The Mind’s Affect Upon Character

Steve Arterburn

Are you interested in an insight that will increase your skill in living? Here it is: The content of the mind creates the character of the man. Think about it. Men who devote the lion’s share of their mental energy to the next toy they’re going to buy are materialists. A guy who’s always maneuvering himself into opportunities to impress others can be classified as a narcissist. Men dwelling on their next orgasmic experience can be described as hedonists.

 

I could go on, but I think the picture is coming into focus. My point, men, is this: the Bible clearly teaches that you are what you think. In other words, a man will take on the identity that reflects the preoccupations of his thoughts.

Former Notre Dame football coach Lou Holtz once said that we are influenced by the books we read, the people we associate with, and the dreams we have. Coach Holtz puts this fact of life very aptly. And Scripture says it even better. Listen to Proverbs 27:19: ‘As water reflects your face, so your mind shows what kind of person you are.’

Men, beginning today, I encourage you to seek to be more aware of what you’re thinking about, and how those thoughts reflect where you are in your walk as a disciple of Jesus Christ. Take good and honest stock of the situation. Then make the adjustments necessary to develop godly character.

When Quiet Times Become Chaotic: Encouragement for Busy Lives

Martin Fierro

Has there ever been a time when a gentle quietness brought a peace to your heart and mind? If you answered the question without going to that memory by moving to this next sentence you have missed the experience at the start. Let’s try it again, entertain me once again. Has there been a moment’ a time’ when a gentle quietness brought a sense of peace to your heart’. and mind’.? Sit here as you reflect to one.

Did you get to re-experience it again by this simple exercise? Rather, did you give yourself permission to experience that peace in the moment?

As an example, it was hoped that you went to a place in your mind which allowed you to experience true peace at the beach, the mountains, a river, a soft breeze on your face, laughing with your wife/children etc’. If you got there and wanted to remain there, then return and come back to this article later. It is that very resting spot that one can experience the peace of God that passes all understanding. It is also the place that the voice of the Holy Spirit comforts and challenges our soul.

It is far too often that we rush and move to the next thought, thing, activity, task, sentence or paragraph, and assignment without pondering the moment or moments. By such active behavior we miss so many opportunities to experience the rest and quiet God desires us to bask in. The possible results in the active behavior is not only missing and experiencing physiological rest but also miss times for spiritual discernment and wisdom. A benefit of resting in a quiet calm for any individual struggling with/maintaining sexual integrity is that it provides a healthy focus point to that of potential/destructive mental images and messages that lead to acting out.

Yes, peace can happen in resting in the creation of this world around us even with the modern man-made distractions.

It is not necessarily a process of creating rest, for in that alone is stressful. Just think about the last time you planned a long vacation to ‘rest.’ Was it truly a restful time? How many times have we come back from a vacation and said we need to rest from the vacation activity. It is maddening! Some rather just keep on the track of doing projects and responsibilities because seeking a quiet reflective experience appears irreverent or impossible. If you attend church regularly it is encouraged to sit and rest in God’s peace through prayer. During those times of prayer if your mind is wondering about the days/weeks events to come, once again the opportunity to have calm in the chaos is missed. Life then controls us. We just let life around us happen like it is a roller coaster ride (one hill after another). In letting life happen we surrender to it, then it takes our life focus and in that we become vague or superficial with ourselves and those around us.

In the process of recovery and staying sober from sexually acting out, our lives can become chaotic with activity as a means of distraction. Thus, a time of calm reflection and contemplation can diminish because we have to have something to tend to (hyper-stimulation in a different form?). Think of the all the time/energy used to maintain the secret of your sexual addiction and now re-using that time for true peace and calm to battle any of the triggers of your addiction. The quietness in the calm of the addiction recovery should not be mistaken as: 1. I’m healed! or, 2. Something must be wrong! Though such times of quiet in the past was the usher for your sexually acting out, perhaps these times can be used to re-focus on God and the relationship He desires with you!

