Race Day: The Lowest Lows and the Highest Highs

by Jeff Fisher on September 1, 2016

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** I’ve been taking a different approach to our Porn to Purity blog this week.  I’m reflecting on my experiences training for and running the Buffalo Marathon in 2003.  There are many parallels to being successful in our sexual purity journey.   

Perhaps this marathon metaphor will help you think about your purity journey in a different light?  

It was so exciting to get to race day in the Buffalo Marathon!  I had trained for 5 months.

GET TO THE STARTING LINE
The first goal of training for a marathon is get to the starting line.  Train hard.  But train smart.  Train in such a way that you maximize your chances of not getting injured.

AN EMOTIONAL MOMENT
It was such a thrill to get to the starting line.  There’s such an excitement.  But I was surprised at the emotions that welled up in me.  A little teary for a moment.  So much training and commitment to arrive at this moment.

THE FIRST MILE IS EASY
The first leg is the easiest.  The party had started.  Emotions were running high.  Music was playing.  People were talking and cheering.

I felt no pain during Mile 1.  I think I ran the first mile a little faster than normal out of sheer excitement.

THE NEXT 24 MILES ARE HELL
Then the reality of the race kicks in.  After Mile 1 the spectators thin out.  Many runners move ahead of me.  And very quickly I can feel isolated on my own.

The pains didn’t kick in for a while, probably mile 7.  But at some point you realize you’re not running a fun run, you’re in a marathon.

The marathon starts to bite back when…

Pains come – My first pain was a tight calve muscle that I had to stop and nurse.

You hit significant mile markers – Getting to Miles 3, 6, 10 & 13 were challenging.  Those were places I’ve all gotten to before, but I knew I still had a long way to go.

Other people succeed and you’re still going – The Buffalo Marathon course was laid out badly.  The halfway point for the full marathon was also the finish line for the half marathon.  So I got to mile 13, people were cheering, then the full marathoners were steered around the building away from the crowds — still with 13.1 miles left to go.  It was very difficult emotionally.

Hitting a Wall – I hit a personal Wall at Mile 18.

A “Wall” is the place where your body has had enough and is trying to give up.  Sometimes runners can’t go on and pass out.  This is the tough place where you have to find strength.

Physically, emotionally and even spiritually I wanted to give up at Mile 18.  This is where I had to call on God for strength and decide if I really wanted to finish or not.

It seems like this is the place where I had to keep going “one step further”.  Just put one foot in front of the other.  I did a lot of walking at mile 18.

Eventually, I got my second wind.  Instead of walking and hobbling, I was mixing in some jogging.  I knew that it would be over eventually and I would find the finish line.

CROSSING THE FINISH LINE
Crossing the finish line was a moment of pure elation mixed with exhaustion.  There were very few people there to greet me.  I was someone had stuck around to call my name out on the microphone.  But my wife and kids were there to cheer me on.

It’s amazing how seeing the finish line and seeing my family cause me to pick up and run again, even after completing 26 miles.

SOME OBSERVATIONS

  • My commitment to run and train was probably more important than running the race. 
  • The early miles are easy, the later miles can be very difficult. 
  • The test for many marathoners comes when they hit “the Wall”. 
  • The finish line is reward enough for the marathoner. 

A BLISTERING FINISH TIME
Below is my official time of 6:39:57.  Third from last (see below).  The only two people I beat were a lady in her 80s and a guy in his 30s that had not trained much.

It’s laughable.  But it is, hands down, one of the most proud moments of my life.

I had accomplished a life goal.  I was not able to run even 1 mile three years earlier, but had trained hard enough to finish a marathon!

Marathon / Sexual Addiction Posts:
1.0  – Running a Marathon on 5k Legs
2.0 – Training For a Marathon:  3 Essentials That Will Save You
3.0 – Training For a Marathon:  Hurting in New Places & Finding Balance
4.0 – Race Day:  The Lowest Lows and the Highest Highs

Breaking the Internet Trance

by Jeff Fisher on August 30, 2016

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When I get on the Internet, it is easy to fall into a trance and lose track of where I’m supposed to go.

I was sitting in front of my computer the other day I answering emails, responding to comments and reading blogs.  Before I knew it, an hour had gone by.  I stopped what I was doing to go get something to eat and then a very familiar feeling hit!  I felt myself fading back into the reality of my day.

I had been so absorbed in the Internet world, I lost touch with reality, and time.

