What Everyone (And No One) Is Talking About – Guest Writer

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything. This week my wife was feeling a stirring in her heart to share some of her own thoughts on issues that we are both passionate about. I’m super proud of her boldness and ability to articulate from an honest, compassionate, heartfelt standpoint on a controversial issue that continues to be such a joked-about, casual, pop-culture reference. Maybe we aren’t the ideal problem-solvers, but perhaps her and I can get the conversation started. Without further delay, I introduce you to my beautiful bride, Allie Meyer, and her writing in the form of a guest-blog post.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then what’s a video worth? Video is pictures frame-by-frame that flash by so fast, they appear they’re actually moving. So, does that make a video worth ten thousand words or even a million words? Sometimes I wonder if it’s worth nothing at all. When the things that you’re seeing and watching can cause you to stumble, is it worth it?

There is a topic that has been looming around in my head lately and it’s a topic that simultaneously is both never talked about and always talked about is pornography. It’s a topic that people freely joke about with friends or is alluded to on the radio but yet also is kept in secret and like a skeleton in our closets. I suppose it’s also a topic that rarely gets any air time with parents talking to their children or people reaching out to ask for help when they feel like they’re trapped in it or it’s consuming them.

I grew up in a Christian home, but I also went to a public high school. I of course had the uncomfortable “birds and bees” talk at home and the “how to not get STD’s” talk at school. But a topic that wasn’t ever discussed in either of those was porn and the complications that it can add to your life. The stress it can add to your relationships. The shame, depression, and anxiety it causes to your overall well-being, and not to mention, the isolation it will eventually produce.

Now let me set this straight: I’ve honestly never struggled with any of these things nor have I ever sought out any type of pornographic content. I have however, been subjected to Hollywood’s decision to include some kind of sexual content in every movie. That’s not necessarily porn, but in the end, was it necessary? (This is a whole other post, but a good point nonetheless.) I digress…

So needless to say, porn wasn’t something that ever crossed my mind. It wasn’t until someone close to me opened up about their addiction to it and their struggles that I ever really understood what it was. Here it is – a billion-dollar industry in our world, and I literally had little idea it existed or what it even consisted of. In the moment I played it off as though I knew what they were talking about, but deep down I felt so naïve and like this was a foreign place they were talking about. Unfortunately, it’s something that I’ve gathered more knowledge about and learned why this addiction is so rampant in our world. It’s rampant because it’s so readily accessible by literally anyone. Think about how easy it is to search things on YouTube, or how hashtags have changed the way you browse social media. Teenagers can have unlimited access to content that they shouldn’t with just a click of a button. This causes there to be millions and millions of people out there consumed by lust and this addiction, but likely there are also millions who are naïve like I was.

Why is that?

I think it all goes back to awareness. It never was mentioned growing up. Not at home, school, church, etc. All of my friends could have been struggling with it for that matter and I could have never known. I think that we, as not just Christian people, not just one political party, not as one gender; we just as people need to talk and do something about it. What that something is I don’t know, but we can’t continue to allow people to fall into this trap of lies and loneliness.  How can we as humans rally together to create awareness and support those who are struggling, those who are directly affected by it, and those who haven’t been exposed but can be spared the turmoil and heartache?

I believe that personally my heart is drawn to those who are just bystanders. The people who are spouses of addicts. The people whose relationships are fragile because their partner used to struggle with it. The kids who might learn what porn is from some jokes shared at school and never hear what terrible things that this new addiction could lead to. I feel led to find ways to be a listening ear to those who feel they can’t trust their spouse as well as be an advocate for those who might not know what problems it can cause until they’re in deep.

I often pray for those struggling and ask God why can’t he do something about it. But I feel like God is asking me “What can you do about it?”. So here I sit, not a writer of any sort asking you to help me find ways to bring attention to a topic that has been in the dark for far too long and how to bring it into the light. With the dark being such a lonely place, the only way out is through relationships and Jesus. We ALL have to be vulnerable if we ever want to beat this thing head on. When we bring things into the light others can be praying and guiding you. Let’s unite together to leave those movies worth no words in the darkness, and bring all people into the light.

Vulnerability

Honesty Hour

Think of all the effort you invested in trying to hide something. If you’re like me, you agonized over the details as you did everything you could to cover up your tracks – whether it was something mundane and silly to hide like breaking into the cabinet for some potato chips late at night or a scandalous rendezvous. I can think of returning from college in my early 20’s and sneaking downstairs for a snack and thinking my Mom wouldn’t notice that I’d greased up a cereal bowl with potato chips or taken a sleeve of Ritz crackers up to my bedroom. (I’ve struggled with my weight since college and I didn’t want some other bad habit to be discovered.) I can also remember the “white lies” we’ve all used to cover up our tracks when in our youth we did things we shouldn’t have.

