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 Jonathan Daugherty
Founder & President of Be Broken
"The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step." -Chinese proverb
If you or someone you love is addicted to pornography or other unhealthy and unwanted sexual activities, there is certainly sickness present. It may not be a physical sickness (although many porn addicts report they don't feel well much of the time). But there is always emotional and spiritual sickness in those who develop sexually addictive patterns. And if the one sick is to become well, healing must occur.
Before we dive into what it takes to heal from sexual addiction, we must understand the overall process and purpose of recovery.
Recovery is a process of healing from unhealthy compulsions and growing in one's God-given identity, for the purpose of encouraging others with similar struggles.
It is a lifelong process that invites a person to exchange their life of addiction (self-centered idolatry) for a life of purpose and meaning (selfless acts of service). With this in mind, let's dive into what it takes to heal from sexually addictive patterns.
Proper healing never happens without proper diagnosis. If you suffer from a head cold and a doctor inaccurately diagnoses you with bronchitis, whatever treatment is prescribed will have little effect on your actual illness. It is important to assess the problem carefully in order to develop a quality treatment plan.
When it comes to sexual addictions, it isn't as easy to diagnose as a head cold (or even bronchitis). There are many variables:
This part of the recovery journey can benefit greatly from counseling by a qualified sexual addiction counselor.
Take your time in the diagnosis stage. Be careful not to get "stuck" in analysis, but also don't be too quick to rush to "solutions" before you have adequately unpacked all that has been bottled up deep inside.
Secrecy is a big part of developing (and perpetuating) an addiction, so it is likely that it could take a while for everything that has been hidden to come into the light for examination. Be patient and keep bringing it all out. It will be painful, but it is pain with a good purpose: healing.
Once the diagnosis is made, there must be a plan for treating the sickness. How would you like to go to your doctor with the head cold I mentioned earlier, and after he diagnoses your cold he stands up, shakes your hand, and dismisses you from his office? No prescription. No advice. Not even a "hope you feel better" as you head for the door. I'm pretty sure you wouldn't keep that doctor.
The same should be true in recovery. Too often people keep going back again and again to "doctors" (i.e. helpers in recovery) who do nothing more than tell the patient, "Yep, you're addicted to porn and sex. Good luck." What? Healing from a sexual addiction does not occur through diagnosis only. There must be a plan for getting well.
The combination of counseling and support groups can be very helpful when developing a plan for your specific needs. These are environments that are designed to give you the time and space you need to absorb new thoughts and engage in healthy relationships that motivate you to live in a different way -- free from addiction.
God's Word is our ultimate source for truth and wisdom and guidance. And for those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ there is the promise of the indwelling of his Holy Spirit to "guide us into all truth." (John 16:13) Dig into the Word of God and spend time in listening prayer to learn what steps God wants you to take in your healing journey.
But a "prescription" doesn't fill itself. You ultimately have to "take your medicine."
"Take your medicine"
I remember being sick as a kid -- a lot! It felt to me like I was going to the doctor every week with a sore throat and fever. Every time I started to feel bad, I knew what was coming: the spoon. Yeah, I think you know what I'm talking about. The spoon that carried this liquid that was a color no one can describe. And the taste. Well, I'd rather not talk about it anymore. I'm not feeling too well...
I'm not sure why most medicines can't taste good, but it seems to be that way when it comes to the ingredients that make us well. The same is true in the healing process of recovery.
I wish I could say it "tastes" good to confess sin and brokenness, to make amends, to humble myself before God and others, to resist temptation, to reach out for help, to set up boundaries at home and work, and much more. But what the "prescription" for a life of integrity lacks in taste, it makes up for in effectiveness. This is what it takes to heal.
When you discover that the prescription, or plan, for your healing is actually for your good, you won't be as likely to resist it. In fact, you will reach out for the "spoon" and drink the weird-colored medicine because of its transformative effect. Over time you will even begin to "feel" better, not wallowing about in the cloud of addiction, loneliness, and shame. This is what healing looks like, and it is the first step of the long, and rewarding journey of recovery.
For help in healing from sexual trauma or addiction, consider the following resources:
Gateway to Freedom (3-day workshop for men)
40-Day E-Course for Men
40-Day E-Course for Women
Online Care Groups for Wives
by Jonathan Daugherty
Founder and President of Be Broken
How does your story fit into the Prodigal Son story?
Jesus got a lot of opposition from the religious leaders of his day. They didn't like what he was saying about God and his kingdom; his teaching didn't fit their narrative. So, in order to combat their false narrative, Jesus told stories to illustrate what he was teaching about God and how life was to be lived in His kingdom.
One such story that Jesus told was about a father and his two sons (found in Luke 15). It was actually the third story in a string of stories Jesus told to try and communicate how God loves to celebrate when lost possessions of great value are found.
The story of the Prodigal Son is about Pride, Prostitutes, Pigs, and a Party. As the story unfolds, see where your own story might intersect and discover God's heart for you no matter where you are on your journey.
Pride (I want it my way!)
Jesus said, “There was a man who had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them." (Luke 15:11-12)
One day this son goes to his dad and demands that he give him his inheritance. This is a bold, arrogant move because the father isn't even dead yet!