I feel this other times too:

  • Playing video games
  • Watching TV shows
  • Seeing movies
  • Reading books
  • Listening to music or podcasts

video_games_on_page When I was heavily involved in Internet porn, this would happen a lot.  I would start clicking and get absorbed in looking at images and sites.  Then 2 or 3 or 4 hours would fly by.  Here’s the official, scientific, PHD formula for it (I think):

My alone time + lust + searching stimulating sites = BAD NEWS 

Even if I’ve got my filtering and accountability software in place, I can still fall into a searching trance.  I’ve got to have a strategy in place to keep me from the trance.

HELPS IN BREAKING THE TRANCE
1.  Do your other important work first – Your job and important work has to come first.

2.  Set a timer – Get a real timer and put it by your computer.

3.  Go to the Internet with specific goals only – Think ahead of time the specific sites you want to go to.  Only go for work purposes.  Only go for making a certain purchase.

4.  Have a checklist – Take 30 seconds to write down what you need to accomplish and check them off.

5.  Only go online when someone’s in the room

6.  Only go online at a set time each day – Structure it.  Make it part of your routine.

7.  No idle searches – When you’re done, your done.

8.  Internet should not = Entertainment – You can’t afford to “chill out” on the computer.  It’s too dangerous.  We are too prone to giving in to problems.  Find something else to “veg” out one and to entertain you.

9.  Give your spouse the password – If your spouse has to log you on he/she is conscious of your being on the computer.  It will take care of a load of problems.


WHAT ABOUT YOU?
I’m sure I’ve left some good ideas out.  What advice would you give to others that would help them stay focused when on the Internet?  Leave your suggestions in the comment section on this blog.

Why Do We Have Edgy Days?

by Jeff Fisher on August 28, 2016

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 I recently had one of those “edgy” days.  A day where every girl looks pretty to me.  A day where I feel sexual, and I have a highened awareness of triggery things.  A day when I’m thinking more with the “nether regions” of my body, rather than my brain.

Ever get like that?

There are five things I’ve identified from my own life and from my friends in recovery that may be contributing to my having an edgy day.  I’ll talk about 3 of them today, and the other 2 tomorrow, along with some Top Tips for dealing with edgy days:

1.  GUYS HAVE A (SEXUAL) CYCLE TOO

We all know that women have a cycle when it comes to there bodies and their hormones.  Guys seem to have a cycle too.  Dr. Mark Laaser says that its every 3 days for guys.  Arterburn & Stoeker in Every Man’s Battle talk about a 48 hour cycle.

I’ve notice that there are two types of guys who seem to have a sexual cycle that’s much smaller:

  1.  Guys who still have a lot of lust they’re dealing with 
  2. Guys that are newer to recovery

Some guys have dealt with the affairs and with the porn, but they are giving in regularly to the battle of the mind and the eyes.

The guy who’s newer to recovery is still going through major withdrawals.  His battles for purity are deep, and right at the forefront.  He’s spending  lot of energy fighting off triggers and temptation.

For the single guy, it means you being aware of your own sexual cycle and reaching out to healthy relationships when things get edgy for you.  It means you pouring yourself in productive directions instead of letting the lust flow overwhelm you.

For the married guy, this doesn’t mean that you need to have or should have sexual every 2 days (even though you’d like too).  I does mean that he needs to be aware of his own cycles and the physical buildup in his body.  It is a factor and we need to consider that it may be part of our “edgy” day.

It’s not good for our wives to give us sexuality whenever we want either.  We guys need to learn self-control, the importance of serving our wives, and most importantly, that sex is not our #1 need.  Most wives have different drives too.  It’s not just about us, we need to learn to communicate with our wives about their needs.

2.  DYSFUNCTION IN OUR MARRIAGES
We probably have a lot of work to do in helping the sexual component of our marriages find equilibrium again.  I’m betting that the spouse who has the lust and sexual addiction problems has done some emotional damage to the other spouse.  Our marriages have probably been very self-serving for us.  I think it’s important to find a counselor to help you both work on this.

My wife and I have found that our 12 years of sexual dysfunction was way beyond our ability to figure out.  We didn’t even know where to start.  It has taken many counseling sessions for us to get back on the same page.  Another discovery for Marsha and me is that we both have issues and backgrounds that have contributed to our dysfunction.  It’s not just my lust-driven desires.  It’s a complicated web of issues and ways of coping with our differences.  Our counselors have been very helpful as we have sought to unpack all of this.

