Monthly Archives:October 2014

The Heart of the Matter

The Heart Of The Matter

29 Oct 14
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The Heart Of The Matter: AKA Sometimes God “Taketh Away”
So That You Learn To Give More

Many thanks to NWCHI for hosting a screening of my documentary film, The Heart of the Matter, in September 2014 and also for allowing me to guest blog and plug my wonderful film to you all. I am going to share with you a little of how this film came to be.

It was October of 2011. Despite being in conversations with a cable station for months, I had just found out that my production company was not going to be hired for a regular series. I had been so sure that I would be getting the biggest contract of my career, but my concepts were ultimately rejected. I’d been so blindly confident that I’d be heading up a new show, that I literally had no plan B.

Weeks later I was lamenting about it all to my wonderful sister-in-law and expressing to her that I had NO IDEA what to do next. And she said to me, in effect, “You know what, maybe it’s God’s plan. Maybe he wants you to start working on your documentary.” Then it hit me – hard – Yeah, that’s what I am supposed to do. So Holly is really to thank for getting me off my whiney butt and in gear pursuing a project I’d had in mind for over 2 years.

The Heart of the Matter

The Heart of the Matter

As early as the fall of 2009, the seed was planted. I was sifting through footage for my job, repurposing old content. (Good times :).) It was here that I came across a few programs that mentioned pornography addiction and how it was affecting marriages and families. Although I didn’t know anyone who struggled with a pornography addiction (Or so I thought.), it got me thinking and eventually researching on the topic, because I had heard frequently in church that it was a problem.

I read books, blogs, and research papers; watched videos; and listened to many personal accounts. During 2010, I began talking about the issues out loud with people. I’d learned enough to know that shame was the biggest roadblock to healing and prevention. So just talking about it in casual ways opened my eyes to how much it did affect people I cared about. A few male co-workers allowed themselves to admit that they “struggled in the past”. A few of my college girl friends began talking about the real reasons their marriages had ended. Eventually, I began to see the red flags in people’s behaviors and know that several of my own family members were struggling with pornography in their lives.

But my drive for this project got lost in 2011 because I had plenty of contract work. It wasn’t until I had ZERO WORK on my plate did I think to pursue the film again. My work and income had to dry up in order for me to push myself down a new path – and become an independent film producer and director. I’ve had this gut feeling that I would not get any lasting work until I made this film. And it’s been hard. Really hard.

Over the 3-year process of working on this film, I’ve continued to be stripped down and humbled. I’ve gone from having an over-inflated view of my talents to simply trying to rely on God to make things work the way He wants them to. I lost my home, a dear friend, and my savings. But I gained a lot of valuable knowledge on the issues, met a host of amazing new people, and continue to learn some hard but important life lessons. I feel like God took me down to almost nothing, so that I could be in the right frame of mind to make something truly useful for Him and for all of you.

And here it is. It is finished. I am so pleased with the final product. I could not have done it without God, Holly, Jordan, my parents, Nathan and so many others.

I hope you watch this amazing film. It could save your life or the life of someone you love. Sadly pornography is tearing apart our families and marriages, but here is a film that in just 75 minutes brings a remedy by finding honest, vulnerable, and non-shaming ways to talk about a difficult subject. There is hope. There is healing.

Purchase your copy here.

May God continue to bless all of our lives.

Hello? Are You There? Can you Hear Me?: The Art of Connecting in Relationships

23 Oct 14
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Recently, I purchased a set of walkie talkies for my nine-year-old son. Instantly, he wanted to try them out to see how far he could go before there was no connection. He would go to a different room in our home, press the button on his walkie talkie and say, “Hello, are you there, can you hear me?” Hearing this question on my end of the walkie talkie made me think about hundreds of calls I have answered as a volunteer suicide intervention call worker. While the people calling the hotline may not say it outright like my son did, I know that many callers are wondering, “Will she judge me for my pain? Will she be there for me? Will she understand me? Will she care for me? Will she hear me?”

As a graduate student in marriage, couple, and family therapy I have repeatedly heard the phrase, “We are hard-wired for human connection”. Human connection is just as vital to our well-being as food and water. We need human connection to thrive. This is just as true for adults as it is for children.

When my son went in the other room with his walkie talkie, he wanted to know if I could still hear him. Don’t we all want to know that we are heard, seen, accepted, and valued? Garry Landreth, noted play therapist, suggests that there are four healing messages play therapists must strive to communicate to a child. The healing messages are: “I am here, I hear you, I understand, and I care” (Landreth, 2012, p. 209-210). We don’t ever outgrow the need for these healing messages.

It fact, Sue Johnson, world renowned couple’s therapist and EFT pioneer, is saying something very similar about the needs of adults in relationship. She says that emotional connectivity has three main components:

  • Accessibility: Can I reach you?
  • Responsiveness: Can I rely on you to respond to me emotionally?
  • Engagement: Do I know you will value me and stay close? (Johnson, 2008, p. 49-50).

