Tag Archive: guilt


mary

10 things vegetarians are sick of hearing / your vegetarian friends want you to know

I became a vegetarian on my ninth birthday. This usually elicits shock and the assumption that I am vegetarian because of my family / culture / religious beliefs. But, no – I was just a child who was interested in where my food came from and when I knew the facts eating meat (read meat, fish, poultry) didn’t make sense to me, even at nine.

Having been a vegetarian for so long the biggest thing I’ve learnt is that you cannot convince someone to change what they eat. It is a personal journey and people will either get there or they won’t. So I will not be doing that. Instead, I’d like to use this opportunity to appeal to my meat-eating friend to think before they say any of the following things to the next vegetarian they meat…I mean meet.

1. Why are you vegetarian?

Firstly, you probably know the answer before you even ask. But I’m not saying don’t ask – I love sharing my beliefs about food with people who are genuinely interested and like many others who have written his week I strongly encourage people to educate themselves about all the food they are eating (meat and otherwise). What I am saying is please don’t ask if your plan is just to argue with me about the answer I give you.

This happens to me all the time…so much so that my first response to this question is usually “do you really want to know or are you just making polite conversation?” Most people think they really want to know. So I explain. And then the “debate” starts, or I get accused of trying to make someone feel guilty, or told that the conversation is “not cool” while people are eating meat. But, um, you asked??

I’m going to start ranting soon so enough said on that point.

2. But how do you get your protein / isn’t that really unhealthy / don’t you have a poor immune system?

Again, do your own research. But I can honestly say I don’t know any vegans or vegetarians who struggle to get enough protein in my diet. We have been brain washed into thinking that protein only comes from meat, when in actual fact it is one of the least healthy sources of protein. I heard a dietician describe it like this once – I have spent my career (of over 20 years) treating patients with cholesterol, gout, kidney problems, etc, conditions that we know are associated with a high-meat diet. But I have never treated a vegetarian or vegan for protein deficiency. Pretty interesting if you ask me.

3. Do you eat fish? And chicken? No meat at all??

Fish = still an animal (and that would make me a Pescetarian)

Chicken = also an animal

Yes, I really meant no meat at all.

4. But BACON

I have a pet-hate of the recent bacon craze that appears to have spread throughout the world. Firstly, pigs are really intelligent, affectionate animals (just youtube search “clever pig” if you don’t believe me) who know when they are being taken to slaughter. They literally scream when they are being killed. Secondly, even if that doesn’t bother you and you make the decision to continue eating pig products, what you are doing by supporting the “bacon-with-everything craze” is celebrating and glorifying the fact that an animal has died so that you can eat it. It is excessive, insensitive and barbaric.

5. Ja, but you eat eggs and cheese – what about the poor chickens and dairy cows

Don’t make your guilt my guilt. By being vegetarian I am not proclaiming that I am perfect and superior to all others. I have a real conflict with the fact that I still eat eggs and cheese and going vegan is something I think about daily. It is something I am trying to rearrange my life towards. But at least I’m doing something.

6. But our bodies are designed to eat meat, and paleo, and banting and stuff

No, they aren’t. Watch this TED talk for some pretty convincing arguments from an Archeological Scientist. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BMOjVYgYaG8

7. Vegetarian food is boring

Again, not true and a pretty strange comment coming from a non-vegetarian. Have a look at the wide range of veggie cookbooks out there. I will happily share recipes with anyone who is interested.

8. You don’t know what you’re missing out on

Yes, I do. I get this from my dad all the time – even all these years later he still seems to think I’m a vegetarian because I don’t like the taste of meat. (Although after all these years I probably don’t). I don’t miss or crave meat at all anymore but some vegetarians do and this kind of statement is not very encouraging to them. (For any new struggling vegetarians reading this – it gets easier, I promise!)

9. Sorry for eating this meat in front of you

I think different vegetarians have differing opinions on this, but I personally am not bothered by the sight of someone eating meat. My philosophy is very much – it’s a personal decision – so as long as I don’t have to pay for it or eat it myself you are not offending me. I love enjoying meals with my friends and take pride in the fact that I can braai better than many of the men I know.

