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.


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.

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 🙂

Ideas are like toddlers

Ideas are so interesting.

You have them. One second they aren’t there and the next second they exist. You can’t make them not exist, just boom. There is an idea.

And it’s yours. Have you ever had someone try to take over something and you’re like “That was MY idea!”

But on the other hand, it’s totally not. So often it’s like the idea belongs to itself. You can’t make your idea stay the same as it first was. It changes and morphs and goes all sorts of places that freak you out.

Sometimes you’re embarrassed by your idea. You think people will judge you because your idea kinda seems crazy.

But you still can’t stop it. The idea just keeps changing and growing and sometimes wakes you up in the middle of the night.

This blog was an idea. And now I don’t really know what to do with it.

17 things you never thought about, but are terrifying

Life can be scary. And complicated. And if you lived inside my head, you would probably think it’s more of both those things than you ever realized. So I’ll just give you a tiny glimpse into the types of things I think. There are concepts that I believe we just haven’t taken the time to realize are as horrifying they are. Like C.S. Lewis pointing out that going to a land where your dreams came true would actually be the scariest thing in the world (think about it. Your actual dreams. Like where you didn’t study and showed up to school without pants on).

One of my examples is how I’m afraid of midget clowns. I’m not afraid of midgets, and I’m not afraid of clowns, but for some reason a midget clown would freak me out.

Here are 17 more terrifying things you’ve probably never thought of.

  1. A mouse with the voice of a man.
  2. A glow in the dark elephant.
  3. Wesley when he was the bad version of The Dread Pirate Roberts.
  4. Forgetting it’s a PD day and going to the mall.
  5. A spider dancing the hokey pokey. Extra terror points if it sings it as well.
  6. Sleeping on an aquarium water bed.
  7. Remembering being born.
  8. A countdown clock until the next time you got the stomach flu.
  9. If things stay the same, the average person will have spent over 27 years interacting with their digital device by the time they die.
  10. Vultures the size of a moth.
  11. Moths the size of vultures.
  12. You actually have no idea what anyone else is really thinking and you never will.
  13. Narwhales are a real thing. That’s basically a whale just swimming around carrying a spear.

    Scene 1: Jason Bourne googles self, discovers real name. Roll Credits.
  14. If smartphones existed 16 years ago then the Jason Bourne movies probably would have never have happened.
  15. Landmines.
  16. At some point in your life your stomach says to you “Hey, I forgot to tell you, we aren’t going to accept spicy food anymore.” And you have NO control over when that is.
  17. Someone out there is lying about you right now. And if they aren’t, then this sentence is a lie, which means…….it’s true.

Do any of these terrify you? Anything I should be terrified by that I’m not? Please leave a comment with your answers.

Wherein I interview myself and discover I’m unstable

“Alright Josh,” I say metaphorically sitting down across from myself.

I ponder the subject of my interview. He sits there, unmoving, like a statue in thought. I wonder what he is thinking about. He looks unkept, but not like the cool unkemptness of a rock star or artist unappreciated in their time. More just like somebody spit-up on the shirt he was wearing earlier that day and the one he is now wearing was simply sitting on a pile of unfolded laundry.

“So what do you want out of life.”

He stares vacantly out the window. Like a house. That is…vacant.

“I don’t know. I want not to worry. I hate worrying. Sometimes I worry about how much I hate worrying. I wish life came with a manual. Of course I would just flip to the end and check the box that says “I have read and understood these instructions” and then put it away. But at least I would know that there is a manual and I could actually read it if I wanted to.”

He bites his fingernails. It is annoying. We are annoyed.

I try to think of a clever question. Something that Shakespeare would ask.

“Whereforto doth thou seeith yourself heading yonder in life”.

I realize that was a nonsense question, this whole thing is nonsense.

He looks back at me thoughtfully. There is a chance that it’s just my own reflection in the bus window. “Anyone can be anything these days and yet the most likely outcome is that we’ll be nobody. But that’s not a bad thing. I think maybe I should just focus on being the best nobody I could possibly be. Maybe that will help somebody”.

I step off the bus and shake my head. I deleted all the social media apps off my phone this past week in an attempt to introduce boredom back into my life. But after being alone with my thoughts for half an hour I wonder if it’s actually safe.