By Biz Gainey
I numbly sat humiliated; trapped in a ‘porn consumption prison’ of my own creation.
“Everything about you is beautiful. And then there’s . . . there is this FILTH,” she said as her shoulders and eye lids lost their struggle with gravity and pulled her body violently to the floor. She lay there crumpled in a “what did I get myself into” haze.
I reached for her.
I tried to speak; to tell her how sorry I was. She glared. She was repulsed.
In that moment, my very presence was revolting; my touch nauseating.
It was the absolute low point of my marriage. Looking back on that moment now, nearly two decades later, I see that it was also the beginning of a new path.
Yes. Out of the ashes beauty has formed.
Perhaps you have been there yourself? That moment when you thought you had lost it all, and you - and you alone - were to blame. Perhaps, even as you read this, you feel trapped; trapped by not just one, but more than one such moment in your life (as have I).
WHOLENESS IS THE OUTCOME OF FREEDOM BOUND TO TRUTH
If so, then, I invite you to experience a truth that has loved me into wholeness. I am not offering a ‘silver bullet’ that fixes all. Rather, it is a truth that has had to capture and recapture me again and again and again and, yes, again. It is the single thread that has run through my walk in this life beyond porn all these years. The truth is, and really it’s more than truth; it is my one great hope:
I am defined by more than what I do, or by what I ‘see.’ I am defined by who I am and how I love. Porn consumption and addiction exploits and distorts my desires, taking me away from my ‘best self,’ rendering me unable to offer my ‘best self’ to others.
Yes. Personhood is more about who I am and how I love than what I do or see. This truth has been important to me down through the years. It’s the single thread I had to cling to in times of great distress and relapse. This thread has now been used to weave a vast fabric of freedom and forgiveness. I don’t care how recent your lapse/relapse or how powerful your addiction is, right now. If you can cling to the truth that you are more than what you have done or what you have seen, you too can be free!
PORN EXPLOITS AND DISTORTS DESIRE
We tend to be controlled by whatever or whoever captivates our heart; or better, our desires. Once Upon a Time, a television program my wife and I watch, explores this reality through the ‘evil queen’ who reaches inside one’s chest and literally extracts their heart. When the queen has your heart, she has you in her control. It always leads to destruction, and often, it leads to death.
Over three decades ago, pornography captured my heart. In those days porn was hard to come by and a young person had to go to extraordinary measures to obtain and consume porn. Nearly two decades ago, I began what I now call my journey out of porn, into freedom, unto my truest self. In order to embark on my journey I needed a complete ‘reorientation.’ You see, by the time I decided to face the problem, I was around 28 years old and had been involved in consistent porn consumption for about 15 years. By the age of 28 I was married, in ministry and expecting my first child. Everything was wonderful. Everything was beautiful. Except for the reality that porn had captured my heart.
DISCIPLINES, RHYTHMS AND THE DISCOVERY OF JOY
This journey – through the years - has chartered a new course! This new course has required new disciplines, both ancient and modern. These disciplines have created more fully human habits in and through me. The ‘modern’ disciplines or rhythms (I like the sound of rhythms better) I pursue are:
1. The discipline or rhythm of intimacy with my spouse.
2. The discipline or rhythm of intimacy with a close community that will hold me accountable.
3. The discipline or rhythm of responsibility with my time and resources (e.g. computers, phone, etc.), and my particular strengths/giftedness and desires.
4. The discipline or rhythm of Presence. Being fully present to and engaged in every moment.
The primary ancient disciplines or rhythms I practice are:
1. The discipline or rhythm of silence and solitude. I try to get away and ‘clear the mechanism’ daily, weekly and monthly!
2. The discipline or rhythm of confession.
3. The discipline or rhythm of service. The practice of serving others keeps me grounded in and guided by the good I can bring to the world.
Each discipline has, over time (often at an unbearably slow pace) shaped me into a man who craves (desires) a deeper sense of God’s presence and a greater joy in the flesh-and-blood reality of my bride and the life He has given us together.
While I dare not say I am home free, I can say that my life beyond porn has created a deeply erotic and emotionally fulfilling intimacy between my wife and me. I also found that my freedom produced a joy in my closest family, friends and community! This new joy was often absent because of the addictive power of porn. We all know that porn doesn’t just take us away from others while we are consuming it. Porn continues to consume us long after we click that link and keeps us away from most – if not all – of the subsequent moments life offers.
Recently my wife uttered the words, “Everything about you is beautiful.” I waited with baited breath wondering what would come next. I was humbly moved to thank God when the next moment was greeted with a ‘sloppy wet kiss’ on the lips. Yes! I will take the joy of a sloppy wet kiss from my wife over the judgment brought on by the starkly sterile screen of porn’s distortion any day!
What are some of the disciplines or rhythms you have practiced?
How have they helped you on your personal journey out of porn?
We’d love to hear from you!!