Before we wag our fingers too strongly at this young man, we probably ought to examine our own hearts on this matter. For all of us, in one way or another, have demanded the same from our heavenly Father. We may think because of our hard work "for the kingdom" God owes us blessings of comfort and prosperity. Or maybe we have some understanding of the spiritual "riches" we have in Christ but think we can then just snap our fingers whenever we want to "actualize" such "heavenly wealth."
Pride blinded this young son to the actual goodness of his father and the riches he already possessed as a member of his family. The more his eyes became fixed on himself and his own desires, the less he was able to recognize and enjoy the love and presence of his father. Dad was no longer a person to be known, but merely a resource to fund the son's selfish whims.
Amazingly, the father gave the son what he asked of him. What grace! And what wisdom. Some lessons can only be learned by actually receiving what our selfish hearts demand.
Whenever I have pushed back in disagreement or anger on any of God's boundaries, I have learned the hard way that the source of such rebellion was pride. In the moment, I couldn't see the love and kindness and wisdom of God's restriction; I only saw it blocking me from what I wanted.
Many times God would eventually give me what I was asking for, and I would do with His resources exactly what the Prodigal Son did with his father's inheritance: run away from home.
Prostitutes (the "fun" of sin ... for a season)
Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. (Luke 15:13)
The son finally had what he asked for and he wasn't going to waste any time getting busy with living however he wanted. He split town and headed to a place where no one knew him and he wouldn't be "bothered" by those religious restrictions of his father and their community.
I'm sure the son was having a fun time. I had lots of fun while I was sinning. Sin is fun! It feels good. It feeds base cravings and urges. But it also operates like a snowball rolled down a white-capped mountain. At first it seems manageable, but eventually its size and speed become unstoppable and dangerous.
The text says this boy "squandered his [father's] property in reckless living." Some translations say "in sensuous living." Sin is about the senses consuming whatever they can. Taste, touch, smell, sound, sight. Notice how sin entices the senses to take; the basic nature of sin is greed.
In a short period of time the young man blew through all the money his father had given him. This is what happens when sin is allowed free reign in a life without any restrictions or boundaries.
God didn't establish boundaries for us because He doesn't like us or doesn't want us to succeed or be satisfied. His law was given to show us the insidious nature of sin and how it will utterly destroy our lives if we give into it. God's law is based in His love for us; He is a good Father!
And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. (Luke 15:14)
Eventually, the ways of pride and greed lead to loneliness and and even greater need. The Prodigal Son, like us, thought that if he pursued everything his heart wanted that he would find true satisfaction. Instead, he found himself broke and alone. His condition actually worsened. This is the nature of sin: it leads to destruction.
But the son wasn't quite ready to give up on his venture. He still thought he could solve his problem on his own. He hadn't yet reached the necessary point of brokenness that would lead him home.
Pigs (the brokenness of true repentance)
So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything. (Luke 15:15-16)
The Prodigals Son's selfish decisions eventually landed him far from home taking a job he likely would have never considered just a few short months before: feeding pigs.
This may not seem like that big a deal to you, especially if you live in a western, non-Jewish nation. But when Jesus told this story he was speaking to an all-Jewish audience. The imagery of this young man taking a job to feed pigs would not have been lost on them.
Pigs were considered an "unclean" animal according to Jewish law. the Jewish people were not to have anything to do with pigs. So, the fact that this boy even considered taking a job feeding them was an indication of just how far he had wandered from his home. But even more startling than this boy feeding the pigs was the feeling he was having toward them: envy.
"...he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate..."
There probably couldn't be a better way to describe the lowest possible feeling that a Jew could have than to say he envied a pig! And that is exactly where the Prodigal Son found himself, feeling lower than a pig.
But Jesus knows that this is a great place for a wandering soul to be. Sometimes it takes a journey of prideful self-indulgence to get us to finally acknowledge our sin and brokenness. Many a soul has found the hope and delight of God's grace while covered in the muck of a stinky pig pen. And this is exactly what the Prodigal Son discovered.
Party (the joy of a faithful Father)
But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father's hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.” (Luke 15:17-19)
The Son finally "woke up" and came to his senses. He realized where his pride had taken him and he remembered the kindness and goodness of his father. He then formulated a plan to repent of his sin and make amends with those he hurt by his selfish actions. He hoped and prayed that he might just get a bunk with the servants.
Little did he know that the kindness and goodness of his father ran so much deeper than he imagined.
And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate. (Luke 15:18-24)
The father spent every day since his son left scanning the horizon in hopes that he might see his silhouette coming down the road. Now, finally, after many days (probably months, at least) he sees the figure of his son returning -- and he cannot contain his joy!
He runs to his boy (something a Jewish man with his wealth would never be expected to do!) and wrapped him in his arms and kissed him. The son tries to get his confession out, but the father overwhelms his words with an avalanche of grace. He calls out to have him clothed like royalty and for party preparations to be made immediately.
Imagine yourself as this son.
The last time you saw your father you were demanding money from him in a way that wished he were dead. Now, as you return home, covered in caked on mud and filth from the pigs you envied, this same father is embracing you and showering you with kisses and demanding that a party be thrown in your honor.
How do you respond? How could you respond? Do you see that grace has the power to completely overpower your defenses of shame? Could you respond to such grace with a statement like, "But Dad, are you sure about this? I mean I really screwed up! This party is way too much."
