We Are All Searching For Meaning.
Right now, let’s take notice. For this next half hour together, let’s be aware of that need deep inside you. And this time, let’s promise to not look away but to be present and understanding because you are a person of great worth.
Your habit of turning to pornography or hooking up is more than an unwanted sexual behavior. That pattern in your life is connected to a desire for worth. But searching for a sense of calling is not limited to just you.
Googling “How do I find purpose,” comes in with more than 10,880,000,000 results. We are all searching for meaning.
Sometimes, that lack of mission can become a trigger for unwanted sexual behaviors. On this episode, Josh and Kit ask important questions while coaching you through taking time to listen for your own answers. Fruitfulness is attached to our sexuality. Futility can take that sideways into things like porn and more.
Beloved one, there is a tension between the fruitful and futile. Let’s explore and learn together on this episode of “Becoming Whole.”
When we’re struggling with sin, we’re searching for something. We’re searching for some foundation, some meaning.
It’s built into us to be pursuing meaning and fruitfulness in our lives
Going to pornography, maybe even the type of pornography you choose can create a sense of having power
- Rather than vilify the unwanted sexual behaviors you’re looking to; Let’s stop and figure out the WHY. Ask yourself: What is my fantasy pointing me to? Now that you’ve named it, what do you do with it?
- Can you receive this message from God today: I value you so much as a beloved son or as a beloved daughter. You are free to take risks, to experience, to try, to fall to get back up. Because I want your life to have meaning. I’ve created you for meaning, with meaning.
- Today, think of one way You can live with purpose. Think simple – a phone call, a written note, etc.
Click for Full Podcast Transcription
So I’ve had this experience in the work that I do. And Kitt, I want to know if you’ve had this experience too, but where I found myself as I’m watching somebody for a long period of time, they’re wrestling with unwanted sexual behavior. At some point in the, in our, in our work together, we get kind of almost into the field of, of job coaching, or like, a career path issue. Like bigger quest questions of, like life mission, and I feel and I’ve been frustrated with that. Not that it’s come up, but just kind of like, you know, I’m not trained in that I don’t, I’ve never even read, you know, what color’s your parachute? But, um, and it’s I think it’s only today, as we were talking offline a little bit that I’m like, Oh, this is why this comes up. Like, what’s the connection between unwanted sexual behaviors? And conversations about our jobs? Yeah. Life Path?
Yeah, oh, my gosh, absolutely. I think eventually it comes up because we’re searching, we’re searching. When we’re struggling with sin, we’re searching for something. And we’re searching for some foundation, some meaning some, you know, and vocational kinds of things are in our culture. They’re a big part of it. And so well, maybe if I figured out what I what I should do for my job, and for my vocation, then that’ll fix me, you know, that’ll give me what I need. I think that happens a lot. It’s they are tied. there’s a there’s a, there is a relationship there.
Yeah. And under. So underneath that, and this is we’re gonna talk about today underneath that, in j stringers wonderful book, unwanted. He described six, six core experiences of unwanted sexual behavior that are all tied together. For one of those six is futility, for a sense of purposelessness. And his research actually shows that there’s a correlation between people who feel a sense of futility or purposelessness in their life, and unwanted sexual behavior. So if you are stuck with unwanted sexual behavior, or if somebody in your life is listening, because we’re going to talk about like, what role this might play, what how this is an important piece.
So Josh, having said that, how do you respond to that? What does that what comes up for you in your life when you think about that?
