Discovering God’s Freedom From Pornography – Nick and Michelle Stumbo Part 2

Discovering God’s Freedom From Pornography – Nick and Michelle Stumbo Part 2


every time was going to be the last time
never again I don’t need it I don’t want it and yet there are systems being
established in your brain and in your thinking and how you’re dealing with
life it just continue to take you back welcome to the focus on the family
broadcast helping families thrive Nick and Michelle welcome back to focus man
some difficult stuff but yeah the one thing just watching the two of you
interact you’ve really come a long way you can tell your love and affection for
each other even through difficulty which I find the greatest point of hope for
couples who are struggling with this it’s natural it’s I think reasonable to
want to say I’m done whether you’re the wife that has suffered through a an
addiction by your husband or vice versa it just seems like the easy way out but
I’m telling you most couples that I have met that have fought through this battle
have great intimacy emotionally certainly physically and spiritually
there’s something about fighting for your marriage in this way that there
must be a sense of honesty that you both possess that really builds a better
foundation than what you first had yeah well it forces you to face all of your
deepest issues as individuals and as a couple and if you face them and work
through them rather than run from them God does produce something even more
wonderful and we definitely refer to our marriage as before and after you know
the 10 years before this process and the eight years after they’re so different
it is like night and day it’s it’s the right two different episodes at least
it’s not two different types of marriages right one that’s built on
falsehood the other built on truth and that’s a good thing and Nick let me kick
it off in the book you mentioned something about the gift of pain that
you believe this ended up being a real positive thing the way you’re describing
it but you called it the gift of pain from God now we Westerners aren’t used
to putting it in that context yeah yeah it was in 2010 so we’d been married for
ten years at that point and in my pattern of confession to her which was
happening you know once or twice a year right get up the courage and filled
Tina I would kind of share the things were still happening and I would always
excuse or minimize my behavior to say it’s not about you you know this has
been in my life long before I met you so it’s not a reaction to your beauty or
lack of sex things are great there and so I would say it to her to say if you
only understood you wouldn’t be angry upset because it’s not about you and
that the gift of pain was on this time in 2010 when I had relapsed as I imagine
myself needing to tell her yet again that I’d crossed those lines the pain I
was feeling wasn’t my pain it wasn’t like me and she’s gonna be mad
and you have to go through this again I think it was for the first time I could
see in advance the pain it was gonna cause her and it was heartbreaking to
realize I would do this to someone I care about so much and I could feel the
way it was gonna make her feel because we’ve been through this enough times
that I I could hear the words she was gonna say and I was feeling her pain and
I think that’s what really opened my eyes to say this this is a major issue
that I have to address I can’t just keep excusing it to say oh it’s getting
better I’m working on it like if I’m causing someone I love this much pain
I’ve gotta be willing to do whatever it takes to stop it what what year was this
in your marriage you’re ten so this is your ten
I mean think of that battle and this is when you first become empathetic to
Michelle’s heart yeah some people go wow are you dense what
happened there well addiction but I appreciate the fact that you got there
yeah let’s look at the positive side of it but but answer both of those kind of
emotional responses yeah you know really when we’re involved in any behavior
again whether it’s pornography or a food addiction or drug it’s actually a way of
kind of numbing our emotions and you can’t dial down one emotion in your life
so if if if you’re feeling lots of shame and rejection and fear and so you’re
acting out to kind of numb those emotions then you’re also dialing down
the emotions the healthy ones that you need for a good marriage and so I think
what I was seeing in my life is what we see for so many men and women that
struggle in this area is they don’t have much empathy and again that’s why I
think of it as such a gift from God because somehow by His Holy Spirit that
night in 2010 he just he broke through and I felt things I had never felt
before that someone listening might think well
why didn’t you feel that every time and I would say I don’t know I wish I had
yeah that’s probably could have launched onto this journey of healing a lot
sooner well in Michelle you know turning to you get tears in your eyes welling up
that’s a good thing it’s okay because you know a lot of women are in your
corner reliving this thinking what was going on why were you putting up with
this what you know what was happening for you emotionally I love this man and
he is great dad and he’s an amazing pastor and I just didn’t know why God
wasn’t freeing him from this struggle you know that was my prayer like God
we’re both wanting out of this like why aren’t you helping him he’s doing that
everything we knew what to do one at this point you had had enough and at 10
yeah so at this point he had called me and I think for every woman there’s a
breaking point like you you you know try to fix him you try to get counseling or
whatever you try to you know make it work but then there’s like this breaking
point of this is gonna be my forever am i okay with that or not and then you
either stay or you leave there’s like this heart connection that just kind of
breaks I what let me ask you because again I so appreciate your transparency
