”Where have you put him?” he (Jesus) asked them. They told him, “Lord, come and see.” Then Jesus wept. The people who were standing nearby said, “See how much he loved him!”- John 11:34-36 (NLT)
I started with this verse because I wanted you to see that Jesus had feelings for Lazarus and expressed them when he saw his dead friend and how his friends and family were grieving for him. It was important enough to put in the Bible.
Your initial male reaction to the title, Feel the Feelings, may have been that feelings are a female thing. But, feelings are a vital part of being human both for men and women.
How do I feel right now?
It’s good to ask ourselves on a regular basis: “ How do I feel right now, this moment? Am I confused, angry, lonely? Am I sad, happy, or bored? Am I all of these and more?”
Men, especially men dealing with sexual purity issues such as pornography, have difficulty naming their feelings. I’d often started my purity groups by going around the circle and having the men answer a simple question:
“Give me a one word description of how you are feeling right now.” The men had trouble with this. I didn’t allow “fine” as an answer, by the way.
So to help the men, I would have a chart with lots of feeling words on it to help them find theirs and give it a name. Feelings general categories are: Mad, Sad, Glad, Afraid, Confused, Ashamed, and Lonely. Within each of these categories are a wide range of names from a little to a lot in intensity.
Note: I’ve included an excellent feeling words chart in my book, Live Pure and Free.
Pornography numbs feelings
What I found, in my own life, and by leading hundreds of men to purity, is that pornography numbs your feelings. This seems counter-intuitive because you think it is increasing your feelings because of the sexual stimulation, but it has the opposite effect. It’s really a sexual high without the appropriate feelings of love for a real live person. It is a high without love.
Now, in recovery, we may find that we seem to have no feelings. Give it time and be patient with yourself. Feelings will return. We need to stay abstinent. This is a dangerous time for us because we want to run to our addiction. We’re uncomfortable. Be aware that at first, our feelings vocabulary is limited. But, we want to feel all the feelings including joy and ecstasy. If there are still painful issues you are dealing with, continue to confront them, bring Jesus to them and bring healing to them. Bring them up to your group or accountability ally.
When we felt high because of our addiction, we thought we were getting in touch with our feelings. But, in fact, we were only getting in touch with our high; our real feelings were forgotten and unused. And after a while we discounted our real feelings altogether.
Part of our healing process is the rediscovery of deep reservoirs of feeling that have always been part of our inheritance but have become dammed up and thwarted by our addiction. *
Many of you came from dysfunctional families like myself. In my family of origin my feelings were not welcome and were not to be expressed. When I expressed my feelings to my mother she would say, “You shouldn’t feel that way.” When my dad had too much to drink, we would have these “intellectual arguments” at the dinner table. Absolute logic was required. Feelings and emotions were not allowed to be expressed, only logical arguments. Both of these experiences taught me that expressing my feelings was wrong, and I shouldn’t share them. I should keep them to myself. Maybe that I wasn’t even entitled to have my own feelings.
Our feelings are ours
I stand against the lie that I do not have the right to have my own feelings. I want to feel it all: the pain, the sorrow, the guilt, the angst, the grief, the joy, the ecstasy! I am alive and I will feel all the feelings that go with being alive. (Live Pure and Free)
As adults we understand that we have feelings. They are our feelings and no one can tell us that we can’t have feelings and can’t express our feelings. You may have stuffed your feelings for a long time, but it is time to get in touch with them. As we are in recovery, it is critical to understand who we are and to heal from the past wounds. Some feelings are associated with traumatic events of the past which may make us reluctant to open these wounds and experience these feelings. It’s important that we do, otherwise our recovery will be stuck and we’ll tend to turn to our sexual addiction to keep hiding the pain.
My feelings were not allowed in my childhood, but they are not only allowed now, but important for me to express rather than deny or stuff.
Resolve to communicate your feelings
I resolve to communicate my feelings in a direct way. I will not hint about them indirectly, or try to say what I think the other person wants me to say. All of my feelings are important. This is my life, not a dress rehearsal. I am no longer trying to please my parents. Their dysfunction, their alcoholism, their drug addiction, whatever it was that caused their dysfunction was not my fault and has no business interfering with my life as an adult.
You may have trouble identifying your feelings other than the most basic one like joy and anger. Make a conscious effort to identify your feelings during the day as you deal with various situations.
What are you feeling right now? Identify each feeling in one word.
At home, Journal about the feeling you are experiencing. Consider that you may be stuffing feelings due to childhood issues. Added to that is the fact that porn has numbed your feelings.
If we will stay diligent, and with God’s power, we will find that we can feel the range of feelings. We can laugh and cry again, express sorrow, anger, and yes, joy! Continue on, and we will experience life to its fullest. We will experience freedom from the power of addiction and true freedom in Christ.
*Answers in the Heart March 16
Source material- The first two are not Christian books but are 12 step related.
- Answers in the Heart-Daily Meditations for Men and Women Recovering from Sex Addiction by P. Williamson and S. Kiser, Hazelden.
- Daily Affirmations for Adult Children of Alcoholics by Rokelle Lerner, Health Communications, Inc.
- Live Pure and Free- The 90 Day Game Changer by Dave Howe, Tristan Publishing. Available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and direct from the publisher at: https://tristanpublishing.com/collections/all-products/products/live-pure-and-free