Thirty-eight years, that’s how long I had been locked in a pattern of sexually acting out and shame. In the beginning it was what got me through some of the nights when my parents were fighting, sometimes to the point of my mother having to be hospitalized. The drinking, then the anger, then the violence, they were in their own cycle of abuse…
When I was 13 years old I found the magazines in my brothers room, it wasn’t long before I had found out about masturbation and the so called release it provided. At the start of it there was no shame, just the pleasure of the release. Then as I found out that people in the school made fun of those that they found out had been masturbating the shame began, along with the isolation. There was the neighborhood show and tell to each other, then my older brother by 5 years doing some exploration with me that I did not understand but did not object to. Later, at about 15, I got into a same sex relationship with a neighborhood boy for over a year – more shame.
I am the son of a man whose father was an Episcopal Priest, where was God in this? He was no where in our family. We went to church at the most two times per year Christmas and Easter. My father had said to us later in life that if he could have chosen he would not have had kids. That played out in the lack of relationships that were built with him He wanted to please my mother who in retrospect was a woman suffering with a number of physical and mental maladies. The physical were addressed as best as they could be for an alcoholic two pack a day smoker.
The mental maladies of depression and possible bi-polar issues were not dealt with. Why? Because what happened in our family was no one else’s business. I was told not to ever talk to anyone about what goes on in our house, more shame, more isolation. The one time I did talk about it to someone I thought was a friend at summer camp, he quickly spread the story I told him about one fierce night of violence in our house throughout the camp. Everybody found it very amusing, more shame, more isolation.
Started smoking at 14, started stealing my parent’s alcohol, got real good at watering it down just enough that they would not notice. Starting doing drugs at 15 with no knowledge of my parents till I left my stash out one day and they found it. I had no respect for either of my parents I was just waiting to get out.
We moved to a different sate in 1970 and I dated a girl in High School who I was sexually active with until I came to NH to go to college.
Got out of control in NH and arrested for selling drugs on campus and spent 20 days in jail. Had many sexual encounters with women and many different kinds of drugs over the next few years. Porn and masturbation was always there as the release even with numerous sexual encounters with women. I always went back to what got me through the days of fear and isolation at home.
Met a girl one day and again was sexually active with her but this was different. We got married in 1979 and I thought to myself, now I won’t need porn and masturbation anymore. Wrong! It was still there. Now there was some shame, hadn’t I made a commitment to her? We had our first child and I held this boy in my arms and said I need to change my life. I started cleaning up my act but it did not last long, as the stress of being a father and provider started to bear down, I always went back to the medication of porn and masturbation.
It was after our daughter was born that we had a friend who started talking to us about God and Jesus. Got saved in a small church in Worcester and thought, finally, I won’t have to deal with this porn and masturbation anymore, God has taken it away. I had at least heard that from some people who I had talked to before turning my life over to Him.
It didn’t take long for me to fall again, go forward for prayer, just fall again. I was locked in a new cycle, but now I was saved, I knew I was now acting outside of the law of God. This time the shame took on new dimensions of failure. I was failing my wife, I was failing my children, and I was failing my God! Anger and bitterness started to take a firm root, combined with over zealous strictness toward my kids, and dissatisfaction with my wife. They were the unwitting sufferers of my anger and frustration. The Internet had blasted open my addiction to a place where I was immersed in it for hours at a time. I worked a second shift job so I could spend many hours locked on the computer and acting out on the images that had gotten a hold of my fantasy life.
My son had a life changing car accident in 2002. While he was in a coma God and I had many conversations, but after two and a half months in a coma we had him home. I was renewed thinking that with all that happened and this new relationship with God things were going to be better. They were not; it was on one night of being lost in the many hours of online porn and masturbation that I had an experience I still cannot explain. It was as if God had lifted me from my body and showed me what He saw as I looked down at myself in the chair in front of the computer abusing myself while pulling up new images to view. It made me sick to my stomach.
