The Love Dare: It’s not just for spouses. Will you accept my challenge?

Hello all. It’s been awhile since I wrote. I’ve been working harder than usual for the class that I’m taking and for my job.

There’s something that’s been on my mind for awhile that I want to challenge everyone who reads this to attempt. I’m sure we have all heard of the Love Dare, made famous in the movie Fireproof. If not, it is a 40 day challenge intended to restore your marriage. I bought the book awhile ago, and read it over this past summer. I was not married or even in a struggling relationship at the time, but I found the daily challenges to be almost like a devotional. I would like you all to join me in this challenge. We can keep each other accountable and share success stories, as well as our fears of failing. We can uplift each other and encourage those who are getting down and giving up to push on.

Now here is where my challenge is slightly different than that of the book and the movie. Maybe some of your marriages are high on the hill right now and doing these challenges would be no different than living your daily lives. Maybe some of you aren’t even in relationships right now. That’s ok. When I read the book over the summer, I still completed each of the dares. However, instead of showing my love to a spouse or significant other, I chose to do the dares on my two children. Some I had to alter a bit, but that is just somewhere else we can help each other in succeeding with this dare.

Let’s start with Day 1:

Love is Patient

Be completely humble an gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. -Ephesians 4:2 NIV

     Love works. It is life’s most powerful motivator and has far greater depths and meaning than most people realize. It always does what is best for others and can empower us to face the greatest of problems. We are born with a lifelong thirst for love. Our hearts desperately need it like our lungs ned oxygen. Love changes our motivation for living. Relationships become meaningful with it. No marriage is successful without it.

     Love is built on two pillars that best define what it is. Those pillars are patience and kindness. All other characteristics of love are extensions of these two attributes. And that’s where your dare will begin. With patience.

     Love will inspire you to become a patient person. When you choose to be patient, you respond in a positive way to a negative situation. You are slow to anger. You choose to have a long fuse, instead of a quick temper. Rather than being restless and demanding, love helps you settle down and begin extending mercy to those around you. Patience brings an internal calm during an external storm.

     No one likes to be around an impatient person. It causes you to overreact in angry, foolish, and regrettable ways. The irony of anger towards a wrongful action is that it always spawns new wrongs of its own. Anger almost never makes things better. In fact, it usually generates additional problems. But patience stops problems in their tracks. More than biting your lip, more than clapping a hand over your mouth, patience is a deep breath. It clears the air. It stops foolishness from whipping its scorpion tail all over the room. It is a choice to control your emotions rather than allowing your emotions to control you, and shows discretion instead of returning evil for evil.

     If your spouse offends you, do you quickly retaliate, or do you stay under control? Do you find that anger is your emotional default when treated unfairly? If so, you are spreading poison, rather than medicine.

     Anger is usually caused when the strong desire for something is mixed with disappointment or grief. You don’t get what you want and you start heating up inside. It is often an emotional reaction hat flows ou of our own selfishness, foolishness, or evil motives.

     Patience, however, makes us wise. It doesn’t rush to judgement but listens to what the other person is saying. Patience stands in the doorway where anger is clawing to burst in, but waits to see the whole picture before passing judgement. The Bible says “He who is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who is quick-tempered exalts folly.” (Proverbs 14:29)

     As sure as a lack of patience will turn tour home into a war zone, the practice of patience will foster peace and quiet. “A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but the slow to anfer calms a dispute.” (Proverbs 15:18) Statements like these from the Bible book of Proverbs are clear principles with timeless relevance. Patience is where love meets wisdom. And every marriage needs that combination to stay healthy.

     Patience helps you give your spouse room to be human. It understands that everyone fails. When a mistake is made, it chooses to give them more time than they deserve to correct it. It gives you the ability to hold on during the tough times in your relationship rather than bailing out under the pressure.

    Continued in comments:

Addicted to Sex and Porn: A True Story

Tonight I read “Your Brain on Porn” A short downloadable book from CovenantEyes.com

It covers the effects porn can have on those who view it as well as some advice for escaping the addictive spell porn captures us with.

As a teenager who had little to turn to for comfort, I became very familiar with the porn world. I also became familiar with the online community surrounding porn and some real life people that were all too eager to talk sex with an underage girl. I was told by my father at a young age that a man will always want sex if they think it’s up for grabs. I took this to mean that sex dictated my worth to men. From 5th grade on, I desperately believed this and wanted to be “sexy”. It hurt to be called cute or even pretty because I felt that meant I was lacking.

Every opportunity I got, I reached out for sexual attention on the web. Starting around the age of 12, I was having ridiculously inappropriate conversations with men, or boys, that I knew nothing about. That turned quickly to looking at and searching for sexual material and eventually, turned to sending pictures of myself to people I had never even met. Eventually, I even took it further. I began meeting people from the internet in person and although I remained a virgin until the age of 17, I would still consider my actions before then to have been promiscuous.