it’s it’s refreshing it’s so healthy but what did it feel like I mean to know
that Nick was you know coming back to you a couple times a year saying you
know I blew it I looked at things I saw things however that was expressed yeah I
mean as a woman what did it feel like it felt like I kind of refer to it I think
like as like knife cuts like where you know he like hurt you and like you’re
bleeding out and like it then they’d heal and there but there was a scar left
but there were that was just over and over and over and there wasn’t much life
left at the end of 10 years to give back to keep working some way I’ve kind of
decided like okay I’m gonna figure out how to move to where my parents were I
lived with them and so you begin back of your escape yeah and then I was like
well well that’s not fair to the kids I can’t you know take their dad away from
them so when the kids are gone and out well I
know every time I’d confess you would tell them me that it made you feel like
you weren’t good enough like you had to compare to these images and even though
I would say it’s not about you that wasn’t your real well that was the
point there because that was the feeling question I had because even though Nick
may have been saying that right you had to feel oh yeah I’m on the blank why am
I not enough I don’t understand why I’m not enough because it from him it was
separate for me it wasn’t because for I think for a woman in order to do the
acts that men do to their wives we would have to hate them to do those things but
for men it’s it’s so separate it’s not we compartmentalize theirs they almost
it’s not even about you but for us it’s like how could it not be about me it’s a
fair question so at Nick in the book you talk about the two Nicks I think you
described it that way and the sinful Nick and the good Nick you know the one
that wants to pursue the Lord and be holy and live a life that’s pleasing to
him yeah what was God speaking to your heart in that moment about the two Nicks
I mean I think every man knows exactly what you’re talking about yeah I think
we I call it the public me and the private me it’s like the me I want you
to see and that I believe I am and the private me is where I’m dealing with sin
and brokenness and stuff I don’t like in the real danger and what I discovered is
we can convince ourselves that the public me is the real me that that’s
that’s the best version of us that if we could just get rid of all this other
junk we could be that in fact you ask God to destroy that private Nick yeah
because it feels like somehow that’s not us but I I remember I was I was out
running and just feeling so broken by an ass guy to take it away and as one of
those few moments of my life I just really clearly felt I heard his voice
not you know audibly but but just that whisper and my soul was saying but
that’s the Nick I died for and and to know that he loved me in that part of
myself and to become open to the idea that maybe that broken struggling part
of my life was actually more authentically me than anything I was
publicly presenting as this cleaned up persona was really an eye-opening part
of this journey and that is as I look back to see how God worked through that
that all of that brokenness was actually revealing
where God’s design had been corrupted and as he was able to bring in his truth
and an experiential way and rewrite some of that faulty thinking it really
brought me alive and what I feel happen it begins to destroy that public me
private me divided yeah I don’t need to have both we need to be able to just be
in public who we are in private and not fear that that will be rejected for it
we just need to be vulnerable and humble and allow God to keep transforming us
from the inside out hmm you’re describing a tension point
you’ve been touching on this for some time now in our conversation today
there’s there’s Paul in Romans talking about you know I’m a sinful man and I do
the things I don’t want to do and I can’t quite straighten it all out did
you identify with Paul’s writing as you struggled as you confessed as you came
back to that sin what was what relationship did you have with that
passage of Scripture oh yeah absolutely I think Romans seven describes the the
plight of anyone battling some sort of a setting sin it’s like it’s there and the
harder I try it seems like the more it comes back you know and then declaring
with them the victory of who will set me free thanks beauty Jesus Christ our Lord
who leads us in victory and and that hope of one day I’ll really be able to
say those words with conviction because one day I’ll be free one day that’ll be
victory but right now I’m stuck in the why do I do what I don’t want to do and
in the fact that was part of when we shared our story of our congregation
referencing that passage and passage to say I feel like I’ve lived this passage
for a number of years even as your pastor and asked for their forgiveness
asked for their help in starting groups for men and women that struggled and and
tried to create an environment to say this is the human predicament not just
for a few of us that couldn’t we all look at our lives somewhere and say in
spite of my best intentions I do the things I don’t want to do and it opens
our eyes to see this isn’t about just pornography or sexual sin but really
where do we as humans get off the mark and what is recovery and healing look
like I think that is critical and maybe the most important point that I was
hoping we would make today and that is the unhealthiness of the church where we
hide these things and we don’t look at them and therefore they
happen in secret and we’re not healthy whereas projecting brokenness rather
than perfection would actually help draw people to Christ that we’re not super
people that were broken people that need we need God’s grace yeah
and I I do applaud you for that you know I’ve got mixed emotions some that
