In Canada, for about 8 months of the year, the skin conundrum is non-existent. That’s because the temperatures are cold. People wear layers to cover their bodies. The conundrum is silent.
But every Spring, from about mid-May until mid-September, the weather heats up and the skin comes out. You know what I’m talking about. Shorts, tank tops, bathing suits, and bikinis. Summer is wonderfully fun, but it brings its share of temptations. I like to call it the skin conundrum.
My exposure to the skin conundrum has intensified in the last year since my wife and I bought a house right by the beach. Don’t get me wrong, we are super blessed and I love that I can go to the beach after work every day. But it presents challenges in the sexual integrity department. I have caught myself double-taking and fixating more than usual this year.
It’s a great reminder that what you fill your mind with matters. We ingest so much content and media today that sometimes we lose sight...
When I was struggling with pornography, I was downright scared to be termed an "addict." There was so much stigma and shame associated with the word, I did everything to avoid it. Sadly, my fear (and pride) held me back from getting the help that I desparately needed. If I was willing to call a spade a spade earlier, I could've got clean earlier too.
So how do you know if you're addicted? Well this is actually a very complicated question. Most research focuses on substance addiction – such as alcohol or drugs. Porn would be considered a process addiction, which is the same category as gambling. However, the DSM-V (Diagnostic and Statistic Manual of Mental Disorders, the handbook for diagnosing psychiatric conditions, does not acknolwedge pornography addiction. The main reason is that there is still not enough evidence to support the diagnosis. That means we have to do a bit of investigating ourselves.
To qualify as a diagnosable addiction in the DSM-V, the condition must...
The stats are clear, a majority of men around the world are struggling with porn. And while some of these men have no conviction about it and maybe find porn beneficial, we know that most would rather be free of it. So why aren't porn-recovery services overwhelmed with demand?
The #1 thing that keeps men from getting the help they deserve and desparately need is shame. And we can all understand why. Struggling with porn is a personal, private and shameful experience. Then you throw in the fear of rejection, the feelings of disgust, the pain of spiritual disconnection and it becomes an outright mess. So what do you do if you're too ashamed to get help?
Well for starters, be honest with yourself. Most people are not actually too ashamed to get help. They are scared. Fear of job loss, fear of being judged, and fear of opportunity are just a few things that often hold men back. Sometimes it's fear on the other side - fear of being too far gone, fear of failing in the recovery...
The year is 1997 and it’s an ordinary day in the Sam household. My older sister is blasting Spice Girls and running around the house. I am watching TV, eating popcorn. My younger brother is doing both – running around with my sister at times, watching TV with me at others – to appease his big sister and big brother. Having two older siblings is exhausting, I’m sure.
Eventually, the three of us wind up in the TV room. The movie is finished. We have collectively decimated the popcorn and are now left with unpopped popcorn seeds. While many would consider these unhatched kernels to signal the end of the festivities, we were just getting started.
It is amazing how many different places in your own body you can fit a popcorn seed. Nose, belly buttons, fingers, toes, hairs, the list goes on and on. Most of the places we experimented with were safe bets. They could be easily removed. Until we got to the ears.
Knowing that sticking the seed...
A few weeks ago I was going for a walk in a park nearby. I love this particular area - it is serene, picturesque, and full of wildlife (we’ve had a few great-horned owl sightings lately). On just the other side of this great park is a canal that huge cargo ships travel through. It is fun watching the ships, and when the waters are clear, it’s also a really nice place to decompress, relax and reflect.
Recently, in one of my walks along the canal, I came across a pile of someone’s belongings. It looked as though somebody had a bunch of stuff to get rid of and picked a random place to trash it. There were coat hangers, toiletries, and a bunch of magazines.
After further inspection, I discovered these were not ordinary magazines. These were Playboys. I was totally stunned. I had never seen a playboy magazine in my life. In my 15 years of porn addiction, all of the content I consumed was digital.
