A Day of Change: Leading Men Into Life After Lust

 

LAL Workshop Testimony

The 17 men I met up with this weekend were in for the surprise of their lives. To be honest, I don’t know what they expected but what I was prepared to share was not how to avoid porn or how to stop lying to those they loved. This first Life After Lust Workshop was aimed at giving them what I thought they needed, not necessarily what I assumed they wanted. My aim was to heighten awareness on how to change, connecting them with their strongest resource for recovery: their very selves.

The content prepared was potent and powerful, aimed at challenging their beliefs, teaching them tools, and calling them up to create a new life. The day that ensued was life-changing. That’s what one man shared with me when it came to a close.

In 5.75 hours we adventured through the Mindset, Mastery, and Mission sections of my book, doing 12 exercises (from visualizations, to writing, to experiences), listening to 9 tracks from the new Life After Lust audiobook, and watching 8 videos (including VLOG and inspirational/educational videos).

This was one of the most meaningful days of my life. Living in a season of my deepest inner work to date, I felt at ease, leading the men deeper into themselves and into their awareness that real change was possible. I’m so proud of those men for the bold steps they took that day. I savored the moment, now I savor the memory, wondering when I’ll get to share this valuable content again.

I will never fully know what ripple effects resulted from that day. What I know for sure is that big, beautiful seeds were planted. One participant contacted me a couple days after the event sharing how he started running after months of passivity and was infused with the new mindset that he is responsible for the reality he creates.

He shared, “Your seminar is already causing me to think about my future, who I want to be, and being able to take care of myself. The biggest thing for me was owning my choices, owning my mistakes, and realizing that I have the ability and the power to choose something different for myself. And that if I wanted something good, it’s going to take some work. That is a big mental shift that I needed. I’m actually trying to live a little bit differently. I already feel different. I feel stronger and more capable, at least on the inside. Also, the workshop helped me summon the courage to work through my bitterness from a past relationship and move on. So, thank you! Your stuff is helping me out already so I just want to let you know that.”

Hearing how he was impacted infuses me with satisfaction and joy. It is a very real validation that the healing path I am on is packed with ever-explanding affects on others. The higher I grow, the further I can go with anyone willing to follow.

I wonder where this workshop will want to go next. It will soon be in Sacramento again. And I have a feeling in the near future I’ll have a female workshop. I’m already dreaming up ideas for that.

The course I’ve created here can impact the world. For now, I’ll get back to writing, waiting for the next invitation. Who knows? Maybe my next workshop will be with you.

Future create LAL Quote

Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP, author of Life After Lust: Stories & Strategies for Sex & Pornography Addiction Recovery. Please follow Forest on the following platforms: NewsletterYoutubeBlogTwitterFacebookInstagram, and Pinterest, and SHARE this valuable content with others. Thank you!

Advertisements

The Potential to Change: Join Us In Just 3 Days

The potential to change

Fourteen years ago, I drove to Sacramento for a recovery event that changed the course of my life. This Saturday, I am leading a recovery event in Sacramento that could change the course of many other men’s lives. In just three days I will share stories and strategies from my book Life After Lust that have strengthened myself and many others in recovery. This event will bring hope to those caught in addiction, those long in recovery, and those just wanting to connect with themselves and grow.

I am SO excited!

I love how life gives us opportunities like this to turn our pain into purpose. As I creatively and strategically prepare for this event, I am both grateful for this opportunity and excited to plant powerful seeds that I trust will sprout into amazing fruit that will impact the world. Who knows, maybe some of these men will catch a glimpse of the hope of recovery, master what they learn, and someday lead others into healing and a changed life. It may sound unbelievable but I’ve seen such miracles. I’ve lived such miracles. If you want to see what potential is packaged in a handful of hours, join us this Saturday in Sacramento. I look forward to meeting you there, in just 3 days.

Click here to sign up (If you can’t make it this time, sign up here for announcements of future events)

**** PS: The Life After Lust Audiobook will make it debut at this event and be available in some venues this Saturday as well!

 

Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP, author of Life After Lust: Stories & Strategies for Sex & Pornography Addiction Recovery. Please follow Forest on the following platforms: NewsletterYoutubeBlogTwitterFacebookInstagram, and Pinterest, and SHARE this valuable content with others. Thank you!

