive patterns is emotionally healthy. You might want to pause and reflect on that statement for a moment. You might even want to argue with it. But in my many years of hearing thousands of life stories of sexually addicted men and women, I have yet to meet one who exhibited emotional health or maturity in conjunction with their addictive lifestyle. Emotional maturity and addiction just don't go together.
Therefore, it is essential that emotional health be a high priority when seeking to grow into a man or woman of sexual integrity. This means "growing up" and leaving childish ways behind.
1 Corinthians 13:11
When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man (adult), I gave up childish ways.
Most sexually addicted individuals act like children emotionally. This is largely due to the fact that lust teaches a person to be self-centered, controlling, ill-tempered, angry, and deceptive. Just like a 2-year-old. But in order to be a mature man or woman of integrity, childish ways must be given up.
Often, counseling can be very helpful in understanding and overcoming childishness. Also, getting into a group of mature people can help sharpen these emotional skills.
The bible promises that if we walk by the Spirit of God we will not gratify the lusts of the flesh (Gal. 5:16). But how do we "walk by the Spirit?" By deepening our intimate relationship with God through Jesus. We must grow in our dependence upon God.
Most of us know the things to "do" when it comes to "spiritual growth," but few engage these activities in the way God had in mind. We know to pray, read our bibles, feed the hungry, care for orphans and widows, and serve the poor. But too often we engage in these disciplines with a "box-checking" mentality, not with a heart eager to know God.
Spiritual growth never occurs through activity alone. God is a Person, to be related to intimately, not as something we do, but rather as Someone we know.
"And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”
Spiritual growth is about knowing the Way, not as a religious ritualistic journey, but as one knows a Person. Jesus is THE WAY! On this journey of growth as a man or woman of integrity, you must know Him. May this change how you engage prayer, bible study, and fellowship with others. These are not means to an end, they are ever-present points of contact with the living Jesus.
Every sexually addicted person has damaged relationships. Lust and love are not synonyms. Therefore, in order to move forward to a life of integrity, you must grow healthy relationships. You must learn to relate well with others.
1 Peter 4:8
Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.
Healthy relationships require stuff that doesn't exist in addiction. Stuff like sacrifice, forgiveness, sharing, communication, honesty, faithfulness, patience, and lots and lots of love. These are not characteristics that tend to come naturally, especially if you have had lots of practice being a self-centered addict. But there is good news! These are skills. Therefore, they can be learned.
The best context to grow relationally is -- in relationships! Duh. So, talk to your spouse. Spend time with your kids. Share your story with someone. Connect, connect, connect. Don't worry about "messing it up." There is no such thing as a "perfect" relationship. But you can have healthy ones, if you will work on growing in the area of relating well with others.
Growing is essential in becoming a strong man or woman of integrity. There are no shortcuts on this journey. But from a solid foundation of healing, you can grow into the person you always wanted to be. And from there, well, some pretty amazing things can happen...
Get More Help:
Resources for Men
Resources for Women
by John Fort
Director of Training at Be Broken
Safety for children in our digital world is a concern many parents ask for help with. To be clear, the digital world includes things like smart TVs, video games, tablets, and phones. All of these devices can access the Internet, which opens a Pandora’s box of harmful content to children. However, learning how to use these devices safely is a skill kids need before they turn 18.
The average age a child is first exposed to pornography is 9.66 for girls and 9.95 for boys. (Bentley, Lacy - 2016 - Gender & Childhood Pornography Exposure, Addiction/Brain Science) That means half of all children are being exposed to pornography before they are even ten. However, kids are usually exposed to pornography by accident, not on purpose. Studies show that 62% or more of children are first exposed to pornography while doing homework or some other accidental reason. (British Board of Film Classification, August 2019) Here are a couple of recent quotes to demonstrate this:
“Families say their kids were supposed to be using district-issued computers for schoolwork, but instead, kids were looking at pornography.”
(Josh Rosenthal, Nov 24, 2020 - Fox 5 News, Washington DC, https://www.fox5dc.com/news/montgomery-county-students-exposed-to-porn-on-school-is-laptops)
“One minute a child could be looking at their favorite toy [online] and the next thing you know there’s porn on the screen.”
