Why I’m Firing Myself From Strength To Fight

Here Is The TLDR: Strength To Fight is continuing. I’m still heading up Strength To fight. Somehow this ends up with me needing employment. Hire me?

Ok, here is the long version.

4 years ago some friends ambushed me. Straight up lied about a meeting we were having. Said it was about something else. Then halfway through the meeting they changed the subject and said “We actually came to Ottawa to convince you that you should quit your job and run a full-time anti-porn organization”.

As most of you know. That’s what I did.

For nearly 4 full years Strength To Fight has been my full-time job. I’ve travelled all across the country. Given over 100 presentations. Made friends and allies from every background across North America and even beyond.

Most importantly I’ve had the incredibly ridiculous honour of speaking face to face with thousands and thousands of Canadians impacted by our work.

Tearful stories of lost love, ruined careers, broken families and homes. Tearful stories of healing, restored marriages, hard-fought freedom.

And I listened to stories that I never ever imagined I would hear. Personal stories of being trafficked,  abused, arrested for child-pornography, being used for child-pornography. The first year it nearly broke me. Vicarious trauma they call it.

But I got better at handling it.I talked to every therapist I knew or met, every cop I knew, anyone who had to deal with trauma every day and I learned a lot about how to handle the day in day out darkness of the fight.

It still wore on me though. But that wasn’t reason enough to quit,

Then there was the financial side. Running any type of small business is pretty stressful. I have a lot more appreciation for all the people out there that are doing just that, it’s …..(Hang on, there is a women outside walking her dog by carrying it in a baby carrier…..Not like a small dog, a good medium sized dog, in a baby carrier….that’s….odd.)

Anyhow. It’s been 4 years of getting the amazing experience of getting to see the amazing work of pulling drowning people out of the water, but simultaneously furiously bailing out the boat. And last year was the most extreme. Reaching more people, doing bigger events including the absolutely incredible Strong & Free conference. But we had by far our worst financial year. Donations tanked and after the conference we basically were sitting looking at the odd juxtaposition of this flood of testimonies coming in telling us how we were impacting lives and looking at the bank account and saying “well, that doesn’t look great”.

But we had been in a financial crunch before. And we always survived. It definitely wasn’t reason enough to quit,

But this time we had a different thought then the other times we’ve been in a crunch. Were we fighting for something we didn’t need anymore? As I took time over the summer to think and pray about everything, I saw that a lot of what I had been fighting to accomplish was completed. Not that Strength To Fight had “arrived” and was everything I/we wanted it to be. But a lot of what I had been doing the last 4 years, making the connections we needed, meeting with other organizations and ministries so that we could work together, pounding the pavement to get the word out, it was in a pretty solid state.

And my thoughts were confirmed this summer.  After the birth of our 4th child this summer I took some time off, but that didn’t stop the testimonies from flooding in. I came back to piles of stories of people impacted by Strength To Fight over the summer and I hadn’t had to do anything myself. In other years if I took time off it seemed as if things ground to halt, but not this time. We had actually hit that critical mass where the organization kept having an impact without me being in the office.

This makes me feel two things.

Immense relief.

And a feeling of loss.

Relief that the burden really and isn’t truly on me to have to deliver “results”.

Loss, because I’ve loved this. I am passionate about this. I hate pornography and it is my great joy to spend 40+ hours a week making sure that porn has a bad day in Canada.

But it confirms to me what I thought. Strength To Fight is in a place to be able to strip back some of the back-end and see how much we can grow by refocusing on the front lines. And excitingly and terrifyingly to me “How fast can this boat go without me in it?”

Let me address three things really quickly. Because I’m NOT quitting. And I want you to understand what that means.

Strength To Fight is continuing. This doesn’t mean we are shutting down, but we are dividing up the remaining responsibilities and working on some pretty exciting partnerships to make us more streamlined and efficient on the back-end. From an outside perspective, very little will actually change, in fact it will probably look like our staff is growing not shrinking.