10. Yes this dish is vegetarian.

It might seem shocking but I have been told a number of times by friends and family that a dish is meat-free, only to take a bite and taste immediately that there is definitely meat inside. The explanation is usually “Oh well I just used some for flavor”. Please don’t. Just be honest – I’ll be happy bringing my own dish or eating the side dishes.

[For a number of other great stories relating to people choosing to go vegetarian, click here]

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brett FISH and tbV

the other day i posted an answer to a ‘how much sex in marriage?’ question that someone left after a ‘Singleness’ blog post and it got a whole lot of attention… realising that Sex in Marriage is a bit of a Taboo Topic that doesn’t get much attention, this felt like a healthy conversation to continue and so i had an online chat with Val about some of the stuff that came up in the comments section, so we could share it with you:

[Brett]: Hey Val, so when you read through the comments section on the ‘How much sex in marriage?’ blog, there were one or two things that got your back up. What would you say was the biggest of those that caused a reaction in you?

[Valerie]: Hi B. I think for the most part I appreciated the comments and agree that sex (or at least one or both partner’s interaction with it) can be an indicator of deeper issues in a marriage. I think my biggest issue was the implied suggestion that a lack or reduction of sex is indicative of marital problems. This comment in particular got me: “I think that if a relationship is done properly, and both people are happy, comfortable and secure in the relationship, sex will follow, however if there are issues elsewhere in the relationship, sex will illustrate that.”

[Brett]: Hm, interesting. I agree that if there are issues elsewhere in the relationship then sex is likely to be one of the places where that will be picked up. But I imagine you are more hesitant about the idea that if things are good in a relationship that sex will naturally follow? Is that right or what exactly is it about that statement [in the context of what you’ve said about problems with sex can be an indicator of deeper issues within a marriage] that you are taking issue to?

[Valerie]: I think what I heard some folk say is that a lack of sex is ALWAYS an indication of deeper issues and marital “rot”. I don’t like the idea that the natural result of happiness, comfortability and security is SEX! The implication being that sex is directly correlated with happiness, comfortability, security and general health of a marriage (the more you’re having the better it is; the less you’re having the more “in danger” you are.) My concern here is that this plays strongly into the dominant role sex plays in our culture, both within the church and without.

For many churches, the prime focus on relationships before marriage is sex. Don’t have it!

And the prime focus on relationships after marriage is sex. Have it!

So sex dominates our understandings of relationships, marriage, love, mutuality, fulfillment, sin and right living, and health – in the church. Meanwhile, outside the doors, sex dominates too. We have a culture driven by sex and sexuality – it pervades our music, movies, the market place, books, magazines, and is placed at the forefront of relationships.

I feel uncomfortable with this preoccupation with sex both in and out the church, both before and after marriage. is all

[Brett]: I hear you on that and definitely agree with you. The church could definitely improve their stance on sex in terms of the way it is presented and spoken about [and not spoken about]. Ultimately if the church is not speaking about sex, then we have to turn to the other voices on it which will primarily be the media and Hollywood, not great proponents of healthy attractive sexuality.

Karen seemed to have a similar opinion to you on sex not being at the centre of marriage, but also spoke of how it can be a good indicator if something is not healthy.

“Many counsellors and leaders in churches that I know, when helping couples will ask what the sexual relationship is like to get an indication of the health of the marriage. So although it is not the be all and end all and both parties should be happy with the amount of sex that happens in the marriage, we have to make sure our marriages are healthy, that our relationship with God is healthy so that we lack nothing, that He fulfills our needs and makes us happy, so that we don’t expect our spouses to make us happy.”

Is that something you would agree with? That a good marriage is not defined on how much or little sex you are having [other commenters mentioned things like emotional issues, abuse in the past and other aspects which can affect your sex] but that it might be a warning sign, a smoke alarm if you will, to the possibility of there being a fire needing to be taken care of?