(Niki Whitaker, executive director at the Baldwin County Child Advocacy Center, Jan 26, 2021 - https://www.wkrg.com/health/coronavirus/news-5-investigates-online-risks-children-face-with-more-screen-time-during-pandemic/)
Parents are usually not aware when their children are exposed to porn. One study interviewed over 2,000 children and their parents in 2019 and the following was discovered. (British Board of Film Classification, Ibid)
Things to Consider
It is unfair to expect a child to manage digital technology in a safe manner without significant help from parents. A child will not know what to do to avoid exposure to porn or what to do if they are exposed to porn without being taught.
Children have a harder time resisting porn than adults. A child’s sex drive grows to adult levels within two years after puberty but the part of their brain that helps them control their sex drive will not mature until their mid twenties. Expecting a child to resist pornography while at the same time having unrestricted access to smart TVs, video games, tablets, and smartphones is asking more than children are capable of.
Here are a few suggestions to help kids have a safer experience.
Less screen time is better for all of us, children in particular. Here are some guidelines from the Mayo Clinic. (Mayo Clinic, Health & Lifestyle, Children’s Health, Screen Time and Children: How to Guide Your Child. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/childrens-health/in-depth/screen-time/art-20047952)
I know this is hard. Most kids spend way more than two hours a day on screens, and thinking about reducing that time feels daunting. You probably know what it is like to have a kid melt down when you ask them to stop playing a video game or using a tablet. But an angry reaction to being asked to rejoin the real world should be a warning sign that kids are getting too dependent on the artificial, digital world.
Kids view the digital world as the real world. That is where many kids interact with their friends. It takes more work on your part, but helping your kids meet and spend time face-to-face with other kids is much better for their mental health. Limiting screen time is about much more than avoiding pornography.
When to Give a Child a Device
I’ve talked with a lot of professionals and my personal recommendation to parents is not to give a child their own Internet device until they are at least 14. Before you think I’m too restrictive, consider that the men who created this digital world did the same with their kids. Bill Gates did not allow his children to have cell phones until they were 14 and he strictly limited screen time for them until they were 17.
Steve Jobs prohibited his kids from using an iPad at all before age 18, even though he helped create it. (Chris Weller, “Bill Gates & Steve Jobs Raised Their Kids Tech-Free”, Business Insider, Oct 24, 2017) These men know more than you or I ever will about the digital world and look at what they considered critical for their own kids!
Alternatives to SmartPhones
That does not mean your kids cannot have a phone until 14, however. Today there are several companies that make devices that look like smartphones and smartwatches that have a camera, music, calculator, text service, and a phone, but absolutely no Internet access or ability to host apps. Some of these are better for younger kids and others have things like a map feature that young teens might want.
Rather than take up space here, I will point interested parents to this very recent post that compares these devices to help you decide what might be the best fit for your younger kids.
When it is Time for a SmartPhone
While you want to delay giving a child a smartphone it is best that your child learn how to manage a real smartphone before they leave home. You will have to decide when to allow them to have one as each child is different, but somewhere between the ages of 14 and 18 they need to learn how to use a smartphone safely.
This means locking the phone down at first so your kid cannot add apps on their own. Use something like the Bark app (bark.us) to see how well your child handles being online before allowing them to choose an app. When they are able to go a couple of months without misusing the Internet, allow them to select one app to start with.
When it is time to let them have one app, visit https://protectyoungeyes.com so that you are aware of the potential dangers of the app your child wants. This organization specializes in monitoring what all apps that children might use do and where the pitfalls are.
Other Ways Kids Access the Internet
Children access the Internet through other devices as well. In addition to computers, any smart TV and most video game consoles will allow the user to surf the web. It is smart to have monitoring software, such as Bark or CovenantEyes, on devices that allow them, but no software can monitor all these kinds of devices. If you want to monitor all Internet activity happening in your home you need something that operates from the home router.
I won’t take time here to explain how that works, but one solution is RouterLimits, which is a device you plug into your home router that monitors all Internet activity using your home WIFI network. That would include visitors to your home who you let use your WIFI.
