Right In Front Of You

Have you ever lost something valuable to you, only to discover that said item was actually in a super obvious and super visible place the whole time?

It’s always a little embarassing to have a friend or family member find what you were looking for in a matter of seconds after you might have spent hours looking for it.

I’ve found over the past few years, that this simple example of stressing over something that is so easily solvable, is so often the daily plight many of us face:

We toil and strive and cope and go in these big circles, all the while saying that we wish that we could break out of these cycles. And yet, the whole time, the answer is right there, staring us in the face.


Everybody Needs Healing

Someone said today, “Everybody needs healing,” and I think if more of us believed this, we’d have a lot healthier of a world. There is this negative stigma around being hurt, being broken, or needing help and so we generally try to be as “strong” as we can be.

We play the comparison game and gauge our own health relative to those other people we know who have got way bigger problems than we do. It’s dumb.

I spent so many years pretending to be okay.

It was the religious and “put-together” thing to do.

I lived a double life just so that those around me would think that I was some person who didn’t have problems. Some morally upstanding person who was above the self-destructive tendencies of the human condition.

But in the end, the only person I fooled was myself.

When we aren’t honest with others about who we are and what we struggle with, we choose to live in the dark.

And strange and poisonous things grow because of the secrets that we keep in the dark.


Investing in Community

We tend to celebrate our victories in public and grieve our shortcomings in private. The irony is that we don’t need community as badly in good times as we do in bad times. And yet, we still tend to isolate when it comes to struggling with our vices.

My journey with pornography is something I’ve written about countless times, but it’s a prime example of how things we allow to thrive in the dark can eventually sabotage the rest of our lives.

For me personally there were a ton of factors that helped me walk on the road of recovery. However, I think the most clear turning point came from when I shared about it with my best friend and then decided to dig deeper as to the reason why I didn’t want to consume pornography anymore.

But this isn’t just relevant for porn addicts. I think it’s very important that we invest in a few friendships that go beyond getting drinks after work, swapping gossip about our mutual friends, or only being honest when under the influence of something. Friendships that go deeper than the surface level of celebration and “I’m fine.”

It can be so hard to do this.

Because the kind of friendships that I’m talking about can tragically backfire. I’m talking about a bare-your-soul, authentic, and intentional friendship in which your dirty laundry is aired for those select few who are in this circle. It’s uncomfortable and it doesn’t happen by accident.

But when the rip tides of life catch you off-guard, community can be the difference between you surviving and you being even further isolated.

True friends can help you get back to shore, but if you don’t invest in them, there’s nothing to hold onto when that wave pulls your feet off of the ground that you were standing on.


Step by Step

I owe so much of my own personal growth to my therapist who stewarded her authority and influence well, in order to make a safe space for me to process and to heal.

From day one, she told me: “Remember, growth is not linear.”

So often, we try these cookie cutter, cold turkey approaches to dealing with our vices. When we fail to meet our unrealistic goals, we go into a nosedive and end up as bad or worse than before. When fear and control are our motivators, can we actually do anything but fail?

I think we often look for panaceas or things that will solve all of our problems as quickly as possible… like a get rich quick scheme. But in doing this, we neglect the “why” behind why we are doing what we are doing.

We end up treating symptoms instead of the underlying roots of our compulsive behaviors.

We take things out of our lives without replacing those things with healthier options.

We erroneously believe that healthiness is equivalent to perfection and we throw up our hands and give up when we fail.

This kind of approach is only socially acceptable in the context of addictive or compulsive behavior recovery.

In any other context it would be absolutely preposterous to expect people not to fail and flounder a bit before experimenting and then eventually succeeding.

Think about working out and riding a bicycle.

If your muscles never failed when working out, that would technically mean that you were not destroying your muscles and rebuilding them, and therefore you would not be growing or getting stronger.

And for the most part, most people learn to balance from the sensation of what it feels like to fall. Riding a bike consists of riding the edge of “almost falling” to the right or to the left.

In both of these contexts, resilience and perseverance far outweigh any other trait.


Own Your Story

We are all messed up people in need of healing so…

Own your narrative.

Yes, admit you have a problem, but don’t stop there.

Be relentless in your pursuit of a healthier way to live.

Make amends with those who you have perhaps not purposefully hurt, but have hurt anyways.

Seek out reconciliation.

Seek out resources.

Talk about your struggles so that you can find others who have also struggled so that you can encourage one another.

Pride would have you isolate and impress upon others that you have no problems. In doing this, you will find no allies, because those around you will not offer support to someone who does not need or ask for it.

Humility and vulnerability on the other hand will attract allies to you, because in revealing the struggles that you have, countless others with the same weaknesses will constantly remind you that you aren’t alone.

It’s your life.

No one will come to encourage you that you need healing and restoration in your life.

It’s your personal choice to pursue that recovery process.


Together

In 2020 and 2021, I decided to write monthly emails to a group of friends who all struggled with pornography. We ranged in age, gender, and life stages but we were connected through our shared struggle. The idea was birthed from Fight the New Drug’s “No Porn November” campaign, but I wanted to journey with these friends for a period of time longer than just one month.

At the intersection of: processing my own experiences of sexual assault, understanding my personality and my need for community, learning about pornography and its effect on the brain, coming to terms with the people who I had hurt because of my out of control sexuality, and realizing that my identity was not defined by my behavior, I began to write these emails of encouragement to my friends.

Most of the time, no one wrote back.

But occasionally, a friend or two would share an experience they had which would encourage the rest of the group.

I realized partway through, that I was really writing to myself…

I was sharing stories, strategies, and things I was learning, but really, I was writing because I wanted to believe that we could recover. I wanted to believe that this was not another fool’s errand or failed attempt. And so I wrote to this group, because I hoped that one of us might succeed and prove that we weren’t lost causes.

During those two years, I think I ended up being the one who benefitted the most. Because, through sharing about my ups and downs on my journey of recovery, I was able to receive grace from my friends and encouragement to persevere.

Wherever you are and whatever you are facing, just remember, that you are never truly alone unless you choose to be alone. No man is an island, and we all desperately need to invest in community as we walk towards healthier versions of ourselves.

Don’t give up!

But also, don’t let pride prevent you from living an abundant life.

Life is too short to just survive!

Let’s thrive!

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