Your heavenly Father knows every step you have taken in your wanderings from Him. He knows how you have squandered his wealth on reckless living. He has seen the heaviness of your heart as you stare with envy at the "pigs" you are feeding. He feels your brokenness as you come to your senses and begin your journey home.
No matter what you have done, God's heart bursts with joy when he sees your silhouette rise on the horizon. He can't contain his joy as he runs to you, smile on his face, to sweep you up in his arms, kiss you, and throw the greatest party you could ever imagine.
That's how much your Father loves you. If you've been wandering, will you come home to him?
by Dan Wobschall
Director of Gateway to Freedom
The last 2 years have been challenging and interesting, to put it mildly.
I’m one of those people who seeks God for a “word” for the year. In late 2019 as I sought God for that very thing what I heard was not one, but two words: Grateful Vision.
In 2020 what I received was the word: Joy.
Little did I understand that those three words combined would be a compass to a lesson and path God would lead me down as well as allowing me to experience (once again) the pains when I think my way is better.
I am a perfectionist, but I’m just horrible at it (I borrowed that phrase from a good friend). Admittedly, that stung a bit when I realized how accurately that describes me.
#1 - We often see things as we are, not as they actually are.
The tendency for many of us is to see what's happening around us through the filter of our current circumstances. In other words, if our situation is troublesome, difficult and very painful, we tend to see the world around us through that lens.
This can send us in a downward spiral and we find ourselves (not everyone I understand) headed into depression-like mindsets. Even those who are typically glass-half-full folks over time slide towards the half-empty viewpoint.
This can be especially true for those in the midst of recovery and a grieving process. And, the holiday seasons can add to this.
In 2020 and into the first half of 2021, the two words, Grateful Vision, quickly vanished from my daily thinking and I found myself battling my old nemesis depression and anxiety.
It was mid 2021 before God opened my eyes, ears and heart to some cherished wounds, fears and anxiety that I’d been harboring in the deep corners of my soul. That’s where this lesson came to light and the journey out began.
Our Response: 2 Corinthians 10:5 “We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.”
#2 - Gratefulness is an antidote for Fear and Anxiety
Choosing gratefulness and thankfulness as a focus of our thoughts and daily actions will begin to displace fear and anxiety (anger also by the way) from our hearts. This does not happen by osmosis or accident.
Make a list of items to be grateful for and place them where you can see them every day. Not only read that list but speak the words out loud a couple of times every day. There’s a powerful transaction and impact on our minds as we hear ourselves speak truth over our own lives.
Seeing gratefulness as part of a daily worship practice is a helpful mindset.
Our Response: The Apostle Paul exhorts us to think this way as he wrote to us in Romans 12:2 “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
#3 - Gratefulness Lets Joy Back In
Have you ever felt like the joy in life has just left the building?
That’s what happens when fear, worry and anxiety have the throne of our hearts and souls. It can feel like darkness or heaviness is constantly sitting within us.
It can become exhausting and a drain on our energy and resources. Thinking becomes foggy or a struggle. The ability to focus for long periods of time becomes difficult. This is exactly what I experienced from mid 2020 to mid 2021. It feels like your emotional tank is almost constantly nearly bone dry or close to it.
Sleep can become disturbed or even if you sleep decently, you wake up tired still. If that connects with you in some way, I’m sure you’re not alone nor are going crazy. After all, the last 2 years kicked many of us around a bit.
This lesson on gratefulness and joy hit me in the midst of God leading me back to a wise counselor who helped me process what I was feeling. He helped me to see how my self talk had become toxic and gently re-focused me back to Jesus.
We have a real enemy that has come to, “steal, kill and destroy”. As part of his deceptive methods he relentlessly works to get our eyes off God and on ourselves. He wants to get us distracted and wrapped up in our own desires and little world.
When fear, anxiety and anger (and the like) wiggle their way into our minds, gratefulness and joy begin to be suffocated. Then, Satan can stand back and let us become our own worst enemy.
The lesson hit me hard during a week long sabbatical in September. Sitting in the woods of a retreat center I heard the thin whisper (still small voice) of the Holy Spirit. What He reminded me of was that all my worries about finances, lack of joy in my soul and having forgotten the call to “Grateful Vision” left me feeling very depleted and fearful.
I was truly living in a crippling fear of any financial calamity (imagined), health issue and feeling like I was failing as a man to provide for my wife in a way I believe she deserves.
The bad news: If I can be honest with you, I hated living this way and what made it worse was the awakening to the truth that I’d walked myself right into the valley of the shadow of death.
The good news: Psalm 23:1- 4
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures.He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
Our Response: Remind ourselves that the Lord is indeed my shepherd. He may not remove us from the valley, but He is walking through the valley with us. He guides, provides and sustains us through it all. He is faithful and will do it.
This song from Josh Baldwin, Evidence continues to be a reminder of the faithfulness of Jesus the Christ in my life. God uses this song yet today to guide me back to the truth of Psalm 23.
by Jonathan Daugherty
Founder and President of Be Broken
If you want to live a life of sexual integrity, you need to improve at resisting sexual temptation. If you don't improve at the point of temptation, all other learning and practices won't matter much.
