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Robert and Carina share about their involvement and process with the High Noon program first as individuals dealing with sexual integrity, and how it has impacted their marriage in such a positive and meaningful way.
Andrew Love: Hello, everybody and welcome back to Love, Life and Legacy. This is Andrew Love. And today you’re going to hear a podcast with two amazing people, two people who have helped High Noon as an organization, but also the High Noon Providence and also the future of humanity itself. It’s Robert and Carina and they just recently got blessed and they’re an adorable couple. But Sammy and I have talked a lot about this and we just have so much belief that this couple is going to be okay regardless of what life throws at them, and we hope it throws only good things. But regardless of their situation, we believe that they really are an amazing couple that has such a good foundation for love to exist within their marriage for years and years and years and years to come. So I want to introduce you to Robert and Carina, they’re being interviewed by Sammy in Korea. They were there for the blessing ceremony. And have a great time. Enjoy. See you soon.
Sammy Uyama: Good evening. Hello everybody welcome to our next episode of Love, Life and Legacy podcast. It’s such a joy and pleasure for me to introduce to you some of, some amazing guests that we have to interview. We’ve got the lovely Carina… I don’t actually know your mate your maiden name. What’s your last name?
Carina Cunningham: Mendez.
Sammy Uyama: Mendez.
Carina Cunningham: Now Cunningham.
Sammy Uyama: Now Cunningham. Carina, now Cunningham, and Robert Cunningham. Just such an amazing couple. They were just recently, this past weekend, we’re married, blessed together. They’ve been communicating, for how long have you…
Carina Cunningham: Like almost two years.
Sammy Uyama: Two years. They’ve been in a process together for a very long time and getting to know each other. And part of why I’m so excited to be with you guys is that like we’ve, we’ve worked together with you as a High Noon organization. You’ve been so involved with supporting us as accountability partners and facilitators to others. And you know, having like a really intimate relationship together. And Robert, like originally going through his own process of recovery, and just having that close bond and then seeing these two people give back to so many people and seeing you talk as if I’m talking to you guys. Seeing, seeing you two give back to so many people and grow so much. And then you’re finally here. And so it’s just, you guys have gone through an amazing, amazing journey and can be such… it’s like a really, an ideal road map. That for me, if people could emulate that, then they could trust that they would get, you know, really good end result. And so I want to interview you guys kind of about, you know, what that was like and kind of what’s, what are you looking forward to now in the future. So, you know, for you guys, you’re really an example of like, Andrew talks about this a lot, right? Like I mentioned to you guys earlier about the, when you’re showing up for a test; and the diff, the difference in the feeling that when you’re prepared and you know, you studied, and you’re, you have that confidence that you’ll do well, versus you show up and you look at the first few questions that you have no idea what it’s even asking. And then you start to sweat a little bit. And so, you know, relationships and marriages in a lot of ways like that. It’s like when you’re walking down the aisle, you know, that feeling of just, of course, excitement, but also just like confidence that you know, you did the prep work, to grow as an individual. To work on your relationship prior to that moment. And versus a lot of people. They just, they’re, they’re only strategy is hope, right? Then there’s hope that, you know, they’ll figure something out or things will get, a thing, they’ll, they’ll get along with each other. Yeah. And so, I think that’d be my first question. And so yeah, you guys are really people who exemplify that, that. I imagine so you know, You just very freshly went through this strong curve, like a symbolic commitment experience of gaining, receiving the blessing. What was that like for you guys?
Robert Cunningham: Well, first, I just want to say thank you for having us and thank you for the high praise. I mean, I feel… Yeah, well, for your question, um, how was the experience for us? It was really amazing. Yeah, um, we’ve been counting down the days for a long time. To this moment. 600 plus days. Yeah, well, cuz yeah, we were… we were pretty sure we wanted to be blessed for for a while, actually. Yeah.And it took some time to, you know, until the blessing actually came. But yeah, it’s one thing we were, we were discussing is just how like for us, it felt not so much like restarting anything new per se. But just like really just a continuation of the relationship we really have, you know, and just taking it one step further. Because I felt that was something we’ve always done in our relationship is slowly kind of progressed and kind of became more comfortable with each other and open their hearts to each other, more and more became more vulnerable. Even though we were long distance for a long time, for 10 months, actually, at one point, we felt very, like, it was really amazing that we could continue to like, have progressed in that time and not just had a relationship be put on standby, you know. But, so by the time we met again, actually, just a few, like a couple weeks ago, it felt like all that time we had been, you know, getting closer and closer. So that was a really cool experience. So like, anything to add, Carina?