Queue the moral dilemma. I had two options. First option - run away and...
It was only 30 years ago that a majority of neuroscientists believed once your brain was developed, nothing could change it. In those days, it was understood that the brain wasn't able to adapt. Some people had more mental capacity than others and that's just the way it was. Thank God we have come a long way since. Otherwise, recovery would be impossible!
Brain researchers have coined the term neuroplasticity to describe the brain's ability to change and it has become very clear that while this ability may reduce over time, it lasts much longer than people originally thought. That means regardless of age and regardless of how long you have struggled, your brain can change. It is scientifically proven and that is great news.
Re-wiring the brain is such a hot topic these days because people want to find ways to improve their thinking and ultimately their lives. Those struggling with sexual issues are no different. The question at large is, "can my brain change?" and the overwhelming...
Feast your eyes on this decadent 5-layer brownie cake featuring a chocolate chip brownie base, double stuff oreo layer, buttercream filling, covered in a semi-sweet chocolate glaze and topped with whip cream. This beauty was made by yours truly for my wife on her birthday. You might call this a lovely gesture, I call it foreplay. More on that in a future newsletter, but the point is – these kind acts go a long way for intimacy in a marriage.
So am I the best baker this planet has ever seen? Likely.
I kid. But for real, I take serious pride in my baking. It’s become a bit of a passion point over the years. I first stumbled upon this hobby several years ago when I began pastoring. Since Sunday was a workday, I took Mondays off. Without fail, I would wake up Mondays with something on my mind that I wanted to bake.
Cheesecake, banana bread, muffins, you name it. If it came to mind, I would find a recipe and give it a go. I had my share of failures along the way (baking...
I don't know about you, but when I was struggling with pornography I spent a lot of time asking God to forgive me after a slip. I felt dirty and unclean, so asking for forgiveness was my way of ensuring that God and I were on good terms again. It also gave me the feeling of a 'clean slate' so that I could start fresh again.
Was it right?
Well...that depends on a few things. There is a theological component to this question that we should address first. Some believe that you must ask for forgiveness every time you commit a sin. Or that you ask for forgiveness at the end of the day to clear any debts you may have incurred. The basic premise is that we sin regularly and it needs to be covered in forgiveness regularly to ensure our right standing with God is protected. I am personally in a different camp. I believe that God has forgiven us of our sins and that forgiveness was afforded to us even before we've asked. We are forgiven.
I'm not against asking for forgiveness at all, but I have...
In addiction forums, you will often hear that "relapse is a part of recovery." This is a true statement, but without the right context and training it can cause more harm than good. Many have this pie-in-the-sky idea of freedom, thinking that one day things magically shift and porn is no longer a problem. It rarely happens that way. The recovery journey is sort of like expanding a really tough elastic band. Lots of work in the early stages, but with time you are able to have longer and longer stretches of freedom. What enables you to have longer bouts of freedom is predicated primarily on how you handle the slips that happen along the way. Your response is make or break.
So how do you recover from a slip? A few things...
1) Kill Condemnation. This is arguably the most important step, especially early on. After a slip we tend to beat ourselves up for being a failure, not making progress, etc. It can become a downward spiral very quickly, but it doesn't have to be this way. In my...
Some of you who follow us closely know that this has been a milestone month. If you don’t know, here’s the scoop. In November 2018, I started DeepClean as a side hustle. I had no clue what I was doing and no confidence that my program would actually work. But I had to try. There were too many men whose lives were in shambles.
My first client was desperate but barely had any money. That was fine by me, I just wanted to help. And to be honest, I didn’t know if my program was worth anything at that point. The less he invested, the less pressure!
His life was dramatically affected. He broke through several layers of shame and stopped engaging with porn and masturbation as frequently. It wasn’t a smashing success, but the indicators were there. The program worked.
I wanted to reach more guys, but my biggest obstacle was time. I was working a full-time job and newly married, so I only had a few hours to dedicate. While I loved working 1-on-1 with...