Leaving lustful looking behind – tip 1

Sorry for going dark for a little while there! Back at it!

Let’s deal with lustful looking. To leave it behind has a finality to it that I don’t want to misrepresent. It is an ongoing work, NOT a one-and-done change that happens. And the reason I think is because it is so much more than a temporal, physical issue. It is a heart, mind, body and soul issue. So dealing in pragmatics, I want to offer some tips I hope will be helpful.

First, you need a mantra. Sounds corny, huh? But seriously, perhaps you’ve heard this quote –

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.”
― Henry Ford

We’ll end up believing what we tell ourselves. This isn’t about pop-psychology positive self talk. It’s about the core beliefs we have about ourselves. And when it comes to lustful looking, some of us have these core beliefs:

  • If I don’t look I’ll miss out on something.
  • They might look back and that will feel electric/powerful/significant/etc.
  • I am entitled to look.
  • I’m not hurting anyone by looking.
  • I have to look in order to meet someone. [for singles]

Unfortunately, much like processes running in the background on our computers, these core beliefs are operating in the background of our hearts and minds. Without even realizing it, we’re already at a disadvantage in the war for sexual integrity.

Think about this for a moment from the perspective of a professional athlete. What would happen if everyday, multiple times a day, the team’s star receiver repeated to himself, “when the ball comes to me, I drop it every time. When the ball comes to me, I drop it every time”.  Sounds asinine doesn’t it? Yet that’s how many of us operate. “When an attractive woman/man crosses my path, I look her up and down.” When an attractive woman/man crosses my path, I look her up and down.” Side note: isn’t it crazy how we’ll celebrate and sensationalize the disciplines of an elite athlete, but we’ll call the disciplines of a spiritual athlete hokey or ridiculous?

So how do we change this? One way is by having a mantra. We reprogram the processes running in the background. My mantra is, “there’s nothing I need, guaranteed”. What that means to me is, I haven’t a single need that God hasn’t already appropriated meeting through Shelley, other men, or Himself, albeit maybe not immediately.

Practically speaking, I walk into Starbucks and an attractive woman is in line, “nothing I need, guaranteed.” Urge to double-take, “nothing I need, guaranteed.” Seriously. And guess what; over time, I’ve come to believe it. My core belief today is not that I’m missing out if I don’t. Instead that core belief is that no one on the planet can satisfy the longings of my heart more than Shelley, men and God. So why would I even have to look at another woman? It’s a foregone conclusion.

I am a fan of you having a mantra. One that you repeat every day, multiple times a day, so that you start to believe it.

I’d love to hear what your mantra is if you have one, or when you come up with one.

More tips to come!

Out of Bounds

Recovery requires boundaries. Unfortunately we often think of boundaries as limiting factors. They’re the rules and regs we have to live by in order to maintain sobriety. But this is an entirely narrow view of boundaries.

Instead, I encourage you to think of boundaries as the guardrails you surround yourself with to protect your soul. These include what you look at, listen to, ingest, smell, where you go, and who you interact with. You are the primary protector of your soul. God gave you rule over that part of His kingdom. He owns it, but we are stewards of it.

When we relax our boundaries and engage pseudo porn, lustful looking, “harmless” flirting (quotes indicate denial) or drink a little too much we are dabbling with disaster. When we listen to podcasts or shows that pollute our thinking, go places or say or do things that violate our consciences we are fueling fallout. Its only a matter of time. Maybe you can relate in that when I relax a little boundary, it turns into relaxing bigger boundaries. And when I bump against them to see if they’ll really hold me, I’m actually seeing how far I can get. Danger, Will Robinson, Danger!

Alternatively, when I live well within intentionally designed boundaries, I allow my soul to flourish. It’s life giving. It creates a lifestyle of abundance rather than a mentality of scarcity. The most important people get the best parts of me, rather than a dulled out version of me.

The sad truth though, is that when I live with poor boundaries I’m really being a poor steward of the soul God has given me. Rather than cultivating, sanctifying and treasuring it as a reflection of His glory, I’m covering it with grit, grime and pollution.

Recovery boundaries aren’t limiters. They’re life givers.

Post Holiday Let Down

Tis the season…and for so many folks, the season is one of tumult, anxiety, triggers and temptations. For a lot of guys though, the issues don’t really show up until the dust settles down.

For many men, the ability to power through seems innate. The holidays become another gauntlet to navigate, much like the obstacle course that work can be. We become pretty darn good at just putting our heads down and bulling through the shenanigans of shopping, cooking, Christmas lights, put up, tear down, in-laws and outlaws. I was just talking with a pastor about this the other day. He was explaining the necessity of working til 1:30am to get the music and nativity scenes right, and how the last few weeks have been the big, final push of the year at the church. He’s running on adrenaline at this point, it’s activation being 1 part pride of work and commitment to the Gospel and the other part being caught in the frenetic pace of the Holidays.

But soon the hoopla will be over. And for those of us who simply medicated our emotions with a few too many eggnogs, the dust settling can mean the anger and temptation begin to click up. So I wanted to give you a couple practical tips for navigating the aftermath.

  1. If you’ve been powering through, remember that your emotions have been affected. Your heart has been impacted. Just because you didn’t take time to engage it doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. So this weekend, give yourself some time to engage your emotions. Journal. Pray for God to illuminate what needs to be dealt with.
  2. Schedule time with one or a couple of your guys to download how it all went. Be in community as a part of your process.
  3. Celebrate surviving. Hey, it can feel that way sometimes! Especially if you’re part of the production at church and cranked for the last month, give yourself a chance to celebrate. Go out to eat at your fave restaurant, go to the shooting range, play a round of golf, go to a movie, grab a good book. Something. Something besides celebrating the old way, if you know what I mean. Too many guys in recovery don’t know how to celebrate wins in a healthy way.
  4. Remember that if you’re in the marital reconciliation process right now, you can’t afford to check out. You can’t take too much time to just veg out. Your downtime is as important as your uptime. Passivity cannot win.