depression_in_a_recessionMen are cautioned to not discuss their feelings, to avoid feelings altogether and to not discuss love, sorrow or pain. Men will often make a joke out of a difficult situation rather than face it directly. Men are taught to be checked out toward the emotions of others, and keep their true feelings inside. Women frequently complain that their partner wants to have sex even though they don’t feel connected emotionally. Men want to have sex to feel connected and women want to feel connected to feel comfortable having sex. Because some men want to skip over feelings and go straight to sex, porn and prostitution has taken off since the advent of the internet. Men who find themselves avoiding confrontations and intimacy will find anonymous intimacy in internet chat rooms, porn or prostitutes. Sue Johnson, the author of “Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love”, once said that “In conflict women swim and men sink.” Men do not do as well as women in the clinches. Men have a harder time with stress reduction, and anxiety around conflict. Women have gears inside built for childbirth where they can tolerate pain. This internal mechanism to withstand anxiety and pain allows women to deal with emotional stress way better than men. Men usually avoid conflict and make every effort to make peace. For this reason they do not tend to resolve conflicts well, which creates distance in their relationships. This avoidance of confrontation, pain and anxiety can build up over time and cause the eventual breakup of a marriage. John Gottman, who wrote “The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work”, writes that 80 percent of divorce is based on men not accepting the influence of the woman. What this means is that men avoid contact and don’t tend to listen because they don’t want to be seen as tied to the woman’s proverbial apron strings or be “hen pecked.” Because men must be fearless and strong, they dread appearing weak or inadequate. Because men are taught to be competitive, strong, never cry and not show emotion, they either buy into this wholeheartedly or consider all intimacy creating activities as weak and stupid or they feel like a fraud for having feelings and sensitivity at all. Men can carry feelings of inadequacy to the grave rather than ever admit how they really feel. They may develop a macho persona while secretly feeling helpless and bad or like they don’t measure up. I frequently hear men complain that they are “damned if they do and damned if they don’t.” Men feel like they have to fix things and don’t like it when they are made to feel helpless. Men aren’t supposed to feel helpless. All this is not to say that men are incapable of intimacy, dependency or vulnerability. They are quite able but our culture does not support it. One of the main reasons for drug and alcohol use is for medicating pain, and that would include emotional pain. Men, who feel bottled up, sad, angry and depressed will often become workaholics, drink or do drugs to avoid feelings. By Dr. Bill Cloke

“Intimacy is the capacity to be rather weird with someone – and finding that that’s ok with them.” – Alain de Botton

marriage20counseling204The other night while at dinner with some friends (all married or with someone) something occurred that is so common I barely took notice of it. One of the women popped up and went to the restroom and four other women jumped up and went with her. We’ve seen this a million times. They go off to the restroom, fix their hair, adjust something and talk about everything. If men meet up in the restroom, if they speak at all, it would be a very neutral topic like golf or baseball. I think to myself that if a man got up and went to the restroom, no one would go with him. This is of course a generalization, but in this small vignette it tells the story of the difference between men and women. So why do men have such a difficult time with intimacy? The answer is that most men are taught from an early age to be competitive, that feelings are a sign of weakness and to avoid vulnerability and dependency at all costs. The ideal for men is fierce independence and strength. Herb Goldberg writes in The Hazards of Being Male that 85 percent of the men in this country have no friends. We see beer ads that proffer an image of the American male as having tons of friends but nothing could be further from the truth. According to Goldberg men have “buddies” like golf or bowling buddies but not real friends because they don’t open up. Intimacy is based on being able to show ourselves to another person, warts and all. Men are very reluctant to do this because they fear that they might be judged or put down. Dr. Kal Heller, a licensed psychologist specializing in child and family services, writes that “Intimacy is very risky because it requires making such a serious commitment to the relationship that each person will experience a sense of dependency on the other. To admit to needing someone else is to risk loss and deep hurt.” This is difficult for all of us. Dependency is a negative concept in our society. Men, especially, are taught to strive for independence. Like that ad says, “Never let them see you sweat.” This could be our national anthem. Some of the messages men get early on are: “Big boys don’t cry”, “No pain no gain; Tough it out”, “Only sissies get hurt feelings”, “It’s a sign of weakness to let people know you’re hurting.” So many men lead lives of quiet desperation, never letting anyone in or themselves out. For men to take a look at who they really are and allow their essence to be known are actually far stronger than the burly silent types who live their lives in utter isolation. By Dr. Bill Cloke

“There’s nothing more intimate in life than simply being understood. And understanding someone else.” - Brad Meltzer

by Jeff Fisher on September 7, 2013


I want to offer some top tips for you who are new to recovery.  These are lessons I’ve had to struggle through in my own recovery, but I find them to be universal with most guys who want freedom from sexual sin.

1.  The quicker you go to counseling the better. Sexual sin is MUCH bigger than you.  You need wise people around you to help you process your crisis and help you go underneath the surface.  We have been acting out sexually for many reasons.  Counselors know what questions to ask and have worked with may who struggle just like you.  Break the ice on going to a counselor.  Find a Christian counselor who has training in sexual struggles.  It is money well spent!

