Husband Material

Sitting In The Dirt Of Sexual Brokenness (with Jeremy Williamson)

July 01, 2024 Drew Boa
Sitting In The Dirt Of Sexual Brokenness (with Jeremy Williamson)
Husband Material
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Husband Material
Sitting In The Dirt Of Sexual Brokenness (with Jeremy Williamson)
Jul 01, 2024
Drew Boa

How do I sit in the dirt with someone who is experiencing sexual brokenness? What if I don't know what to say? What if I find myself dysregulated or sexually aroused by the other person? Jeremy Williamson offers invaluable wisdom and counterintuitive clarity about how "be with" others in such a way that they experience the presence of God.

Jeremy Williamson is a storywork coach and counselor with ReStory. He is also the Director of Restorative Experiences at Restoration Project. As a former pastor and missionary with 20+ years of experience, Jeremy serves as a kind and passionate guide for men and women who long to know God and live in wholeness. Email Jeremy at jeremy@restory.life.

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Use the discount code HUSBANDMATERIAL for $10 off!

Come to our free online workshop:
HMA In A Day on Saturday, July 13!
Sign up now at husbandmaterial.com/workshop

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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

How do I sit in the dirt with someone who is experiencing sexual brokenness? What if I don't know what to say? What if I find myself dysregulated or sexually aroused by the other person? Jeremy Williamson offers invaluable wisdom and counterintuitive clarity about how "be with" others in such a way that they experience the presence of God.

Jeremy Williamson is a storywork coach and counselor with ReStory. He is also the Director of Restorative Experiences at Restoration Project. As a former pastor and missionary with 20+ years of experience, Jeremy serves as a kind and passionate guide for men and women who long to know God and live in wholeness. Email Jeremy at jeremy@restory.life.

If you loved this interview...


Use the discount code HUSBANDMATERIAL for $10 off!

Come to our free online workshop:
HMA In A Day on Saturday, July 13!
Sign up now at husbandmaterial.com/workshop

Take the Husband Material Journey...

Thanks for listening!


Speaker 1:

Welcome to the Husband Material podcast, where we help Christian men outgrow porn. Why? So you can change your brain, heal your heart and save your relationship. My name is Drew Boa and I'm here to show you how let's go. Hey man, thanks for listening to my interview with Jeremy Williamson. What does it really look like to sit in the dirt of sexual brokenness with people, and what do you do if you are triggered or aroused by someone who you are with? We are going to talk about all those questions today and, if you really enjoy this conversation, I would highly recommend you checking out Jeremy and Chris Bruno's course Sitting in the Dirt, which is the best online course I've taken hands down. It gives you an amazing theology and practical set of tools that you can use to be the kind of person who makes others feel loved, cared for, valued, seen, understood and ultimately creating space for the kind of transformation that brings lasting freedom from porn. Enjoy the episode. Today I'm hanging out with Jeremy Williamson from Restory Counseling Restoration Project. Welcome back to the show.

Speaker 2:

Oh man, drew, I'm delighted to be back here with you, man. This is so good, so good. I've been looking forward to this, so thanks for having me be back here with you man, this is so good, so good.

Speaker 1:

I've been looking forward to this. So thanks for having me. I'm looking forward to it too. Our first episode, which some of you may remember, was Theology of the Penis Really vulnerable, really powerful and today we're talking about something which I believe is equally as important.

Speaker 2:

Mm-hmm.

Speaker 1:

Sitting in the dirt, being able to be fully present with someone and, in our case, in sexual brokenness, in porn addiction. Shame, loneliness, self-contempt, anxiety, anxiety all of these things that we have experienced, and today we're talking about how we show up in the dirt, in the mess. Jeremy, why is this topic so important?

Speaker 2:

I love the way you said that, drew how we show up. I think it's important for a couple of reasons, I think. First, I want to maybe talk about our ache, or just reference it. I don't think there's much that needs to be said about it.

