Pure Eyes, Clean Heart–On Addictions, Control, and Surrender

The last couple weeks, I have had the excitement of being part of launch teams for two books written by two friends which I believe can both be an important part of the conversation in creating families that honor God. 

This week, I have a guest post from Jen Ferguson with an excerpt from her book, Pure Eyes, Clean Heart: A Couple’s Journey to Freedom from Pornography.

I love this particular excerpt from the book, because it’s not just about pornography. It’s about something I know all too well–control. Being the family police. 

I have never been in the situation Jen found herself in, but I can relate to so much she shares here. I have been in the place where I lived in fear of not being able to control bad things happening in my family–both my family of origin and my current one. Addictions come in all varieties, and the patterns are the same. 

When Jen talks about needing to “save” her family, I get it. I’ve walked that unending path. I know precisely what she means when she says that giving up that control, leaving it to God to save, is the most terrifying and the most freeing thing you can do for your situation. We were never meant to be saviors. But we are meant to be faithful.

So please, even if pornography is not a problem for you, I will bet you can find something in her words to relate to. I am positive you also know the fear of letting go of your control and your ability to save a situation–whether a marriage, a child, or a career.

Surrender–the most frightening freedom you’ll ever embrace. But then it’s no longer an unending path you’re trudging down but an endless sky you’re flying in.

Also–please pass this on to anyone you know who does deal with this issue. It may save her sanity, self-respect, marriage, or who knows what else? 

I am pleased to give away a copy of Jen’s book today as well. Anyone who leaves a comment either here or on this blog post on Facebook will be entered to win the book–for you, for a friend, or for your church library. Thanks!

Jen shares:

For a long time, I took the secret of Craig’s porn addiction and I stuffed in my heart. I didn’t even really share it with God much because I couldn’t bear to believe this was part of my marriage.

In truth, I wanted to fix it and forget it. Rather, I wanted my husband to fix it and forget it. But could I trust him to deal and wrestle and seek Jesus for this affliction? Honestly, I didn’t. I didn’t trust my husband, so I made it my mission to fix the problem for him.

This is the only way I’d though we’d be able to move on in our marriage. I couldn’t let the darkness of porn keep invading. It took too much of a toll on me, on him, on our relationships with God. Sure, he was the one sinning against me, but guess what? The whole cycle stirred up cycles of sin in me, too.

I exhausted myself in trying to control his every movement.

Where are you going?
What are you doing?
Why is the door closed?
Why did you shut down that window on the computer when I walked in?
Why did you clear your history?
What did you do while I was gone?

I had become his parent, which, I’ll tell you, didn’t go over very well. Why? Because God did not design us to be our husband’s parent. He designed us to be his wife, his helper.

Craig writes:

“Now that I look back and reflect on it, I have some understanding of where she was coming from. Jen was scared. She felt her role was to protect our marriage and to protect me from myself.

But there is a fundamental flaw with this logic. The role of protector belongs, ultimately, to God. All that is required of you is your obedience to His word and promptings. There is nothing you can do to control the other person’s actions. No amount of talking, begging, pleading, nagging, yelling, or crying will help you be successful in this endeavor. You have to release that to God.”

Here’s the ugly truth: It wasn’t just that I didn’t trust Craig. I didn’t trust God.

I write:

“Something broke in me after this tirade against God. I realized that Craig’s captivity provided monstrous quantities of fuel that powered my desire to cure him, rehabilitate him, to help him become consumed with anything but porn. In that moment, I realized
that we had both become enslaved. We were trapped by different chains, but they were chains nonetheless. They held us back from Jesus. They held us back from each other. They threatened to keep us seated in our own personal prisons forever.

As much as I prayed that God would heal him from his addiction, and as much as I knew that he could be set free, I simply had not let God handle this one on His own. In my mind, there were too many things at stake—my marriage, my husband’s life, my children, my self-respect, his self-respect. Somehow, I had fooled myself into believing that becoming the porn police was going to ensure successful recovery. Somehow, I had fallen into the trap of believing that if I said and did the right things, healing would take place. I couldn’t help but try to orchestrate the whole process, because I felt if I didn’t get control over this situation, everything as I knew it would fall apart. Crumble. Cease to exist.

I focused all my energy on what he was doing and why he was doing it. In the process, I simply forgot to do two very important things:

Trust God.
Respect my husband.

In my attempt to control, I forgot to surrender. I forgot to let God work. I forgot to let God heal. I forgot that Craig belonged to Him and not just to me. In the end, I became blinded by the enormity of the problem instead of boasting of the immensity of God’s power. Chains have a way of making you forget the power of the one you serve.”

While Craig may always battle with temptation, so might I. The desire to control is strong within me and surrendering and trusting does not come naturally. But just as God used pornography to draw Craig close to Him, so God uses my own weakness to keep me within His fold. To rely on Someone much bigger than me and to be a witness to the immensity of His power and grace, reminds me to be thankful that I actually need to have very little control over anything.

Jen Ferguson is passionate about Jesus, her husband, and her two girls. She is the facilitator of The Soli Deo Gloria Sisterhood and loves to encourage women to bring their true selves out into the light. She is the co-author of Pure Eyes, Clean Heart: A Couple’s Journey to Freedom from Pornography. You can find out more about the book by visiting their new site, www.PureEyesCleanHeart.com.

If you’d like to purchase this book, here are some options:

Amazon.com will release the book soon, but you can pre-order it here. It’s available for immediate download to your Kindle here. If you are a Barnes and Noble shopper, the paperback will ship October 10th, but you can have it on your Nook immediately by ordering here. Of course, if you’d like to order the paperback immediately, you can order it from Jen’s wonderful publishing house here (it’s on sale!). If you’d like any more info on the book, come drop by the website!

2 thoughts on “Pure Eyes, Clean Heart–On Addictions, Control, and Surrender

  1. Pingback: Morning Glories Aren’t Glorious (Or: Hindsight Is Hard To Clean up After) – jill.m.richardson

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