Emotional Health•Healing • 5 minutes to read
I’m not sure if it’s related to this past year of Covid, or the isolation felt by so many, or simply the separation from being unable to attend church in person; but whatever the cause, the increase is staggering.
Over the past several months, I’ve received an increase in phone calls and emails about how some of the Pure Desire content is triggering for men—a blog, a podcast, or people on our team. Honestly, in some cases, it’s not the content itself, but the women presenting the content.
I get it; I really do. But at what point do we recognize the problem is not them, it’s us?
In an effort to bring light to this issue, I wanted to throw out a few thoughts and share how I’ve overcome some of these same issues.
Women Are Everywhere
If you work in a place surrounded by women, how do you act? When you go to the store and see an attractive woman, how does it affect your behavior? Better yet, when you see a beautiful woman on stage at church leading worship, what are you thinking about? I know what you’re thinking. I’ve had the same thoughts you have, but I made a decision to change the way I think about and view women.
Early on in my recovery, there were a few things I did that really helped me take responsibility and take control of my thoughts when I came across an attractive woman. I would:
- Say a quick prayer, thanking God for creating such a beautiful person.
- Notice but not gaze or stare.
- Think of the individual as a family member or friend.
- Make eye contact and show respect when speaking to them.
- Call a group member for accountability.
This is a hard process, I know. For many of us, this is something that has been ingrained in us for so long and results in so many triggers. But we have looked at, talked about, and sexualized women for far too long. Instead, we should be honoring them—showing respect and validating the person they are in Christ.
Some of you have called or emailed about the fact that we have women on staff here at Pure Desire, which can be triggering to some. These women, every single one of them, love Jesus and are loved by Jesus. They are very gifted in their roles. I believe He created them and placed them here at Pure Desire not because of the way they look, but because of the way they love others and the passion they have to help others find hope and healing. They reflect God’s purpose for Pure Desire and our ability to help the church.
Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.Ephesians 4:11-12 NLT
I understand the challenge this can be for so many guys. Even if we’ve spent years in group and have experienced amazing healing, this can often be a lifelong struggle. Even when we’ve done the work and recognize our triggers, it can be easy to put the responsibility for change on what triggers us, instead of taking responsibility for it ourselves.
For example, if we work with a woman who is a trigger for us, who needs to change? Does she need to change because she fits a certain profile we find attractive? Of course not. But something needs to change and it often happens when we take the responsibility to change how we view them.
For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.Romans 8:5-6 ESV
Something Needs To Change
So how do we make this happen? How do we learn to set our minds on the things of the Spirit?
For me, when I look at myself in the mirror, do I wish I looked better, healthier, lighter, and ripped? Yeah I do, but I also know this won’t change who I am on the inside. I was created in the image of God and it’s my job to take care of what God gave me. It’s my job to get healthy and stay healthy, regardless of how I look. The toughest part is that everywhere I turn there are images of what society says I should look like, what I should wear, what I should eat, who I should be, and so much more. This pressure can feel relentless.
But how about this for a change: we learn to love ourselves and believe God has the best for us. We recognize how God is continuing to work in us through this healing process. How about we start respecting women and honor who they are; not because of how they look, but because of who God created them to be. How about we start looking at all women as someone’s wife, daughter, sister, aunt, cousin, and most of all as the bride of Christ.
We live in a hypersexualized world and I don’t see this changing anytime soon. But regardless of what the world says, we have a choice to make. Will we take what God created for granted and use it to drive our unhealthy desires, disrespecting God’s creation? Will we continue to let the enemy have control over us or will we choose to take another step toward healing every day?
The bottom line is this: we can’t change the way women look or act, but we can change the way we think and behave toward them.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.Romans 12:2
I’ve been on this healing journey for a long time and I’ve experienced amazing change in my heart, mind, and perspective. I’ve learned that we get to decide—we get to decide whether to continue to place blame on others or take on the responsibility for change. And I hope you’ll join me in taking the next step and doing the work to change: your heart, mind, and perspective.