Thursday, February 13, 2014

Eye Heart Porn & What I Do About It


Head Heart Shame
You've heard people say, "the greatest distance in the world is the 10 inches between your head and your heart." It's a cliche, but for a good reason. It's true. When I was a kid, I spent a mind numbing number of Sunday mornings sitting in church struggling with the head-heart connection. Or so I thought.


I never had a problem knowing God was capable of forgiving me. I just didn't believe He wanted to. By my estimation, while other people simply made mistakes, my missteps proved that I was a mistake. I was ashamed of myself. I went to church week after week unable to connect what I knew in my head with what I believed in my heart. I smiled at other people, but secretly I carried deep shame.

Eye Heart Porn
At the same time, I was making another kind of connection, an eye-heart connection.

During those same childhood years, I started looking at porn. Of course, like all other guys, while I was looking at it, the discomfort of my life faded away, while I experienced moments of seeming delight blah, blah blah, and some more of the same old story that you've heard before. It happened with me like it happens with most guys.

What I didn't realize was that porn was creating an eye-heart connection. If was connecting what my eyes took in with what my heart was looking for. After years of a crippling sex addiction, one that went well beyond pornography (gross, I know) and wrecked my life, I found myself sitting across a Chili's table from a guy who claimed to have stopped looking at porn and acting out as a sex addict.

What I Do About It
During our conversation, he posed a question that helped me understand the eye-heart connection I had formed and how I was going to defeat it. He said, "Tim, what if I told you that porn isn't your problem?"

I looked at him like he was stupid, "What are you talking about?"

He responded, "Sex and porn isn't your problem. It's your solution to your problem." My mouth fell open. It was such a simple idea. How could I have never thought of it before. I had spent years trying everything I could think of to kick my secret porn problem, when porn wasn't my problem. As it turned out, shame was. It was my belief that I was inherently jacked up beyond reproach that was bogging me down. Porn was just my very dumb solution for my shame.

That guy who I was talking to at the Chili's said something else that's notable. When we started talking about what it would look like for me to stop acting out as an addict, he said, "This is not about getting something bad out of your life. It's about putting something good into it."

Shame had created a void in my heart. I tried to fill that void with bucket loads of internet porn. So my new strategy centered entirely around learning more about who I really am, and why I'm not inherently jacked up beyond reproach.

Since that day, I have worked to correct my actual problem. In the process, I've overcome a bunch of stuff that was crushing my life. But the best part of it all is that God has helped me provide three years of total faithfulness to my wife. Score! And I have nothing to hide from my wife, kids, friends, and church. Mega score!

Okay, down to brass tacks. This is where I typically offer a number of pieces of advice for anyone who is struggling with the same thing I did/do. Unfortunately, there aren't 6 Convenient Ways to Stop Looking At Porn, or 6 Simple Strategies For Conquering Pornography. But if you've struggled with porn or you know someone who does, here are some things you need to know before you set out to overcome pornography.

1. Porn isn't your problem. It's your solution to your problem.  What is my problem? you ask. Well, I can't tell you that in a blog post. But here are a couple hints: It almost certainly stems from your childhood, and it has you believing something about yourself that's not true.Since it's your problem, you're the best person to figure out what it is. And don't lose sleep trying to figure out what it is, because chances are you already know. And now it's just a matter of admitting it to yourself.

2. Conquering Porn isn't about getting something bad out of your life. It's about putting something good into it. If you have been habitually scratching a bug bite on your arm, and you simply stop scratching, the itching isn't going to go away. It's going to get worse. You need some anti-itching cream or something similar that's designed to actually solve the problem. If you're like me and your problem is shame, a good solution could be something like counseling, or a 12 step program (Celebrate Recovery is a really good one).

3. If you are hell bent on dealing with it yourself, you'll fail. God didn't create us to live in isolation. In fact, in the one instance in the Bible where man is alone, God says, "That's no good" (Genesis 2:18). You have to do it with another person. This is probably someone who is the same gender as you. You could conceivably stop looking at pornography on your own. Heck, there are alcoholics who quit drinking on their own. They grit their teeth and quit, but they're unable to solve the problem that drove them to drinking. Everyone else calls them dry drunks, and they're miserable people to be around. If you want to overcome porn and be happy, find someone who can help you through the process.

Cover photo courtesy of jkavo at Flickr.com

2 comments:

  1. Nice. Agreed. First time I've been to your blog. I approve.

    ReplyDelete