remaining in the pastor and not stepping out that one I struggle with that in
part and I hope you can feel why or know why but I love the outcome the fact that
you were able to teach your congregation about the brokenness in your own soul
and how it represents kind of everybody else – I mean 68 percent of Christian
men struggling with this that that right there suggests something that we’re not
dealing with and so I really do applaud that it has your church has that borne
fruit as you started these groups do you feel the church your church is healthier
because of it oh yeah yeah absolutely you know if I could speak to the tension
you brought up there just a little bit that every story is different and is it
appropriate to rain and remain in ministry those are questions that can be
answered at the church level where someone’s story is being known by an
elder board or but what I look back on is I really applaud my denomination
because they stepped forward at one of our district events to say we recognize
these stats are true that there are a number of you in this room that this is
your struggle but you’re in this double bind that you feel if you confess it
you’ll be fired but in not confessing it you’re forced to struggle alone and you
can’t get free that way so they step forward and said we want to help you if
you’re struggling if it hasn’t crossed lines into something illegal or with
other people and we’re gonna work alongside of you for healing to get into
a counseling program and we’re gonna work alongside your board to keep you in
ministry and that really created this culture to say it’s okay to not to have
this struggle it’s okay to confess it because they wanted to help not punish
right and that gave me some freedom to pursue it having had that track record
with my board of having confessed it a few times it wasn’t a total shock to
them so we were able to progress through it and I really think that laid the
groundwork for our church because it wasn’t like we were
a totally judgmental church that overnight became a graceful Church I
think there was a desire to be gracious but still the subject of pornography or
sexual sin was the taboo topic as it is in so many churches and when the lead
pastor and this is where I think for pastors that are able to address their
own sexual history that are able to address their own brokenness the tool
that gives them to transform churches because when one of your leaders or
maybe even your senior leader steps up and says I’ve been a human being in this
area that’s been struggling I’ve found some freedom the way that communicates
to the rest of the church and we would get this you know after I would preach
those first weeks after our disclosure you know people had warned me I’ll have
people leave they can’t handle that level of authenticity it’ll be too much
if anyone left to this day I still don’t know that but we had four weeks after
week after week was people coming up usually with tears in their eyes saying
thank you because if you can be real about this issue in your life and be the
pastor than me too then I know it’s safe for me to be real
and it opened up so many people’s stories I mean people you would if I
gave you an hour to guess which people in our church struggled with sexual sin
you would not have guessed some of these men interesting but because it was
started from the top that vulnerability and the realness they were able to come
to me and say no one knows and they would say literally no one knows this
yeah but I need to deal with it and and we saw a change happen that was truly
remark the the proof in the pudding right I mean right there that’s why I
wanted to know how your church is doing with that you mentioned this issue of
shame and I want to go from maybe a macro perspective as we’ve been talking
about it what happens in the church what happens in your marriage to what I would
consider even more of a micro perspective as a parent and where we
make a mistake in our parenting of particularly teenagers because they can
feel that shame when they’ve done this when they’ve looked at something and
parents with Christian parents find out about it this is a moment you have to
react very carefully what coaching would you give the parent to say
let’s be open and honest here this is how I would go about it yeah well you
know fear and shame go together and so because his parents were fearful of our
kids falling into this kind of behavior or finding things then when it comes up
we often react in a shaming way to say what were you doing what were you
thinking how could you do that what’s wrong with you and we’re it’s coming
from a good place where we want to protect them and we want to help them
but what we communicate to them is there’s something wrong with you for
wanting to do this so my advice to parents is always to start with their
faith to start with God and say you know God designed us for sex God made us with
hormones that that find these things attractive but let’s look at how our
culture twists it and and the things that maybe you’re stumbling into so that
it’s an open conversation where we acknowledge they’ve got legitimate
emotions and hormones and feelings it doesn’t make them bad or evil or
perverted if you can create that kind of dialogue with your kids where they know
mom and dad are the safest people on the earth to bring these things up to then
they’re gonna keep bringing it to you but if if you find something on their
phone and your reaction is what were you thinking well are they gonna want to
bring that up next time no they’ve just learned okay mom and dad are not the
place to bring this up because they’ll just get mad and I’ll feel worse so as
parents we have to create environments like I was talking about in our church
where a teenager and it starts even before teenage years where your grade
school kids know it’s okay in this home not to be okay that mom and dad yeah
there might be disciplined there’s still rules it doesn’t mean we just throw all