Speaker 2:

I think the men who are watching this know what I'm talking about when I say that there's something deep inside here that longs for presence and that longs to be with, and it's not surprising to me that Isaiah described Jesus as being God with us. Like that, even God's plan for mankind is to be with us and that what we ache for is to be with people. And so that ache is, I think, why this conversation matters. And I would say because, if withness and presence, if that is God's design for us and him and us and each other, I think we can see how evil has worked against that incessantly, to destroy it and to mar it and to diminish it. Presence and withness and so, while it's something I think we all ache for, it's something that for a lot of us feels maybe just outside of our reach, maybe just past our grasp, and so it's worth talking about.

Speaker 1:

What if I'm trying to help someone who's struggling with porn?

Speaker 2:

I don't know what to say, or I don't know what to do struggling with porn, I don't know what to say or I don't know what to do. I mean, that's like where we almost, like all of us find ourselves there at some point. Drew, and I should say all of us, will hopefully find ourselves there at some point, because that means that we're pursuing something really, really good. So I think at the beginning, I just want to say, if you are watching this and you have found yourself in a place where you don't know what to say and you don't know what to do, well done, because that means you are having conversations that 99% of people are unwilling to even have. Those are roads that people aren't willing to go down. So great job if you find yourself with no idea what to say.

Speaker 2:

Over and over again whether it's been with people struggling with porn or sexual brokenness, or a couple who's right on the verge of divorce, like, how many times have I found myself not knowing what to say? And I think, through, my response to that is why do we need to say anything? Why do we feel the pressure to say anything at all? I wonder where that comes from inside of us, the need to like oh man, this guy has an issue, how can I fix it, or what scripture do I know, or what maybe counseling jargon can I use, or Christianese? What can I say to fix this guy or to make us all feel better? My response to that would be why say anything at all?

Speaker 1:

My first reaction to that is what Like? What are you asking me to do here?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I love that, drew. Say more about what that feels like for you.

Speaker 1:

It feels to me like words often create some sense of structure or some sense of comfort, giving some kind of meaning.

Speaker 2:

I think what I find is we want to say something really bad, because when someone brings their pain or their struggle like, or their shame, that it creates tension. And when shame comes into the room, we all feel shame. And when there's pain, we all feel the tension of oh my gosh, this person is in pain. Pain we all feel the tension of oh my gosh, this person is in pain. And so, more often than not, when we say something, it is to relieve the tension for both of us and to relieve the discomfort for everyone in the room. And so if there's a word that I can share, it's like this release valve of all the pressure that just built up it like. It's like this release valve of all the pressure that just built up. And so it makes sense why we would do that.

Speaker 2:

It makes sense why that's most of our go-to is to find the right thing to say to relieve the pressure. But what if god is inviting us to sit in the pressure? What if sitting in the dirt means I'm just gonna be with you in this mess? That can't be solved. In fact, me trying to move towards solving it might skip past so much richness that exists here in the dark here, in this difficult place. I'm just going to sit with you here where it's hard, intense and shameful difficult, and I'm not going to move on. I'm not going to force us to move on.

Speaker 1:

Wow, that is so rare.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

And yet so refreshing at the same time.

Speaker 2:

There's something, Drew, I agree with that statement because there's something about the way that at least I'll speak to my experience, and specifically in the realm of sexual brokenness. Even early on, I grew up in a church and all of the middle school boys and junior high and high school boys we were kind of forced into these accountability groups, which were basically just sort of confession groups, sort of confession groups, or there was a sort of like hey, you may want to confess your sin to the youth pastor or to someone, and even still, as an adult, there's a sense of like hey, what happens in my church or with my friends if I confess something? Even that word confess and usually what it means is it goes like this, like, hey, this is what I did, I looked at porn and I masturbated or I acted out or I did this thing and the person listening says, hmm, yeah, thanks for saying that. And then the next phrase out of their mouth is something that relieves the tension that we're all feeling.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

God's grace is so big for you, brother. Or your honesty is going to go a long ways, or freedom is just, you know, right next, let me pray for you, brother.