Strength To Fight still needs financial support. Under our new workflow, every dollar will go farther. We are taking this time to make sure that we are taking an honest look at everything we’ve been doing. We want to make sure that there is nothing that we are doing just because it’s what we’ve done before, but that we are being as effective as possible. And as we strip things down, we are going to build even more into what Strength To Fight can do. 

I am still working for Strength To Fight: In fact I’m still the director of Strength To Fight, but now as volunteer. I’m still doing speaking, helping build the team, future projects, but more of the grunt work that I took on myself is being spread out to other volunteers. 

Which is all to say, this is a time full of transition to me. To healthily let go of things I’ve been doing for years but need to let other people take the lead on. I need to find a job. (Looking for work is the worst). For the past couple of months I’ve actually been applying for jobs and I’ve had some interviews but so far nothing has worked out. And by “not worked out” I mean the people hiring are like “How about you work out there and not in here.”

This was a long explanation. But a lot of you have supported me in various ways along this journey and the journey is not over, but things are just very transitiony right now and I’ve already heard some confusion from people about myself and Strength To Fight, so I wanted to try to clear things up and share with you what is up with me.

I appreciate you all.

*If anyone who is supporting Strength To Fight financially,  would like to talk to me more in-depth about how this affects STF etc. I would be very happy to talk with you personally. Or if you WANT to support financially in the future, I would happily talk with you too.

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It’s Never Not Horrifying

Every year on September 11th I try to not read any of the articles.

The recaps, the stories, the photos. I try to ignore it.

It’s also my brothers birthday.

The reason we didn’t turn on the TV and follow every minute of the attack was because we didn’t want to traumatize a 6 year old. Make his birthday forever tied to a memory of horror. Instead through out the day we snuck off to the computer room to hit refresh on the family PC running windows 98.

It seems strange in today’s world to remember that “Terrorism” was not the immediate assumption of the public. I can clearly recall hearing that Russia & North Korea were on a list of 5 countries ” that have yet to deny this act of war was initiated by them”

Living in Vancouver, we, like most of the west coast woke up to the attacks either in progress or already completed. Literally waking up to a a different world than the one we went to bed in.

Trying to tell my youngest siblings what Airport Security was like pre 9/11 is as difficult as trying to explain that Cell-Phones used to be for making phone calls.

Today’s news stream is filled with non-stop death and destruction. “If it bleeds, it leads” is not sarcasm. You would think we would get numb. And yet every year each image, headline, video, just makes me feel sick to my stomach. I try to ignore it, not because I don’t care, but because I’m a father of four, an employee & team leader, and I need to be a functioning human. And I still. Can’t. Handle It.

And there is always one. Always an article I’ve never seen before. A story I haven’t heard, and it cuts through all the noise of the day, and the million op-eds and I end up reading it, watching it, pausing on it.

Sometimes it’s an inspiring story. Maybe about one of the brave first responders who ran towards the crumbling buildings instead of away. Or the ordinary citizens who put their lives on the line for others. People who took in strangers. Strangers who became friends.

And other times it’s just really really really sad. Just a reminder of how unthinkably devastating that moment was.

The numbers.

The numbers are so big.

So now I have to look. I need to look for what the people who were there have to say. What’s their viewpoint. 

And again I’m overwhelmed by how people came together. The bravery. The sacrifice. It’s overwhelming. To dwell on what one fireman who was 20 floors up one of the towers rescuing people when they realized it was coming down.

“To see bravery, to see courage right in front of you – for me has more of an imprint than the fear experienced on that day” – Gédéon Naudet

It could happen to you

“I can’t believe this is happening to me!”

“Could you believe he actually said that about me?”

“I can’t believe she would think that about me!”

These are things we’ve all said and heard. So let me just say this.

If Moses‘ leadership could be questioned.

If Joseph could get framed for something he didn’t do.