[Valerie]: In short, I don’t think the strength or health of a marriage should be defined on how much or little sex is happening. But, if one or both parties are finding the amount of sex (shall we leave the quality to the side for now?) an issue, which I believe is where the first blog post started, then by all means that needs to be addressed. And I think the first blog did that well – in essence you flipped it on it’s head from “how much am I entitled to” to the deeper issues that could, and often do, underlie a question like that. The back-story if you like.

My main concern is that we don’t perpetuate the myth that sex is the pinnacle of a relationship. It’s what we tell Christian young people before they get married and create in essence a mythical “IT”, much like Hollywood does. When the newly-wed couple eventually gets down to it we have bogged them down with so much guilt, shame, expectations and assumptions along with an idealized vision of “IT” which, let’s be honest, has little to do with the actual messy, fun, awkward, emotional, vulnerable, experience of sex-in-real-life that it’s little wonder they get so easily entangled in the complexities of it.

And I’m worried that similar discussions of sex and it’s place in marriage do essentially the same: elevate sex to being the “IT” of marriage – the purpose, the indicator of health, the thing we should be striving for (more or better of), the reason why we do the things that make our spouse feel loved etc (ooh, and that last one especially, the “I’m buying you flowers because I love you, but secretly I’m really just earning brownie points and we both know it.”)

[Brett]: Yes, exactly. You’re talking about the ‘No sex til marriage’ whip that is held above Christian young people [which becomes completely guilt-inducing every time they mess up in any way sexually] and then at some stage they get married and are instantly meant to change to a “sex is allowed and great” mentality. That is such a confusing thing we do to people and it can take years to work through that one.

Sex in marriage IS great. But you know what is also great in marriage? Cuddling. And cooking a meal together. One of my favourite things [and I think yours] is to lie next to each other at the end of the day and just talk about life and ‘solve all the world’s problems’ [well, most of them]. Also playing board and card games together. Watching a series we both enjoy. And so on. I think this is a message that could be given out a lot more on this one – that sex is great alongside a lot of other things that are great.

[Valerie]: Totally. We follow up the “no sex outside marriage” whip with the “sex in marriage” whip (that’s another story!) that creates a lot of guilt about how much is being had, shame about what is and isn’t allowable now that the general veil has been lifted, expectations about what it’s going to be like. So phrases like “if a relationship is done properly, and both people are happy, comfortable and secure in the relationship, sex will follow” just add guilt on guilt and shame on shame and resentment and disappointment and even blame at its worst. Yes, it IS wonderful. It is messy and awkward and vulnerable. It is fun. But it is also one – yep, just ONE – of a myriad things that make my relationship good and fun and healthy and fulfilling and satisfying and comfortable and secure and and and. Let’s get a little perspective in here, yo!

We would LOVE to hear your thoughts and comments on our thoughts and comments and any follow-up questions you might have…

[to read the original blog post that started this all, click here]

apartheid

 

 

 

a short while ago two South Africans sparked an international discussion about racism, guilt and responsibility when they printed and distributed forty t-shirts with the slogan ‘I benefited from apartheid’ written on them:

 

 

 

 

 

zapiro

 

 

well-known political satirist Jonathan Shapiro [aka Zapiro] came up with this minimalistic but powerful cartoon which expressed his take on the matter:

 

 

 

are they right? yes, for sure, i definitely had [and still have] benefits from apartheid – they were not as a result of my choosing, or even my parents choosing, but they are real.

so in a nutshell i have to feel guilty for being white.

i also have to feel guilty for being male. women have been oppressed in this country and around the world for who knows how many decades, centuries even. have i benefited from that? surely i have. i may not have chosen my penis but it has served me well, just by being there.

what else is there?

english-speaking? because surely as one of the dominant languages that worldwide communication and media have been presented in, this has forced some kind of pain and trauma on those who have been forced to speak it?