that out the window but we create an environment of dialogue with our kids of
confession of honesty of vulnerability and it also has to start with us where
we’re willing to go to our kids and say dad made a mistake the way I treated you
today that was wrong I got angry and it wasn’t about you I was thinking about
work and I was already frustrated and when they see that vulnerability in us
then they can be vulnerable so parents really have to model it if they want to
see it in their kids and I’ve noticed just conversations I hear with moms and
stuff they’re scared to talk about anything sexual or you know my kids saw
this on YouTube and they’re scared and it’s that protection protection near
there they’re worried and I think in this generation you have to just develop
a conversation with your kids that’s just they can always trust you and
they’d know that they can come to you and be open that’s so critical hey let’s
get to the bow of the story because it’s so beautiful
ten years we’ve gotten to that point all the angst and I appreciate again your
vulnerability to share that let’s talk about how the Lord tied this together
when you did make that final decision to say it’s done both of your reactions the
role that pure desire ministries played in that regard the one you now lead and
took over from I think the founder yeah just describe that for us and the fact
that you’re in a much better place now you’re helping hundreds if not thousands
of people with this sexual addiction problem tell us what happened yeah well
admittedly I I still was so minimizing I didn’t think I needed it but Michelle
heard those same words of invitation to get help and she knew we did and so I
took this intermediate step to go meet with a counselor friend in our district
who asked me really three life-changing questions cuz I said I don’t think I
need I just need a little bit of tips how to avoid pornography but he said
Nick let’s think about this number one how long has it been in your life Wow so
by that time it had been over 15 years yeah he said okay number two how many
times have you tried to stop and I actually chuckled because I said well
every times been the last time so I’ve tried to stop literally hundreds if not
thousands of times right and he said okay and is it causing you or people you
care about significant amounts of pain I said well yeah I believe if I don’t
change my wife will leave me he said we’ll put that together Nick it’s been a
problem for awhile you’ve tried repeatedly to stop and can’t even though
it’s causing you or people you love pain I said yeah that’s a pretty good
description said Nick that’s a clinical definition of addiction and I remember I
sat back in my chair like he’d sucker-punched me because I was a pastor
that’s the first time it came together I truly loved the Lord with my whole
tongue as much as I knew how to love him with my whole heart and the idea that I
could simultaneously be that and be an addict was as foreign to me as you know
the German language would be if I tried to speak that like that language was so
bizarre but when I allowed that to sink in the openness of maybe this is why I
can’t just stop it on my own and gave me the willingness to go down and meet with
Ted and I on Roberts and we got to go together which I think
was so important that that from the get-go they worked with us as a couple
so we could deal with her my wife’s pain and sense of betrayal and the lack of
trust and then also the behaviors in my life and we met with Ted May on Roberts
and started to go through the counseling process and probably the most
significant thing they required of us was to be in a group which I also did
not want to do because I already had Saturday night services and elder
meetings in small group and who needs one more nightly commitment a week but
dr. Ted said to me if you don’t do this you won’t change because he saw the
central role community has to play in recovery so I went to a group I didn’t
like it at first but I found about eight or ten weeks in as we’re going every
week that one night as I was driving up I’ll just tell this one part of the
story and then Michelle can kind of share hers I was driving up to my group
and I realized I’d been looking forward to it all week I thought this is so
bizarre I’m going to a place where people know the very worst things about
me I’ve told them things I’ve never told anybody else and I can’t wait to get
there what is going on and again it was one of those moments I heard the voice
of the Lord just whisper to my soul he said Nick it’s the only place in your
life you feel real mmm and I realized that was it that everywhere else I was
so involved in that public me that I felt like if people knew they’d reject
me but in that group they knew the private me like no one else ever did and
I was a part of that group I was loved and accepted and it was that group that
really along with the counts and created such transformation right now I didn’t
have to posture or pretend anymore for love and when you experience that from
other people that’s where I think I most deeply experienced the love of God yeah
that I’d been a pastor for 10 years and I knew knowledge-wise head wise all
about the love of God I could preach about it but I don’t know that I’d ever
really experienced it because of that voice of shame that said people would
reject you when I experienced the love from those other men that’s where the
love of God became real and so from then marriage and ministry became ministering
out of the love of God rather than ministering in hope that I might achieve
the love of God and that was a night and day change for me so well in that that’s
the common phrase about being known and that is that is the Christian life that
God loves you even though knows you and I think it’s hard for us
to believe that he truly knows us we tried to hide those places thinking that
the Creator doesn’t know us yeah I mean it’s kind of idiotic or we know he knows