If David could be hated by his in-laws.

If Paul could be called a heretic.

If Jesus could be called a blasphemer.

…ya….believe it. It really could happen to you.

Not saying it’s fair, or right, but you better believe it could happen to you. Stop being surprised, and move on with your life.

You’re Better Off Crazy

**This post was originally posted on an old blog of mine over 4 years ago. I encountered something similar the other day and thought instead of writing a new post, I would repost this one which I thought captured it at least as well as I could now**
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“I Love this Song” he said, and sung a few words. “Is this Journey?”

“No,” said the girl behind the McDonald’s counter “I’m pretty sure it’s Nick Lachey”.

Before I continue this story, you have to understand that this man is crazy. Not in the way you’re assuming, (I mean, who likes Nick Lachey”), but this man literally would be living in a mental hospital, if such things still existed.

I’ve seen this man, (whose name I believe is Dave), around before. He likes to stand on the street corner and ask people for change while drinking tea out of a giant mug, and he REALLY loves McDonald’s. He likes to ambush strangers waiting for the bus and ply them with McDonald’s knowledge and inquire after their favourite sandwiches.

Now to continue the story….

“Well I love this song,” said Dave, “I know all the words. I know lots and lots of words to lots of songs.”

“You ever been in a band?” butted in another man.

“Nope”, replied Dave cheerfully. Blissfully unaware of the competition for musical status he was about to lose.

“Well I have” said Mr. Bandman, “I’ve been playing in Bars for 40 years and know the words to every song that has ever been on the radio”

“You know who else I love?” Dave said, completely unaware that he had just been soundly beaten. “I love Alice Cooper. I have all his albums.”

“Oh ya,” Mr. Bandman’s eyes lit up, as he saw another chance to score a musical point. “What instrument did he play?”

“Probably guitar,” said Dave.

“Ha! Alice Cooper didn’t play anything!” crowed Mr. Bandman New World Champion Of Everything Music. “He just sang!” He looked around the restaurant to make sure everyone was seeing this.

“Well, I didn’t know” said Dave politely, “But I have all his albums and I love all his songs”.

Now I don’t want to belittle Dave’s plight. He clearly is down on his luck, probably because of whatever mental struggles he has. But sanity minus sensibility isn’t all that much better. Dave is totally fine with Dave. And we can all use a lesson from him.

Almost everyone runs around this world trying to prove themselves, comparing themselves. And every single time we find out that somebody out there is bigger, stronger, smarter, skinnier, prettier, more knowledgeable, or even just THINKS they are those things, we are crushed. Distraught. Depressed.

But here is the truth. You are a Human Being. A Person. Created by God. In His image. You were made on purpose, for a purpose.

And if you can think of all that, and still be depressed because you are comparing yourself to other created people just like you, well then quite frankly, you’d probably be better off crazy. Just like Dave. Who thinks that Dave is just fine the way he is.

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Mr. World Music Champion sneered at his foe, the one who couldn’t tell he had been vanquished. He turned towards the server and wished her a goodnight.

“You have a goodnight too!” shouted Dave who was on his way out.

“I wasn’t talking to you” laughed Mr. Insecure MusicMaster. A look of utter superiority flashed across his face.

“Ok!” smiled Dave as he headed outside, still humming the Nick Lachey song he loved so much.

5 Inspirational Sayings, And How To Ruin Them

I once had a co-worker who only spoke in cheesy sayings. She quite literally only ever responded to any conversation with some sort of motivational cat poster saying.

Now if she was a legitimate positive person, that would be one thing. But as one of the least sincere people I’ve ever met, who liked back-stabbing her co-workers, it was up to me to always ruin the moment. So on behalf of my co-workers I began to constantly counter her fake positivity. Am I saying I was a hero? No. But I’m also NOT saying I wasn’t a hero.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, here are my counter sayings.

I’ve already used this first one in a previous post.

What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger!