When I think about the connection between the ones Yeah. And purposelessness? Well, let me say this, like I, the further I dig into this, the more I recognize that there is something that we’re that we are just kind of built into us to be pursuing. Meaning and fruitfulness in our lives, like, Yeah, I don’t think that without completely shutting ourselves down. Like we, we are always going to be looking for fruitfulness. Yeah. And fruitfulness is attached to our as human beings humans fruitfulness is attached to our sexuality, we, we are designed biologically to be fruitful. But I think that’s just one outward expression of physical expression of what’s in our souls, we desire to be fruitful, you can see that back in Genesis, one and two, when God creates the first man of first woman, there’s them to be to to be fruitful and multiply the human race, but also to go into all the earth and subdue it with an in the garden and, you know, cultivate it, there’s something in us that was fruitfulness in our lives. Yeah. And when we’re struggling with that, when we were maybe we’re discouraged in the area when we’re feeling like we’re not receiving that, our our bodies, especially if we start with the area of sexuality. We’re gonna go sideways to like, well, I’m longing for fruitfulness. And so we’ll act out sexually in something unconsciously looking to be fruitful. Does that sound too weird?
I mean, no, I do. I do love the idea. And I think it’s really important that we kind of talk about it, like, what are some of these foundational things that we all share? That can be good and true. And that can also go sideways. And so Okay, so let’s acknowledge that there’s something in our body, something in our spirit, something that God created from the very beginning, that you will have some sense of unique purpose, some sense of unique ability to be fruitful, isn’t always going to be this big thing. You know, it could be lots of those small things, but it’s still intrinsic in us. And so how is that a foundational part of who we are? And how does that then relate to these other parts of our lives that that might we might get lost along the way and how do they relate and how do they help each other?
Yeah, yeah. So let’s, let’s come back, let’s tack it down to the earth here a little bit, make it a little bit more visible. Okay. As you’re walking with with women rustle unwanted sexual behaviors. Where is the tie in what are some examples of how that looks like? Where where the lack of of purpose, lack of mission, lack of whatever you have describe that has kind of launches them or triggers them towards whatever their unwanted sexual behavior is.
Yeah, I have really seen this in a number of different ways with clients that I’ve worked with. And there is this deep desire in all of us, of course to figure life out which we forget that it would be easier, even though it doesn’t feel easier to really ask God to figure it out for us, instead of trying to figure it out ourselves. But there’s this deep desire to figure out who am I? What am I to do? And that’s not an easy question to get answered. And so when the answers don’t come when we feel like we failed, when we don’t feel like we have a sense of who we are, what we’re to do a sense of purpose. We’re floundering. Sometimes sexual temptation comes in, whether it’s, you know, hooking up, or pornography as, and we missed, we mistake it for a way to get a sense of purpose, or comfort us because we can’t find one. And so those are I see that a lot play out in a lot of different ways. Yeah. What about you? What have you seen?
I resonate with what you just shared, I think about, like, to me, I think for so many men, and I know, my experience was this when I was wrestling with pornography. There’s a sense in pornography, even though it’s it’s false, that there’s another person looking at me or engaging with me in some way. That is really proclaiming immense value, and, and potency. You know, there’s there is, you know, there’s a power in, in, that’s kind of illusory in pornography, that suggests, like you You are making a difference, you are moving me there’s, there’s life, there’s passion, there’s something surging through me because of you. And even though it’s fake, I think there’s that’s, that’s some of the the comfort, some of the draw of pornography in men’s lives. And it wasn’t my life, I think, in times where I feel like, you know, I just had a really crappy day at work, I looked like an idiot in front of my boss, or, you know, just playing the softball game, and I dropped the ball, and I lost the game for my team. And I feel like a, you know, a loser. So that part of me that feels that futility or that meaninglessness, or the sense of, of not being able to have power to have influence in life in the way that I want, then gets funneled towards this illusion, the sense of that, and pornography. Does that make sense?
That word power is a key one. And I think you really have your finger on the pulse of something here. Because I feel like we all can feel very powerless in life. And I can think about several people, women that I’ve walked with and talked with that have felt that for whatever reason, they have felt a real lack of power. And that going to pornography, maybe even the type of pornography that they choose can create this sense of having power, even though ultimately it doesn’t, but in the moment it can, or a sexual hookup can do the same thing.
Say more about that specific type of pornography. What do you mean by that?
Well, choosing a pornography that allows them to feel like they’re in control, they have power. So a certain kind of fantasy, or certain kind of pornography, where that feel feeds that lack that they sense in themselves.