Speaker 1:

Which are not bad. Things right, they're not bad.

Speaker 2:

They're not and it's not wrong. But the thing is we skip the presence part. Yeah, because sometimes a scripture verse or a prayer, even, or even a kind word, is actually not that kind, because we're using it as a way to sort of hey, you just said this thing that's making us both feel really uncomfortable. I don't know how to be with you in it. So if I pray for you right now or if I say a pithy one-liner, then it's going to relieve the tension and we're going to be able to just like move on. But what is tragic about that to me, drew, is sexual brokenness happens in isolation and it happens to deepen isolation. And in a relationship like that, where I bring the reality of my sexual brokenness to another person and they kind of stiff arm me with advice or prayer or fixing, I continue to be isolated Because no one's actually been with me in the depth of what's going on inside my heart. So it just furthers the cycle.

Speaker 1:

That is so so true, and it reinforces the childhood soil that many of us grew up in. Sexual addiction develops typically in a rigid Sexual addiction develops typically in a rigid disengaged family, in other words, where rules are more important than relationships and people care more about what you do than what's going on in your heart.

Speaker 2:

Wow yeah.

Speaker 1:

And everybody's off in their own world. No one's really coming into your world and fully sitting in the dirt with you, and so I find that a lot of these accountability groups, while they can be helpful in some ways, it's actually reenacting the very environment where our attachment to porn and unwanted sexual behavior developed. So what does it look like to create a different kind of environment If biblical advice and prayer can sometimes be skipping over the most important part? What's truly helpful?

Speaker 2:

That is like what I love to call the theology of presence, and it is this idea that when I am simply present with you and attuned to you and by attuned I mean I am seeing as best as I can with the eyes that I have what you see, and feeling as best as I can with the heart that I have what you're feeling. I'm just sitting with you in this.

Speaker 1:

Makes me think that sometimes, by trying to fix each other's problems, we're actually preventing people from experiencing God.

Speaker 2:

It's really well said and I would say a hundred percent yes.

Speaker 1:

I mean, would you rather leave a meeting with somebody feeling like you have some really great strategies, or would you rather feel like you just spent time with Jesus?

Speaker 2:

I mean, how many times, drew, do we see, like in from the words of scripture but also the examples of the stories that we read about in scripture, where progress is actually the enemy, like when I sit with someone in the dirt, I'm not actually worried about them getting better, I'm not worried about fixing them or that they would walk away from like you just said from this conversation saying, man, I just got like three tips that are going to help me live a better life. How many times do we see, like Jesus saying Martha, like I understand that you're upset because your sister is just sitting here at my feet, but she's doing the better thing. Like it is okay for you, joshua and Moses, to spend ridiculous numbers of hours in the tent of meeting, where you're just enjoying my presence. And sometimes we can walk away from a conversation with a man who's experiencing sexual brokenness and all he felt was our presence, which meant he felt the presence of God, and that's a brilliant thing. That is enough.

Speaker 1:

And you guys go into the theology of presence and a lot of techniques and strategies in the Sitting in the Dirt course of presence and a lot of techniques and strategies in the Sitting in the Dirt course. Just for now, what are some of the practical things we can say or do to be with someone in the middle of their dirt and our dirt?

Speaker 2:

I'd say, I think, a couple of key words that are worth writing down, worth remembering. The first one is awareness, and awareness. Drew is like you and I at the beginning of this recording, where we, we got in here and I was aware of your energy, I think you're aware of mine, and we were just like, okay, here I am. I see this man, drew, and I'm aware of a lot about you.

Speaker 2:

I'm aware of the books behind you and and, and I've actually been like, oh yeah, I've read that one, I, I know that one, oh, I should read that book and aware of you and your body language, and I've been working in our time together to just attune to your face and to notice what you're saying with words and what you're saying without words. So I'm just aware of you and I think when we come into conversation, when we're actually sitting in the dirt with people, it's being aware that Paul's lips are cracked, it's being aware that his wife's family are 50 feet away from him, wanting nothing to do with him, it's being aware like my attention and my presence and my heart is here, my focus is here. So I think the next word that I'd invite you to remember is curiosity. That comes with something you said just now really well, like hey, I noticed this. Tell me more about that. I noticed that this seems to be the thing that you struggle with often. I wonder why that is.

