Shame is an ugly vicious deadly thing. It's the small loud voice that's screaming, at this very moment, not to share. Keep it in the dark. Unspoken. Untouched. Unheard. But God's called us to be courageous, fearless & willing to speak regardless of the threat it may impose on a reputation.
Just maybe, if one by one, we begin to courageously & confidently refuse to bow down to its secretiveness, its darkness, its fear tactics-- this battle can be won, in your family as well.
We pray as you read our story, His miraculous power to heal all things takes center stage.
Love, Jamie & Joy
It was Wednesday morning in the early fall of 2006 and I'd found porn on the computer, again.
An internal Tsunami of uninvited emotions washed over me as I sat indian style in the upstairs master bedroom closet- numb & tired. But this time, unlike the others, I finally sensed this wasn’t going to just go-away. No matter how many shoves under the rug I attempted, how many tears I’d shed in Jamie's sight, how my pleads I’d make, how many threats I’d impose, how many manipulative strategic plans I’d formulate—no amount of my own white knuckle willpower could break the cycle happening under our roof.
But this time around, God in His gentle yet heart-piercing exposure wouldn’t permit me to discount my own porn— not for one more day.
It was there, smack dab on the carpet floor of my closet where He revealed my porn was perfectionism. My porn was approval. My porn was people pleasing. My porn was emotional affairs. My porn was codependence. My porn was deception. My porn was validation. My porn was perfect children with perfect husband with perfect Instagram pics (I still love me some good family pics💗) with perfect lives-- Make no mistake, my porn was just (if not more) destructive, harmful, twisted & deceptive at a root level, than his.
Because the thing is, perfectionism breeds jealousy. People pleasing breeds insecurity. Approval breeds hostility. Pride breeds death.
But vulnerability breeds intimacy. Messy Honesty breeds life. Transparency breeds love. Humility breeds victory.
But I hid my porn, I hid his porn; all in a faulty effort to not mess with our flawless persona—our well dressed family and our untarnished life that we’d work so hard to create. After all, what would people think if they really knew?
But this I know, there’s simply no room for love in perfectionism.
When I chose to look/be/do perfectionism instead of allowing the Perfect One to heal the brokenness within the family unit, love was absent.
And Because God IS love, this type of atmosphere in a family kicks Him straight to the curb.
No matter how many Christian labels we may place on ourself, our spouse, our babies, our family, our marriage— when perfectionism &/or denial is chosen over raw vulnerability - evil wins, evil prevails and evil conquerors in a home.
But truthfully & somewhat embarrassingly, the real gut-level root issue, personally, was that I believed Jamie's battle was a direct response of my not-enough-ness .
The same not-enough-ness I had been fleeing since I was a nine year old little girl with long blonde pigtails looking directly into her pink glitter floor length mirror actively listening as satan breathed heavily on my neck whispering, “Look at you; who would ever find you pretty? Your forehead is too big, your nose is too broad, your stature is too thin, your height is too short..." Not-enough not-enough not-enough repeated over & over until I believed it. Immovably planted.
Yet if a person today were to say these ugly statements of hateful destructive lies to an innocent, fearfully & wonderfully made nine year old little child, we’d unhesitatingly call it abuse.
But when satan does, we call it “negative self-talk.”
It’s demonic abuse and it’s spoken for one & only one reason— to kill, steal and destroy that child's true authentic and beautiful identity within— ultimately drawing ones soul towards faulty counterfeit coping mechanisms found in the addiction of both perfectionism & porn.
68% of christian men admit to viewing porn on a regular habitual basis (& women are now reporting 20-22%.) Experts say this number is significantly underestimated because shame (which keeps all in secret) is the key ingredient jam-packed into every fiber of pornography; therefore most don’t admit to it, making this static most likely 80% or higher they say.
If 80% + of men, conservatively speaking, (women not excluded) sitting in church pews week after week are imprisoned to a shame infested, marriage destroying, generationally harming addiction to porn, it would seem much of discussions and prayers would be centralized on helping to break & release & free the congregation from the iron shackles of the enemies strong hold.
But it’s rarely spoken about, this porn epidemic.
I share this with a zilch of judgment and a heap of compassion- but maybe it’s because statistics say 50% of pastors have admitted to viewing porn regularly. In other words, they’re addicted too. And just like the statistic for christian men/women, these are the individuals who've admitted it; the true numbers are significantly and secretively more.
And because we're all pastors/leaders of someone, whether to our children or an entire congregation--this we do know: satan is not a respecter of title, status, position. If we're human, regardless of "who" we are or "what" we do in or outside the church, we're a walking target to him.
And yet, God's forewarned us from the beginning, hasn't He? "Flee (in other words, run for your life) from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body." (1 Cor. 6.18)
And since God not only made us, designed us, stitched us, wired us-- He also knew the dark twisted evil perversions of satan.
Because the awesome ingredient God administered into our brains called oxytocin (the element released to be the super-glue for human bonding during sex,) satan used as he strategically and manipulatively introduced counterfeit versions of intimacy in our path by means of pornography; 3d, intangible, imitation versions of sex.
When porn, when emotional affairs, when masturbation, when fraudulent, out of order intimacy is obtained, these neurochemicals are inherently released, which in effect bond us to the images, to the people, to the lie-- attacking Gods design of human sexuality to the core. All resulting in a deadly blow to the God-designed human bonding needed and necessary in a thriving, intimate, vulnerable, faithful marriage union.
Jamie and I had someone recently ask the question, “Can anyone really be free of porn? And not just the kind of being free for a week, a month, a year- only to find themselves dabbling, hooked & right back in it— but free.”
What she was really asking; “Can an addiction this seductive, this powerful, this twisted, this deep, this neurochemically driven, this culturally-accepted, actually be set free? An addiction which imprisons souls, tears apart families, rips to shreds a covenant, throws a man/woman far deep into a dark pit of hopelessness, actually be— free for good?”
To which Jamie, with almost a decade of freedom driving his words, looked her confidently and yet compassionately in the eyes and replied unhesitatingly indisputably unquestionably, “Without a doubt, yes!”
This we know. This we've experienced. This we've tasted. This we've seen with our own eyes-- there is no sin too dark, no bondage too steep, no bar too thick, no pit too deep for the God of Rescue not to grab hold of our bruised and bloody hand; a hand cleaving, waving, offering the white flag of surrender. The same flag which may look like defeat to the enemy, but the jokes on him--it's the flag of VICTORY.
"When you go out to fight your enemies... do not be afraid. The Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt (our place of bondage) is with you!... Listen to me...Do not be afraid as you go out to fight your enemies today! Do not lose heart or panic or tremble before them. For the Lord your God is going with you! He will fight for you against your enemies, and He will give you victory!"
Today, Jamie and I are both free and far from perfect; running straight into the arms of the One who is. Day by day. Moment by moment. But, if you're reading this today, experiencing gut-wrenching defeat in any shape or form in your own life, as we did, please know it's not by accident you've parked your eyes on these very words.
God wants you to know He sees you (Gen 16.13) He's fighting for you (Exodus 14.14) He's in love with you (Jer 31.3) He has a purpose for you (Acts 13.36) He's rescuing you (2Tim 4.18) He's restoring you (Jer 30.17) He's strengthening you (Col 1.11) He's delighting in you (Zeph 3.17) He's guarding you (Psalm 121.8) He's redeeming you (Is. 43.1)
Because, there's victory only in Jesus.