christian? while i prefer the term ‘Christ-follower personally’ i know that being grouped in this group racks up the score column for guilt and shame [no-one expected the Spanish Inquisition…]

how about heterosexual? [because heaven knows we’ve treated the gays badly]

i imagine there are probably more, but it seems as if there is enough data to suggest that i am part of the most privileged demographic imaginable – white male heterosexual english-speaking christian… and therefore the most guilty.

i think i get it. to a large extent. having benefited from apartheid etc etc i need to own that and take responsibility and be involved in reconciliation and reparation where possible as well as doing what i can do to address the various imbalances that now exist as a result of the past.

at the same time, is there a time when it ends? when i can stop feeling the need to feel guilty because i am white, because i am a man, because i…

because, to be very honest, i did not have a lot of say in the whiteness of my white, i wasn’t all that involved in the maleness of my maleity, i was born into english, i am attracted to women [and one very beautiful one in particular]

the only thing on my list that i can see that i had any part in choosing to be a part of is the christian one and even there i have chosen to align myself to a Christ-following which i hope looks a LOT different from the majority of wrongs and perversions that the typical historical christian [those who profess one thing but live another] has gotten horribly wrong.

in terms of the apartheid debris in South Africa, i will continue to do what i can to make amends and take responsibility for the past i largely inherited, but will there be a time when i am allowed to ask questions of the post-apartheid government who continue to be a hive of corruption, mismanagement, greed and nepotism and spend/waste/party this country into the ground?

because, to be honest, it’s been 18 years now. you’re practically legal new democracy. Mandela showed you the way you could choose to live – with grace, forgiveness, honour, invitation, integrity… and it is up to you at some stage to embrace that.

to be honest, i don’t actively carry any guilt for any of who i am, no matter how much the pressure is exerted to do so. i know that i’m far from perfect and i try to live better, day to day, than how i lived the day before. i try to take responsibility when i mess up and make things right with the people i have hurt or wronged. and i believe this is something that needs to be embraced by every one of us, so that we can really turn this country around and make it the incredible place it should be.

so when do we stop blaming apartheid? when do we start taking responsibility together?

unity.

ubuntu.

you and me. let’s do this.

I read the post from the friend of yours who is still in so much pain over losing her baby and it made me feel so much less alone. She puts into words so much of how i’m feeling. Words that I haven’t had for the last 7 months.

I had an abortion. I never thought those words would apply to me. But they do. I desperately wanted my baby. But the doctors told me he would never live. Non-viable. Not compatible with life. Such ugly words.

I was so sick while I was pregnant. My hormones took over and I was also miserable and depressed. I even said at one point “I’ve changed my mind”. I didnt mean it, but oh how I wish I never thought it! I wanted my baby. Then the doctor said everything wasnt ok. He was querying downs syndrome and spina bifida. And sent us into a spiral of turmoil and despair. One of my early reactions was “I want it out”. We prayed and prayed for a miracle, for guidance. My gynae mentioned termination and we just didnt know. Do Christian people do this? Could we? But could we cope with a disabled child? We were so afraid. For 5 days (the longest five days of our lives) we prayed. We asked for clear answers, for guidance, for a miracle. We prayed that we wouldnt have to make the decision. Then we went to see the specialist who said that our baby would die. Probably not make it to term, and definitely wouldnt live more than an hour or two if he was born. She said it was so bad that she would terminate the pregnancy up until the day before i gave birth. She said that she was a Christian and she would still do it. We went to our church and the minister said the same thing. That he and his wife had suffered through a number of miscarriages and he would still terminate the pregnancy in our situation. We thought we had our answers. There was no possibilty of any kind of life. We didnt want our baby to suffer in utero for as long as he may live. We were afraid to continue with a pregnancy, just waiting for our baby to die. So we decided to end it. We went to counselling at church the night before the procedure and i left there with peace.

