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January 24, 2016

‘The Real Reason We Look At Porn’ by Lucas Gifford

From Christa:  As we all know, exteriors rarely reveal the full depth inside a person's heart.  And though my Patagonia-wearing Gifford-150Studhub, Lucas, is a physically rugged Crossfit junkie who can probably lift you up over his head….all while scaling a mountain without losing his breath….his inner strength and weighty wisdom FAR outweigh anything we can see.

Because this man—the love of my life—has put his strong hands on my broken heart to help heal it each day through his wisdom, patience, and love, I've asked him to finally speak up and reach into your heart, too.

You see, my husband is perfectly content with anonymity, hiking through the woods to meet with the Divine.  He's most comfortable sitting across the table from one person, changing the course of their life with one conversation over a cup of coffee (which is why he gets paid big bucks to consult and walk people into the life they want to live.)

But for those of you who have had the privilege of experiencing the giant that is Lucas Gifford one-on-one, I happen to believe that the entire world needs his wisdom—and his unique perspective.   Which is why I asked him to write a few of his thoughts today on my blog:

 

by Lucas Gifford

My first experience with “those feelings” came when I was about ten years old. I was down at a friend’s house and had no idea what I was doing or how I knew where to go, but I walked straight into the master bedroom and shoved my hand deep between the top mattress and box spring.  As if I’d done it a million times before, I felt the pages and pulled them out.  Sitting by alone beside the bed, I found myself thumbing through the first Sport’s Illustrated Swimsuit Issue I had ever seen.

And as my body exploded, I knew….I would never, ever, ever be the same again.

Girls could look like this?! WHAT?! THEY WEAR SWIMSUITS LIKE THIS?! THIS IS AMAAAAAZING!!!! I gotta hurry! I gotta get through this whole thing! I NEED TO SEE IT ALL!! More, more, more, wait…wait..

What's happening in my pants?! Well, that's never happened before.  

The more I looked, the better I felt.  I got to the end and reluctantly, but quickly, closed the magazine, sliding it right back into it’s hiding spot and walked out of the room.  No one knew what my eyes had seen…..except for me. I had tasted the beauty of the female body.

And it was everything.

 

That moment as a little boy was the beginning of my relationship with sexual energy.  Before I ever became familiar with the anatomy of a real girl, I became very familiar with pictures of girls—just like most men in our modern world.  The original conditioning to sexual release for most boys comes from pictures and movies, and the euphoria and release from visual stimulation drives us back time and again, until unfortunately, addictions form in many of our lives.

But I’m not convinced my addiction was ever to pornography.  In fact, I believe that every addiction to porn begins with a longing to experience what every heart really wants…..

And that's to have deep connection with someone.

 

WIVES & GIRLFRIENDS:

Porn isn’t about you not being enough.

It never was and never will be. I’d venture to say you already dealt with not feeling good enough before your husband or boyfriend was ever in the picture, and his possible porn habit does a stellar job of reinforcing that. My personal struggle seemed to directly reinforce Christa’s inadequacy at the start of our marriage.  But remember, you (women) probably felt like you weren’t good enough long before your significant other ever came along, and I guarantee he had been visually stimulated by sexual images long before you were in the picture.

So let's do that simple math….

If you felt inadequate before him, and he was sexually stimulated by visual images before you came along…..

Then it's a pretty safe bet that his struggle with porn isn't all about you.  

 

MY PORN HABIT:

My porn habit started the same as many guys–with the accessibility of the Internet.  I was 16 years old, curious, with a typical male hormone-charged sexual body that God gave me.  But deeper than just hormones, I know that much of my porn habit was fueled out of anger and sadness that I wasn’t good enough.  And because I didn’t feel adequate in most areas, it felt good to escape that emotional pain by stimulating my pleasure centers.

Anger always erupts when deep sadness isn't dealt with.

I was angry(sad) that even though I studied my butt off at school, I couldn’t land above a C in math…EVER.  I was angry(sad) that I didn’t have a car like my friends and had to drive my mom's urine-brown Astro minivan.  I was angry(sad) that I didn't feel understood by those who were supposed to know and love me most.   With all of this anger and sadness floating around inside my heart, stacking up and expanding within, I wasn’t ever emotionally honest with myself—nor did I know how to be.  I simply let my emotional pain drive my behavior.  And time and time again, that emotional pain drove me back into the destructive arms of pornography, numbing the sadness in my heart to deny how I really felt.

Emotional pain always drives you towards something.

So what does your emotional pain drive you towards?

 

THE NEED FOR CONNECTION:

The way I look at it, porn equals connection.  It's a false connection, of course, but it's still an attempt to connect.  And if you're addicted to porn, I promise you—you're actions reveal your heart's TRUE longing to connect to someone.  But when that ache inside the heart isn't understood, porn becomes the inadequate person's inadequate replacement for real connection.  Porn might feels good for a moment—but it never fulfills the inner ache.

The ache to know and be known.   The ache to be one with someone.