In this post, I want to unload the best ideas for resisting sexual temptation that I've gathered and practiced in over 20 years of personal pursuit of greater integrity and professional ministry to thousands of sexual addicts.
These ideas are more practical than philosophical. After all, in the moment of temptation you need to take action. I hope these simple ideas will help you make better choices when tempted.
If you have some ideas that have helped you, I'd love to hear them. Send me your ideas for resisting sexual temptation, or post them in the comment section below.
Here are 7 ideas for resisting sexual temptation:
1. "I don't need to know that!"
"You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Gen. 3:4-5)
Every sexual temptation is an attempt to convince you that you need to know something that you don't. In other words, temptation is inviting you to "peek over the fence" to see what's on the other side.
One way to resist such temptations is simply to tell yourself: "I don't need to know that!"
God created us originally to only know good. But Satan convinced Eve and Adam that good wasn't good enough; they would be "better" if they knew good and evil. He tempted them by convincing them they needed to know something they didn't. This is at the heart of every temptation.
I realize saying "I don't need to know that" may be easier said than done in the moment of temptation, but give it a try. You might learn to relish such "not knowing."
I have been telling myself for over 20 years "I don't need to know that" in response to thousands of temptations. I can testify from experience, such "ignorance" truly is bliss.
2. Run Away!
"Flee sexual immorality..." (1 Cor. 6:18a)
Temptation of any kind is inviting you to stay and move toward it. This is why God's Word tells us to flee!
There are likely very few times in which you physically can't move away from temptation (for instance, if you are in an airplane). Most of the time, however, the option to move is available. Take it!
Interestingly, when you physically move away from temptation you are also activating other parts of your body to help with redirecting your attention. Such parts include your circulatory and respiratory systems which help with blood flow and oxygen to your brain, giving your prefrontal cortex an opportunity to "light up" and make a wise choice.
3. Look for God
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. (1 Cor. 10:13; emphasis mine)
Maybe the furthest person from your mind when you are sexually tempted is God, but you are certainly on His mind in that moment. In fact, He already knew (before you were born) that you would face that particular temptation -- and He has provided a way out for you!
Since it is true that God provides a way out for every temptation you could face, why not look for God and His way out when you're tempted? The more you train yourself to look for God when you're tempted the sooner you will resist temptation and get back to God's business in your life.
4. Talk to Your Future Self
You have probably heard (or said) the phrase, "If I knew then what I know now..." It is a way of saying that you would have made a better choice in your past if you had the information then that you have now.
What if you learned to reverse that process? Instead of wishing a different choice on your past self, what if you "talked" to your future self when you are tempted? Such a "conversation" might go like this:
You: Hey, future self, if I say yes to this temptation where does that lead me?
Future You: You will have a few moments of excitement brought on by adrenaline and dopamine and endorphins, followed by a crash that results in disappointment and shame. Your soul will feel heavy.
You: So, what happens if I say no to this temptation?
Future You: You will have a struggle for a brief time while you navigate yourself away from the temptation, followed by a deep sense of relief and gratitude to God. Your soul will feel light.
Some self-talk can be very healthy and constructive. Give it a try. I think your future self will thank you.
5. Phone a Friend
Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. -Galatians 6:2
Temptation is very personal, but that doesn't mean you need to face it alone. It is important to have some close friends who know your struggles and can help you resist temptations when they arise.
Thankfully, the world of technology we live in today makes it quite easy to reach out in the moment of temptation. Sadly, though, very few use this technology for this reason. Fear and shame can often paralyze us from reaching out for help when we need it.
I suggest that when you reach out to a friend for help to resist temptation that you connect with them verbally. Text or email just doesn't have the same effect as getting on the phone and speaking with a friend about the struggle you are facing right now.
When sexual temptation strikes, phone a friend and bear the burden together. There is strength in numbers when it comes to successfully resisting temptation.
For a simple, but effective, tool to help you reach out for help when tempted, check out this amazing app from our friends at Triggered.app.
6. Turn "What If" into "What Is"
It is very common when tempted to get on a "what if" train of thought. This creates all kinds of scenarios in the mind about what might happen if this or that decision is made. But it is important to recognize that everything about "what if" thinking is speculative; it isn't yet real.
Therefore, a good way to combat "what if" thinking, and to resist sexual temptation, is to replace "what if" with "what is."
"What is" thinking brings your mind back into reality. It grounds your thoughts in truth. Sometimes this is as simple as looking around the room you are in and naming items you see. Lamp. Chair. Bookcase. Window.
This may seem "silly," but I encourage you to try it. You might be amazed at how something so simple can break your "what if" fantasy thinking and bring you back into the real world. And once you are "reconnected" with the here and now you are in a much better frame of mind for making a different choice about whatever you do next.
7. Choose the Narrow Way
“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few." (Jesus in Matthew 7:13-14)
A life of sexual integrity doesn't form and mature naturally. In other words, resisting sexual temptation is not easy. There is struggle. It is a battle to say no to temptation. But it is a battle that is worth it because victory leads to peace and joy; to life itself.
Jesus said that the "easy way" is a wide gate that leads to destruction and many take that path, but that the "hard way" that leads to life is a narrow gate and only a few find it. This doesn't mean that God is cruel and wants to make it impossible for you to enjoy life. It means that you will "reap what you sow" when it comes to the investments you make in choosing to be a man or woman of greater integrity.
