There was so much helpful information in Pastor Brazell’s presentation that we wanted to share the further helpful nuggets that came out in the Q & A session following! Without further ado…
Question: I believe sexual purity is about my identity and who I am in Christ. What are your thoughts on this?
Darrell: Absolutely. So much of sexual acting out is about numbing out and medicating the pain of negative and wrong beliefs about myself. For example, one of the things I have in chapter 3 of my manual is a very exhaustive “Who Am I in Christ” list. It helps you go back into scripture and say, “God who do You say that I am?” But it has to go much deeper than just an intellectual understanding. Those lists, those verses are powerful, essential, but the reality is that you have to take it to the next level of you hearing it from the Father Himself. Hearing it not just in a written work, but in your own relationship with Him and in the dialogue you have with Him.
We found the Emmanuel Process to be such a powerful, essential part of the recovery process because as men experience Emmanuel meeting them in the middle of their mess, even in some of the worst places of their acting out and discover that He is not rejecting them. He is not pushing them away. He is sad for the mess that they are in, but He is still glad to be with them. That is often life transformational for men.
Sexual purity, so much of the time, does come back to understanding who I am in Christ and allowing God to define me. We are not defined by our sin; we are defined by our Savior. As you see yourself as He sees you, then you begin to live out that reality rather than the reality you have believed up to that point.
Question: Could you distinguish for us the difference between joy and pleasure? I think there is a lot of confusion over what joy is and what pleasure is.
Darrell: Yes, it is very important to begin to recognize the difference between joy and pleasure. As a culture and a world, we are addicted to pleasure when what we are really seeking is joy.
Pleasure is anything that will tweak the brain’s ability to produce dopamine. Anything you do pleasure-wise will cause your brain to release dopamine and that feels good. Eat chocolate, play a video game, watch TV, ride a roller coaster…you can do all these pleasurable things. Most pleasures are fine and okay in and of themselves. The problem is that pleasure without relationship is just pleasure. You have to train your brain that what your life really wants to live off of is not the immediate hit of pleasure, but the longer lasting effect of Joy. The difference between pleasure and joy is that joy is always relationally connected. You can have pleasure without another person. You can never have joy except in relationship because joy is that experience of the brain knowing that I am with someone who is glad to be with me.
Joy, as we know from the various Thrive materials, is communicated right brain to right brain through the eyes primarily. It cannot be faked; it is always authentic. It happens faster than you can keep up with. So, you will never receive joy from your smart phone. You will never receive joy from a computer screen. You can only experience joy in actual encounters of relationships with other people.
Here is the confusing part: pleasure feels like and has many of the same effects as joy, but not really. It is a counterfeit. It is like a sugar substitute where you get the feeling and taste of sugar but you don’t get any sugar. The difference between pleasure and joy is like the difference between carbohydrates and protein.
To this day I can sit down and eat an entire box of Captain Crunch cereal. I love the stuff. For me it is a sugary heaven. But if I had a great big bowl of Captain Crunch for breakfast at 7:30 in the morning, at 9:00…starving. Not only am I starving, but I am on a sugar crash and my brain is saying, “Give me more carbs!” I need more just to function. However, if I eat a breakfast at 7:30 in the morning of 2 eggs, some fruit and juice. At 9:00 I am perfectly fine because protein lasts. That is the difference between pleasure and joy.
Pleasure feels good; it has some of those same effects as joy, but it doesn’t last. When it doesn’t last your brain tells you to have more so you go to the smartphone, the internet—you go looking for another hit and start to build up tolerance so that you need more and stronger, etc.
Going back to my point about helping men learn how essential it is to build joy with other men…as they experience joy in relationship they find that their cravings reduced because they are staying full longer.
Question: I work with men who are sexually addicted. I have some men who never want to look deep to see what the core of their addiction is. Do you have any insights to help these men look deeper into their lives? They say they have no pain or anger in their life. How do I help move them on to insights about themselves?
