By Biz Gainey
** You can listen to Biz's testimony here.
My journey out of my porn addiction has been one of the hardest paths I have ever traveled. A journey filled with pain: marked by seasons of screaming my way through the pain porn produced as I scratched and clawed my way into the joy freedom provides. The last portion of that statement is important for those who desire to be free from porn. It's important to know that there can experience freedom. You can be this person. No matter how painful the pathway becomes, how loudly you must scream, or passionately you must claw, you can taste the joy that freedom provides.
Why must there be seasons of screaming and clawing? Because joy, discovered in freedom, does not manifest itself at the expense of pain. The joy found in freedom often takes the pathway of pain. That's why I often say I spent years of my life screaming my way into freedom. I believe that none of us discover freedom and joy if we aren't willing and ready - vulnerable enough - to experience the pain porn produced.
A willingness to experience pain is particularly challenging for porn addicts because porn addiction springs from a desire to medicate and deliver us from pain. I know this desire. I still, to this day, fight the desire to medicate my pain! Though alluring, it’s a false desire that causes rather than alleviates pain. The pain it cause then traps us in a cycle of shame – blame – guilt - repeat. It’s like a being caught in an unending spin cycle.
You have, in all likely hood, been there. You don't have to stay there! On my journey out of porn I discovered four repeatable pillars of freedom that I continue to return to on a weekly, sometimes daily basis. These pillars have been central to my freedom and have provided much strength in time of weakness! The screaming is - at least for now - over. The freedom? That's lasting! I hope these pillars provide a pathway for those who long to be free!
Four Repeatable and Personal Pillars of Freedom
Pillar One: Examining Thought Behavior!
Freedom begins with my willingness to admit my current bondage and then examine the thought behaviors that nurture my addiction. I am not talking about examining my thoughts and behaviors. I am suggesting that we have certain thought behaviors or patterns that lead us toward addiction and nurture the soil in which addiction grows. For example, let's say my wife refuses to be intimate with me. I will likely entertain a reactive thought behavior that processes (responds to) that rejection. I probably tell myself thing like, "she just doesn't care about me," or "she is so selfish," or "how am I supposed to stay faithful when she refuses me?" These are all thought behaviors or patterns that are simply not connected with reality. Seriously, she may actually have a headache. Or, she may be tired from taking care of the kiddos all day long. Or, work may have been stressful, etc.
Perhaps you are single. The thought behaviors or patterns are no doubt different, but they are nevertheless present. You have, for example, had a tough day at work or school. The stress is piling up, and you are beginning to feel the pain. At this moment, you may try to reach out to a friend only to find they aren’t available. You find rest illusive and restlessness growing. You begin to think, “one little click isn’t going to hurt.’ Only to find yourself glued to the screen hours later longing for the rest you had hoped to find. The point is - there are other options for our thought patterns that do not take us down the pathway to the lie that leads to our porn addiction! We must examine these thought behaviors, arrest them and then replace them with positive patterns of response!
Pillar Two: Experiencing and Expressing the Pain Porn Causes! At some point, we all must look directly into the eyes of those whom our addiction has been brutalizing and experience the pain they feel and express sorrow over the pain we are causing. This step is the most difficult step of all! If you desire to be healed, to live with hope and experience wholeness, this is the only option for you. If you are unable to take this step right now - don't give up on your freedom. I found this step to be - and continues to be - the most challenging of them all. Pillars number three and four converge with this one and will provide the support you need for such a step. All four of these pillars form more of a process toward freedom rather than steps that achieve freedom!
Pillar Three: Engaging In Relationships and Resources That Offer Health, Hope and Wholeness!
We all - every human on the planet - has a fundamental desire to connect with others in a significant and life-giving way. Porn addiction exploits and distorts this desire as it numbs you to the hope that you will ever experience it. If you are active in your porn addiction, then this eternal and sacred desire has likely been numbed. You are probably the poster child of the presently-absent culture we have become! The step you must take is one of engaging in meaningful relationships with others - preferably others who can assist you on your journey out of porn. I encourage you to find a friend or counselor or minister, etc. with whom you can share your story and from whom you can find strength, hope, and joy! There are online courses and resources (http://www.covenanteyes.com/e-books/) that help you experience freedom as well as ongoing support groups (http://x3groups.com/) that focus on this particular addiction
Pillar Four: Explore the Beauty of God and the Joy of His Love For YOU!
I began to experience freedom from my addiction the moment I discovered the beauty of God and the love He has for me. Over twenty years ago a counselor recommended a twelve-week study designed to examine why I struggled with porn addiction. While I cannot locate the workbook anywhere, nor do I remember what it was called, the first pages explored two Bible verses that opened my eyes and heart to a fountain of freedom and lasting joy. The first, in the Gospel of Mark, reads, "In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove.11 And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” I was, at that moment, as Lewis might say 'surprised by joy.’ The study then covered a section from Romans 8 which reads, For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God. I paused and thanked God for His love over me and the beauty of His love for me! It's as if God spoke directly to me on that afternoon: "I love you, Biz Gainey! You are my beloved son in whom I am well pleased."
Exploring the beauty of God and experiencing the love He has for you, over you, in you and through you is the way to replace the thought behaviors that drive you to porn. In this way, you see the pillars are more like a process. The only way to Examine, Experience and Engage the first three is to EXPLORE and DISCOVER the beauty of God. It's His grace that makes freedom possible and the screaming worth enduring!
You can be this person. You can taste this joy.