Speaker 1:

Yes, some of those lines are not formulas, but, man, they can really help. Like, tell me more.

Speaker 2:

Oh yeah.

Speaker 1:

How do you think that is? How does that affect you?

Speaker 2:

What's it like for you? Because and it's so necessary, because for so many of us, we are used to isolation. We're used to people. Not we don't just bring all of those details like and just flop them onto the table. We, we hold them back and we protect them, and for good reason. There are people who are watching this and you don't. Deepest parts of your heart are protected behind a wall, like a thick castle wall, and for good reason. Because you've you've had to learn to protect your heart. And so when you get into conversation with someone, you've had to learn to protect your heart. And so when you get into conversation with someone, you're not just going to be like blah. And so when someone who's aware, and when there's a deeply good man like Drew who leans in with some curiosity, it's almost an invitation for me to unlock the gate a little bit and potentially to crack open the door and let you into some places where not very many people have been able to walk. That's not possible without curiosity.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, curiosity means being a learner, so rather than trying to teach you, I'm trying to learn you. That's such a different posture, isn't it?

Speaker 2:

So good, but isn't that what we're aching for? Oh my gosh, I don't know who said that. All of us are coming to the world looking for someone who's looking for us.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, kurt Thompson, talking about attachment, talking about how we are wired for connection, about how we are wired for connection, yeah, precisely, and curiosity, like you teaching me, creates this dynamic where you're the teacher and I'm the student.

Speaker 2:

You being curious with me, about me, wanting to learn me, actually invites me to open up my heart in ways that I long for and rarely experience.

Speaker 1:

Yes, we are co-learners, together developing a connection and a friendship, and oh, that is so different from accountability. I mean, accountability can be a part of that, maybe, like now. On the one hand, there is an aspect of challenging each other in friendship, yet it comes to those who have earned your trust through what we're talking about.

Speaker 2:

And I think you can't get to that place of challenging one another until you've been curious, and I'll explain what I mean. See, accountability is all about keeping you accountable to not sin. So, hey, did you not do that thing? Did you avoid something when I think that Jesus is way more excited about who we are than he is worried about our sin? He paid for our sin, it's covered and it is grievous and it is terrible and it is whatever, and it's paid for, but he is so excited about who we are.

Speaker 2:

And I wonder, drew, what if accountability was actually me, having caught a glimpse of the glory of God in you, drew, and the image of God in you, refusing it's me, refusing to partner with a lesser version of that? Wow, I'm actually going to hold you accountable, drew, to be the image, to embody, the image of God that I've seen inside of you. So I can't even know what that is or what I'm calling you into until I know you, because I don't want to call you into not sin. I don't want that job to be like your. Hey, did you avoid? You know, avoid masturbating, or avoid acting out, or avoid whatever it is. I want to be the guy who has seen the glory of god and drew and says, um, drew I. That's not who you are. I've seen the glory of god in you and let me keep you accountable. Let me challenge you to be the man that you, that you are, that you're intended by god to be.

Speaker 1:

Jeremy, I feel so empowered and inspired even just hearing you say that. To me it's kind of mind-blowing.

Speaker 2:

I believe with my whole heart that as you embody that man, that your need for acting out, your need for unwanted sexual behavior, the usefulness of those activities is going to start to be diminished. As you embody the man that God has always intended for you to be, that feels like a way better way to be with you in your sexual brokenness than to be like. You know, did you act out? So yeah, it's just how I want to live.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, we don't want to miss out on what God longs to give us, which is so much more than behavior management.

Speaker 2:

Come on.