Will you choose the wide, "easy" gate or the narrow way of Jesus? Temptation would want you to believe that the easy way is the way to real satisfaction, but I think we have all walked that path enough to know that is a lie. While the narrow way doesn't look appealing (or possible) on the front end, it leads to lush pastures of true and abiding satisfaction for the soul.
Let's be courageous and take the narrow way when it comes to resisting sexual temptation.
I hope these ideas have helped. If you have ideas that have helped you resist temptation, please post them in the comments below.
by Kimberly Johnson
Counselor, Founder of Divine Identity
“Rejoice, O people of Zion! Shout in triumph, O people of Jerusalem! Look, your king is coming to you . . . “
Zechariah 9:9 (NLT)
I have one client in particular who is doing the laborious work of looking at her brokenness and letting Jesus heal her. Let’s call her “Jen” (not her real name).
Not surprisingly, most weeks when we began our session she would say something like, “This healing stuff is hard work, and I knew it would be. But I just didn’t know how difficult!” Every time she said this I would attempt to encourage her by reminding her that the difficulty doesn’t indicate that she is doing something wrong, but quite the opposite. In her case, it indicated that she actually was doing the real work correctly.
In our most recent session there was somewhat of a shift in our conversation. It went something like this:
Me: Hello, Jen. How are you?
Jen: You know, I’m actually okay!
Me: Hmmm, I think I’m hearing that as a good “okay” and a positive thing. Is that correct?
Jen: Yes, it really is!
Me: Excellent! What is making the difference?
Jen: (With tears in her eyes) I am beginning to see Jesus as my Prince Charming. Coming to rescue me and whisk me away.
Me: Wow, Jen! That is such a beautiful picture you’re painting. What is Jesus whisking you from, and what is He whisking you to?
Jen: (Even more tears) He is taking me away from my false ideas of Who He is. He is taking me away from the false ideas of who I think I am, and how He views me. He is taking me to a place where I understand that I am unconditionally loved and accepted by Him.
Incredible! This was great news. I was so excited for and rejoicing with Jen. Jen is not unique in that what originally led her to me was a struggle with porn and/or masturbation. She was somewhat unique, however, in that the sexual acting out struggle she experienced was not current. She had stopped the acting out some time ago. But she was plagued by the shame of the acting out and low self-worth from the things in her past. Jen needed a rescuer, and she found One in Jesus.
What honest woman would say she hasn’t wished for a Prince Charming to come and rescue her? The good news is, we have One. He is sitting mounted on His horse waiting to swoop in and rescue you. Not because He thinks you are helpless or pitiful, but because He delights in you and longs to take you to the place He prepared for you -- a place of love, light, truth and freedom. It is a place where you are no longer confined by life dominating habits and the small thinking of the lies of the flesh and the enemy.
“He brought me forth also into a large place: He delivered me, because He delighted in me.” -Psalm 18:19 (KJV)
You see, for most of us the true thing we need rescuing from is not the sexual behavior that we have grown to loathe, though we often think that is the case. Certainly, we do strive to abolish this habit in practical ways (many of which can be found here or at CovenantEyes). The behavior, however, is only a symptom of something deeper we need to be rescued from.
Jesus didn’t come to simply help us stop our sexual acting out. Jesus came to rescue us from the lies and long held shame beliefs that caused us to act out in the first place and then are often solidified by our acting out.
Do any of these thoughts sound familiar?
And on and on the list of shame lies could go…
I want to encourage you to be honest, and ask yourself what lies you have believed that you need rescuing from. For me, as I broke free from my own addiction I believed many of the above lies -- and even more! But as I began to dare to believe that Jesus not only came to rescue me from those lies, but longs to do so, I started to experience His freedom not only in my mind, but in my behaviors.
You see, as I realized I truly was valuable to Him the need for my coping mechanisms lessened as I learned that He was taking care of me and protecting me. As I had the audacity to cling to scripture and test Him as my Comforter I found I no longer needed to come up with my own false comforter of porn and masturbation.
What God did and is doing for Jen and for me He will also do for you. He doesn't show favoritism, after all!
Take that first step of trusting Him to be Who He said He will be for you.
Resources for Women
40 Days of Purity
Online Course for Women
This online course is for women who want to break free from pornography or any other unwanted sexual behaviors. Written and facilitated by Kimberly Johnson, counselor and founder of Divine Identity.
Learn more and enroll
by Dan Wobschall
Director of Gateway to Freedom
Stories. They can be fiction or nonfiction. There can be varying degrees of truth and creative freedom in the mixing of the two.
What is also true about most stories is their ability to connect with us at a personal level. They enable us to enter into another person's life even to a point of empathy, depending on our personal experiences relating to a given story.
The greatest of all nonfiction stories ever written and told is that of Jesus the Christ. The core tenants of His story are amazing. God in full deity chose to come into His creation in the form of His own creation. Mankind.
Jesus, born of a virgin girl in a very unclean stable, grew up experiencing the typical life of a child in the culture and society of that time. Yet fully God and fully human He grew up until He fulfilled the mission for which God sent Him: death on a cross. Many believed that was the end of Jesus' story.