 

Are You Being a Victim to Your Sexual Addiction?

ice-climbing-1247606_1280

Today XXXChurch published my newest article called “Don’t Be a Victim to Your Porn Addiction“. This article provides a challenging and brutally honest perspective about the attitude change necessary to beat sexual addiction. In it I shared my experience:

“The “secret sauce” of my success is taking personal responsibility for my recovery. I don’t always succeed but almost every time I remind myself that I am choosing most of my circumstances and all of my responses, I regain my power. Fighting against victim mentality is a daily battle. I believe this is some of the most significant work for anyone in active recovery.”

The article highlights common factors blamed for recovery failure and provides 8 questions individuals can ask themselves to regain a sense of power against their addiction. It is my hope that those who read this piece will take an honest look at their choices and re-evaluate what they are willing to do to experience successful recovery.

This article could be a milestone for those who feel stuck in their addiction. This is a life-changing message for those who choose to make it so.

“Will you take responsibility for your recovery?

When you do, the possibilities are endless.”

-By Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP-C

Please FOLLOW my blog and find me on Facebook and Twitter for future posts and announcements about my UPCOMING BOOK!

Let’s Begin Again

I just wrote this short piece on my work blog that provides a few great resources for those who are losing steam as they pursue their goals. It is called “In The Face of Failure: How to Get Back Up & Go For Your Goals“. Please enjoy and share.

“Standing Together Against ‘Shades of Grey’: The Birth of a Movement” by Forest Benedict, MA, SATP-C, MFT Intern (#63601)

Sunrise Girl

On February 6th I did the bravest thing I’ve ever done, sharing with the world “What One Person Can Do to Stand Against ‘Shades of Grey’”. Prompted from within, I believed the time had arrived. Diving into controversial waters, I knew many would attack both me and my message.

As I prepared for this bold stance, I gleaned from Brennan Manning’s wisdom regarding “those who choose to suffer for the absolute voice of conscience”. He wrote that “an increasing passion for truth evokes a growing indifference to public opinion and to what people say or think…When we stand on our own two feet and claim responsibility for our own unique self, we are growing in personal autonomy, fortitude, and freedom from the bondage of human approval.” I resonated deeply with those timely words. Beyond any moment in my personal history, writing this piece was standing strongly on my own two feet, proclaiming the truth that stirred within my heart. Even if nobody stood with me, there was deep satisfaction in knowing that I did what I knew was right.

To my great joy, many stood with me.

There was a massive surge of interest and the article quickly gained momentum. On the first day there were 611 views, which doubled the second day, steadily increasing from there. February 12th the article peaked in number of views, at 3,548 views in one day! Today, ten days later, the article has been viewed well over 16,000 times! With visitors from all over the world, there was an incredible response.

In the first week, I watched excitedly, witnessing the article spread like wildfire from one caring citizen to another, throughout Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. I was honored when other bloggers wrote about and shared my article. Locally, the Center for Community Transformation endorsed the article and it was published in the Fresno Bee on Valentine’s Day.

What I will never know is how many lives were impacted by this rapidly spreading message. If only I could calculate how many letters went out to theaters or how many people felt empowered. I can only imagine. I also invite readers to share their responses and experiences as replies (below). I love hearing stories about the ripple effect. It encourages all of us.

It is my hope that this is the birth of a movement.

This article was about much more than standing against “50 Shades of Grey”, it was about standing against the pornography pandemic that is rocking our world. In the hearing before the senate on “Why the Government Should Care About Pornography”, Dr Jill Manning testified that “leading experts in the field of sexual addictions contend online sexual activity is a hidden public health hazard exploding, in part because very few are recognizing it as such or taking it seriously”….“Even more disturbing is the fact that the first Internet generations have not reached full maturity, so the upper limits of this impact have yet to be realized.” I believe the proliferation of pornography will be the downfall of the following generations if we do not start taking this threat seriously and standing in defense of our children and our world.

