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.



Facing the Shame

We just finished the first session at the March EMB Workshop and I feel super encouraged. The reason is I just saw almost 60 men face their shame. They walked through the doors of the hotel into an awkward, unknown experience. Let’s face it, you don’t advertise that you’re attending an EMB workshop (most guys say they are going to a “men’s conference”). It is difficult to attend. And I think the most difficult thing is that it brings us face-to-face with our shame.

When guys come into the weekend you can, metaphorically, see the suitcase full of shame they tote along with them. It weighs them down, slows their progress, and stifles their joy. Then, in the first session, we get really honest about this struggle and are able to connect around the commonality of our stories. As I tell my and my wife Shelley’s story you can literally see guys posture change from closed and heavy to light and open. There’s even some laughter at some pretty lame jokes. The cloud is lifted and the tension is eased.

Men who face their shame actually have a fighting chance to get past their addictions. Men who won’t face their shame will most likely be perpetually controlled by it.

I’m proud of the men who show up at EMB, willing to face their shame because I know they’re healing has begun.

On to Session 2!