Carina Cunningham: Yeah, just like I felt the time, the moment finally calm. I wasn’t like nervous. Oh, I’m getting my… all my friends were asking me. Oh my gosh, I will be so nervous if I can and if I get married at such a young age for them like, oh, like marriage is such a weird thing. Are you sure about this? Like, oh, yeah. Because when we started our relationship or communication, we, we first, we first took intentional time to be sure that we were for each other. Like we, the deep questions about how we want to leave our lives fit with each other. So it was him already. It was just like anytime afterwards the decision of you are the one. It was just a preparation or more connection. But the biggest question were answered right at the beginning of our relationship because we went before getting deeper in our heart, in our relationship, like, emotionally together. We wanted to be sure that we could fit in our dreams, you know, our lifestyle and our commitment to what is (inaudible). So, no, yeah, yeah, I was like, I wasn’t nervous. It was just like the moment to receive God’s permission to go forward.
Sammy Uyama: So, you see, what I’m hearing is like you are very, like, you’re intentional with your, this two years that you’ve had together. It was more than I’m sure there are a lot of moments where you’re like, lovey dovey and you know, you just enjoy being with each other. But you didn’t. That wasn’t the whole point. You’re very focused on getting to know one another and have really important conversations about how your life together would look like.
Robert Cunningham: Well, something I might add, and this might be getting into an area that you want to be wanting to talk about, is kind of like even before we started our magic processes, like the preparation we did. Because actually, I want to say like, if you’ve taken that time to prepare, it became very clear actually, if we were a good fit. Because I, but I feel like if we hadn’t taken the time to do like, the different things we did to kind of get to know ourselves better that I think it would have been harder to figure out like, oh, like, you know, are we a good fit? You know? Do we share these same values? Especially if you don’t know your values? Then how can you make that comparison?
Sammy Uyama: Well, yeah, that’s great. Yeah. You did all the… it was very simple when it came to it? Because you did all the heavy lifting? Much prior? Yeah, I guess I guess. Yeah.
Carina Cunningham: You need to know who you are. What do you want? Or what are you looking for? Knowing a kind of like, external way. Maybe, oh, I want someone. Yeah, but more like, which kind of lifestyle do I want to lead? I’m open to lead. And which kind of person do I need to be able to fit in that? Do that. So you need to be sure that before there is like a emotional connection that you actually like fit in those, in those, in those scenes. Let us say, you need a prayer, preparation, knowing yourself. And I’m glad that like, we kind of like avoid to have other relationships or like trying to focus on our (inaudible) or knowing ourselves before. Yeah, getting, getting in communication with someone or being ready to marriage. Because that’s the thing when you’re starting a communication, you just… Yeah, in the moment you start a communication with someone, you need to feel ready to marriage. (Inaudible) like feeling ready to marriage now, like in the, in the moment itself is when you’re starting to communicate with someone, that moment you need to feel ready, like yourself as an individual. And then in the process of communicating you’re starting to get ready as a couple.
Robert Cunningham: I would just add to that, although it’s true that you should be ready at that point for marriage. I think even still, it’s like being in that stage of your life and where you’re now kind of putting two lives together is still very, like kind of like eye opening and like whoa, you know. It’s like as much as the you know, you should be prepared for the moment, there’s still a lot that’s kind of like unexpected or just kind of like, wow, (crosstalk).
Carina Cunningham: …slower than me. Oh, At some point in our relationship, I was like, okay, what do you want? I was like, I was like, ah this is a dream. I, it’s just like, I don’t know. It’s just super amazing. I feel like every day is dream. So I was like, okay, if you still feeling that this is a dream, I need you to wake up. I start to go more intentional.
Robert Cunningham: But it was stronger than that. I said Robert, you need to wake up. I was like…
Carina Cunningham: This is not a dream!
Robert Cunningham: Yeah, yeah. Stop dreaming, this is real.
Sammy Uyama: (Crosstalk) Like no nonsense. Like Robert, I like you but I am not interested in the boy. Be a man.
Robert Cunningham: Yeah, I need you to be here. You know? Right? Not like a dream.
Carina Cunningham: …not a dream.