2.  The quicker you go to a support group the better. Second only to a counselor, a support group is the best place to find healing and victory over sexual sin.  You need to know you’re not alone.  You need other guys to walk with you in the mud.  You need to learn to come out of isolation and into real relationships.  Support groups do all that and more.

open-door3.  Sexual struggles open the door for God to work in many areas. At first, we think recovery is only about stopping our sexual behaviors.   But God ends up using your sexual struggles as a springboard to work on many issues in your life.  We are out of whack sexually, but also relationally, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually.  Expect God to do His good surgery in many areas of your life.

4.  Sex is not your greatest need. One of the biggest lies we believe is that we can’t live with out sex and that sex is the highest pleasure achievable.  Our greatest needs are in other areas.  We have a deep need to know God.  We have a deep need to know others and to be known by others.  The sooner you understand that it’s not about the orgasm, the further along in recovery you’ll be.  Trust me on this one!

5.  Recovery has little to do with your outward behavior. This is probably the biggest shocker to me.  I focused on my behaviors for decades and was counseled to do the same.  Our outward sexual behaviors are the tip of the iceburg.  The bulk of our recovery is underneath the surface.  We need healing from wounds.  We need to learn to express our emotions in a healthy way.  We need deep intimate friendships.  We need to learn to be selfless and serve others.  Stopping behaviors is relatively easy.  Healing on the inside takes much more time and effort.

6.  It’s worse than you think. We are not the best judges of our own sexual health.  We have been blinded to our true condition.  Every sexual struggler in recovery says at some point, “I can’t believe who I used to be and what I used to do.  I was such a different person back then.”  If you’re new to recovery, you can’t see how far off course you are.  You can’t see the erosion that has taken place in your relationships and in your personal life.  Let this soak in:  Jeff tells me I am worse than I think I am. I have more to work on than I realize.

7.  Replacing lies with truth is critical to recovery. We also can’t see the lies that we have believed.  My counselor reminds me that with every wound there is a lie that I have believed.  It’s not until you start seeing the truth that you will uncover the lies you have believed.  God’s Word will help you with this.  So will counselors, your spouse, your support group, and close friends who know your story.

8.  Work toward full disclosure. Ooooh.  We don’t like to think about this.  But the sooner you come clean, the better.  Get the help from a counselor on how to come clean and with whom.  Those closest to you need to know.  Your spouse needs to know.  The people you have been directly involved with need to know.  Not every person needs to know every detail, but you need to quit hiding and share the truth.  When you hold onto secrets and hide you walk in the darkness.  God calls us to “walk in the light”.

9.  Pain and suffering are necessary for deep recovery. There are no shortcuts to recovery.  There are no quick fixes.  You cannot save yourself from pain and suffering.  Breaking free from sexual sin involves challenge, hurt, brokenness, withdrawal and grieving.  You will have to suffer consequences.  You will have to see that your actions have hurt others.  Go for a deep recovery.  The only way for our recovery to go deep is if we let God push his scalpel in and scrape out all of the junk.

10. God is close and wants to bear the burden with you. As tough as these tips are, I want you to think about this one the most.  You are not alone.  God is here.  He will help you.  He wants your recovery even more than you and He knows how to get there.  You may go through a lot of hard times, but God will always be a strong shoulder you can lean on.  He helps carry us through the toughest of times.  Be encouraged by this.

I recently watched “300: Rise of an Empire” and although not really impressed with the movie as a whole and how Hollywood has distorted history and also added a completely fabricated and unnecessary sexual scene to this movie, I thought it had some deeper recovery-related gems.  For those that don’t know much about this movie (and I don’t expect those early in their recovery to watch the entire movie) here is a summary from Wikipedia:

Based on Frank Miller’s latest graphic novel Xerxes, and told in the breathtaking visual style of the blockbuster “300,” this new chapter of the epic saga takes the action to a fresh battlefield-on the sea-as Greek general Themistokles attempts to unite all of Greece by leading the charge that will change the course of the war. This film pits Themistokles against the massive invading Persian forces led by mortal-turned-god Xerxes, and Artemesia, vengeful commander of the Persian navy.

Nevertheless, in watching this movie, I did pick up on  the recovery-related themes.  Maybe it was me trying to find some sort of redemptive quality in a poorly made movie, or maybe it was the Holy Spirit saying to me, “use this material, men will ‘listen’ when you speak to them through these films.”  I don’t know which one it was, but I’m hoping it was the latter.  The subtheme I saw in this movie is similar to the one found in my United We Stand video based off the Battle of Carthage in Gladiator.  In 300: Rise of an Empire, the leader of the Greek forces, Themistokles, rallies his troops by encouraging them to fight for one another; to fight for your brother.  This resonates with me in recovery in that not only do I fight this battle for sexual purity every day, but I also fight alongside, with, and for my brothers in recovery.  The bond we have formed is stronger than any other bond I have found in my life, apart from my bond with God and with my wife.  These men in recovery know me better than my own family of origin and they fight for me, as I fight for them.  I titled this movie, Iron Sharpens Iron based off Proverbs 27:17 where we are told, as brothers, to sharpen one another, prepare one another for battle, support one another, and fight for one another.