Several years before while serving as the Men’s Ministry leader in our church (a post I should have never been in considering my state of mind and heart). I had brought Rick Kardos of the Nathan Project to speak at a Men’s breakfast we had. He spoke of three deadly weapons. One was a gun (which some Marines sitting at the breakfast kept a close eye on while he spoke) which represented some danger, and then there was the TV remote representing more danger and then a computer mouse the largest danger. His commentary on the three: We protect our kids with great energy from the gun. We are careful about the TV they watch. But we have no real clue of the danger of the internet and are failing to deal with it ourselves.
He talked about For Men Only groups that were safe places for men to come together to battle this addictive issue and through God’s word, heavy accountability and reading a book by an old Marine pilot named Ted Roberts, God could help me get free of this. It was that discussion that now made me realize that I needed to be in one of these groups. I knew nothing about it other than I needed to join. I made the first big mistake in my recovery which was to sit my wife down and tell her that I need to get involved in a FMO group because I am addicted to porn. I probably would have done less damage if I had just hit her over the head with a frying pan. She was devastated thinking that years ago when I had gone to a Christian Psychiatrist that these issues had been dealt with. It was only later that I learned how important it is to be kind and gentle and seek wise counsel before your disclosure.
Once in the group I realized I needed to draw a line in the sand that I was not willing to cross. Doing that little by little I started to draw myself toward God in a real way and away from that which had held me so long.
It wasn’t easy letting people into an area of my life that I for 38 years had not allowed anyone access to. God was faithful and though I still have many issues, and I need to be very careful about my computer use and TV watching I have put up the walls of protection with Covenant Eyes and no longer isolate myself with the TV.
Because of His grace I can now serve Him freely without the shame I once had. This freedom has led to a ministry being started in our church to widows and single mom’s and disabled, where boundaries are very important, and God has shown me so much there. I am able to serve other men who are looking for this same freedom thanks to the trust Rick has put in me. I have new relationships with my children that took in some cases sitting with a counselor and one of my children to ask for her forgiveness for what she lost because of my anger and addiction. I am walking her down the aisle of marriage next week. My son and I have a great relationship that I am working hard to improve and today we are celebrating 32 years of my wife’s patience in sticking with me for better or for worse.
To God be the glory, great things He hath done!! Amen.
As a young teenager I stumbled into sexual addiction as a way to try to not feel the pain that I felt from my childhood experiences. This continued and worsened through my teen and early adult years. Even though I graduated from college and began my career I still struggled with this addiction. Even though I got married and started raising children of my own I couldn’t break free…
I tried everything that I knew or that counselors and my pastor recommended, but my addiction to pornography and other sexually compulsive behaviors only worsened. These behaviors eventually led me to prison for three years. However, the reality of prison was nothing compared to the personal prison that I had been in since age twelve.
I had been in counseling for eleven years and nothing could break the chains that held me in bondage. My career was destroyed; my marriage was ended; my relationships with my children were broken. My life was in shambles. I cried out to God for freedom, but ultimately resigned myself to the fact that I would struggle with this problem for the rest of my life.
I went to a conference dealing with sexual purity in the spring of 2004. There, I met Rick Kardos and was introduced to FMO. I met with Rick several more times and soon joined an FMO group. I finally found a place where people understood my struggles. I found a place where people understood me. I found a place of healing. I found a place where, for the first time, I had hope.
After a year of healing and sobriety, I started and began leading an FMO group in my own church. That group eventually grew and multiplied into two groups. During this time, God brought the most beautiful and amazing lady into my life. We were married late in 2005. We have experienced many challenges in our eight years of marriage. God has brought us through all of them.
In 2008, God called us to a new church and a new battle ground for sexual purity. We started an FMO group there. It has now multiplied into two groups and will soon be three. Two men from those groups will soon be starting FMO groups in their home churches. In 2010, my wife started an FWO group in our church, which has multiplied into two groups. These groups are accountability, support, and discipleship groups for the wives of sexual addicts. Upon graduation from these groups, two of the ladies will be starting a group in their home church.
FMO has changed my life. I have grown from a broken, lonely, isolated, scared man-boy to a confident warrior for Christ. I embrace intimate relationships with my wife and the men of FMO. One of my favorite Bible verses is Joel 2:25. “I will restore the years that the locusts have eaten.” I believe this with all my heart because I have seen it and lived it. Through FMO God has allowed, and will continue to allow me to experience this in my life.
