fighting for free hearts

To Beat Porn, Practice Awe

Sam Jolman is a counselor in Colorado who recently wrote an intriguing piece for And Sons Magazine titled How to Get Your Innocence Back.

It’s not explicitly about dealing with porn or compulsive sexual behavior.  In fact, he never discusses either one of those things, despite the fact that the title might lead you to expect otherwise.

But what Jolman does talk about is as much a part of the healing journey out of an addictive pattern with sex  as anything else — such as — cutting off your access to porn.

Jolman quotes Dan Allender and says that that innocence is “the ability to be in awe.” He goes on to say that he has been “practicing awe,” because he really wants his innocence back.  That phrase, “practicing awe,” is not one i have ever heard before.

i know, at first glance this appears to have nothing to do with healing from pornography addiction. But it does.

Jolman sets the stage for awe by describing his experience while trail running near his home in Colorado. He happened upon two bucks locking antlers roughly 20 feet away from him.  He took out his camera and captured the moment.  More stuff happened, but you can read the article for that. He describes it better than i could.

This was all part of his plan to practice awe. And it was so awe inspiring that every so often he watches the video he made that day on his phone, “just to enjoy it again,” and let his heart “practice wonder and awe.”

So how does this relate to healing from pornography addiction?

One of the contributing factors to pornography addiction is a loss of wonder and awe. Seriously. We get jaded by life in a corrupt and broken world.  The brokenness of our world systems; the brokenness of relationships that don’t work out or cause us pain; and our own brokenness.

After a while, it hurts too much and we lose our openness to life, to people, to dreams, and to desire. We guard ourselves, it’s simply a matter of survival.

And that sets the stage perfectly for pornography. Beauty, wonder and awe are present — however tainted they may be — in pornography. The images are alluring for a multiplicity of reasons, but underneath the pull of pornography is the possibility that you can experience beauty, wonder and awe without risking your heart.

It seems safe, in a way. i can have the ecstasy without the possibility of pain and disappointment.

But it’s false. You can’t experience authentic beauty, wonder and awe without an open heart.  By definition, an open heart is a vulnerable heart.  Pornography use is anything but vulnerable for the user.

The more we live with a closed heart, we lose our ability to be present to life; we lose our ability to feel anything. As Jolman says, “We may still laugh, we may still play. But its just… less carefree, less authentic. It takes more energy to get our hearts into life.”

Which then leads to more porn use — or more use of whatever your indulgence of choice may be.

Michael Cusick says this about addiction in general: “It’s the attempt to experience resurrection without crucifixion.”  In other words, it’s the attempt to get the pay off without taking a risk.

Practicing awe is a great antidote to addiction. Looking for, and noticing, times when you — in Jolman’s words — “verbally or bodily say: ‘Wow!'” That’s exactly what Jolman is doing every time he watches the video he made of those two bucks locking antlers.

Jolman adds this: “Awe makes your heart alive again. Which is why you can be in awe of the beautiful and the terrible and still remain alive. Let me say it again: Innocence is not naivety.”

That statement reminds me quite a bit of something Jesus said when He told His disciples: “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” [Matthew 10:16]

There is an innocence that Jesus offers us. That innocence allows us to recapture beauty, wonder and awe. Pornography falsely promises to deliver those qualities of life to us via a shortcut.

It’s the worst kind of shortcut.  Pornography use only increases our cynicism and boredom, depriving us of the ability to experience genuine beauty, wonder and awe.

 

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