we just think he has a very disapproving opinion of most correct even worse he’s
got the club alright Michelle so your your best day well that was one of them
when peer desire came and they were up there telling about this program I was
bawling my eyes were like biggest saucers like this is it Lord has
answered my prayer today like this is it this is what’s gonna stay right my
marriage and then I look over and he looks over at me and I’m just you know
crying and to hear him not like not realized that he was gonna be all in
right it’s still kind of like surprising like why wouldn’t you be running up
there and like pick me that was a big important day and then meeting with Ted
and Diane was wonderful I didn’t want to go to a winds group though I had little
kids at home and you were both busy I hear you guys both do I need a group
this is his problem you know but then going through it’s called the trail and
beyond women’s groups and seeing all the other women they’re all Christian women
whose husbands struggle with this or some husbands have left but they’re
they’re working on you know their stuff and to hear all their stories and all
our stories are so different but it all we all feel the same pain we all feel
the similar same cloth the different stitch yeah it was just like whoa and
just to see all of us feel so like not enough and I think that’s just the way
that Satan gets to us is like you’re not enough yeah you know it’s so impressive
the the the way you highlight community and the importance of being vulnerable
in a group where you can be real I mean that came through loud and clear the
last few minutes and how few people actually experienced that today in in
modern community I mean it’s just so fast everybody’s busy how are you I’m
great how are you and the nature of sexual sin it isolates us and so when we
try to fix it in isolation that doesn’t work and we want to be better in
not have anyone know about it but the pathway to being better is having other
people know about it and be part of that journey with us yeah talk to the length
of time to get counselling to work on these things intentionally what was that
period of time like how long was it with counseling and help yeah initially the
what I would kind of call the intense change process was about a year long of
the counseling and being in groups but the healing continues you know the
second time of going through the group material where I got to lead it in my
church and help other men I was still learning so much about myself because
really that first year in some ways is like triage where we’re stopping the
bleeding and the pain and figuring out how to arrest the behavior you know the
behavior in my life actually changed very quickly but the underlying issues
those things don’t change overnight and so it was a it was a full two to three
years of working through performance and shame and guilt that that occurred and
that’s what we really try to encourage people to see is this change isn’t
something you can do in a five week study or read a good book and you’ll be
okay it’s funny to say that as the author of a book but yeah but to really
take the long view to see if these are issues are developed in my life over
years and maybe decades it may take a year or two of intentional work to
unravel what’s going on yeah I mean and I think that’s pretty fast-paced and
it’ll take the wife about 2 to 5 years to rebuild that trust and yeah that’s
that’s encouraging and discouraging but and I had to actually go through book 1
twice because the first time I was pretty numb like I just wasn’t I didn’t
have much feeling I think that’s how I coped with our struggle is I just numbed
out to it all yeah and that again is reasonable so that’s a process for for
the victim in this case the spouse experienced that so boy this has been so
good I hope you the listener you have appreciated what Nick and Michelle had
done here they have laid their life out to maybe 2 3 million people through
Focus on the Family and that takes great courage and I so
appreciate it and I’m telling John our phones should be ringing off the hook
for people who want to get counseling help and I hope you’ll do that you’re
not going to shock us or surprise us this is us this is humanity this is what
God is believing in us that we can do better live for him in authentic ways
and I appreciate your model I really do Nick I can’t imagine the pressure you
must have felt being the pastor facing very straightforwardly this issue and
that takes incredible courage Michele I’ll give you credit takes more courage
to be his wife to be blunt and to suffer through that for 10 years she’s the real
hero yeah and I you know I applaud you and I would really to the best of my
ability to encourage a wife particularly to fight for her marriage not to give up
right that God is honored in fighting for it and you know try to make the
right moves and he may be a rascal he may have done some things that really
hurt but get on that journey of healing and man I think when you go through that
you are a powerful couple from Christ because there’s no hidden nothing yeah
the enemy wins when we’re alone but when we start tell our story and that’s why
we do this we tell our story because we know that if it brings other people out
of hiding that the Lord can begin to win and you know the enemy only can win it
by subtraction by one at a time isolating us the Lord wins by
multiplying multiplying healing that’s good so the victory can come a lot
faster yeah you know the second my second favorite part was when he
disclosed to our church because it was all I didn’t have to carry that burden
alone and I bet it was an answer he’d be like Galatians 6 yeah we carry each
other’s burdens together boy isn’t that the way to do it thank you so much for
being with us thank you so much hey I’m John fuller and thanks for
watching get more info about focus over here and more from our guests over there
and be sure to subscribe to our channel as well