So much emotional, physical, mental, perhaps even spiritual energy exerted to produce a fake self. To prove you’re who you say you are when perhaps your behavior demonstrated exhibits the fact that you may not even personally believe the lie you’re trying to sell others.

Think of all the separate selves you have. The one that goes out partying with your friends, the one that confides in your “person” (spouse, significant other, best-friend), the one that is sexual, the one that is conservative, the one that cares deeply about others, and the one that doesn’t give a f*** what others think. Really, think about it. Everyone has different selves; it’s how we’ve been trained by society to act. “Be on your best behavior,” we heard as kids and then we learned the correct behaviors for varying situations from varying people and adapted to our surroundings, doing whatever it took to feel most accepted – whatever left us the most valued and loved.

Friends, I’d like to tell you there is an alternative to this exhausting way of life. An alternative to constantly hiding, from yourself.

You see – I’ve always tried to sell the lie that I was the perfect Christian. It wasn’t anyone’s specific fault. My parents had made their own mistakes when they were younger and they didn’t want me to have the same problems, so they did everything they could to suppress the “bad” in life – and who could blame them? Wouldn’t any good and decent parent? I love them for all they did to love and protect me. However, as a result of this, I didn’t really know who I was or what I wanted to be – I had only ever been what everyone had told me I was. A Christian, a teacher, a poet, and a friend. And I would say that I am these things, and am in the process of gaining clarity and being empowered by the Lord to accomplish even more. But I’m also other things…

“I’m a Christian, recovering from Sexual Addiction,” I say every Saturday morning in a Men’s Group that has saved my marriage (before it even began, praise the Lord). Introduced to pornography in my early teens during an ‘innocent’ game of Truth-Or-Dare – it maintained a hold on my life for more than a decade. It wasted countless hours I could’ve spent reading or writing or investing in relationships that mattered – instead, the addiction taught me to chase the high of arousal and stole my ability to say no to my own selfish desires. Suppressed for a while by meeting the woman that’s now my bride, one day I found myself back in that ‘well’ (oh the lies that Satan sells us) of depravity. Days away from engagement, I found myself backpedaling. My world was rocked. The lie of who I wanted people to believe I was could not stand anymore. It had fallen and the real Justin had to stand up…and be a man. I confessed my addiction to my girlfriend at the time, to her parents, and to a few close friends I asked for prayer. I met one-on-one with her Dad (I was literally shaking in my boots and terrified) and by the grace of God he decided to accept and forgive me, allowing me to become his son-in-law a few months later. My girlfriend agreed to become my fiancé. And I’ve been “sober” for close to a year.

There have been moments where I’ve found myself trying to hide things again…hide the fact that I went back down for potato chips again. Or that – yes – I went for the whiskey when I should have just brewed some decaf-coffee. Or I’ve wanted to continue spending frivolously on drive-thru lattes and tried to cover up my tracks. But the “older” and “wiser” I get, the more I realize hiding the truth only delays its arrival. Truth always shows up to the party and steals the show. And admitting our faults and becoming teachable is the only way we’ll ever grow.

Marriage is the single greatest thing that’s ever happened to me. Allie has been the face of Jesus in my life. She’s forgiven me and loved me for who I was, who I am, and who I’m becoming. I’ve learned that love isn’t the sexually charged experience that Hollywood portrays, but I’ve found the realness, the intimacy all the more beautiful. The world can have its counterfeit affections – I don’t need to chase them anymore. The Lord has set me free and for my wife alone, my heart bleeds.

Perhaps your struggle is with depression or something else – sex, drugs, money, alcohol, abusive relationships, one-way friendships, maybe you’re addicted to your job (you’ve forgotten what a day off is and you don’t know who you’d be without your current job title). I suppose this post is my extremely longwinded way of telling you to stop pretending you’re something you’re not – and be yourself.

K-State’s Scott Frantz came out as gay yesterday to the entire world. And while I don’t condone homosexuality or support gay marriage, I admire that he was real with the world about who he is. As I tweeted yesterday, “People should be loved for who they are, not who we want them to be.”

#TheFuneral

Church-bells ringin’ but it’s not a wedding,

It’s a solemn day with much dreading,

A friend will be buried,

Before his prime, not even married.

 

A son to someone,

A brother to another,

Prematurely summoned,

Left behind a mother,

Father blindsided by fate,

Convinced it’s a dream,

Because at any rate,

The sorrow makes his heart scream.