It’s been about 2 years since I stood up in the School Gym and talked about the secrets that keep us sidelined in being the men we want to be for God. I talked about David and how his secret about his relationship with Bathsheba kept him sidelined until Nathan stepped up at God’s prompting and brought David back into fellowship with God…
In the church bulletin most weeks under the “Small Group Opportunities” is a heading “For Men Only” with my phone number and name as the contact. If you haven’t noticed it before here is what it says. “For Men Only has been created for the many Christian men who are ‘trying harder’ but are still losing the battle for sexual purity. These groups are led by men who have struggled with this powerful stronghold and achieved healing, freedom, and victory by the power of God.”
In April of 2004 I drew a line in the sand and made a commitment to God, my wife, and to my brothers in Christ that would become my “Nathans” and hold me accountable to never cross that line again. Up until that point I had been living in a cycle of habitual sin. The world would say about my sin, “it’s not as if you have been with another woman”. “It’s only images on a computer after all.” But Jesus spoke very clearly about it when he said in Matthew 5:26-28 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.’”
In April of 2004 God helped me break a cycle I had been living in for 35 years. The fact is that up to 50% of men in my church are struggling with same issues I have and some with similar struggles that are deeper than I can share.
There are many reasons we get caught in this cycle and why our prayers for release from it seem to fall on deaf ears. In the FMO Group we bring God to the center and learn about who we are in His image. We pray for each other and complete a circle of accountability that is missing in many of our lives as we go through this struggle with temptation and shame. With a Christian curriculum and a Christian solution we win the day. Does this cycle get broken in all of our lives? Often, but not always and rarely as quickly as we desire. But with time, and commitment to each other healing happens.
In the last 2 years we have seen families healed, men taking responsibility for their actions, and wives getting back the man God meant their husbands to be. And maybe the most exciting and but certainly the most important thing is God getting all the glory.
Good Morning/Afternoon, my name is ******** and I am here today to share with you how the Nathan Project has impacted my life. But first, let me give you a little background about me.
I grew up in what was regarded as a well-educated model family in the community where we lived. Behind the façade though, it was a high performance home where verbal and emotional abuse were common…
It was a place where I would get in trouble for things as simple as scoring poorly on a practice test or making a mistake when setting the dinner table. I am sure my parents didn’t want to do this, but some of their actions wounded me deeply as a boy. The seeds of my addiction were sown when I began to believe that I was unlovable and worthless.
My first sexual experience was seeing a Sport Illustrated Swimsuit issue at age 11. That was followed by finding my father’s Playboy magazine collection. I didn’t have a healthy way to process the stresses of my life. So by the time I moved out, I had learned to mentally escape by medicating myself with pornography and solo sex. That was how I learned to cope with life. I didn’t realize it then, but I had become completely ensnared in sexual bondage by the age of 12 years old.
In high school, I was an overachiever, but in reality, I was trapped in a cycle of shame, then trying to hang on, then medicating and then promising to do better. Although I thought I was successfully leading my double life, the truth is, things were unraveling fast. Sexual bondage was costing me more than I had ever imagined it could. I was keeping everyone as an arm’s distance, including God, and I had no close friends. Certainly no one knew the pain I was feeling or the ever increasing depths I was going to feed my addiction.
In college, I came to meet my savior, Jesus Christ, and my entire life took an immediate 180 degree turn and started moving in the right direction, but I was far from free. Next, I was married to my wife and thought my past would finally go away for good. Unfortunately, it didn’t and she was devastated to her core when she found out the truth. I promised to stop and buried my feelings, my thoughts and my actions as deep as I possibly could. I just bumped along for the next fifteen years in this crazy cycle. I had tried the “get help” books, counseling, accountability groups and other recovery programs. All of these offered helpful tools, but none connected the dots to show me how to be free from sexual bondage.
Instead of thriving, I found myself nearly friendless, hanging on to a marriage that was severely strained, and I had become a hypocritical role model for my two young boys. The hard facts were that I living an addicted life that was grinding me down to dust. Frankly, at times, I just wanted to die.