Router Limits can also be used to restrict what times people can access the Internet. This means you could shut the Internet down in your home at night, in case kids try to use the Internet behind your back.
To learn more, visit: https://routerlimits.com
Prevention Science has clearly demonstrated that the three most important things to protect your child from getting involved with pornography (or any other harmful behavior for that matter) are parent-child bonding, healthy beliefs, and clear standards. In addition to bonding with your children and sharing your beliefs, you need to set very clear standards around Internet use in your home.
Here are a few family rules you might consider:
It is very important to note that any rules for children should apply to parents. If your kids don’t take their phones to bed, neither do you. If your child’s Internet history is monitored, so are the Internet histories of parents. I know this creates inconvenience, but there are two very big benefits of doing this:
This is a lot to think about! I would imagine that some of the ideas I am suggesting seem too hard or would require making a lot of adjustments for you, personally. So, rather than suggest you do all of these things, I have a simpler challenge for you.
Look through the Things to Consider again, and find one thing you would be willing to try. Just one. Even taking one of these steps will increase digital safety for your children. In fact, if your children can read well, have them join you in selecting one to start with!
This is not too hard, especially if you start with just one change. You can do this. Your children are in the right home, and you are the right parent to help them experience safety in the digital world.
More Family Care Resources
by Andrea Stunz
Wives Care team member
Dear hurting wife, I see you.
I see you because I know you.
I see you because I am you.
I see you your despair behind your cleverly crafted social media posts.
I see your questions because I, too, have questioned.
I see your fears for I, too, have nearly been consumed by my own.
I see your loneliness while standing in the midst of the crowd.
I see your tears when you are alone because you don’t want the kids to see. For if they see then they may also know your pain. You would never wish this on them. Not in a million years.
I see you sitting on your sofa staring out the window longing for life to flutter by and for hope to rise on the horizon.
I see you grasping for anything that is true.
I see you longing for something or someone you can trust.
I see you longing for someone to understand.
I see you wishing someone would validate your anger, because behind that anger is so much pain and sadness that desires connection.
Dear hurting wife, I see you.
I wish I could fix it for you but I can’t. I don’t have solutions.
But I can offer you hope. Even if only a glimmer of hope to keep those last few embers alive.
Dear hurting wife, this page in your story is a comma not a period.
Winston Churchill is quoted to have said, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”
Dear hurting wife, keep going.
Gently wipe that last tear to make room for the next one. It’s okay to cry.
Keep putting one foot in front of the other – even if the steps are small.
Please remember that two steps forward and one step back still leaves you one step forward.
Just like winter miraculously turns to spring through the ache of death and buried seedlings push through barren soil reaching fierce for light, your pain will bear sweet fruit.
Those scars on your heart? They will become the most beautiful flowers in your garden.
Dear hurting wife, I see you.
More importantly, so does your Father.
Redemption may not bear the image your heart longs for, but redemption will come one way or another.
You are not alone.
“He is before all things, in Him all things hold together.” Colossians 1:17 NIV
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18 NIV
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 NIV
For further reading, you may find great comfort in Isaiah 54.
by Reese Crane
Triggers. Triggers are mysterious. They can be sight, smell, taste, a spoken word, a way you are touched. So in essence, all five senses are affected by triggers. If we have had any form of trauma, abuse, neglect, loss, we continuously attach those moments from the past to other things as time moves on.
For instance, if we were in a serious accident we might hear a screeching tire and freak out. If we lost a child, anytime we see a child their age we can be triggered and feel the loss as if it had just taken place. It usually leads to episodes of anxiety, isolation and for an addict, acting out in their addiction to escape the pain.
Think for a moment about the nation of Israel. They grew prosperous under Joseph in Egypt. (Genesis 41:41) But then after a few hundred years of flourishing and working as shepherds and farmers in Egypt, a pharaoh arose who knew nothing of the legacy of Joseph, the famine, how God rescued them, (Exodus 1:8) and he decided that because Israel was growing too big for his own comfort, they would subdue Israel and make them slaves.