Speaker 1:

Okay, Jeremy, here comes a question that might require sitting in the dirt. Okay, let's go so what if you are in a conversation with a friend who's also on this journey of outgrowing porn and during that conversation you feel triggered by him, maybe even sexually attracted to him? What if that happens?

Speaker 2:

I would say, if that happens, welcome to being human and, again, well done for actually being with him. Those things will happen when we are with people. You can't be with someone and not feel the effect of being with that person. So I think I want to begin by just saying there's no shame in that. There's no shame in that, and there's no good counselor or therapist or whoever in the world who exists that's actually doing their job. So even the professionals, I would say, who do a good job, feel that. So well done.

Speaker 2:

And I think what we do with it is is, first off, we're, as we're being aware and curious with the person that we're sitting with, we also need to be aware and curious with ourselves, and so I start to feel triggered, I start to feel aroused, I start to feel attracted. It's good to be aware of that and to be curious about that for yourself. Now, that doesn't mean that it's necessarily helpful to say, drew, I feel really attracted to you right now. So I want to pause. It's my job right now to sort of care for myself and to offer presence to myself while I'm with that person. So I think it starts with being aware and curious about what's going on.

Speaker 1:

Yes, and just like we would be with someone else in their pain. We need to learn how to be with our emotions and our sexual feelings too. Instead of just trying to shut them down or just dwelling on them and fantasizing about them. It's like, okay, I'm feeling this really strongly right now. That's interesting. One helpful little practice might be acknowledging that those feelings are there and then checking in and saying, hey, sexual attraction, I noticed that you're trying to tell me something. I'm talking with Jeremy right now. Yeah, this is really important. Can I come back to you after this conversation? Would that be okay? And it kind of almost negotiating with that part of you 100%.

Speaker 2:

No, I agree. Like this we're not going to do that right now. Like this this isn't, this is not the time for that. We're here for true yeah. And I love the way that that conversation sounds, because there's not shame there. It's not like this oh crap, it's all going downhill now. Or, oh crap, now I want to start entertaining fantasy. It is hey, I'm going to acknowledge you and I'm going to be the adult and I'm going to say, hey, we're not going to do that right now, bud. And it's all good, we can talk about this later. I love how you put that, but right now we're here for Drew.

Speaker 1:

Exactly. Another way to say it might be becoming your own primary caregiver. This is a phrase I've drawn from maternal family systems. Dr Richard Schwartz, If you want to learn more about that, the book is called. You Are the One You've Been Waiting For. Isn't that a good title? But ultimately, this is what Jeremy and Chris Bruno at ReStory are teaching us to do To care for ourselves as we care for others and, ultimately, to be really healthy humans Like I wish every human being could take this course on sitting in the dirt. Oh man could take this course on sitting in the dirt. Oh man. I wish all of my friends had this shared understanding and that we would practice together. I mean, I know that we're never going to sit in the dirt perfectly.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

And we can always grow.

Speaker 2:

And isn't that what's so beautiful about it, drew? Because that's human. We are humans who are equally imperfect. So I love the fact that it's the dirt, because we're both going to be dirty when we get up, and it's the imperfection of it and the clunkiness of it, and at times like the difficulty, the to yes, that's all going to be there. And is that not how god meets us? And is that not not where he chose to come even to earth and to be born, when and where he was born, to meet us in those difficult places where he got dirty too?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I mean. Jesus literally became human in a poopy, smelly animal structure.

Speaker 2:

Yes, I would not have done that. If I was Jesus, I would have been born, maybe not even in 2023, maybe 2040, when medical stuff has advanced even further, and I'm going to be comfortable and have showers and bathrooms and a bed, and that's not what he chose. Yeah, I don't think he was afraid of the poopy, smelly animal pen where he was born.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. So, gentlemen, can it be that Jesus chooses to dwell within you, even in the poop, even in the smelly sexual brokenness, even in the dirt? That doesn't deter him, that doesn't disgust him. He wants nothing more than to be with you and me.

Speaker 2:

That's so well said.

Speaker 1:

Man, this Jesus is good. He's better than we think sometimes.