How do we create this kind of connection in our relationships? It comes from a deep respect for self and our partner. When we know, and accept, our own weaknesses and vulnerability we are more accepting of our partner’s vulnerability and weaknesses. As a result, we become more open to our partner’s experience as a human being. When we are open to our partner we are less judgmental and are not as threatened by perceived differences. Then we are able to enter our partner’s realm more fully. Once we have entered that realm, we show compassion and understanding for their world and experience. When we remain fully engaged, and show our acceptance, we let our partner’s know that we deeply value them.

While training to take suicide intervention calls, I was instructed to, “sit in the muck” with my callers. “Sitting in the muck” means that I “get” the caller by understanding the caller’s experience to the best of my ability and then I reflect that understanding back including the caller’s emotions. Just by understanding the caller’s experience I show that I can be reached by their story, and can respond to their emotions. I also let them know that I value them as a person and what they contribute to the world. Letting callers know that, “I am here, I hear you, I understand, and I care” helps them to heal.

Sounds fairly easy, right? It’s not always easy to create healthy connection in our relationships. Sometimes life gets busy, and there is too much distance between our walkie talkie and our partner’s walkie talkie for them to connect. The good news is that a temporary disconnect in the relationship doesn’t matter as much as what we do to repair the relationship when there is disconnect. As long as we acknowledge our mistakes and move toward connection, our relationships will grow and remain healthy. A lifetime of showing that you are available, emotionally responsive, and value the relationship, can cover a multitude of connection mistakes.

References:

Johnson, S. (2008). Hold me tight: seven conversations for a lifetime of love. New York, NY: Little, Brown, and company.

Landreth, G. L. (2012). Play therapy: the art of the relationship (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Routledge .

Physical and Emotional Intimacy: Before and After Recovery

09 Oct 14
anonymous
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good things comeMy wife just got back from an out of town retreat with her mom and sisters. I found her on the couch studying and I came and sat by her. I made sure that I could lightly touch her arm. I observed the emotional and physical state that she was wrapped in. I understood she was feeling tired, worn, and needing to get back to life. She was overwhelmed with trying to catch up with a busy schedule after taking a couple of days for herself. I expressed my connecting emotions to her with accuracy, allowing us to connect on an intimate level. Knowing where she was, I knew my part, and how better to love and accept her. I haven’t always been this way; I have reformed my behavior over time.

Sitting there, I realized that that there would have been many times in our marriage where similar circumstances would have triggered me. In our old dance, I might have said something like this (and would have thought all of it):

“Okay, it’s time for some sex fulfillment tonight. You know that tomorrow you are leaving me. That means I won’t be able to have any sex until you get home, and maybe not even then, cause you will be tired like always. I mean, you get home at midnight. So that shoots the return night out from having any physical intimacy. So we’d better be able to do something tonight.

Yeah, I know I will be home late from work. But it won’t be that late. So you will just have to be prepared for me. Never mind how your day might have been. (That consideration would not have been in my thoughts or caring). You knew you were to come home late from school, so you should have packed for your trip earlier today, that way when are both home, we can have some ‘goodbye sex’ time.”

After my wife would have returned home I would have thought:

“So now you are home, I know it’s late and you’re probably not interested in sex. But I am. Okay, so we can wait till the morning. You should be ready then, you know it’s been over a week now. I need to know that you still care for and love me. When we have sex at least we will be close and I will know you still want to be with me.” (Oh, the old erroneous thoughts with no consideration for her and her feelings!)

This is what I did in my new recovery dance:

I knew that my beautiful wife was busy with school work, volunteer work, house work, mothering, and more. So I figured she had not been able to pack herself for her trip. I asked our children to help any way they could. I showed my love and caring for her. I helped where I could; I even stayed home from my work the next morning to be with a sick child. I had not built up my self-centered thoughts of the need for sex. I knew that pushing physical intimacy the way I used to was not an expression of loving intimacy from her to me. I loved her with real love not lust.

I used to force sexuality upon her with unsaid (or even said) guilt trips. For her, sex became strictly a duty. I am now not interested in her giving up her body as a “wifely duty” to please my lust. I have come to understand that this is not the closeness I want. I was not noticing or making any effort to meet her needs before. I did not show caring and love for her.
As I sat on the couch next to my wife after her retreat, I became aware of my growth. I understood that being empathetic and not pushy would create between us a stronger bond of whole life intimacy. Sex would come and it would be better at the time she could be whole with me. Sexual intimacy would happen eventually because she felt secure in our emotional connection. I also knew that our sexual experience would be one where both of us were meeting each other’s needs, instead of just one person having their needs met.

This change happened when I learned and understood how to meet my wife’s needs first.