As the story goes God heard their cries for freedom and sent Moses to deliver them. After 10 plagues and Pharaoh losing his firstborn son the Israelites were allowed to leave. God promised to bring them to a land flowing with “milk and honey” and a place they could forever call home. It came with a catch though. They had to go in and subdue the godless nations there before they could claim it. Beat down slaves had to go to war? Seriously?
The First nation they were to face was Jericho. A huge walled city that towered over the land. After a couple months of hanging out in the wilderness, providing for their every need, Moses sent 12 spies into the Promised Land for reconnaissance. Two of the ten, Joshua and Caleb said, "No problemo. We can take these cats with the Lord on our side." (Reese Revised Version) However, the other 10 said "No way, Jose! They are huge! We look like grasshoppers in their sight!"
They were triggered.
These 10 were also in Egypt treated as slaves with whips and forced to build the huge buildings that made up that towering metropolis. In fact, all they saw when looking at Jericho was a city that reminded them of Egypt. They most likely began to relive the pain of the whips, their feet in the clay making bricks and the harsh treatment from Egyptians taskmasters and fear gripped their soul.
And what if they lost the battle? Who knows what Jericho might do to the survivors. Beating? Raping? Other forms of torture? "No way am I going back to that again!" (Funny how later on in the wilderness they complained about their conditions so much they thought going back to Egypt was the lesser of two evils).
That one negative report caused God to say, “Ok you don’t think I can handle these guys after how I set you free from Egypt? Do you not remember that whole parting of the Red Sea where you stepped onto dry ground and crossed over into the land I was giving you and then I completely plundered the entire Egyptian army under water? Then you will stay in the wilderness and the generation to come will go in and take the land." And so it was.
The Israelites stayed in the wilderness for 40 years and the former generation died off except two - Joshua and Caleb. At around 80 years of age or so, they entered the land with the others of the younger generation - now middle aged - fought the battle and defeated Jericho. (Joshua 6) It could’ve happened 40 years earlier but everyone was afraid. Because they were triggered, those 10 spies sewed an incredible amount of fear among the whole nation of Israel - numbering most likely in the millions.
Triggers can prolong our journey to true freedom. Sometimes for decades. If we allow them to loom large over our life, like a walled city, we will never enter into all God has for us to experience. There’s a saying, “It’s always today in Traumaland.” But you can move through to tomorrow by holding fast to a loving Father who will not only carry you through the pain, the fire and the flood (Isaiah 43), He will fight the battle for you. (2 Chronicles 20:15-17).
by Jonathan Daugherty
Founder and President of Be Broken
Recovery from sexual (or any) addiction is difficult. (How's that for an understatement?) It's a messy process that requires fundamental changes to a person's life that previously had been left unchecked and unaccountable. Now there must be openness and honesty and community and self-examination and my goodness I'm getting exhausted just writing about it! But what I often see work its way to the top of the list of frustration in recovering sex addicts is that how to recover becomes more important than what needs recovering. Let me illustrate.
A Conversation with a Guy
A guy comes into my office (let's call him Guy). He has developed a deep sexual addiction over the past 20+ years. He was recently caught in an affair and began going to counseling and plugging into a weekly support group. It has been six weeks since he was caught, and now he sits in front of me to tell me his story and see what I have to say to him. This might be how a portion of that conversation would go.
"So, Jonathan, my wife wants to separate, my employer is weighing legal options since the affair was with a co-worker, and I'm hoping none of this leaks out to anyone in our church; my reputation would be shattered. How can fix all this?"
"What do you think needs fixing?" I ask.
"Are you serious? Have you been listening? My wife wants to leave, my job is on the line, and if this affair and the history behind it get leaked to my church, we could lose all our friends. What do you mean 'what' needs fixing?"
"Well, you have been married for 15 years, right?"
"You have been at this company for 10 years, even getting high praise and promotions along the way?"
"You are a prominent member and supporter in your church and have a reputation as a selfless person."
"So, I'll ask again, what needs fixing? It appears like you have it all together."
"Maybe for now, but it's on the verge of collapsing."
"And if you can keep your job, stay married, and be the 'good guy' at church, everything will be fine? There wouldn't be any need for significant, fundamental changes in your life as a man? Are you serious?"