For these reasons, I hope that the success of “What One Person Can Do” is a sign that forces are joining us on the front-lines. This is a winnable war. Our community standards can rise. May we keep voting with our money, writing and speaking for this cause, investing in the good, sharing these messages in our spheres of influence, locking arms with others in the movement, persisting, and believing that “there’s some good in this world, and it’s worth fighting for”.

Because of all of you, this article’s message was successful. Thank you for standing by my side, on your own two feet, speaking unpopular truths that needed to be voiced. As this movement progresses forward, I expectantly believe there are great things to come.

Hope is on the horizon.

Join The Movement – https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/ys2n8NpKo6s?rel=0

Photo credit – http://www.flickr.com/photos/33363480@N05/4288659311

-Written by Forest Benedict, MA, SATP-C, MFT Intern (#63601), LifeSTAR of the Central Valley

If you benefited from this article, please “follow” me on this blog and share this article with others.

What One Person Can Do to Stand Against “Shades of Grey” by Forest Benedict, MA, SATP-C, MFT Intern (#63601)

I just created a powerful resource for those choosing to courageously stand against the upcoming movie Fifty Shades of Grey. This is by far the boldest and most controversial piece I have ever written. It is also a Divinely directed work. I predict God will use it in mighty ways. Please read and share this important article with everyone you know.

Gratefully,

Forest Benedict

Click here: What One Person Can Do to Stand Against “Shades of Grey” by Forest Benedict, MA, SATP-C, MFT Intern (#63601)

The Transforming Embrace of Jesus

This year is nearing extinction. The last hours of 2014 are departing like visitors that have outstayed their welcome. In these diminishing moments, we often look back, look inward, and look forward. We remember and we expect.

When I ponder the past year, I recall both opportunities and disappointments. I am keenly aware of both imperfect instances and times of triumph. As I imagine ahead, there is an incalculable amount of issues worth improving in 2015. But when I quiet the voices of discontentment and tune into the lone song in my soul, only one change is required and desired. In this New Year, I yearn to experience the transforming embrace of Jesus.

Brennan Manning writes about this intimate experience in his precious book Abba’s Child. He highlights an experience when John, the “disciple Jesus loved”, was “reclining next to Jesus”, leaning back against his chest (John 13:23-25). What a picture of intimacy, security, belonging, and trust.

In light of this account, Manning shares that “until I lay my head on Jesus’ breast, listen to His heartbeat, and personally appropriate the Christ-experience of John’s eyewitness, I have only a derivative spirituality” (p 126). This experience with Jesus changes us. I long for that experience as this old year sets and the new one rises.

Manning chose to be embraced in his desperation. His account was this: “As the alcoholic fog lifted, I knew there was only one place to go. I sank down into the center of my soul, grew still, and listened to the Rabbi’s heartbeat” (p 133). We are invited to do the same; to “remain in His love” (John 15:9).

How beautiful it is that Jesus wants to interact with us in this way. He is not a distant Deity. He wishes to hold us. As the scriptures say, “He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart” (Isaiah 40:11).

This Divine embrace quiets, comforts, and changes us.

Changed in His Embrace

I wonder what would change this next year as I allowed myself to lavish in the Savior’s loving arms? I imagine Christ holding me in this way and the physical warmth of His chest beside my cheek melting into my spirit, dissolving my insecurities. Brennan points out that this disciple who was held by Jesus was the one who later penned the words “In love there can be no fear, but fear is driven out by perfect love” (1 John 4:18). His loving embrace dissolves fear.

Similarly, his hugs heal our pain. This interaction is illuminated in Brandon Hathaway’s powerful poem called “The Hug Poem”:

Count on countless siren songs this New Year. The competition for comfort outside of Christ is continuous. Where we choose comfort is where we connect. All the more reason to rest in our Source of strength instead the arms of the adulteresses of our day. Remember that “when they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13). In His infusing presence, we transcend our limitations, becoming someone we never were before. In other words, “The recovery of passion starts with reappraising the value of the treasure, continues with letting the Great Rabbi hold us against His heart, and comes to fruition in a personal transformation of which we will not even be aware” (Manning, p 133).

In 2015, may we experience the embrace that dispels despair and pacifies pain. May we rest in our Abba’s assurance. May we hear His heartbeat and may unprecedented transformation result simply because we have been with Jesus.