I was terrified on the day. They gave me tablets to start the process, and pethidine and i spent the day floating. When the doctor came to see me, I was in so much pain, and I just wanted to get it done. I drifted into the anaesthetic, thinking when i woke up, this nightmare would be over. Then I woke up and it wasnt. My baby was gone. I wasnt pregnant anymore. I had gotten rid of this life that I never appreciated enough. I only realised how much i had loved that baby now that it was gone. I woke up a mother. And racked with guilt for every moment of not being grateful enought to be pregnant. Filled with regret for spending the morning wishing it was over with, rather than cherishing my last moments with my baby inside me. For panicking and not waiting a little bit longer to make the decision. I just felt like I had killed my baby.

Its been 7 months and I still dont know what to do with it. I didnt decide my baby would never live. God did. But I did end his life. I know that I prayed. I prayed that God would stop us from terminating if He didnt want us to. Instead, all sources seemed to point to it. Is it ok with Him that we did what we did? Or did we fail some major test? Can I just be allowed to deal with my grief, or should i be dealing with guilt as well? I didnt trust God anymore. I was so angry with Him, with everyone. With everything. I was suicidal. My heart and my faith were shattered. Still are. I am able to function more normally now, but its like there are two of me. the one is logical and dispassionate and says we did the right thing, the merciful thing. Our baby’s heart was beating, but we had lost him nonetheless. The other half of me is just bleeding, and screaming with pain. Did God lead us to do what we did or did I just kill my baby? And regardless of how our baby was lost, he is still gone.

What your friend writes about how people are, and how she feels in church and how much it breaks you inside to have people make their pregnancy announcements around you – all these things are real to me too. At first I couldnt function at all. I would go to work and sit there, waiting for the day to end. I couldnt focus. I would write in my journal, telling God how I couldnt go on. I would go home and just want to be dead. I’ve moved forwards from there now. I was given new projects at work and had no choice but to focus. So I fuction again. But it is still dark. Some days are better, and I tiptoe through them, hanging on to a tenous thread of sanity, not looking around me for fear of something setting off the darkness again. I feel like i am lost in a dark cave. I dont know the way out, and I’m stumbling around bashing up against things and hurting myself. Sometimes I see a glimmer of light in the distance and I follow it for a while then i trip over a rock and get disorientated and its dark again. I dont know how to fix it, i dont know how to come out of it. I’m just praying that my dark days will continue to lessen.

People want to help. My mother sent me scriptures – about how God took Davids baby away as punishment (ok?!). One idealistic soul apologised (6 weeks after the fact) for not making sure i did the right thing (I’m so pleased she knows what that was becasue I still dont), another told me all about the many babies that she lost – again with the best of intentions (ok, she has 2 perfect children now, but i cant contemplate the thought of having to survive this again and again. She’s on the other side of it now. Will I ever get there?) And the one who told me she thought she was pregnant and considered aborting the baby cos they were done with having children (i guess she was trying to tell me she doesnt judge me, which i appreciated, but otherwise, it didnt help!). And my husband. Who decided on “tough love”, refusing to do housework in order to force me to function (we’re still debating on the helpfulness of that one). My husband didnt feel as shattered as I did. He feels we were given a clear answer and he feels that he protected me from having to carry our child even longer, while waiting for him to die. His mom got very sick soon afterwards and so he had more real things (for him anyway) to focus on and I felt so alone. Some unlikely people did help me though. While some were saying things like “you’ll understand when you are mom” (who may acknowledge my pain, but not that i am every bit as much of a parent as they are. I am a mother and i have had to make a much more difficult decision for my child than they have ever had to make for theirs!), other people understood how torn up i was, understood that I am now a mother and it is these people who helped me stand again: My gynae’s wife who visited me in hospital and hugged me while I cried, my GP who supported me when I went to his office and burst into tears, giving me tablets for the short term and making sure I was in counselling for the longer term, the woman who pulled me aside at a breakfast and took me away to cry while she held me and prayed for me and my baby, the woman who said to me “You didn’t kill your baby”, the woman who took the time to find and send me a poem that someone who went through a similar experience wrote – on exactly a day that I needed it most, and my husband’s assistant who phoned me on mother’s day to wish me happy mother’s day – not an easy call to make, but appreciated more than he will ever know.