"I guess I see your point, but how do I change?"
"Guy, you need to first focus on what needs to change before you can even consider how to change it. Let's start peeling that onion back and see just how deep the pain, secrecy and selfishness that led to secret sin goes. Then we can talk strategies for change. Are you willing to start this journey of discovery?"
"I hope so."
Focus on WHAT First
This is just one small example in thousands where well-meaning people who desire change get the cart before the horse. You cannot effectively map out strategies for recovery ("how") until you have thoroughly identified the brokenness ("what"). But even after you uncover all that needs healing in your life, you must continue to remain focused on what God wants you to do about it rather than how to do it. In fact, God emphasizes what over how a lot!
Here are just a few examples of "what emphasis" in the Bible:
You shall not commit adultery. (Ex 20:14)
But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. (Eph 5:3)
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. (John 13:34)
So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. (Gal 5:16)
And there are many others; pray for each other (James 5:16), carry each other's burdens (Gal 6:2), walk in the light (1 John 1:5), this is love for God: to keep his commands (1 John 5:3), My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you (John 15:12). These are the "what's" of recovery and faith. But God is generally pretty silent on the how's. Why is that?
HOW Can Be a Distraction from Connection
Have you ever noticed how easy it is to drift from emotionally and spiritually connecting with someone when the relationship becomes more about "how" than "what?" It's like the "system" of relationship supersedes the importance of authentic presence, interaction and, well, relating. Life becomes an endless list of boxes to check off, ensuring to everyone watching that how you live is the model of perfection (and you usually don't mind the accolades that follow). In essence, you become a lifeless, empty image-builder; shining and spectacular on the outside, but void of any real substance or beauty on the inside.
As Jesus bluntly put it, "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness." (Matt 23:27-28)
Please don't misunderstand me to say that how we live is unimportant or that God doesn't value how's (for instance, how we are saved is through faith alone in Christ alone; there is no other way, or "how," to be reconciled to God). But the greater value must be placed on what needs healing and what we are called by God to be.
You can never engage a healthy "how" until you have plunged to the deepest depths of humility and honesty before yourself and God. Then, out of the brokenness of the real you, a new life emerges, ready and able to follow wherever (and however) the Lord leads.
So, what needs healing in your life & what is God telling you to do about it?
3 Questions for Diagnosing WHAT Needs to Change
Jesus boiled down what the focus of our lives is to be as his followers: love God and love your neighbor. (Matt. 22:37-40, Mark 12:30-31, Luke 10:27) It's really pretty simple, even if it doesn't come naturally to any of us! In order to discover what needs to change in our lives, we need to analyze the degree to which our lives are aligning with Jesus' simple command.
Here are 3 key questions to help you discover what needs to change:
1. What sin are you returning to again and again?
Sin, in all its forms, pulls us directly away from loving God and loving our neighbor. It is a declaration that I want to choose how to live my life independent from God and His Word. Sin is rooted in pride, and pride is not an attribute of love.
When habitual sin takes hold of our lives, that's a major problem. That is a "what" that needs to be addressed in order to be redirected toward love. When you get clear on the specific sin(s) that needs correction, then you can start working on the "how" of correcting it.
2. Who is truly Lord of your life?
There is only one God. He is Creator and Sustainer of life and the cosmos. But he made human beings in his image, with the ability to choose. We consistently choose against him and his ways. There is a battle that rages in the heart of every human: will I trust and obey God or will I trust and obey myself? In every moment of life, we are choosing someone to be Lord.
What do you believe gives you the greater probability of loving God and neighbor: surrendering to God as Lord or choosing to live by your own wisdom and will? (The answer is obvious, right? Even if we rarely choose the right answer...)
When you confess Christ is Lord, then with the help of His Spirit, you can start mapping out the steps that will lead to greater faithfulness.
3. In what ways are you ignoring or harming your neighbor?
You were made for love and to love. God loves you and wants you to love others in the same way. But as we have shown above, pride and self-centeredness harden our hearts. Sometimes we don't even recognize how deeply we are hurting those around us because of our sin and pride.