It was not.
It may have been a chapter change, but Sunday morning, the third day was a barn burner of a new chapter of new beginnings! Jesus rose from the grave. He is alive! And Jesus' story continues to unfold before us today as the Gospel goes forth and his name is proclaimed.
He continues to set captives free and welcome His brothers and sisters into the family of God. What a story!
What about Your Story?
You do have a story. A story that can inspire others. Encourage at least one person (and likely many more) to keep going another hour, day, week and beyond. Believe it or not, your story matters.
You may say “but my story is a mess right now. How can I encourage anyone else with that?” Faithfulness to the truth of your story and transparency as you keep moving forward, no matter how slow it seems can and will give others hope.
And hope is at a premium in today’s culture and world.
God is the ultimate giver of Hope, and through Jesus the Christ can empower your story, even if it’s currently messy, to have impact and give hope to another. Hope usually looks a lot like someone who refuses to give up.
Below are the lyrics from My Story sung by Big Daddy Weave and written by Michael Weaver, Jason Ingram
If I told you my story
You would hear Hope that wouldn't let go
And if I told you my story
You would hear Love that never gave up
And if I told you my story
You would hear Life, but it wasn't mine
If I should speak then let it be
Of the grace that is greater than all my sin
Of when justice was served and where mercy wins
Of the kindness of Jesus that draws me in
Oh to tell you my story is to tell of Him
But if people knew!
I can almost hear some voices saying words akin to: Yeah, but if people heard my story, what I’ve done, there is no way anyone would listen or learn from it -- or even care. Can I be boldly honest with you (I’m going to anyway…) that’s a lie straight from the father of all lies, Satan himself.
Here’s what I know. God works in and through our confession and testimony and Satan hates it.
As we learn to share our story in proper context, form and settings we are living out James 5:16 where we are called to “confess our sins to one another and to pray for one another so that we can be healed.” The enemy of our soul hates the truth, which sets us free and will do whatever he can to keep you quiet about your story. Especially if we can sing; “Oh to tell you my story is to tell of Him!”
Now I will qualify this story telling with a word of caution. If you’ve never shared your story with anyone (outside of a counselor or in a similar environment) then getting wise guidance on how and when to do so is important.
It’s easy for the best of intentions to go sideways on you here. Sharing too much at the wrong time or environment can be painful or overwhelming. I’ve done this too many times, especially early on in my recovery journey. Please learn from my mistakes and the guidance of others.
I Think I’m Ready to Tell My Story. What now?
Great question. We have a form that you can use (See link below) that you can use to assemble your story. If you’ve never given your story a shape or words (a voice), this form can be a great starting point.
And you don’t have to go alone. You can submit the form and someone from our staff will be happy to follow up with you after you’ve hit the submit button. This is a short story version of the form.
At Be Broken Ministries we value story. Your story. Your story and ours are in a continual state of being written (and rewritten!) with new pages and chapters being added by the day.
The song ends like this: “This is my story, this is my song, Praising my Savior, all the day long.”
I pray that in the days ahead, this too will be your song.
How to Tell Your Story
The information you submit on this form is confidential. Only care members of our staff will see your entries. We are here to help you, not harm you.
by Andrea Stunz
Volunteer Wives Care Leader
Growing up in Brazil, I was the little girl they propelled through the wrought-iron burglar bars on the windows when a neighbor locked their keys inside. I was small, and I liked it.
Now, I’m not small. But you know what? I love and respect my body more than I ever have. I have lingering issues from sexual abuse and betrayal trauma, but, most days, I can love myself more than I ever imagined. I see my body with gratitude and thank her for carrying me through my years of tears. She consumed too many convenience foods and endured countless sleepless nights. It’s been a brutal ride. My body has definitely kept the score, but she took one for the team. I love her for that! She deserves all the grace.
I’ve been a size ten, and I wasn’t happy about my body. I was a size six, and I wasn’t satisfied. A size zero? Not content. Now at a size eighteen, I’m more confident than ever before.
It has taken a decade of healing to come to terms with how fully Jesus loves me. In that love, I now have the freedom to love myself. I am his child, his beloved daughter. He created me, and he can’t not love me. My body needs some attention, and now that I’m more settled in other areas of my healing, I have the margin for that. For a while, I didn’t; there were other more pressing matters.
Those of us who experience betrayal and/or other sexual wounds have been fed lies about who we are, and many of us have believed them.
Whether spoken to us or perceived by us, many of us have come to believe negative messages about our bodies. In most if not all of us, trauma from addiction and abuse produces a broken identity; our body image is definitely a casualty.
I can’t heal your negative body image, but I can offer a few tips that have helped me.
When thinking negatively about your body, ask yourself these questions and consider your motivation.
In keeping with the 4 C’s for Betrayal Trauma that we learn in our Wives Care Groups, I came up with 4 C’s for Body Image Recovery:
If you are on the path of not accepting your body – you are in for a very long battle – against an enemy you have no power to defeat. Nature, time, biology, fate…
You don’t have the weapons to fight those powers.
Wave the white flag.
It is then that your life will truly begin.
An excerpt from, Wave the White Flag, by Donna Ashworth
I believe negative body image messages are fear-based. We fear not being enough, being too much, not fitting in. We fear not belonging, not being desirable, or not achieving a certain level of success.