Yeah, so important. And so important. It’s one of those, you put your finger also on just how important it is to not just vilify our, our desires, and the things that we’re drawn to and kind of just be shaped like, but to really look into like, what, what is this happening in there? What What am I experiencing there? What’s what am I? What is my fantasy pointing me to? Yeah, control power. fruitfulness, or, or, you know, like, for me, what I described is that that sense of I’m, there’s something happening another person because of me, there’s a difference of, yeah, I mean, there’s just something really powerful in all of that, I think that it’s important to look at with gentleness and curiosity rather than condemnation.
And for me, even as a young child, I think I sensed that there was something about me that that a purpose or desire I had was to bring love, to be loving. And I and I had a real, I think, a neglect of receiving that. It’s what I was looking for. Not so much power, but I was looking for love to give me purpose to give me a sense of, you know, importance in meaning. And so for me acting out had to do with that.
Yeah, yeah. Well, so let’s, let’s shift gears a little bit and talk a bit about it. What do we do with this? If somebody’s listening, they’re saying, Okay, yeah, you know, pornography racking other people or this emotional affair I was in, I can see there’s a connection there. There’s something that I was looking for, to reckon with my own sense of futility in life, my sense of meaninglessness or purposelessness, lack of fruitfulness, lack of power. Now, what do we do? What What do we do with that? What do you say to somebody is asking that question.
You know, I would be careful, not to trivialize my answer. And to try to say, you know, this is a really big question. These are really big questions, and there are no easy answers here. And so when I, when I say, you know, clearly what we’re looking for is something that only God can give us. I don’t say that as a as a trivial answer. I say that is a very deep invitation. That what is it that we’re looking for? This understanding of who we are, who we were created to be this true self, this uniqueness that God has given to us, rather than look to other people and other things? Who really can’t tell us? What How do we go to the source? And how do we say what I really want to know and what I really want to discover only you can tell me, God, that you might use people you do or other things, but how do I start with the main source and begin to ask you about that? God? Yeah. What do you think about that? What comes to your mind when you think about well, what do we do then when we’re in that situation?
Yeah, I mean, I have three things in mind, you put your finger on two of them. One is, is just underneath this, there is a question of worth. And I think that connects to that, that inbuilt by God, that part of God’s design that we want to be fruitful and want our lives to actually bear fruit on the earth and, and be good. I think a lot of times we confuse, you know, if I’m attractive. That’s kind of a counterfeit version of good, you know, like, like, what I mean by like, piece of fruit is, is a good fruit when it when it’s when it’s ripe, and tastes right, and it’s healthy. So we want to know what we have worth. And that starts with that just that sense of the lovingness. Not what we do. But just in our being there is something that we have value just by the fact that we exist. And that leads us then to a place of beginning to explore as you were describing, who am I uniquely because I’m not being a human being or being a man or being a woman isn’t just about being one of among many, and just kind of a replaceable part, but it’s about being a unique individual with unique fingerprint in the universe. And so what is that, and that connects to calling to mission, I mean, we’re not just designed just to sit around and be blobs, we are designed to work the earth to work and to see good things happening. So those are things coming. And that leads me to just the reality of living in a fallen world. We can desire these things, we can go after them. And we should go after. What are what are God given calling is what we’re wired for. Well, let me let me just pause there for a second because that kid, what does it do for somebody who’s wrestled unwanted sexual behavior, to really begin to experience meaning in who they are and what they do a sense of purposefulness of sense of fruitfulness.