Robert Cunningham: That was a, that was a good moment. Like, I think that was one of the big turning point. And that definitely came out…
Carina Cunningham: Yeah, he became more serious afterwards.
Sammy Uyama: Yeah.
Robert Cunningham: Well, cuz, yeah, no matter what, even though like I spent my life kind of, well not my life… I spent many years kind of preparing for this moment. It’s like still, it’s like when it happens, like, wow, it’s hard to like, really understand that this is really happening. And so actually a wake up call that, at least for me, and maybe some other people, too, is such a necessary thing to kind of be like, well, you’re right. Like this is actually happening. Like, are you, are you, are you, are you being, like, fully present? And you know, are you like, you’re really considering the fact that this isn’t just, you know, a trial or something like you’re really doing it?
Sammy Uyama: Yeah. So, I think something a lot of people would be wondering is, it’s like, okay, so doing a lot of prep work, before you’re even in relationship helps a lot beyond what you did together. So okay, like what did each of you do in that stage of your life before meeting each other? What was, what were those things that helped prepare you for that time when you began in relationship?
Carina Cunningham: In my case, for example, I always have a problem, maybe with crushes. So it was very scary. So but I knew that I, there was someone waiting for me. So for example, I knew that I needed to do something, some kind of condition or something to remind me like daily, normally, like on a monthly, in this case that there was someone waiting for me. So in my case, the age of 15, I started to write one letter per month, my future husband. I’m kind of like a diary, but as will remind me myself that there was actually someone waiting for me. And, of course, I know all those seven years because from the start, it was 13 years until now. Not all those are years where like, I was really perfect and I did everything perfect. No, but at the same time, I mean like, when I will edit a mistake, I will like write down and remember myself. Like, oh, this is something that, this mistake I did, or this something that happened. I need to have it like processes, processed. Or like the kind of (inaudible) and, and even like, overcome it before he comes. So it was like, before he comes I want to have these ready. I want to have this kind of like, organized, basically. So, yeah, I was like, oh, for me a very good condition to remind myself that there was someone waiting for me. And unless it will accept my flaws and it will accept the one thing I need, the good things that I need. And, and yeah as well, like as I say, I try as much as possible to clean my past to not bring any baggage to our relationship. So I will build very strong conditions to my like (inaudible) conditions or (inaudible) conditions or any any other kind of condition to get really feel like really ready to receive that person. And, and yeah I, and as at the same time, after as as a couple. But individually, like, I did that. So even from such a young age, like 15, you were… and I love where you said you emphasized a point where like you, you know, life’s still happened to you? Right? And then, like you have like ups and downs. But you were still really clear on your vision for your life and your end goal. And so even maybe you’re like how, like fast you felt you’re going forward on that path? You’re always really clear of that path. Mm hmm. And then that was like, like your compass. That’s always where you come back to in the end.
Carina Cunningham: Yeah, yeah. It really helped me. It really helped me because… It was funny because anytime I will do something wrong, I will like, how like, the M, I would write the letters at the end of the month. So anytime the month will end it was like, what are you gonna write to your future husband? What are you gonna write to him? Mm hmm. And like, so I was like, back of my mind like, are you sure about this? Um, yeah, sometimes like a couple months, I just like forget about it, like this is my life. But then, like, of course, like there’s such a big… not pressure but yeah, magnetism that a guy, if he shows you what is the path… isn’t it like, is a person, that person is there. So, and I felt like it was a strong condition when, when, when I gave Robert the letter, it was like, wow!
Sammy Uyama: Yeah, I was wondering, like how many letters did you end up having, and what did you do with them?
Robert Cunningham: I should have pulled it out, it was a thick book. So yeah maybe I can talk about that just shortly. Like receiving this offering that she made was like beyond words, you know. Actually how to describe how I felt about it, you know, and just how amazing it was. Because I definitely, no way was ever expecting this. You know…
Sammy Uyama: She didn’t know about this part yet?
Robert Cunningham: She just pulled out after, after we were blessed that day, she comes with this bag and it’s heavy and I’m like, what is this? You know, say that this isn’t a sweater. I pull it out. And yeah. And then I, as I looked through it I said you realize what it is? And she explains it to me. And so yeah, even in this, even now that this, there hasn’t even been the chance to look through them all. There’s so many because yeah, we’re talking seven years, one each month. And you know, they’re not just like a short paragraph. They’re like, well-invested letters, you know, a page or more. And they’re all in Spanish originally, right?