Love is the antidote to a negative body image. Perfect love casts out fear. God alone helps us become who he created us to be. Choose the love you are worthy of! You are beloved.
It is my prayer that the words of this song will wash over your beautiful body.
Belovedness, Song by Sarah Kroger
Resources to continue the journey:
Breaking Free from Body Shame, Jess Connelly
Surrender to Love, David G. Benner
The Cure, John Lynch
The 4:8 Principle, Tommy Newberry
The Dream of You, Jo Saxton
Try Softer, Aundi Kolber
The Truth in the Mirror, Karla Downing
Song: Masterpiece, Sandi Patty
by John Fort
Director of Training
It is a familiar story: a person struggles with sexual brokenness, they finally get help, their life changes and they experience real freedom, then months or years later they find themselves struggling once again. It can feel like nothing works. It can feel like we are too broken to be fixed. It can feel like maybe God doesn’t care enough to help in the long term.
None of these thoughts are true; they are misguided. The misunderstanding that occurs is when we come to believe that the successful outcome of seeking help for sexual brokenness is to stop emotional pain or a specific behavior. This is true for any form of sexual brokenness, including a betrayed spouse, sex addict, survivor of sexual abuse, or child struggling to resist temptation.
The goal of healing is not to stop negative feelings or even behaviors.
Journalist Johan Hari said in his Ted Talk, “The opposite of addiction is not sobriety, it is human connection.” Changing behavior is something we want, but not the goal. I believe the same is true when dealing with the emotional pain that comes from sexual brokenness.
There are multiple steps to healing from sexual brokenness. In the beginning, we do have to do some work in several areas before we can see much progress. Those areas include the following:
Any form of sexual brokenness will have accompanying trauma. In fact, some form of trauma is almost always what creates sexual brokenness in the first place. That trauma does not have to be sexual, but it affects our sexuality. We need help addressing our trauma as part of our healing.
It is also true that in the beginning of our healing we need help examining our behaviors to look for ways we react to things that are not in our best interest. This is true of all forms of sexual brokenness. Part of coming out of brokenness is learning to react in more healthy ways to our world around us and the people in it.
A later stage of healing includes examining our beliefs and testing them against the truth. We may come to believe that others are not safe and cannot be trusted. Or we view ourselves as unworthy, unwanted, and of no value. Some of us decide God himself is not really good.
Such beliefs are based in past experiences and are hard to let go of, even if we intellectually understand they are false. Yet, this is part of our healing process.
WE (THINK WE) ARE DONE
This is where some of us stop. This is the point that we typically begin to feel better. We start to feel free from compulsive behaviors, deep emotional wounds, or both. Life is no longer so dark. We feel hope in a way we may have never felt before.
This is when many of us believe we are healed. We assume our healing process is finished and we can let go and relax. Within a few months or maybe a year, however, our sexual behaviors or deep wounds usually come racing back and overwhelm us once again.
THE MISSING CONNECTION
It is true that we need to address trauma, behaviors, and beliefs. But none of those things are what true healing is about. Those are just the precursors to lasting healing. Addressing trauma, modifying behaviors, and reframing our beliefs make it possible for us to do what healing requires: connect at a much deeper level with God and others.
We were created in God’s image for connection. God is communal in nature, illustrated by the unified Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Trinity is not a superficial connection, but a deeply vulnerable and utterly transparent interdependence. God created us in the same way.
We were designed to need vulnerable, honest, and transparent connection to thrive. When we do not have this kind of connection with God and others, we become broken.
The mistake some of us make is to withdraw from regular, honest connections once we reach a satisfactory point in our healing. We fail to recognize that the reason we found any healing at all was because of the honest and transparent connections we had to make use of in our healing process. Our recovery was as much about those regular connections as it was about trauma, behavior, and beliefs.
At the writing of this blog I have been meeting weekly with other men to be honest about my feelings, behaviors, and beliefs for 25 years. These regular meetings, perhaps more than anything else, are what keep my healing in place.
I am not suggesting that healing is something so fragile that we must keep bolstering it up to prevent it from falling apart. I am saying that healing IS connection. To be healed is to be connected with others in regular, open conversation. To be healed is to do life together with others who are safe. To isolate is to move away from healing and back toward brokenness.
HEALTH & FITNESS
We know we should eat well to stay healthy. We know we need a certain amount of exercise not to fall into frailty. We know that having outlets for creativity keeps us in better mental shape. Our connection with others is no different.
Eating is required to survive physically but eating better food will also make us healthier. In the same way, having connection with others is required for basic mental health but the quality of those connections determines the extent of our wholeness. Shallow connections help us survive but do not help us thrive. Only deep, honest connections can keep moving us in the direction of wholeness instead of brokenness.
For those of us who have been sexually abused, we need safe people we talk with regularly so we can bring up past wounds any time they attempt to resurface.
For those who struggle with compulsive sexual behaviors, we need regular connection with others who know our story and will support us as we work through any triggers that come up.
For those who have been betrayed, we need regular connection with others who know our story who can be an ally when we are occasionally reminded of past traumas.
