Who Are Safe People?

Jonathan Daugherty

Those who choose to face their bad habits or addictive patterns are brave folks. It takes courage to admit you are not in control and need help. One of the bits of advice that I often give to individuals seeking to overcome their sexual addictions is to surround themselves with “safe” people. I want to take this short article to expand on this idea and attempt to define what makes certain people “safe.”

Sometimes to define something it helps to describe its opposite. Many of us can recognize who unsafe people are before we could recognize the safe ones. Unsafe people are those individuals who draw us toward those thoughts and behaviors that are unhealthy or dangerous. For example, an unsafe person for a male sex addict might be a “loose” female co-worker who dresses provocatively and is always attempting to sexualize conversations. While it may be easy (or easier) to spot unsafe people, how do you find safe people?

The following are 7 key characteristics present in safe people:

1. Safe people are non-judgmental.

When you get serious about dealing with your secret addiction(s) you need people who are not spending their time judging you for your mistakes. You struggle enough with self-condemnation, you don’t need someone else telling you what a mess-up you are. Safe people don’t judge you.

2. Safe people listen.

When you reach out for help you need people who will really listen to your struggles. Safe people let you share your story and all the difficulty you have faced in carrying your secret sin alone. There is a sort of empathy with safe people. While they may not have traveled the exact same road, they listen with their heart and want to truly help.

3. Safe people maintain strong boundaries.

One of the dangers of seeking out safe people is that you might be so amazed at their compassion and care that you begin to move too close too quickly, and possibly confuse genuine help with old patterns in your addiction. Safe people, however, also know how to establish and maintain healthy boundaries that represent appropriate interaction and assistance. For instance, a safe person will not miss their son’s baseball game just because you are having a weak moment. They will give you their time and energy when it is appropriate and falls in line with their other priorities.

4. Safe people protect confidentiality.

Trust is critical in the healing and recovery process. And trust is gained when safe people protect your confidentiality. You must know that the deep, dark secrets you are sharing will not end up in the city newspaper over the weekend. Safe people take confidentiality very seriously and will carry your pain to their grave if they must in order to secure your trust.

5. Safe people tell the truth in love.

Some people who may appear to be safe are really just looking for a way to present themselves as superior. They may tell you the truth (i.e. “If you continue lusting over porn, you will destroy your life”), but they do so in a harsh, angry fashion. Safe people know how to tell you the truth in love. They are not pointing out your weaknesses to pump themselves up, but rather to help you move toward purity and a life that truly brings satisfaction.

6. Safe people pray for wisdom (i.e. they are humble).

Anyone willing to help another person with their most vulnerable area of weakness must understand that they need wisdom. And gaining wisdom requires humility (“the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom”). You can often spot the safe people by how often they ask God for wisdom, knowing that apart from His leading they could lead you astray. These are the kind of people you want around when traveling the road to recovery.

7. Safe people help you get help.

Finally, safe people know their limitations and have a heart of willingness to get you the help you need. They will walk with you as you expand your network of support to include a counselor, support group, or other individuals to help you reach the goal of a godly life. When dealing with life’s difficulties you need those with a servant’s heart to lead you to the appropriate help.

As you walk through life, keep your eyes open for safe people. They will become your greatest assets in a life well lived.

For additional help locating ‘safe people’ through support groups and counselors, visit www.everymansbattle.com or call 1.800.NEW.LIFE.

Recovery as Spiritual Warfare, Part 1

The opening scene of Saving Private Ryan was riveting. I had never before seen such a realistic portrayal of men going into battle. The vomiting and praying, tangible expressions of the upset the men were going through, were believable.

As He prepared for the battle of Calvary, the Bible tells us that Jesus sweat blood. He poured out His heart in prayer to His Father. He was prepared for the battle and did not flinch in the face of it.

Examining Paul’s second letter to Corinth can help us better understand how we can prepare for and win the battle before us.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5:

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

WE ARE CITIZENS OF TWO KINGDOMS THAT ARE AT WAR

Paul says we are waging war. We live in the world. The majority of you who are reading this are US citizens. But Paul makes clear that we are fighting an otherworldly battle while we are here. By faith we are citizens of God’s kingdom. The battle lines are drawn.

God’s objective is to show His glory by redeeming His fallen creation and fallen creatures. At the same time, Satan’s objective is to obscure the glory of God. Because Christian marriage is a part of God’s creative design, God’s enemies attack husbands and wives in order to divide them and rob them of the joy that results from true intimacy.

Sexual sin is one aspect of the disciple’s struggle. When Christian men are sexually impure, God’s love and grace are obscured and Satan gains a victory in the battle for God’s kingdom. The battle for sexual purity is a battle for recovery from the effects of the sin nature. Recovery is discipleship. Recovery is putting off and putting on.