So now I’m standing again (or at least trying to). I’m still looking for God again, I’m looking for answers, I’m looking for a way forward. I thought I heard God, but everything I thought I heard turned out to be wrong, so maybe the abortion was too. But I get stuck there, because the alternative is equally unthinkable and I dont know that I wouldnt do the same thing in the same situation again. I dont know that I would either (or how I even could), and I just wish I had the answers. I wish I had peace.

I dont. What I do have is pain and a new empathy for people who decide to have an abortion. The terror, for whatever reason, of not being able to handle whats coming, and how it can seem to be the best solution. I wish I could say it is… I dont know. What I have learnt is not to judge others. Ive learned that some days it feels like I’m too broken to breathe, but somehow I do. And I do still belive in God. That all things are working for my good. I dont understand how, I dont understand Him, and it doesnt make it better, but I am trying to hang onto that fact. That His was are higher than mine, His thoughts are higher than mine. The last couple of weeks, I have been hearing again and again that I should be praising Him through everything. I’ve also been surrounded by pregnancy. One morning I listened to a talk on praising God through pain, then later walked past an old friend in the shops who was heavily pregnant. God, in His mercy, didnt have her stop and speak to me, but i nearly vomited right there in the shops anyway. It hurt so much. But i went home and sang. I sang on the way to the car, all the way home and for the next 45 minutes as I unpacked and cooked dinner. I sang (and cried) to God every song that popped into my head, and slowly some measure of peace descended.

I pray that I will find complete peace at some point. And some kind of answer as to the ethics of what we did. I’m praying that we will have healthy children in future and that I will remember that God is God. He is almighty and my days are in His hands. “For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you” 2 Chronicles 20:12.

And one day, I pray that I’ll get it.

this may be one of the tabooist topics [especially in the church, not a lot of sermons preached on this in my experience] and it’s time to bring it into the light.

i have a story to share and i am hoping that this will help people towards a journey of healing, restoration, self-forgiveness, hope and sexual purity.

i do wish my story went something like this – i used to struggle with pornography and masturbation and then i became a Christ-follower and God took all that junk away from me and healed me up inside and made me well… that would be a good story… sadly, though, it is not mine.

BUT during the height of my struggles with pornography/masturbation [and believe me, they were struggles] which went on for years [i would say on and off to differing degrees for close to 15 years] i was a youth pastor at two different churches and so it was often a case of mess up hectically again Saturday nite [if i mention late nite e-tv and you smile knowingly, you have maybe caught yourself out] and then go to church to preach a sermon or be part of the worship team or lead a bunch of young people towards ‘being good Christian young people’

so add feelings of incredible failure, unworthiness and hypocrisy to the mix. anyone relating yet?

for me it was usually a tv thing which is weird cos i guess i had a lot of access via computer and occasionally would stumble on a page i shouldn’t be on but i guess the internet stuff was always just a little too hectic or in my face for me and so my struggles would generally be late nite, flipping through the channels [all four we had and when late nite e-tv was one of them it was a recipe for failure] and then inevitably getting stuck on some ridiculous porn movie for ten, twenty minutes or longer leading to inevitable masturbation to relieve the sexual tension built up and then guilt, anger at myself, pleading to God to take this thing away [after years of struggling i would at times refer to it as ‘the porn in my flesh’ cos it certainly didn’t seem like anything God was interested in removing from me by clicking His God fingers which i desperately wanted to be the case]

what was interesting for me [and i doubt this is the case for everyone] is that it never felt like the porn did anything for me – i certainly didn’t enjoy it – it always disgusted me rather than turned me on. for me it always, or for the most part at least, seemed to be about the curiosity aspect [as if there was ever going to be a good porn story script or premise but i kept telling myself that’s why i watched – and we know how curiosity treated the cat] “Let me just see what happens here and the moment it gets dodgy I’ll turn it off” and so on.

then there was a time when i would have a couple of weeks success and the enemy would change his tactic and i literally would turn on the tv late nite saturday with the attitude of ‘I have beaten this thing. Let me show it how strong I am so I am going to turn on the dodgy channel and the moment it gets dodgy I will turn it off to show it who is boss.” Inevitably it turned out to be boss and i would revert back to the porn struggle which replaced the pride struggle once more.