“In the arms of Jesus, I will find my peace and rest
I hear Him calling, come to me and rest
Carried by my Shepherd, cradled tightly to His chest
There and there alone, my soul finds rest
So I will rest in the shelter of my Savior’s embrace
Hidden safely in the refuge of His mercy and His Grace
And I will sing hallelujah to the One who sets me free
And you will find me in the arms of Jesus”

– Steven Curtis Chapman

Wishing all of you a New Year of transformation! I wholeheartedly appreciate all of you who read my articles and share them with others.

Blessings,

Forest Benedict

Additional articles referring to Brennan Manning: The Incomplete Christian Life, Prayer of a Fatherless Father, and Accepting Abba’s Affection

For future articles and inspiration, please follow my blog and “like” my Facebook page (and share with others). Thanks!

Dr Kelly McGonigal – The Willpower Instinct

This is one of my favorite videos about change. Dr Kelly McGonigal (Standford) shares the science behind willpower. Learn simple interventions that help people maintain their goals. Learn how self-care (exercise, healthy eating, etc) strengthens your ability to make significant changes. Topics include addiction, self-compassion, & self-control. This is a great introduction to Kelly McGonigal (http://kellymcgonigal.com/) – who has excellent resources that are science based and promote change & recovery. Enjoy!

“The Discomfort of Discipline” by Forest Benedict

Missteps are part of being human. We all make mistakes, choosing things that go against our own values and goals. Often we interpret these choices as “failures” and find it difficult to begin again. Even when we know we’ve left our path, why do we so often continue resisting changes we know will get us back on track and bless our life?

I wonder if part of our resistance to change is not wanting to endure the discomfort of discipline. We so often choose immediate gratification over long-term gain. The temporal over the eternal. Pleasure in this moment over purpose that endures. Like Esau (Genesis 25:34), who traded a bowl of soup when he was hungry for his inheritance, we too are so quick to relinquish the blessing of faithfulness for a momentary sense of relief.

For all of us, old habits and addictions die hard. Consistency and commitment will be essential as we rewire our brains to believe that the new behavior is natural. Nobody does this perfectly, so learning to start again as fast as possible will prove to be an essential skill. Faithfulness doesn’t mean we never fail but are willing to start again (and again), continuing to strive for the goals that bring meaning to our lives.

Think about it: What would God say to you after a misstep? After a “big failure”? Would he be mad or mean or harsh? Would he invite you back with open arms? I believe his words to us would be both compassionate and challenging. As if He’s reminding us, “I love you, I accept you, now are you ready to trust me?”

I wonder if God would remind us of something like this:

“Discipline is not easy and there will be a season of doing new things you don’t always want to do. But you can choose them anyway. Expect that uncomfortable time, when doing the right thing is hard and unnatural, to be part of this process of change.

Do you trust Me enough to do My will? Do you trust Me enough to listen to My voice and know that what I tell you to do comes from a loving place and will bring you life?

Do what is unnatural today, do what is right. Even when it feels awkward, do the things that will bring you life. Resist the urge to escape into what is easiest, into what brings the most pleasure in the moment. You will experience greater pleasure through obedience to Me.

Trust in me, despite your own understanding. Keep reminding yourself to trust in Me. That’s where you’ll find life and peace. Trusting in me.”

May we accept God’s compassion and learn to be compassionate with ourselves. May we learn from our missteps as they teach us how to walk on our path. May we endure discomfort now for the greater reward to come. May we all learn to trust God more as we move forward in the difficult yet rewarding work we were created to do.

“Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
he’s the one who will keep you on track.
Don’t assume that you know it all.
Run to God! Run from evil!
Your body will glow with health,
your very bones will vibrate with life!
Honor God with everything you own;
give him the first and the best.
Your barns will burst,
your wine vats will brim over.
But don’t, dear friend, resent God’s discipline;
don’t sulk under his loving correction.
It’s the child he loves that God corrects;
a father’s delight is behind all this.” (Proverbs 3:5-12, The Message)

“For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:11)

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)

If you found this article inspiring please follow my blog for more great content….thanks!