Spirit of Adventure

Men and Adventure. Like peanut butter and jelly, the two just go together. It is hard-wired in our DNA as men to be risk takers and adventure seekers. Did you know that for some guys it is a primary driver in sexual acting out? There are sexually addicted men who have become so emotionally numb that day-to-day life is no longer felt. The upside of coping that way is that you don’t feel the lowest of lows or the most hurtful things of life. But, our hearts are holistic; becoming numb to lows also means we become numb to highs. In an effort to protect ourselves from the reality of dealing with emotional life our hearts become hard and our emotions become dulled. Yet we long to feel.

Most men, if they’re honest with themselves, will admit that they long to feel; loved, accepted, wanted, significant, adequate, powerful, respected, challenged, a sense of belonging, a sense of adventure. With a hard heart these things are out of reach. So it takes something outside the norm to feel again. It takes intensity.

Enter sexual addiction. Very few things on the planet, if any, rival the intensity of emotion that accompanies our sexual passion. For some men, it is the only way they feel anything. Much of their emotion becomes sexualized and the experience of acting out sexually becomes a brief moment of electricity where they actually feel alive. It may be the thrill of the hunt for the right picture, prostitute or encounter. It may be the moment of engagement where they cross a line into something taboo. For some it is the moment of orgasm.

Did you know that healthy, God honoring adventure is an offset to acting out? It is stunning at EMB when I ask how many men in the room have an adventurous hobby they are passionate about; I’d guess 10% of the guys raise their hand. So many men have lost their sense of adventure. Granted, it’s a ‘chicken-or-the-egg’ type question: did sexual integrity issues rob them of their sense of adventure or did a lack of adventure lead them to sexual integrity issues? Either way, finding a source of adventure today is an antidote to sexually acting out. It doesn’t have to be about adrenaline pumping, X-games, jumping out of airplanes type of adventure. It just has to be something that strikes the nerve of awe and excitement. It could be fly-fishing, hiking, bike riding, cooking, traveling or stamp collecting.

I urge you to find your sense of adventure. Try some new things; take a few risks (albeit calculated and get your wife’s sign off first please). Create some space in your life for a God-honoring hobby. You may well find yourself less tempted to act out again.

Strength in Weakness

Ever notice how God’s economy is upside-down? The least will become the greatest, the humble made great while the proud will be humbled, the King on a donkey and in a manger, the One forsaken for one and for all, losing your life to gain it. The ultimate irony of recovery from sexual integrity issues, or sin at-large for that matter, is that in order to become strong we must admit weakness. Isn’t that strange to think about? To have power we must admit powerlessness. God makes it clear in his word through Paul writing to the Corinthian church  (2 Cor 12:9-10):

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. ” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

It is terrifyingly contradictory. And beautifully satisfying. The point where we reach the end of ourselves is actually the point where Jesus is most present and powerful. The end is really a new beginning. So many men, myself included, reach for the next tool, the next counselor, the next hope that somehow we can pull this off. And until we recognize that we can’t do it, we will stay perpetually stuck in a rut.

Maybe it’s time to admit your weakness. Perhaps you’re a wife and it is finally time to admit that you cannot and will never be able to control your husbands thoughts or actions. In your weakness He will prove Himself strong. Maybe you’re single and struggling, hoping that a spouse will cure your loneliness. Let me tell you, its far better to be single wishing you were married than married wishing you were single. Surrender and acknowledge your weakness and allow Him to make you strong. There is ultimate strength in weakness.

Addiction Whac-a-mole

http://www.bhmvending.com/Amusements/Bob%27s%20Space%20Racer/bob%27sspaceracer_whacamole.jpgDo you remember the old ‘whac-a-mole’ arcade games. I don’t know if they are around anymore. It was a frustrating game. You never knew where the next mole would pop up. By the time you could swat one with the big, foam mallet the next one would jolt out on the other side. When one went away another would show up and along the way you would see each one more than once.

So it can be with addictions.

It is very common for someone to get help with one addiction, only to see another one pop up. Sometimes the original one resurfaces again too. I regularly hear people struggling with sexual addiction say they’ve found freedom from drugs and alcohol, but can’t seem to beat this one. The truth is they’ve found a way to switch addictions; they haven’t found freedom. When one unhealthy way of medicating and coping with life is averted a new one pops up. Drugs give way to alcohol. Alcohol gives way to coffee and cigarettes. Sex gives way to food. Food gives way to gym-aholism.  You get the picture. It even happens within sex addiction itself. A guy will give up acting out with prostitutes but will begin going to strip clubs. He’ll give up porn but trade it for sex with his wife. Then she becomes his mistress. He might give up pornographic movies but take up sexual chatrooms. Unfortunately, when we ping-pong through addictions we never actually get the healing we need and long for.

If you find yourself playing addiction whac-a-mole it’s time for real help. It is time to dig in and figure out what you’re running from, why you cope in these ways and what you’re really searching for. It may be time to take more action than just slapping an internet filter on your computer. You may need to plug in with a counselor specialized in dealing with sexual addiction. It might be time to attend the EMB workshop. Maybe you need to confess your addictions to your spouse. Or to Jesus.

Take a step in the right direction today. Walk away from the game. Get out of the arcade.