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.

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.

 

 

Deliverance

God probably won’t deliver you from sexual sin.

At least, not the way we traditionally think of deliverance. I’ve talked to literally thousands of men about this issue and have only heard 2 people say they talked to 2 people who have been delivered from sexual sin. And I don’t know if I believe them. I think God does deliver people from sexual addiction; however, I don’t believe He does it at a single point in time. Rather, it seems like God delivers men from sexual addiction by means of a process that takes a substantial amount of time.

A lot of us want deliverance on the spot. We think if God is to deliver us from sexual sin then we will never have another lustful thought and never again be tempted to act out sexually. That’s false. Temptation is and always will be real to us. And the likelihood that we’ll be tempted sexually is very high. Not only because Satan knows there is a chink in our armor, but also because we’ve trained our brains to sexualize emotion and to skew what sexual intimacy is about. We’ve taught ourselves how to use our sexuality to cope with life.

We have to work our recovery like it depends on us and trust that it depends on God. We can hope for miraculous deliverance but we have to work diligently as if it were never going to happen. Almost every time I talk to someone who has slipped after an extended period of sobriety a few things become evident. 1 – they’ve dropped regular accountability & community, 2 – they’ve stopped being intentional about dealing with their emotions and needs, and 3 – they have become loose with managing their boundaries and triggers.

I encourage you to be proactive and intentional about working your recovery plan. Don’t wait for God to deliver you at some moment in time. He in fact may be delivering you over a period of time via your recovery journey. Remember, when we boil this whole thing down we’re really on a journey of becoming more like Christ. That doesn’t happen in an instant.