Disclaimer: Although tempted to watch the original movie from where this clip was taken, a person new to recovery should consult their therapist, sponsor, and/or accountability partner on whether to watch this film.  It has a sex scene with some partial nudity that could sexually trigger the individual. Also, the excessive violence (some of which I removed from this clip) can be harmful to your recovery if you are like I was early on; prone to medicate the viewing of violence and associated guilt.
As always, take what you like and leave the rest.
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This change affects only the Monday night meeting on July 21st. The Fellowship at Cinco Ranch, where we normally meet, is having their Vacation Bible School (VBS) in the evenings the week of July 21st and all rooms are reserved for this week-long event.  Therefore, we need to move the Castimonia Katy meeting to another location close by.  Grace Fellowship UMC is very close, North of Westheimer Parkway, on the East side of Mason road just North of the Cinco Ranch Blvd light.  The meeting will return to the Fellowship at Cinco Ranch on Monday, July 28th.

Time: 7:00PM – 8:30PM
Location: Grace Fellowship United Methodist Church
Mansion, Room 203 (take the stairs or elevator to the 2nd floor)

2655 South Mason Road Katy, TX  77450

The other option is to visit our Northwest Houston meeting at Lifepath Church
Monday Nights
Time: 7:00PM – 8:30PM
Location: Lifepath Church – Room 108
17703 W Little York Rd
Houston, TX 77084

fault-300x300Most people who are addicted to being right never even get to this point. They never become conscious of the fact that they may just possibly have a flaw. As my late father would say, “I am never wrong, except when I think I am wrong.” He was addicted to being right, but never admitted it. It’s too bad because character flaws definitely make life more difficult. You might agree that they make like more interesting too, but life is interesting enough without having a lot of baggage to carry around. It is far wiser to release your own and observe the flaws of others. So ask yourself this unusual question: How is addicted to being right useful? Every flaw serves a purpose. Your mind doesn’t bother going through the trouble of obsessing about being right without some perceived payback. What is the reward? Addicted to being right often signals the need to tread lightly. It shows that the person has issues. One might be trying to save face or hold on to self-esteem. What ever the reason is for you, next time you are caught being addicted to being right, try a new tact. Try seeing it as an opportunity to admit you’re wrong. Admitting you are wrong shows you’re human. Admitting you are wrong is a way of being real with people. Admitting you are wrong requires less maintenance. How often have you met someone who demanded perfection of themselves. These unfortunate types flip-flop between demanding perfection and giving up. They demand so much of themselves that they prime themselves for failure. Accepting our own imperfections requires honesty. Admitting you are wrong is associated with high self-esteem. Self-esteem is that feeling of value you place on yourself based on your view of your past history, your body, and your thoughts. On a deeper level it has to do with who you believe you are in the depths of your being. People with high self-esteem are rarely addicted to being right. By Louis Tartaglia, M.D.

Those who never retract their opinions love themselves more than they love truth. Joseph Jouber
by Jeff Fisher on August 30, 2013

notangrySURRENDERING MY ANGER AND HURTS TO GOD This began with writing in my notebook. My counselor encouraged me to begin writing down my hurts and bring them to God in prayer. I did quite an inventory of the hurts of my past and present and filled my notebook up. It was a great tool. It helped me start praying to God, getting His understanding, and His view of the hurt. I felt His touch on each hurt instantly. My hurts were once in vivid color in my mind, and after surrendering them to God, they became a pale black and white memory.

I am still discovering hurts and using this exercise. I still have to bring some of the old hurts back to God and surrender to Him for a deeper healing.

big_foot_print1PUTTING MYSELF IN OTHERS’ SHOES This has been a very recent addition to my healing. I try and think about the pain my action caused others. I was hurt by others, yes. But my actions hurt many people. Others have had to suffer the consequences of my sexual sin. In my anger, I am just focused on myself. In recovery, I am learning to be concerned for the people that I hurt.

My intervention was painful and necessary. I have had to let go of anger at God and anger toward my mentors who intervened in my life. I am starting to think about how painful it was for them to do the right thing and confront me. It did not happen immediately. They waited a couple of weeks for an opportune time at the end of a Summer. It must have been excruciating for them. I know it was.

Thinking about what others had to go through, helps me get my eyes off of myself and onto the pain of others. It has helps me forgive. It also helps me move toward gratitude.

gratitudeGRATITUDE This is the granddaddy of healing! Being grateful for people, circumstances, and pain was something I thought impossible, even absurd. I was angry at God and others for messing up my life. I wanted justification. I wanted to teach others a lesson.

But God is helping me see differently now, and be thankful.

  • Thankful God is present, loves me, helps me, provides for me, gives me strength.
  • Thankful for the people who cared enough to confront me.
  • Thankful for my support group and accountability buddies.
  • Thankful for the pain that is helping me become more Christlike.
  • Thankful that I’m a new person now.
  • Thankful for the people who have stuck it out with me.
  • Thankful that our story is helping others.
  • Thankful that my present and future are in God’s hands.

WHAT ABOUT YOU? What things have helped you find healing from your anger? What advice would you give those in recovery who have a lot of anger?