Darrell: 1. You must recognize that you cannot move them anywhere. What you can do is help them see more of reality. Reality is that every one of us has painful things at our core. Honestly, I am always frustrated and amazed at how resistant people are at looking beneath the lid to see where the pain is really coming from.
2. Something I learned from Karl Lehman is that the brain will not load any memory that it does not have the joy capacity to hold. So the people who are the most resistant to looking at the pain in their lives have little to no joy capacity. Ironically, one of the things that you can do for those individuals is to help them build joy capacity and as they build joy capacity, they will find more courage and ability to look at the painful things.
3. Help people think through things and recognize pain. The reality is that so much of what people do is medicating, whether it be through pornography or lust or carbohydrates or any form of BEEPS (Ed Khori’s acronym for behaviors experiences, events, people and substances) that you use to artificially regulate your emotions. As long as you are living in BEEPS you are not going to feel much pain because it has been medicated into silence! You are keeping yourself in a dopamine cycle and you don’t feel much.
Help those people who are not willing to look beneath the surface by challenging them to go without their BEEPS. When they eliminate their BEEPS the pain comes to the surface and they have to start feeling it.
4. The other thing is to help them challenge their denial. One of the most significant ways to do that is to work with them in the context of their spouse or someone else who is closely related to them. So much of the time what they say is “Well it is just my struggle and it is not effecting anyone else.” One of the things that often helps individuals who are not looking at their pain is when they start seeing how much impact their ways of dealing with their pain are causing havoc on the ones they love and care about.
For example in my own story, when I was in the middle of my mess 13+ years ago, any pain or trouble that came to me because of my addiction, my acting out, in a way I just wrote it off I thought. “I deserve it.” Whatever suffering I had I could swallow and say, “Well, yeah, I am a horrible person so I am getting what I deserve.” But when I looked at my wife and my little daughter at that time and saw that they were suffering, then I said, “Okay, God, you have got to help me change because I don’t want them to hurt this way.”
It is a delicate balance of walking with people, helping build their joy strength and continually coming back to beat the drum and say, “Okay, well, what is underneath? If you keep going back to broken cisterns you must be thirsty for something. So where is the hurt; where is the pain?”
Chris: That is the beauty of the Emmanuel Process really, that it creates such safety that it is possible to address some of that stuff. We hope that you find this helpful and even more help in the following good resources.
Joy Starts Here-the transformation zone Describes the kind of environment we want to have to start joy.
Exercises, Bible Studies, Assessments with each chapter to get a feel where the strengths and weaknesses are.
Joy Rekindled Marriage Retreat, Medicine Hat, AB, CANADA Nov. 15, 16, 2013. More info on www.thrivetoday.org Interactive time for couples to learn to start joy in marriage.
30 Days of Joy…joy starting exercises for busy married couples
15 min. a day to jump-start joy in your marriage www.lifemodel.org. – shopping page.
Low joy can lead to lots of trouble, especially in marriage.
Jesus in Mind—Jim talks, Vol. 30. “Workers of Iniquity.”
Unpacks the scriptures and the terminology used in Joy Starts Here. www.lifemodel.org.
Pastors Weekly – Each week at http://www.thrivetoday.org/pastorsweekly.html
DVD’s of the Joy Starts Here Conference this past Oct. 3-5 They are in process! Lots of content on how to start joy in you family, church, school and community.
We are looking for places to host a Joy Starts Here weekend. Let me know here at www.thrivetoday.org and Jim Martini Shepherd’s House CEO will contact you.
May your joy be full!
Chris & Carol
Chris Coursey, MA Theology — Author, Speaker and Thrive Trainer, www.thrivetoday.org
Carol Brown, Author of The Mystery of Spiritual Sensitivity and Highly Sensitive www.fromgodsheart.com
 Pastor Brazell got the identity scripture list from some people who had expanded one they got from Neil Anderson and he expanded it a bit.
This post was developed from a talk by Pastor Darrell Brazell for Pastor’s Weekly, Oct. 24, 2013.