Here are some ideas to consider with regards to regaining or finding some calm in the chaos. Look beyond the sidewalk to the blades of grass. The tree and the way the breeze moves its leaves. Watch a cloud as it moves so gingerly yet steadfast. Observe how the sun creates a consistent change of details through shadows at this time of the year and through out the day/month/year. Reflect on the flow of water as it hits the ground and runs to a common level seeking a resting space (much like we do). This is not being said to run around prance in a tutu as you reconnect with the world around you. Rather, do not miss this rich and free opportunity to walk out your office door, step out the car door or you own home front door to experience the calm in the chaos of the man-made world of activity. Become a child discovering nature again in its detail which is the handprint of God. If you have a young child or grandchild, watch and learn how they experience life, nature, and the world around them.

Maybe to experience some calm in the chaos is a time for each of us to go back to live as a child so we can have peace as an adult. For when we do not have peace as an adult perhaps we behave like an immature child.

For more help see Every Man’s Battle.

Tiredness in Recovery: Don’t Let It Get You Lying Down

Martin Fierro

You have worked a long day, feeling a cold coming on or is it the spring time allergies, you did not have one solid meal, did not sleep well the night before, stuck in traffic, late for an appointment, forgot to call your wife back, that home project needs to be completed, the car engine light just went on AND it is only Monday. When the last hour seemed hard enough to get through to remain sexually pure in heart, mind and soul, here comes the next hour to press through.

Taking it one day at a time really can come down to a minute to minute per the environment our mind is entertaining. Part of what can make a tempting situation worse is the condition of ones mental and physical state when such life stressors occur. And it is common that tempting situations will occur with more intensity at the early onset of sexual sobriety along with when you are physically/mentally drained (the enemy does not want you to win). And sobriety can seem more intense because for the first time in your life maintaining sexually integrity, to not sexually acting out, is the healthiest option irregardless to what has occurred on any particular day of the week.

‘Well, what do I do now? I am exhausted; feel disconnected, lonely and angry. So now I sit in a lonely house with no one, what I can get myself into? This is boring; I need something to make me feel good about myself. I am so tired of going through this on my own. No one has my problems.’

Should we call the ‘whaaamm-bulance?’

Self pity not only can be a trigger to acting out, but also a key that you are physically and mentally needing rest and recovery.

Don’t let temptations catch you lying down and don’t under-estimate your tiredness in your recovery process. And the reality is that you are going to have tired days, tired of working recovery days, and both.

Let this be of encouragement to you. You are not alone. God has not abandoned you and there are others out there who want to be supportive to you as you seek sexual integrity and sobriety from the addictive behavior. But in a tired emotional and cognitive state of being we begin to believe that this cave of our emotional struggles is to be kept inside that cave, keeping our feelings in the dark.

Just the opposite is true for health and sobriety. Bring the feelings to the light. Seeking support from other brothers who are in ‘the battle’ is a great step. And when asked by that brother in arms ‘how are you doing?’ Not answering ‘fine.’ Those of you who have participated in a 12 step program know what that acronym for FINE is (we’ll just say ‘Faking it,’ Insecure, Negative and Evasive).

Here are some options to consider to help when you are tired of fighting this fight and want to just give up because of life stressors:

1. ‘Be still and know that I am God.’ Ground yourself spiritually. Do not rush through the prayer of ‘okay okay okay, I am sitting’..waiting’.. ahhh’.okay, waiting waiting’ um, where are you God?’ Quiet you inner talk and LISTEN. Let me encourage you to first turn off the television and/or radio. Then go and sit down somewhere comfortable, uncross you arms and take some deep breathes for at least 5 minutes while focusing on nothing but your breathing. Clear your mind.

2. Have an officer in arms/sponsor. Pick up that 600 pound phone and connect with a brother in arms. Be open and honest. Saying what is going on is not weakness. It can mentally beneficial to say it out loud (take some power away from it).

3. Remain on alert. When you become tired you can convince yourself, ‘I can handle things now, in this part of my recovery.’ Don’t open that door to temptations; keep your Armor of God on. There is a spiritual war going on with your mind and the enemy knows the best way to get you is by brainwashing (convincing) you to believe and behave otherwise.

4. Exercise. It cannot be said enough: go for a simple bike ride, swim or walk. Observe the creation of the earth, take in the splendor that is before you (watch your eyes and where you look, of course!).

5. Eat well, diet appropriately per what your doctor would recommend for you stage in life.

6. Pick up that God given gift, talent ,or skill and put it to use for others benefit.