Finding Freedom in Community
I Am Not Alone
I'm in the men’s purity group in the church. I didn't start going because I was struggling with a pornography issue that I couldn’t control, I went because the way that I had chosen to “control” my sexuality was to not acknowledge my feelings and shut them down. I went because what I needed was to connect to my heart and my emotions. I have a need to connect and feel, but that can be scary when I don't know how to do that.
The men’s purity group is not about getting guys to not look at porn as much as getting guys to connect with their hearts and break out of their isolation. The group had a method that said: “If you want to look at porn, call someone.” I started to learn to connect to my emotions by not isolating myself and, instead, reaching out for an emotionally safe connection. I don’t just call anyone; I call someone of the same sex who is walking with me through life and will embrace me, not try to fix me. I can't stand it when someone labels me with my struggles and gets more concerned with trying to fix me than connecting with my heart. Walking in purity always requires me to be vulnerable but it’s up to me to make sure that the people I walk through life with are safe and want to know my heart and not my “disorders.”
"I started to learn to connect to my emotions by not isolating myself and, instead, reaching out or an emotionally safe connection."
I learned an easy acronym called H.A.L.T. which stands for Hopeless, Angry, Lonely, Tired. I found that generally when I want to isolate myself and self-medicate, I usually feel one of these four ways. This gave me power. Instead of getting trapped and falling victim to my feelings, I can do something about them — I can go connect and explore them with someone else. Living a life where my feelings are my friends and I don't have to be afraid of them is kind of weird, but that's where I am. I really don't care about what Christian circles say about living “the right life” if that means I can't be real with myself. I am holy and clean because of God, not myself. God says I'm clean, and the more I'm me, the more I will naturally deconstruct the things in my life that contradict that. The “perfect” life of performance will always tell me I'm dirty. I am not trying to fix myself; I am getting to know how incredible I am, and the powerful God-made hearts of those around me.
-- Andy, 27, Colorado, US