What if your porn issue has never been about the behavior of looking at someTHING, and instead, more about the need to connect to someONE?  When we make the issue about the bad behavior, we introduce the concepts of right and wrong.  But you see, anytime there is a “wrong” in the mix, you immediately introduce the potential for shame (Or ‘fig-leafing' as I like to call it from an Adam and Eve perspective.)

You are WRONG, put on a fig leaf! Hide your shame!

I am WRONG, where’s my fig-leaf?! I should be ashamed of myself.

You cannot have a “bad behavior” without also having a “shame behavior.”  

And what does shame always do?

 

SHAME FEEDING:

When I would look at porn, like most people, I would immediately feel shame.

 

Porn–> Shame –> Need for connection–>

More porn–> More shame –> More need for connection–>

 

I call this shame-feeding.  You do something you are ashamed of and your heart cries out for connection–in fact, the only thing that kills shame is to immediately connect to LOVE.  When that's not understood and porn is seen as connection, we run to porn instead of love, are never satisfied, and the cycle is never-ending.

Shame-feeding cannot be broken by you ‘willing yourself' not to look at porn.  That's behavioral modification, and it doesn't work to solve the core problem—which is your deep need for connection.

Shame-feeding can ONLY be broken by connecting to LOVE.

 

HOW DO I CONNECT TO LOVE?

This is where things get real in the conversation, and where most people start to back away.

For a while, I tried to fix my false connection with porn by connecting myself first to God.  And though that sounds great in theory and very Christian of me, it didn't work.  How could I have possibly connected to God without first connecting with my own heart?  That's like trying to turn on a lamp without first plugging the lamp's cord into electricity.  There are also many who believe that they will fix their false connection to porn by connecting to their spouse or loved one, and believe me, that won't work either.  Your heart can't connect with others if it's avoiding itself.

The whole reason that any of us connect to porn is because at some point, we haven't connected with US.  We haven't been honest with ourselves.  We haven't connected with our pain.    

And the core pain is…..deep down, we don't believe we're good enough to be loved. 

 

Here’s the deal, folks.  Something inside all of our wounds drives a belief system that we are not lovable.  We are WRONG.  We are SHAMEFUL.   We are NOT ENOUGH AS WE ARE.   When something inside believes it's not lovable, then why would we ever let anyone in to prove that point?  Why would we ever try to connect deeply, intimately, and in a completely naked way to someone—risking their rejection?

Porn is never just about porn.  It's really about someone believing they're not lovable.  You will turn to something that feels like love and connection if you do not believe you will be loved within connection.

Which is why I turned to porn for many years.  Which is why you might be turning to porn right now.

 

THE SOLUTION:

The last week of my life has been all about cleaning things out. My computer had a virus and had to be wiped, we sold a car that needed six years of little nicknacks cleaned out, my closet was an abyss where I saved everything from old plane stubs to used up batteries….to a thousand pocket-knives I didn't need.  The more I've started cleaning out my heart internally in the last year, the more I long for my outer world to reflect the clarity that's going on within.

I warned Christa before it got bad, “Babe, I’m deep cleaning this week, and it’s going to get way worse before it gets better!”  I pulled everything out of the car and my closet, spreading the pile in the entryway of our house to leave it there…..for two whole days.  Every time I walked by the mess, I made myself stare at it, feeling the enormity of how horrible it made me feel.

DISGUSTING! This all makes me feel DISGUSTING! WHY DO I DO THIS?! I love pocket-knives, but do I really need forty of them?  I love flashlights, but who need seventeen!  I don’t even love plane tickets, but I have crumpled up tickets in this closet from 2013…WHAT IN THE WORLD?!?!?!

Each time I walked by the pile I went through this internal process—really feeling how disgusting the pile made me feel.   I wanted my heart to be honest while looking at the mess—the mess laid out for everyone who walked in our door.  The mess that my family could see—my wife and my kids.  But most importantly, the mess that I couldn't avoid anymore.   I had to connect to my mess, to feel it, to OWN it—to quit denying its existence. 

I had to accept ME within my mess—just as I was.

Every time I looked at the pile in the entryway, I felt exposed and embarrassed and ashamed, making me want to run into the easy sense of false connection that porn can give.  But then I'd remember how much it made me feel the same way I felt after I looked at porn….

Disconnected.  Unloved.  Empty.

 

THE PRACTICAL:

1. Whether you’re a man or a woman, single or married, this porn issue is always some expression of the same thing: We don’t believe that we are good enough for love. If you ever want to get free, you're going to have to do what I did to my closet.  You're going to have to dump your struggle in the entryway of your inner house and expose your struggle to love.  I'm not talking about the unconditional love of God.  I'm not talking about the love of a spouse.  I'm talking about YOU ACCEPTING YOURSELF AS SOMEONE WHO LOOKS AT PORN—WITHOUT SHAME.

You have to stop denying that you love porn, because you do love porn (even though you hate what it does to you).  You have to stop denying that it makes you feel good, because it does give you something good—temporarily.  OWN it.  FEEL it.  Pull the dirty pile of reality into the open…..and connect with it.

Say this out loud, “My porn habit has helped me COPE WITH my pain, but it hasn’t helped me walk THROUGH my pain.  HEART, I'm connecting to you right now in your pain, and I accept you where you are.”