You know, I think, you know, when we talk about this idea of being Beloved, it’s so beautiful, and so right. And it can feel so elusive. Because how do you how do you embrace a sense of belovedness. But as you begin to experience that with God, it begins to fill a place in you that you don’t even know is there. Like, so we’re looking to fill all these kind of false self ego things. That’s what we’re all about, like, well, if I can make feel feel good, and this feel good, but there’s a deeper thing in us that when we do get in touch with some of those sacred moments with God, where he says, This is who you are, yeah, and it can be a little small thing. It doesn’t have to be in fact, it often isn’t any kind of big accomplishment. It puts this little thing that says in that moment, like this is the guy telling you, this is who you are, and this is how I created you. And then that fills this part of us that begins to grow if we allow it to. Yeah,
yeah. And I think right in there is is the challenge of we live in a culture that might hear some of what we’re saying about the importance of being fruitful and having meaning and mission and go directly to that when there’s a kind of flipped upside down. We’re like, that’s where I get my identity. That’s where I get my worth. Yeah. And what I think part of we want to say is, it’s not an either or there is a tension between those two. We don’t just sit and wait and be until God lets us know of our value. And then we can get up and go and right. There is a it’s almost like one foot and then the other. Yes, I think of Peter, you know who Yes, it’s a fisherman. He does, okay, at least has a couple bad nights, he’s not catching anything. And Jesus is like, you know, cast the net on the side of the boat, he does and miraculous catch a fish. And Peter’s just like, whatever guilt he’s carrying for whatever that was about, he just falls in his face. He’s like, you shouldn’t be with me. I’m a sinful guy. And Jesus’s responses, I’m going to make you a bigger Fisher, I’m going to I’m going to take the small store you’re living in turn into this big story. Yeah. And so there’s this, I mean, what an affirmation of value and worth of Jesus season him. Yeah, is in fact connected to something about his vocation, that’s probably even very different than he imagined. When you hear those words from Jesus,
which is such an important point, our expectations of what it’s going to look like can really trip us up. Because often, I would, you know, you and I were talking before we started to record and my life does not look like I thought it would, God isn’t doing necessarily what I thought God would do in my life like, so to be open, and not have so many expectations that you miss what he’s doing, because it can look very different. It might be smaller or bigger, it might be blue and not yellow, you know? In other words, yeah, we we have, it’s very difficult to let go of our, of what we think our purpose should be of what we think our identity should be. But to trust that God actually knows the best, and he actually will show us if we let go of it is such an important part of this whole idea of embracing and understanding these deeper places of who we are, and, and, and what God wants us to do.
Yeah, so we’re coming. As we, as we kind of begin to land this conversation, I think some of what I hope you’re hearing as you’re listening, is certainly the importance of, of meaning and purpose in your life. Not as a way to gain worth, but because you are someone of worth, and pornography or any unwanted sexual behavior is going to say, in essence is saying to you, you don’t have value. And so the best you’re going to get is this cul de sac, pull over into the ditch here and get a little pleasure and get the, you know, the, the vicarious experience through pornography. I mean, heck, it could be media, or gaming or sports or adrenalin or you know, you name it, there all sorts of counterfeits of this, rather than actually living a really meaningful life. And I think what the Father is saying is no, you have inestimable, you, I was just all over this word, your worth is is is infinite to me, I mean, I, I value you so much as a beloved son or as a beloved daughter, you actually are free to take risks, to experience to try to fall to get back up. Because I want your life to have meaning and have created you for meaning. And that may mean some big grand calling. Yeah. It also may mean something smaller, I think in some of the people in his field have made such significant differences when they weren’t seeking some giant thing. And they were just doing the next thing that God wanted to Brother Lawrence probably did not dream of the day that he could wash dishes in the kitchen for the rest of the monks. But he did that with God and trusted the God had meaning and purpose for him in it. And it transformed his life and transformed many lives, including including a lot of ours who have learned from him.
And Henry now and you know, went from a teacher lecture author to working at their community, you know, which was working with adults with, you know, some learning and some disabilities. And he found such life there as he served and shared life in that way. And so it’s like, no, there is no, there’s not this golden path. And the other thing, Josh, that you touched on before, too, that I’d love for you to talk about is this idea of the now and then not yet, in all of this.