3.  OUR STRESS LEVELS
Another major factor in my edgy days is stress.  Let’s face it, when you are stressed out, you are going to have a harder time focusing on your purity.  I’ve notice that when my days are busy and I have a big load at work, my body starts looking for a break.  I’m thinking less about where my eyes are looking, and I slip into my old patterns for looking for sexual stimulation.  Sexual stimulation used to be my big escape and stress reliever.  The more stress I used to have, the more I would want to act out sexually.

There are other emotions and needs that may cause you to have edgy days.  The HALTS acronym has been very helpful to me.  These are some times when I feel more edgy and things are more triggery for me:

 H – Hungry

A – Angry

L – Lonely

T – Tired

S – Stressed, Sick, Scared

When our stress or our needs are being neglected, we’re going to have more struggles.  When you start feeling edgy, you have to start asking yourself:

  • What’s going on underneath the surface?
  • What’s my heart look like?
  • What am I feeling?
  • What are my needs?
  • What stresses or emotions am I dealing with right now?”

MORE TOMORROW ON EDGY DAYS
On tomorrow’s blog I’ll share 2 more reasons why we have edgy days and some Top Tips on “How to Deal With Edgy Days”.

FEEDBACK
Q:  What are some other reasons we have edgy days that I’m leaving out?

How Movies and Cartoons Sexualized Me

by Jeff Fisher on August 26, 2016

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** This is a reprint from a July 6, 2009 post

I’m shocked how sexualized many of the movies and shows were that I loved watching as a kid.

** Sometime names of movies or links can be triggery, so I’m not going to name any of them.

moviesA FAVORITE CHILDHOOD MOVIE
This past week, I got to thinking about a favorite movie from 1984 that I used to watch over an over as a kid.  I was getting a bit nostalgic and decided to order it from Amazon.  My wife and I sat down to watch it last night, and I was amazed how many sexual innuendos and scenes filled the movie!  I was embarrassed.   I didn’t remember  it being so bad.
No wonder I had problems with sexual addiction.

cableGETTING CABLE
When I was 12, my parents got cable.  We were so excited to be able to see the new channels, but also the movie channels.  MTV, HBO, and Cinemax were the places I would hang out.  I watched endless hours of sex-charged music videos and shows.  I was always excited for Friday and Saturday nights, because I could stay up late and watch TV.  That meant if I made it to midnight, I could see some of the really bad movies.  No wonder I had problems with sexual addiction.

RATED R MOVIES
I couldn’t wait for my uncle to come to town from California each year.  Our bonding activity with him was for my brother and I to go to a movie together with him.  Of course we picked the rated R movie that was showing.  My parents obliged.  It was exciting to go, but I saw things in some of those movies no preteen should be allowed to see.  No wonder I had problems with sexual addiction.

eyeballs_pirateEVEN CARTOONS
Sexualization also came from some of the cartoons I used to watch.  How many Looney Tunes and Popeye cartoons would draw in the voluptuous girl and show the guys making “wolf-whistles” at her?  No wonder I had problems with objectifying women.

 

TWO THINGS TO THINK ABOUT
I’m not saying don’t watch cartoons or movies.  I do want to highlight two things:

1.  Some of our sexual problems may have roots in the TV shows and movies we have watched growing up.

2.  We need to be careful what we are filling our minds and our kids’ minds with today.

Help! I’m a Minister With a Lust Problem!

by Jeff Fisher on August 24, 2016

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Lust is a common struggle with almost every guy, ministers included.  It is a common temptation that most guys deal with.  You are not alone!

It should not surprise us that ministers deal with lust, but it does.  We think that our ministers are so close to God that they are somehow “immune” to these types of temptations.

I Cor 10:31 “No temptation has overtaken you, but such as is common to man.”

THE ADDED DIMENSIONS OF MINISTRY
Being a minister does put you in a different “job category” than others.  You are entrusted with the spiritual care of others.  You are to be a mouthpiece for God’s Word.  You have the delicate, big responsibility of helping people with their soul issues.

The job of a minister can also be a job of isolation.  You have a lot of time alone.  You are on top, making decisions and many times, no one is watching.  If you are a small church pastor or church planter you know these feelings.

