Default Settings

This weekend it was beautiful in Denver, so Shelley and I took the boys for a hike. The area, known as Red Rocks, is a gorgeous setting. It has huge rock outcroppings, a path/trail that the boys can handle and then a popular amphitheater. We wanted the boys to see it, but as we crested the final stairway I was reminded what makes the place so popular.

It’s not because of the concerts that go on there, but instead because it is a workout mecca. The steep seating sections, the stairs and the atmosphere make it virtually an outdoor gym so people flock to it especially when the weather is nice. And by people, I mean the fittest of the fit. There were skimpy shorts, workout clothes and entirely too much skin showing. I had a moment of panic, bouncing my eyes in every direction, wondering how Shelley was feeling, thinking I should cover my kids’ eyes, yet not wanting to cause a scene with any of it.

For a minute it felt like I was in some overpowering situation where these evil people were casting a spell on me drawing out the lustful urges inside and creating an out of control monster. Like somehow seeing these people and being in this setting should cause fear and intimidation. For years that was my default setting; to be in a situation like this and freak out for nearly having an anxiety attack.

Then I gained some clarity. I didn’t need to freak out. I’m not an out of control lust monster. I don’t have to live in fear. I am a dearly loved, infinitely valuable child of God. My worth and value are rooted in my identity in Christ, not whether or not I lust and not in my physical fitness. These people aren’t evil either. Some of them are probably followers of Jesus. Some of them have a struggle with vanity. Some have no idea what it means to leave something to the imagination. But they aren’t evil.

The default freak out setting can change and instead become a calm, secure, grounded setting.

Does that mean I can be reckless with my eyes? No. Does that mean we need to hang around the place for any extended time? No. Does it mean I need to cause a scene? No.

Remember temptation and lust have no control over you. You don’t have to live in fear and anxiety. You are a child of the risen King, dearly loved and infinitely valuable. You’re not a monster or a pervert. Your default setting can change and become calm, secure and grounded.

Defining Secondary Boundaries

The next few installments of the blog will be about defining secondary boundaries. As a team at the workshops, the counselors and I have been raising the bar on what and how we present the material. We’re constantly discussing how we can make the workshop more effective and present a TON of important content in the most meaningful way.  A member of the team, Jim Phillis, recently presented a breakdown of 10 types of secondary boundaries that have been very, very helpful. I hope you’ll take this material and apply it to your own recovery. I have already applied it to mine, and am making some changes which I’ll share as we go.

First, what are secondary boundaries? They are the fences we cross on our way to going off the cliff of acting out. In other words, they are experiences where we can potentially enter the addictive cycle and ultimately act out. It is important to remember that secondary boundaries are typically innocuous in themselves; they are usually not sinful. However, when we encounter them, we must acknowledge that we are one step closer to sinning. By defining them, we are simply heightening our own awareness and raising our level of intentionality with respect to integrity.

Here are the first 3 types:

  1. Geographicalplaces that can be triggering. It can include particular cities or parts of town.  It could include places within your home. The idea is to define which geographical areas might activate lustful thoughts. Once defined, you’ll need to decide on a strategy to handle them. That could be avoiding them, but more likely will mean being on heightened alert when you are in them.
  2. Situationalcontexts that can be triggering. Examples I regularly hear are 3 B’s: Bars, Beaches and Ballgames. With situational triggers it is also important to look more deeply, to see if the issue is the emotional experience of the context. Other situational triggers might include:  issues at work, payday, church, meetings where women/men are present, when you’re home alone.
  3. Relational – think people. These are relationships and specifically, situations within those relationships, where you might be triggered. There is overlap with situational here as you’ll see. Again, it is important to look at what happens emotionally in these relational situations to see what makes it a boundary. Examples may include certain people: a flirtatious coworker, a “touchy” person, a family member whom you have a strained relationship with. It could also include particular situations within relationships: conflict with spouse, disciplining kids, dealing with parents or siblings.

To close, remember that we aren’t trying to define every single situation where we might be triggered and to stay away from it. That’s impossible. And unbiblical if we’re to be in but not of the world. The crux of the exercise is to raise our awareness and preparedness. When I worked at Arthur Andersen I was part of a team that developed DRP’s – Disaster Recovery Plans. (The plan at Andersen didn’t account for tax fraud, however). The goal was to assist clients in anticipating situations that might arise where corporate data systems could be compromised (natural disaster, theft, etc), then create a plan to keep the business functioning effectively in light of it.

Same thing here: we want to anticipate situations that might trigger us and have a plan to keep ourselves functioning effectively in light of them.

 

Warfare Prayer

Steve Arterburn

Are you facing a strong temptation?  Interpersonal conflicts?  Difficult circumstances?  In the Bible the apostle Paul uses the analogy of armor and warfare to teach about the equipment that’s essential for standing against temptation and spiritual attack.  

First, he encourages you to put on the belt of truth.  Satan is the father of lies.  He’s constantly trying to deceive and trap you.  In contrast, all of your armor is held together by truth, which comes from the Father of Truth.

Next, you need to put on the body armor of God’s righteousness.  Though there are many levels of meaning to this phrase, the primary one is that you’re forgiven and accepted through faith in Jesus Christ alone.  You’re not protected by your own righteousness; you need the righteousness of God.

Next, you’re called to put on the shoes of peace and carry this Good News to people everywhere.

You’re also given a shield of faith to protect you against Satan’s accusations and persecutions.  Prayer leads to faith.  It keeps your vision clear when circumstances cloud your way.

The helmet of salvation is next on Paul’s list.  In addition to protecting the wearer, the helmet identified a soldier’s allegiance.  You belong to the company of Christ.  

Finally, you’re armed with the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God.  The sword is your only offensive weapon.  

God never leaves his men behind in battle.  Read Paul’s warfare prayer from the book of Ephesians 6:10-18 for help.