 

2.  When you begin to feel that pull towards porn, STOP.

Take a deep breath and close your eyes.  Put your hand on your physical heart if you want to, connecting deeply within.  Feel the inner pile of filth, the mess, the years of painful clutter—AND CONNECT WITH IT AGAIN.

Then, say this out loud:  “Though my porn habit feels like CONNECTION in the moment, it will DISCONNECT my heart from what I really want—and I want to be known, seen, and loved.  This begins with myself—-and I know you, see you, and love you in this moment.” 

 

3.  Connecting to God

I’m finding it more important to connect with myself before I try to connect to God. This is just another level of worshipping “in Spirit and in TRUTH.”  When I know the TRUTH about myself in a deeper more honest way, I can truly receive God's acceptance.

Keep your hand on your heart and say this out loud: “Now that I have accepted myself in my mess, God, I receive and accept YOUR love.  I feel Your acceptance and love in this moment.”

 

Lucas

Gifford-174

 

15 Responses to “‘The Real Reason We Look At Porn’ by Lucas Gifford”

  1. hellosternfamily

    So good!! Love this and it’s all so true. Thanks for being vulnerable. I would love for you to expand on your thoughts about creating a healthy environment and atmosphere to grow up young boys. My boys are only 5 and 1 right now, and I have a girl who is 3. But it scares me to think that they could possibly encounter something like you did at 10 and it could awaken something in them that could lead to addiction. What are your suggestions on navigating through raising mighty men who don’t need those things and who feel loved, understood, and valuable despite the filth that is out there clawing to get their attention. My heart aches at how much my boys will have to shield their eyes and their hearts. How will you navigate these waters with your little guy?

  2. Liz Van der Kaap

    Christa! I’ve wanted to leave you a message for months… and today I will. Your raw-ness in every aspect of your life has helped me find freedom. I lost my daughter in September last year and the first thought in my mind was, ‘I need to read Goldie’s story again’. You see, I’m not the most articulate person, so reading about your beautiful baby, following your excitement on Instagram leading up to her birth, and the absolute heartache that followed…. I was able to weather the storm that hit me so suddenly…. I was able to say ‘THIS is how I feel’ and lead others into that freedom. Thank you for sharing your life. Even reading this porn story…. You are so real and you’ve helped me to see that walking hand in hand as a BELOVED child of God is SO attainable.
    Thank you.
    AROHANUI (much love) from Aotearoa (New Zealand) to you, Lucas, Moses, Goldie & Birdie xxxx

  3. This was exactly what I needed today. Thank you for sharing and for opening yourself up and exposing what some may say is an area of weakness. I truly appreciate it and I can honestly tell you that this just saved my life. I needed something to help me break the cycle that I was stuck in and now I feel that I better understand the “why” and “how” of my problem. I am broken, but I know that there is something more that can help me heal. The reality is that I am loved and I am capable of being loved by someone. I am not what others said I was, but I am truly what God says that I am. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  4. The timing of posting about this topic could not be more spot on for me. I have a 12 year old son who we’ve discovered at different times over the last six to eight months has been searching google and YouTube for basically porn. We had the sex talk with him and did our best to establish an open line of communication without judgement or embarrassment for any questions physically, anatomically, or sexually related, for anything we were missing or were unaware of. Even with attempting to keep conversations active and age-appropriately thorough, we found questionable search history last summer (parental controls and locks had already been established, but he had figured out how to search around the restrictions somehow). Internet access and technology access was taken away. Another Google search history was found a couple of months later that began with specific male and female anatomy, and then became less a&p related and more pornographic related. Then most recently, another YouTube history showed YouTube versions of pornographic videos. I have talked openly and calmly with him, I have talked as explicitly factual as possible, I’ve begged him to come first to either my husband or myself with anything at all without reprocussion, and to be honest, I’ve lost my cool and gone off about my disappointment in his choices. I don’t know what else to do. I’m trying to discern between the acceptance and guidance needed throughout natural preteen curiosity and sexuality, with looking for signs of emotional brokenness and protecting him from the destructive minefield that is pornography. Any advice is much appreciated!

    • Echotlee J

      JenB, if there’s one day i could take back in my life I’d be the first day i masturbated when i was barely 14years. The dangers of uncontrolled sexual satisfaction at a tender age which ever way it comes would destroy and numb not only the mind in future, but also the physical body as well as relationships. I don’t have the ability to elaborate testimonies of these dangers and how it has ruined lives, but you can look them up. Use that to advice your son. Ask him to give himself time to develop physically and mentally. The curious feelings he is having is only natural, but tell him that the wait will worth it.

  5. This is it. It’s the way to genuine freedom and authentic connection…no matter what our false comfort is. You can put any name to it…it’s about the truth and the spirit of truth. Once we harmonize our God-given inner desires with deep connection with the truth about ourselves, freedom overtakes us like a wave. We not only say we walk in the light, we are now walking in the light. And once the mess is out there, you will find others are drawn to help heal you. Those who have come to terms with their own inner need for connection and have found it in being truly known (good, bad and ugly) and loved! Thank you for your courage in sharing.

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