A minister is also out on the “front lines”.  He is more at risk because he is dealing with eternal matters.  Kinks in the armor will easily be exploited by the enemy.  Attacks to himself and his family come harder.  If there has been an unchecked history of lust, or secrets being hidden, you are incredibly vunerable.

AN ACTION PLAN
You need to get help – Lust problems will derail a minister very quickly.  It is important that you deal with your struggles aggressively, and thoroughly.  No one can do this alone.  NO ONE can do this alone.  Did you get it?  No one can deal with a lust problem alone.

Open your life to others – You can’t work on sin and struggles without talking to someone.  Find another pastor to talk to.  A denominational leader.  A counselor.  Call a ministry’s 800 number.  Email me at porntopurity@gmail.com.  Call someone.

You need to be courageous – It is a fearful thing to share your junk with someone.  You are worried about your reputation, the church, your family.  But telling the truth is the right thing.  You have to do the right thing.  You have to have faith and lean on God and others for help.

Many ministers have struggled with lust and have overcome – I am a minister who has been aggressively dealing with my lust, porn, fantasy, and masturbation problems for the last two years.  God has helped me.  He will help you.  I have met many other ministers who share our same struggles.  There is a deliverance and healing side, but you’ve got to get started.

You can’t keep the secret – Any time you keep a secret, you are living in the dark in that area of your life.  True authenticity is needed.  Walking in the Light.  Living in the truth.  You need to find a safe person to share your secret with.

God can be trusted – We preach all the time for people to trust God with their salvation, with their problems, with their struggles.  Is this any different?  God is still God for us ministers.  God will help you through this when you choose to work on it, and get the right help.  God is stronger than our lust.  He has a plan to help us navigate it.  Trust Him!

A HAND EXTENDED FROM JEFF
I have been there my fellow ministers.  I had a secret lust problem for 20 years.  I hid it and tried to go solo.  It just doesn’t work!  God had to finally pull the plug on me before I did real damage to myself, my family, and the Body of Christ.

Shoot me an email at porntopurity@gmail.com.  I’ll be a prayer support for you.  Many ministers have contacted us already with these struggles.

Go to our resource list on the right side of our blog homepage.  Or here’s a great resource list from our Porn to Purity main site:  CLICK HERE.

Be brave!  Trust God!


jeff@porntopurity.com or @porntopurity on Twitter

Understanding Sexual Sin’s Progressive Impact

August 22, 2016

Our Saturday men’s group Is going through the workbook False Love right now.  False Love is written by Brad Hambrick, Pastor of Counseling at The Summit Church in Durham, NC.  Chapter 2 of False Love has an interesting section on how sexual sin progresses through five stages (pp.26-29). IMAGE STORY RISK CONQUER ISOLATION IMAGE – […]

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Book Review: The Road to Grace

August 20, 2016

The Road to Grace: Finding True Freedom From the Bondage of Sexual Addiction My Introduction to Mike Genung was through the Blazing Grace Podcast and their website (www.blazinggrace.org).  Mike is a man who was set free from sexual addiction.  He came on strong, put out some tremendous programming, then stepped out of the limelight for […]

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Key Questions: What Can I Do to Stop My Sexual Behaviors?

August 20, 2016

I (Jeff) am a regular blogger on www.XXXchurch.com.  Sometimes they use content from our Porn to Purity site for their blogs.  Other times I have opportunities to write fresh articles directly for the site.  For the last several weeks, I and several other bloggers have been writing on group of key questions: 1.  Why am […]

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How to Deal With Your Loneliness

August 18, 2016

Loneliness is a big issue for many who are struggling with sexual purity.  Sexual sin is usually done in private and isolation.  We withdraw from healthy relationships and embrace porn.  We long for emotional connectedness and intimacy, but we turn to masturbation and nothing satisfying to show for it. Loneliness is part of what’s going […]

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2016 Purity – Build Your Support Team

August 14, 2016

Support, Structure, Strategy and Spiritual Life. Those are the 4 S’s of purity. I share in my book some great tips and action steps on how to build each of these four areas.  Let me give you a taste of the support chapter.  Your support team needs to fill up with three types of people: […]

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2016 Purity – Exercising Your “No” Muscle

August 12, 2016

Go to the Purity Gym.  That’s the title of chapter 5 from my book.  It’s about building strength and self-discipline in your purity journey.  If you want to have sexual purity for the long haul, you have to learn to say “No”. PRACTICE SAYING “NO” TO UNGODLINESS Saying “No” flies in the face of the […]

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