Speaker 2:

I think Jesus also goes like. He demonstrates so well what awareness and curiosity and kindness are. What is the thing that keeps us from the presence of God? I mean, we read in Genesis, chapter three it's our own hiding and our own shame, our shame, or I should say our sin, the sin of Adam and Eve. It did have some legal consequences in the kingdom, but God, knowing about what they had done already, actually came looking for them. He came to walk with them in the garden after they had sinned, and he was well aware that they had. They were the ones who were hiding themselves. They were the ones who had sewed the leaves together to cover the parts of themselves that they decided were shameful.

Speaker 2:

But God is just like incessant, like he's aware of that in his curiosity, to say hey, I'm not, I'm not going to rip the fig leaves off of you, I'm not going to go find you hiding and rip you out of that place and force you to be here, but I will invite and I will invite and I will invite and I will be safe and I'll be the kind of safe, kind presence that hopefully will lead you to believe someday that you can reveal the parts of you that you've hidden because you've called them shameful. Even though I call them glorious, you call them shameful and I can be with you in those places. That is aware and curious and kind, and I hope that's the kind of presence we can offer to each other.

Speaker 1:

Right. God does not ask Adam and Eve what have you done?

Speaker 2:

Right. He asks them where are you? Who told you you were naked? He is moving closer. I love that phrase that you just said. Moving closer, like moving toward. Because what we were all used to is, when we tell the truth about something we've done that we think is shameful, we assume the response is going to be moving away. In fact, we might even help you move away by like saying things in a certain way super shameful, or trying to sabotage the conversation to help you move away from us, because we're so used to being abandoned in our shame. But when we sit in the dirt with someone, we actually move toward it. We lean in and invite them out.

Speaker 1:

This is so good. If you guys enjoy this conversation and you want to learn more about sitting in the dirt, I would highly recommend taking Jeremy's course sitting in the dirt, which you can find at a link below, and you can use the discount code husband material for 10% off. I have taken this course. I am sharing it with my friends because I want the people in my life to be more like this. I want all of us to be able to give and receive God's love in this profound way Not just what to say or what to do, but how to be, how to be with each other, how to move closer and why that's so important, how scripture shows us the beauty of this again and again, and then getting really practical on some specific cases like anxiety, depression, grief, sexuality. This is probably the best online course I've taken.

Speaker 2:

Oh man, honored to hear that, drew, and I'm just really glad that it's been helpful for you. I'm not joking when I say that my heart, I think, has ached for this kind of presence my whole life. And so to be able to equip, like the men who are a part of husband material, who I think are leading the way in their ability to be with each other, their willingness to go into hard conversations and to say hard things and to like own their shame, but also name it so huge. And we want, like Chris and I wanted this course to be something that was equipping for any person who sits with other people, who offers care, who offers presence, whether that's in a church context or outside of a church context, it doesn't even matter. I think we just want more people to be able to have conversations like this. So I think that there is so much healing, so much wholeness that can come as a result.

Speaker 1:

Amen, and you guys are already doing such a great job in the Husband Material community of learning how to sit in the dirt with each other. You're already doing it. This is a resource that could reinforce what you're already learning and take you to the next level. I really loved it. So go down to the show notes, check out Sitting in the Dirt. Jeremy Williamson Restory Counseling Would highly recommend them, jeremy. What is your favorite thing about sitting in the dirt?

Speaker 2:

Feels like home. Walking on deep paths and in stretches of forest where you don't often walk, where even the person you're sitting with, even they haven't been very often like that sitting with, even they haven't been very often like that. Walking on those deep, I feel like sacred parts of of souls and stories is. It just feels like home and, um, I see god at work there, perhaps more than any other part of my life, like I get to see god working there, present there so I love it.

Speaker 1:

what a beautiful picture for us of what we are doing when we practice being present. We are coming home and we're going on an adventure at the same time Super fun. Thanks so much, guys. Always remember you are God's beloved son. In you he is well-placed.

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