I met Jen Ferguson through a writer’s group we both belong to. When I learned of the exceedingly difficult journey she and her husband, Craig, have been on, especially in light of the hundreds of thousands of others affected by addictions, I had to have her post on my Book Corner Blog.
Background Story that Inspired the Book:
When Jen Ferguson inadvertently stumbled on a URL history of explicit websites on their home computer, her worst fears were confirmed: her husband was a porn addict. For Craig Ferguson, that discovery brought intense shame and guilt. For both, a sense of hopelessness threatened to destroy their marriage. But in the face of humiliation, hurt, and anger, they discovered that walking with Jesus could lead them out of the pit of sinful habits, unhealthy responses, and personal despair toward true recovery.
The battle Craig and Jen fought is not rare. In fact, it is often a hidden issue in many Christian homes. A study of evangelicals indicates that fifty percent of Christian men and twenty percent of Christian women are addicted to pornography.
In the pages of their book, Jen and Craig intertwine their personal journeys of healing and offer biblical insight to help you deal with the shame, anger, and insecurity created by porn addiction, recognize lies that both addict and spouse tend to believe, and restore lost respect.
Pure Eyes, Clean Heart offers compassionate understanding and the truth of God’s Word for all who struggle—or whose loved ones struggle—with the lure of pornography.
In Jen’s Own Words:
I’ve spent most of my life thinking I’d never measure up. I believed being the best in something would assure me self-worth and unconditional love, but because I never was the best by the world’s standards, I often struggled with loving myself and receiving love from others.
I had this unrealistic expectation, though, that when I got married, I’d finally be “The One.” I’d be the best in my husband’s eyes, the one who got the prize, the one who was prized. Marriage would be my ticket to self-worth and unconditional love. But then I found out he was addicted to porn. There goes the ticket.
This didn’t stop me from trying to be what I thought he wanted. I started exercising, eating healthily. I discovered the flat iron for my hair and switched facial products to try to improve my complexion. If we’d had the money, I would have considered a boob job because nothing in my box of hat tricks could change my genetic cards.
Guess what? The formula I had concocted in my head of “Shrinking Jen” = “Craig’s Shrinking Porn Use” didn’t add up. Despite my best efforts, how I looked did nothing to diminish Craig’s porn addiction. It took me years to discover that porn addiction had nothing to do with me, but everything to with how Craig chose to deal with life.
How did I come to this realization? God. God showed me through the process of losing weight that I had a food addiction most of my life. I used food to fill a void, to help me feel physically full when all I really wanted was to feel emotionally and spiritually full. Until I had let God into those parts of my life, I continued to fill my emptiness with tangible things that would not sustain me for the long haul. Coming to terms with my own addiction helped me to understand that Craig was using porn just as I had used food. While porn addiction might look very different from food addiction, there are several common denominators I shared in our book, Pure Eyes, Clean Heart: A Couple’s Journey to Freedom from Pornography
My addiction started because I had unmet needs. I have vivid memories as a kid of sitting in the kitchen, my chair pulled up to the little television, and my hands continually diving into the cookie jar while I mindlessly watched TV. Food became a way to soothe my boredom and comfort me in distress. The times I most often turned to food were when I felt friendless, insecure, and without ability to control the situations around me. I desired something that would always be there and have an instantaneous effect. Food met both of these requirements. It was always in my house and enabled me to reach a point in which I felt a physical sense of satisfaction.
If I gave God my addiction, He would meet my needs. Here is where addiction gets tricky. After I released my emotional attachment to food in order to lose weight, I could have easily found something else to fill the void that food used to fill. I could have become a neurotic exerciser or taken to skinny margaritas. It took intentional communion with God to help me avoid falling into another form of addiction. The process of examining why I ate and what compelled me to eat brought me to the underlying realization that nothing other than my relationship with God could bring me long-lasting security. Everything in this world had the potential to fail me. God never would. And here’s the thing: I had to learn that life was not always going to be comfortable and it wasn’t necessary for me to live in a state where I could manage everything. The trials we endure on this earth are here because they are simply what drive us closer to God. As Jillian Michaels says, “You have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.” It can be absolutely unnerving feeling out of control and not automatically running toward something of this world to soothe your hurt soul. But when we make the effort to wait and invite God in, real changes can happen within us and within the relationships around us. We have to push through the discomfort in order to be secure in the fact that God will catch us when we start to fall.
Bringing things to the light instead of hiding them in the dark is worth the risk. The more I was honest with people about the whole process of my weight-loss, the more I was able to keep front and center the heart of the issue—that I desperately needed God in order to be successful. I could have told people I was just dieting and exercising to lose weight. But it wasn’t just that. I was now allowing God to show me my unhealthiness and teach me how to walk through life with His constant presence. I needed God to teach me how and why He is trustworthy. I had to learn that I am beautiful because He created me, not because of a number on the scale. I had to cultivate a habit of daily prayer so that I would remember that He is God, and He is in control of all things so I don’t have to be. Bringing issues that had been following me since childhood into the light enabled me to be free of so many more issues than just being overweight.
Pornography is a hole-filler, just like food can be. If I can look at Craig and see that his addiction started just like mine—with unmet needs—I am able to have much more compassion, empathy, and grace. Bringing my own issues to the light brought freedom and hope and enable d me to move past the shame of pornography to talk about it openly with him and others.
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.
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