That which holds your heart holds your life. Poets express this sentiment when they write of love, hope and beauty. The Outlet, from Dickinson beautifully portrays love captured longing to be captured (read here, http://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/outlet-162).
The media is captivated by this reality as well. Once Upon a Time, a television program I enjoy explores this through an evil queen. The queen takes control of others by reaching inside their chest and extracting their heart. When the queen has your heart, she has you in her control. In this case it leads to destruction and often it leads to death.
Over three decades ago, pornography captured my heart. The addiction gripped, pursued, captured and controlled me for years. It was a constant and unwanted companion that remained as I entered marriage. A year or so into my young marriage Melissa discovered my addiction. It was the low point of my life. I was ‘caught’ and without excuse!!
It was also an awakening; the beginning of a new path!
By the age of 28, I was trapped by consistent porn consumption for over 15 years. I was married and in ministry, with our first born in the womb. Everything was wonderful. Everything was beautiful. Expect for the reality that porn had captured my heart. Now, over 17 years after that grime ridden grace filled moment, I have a beautiful marriage to a beautiful bride with a beautiful family.
Out of the ashes beauty has formed. This beautiful formation, however, has required a journey of reorientation. I have come call this my Desire Reclamation Journey. It has offered many lessons designed for my ultimate good. Some, I hope, can be encouraging to you. Chief among them are:
- Facing the truth about myself. This was the initial step that has loved me into wholeness.
- Porn consumption exploits and distorts my desires, taking me away from my best self, rendering me unable to offer my best self to others.
- I am defined by who I am and how I love (Reflect upon this: I believe it may be universally true).
Receiving truth is the first, and perhaps, most important step. However, reception alone is not enough. A renewed life requires the development of new disciplines: new habits. There are several Spiritual Disciplines or Spiritual Rhythms¹ – both ancient and modern – that have aided my growth toward God and His good. These disciplines have created more fully human habits in and through me.
The modern rhythms that capture my heart:
- Intimacy with my spouse, close family, friends, and the local community in which I live.
- Responsibility with my time and resources (e.g. computers, phone, etc.), and my strengths, talents and desires.
- A third discipline, which entwines the previous two, is Presence: the practice of my fullest self being fully present to God, self and others.
Some ancient rhythms that capture my heart:
- Silence and Solitude.
- The Examen.
- Lectio Divina (0r, Contemplative or Sacred Reading). Lectio and Examen deepen my receptivity toward God’s Word and heighten my awareness of His presence.
- Fasting and Service. These final two ground me in the life for others calling that Christ enjoys and desires.
Each discipline has shaped (often at an unbearably slow pace) me into one who craves a deeper sense of God’s presence. They have captured my heart. They have captured my life.
¹Barton, R. Ruth. Sacred Rhythms: Arranging Our Lives for Spiritual Transformation. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2006. Print.