Counter: Orrrr more likely it cuts you off from the herd and you die.

Every cloud has a silver lining!

Silver rain is still rain

It doesn’t matter if you fall down, It’s getting back up that counts.

But what if you fell down because you broke your leg? Stay down! You want that puppy to pop through your skin!

Shoot for the moon, and if you miss you’ll land among the stars.

Where you will either starve to death, or more likely run out of oxygen first and suffocate alone.

Everything happens for a reason.

And sometimes those reasons are bad. Like the reason being that someone wanted to murder someone else.

If you ever find yourself in an uncomfortably positive situation, I hope these can be helpful to you.

Are there any overly positive sayings you’re sick off? What are they? Let’s ruin them together 🙂

Hunger

Hunger.

What a bizarre thing.

Like when you are really hungry? What an insane feeling. I can remember being 14 and being convinced that I was as hungry as anyone had ever been in the world. My mom basically just gave me a pot of rice to eat in the afternoon because I wouldn’t stop complaining about how hungry I was. Just being a growing teenage boy was an overwhelming thing.

Is there anything that can our affect our decision making like hunger? When you get hungry, figuring out what to eat, or just how you are going to get to where you’re going to eat next is the only thing matters.

I don’t have more of a one track mind then when I’m hungry. My wife could be telling me the most important information, but if I’m really hungry, It’s like a symphony orchestra is playing beethovans 5th between my ears. I can’t hear anything.

Because food is a need. You must eat. You must have nutrients. Without them you die. And your body and brain know this.

And it takes over everything.

For example…….

I’m hungry right now

And I can’t remember what this blog was about.

All I know is. Don’t work hungry.

You won’t be able to think straight.

I think…..

I don’t know anymore……..

Craziest of all….I don’t think I’ve ever been actually hungry. Not real hunger. Not life and death hunger. That’s a very real thing, and as hungry as I’ve ever felt, I’ve never truly been that hungry.

Surviving Tornadoes

Last Wednesday most people in Ottawa received a text alert that there was a Tornado Warning in Ottawa. And if you live in Ottawa or anywhere close by you’ll know, we don’t get Tornado Warnings much.

So Twitter was fun.

So many people were totally freaking out. Tweeting potential goodbye’s to family’s. Posting about hiding under their desks and panicking. The thing was, by the time that many people received the message, the storm was already past much of Ottawa. In my part of town it was sunny and calm. And yet people in our neighbourhood totally panicked.

But it’s not really their fault. I’m not saying anyone was stupid for freaking out, most people have never ever received a tornado warning. Two people that I know had a very different response. My wife, who grew up in Saskatchewan and witnessed quite a few tornadoes, and my sister, who lived in Mississippi for years, where hearing the tornado sirens go off isn’t uncommon at all.

Having witnessed and lived through real tornadoes, they knew the signs of when it’s not a tornado “warning” but a tornado is actually imminent, and they knew were weren’t experiencing any of them. So they were not worried at all. In fact they were able to calm down the people around them.

There are a lot of life experiences that are tough, scary, and difficult. But after we’ve lived through them, it actually helps us cope in the future. We can even use that experience to help other people calm down or know how to process difficult things.

I once had a friend who was rejected by the RCMP in his initial interview. The reason? Nothing bad had ever happened to him. They couldn’t trust that he knew had to handle difficult situations as a cop if he had no experience dealing with them in everyday life. Another friend of mine who had a difficult past was nervous he would be rejected in his interview, instead he was told “Perfect! You’ll be so much better at helping other people in rough situations”.

I’m not wishing bad things to happen to you. You know the saying “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger?”. Well….that’s a stupid saying because as any wounded gazelle knows, sometimes what doesn’t kill you just weakens you so that you fall behind and get eaten first.

BUT, I do think about this. Sometimes getting shot with an arrow, means you just have another one to throw into your quiver to use later.

Maybe surviving your Tornadoes will help you help others survive theirs.