WE ARE SOLDIERS IN GOD’S KINGDOM ARMY¬†

All who know Christ by faith are soldiers of the King’s army. There are no deferments. There are no conscientious objectors. There is no Switzerland, no neutrality in this war. I am a warrior for God’s kingdom.

Over 2,000 years ago, Sun Tzu wrote the timeless military classic, The Art of War. In it, he challenged: ‘If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.’

In gathering intelligence about the enemy, we immediately consider the devil and the world. What we often fail to consider is that while I am a soldier, I am also fighting on the enemy side’my flesh is at war with the Spirit’s work in my life. While I am still vulnerable to the evil desires of my flesh, the temptations that this world offers, and the attacks of Satan and his legions, I am not vulnerable as I once was. By faith, I benefit from the indwelling Holy Spirit and the promises of God’s Word.

Further, I can’t win the war by myself. Paul didn’t write, ‘I do not wage war as the world does.’

The Rambo movies were very popular, but not a true reflection of genuine war. My addiction predisposes me to isolate myself from others and attempt to fight the war alone. Wars are a fought on an overwhelming scale and require armies to vanquish the enemy. By faith, I have been placed in a company of those who aspire to do God’s will and do it, though not perfectly.

Just as an individual soldier is trained to fight as a part of a squad, a platoon, a company, etc., so we need training to begin fighting our addiction alongside others. Many of the men who attend the Every Man’s Battle workshop find sharing their stories with others to be freeing. They feel like they have unburdened themselves. However, they often struggle after they return home to unburden themselves with the men they work or worship with. In order to win the battle for purity, I must become we. For the soldier, his training doesn’t end with Basic Training. And so we need training that continues beyond Every Man’s Battle.

See the article Recovery As Spiritual Warfare part 2, where we will consider the objectives and tactics that Paul urges us to adopt in fighting this spiritual war.

Jim Phillis

The Male Wound of Pride

Sam Fraser

C.S. Lewis wrote an article a half-century ago about men and pride. Essentially his point is that the temptation for men is to be too proud to ask for help. Christian or secular it’s a guy thing! Universally, it is the hardest word to speak out loud. Help! It has long been a part of our cultural standard to not ask for help. It is hard enough to ask for directions let alone something so much more intimate. Asking for help is being needy. We receive the message over and over that to be needy is shameful. Admitting that we are not self-sufficient is unspeakable. We learned a long time ago on the playground that expressing certain feelings was not cool. Coupled with no validating adult males growing up to help us understand ourselves, we end up feeling confused and insecure inside. But on the outside we learn to not let it show. Much of our most tender parts gets shut down or buried. We end up loners, isolated hiding behind a false mask called pride.

We hide behind pride when we pretend we don’t need help even when we do. Many of us have male friendships but not so close that we can talk openly about our struggle with sexual integrity.

Learning how to ask for help for sexual integrity is a very humbling experience.

I remember the first time I reached out by going to a 12-step meeting. In those days, as a Christian, there were few avenues available and the church had no clue how to help. I literally stood with my hand on the door fighting with shame to step inside. So much of me wanted to turn and run. My pride won out and I did not go through that door. It was too humiliating to admit I was like all those others guys who couldn’t make it on their own. It was another 12 years until the pain outweighed the fear and I got help. And even then, reaching out was a product of being caught and having my world come crashing down all around me.

One of the defining characteristics of each man that comes to an Every Man’s Battle workshop is trying to fight the battle by himself. Not asking for help, attempting to fight this battle alone, isolated. As men, we experience a lot of guilt and shame because we can’t stop playing with ourselves. I could rationalize it when I was young but not as an adult. And as a Godly man, we feel all the more that we should be able to handle our sex drive. We think that since no other guys are talking about it we must be the only one with the problem. Whoops, got to hide that one!

Since we are not talking about it and for one reason or another seem unable to experience any sustained victory on our own, we end up feeling defeated. Our pride keeps us from confessing this failure in an important area of our Christian walk. We fake that every thing is okay or we avoid others by keeping everyone at a distance to hide the secret.

Pride keeps us from getting the help we need. Our wound won’t let us ask for help.

One of the main features when men begin to succeed is that they get connected to other men. Essentially, admitting the need for help. It takes all kinds of strength and courage to admit the need for help.

The Bible refers to reaching out for help and identifies as humility. Mmmm, humility! When I am weak, then I am strong (2 Cor. 12:10 ). For many of us God has been very patient in this important area and He will continue to be so. What Christ has done on the cross will always make it true. This issue has been the downfall for many and will continue to defeat us as long as we remain in male pride. It will continue to take us down unless we are humble enough to ask for help and connect with other men for support and encouragement. It is one of the defining moments for every man who attends EMB. It takes a strong man, not a weak one, to admit that. Pride or humility? Your choice.

If you can’t attend EMB, get connected locally. Pray and God will lead you.
Call 1-800 New Life and get a referral. There are options and help is available.
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