For children and adolescents who are still trying to make sense of their sexuality and temptation, they need adults to regularly talk through what they are feeling and remind them they are not alone.
Allies like this are not just for the time we are in active recovery or healing. Allies are supposed to be forever. Allies are supposed to talk often. Allies should be available at all times to support each other when needed.
We sometimes forget that God commanded all of us to do these things on a regular basis. This is something every follower of Jesus is supposed to be doing, all the time.
Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. A prayer of a righteous person, when it is brought about, can accomplish much.
—James 5;16 (NASB)
Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.
—Galatians 6:2 (NASB)
The opposite of sexual brokenness is not sobriety or the absence of emotional pain. The opposite of sexual brokenness is regular connection with God and a group of allies as we journey through our life on earth.
by Dan Wobschall
Director of Gateway to Freedom
In the phone calls and conversations I’ve had with hundreds of men, one of the most common statements and themes is how the men have been trying to win their fight over addictive behaviors by themselves.
As one of our daughters is well known for saying: “I do it myself!”
Just like she did, these men finally ran out of options or it became too difficult or painful to keep working at building community.
So, what keeps us from asking for help?
Why do we continue to believe we can “manage” our sin or struggles on our own?
There are a number of reasons and they usually travel in pairs or more. Let's explore a few of them and I’ll give you a few ways to confront the lies that these reasons tend to communicate to us.
This is certainly not an exhaustive list, but covers many of the reasons men keep trying to handle their struggles alone.
The truth is none of us are meant to do life by ourselves. Most of us have heard this message before. Not everyone however. And we have an enemy who's out to steal, kill and destroy and his primary target is the truth.
I’m growing increasingly convinced that Satan is far more interested in keeping the truth out of our minds and hearts than he is trying to sew lies into our minds. He can compound the lies we already believe about ourselves by keeping the Truth out.
When truth is held at bay and lies of our identity and worth take root, we become the toughest bully we could ever face. We punch ourselves over and over again with self-abusive lies, such as, I’m unlovable, I'm defective, I'm worthless, I'm stupid and the list goes on and on.
After we have heard these words spoken over us by others loud enough, long enough and frequently enough we accept them as truth. At this point, Satan can then shift his focus on keeping out the truth.
In his book, “The Screwtape Letters”, C.S. Lewis wrote in letter 21:
“Yes. A period of sexual temptation is an excellent time for working in a subordinate attack on the patient’s peevishness. It may even be the main attack, as long as he thinks it the subordinate one. But here, as in everything else, the way we must be prepared for your moral assault by darkening his intellect.”
Lewis is also the author of Mere Christianity. This book graces the presence of my bookshelf in my office. One of the most influential books for many a Christian.
Yes, I understand the Screwtape Letters is fiction, yet Lewis writes as one who studied the Scriptures deeply as a lay theologian and served at Oxford University as a faculty member of the English department.
Back to the Garden
The serpent spoke to Eve in a way to get her to disbelieve the truth she’d already heard from God Himself!
Genesis 3:4-5 - “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
He works against the truth Eve heard and then sticks in the mix the deceit and lie that she can become just like God through the fruit and Adam follows suit, failing to protect Eve and the Garden God had charged him to manage.
In Romans 8:24-25 the Apostle Paul wrote addressing our exchanging the truth for a lie and it’s consequences: “Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.”
What or Who is Truth?
Jesus the Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life. (John 14:6)
“And you will know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” John 8:32
God’s word is truth. Jesus is the truth and he came to testify to the truth.
Is it any surprise that Satan aims to keep you and I from knowing and believing the truth of Christ?
The truth is that Christ paid the penalty for every sin you have committed or ever will commit.
When Christ said, “It is finished”, it was finished. Done. Paid in full.
You will find this verse at the end of each of my emails: Galatians 5:1 “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”
Here’s some truth that you may need to be reminded of today. As a man or woman who has confessed Christ Jesus as Savior and Lord, who stands forgiven understanding it is Jesus finished work that forgives your sin, God says you are HIS child.
You are an adopted and beloved son or daughter of the King of kings, the Creator of heaven and earth. That's the truth that Satan would love to steal, kill and destroy from within your mind.
Coming back to where we began
Here’s where we return to one being too small a number. When did Satan come after Eve? When she was alone. (At least she was acting like she was alone...)
When did King David fall and sin grievously against the Lord and commit murder? When he was alone.
When did Moses kill an Egyptian soldier? When he thought he was alone (unseen).
We are vulnerable to fall just like these heroes of the faith when we are alone.
Life is meant to be lived in connection -- in community. God exists as a Triune God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Community.
Recovery and transformation into a free man (or woman) is meant to be done in community through connection. One is too small a number for this journey.
God called out Adam in the Garden. Nathan called out King David and Moses was called out for his murderous act.
Community is Where Healing Begins
James 5:16 says: “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”
Proverbs 17:17 - A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.
Ecclesiastes 4:10b “But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!”
And if these verses don’t convince us, remember Jesus began His ministry on earth by recruiting 12 men to walk with, teach, comfort, help and do life with. The gospel was taught and shared in community.
You need others to walk with you on the road to transformation. Someone else may need you to walk with them on their journey road to redemption and transformation.
One is simply too small a number. We need one another. Bear one another's burdens and watch God work.
He is faithful and will do it.
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