 

Where do I fit into the picture?

At the front, reading Scripture.

 

You see, I’m the speaker,

Giving the eulogy…

 

The audience is alarmed,

My message lacks charm,

As I speak of the man layin’,

In the casket behind me, I’m sayin’

 

The man was addicted,

Words to actions ratio, contradicted.

Spoke of life, but lived in death,

Worshipped then cursed; same breath,

Judgmental of other ‘believers’,

Ranked them by achievements,

Taught law, but lived lawless,

But what ya saw, it was flawless.

Closed doors hid the sin,

Justified by the many men,

Sufferers with deceptive grins,

Who had participated in the same wrong,

Filling the heart with things that don’t belong.

Images on a screen, actions that hurt,

Would be obscene, if others saw the dirt,

So pride-laced perfectionism,

Hid the inner darkness,

When there was a need for exorcism,

To remove the sinners’ carcass.

 

Egocentrically addicted to self,

Couldn’t pause to take it off the shelf,

The book of Life, the book of Truth,

Had it memorized, but preferred a tooth for a tooth,

The reality of this situation,

Was a heart that desired retaliation,

Rarely satisfied with others’ joys,

Often envious of their many toys,

Desired the spotlight, center-stage,

When others had it, inner-rage,

Consumed him with poisonous resentment,

His heart didn’t know what content meant.

 

Friends prayed and his mother cried,

She wished away would go his pride.

Jealousy over others successes,

And their girlfriends in their pretty dresses.

 

The truth is that I could go on and on,

But I already have, you’d like to turn me off.

So listen to me now, in this dawn,

Sunlight rises, while the darkness scoffs.

 

The man that lies here, under the tree,

That man is actually the old me…”

 

O but let freedom ring,

Light overwhelms, hearts sing!

Praise be to Him who saved

This sinner, O so depraved!

I was dead, now buried, resurrected,

Joyfully living a new life, He’s perfectin’!

 

Now grab a shovel, help me bury the old,

There we go, now he’s gone to dust!

Anoint the new creation, pray I’d be bold,

Remind me that it is He I trust!

 

Now dance, sing, praise!

Joyful songs rise from these graves!

 

Who else now shall we bury?

Who else now shall die?

Who else now shall be a rarity?

Who else now shall no longer try?

Who else now shall live by the Spirit?

Who else now shall overcome?

Who else now shall share it?

Who else now shall no longer run?

 

Those funerals I shall be attending;

Authentic men and women that have stopped pretending.

No longer worried if they’re trending,

Living solely for the One who’s mending

Their hearts and souls and sending

Them to represent The Ascending,

King of Kings, LORD of Lords, Beginning!

This poem now has reached its’ ending.

Silent Killer

Mascara runs down her cheeks,
She’s been crying for weeks
Heart shattered like glass
Views herself as an outcast

The man to which she’s wed
Cheated on her; such dread.
Not by flesh but by screen
Laptop adultery; how obscene.

He’s “justified” by majority
It’s absolute absurdity.
Something beautiful, now broken.
Unaware of the tears she’s chokin’.

Think it’s natural desire
Something pure, now a liar.
Sexuality was created
Immorality is manipulated.

Unyielding urge called addiction
No comprehension of such affliction
Destroys natural perception
Not realizing such discretion.

It’s a virus, it’s a killer.
Sneaks in, tears down pillars.
Relationships crumble,
Reduced to rubble.

Think it’s hidden, history deleted.
Before God; excuses depleted.

Willfully sinning against the King
Forgot the covenant of the ring.

Keep it secret, hide it away
But it will be exposed someday.

Awake men, put it away.
Such foolish games we play.
Flirting with death, hoping for life;
She’s fighting for breath, look at your wife.

Perhaps you’re single, so it’s “okay”
You’ll break the chains “someday”
Delayed obedience is disobedience
Apathy, one of many ingredients.

There no room for procrastination
Eliminate this counterfeit infatuation.

How many hearts have to break,
For one to see what’s at stake?

You’re as free as you desire to be,
Redemptive power granted on the tree,
It came at a cost, but He paid the fee.

Convinced yet? Where should you start?
As with all things, starts with the heart.

Prayer is a powerful gift,
Its’ power is beyond measure.
Holy Spirit, come swift,
Direct hearts to true treasure.

Intimacy is found embedded
In the LORD and King of Kings,
To whom we’re indebted.
Of freedom you’ll surely sing.

The ending to our story is a thriller,
Darkness is destroyed, Light wins!
No memory of our silent killer,
Totally redeemed from our sins!