Yeah, I mean, I think we have to face the reality that as we as we face the reality that that a sense of purposelessness or futility is fueling unwanted sexual behavior in our lives. And so part of our recovery part of becoming whole, is taking seriously your own story when it comes to purpose, your own story when it comes to, you know, what keeps me from going for it, what keeps me from hoping for something more meaningful, what keeps me in this job or keeps me from trying this or trying that. And at the same time, we’re not trying to prescribe here, you know, there there is fame and riches and glory and, and worldwide ministry for every single person, there’s simply not so many of the most beloved and meaningful saints through through the history of the church are people that we’ve never heard of, and I’m and so there is a now not yet there that we have to trust that, that as we follow God, and seek Him for purpose, that there will be there’ll be an experience with him and things that we’re sowing into the kingdom that others may not see. But that the God sees and and that the value of that that you know, I mean, the end of the day, game the whole world lose my soul. And I think many of us have experienced that and you think that more ministry or more money or more whatever is going to satisfy you and it does not like that’s not will rafter that’s not the purpose rafter so.
And also, you know, you were talking I thought about it is interesting, these misunderstandings that we live under, you know, the idea that will if I find fame and fortune and or if I have this big mouthpiece in the world, and then that’s going to be it’s gonna be all glory. Well, Martin Luther King, oh my gosh. I mean, this man was such an incredible, powerful force in the world. He came and did so many things, you know, in the name of God, and his life was full of a lot of tragedy. Yeah, so you we can’t mix this stuff up. We can’t, you know, the now and the not yet. And also, you know, that this? You know, we might think that there are people who live these grand, full rich lives that near or near perfection, and it’s just not true.
Yeah. Yeah. So there’s a wrestling here, this is part of the journey. Yeah, we’re not trying to just map out like, you know, get up, find the best job and you’ll be fine. Not Not true. We Are All Searching For Meaning
But one step at a time, try to trust God to lead you try to say you know what, I really want to be willing help me to get up. And to let you pick me up, and lead me forward. And let’s keep let’s keep trying, when I fall or give me the humility and the your strength to get up and keep moving. Knowing that if I do that, you will unfold something may not be anything like I imagined, but it will be good, it will be might be really hard to. So one practical for people listening would be if you if you’re resonating with this,
it may very well be worth some some deep and hard work towards something like a big change in your life if you’ve been stuck. But you can also simply begin with today. What’s a way that I can that I can live purposefully today? Yeah. And I I’d actually invite you to think very inject into that include in that conversation and that that deliberation, the word risk, word faith, faith and risk are deeply tied. What might God invite you into today? That’s, that’s just a little bit more risky. It might be as simple as, you know, calling a friend that you miss. And it isn’t unusual as might be in that relation to say, Hey, I just wanted to see expensive time because I miss you might be writing a letter it might be asking God large, you know, show me I’m going to store it, would you show me Is there anybody on my way to the store or at the store that you want me to minister to? And in what way?
I love that.
And I’ve mentioned this before, but I do feel like this is something that keeps me grounded in all of this is that I tried to roll out of bed in the morning and to my knees first thing and say Lord, I give you this day. Sometimes I say it more, more with more genuineness. Sometimes I’m like, to give you this deck. But um, and it’s always a little bit of a different language. But to the extent that I can say like, God, show me you know, help me see you. Help me follow you. Let me give you this day. me live it the way you want me to. There’s just a grounding about that. That that’s helpful to me.
Yeah, yeah. But let me close us in prayer. And when we open the prayer with these words from from Jay stringers book, he says, if you want to fight, don’t fight to eliminate desire, fight to discover meaning. Jesus, thank you so much that you invited us into a grand story. The earth is full and wide and there’s so many places we might go. And Lord, your mission field is ripe for harvest, harvest and it is broad. Lord, there’s so many different kinds of people. And Lord, you’ve made us uniquely with unique fingerprint, unique desires for a unique relationship and unique adventure with you. And so just this day, Lord, we say we give you this day, would you lead us into living purposefully, rather than than futility in futility today? Or lead us away from temptation. deliver us from evil when schemes wants to keep us stuck, and unwanted sexual behavior. Rather lead us to a life that is lived like a good story. In your name, we pray to Jesus amen.
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Original music by Shannon Smith. Audio engineering by Gabriel @ DelMar Sound Recording.
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