John 10.10 “The thief comes to steal and kill and destroy, but I [Jesus] have come that you may have life to the full.”

i was living out that verse – i was having innocence and purity and reputation [at least between me and God cos not too many other people knew] stolen, my soul was being destroyed week by week and i was heading towards all sorts of deaths… the enemy is a liar and will use whatever tactic he knows will work in you – when porn lost strength he switched to pride and took me down that way

and of course maybe the biggest part of it all was that i was fighting this fight all by myself. i was a good christian youth leader – i couldn’t be struggling with pornography and masturbation, right? it’s not the kind of thing that comes up naturally in conversations – “So, who is struggling a bit with the old porn then?” and i already felt dirty and disgusted with myself and like a complete failure week after week after week, why would i possibly share that with someone else?

at the height of my addiction to masturbation i could not go a day without doing it [at least in my head] and yet there were two of the strangest things that happened – the first was that for some reason i saw Sunday as a holy day and so i never masturbated on a Sunday [bizarre that i held that belief for so long and yet didn’t see the glaring contradiction that something i ‘couldn’t stop’ i was able to stop for one day a week…] bizarre… and then in 1994 i went on a youth ministry music and drama team for a year and after a couple of months of struggling daily with msaturbation before i left for team, i went for a complete year without masturbating once…

came home, feeling victorious and pretty much got almost straight back into it. and all the guilt, anger, frustration, crying out to God etc continued…

the struggles with pornography were not as intense as the struggles with masturbation and so they pretty much came and went and because it was generally tv related was a little easier to control than if it was computer related i imagine… and despite not getting absolute victory over it i was able to identify some weak spots and put things in place to make it less likely that i would fall

one was the obvious reality of knowing when the porn was going to be happening and so moving away from the habit of arriving home late at night and switching on the tv to going straight to my room or avoiding turning on the tv at all late in the evening. i was living at my folks home at the time and so leaving the lounge door opening rather than closing it made me less likely to get caught up in it [having your folks walk in while you are watching porn a very strong deterrent.] also another eye opener and truth to people stuck in a “i can’t control this” mentality – that is a weird thing to say because you manage to control it when you are hanging out with your parents or in a busy restaurant or on the bus for example…

the devil maintains his stronghold on people in this area using a lot of subtle lies and half-truths – you are the only one caught up in this, you can’t stop it, the pride of thinking you are able to be in control and so testing that control, the curiosity aspect, the lies of the stuff of pornography being equivalent to the stuff of sex you will find in marriage one day… and more…

possibly the best piece of advice or mentoring i got from a good friend of mine, Craig Duvel, who i spoke to one baptist summer camp about this stuff [at least i think i spoke about this stuff, pretty sure i did] was to “keep a short account with God” – like a bar tab, the smaller it is, the easier it is to settle… so the more we sin and don’t put things right with God, the easier it is to keep on sinning because “ah well i’ve messed up so much anyways what is one more time?” and so what Craig told me, which helped a lot, was that sometimes he will get up at 3am and go downstairs and get on his face and make right with God when he has done something the night before – deal with it immediately with God [and then quickly with people if your sin requires you to go and make right with someone] even if that makes you feel like a complete hypocrite…

so messing up late nite saturday, it still made sense to make right with God afterwards so that i started the new day fresh and able to go and do the things of church and so on and not allow the mess-ups to build up and overwhelm me. despite the fact of knowing that i had stuffed up 99 times before not having to live with the belief that it means i have to stuff up the 100th time.

