3 Birthday Realizations




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Carl Thomas

Pastor | Live Free Founder | Lover of Jesus, Philly sports, fitness, tattoos, sarcasm, and craft beers.

So this past Sunday was my 51st birthday.

I know, getting old but not much I can do about that.

Anyway, my family and I went to a Phillies baseball game, and we had a great time. In fact, the whole day was amazing, which led me to reflect on how fortunate and grateful I am for where I find myself in life today.

To be honest, times like this can make me feel a little undeserving and even guilty because I know of so many people who have dealt with real tragedy and significant pain in their life. And while life hasn’t always been sunshine and rainbows for me, I have for the most part been spared a great deal of misfortune.

Most of that is because of God’s grace and some dumb luck.

But at the same time, I realize that there are three important things that have helped me shape my life and the quality of it. Choices and/or traits that have helped me, my relationships, and even my recovery.

1. Facing and dealing with past pain.

Again, I feel very fortunate that I’ve never dealt with physical or sexual abuse like so many others, but that’s not to say I haven’t dealt with real emotional pain. Some inflicted by family, some at the hands of “friends,” and some from employers.

For years, I suppressed that stuff. I ignored the toll it had on my sense of identity and worth. And rather than dealing with it, I often chose to escape through sexual means.

But when I finally had the courage to deal with it, really deal with it, by seeing a counselor, I was able to move past that pain and even find forgiveness for those people who hurt me.

So much of our porn use and unwanted sexual behavior is the result of shame and pain. And when we can face that pain and come to terms with it, we dig up the roots that lie at the roots of our poor choices and behaviors and unlock the door to real freedom.


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2. Finding contentment and practicing gratitude.

It took years for me to realize this, but resentment was a major factor in my past porn addiction. So often I would retreat into my world of fantasy and escape because I felt like I wasn’t getting what I deserved in my relationships and career.

But when I started to practice gratitude and found contentment in what I already had, the resentment slowly started to fade and so did the need for my unwanted porn use.

You may feel short-changed at times.
You may see others getting what you feel you deserve.
You may think there’s more to life than what you are currently experiencing.

But when you practice gratitude and find contentment in the blessings you already have, you disarm the power of resentment and the hold it has on your life.

3. Drawing boundaries

Having good boundaries is so important for everyone and especially for those seeking recovery.

Understand that when you have a difficult time saying no to things, can’t recognize the difference between someone’s conditional love and your real obligations, and never have the bandwidth needed to fulfill all your responsibilities, you will be under constant pressure and stress, often leading to your ultimate collapse.

Boundaries are a must for success.

And they are a must for successful recovery.

The truth is much of life is far outside our control. The good, the bad, and the ugly can all flood our lives without warning. But there are things we can do to help our place in the world and our recovery as well.

Deal with the pain.

Practice gratitude.

Draw some healthy boundaries.

Do these things, and you may be surprised at how life ends up looking for you in the end.

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