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11 Comments

  1. My respect to this woman who stood beside her husband, may God bless her abundantly and may she be heald completely by the blood of jesus

  2. the only winning move is not to play
    Chastity leads to a peaceful life, I wish I had stayed way from marriage and sex in all forums and wish I had found this truth in my youth.

  3. I was a porn addict for many years and went through the long cycle of the sin that saying I wont do it again but than falling back into it. In in a way its a identity crises I started to more and more see myself as the porn addict until God had to show me, that is not who I am that Christ died for this and won the victory over it. I am a new creation in Christ Jesus no matter what I feel or how hard the temptation presses in we need to see ourselves as God sees us and than we can truly say Romans 8:37 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us

  4. This woman thinks it's acceptable to leave her husband and end their marriage only because he looks at pornography once or twice a year and she can't "fix" him? Wouldn't it be easier to "fix" her?

  5. In regards to males when it comes to lust, why does it take so long to have empathy towards what the affects of his actions are doing to the quality of their marraige relationship?

  6. He sought and found freedom not when she had the mindset that she was staying and dealing with it yet again, but when she had decided no more. Some addicts turn when the "no more" is presented. Some do not. Not all addicts will turn when the "no more" is presented. But it is in the "no more" that the heart is revealed. It is against God's Word to allow a pastor to remain in leadership with a sexual sin addiction. That's clear. Just because all this turned out okay does not mean this is the way for elders to handle this. This church's decision just stole years away from this man, this woman, and and this marriage. Thankfully, though, Jesus makes up from lost time.❤

  7. Again, identity precedes behavior. When you say you're "a sinner saved by grace", you'll struggle with sin. When you know you're a Son and walking in Power and Grace and your Father is The King who DESPERATELY loves you, you act out in like-kind. Know YOU'RE A SON!!!! Go be AMAZING!!

  8. Help lord help the marriage with Restoration help all the couples that struggle in this area help us to know that u hear the hurt and cry’s help lord help it to be a Mighty testimony of how you set your children free for your glory help with trust issues help with the pain in the heart of feeling betrayed help with falling In Love again deeper with you and the spouse and keep your mighty hand upon us for u say You will never leave us nor forsake us help that to get in rooted in our spirit to be set free in the name of Jesus I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me strengthen the married couples Lord and help them help us all in the name of Jesus

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