Ask God (and some family and friends) to help you see the ways in which you are ignoring or harming others. Confess and repent. And begin looking for opportunities to love others in the same gracious way God has loved you.
When you get clear on what needs you change, then you can start working on how to change.
by John Fort
Director of Training at Be Broken
How do most parents first react when they discover that their child has engaged in pornography or other problematic sexual behavior? After the initial shock and possible feelings of fear or anger, parents typically think, “I’ve got to fix this!” The question I want to pose is, fix what, exactly?
When a child repeatedly accesses pornography, the pornography itself is not the cause of the problem. When a child engages in some form of problematic sexual behavior, either alone or with others, the behavior itself is not the source of the problem. These are symptoms of an inner problem, not where the problem started.
An Opportunity for Connection
If you discover your child is doing something sexually inappropriate, I would challenge you to think of it as an opportunity to connect. I realize that will be difficult and requires you to step back to take a deep breath first. However, allow me explain the value in doing this.
Children do not engage with pornography or sexual behaviors for no reason. They do not do these things because they are “bad” either. Something has to happen first, before the child seeks these things out. Something has to happen that causes the child to feel a need they do not know how to meet otherwise.
A child may expect to be punished or ridiculed, but when you as a parent react with caring curiosity it flips a switch in the parent-child relationship. The child realizes more clearly in that moment, “Oh, you do care about the inner me! It really is true that your love isn’t dependent on my behavior!”
They Don’t Know Why
It is a natural reaction for a parent to ask a child, “Why did you do that?” when they are caught engaging in problematic sexual behavior. Natural or not, it is unfair to ask that question. I guarantee you that your child likely has no idea. Children will also ask themselves, “Why did I do that? How could I be so stupid?” They don’t know, which likely makes them more ashamed of themselves.
If you have asked your kid why they did that, it is okay, you have done no permanent damage. We all ask the wrong question of our kids from time to time. You can be ready for next time with a better response.
An Opportunity for Discovery
After assuring your child that you love them, you can help them discover why they did what they did. This may take more than one conversation, but that is okay. More conversations only means a stronger connection between you and your child in the end!
Boiling things down to the very basics there are essentially two reasons a child would engage with sexually stimulating behaviors:
Thoughts and Feelings
Examples of thoughts and feelings that cause a child to escape through sexuality include:
I could list many more examples, but I think you get the picture. Thoughts, beliefs, and feelings can be too difficult for a child or even teenager to face alone. Without clear alternatives, children may turn to sexual stimulation. Dopamine does an excellent job of temporarily shutting these negative feelings down.
Sexually stimulating behaviors, which includes porn use, can temporarily make them feel better, good enough, safer, freer, and loved. Of course, all of this is artificial—they are not really suddenly good enough, safer, freer, or more loved—but it feels real enough to a kid.
Experiences that cause problems include early sexual experiences and abuse, but they can also include non-sexual experiences that felt very scary. Sexual stimulation can be an attempt to make sense of sexual situations in the past or they can be a way to block out painful memories of the past that are not sexual.
Sometimes the past experience was accidental porn exposure that made them feel very excited and good inside. They may want to return to porn, or whatever stimulating event they had, to get that feeling again. It can be that simple.
Four Simple Steps to Healing
You and Your Child
Your child is not bad if they did one of these things, they are just acting immature. Your child is much less likely to associate their sexuality with shame when you treat their immature misuse of sexuality as an opportunity to learn. This is especially true if you share your own stories of immature behavior in the past. Working through the “why” gives a positive spin on conversations that could otherwise be very difficult and painful.
You did not manage your sexuality perfectly when you were younger and neither will your child. Your child “messing up” is an opportunity for you to help them do better in the future. You can help your child respond in more productive ways to things like the need for excitement, freedom, and to cope with feelings and past experiences.
Get more help on this topic through our online parent-child course, A Family Game Plan for Tackling Porn Use
by Dan Wobschall
Director of Gateway to Freedom
The three most important days of your life:
Jesus asked this most critical question of his disciples in Mark chapter 8, verses 27-29.
And Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. And on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” 28 And they told him, “John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.”29 And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.” (Emphasis added)
Who we believe Jesus the Christ to be is the most important answer in life. That answer determines the path toward healing and freedom and the discoverability of the purpose of our lives. No other question you will ever answer has the impact of this question.
My Story and My Answer
I was around the age of 12 when I stumbled upon a pornographic magazine in our home. That moment changed the course of my life forever. In a moment, how I viewed life, women, self, and others began a dangerous and twisted path that nearly led to me taking my own life at age 42.
Pornography became my drug and medication of choice for physical and primarily emotional pain. I experienced bullying in various forms as a child and adult from various sources. Many without intention, but certainly some people quite willingly inflicted emotional and physical wounds on my young self.
I married the most grace filled woman at age 24. Nearly 38 years later I’m married with the same stunning woman. We are parents to 3 adult daughters, a grandson and son-in-law that we don’t deserve, but thank God for daily!
But there was a time I feared I was going to lose them along with a hopeful future. That began when Julie (my wife) discovered a nearly two-year-long online relationship with another woman.
That was in late 2003 and it was during this time period thoughts of ending my life became a planned way out. But God in His mercy stopped me in my (car’s) tracks on a Friday evening.
I’d realized I needed help when my depression was so severe I literally could not make myself eat. I was losing weight at frightening speed.
In March of 2004 I was part of a stage crew at a Christian event in our small town. I met new friends and began making changes I knew I needed to make.
The path was being paved for me to confront my belief about the person of Jesus. Following the event, a concert, I knew something was different within me. I could not readily identify it until the next morning. As I sat on the couch listening over and over to two songs from the album relating to the night before, my heart broke. Snapped like a twig.
That morning the answer became clearer than even before. Jesus was and is my Savior! I didn’t simply invite Jesus into my heart and life, I quite literally begged him to come in and take over.
He did and continues to do the good work today that He began in March of 2004. I once was blind and by God’s grace now I see.
The call on my life (and yours?) is revealed
It’s actually clearly and simply revealed what God’s call is on every Christ-follower’s life. Jesus himself spoke it in Matthew 28:18-20.
18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Emphasis added)
Life’s call revealed and a promise given; Go make disciples and the promise from Jesus to always be with me on this mission and our given purpose. The call for all of us is to make disciples of Jesus Christ. For those who are followers of Jesus we know this and believe it to be truth.
I have found meaning, purpose and how to live out that mission in relationship with Jesus. So can you.
God will not force himself on us. It’s by grace through faith we find salvation in Jesus the Christ. It cannot be earned. None of us is good enough to do that. It’s why Jesus went to the cross. To pay a price you and I cannot. A price we owe but are woefully incapable of paying.
A Good Work Prepared – Your Unique Purpose
Ephesians 2:10 "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them."
Before our birth, God ordained and created for each of us good works to do. As we pursue our relationship with Jesus, God will reveal those works to us. It takes intentional effort and persistence to discover and clarify that purpose, that good work.
The journey to discover or re-discover your God given purpose that has been uniquely prepared for you awaits. Through a process that challenges you to interpret your life in a way you likely never have, your purpose is discoverable.
What Gets in the Way?
The list of what distracts us from fully engaging the healing journey and discovering our purpose or even catching a glimpse of it is lengthy. Here are a few of the more common sources of distraction. (Certainly not exhaustive)
Maybe you can identify your healing and purpose killer in this list, or maybe not. The important truth is that you do have a real God given purpose for your life. A purpose that only you can truly accomplish. This purpose will bring you fulfillment and more importantly help others as the primary by-product.
Unhealed wounds will and do get in the way of experiencing God’s life to the full he intends and the purpose He planned in that fullness for us to “walk in”.
Our purpose is not primarily for us, but it can and will fulfill us in so many ways. And right now, I invite you into the journey.
This is the good work God has called me to. It’s an honor to serve Him, by serving you. I’d love to hear from you. If you have an interest in finding out more about how the healing and purpose discovery process works, please reach out and let’s have a short visit.
I’m still a student of this journey and suspect I will be until the day Christ returns or calls me home.
Courageously forward my friends.
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