It was then, in a last minute promise to keep a resolution in 2010, that I reached out to Rick Kardos, founder of the Nathan Project. He was honest about his journey and shared the hope that was within reach; even for a guy like me. He also gave it to me straight, helping me see the destruction I was placing on my wife, the peril I was allowing the enemy to bring to my house and… the best part, the healing God had in store for me. It was then that I vowed to take on the fight of my life – actually it was the fight for my life. I became willing to do whatever it took to become free.
Next, I met with John LaCourse. He is the leader of my FMO group (For Men Only). I can only begin to express the positive impact that John has had on my life. He showed me that the healing process is about learning to deal with pain a healthy way. Specifically, it is a daily miracle, consisting of God’s Holy Spirit working in conjunction with us to renew our mind. Most of all, he continually brought me back to my Heavenly Father, (and I am still working to know that I know this) who created me in His image as a lovable being and full of worth.
My FMO group is at the heart of my journey. I have broken out of isolation through relationships with men who are committed to the healing process. I’ve gained a deep understanding of the spiritual, emotional and physical aspects of sexual addiction. And, most importantly, I have learned to trust in God’s strength when I am hurting and feeling weak.
I have also learned that all of this isn’t just a “guy problem”; it is a family systems problem. This means that everyone connected to me, especially my wife, has learned unhealthy ways to cope. FWO groups (For Women Only) exist to help her develop healthy skills for dealing with the nightmare I brought into our relationship. It also exists to help ladies with any addictions they may be facing.
So in closing, how has the Nathan Project impacted my life? With God’s guidance, it has brought me from death to life. And as a new creation, I am now free to enjoy that life to its fullest. Also, I now see a legacy being created that will bless my family for generations to come. I thank God for leaving the 99 to come save this one. If you are struggling with any of this today, I guarantee you that there is hope and that God wants to renew your mind and set you free! Thank you.
I am not a fisherman.
I enjoy hiking, camping, being outdoors. But I can count on one hand the number of times I have held a fishing rod. I don’t really know why I never picked it up. Maybe it’s just that my dad never took us fishing, and I never learned to fish in Boy Scouts or anywhere else…
It was just one of those things that other people do. So you can imagine my surprise when God used the imagery of fishing to talk to me about For Men Only.
I know, you’re probably thinking, “Well of course that makes sense. After all, Jesus told his disciples ‘I will make you fishers of men.'” But I’m not talking about fishing with nets like they did. The image in my head was of a man with a rod and reel, casting into a pond or a stream. And I was that man.
I honestly wasn’t sure what that meant. For several months it went into the mental “I’ll figure it out later” file. Until about a week ago. Two things happened in close succession that suddenly put sense to the fishing image in my mind. On a long flight, I watched the movie “A River Runs Through It.” It had been on my “movies to watch” list for some time. It is a beautifully crafted film about family, and life, and fishing. The scenes of the main characters standing in the river and casting their flies onto the surface, then waiting for that moment of a
bite spoke to me in some way I didn’t quite understand.
A few evenings later I was back in “normal” life when the cell phone rang. It was a new number…no name came up on the screen to help me prepare. Was this a call from someone at work? I debated answering at all. Finally I said a little prayer and picked it up. “Hello?”
From the other end of the connection I heard, “”Hi…my name is Dave and I’m interested in your men’s group…” Suddenly in my mind, I saw a fishing rod go taut and I heard the Zzzzinggg of line getting pulled off a reel. And I understood. God had called me to be a fisher of men all right, but one at a time. And I just got a bite.
It’s so easy to look at the well-known evangelists of our time (or of any time) and want to be like them. I think sometimes we focus on trying to save big groups of men, like Peter pulling in the net bursting with fish. But I find that nearly all of the time, my ministry is more like a fisherman with a solitary rod and reel. My job is to cast out the lure of hope into the river. God’s work is bringing the man to the point where he takes that bait.
Every time a man takes the hook, he gets the chance to be made whole through FMO. I just have to keep casting. I may never bring thousands to the Lord in one day. But I am every bit as much a fisher of men as Peter, or Paul, or John. Every time the phone rings with a man looking for hope I hear that reel singing Zzzzinggg.