Touching each other seemed like nothing to me. The activities that peaked my interest got more and more out there. At 17, I began dating a boy that I truly fell in love with. At the time, I was certain I was going to marry him. There was no reason to wait. Except HIS morals. We talked about sex and I continuously pushed the limits. Eventually we both gave into temptation. He told me several times that he regretted it and although I mimicked his words, I never truly felt that regret. Part of me believed he was testing me to see how much I really enjoyed having sex with him. I pushed for sex with many boyfriends after he and I parted ways and I even met people from the internet solely for sex.

Looking back, I wonder how I stayed safe and I know God was protecting me. Many times, a slight instinct stopped me from meeting people or convinced me to take extra precautions. I know now I am lucky to be alive. I thought for awhile I was lucky to have come out of that fire unscathed. There are two flaws to that thought though. One– That fire is still raging and sometimes I still get too close and can feel the heat. Two– I am realizing I am anything but intact.

Most of my relationships failed based on two things– my fears of abandonment caused by my own insecurity and a complete inability to trust. I firmly believe these were both directly caused by my addiction to pornography and sex. As I read the speculations of the effects of pornography, they hit a little to close to home: “Watching Porn Decreases Our Sexual Satisfaction... Watching Porn Disconnects Us from Real Relationships... Watching Porn Lowers Our View of Women… Watching Porn Desensitizes Us to Cruelty… Watching Porn Makes Us Want to Watch More Porn”.

I am very personally connected to a few of these effects. I am a woman, but my view of women is very low. I have always felt that women are first and foremost sex objects. This has created problems in relationships for me because I am easily threatened when a woman seems interested in my boyfriend. I think lowly of women and believe most of them will flaunt their sexuality to gain worth in men’s eyes and they will stop at nothing once they have set their sights on a man. Even when I trust the man I am with not to fall for any old woman’s schemes, I always feel that there are women who sex themselves up and really put the pressure on men to avoid their own feelings of insecurity. They CANNOT fail at getting any man they want. Every man is human and can only say no to a certain point. My addiction to porn has definitely lowered my views of women. I believe that the sexualization of women in the media has the same effect. It makes women feel like that is what we have to compete with and makes men and women alike think that is realistic. It also desensitizes us to sexuality, causing us to need more stimulation. A “pretty” woman can no longer really arouse a man because he has been bombarded with bombshells that 90% of Earth’s population could never compete with.

Pornography also desensitizes us to real relationships. Sexual satisfaction is readily available, literally at our fingertips. It requires no compromise or effort on our parts. We can get what we want with the click of a mouse. It is not necessary to feel vulnerable. Many teenagers and young adults have a tendency to shut down at the first sign of vulnerability. I believe my generation has more problems with alcohol and drugs because of this. Casual sex becomes very attractive because we needn’t invest, therefore there is nothing we can lose. However, we become blind to the fact that there is nothing to gain either. We go through this cycle in which we seek a partner to fulfill our emotional needs. At the first sign of imperfection we feel vulnerable and pull away. This makes us need more and we give into sexual temptation because it is the easiest way to feel connected without giving any part of our true selves. Unfortunately, this leaves us feeling empty and emotionally needy, so we go back to the start, shutting down further and delving deeper into emotionless sex.

Finally, porn lowers our sexual satisfaction and in turn, makes us need more porn. Being exposed to the same things over and over makes us crave novelty, while being exposed to some variant of something familiar peaks our interest to see other variations. Someone who watches enough porn may eventually lose their ability to become aroused at all as they build up a tolerance, or a boredom, of the same material they expose themselves to. Sexual satisfaction is hurt by our expectations that sex will be amazing every time. We expect that our partner will always be as eager as we are. We expect that things will go as planned and we will never be disappointed by a single sexual experience. These are only a few of the many lies that porn tells us.

We also learn to crave multiple partners or something and someone new each time. We delve deeper into the world of pornography and sexual immorality until there is no safe place left to go. We may become numb and reach even further into outright cruelty and sickening acts to satisfy our cravings for something new and different.

I urge any young ladies or young men stuck in the muck of pornography to stop now. Yes, it offers an instant and effortless gratification that is rarely available in a human partner, one that you shouldn’t make available before marriage anyway. But there are so many downward slopes that aren’t worth the benefits you think you are getting. It is so much more rewarding to commit yourself to one loving partner who will be able to satisfy you so completely if you do not taint your expectations with porn. The security and trust that pornography steals from you is something you cannot make up for with any “50 hottest tricks to try tonight”. Trust me, I’ve tried more times than I care to admit. As a woman, I can tell you, girls, that pornography will lower your self-esteem, even if you don’t think it is affecting you. Take it from someone who knows all too well, it seems like you have nothing to lose but you do. We need to recommit ourselves to loving God and, just as importantly, loving and respecting ourselves.

Don’t get trapped like I was and don’t let the world fool you.

Check out

Covenanteyes.com

They provide you with software to help you be accountable for your internet activity and offer great resources for breaking that addiction or coping with a spouse addicted to porn.