another thing i put into place with another friend of mine years later when he was struggling with stuff was to make a text message accountability [i did this with a friend of mine who was tempted to cut herself and never did hopefully partially as a result and another friend of mine with drinking stuff so a good all-round principle of friends helping friends] with the idea that any time he was tempted to masturbate he would send me a text [well it worked both ways but i don’t think i was struggling as much when that happened] and i would text back to let him know i was praying for him and that he could beat it – this is a really great thing to have in place as often just the action of interrupting the temptation to write the text was what was needed to prevent the action – it does require you being able to find someone who you can share your junk with who will love you and not judge you and be available/willing to do such a thing – but i think this can be a great help.

i believe that one of the biggest principles is getting it into the light – they say a problem shared is a problem halved and with masturbation or pornography this is indeed true as just being able to share with someone that you are struggling with one of those things takes away the enemy’s hold over you in the “if they knew what you were like they would be so disgusted” department- walk the journey with someone else. it is a tough scary thing to share the first time and you really need to pick your person well [hoping that a best friend or a youth pastor or an accountability person or cell leader might be that person] so that the sharing of it doesn’t become an added burden to you.

while i am on this, let me share a great link which is helpful in so many different areas – we stumbled upon this site called ‘i am second’ which has testimonies from a bunch of different people and this one by a guy called Nate Larkin, despite being on sex addiction, resonates with a lot of the pornography/masturbation struggle [http://www.iamsecond.com/seconds/nate-larkin]

so i have some principles and tips and advice for those who are struggling with this thing – i wish i had the formula of how to stop but after years of struggling [and not quite sure why God allowed me to struggle so long without just removing it from me cos i so desperately prayed and cried out for that on occasions too numerous to count, EXCEPT maybe because he knew that me speaking out about it some day would hopefully help others start their journey towards freedom and give me the credibility as someone who knows too well the depths to which it takes you, and if that is the case then i am okay with that for sure] i had a personal miracle – i had struggled with both pornography and masturbation through the few relationships i had had with girls and sometimes being in a relationship made it easier to not struggle and at other times it didn’t [living with a no-sex-before-marriage Christ-following frame of reference while engaging in relationship activities designed to lead one towards sex in terms of intimacy and closeness didn’t help a lot] but then i met Valerie [my future wife to be] and God pretty much instantly took it all away which i am profoundly grateful for.

and then i got to stand in front of close to 1000 people at baptist summer camp [times two camps] and share about my struggles and saw some other brave leaders alongside me [some who i am hoping will add their stories to mine here] sharing about their struggles with the same things, in different ways… and then witnessing God bring about such release and hope and promise of a new journey and freedom from these two things which are incredibly destructive forces. it is never a fun moment to stand in front of people and share about your biggest failures and the things that bring you embarrassment and shame. but i have been able to do so as Jesus has freed me from that shame and the enemy does not have those holds over me that he did before.

so there it is. my name is brett “fish” anderson and i have struggled with pornography and masturbation. and been freed from the grip of both over my life. there is hope and freedom in Jesus Christ. there is strength in being able to bring your darkness/struggle into the light and in the support of a loving friend or community.

if you are a pastor, small group or youth leader, or even a parent [altho that might be a trickier one – sitting down with your kids and asking about their struggles with porn or even revealing yours might not necessarily be the best way to go – altho if you can create space for them to speak and share and for you to be able to share your brokenness or point them to others who can and will that might work] reading this then i urge you to take the ‘Taboo’ out of this topic.

if i am feeling like an incredible sinner or hypocrite, if i am unclean and disgusting because of the hold pornography or masturbation has over me then your messages of who God is and what i need to be doing as a Christian and so on can become meaningless – create spaces for your people to deal with their junk, in open and honest forums – they may be messy/awkard/embarrassing conversations or meetings to chair, but the reward and fruit of doing them will be such incredible freedom that you could revolutionise the life of your youth group, or church or small group.

i have seldom heard pastors or youth leaders deal with this topic directly and yet it has such a hold over so many people – it is time to get the stories out and let the healing begin

the thief comes to steal and kill and destroy, but I [Jesus] have come that you might have LIFE TO THE FULL!

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