Carina Cunningham: Until I start to talk with him… Yeah, see, that’s another thing that makes it tricky to serve (crosstalk). But yeah, honestly, I you know, Carina is the type of person that when you meet her you can really tell the, her seriousness and sincerity towards bettering herself. And I felt that right away. And when I met her is like, wow, this is somebody who really, like, took their growth and took their faith seriously, you know? Their decisions, you know they’re really already, like, made sure that they were going to make those decisions you know, not just like life, let life make the decision for them or just like their parents make this decision. To really own, yeah, her life, her values, her faith. And you know, you could feel it so strongly from the beginning, but like this was like such a, like, I don’t know. It really proved to me, like, completely, like wow; she really did her work, you know, beforehand. And so I’m honestly so moved and so humbled by this, by her efforts. Oh, amazing. Yeah, I like even I still I still can’t believe it actually, in one sense, you know?
Sammy Uyama: Yeah, yeah. So let’s go to you, Robert, then. You know, what, what did your…
Robert Cunningham: So I have to talk after that?
Sammy Uyama: Unfortunately, yeah. What did your developmental years, look like and to bring you to this point?
Robert Cunningham: I think, I think the place that I would start was one area like, I guess like the one shadow my lift that I felt would, would scare me the most about, like being blessed actually, was the fact that one day someone might find out about my pornography habit. That’s something that I took part in for, for many years since I was maybe like, I don’t know, 13, on a pretty regular, consistent basis. And always it was kind of like something that like, okay, when I get blessed, before then I’ll have it wrapped up somehow. Like, how it like, I’ll be done with it. And actually, my cells won’t even need to know like, it’s, it’s something that like, you know, it doesn’t need to be my part of my life. But I was just I was kidding myself, you know, and I was always kind of like, going forward with that false hope. And I guess again, talking about a kind of like, a real reality check, it wasn’t really until kind of, I saw, I did a program called Generation Peace Academy. It’s a gap year program within our movement. And it’s all about character development and really owning and growing your faith. Usually it’s a one-year program. But I wanted to say, well, I just loved it. I read and I really wanted to help other people have similar experience. And I just wanted to keep growing myself in such a great environment. So I actually ended up staying for three years total. And even, it was actually kind of in that time when I started to, you know, realize that I needed to start working on this much more intentionally, you know, and I couldn’t, I could, I had to just stop hoping that it would just go away someday.
Sammy Uyama: You’re talking about pornography.
Robert Cunningham: Pornography. Yeah. Yeah. Because my experience there was like, I’d be on (inaudible), you know, for the, for kind of like the u-cost semester, right from like, September to like, December, Christmas break. And I’d slip you know, I’d slip with pornography. And it was always such like, like, what the heck, I thought that was gone. Okay, and then go into next semester, kind of be free of it. And then again, any break comes up, it would come up again. It’s pretty discouraging. But I think what really helped me to take things seriously was like, actually, within my third year on this program. I was told by my parents that there was a family who was interested in maybe starting a process with me at this time. And I remember, like, feeling such a, like, kind of actually fear, because I realized it’s like, wow, I hadn’t taken this out of my life yet, you know. And I, and I couldn’t imagine bringing this into my, you know, my blessing, you know, in the future. Like I just, it would kill me, you know, to do this sort of thing. So, that kind of helped me to like, really start to try to take more effort to tak things seriously in that regard. But even then, I am still trying to work into the loan. I really didn’t know how to deal with this. Because so far I’ve been, you know, trying different things. You know, like, but I was always, you know, kind of hitting the wall.
Sammy Uyama: So let’s, uh, let’s, before continuing your story, maybe share a little bit of why was this an important area for you to, to work on? Because I think I think a lot of people could relate with that desire, or even that feeling, oh, I hope that by the time in relationship will kind of naturally go away. Yeah, they have that hope. And then a lot of people would feel like, Oh, this is something I don’t want to bring into marriage. Yeah, I think that there’s also certain like some people that don’t necessarily recognize any repercussions or so; did you know why if you felt any effects from it, or basically why was this, like, specifically an area that you wanted to get a handle on? Well, I guess like one thing that like I, I really struggle with a lot growing up, it’s like, seeing that people didn’t really know me, you know. I had kind of like a part of me that was hiding, and it really made it hard to learn. I received people’s, you know, compliments or, you know, and it definitely affected the way I looked at myself. Like, even if people say like, wow, you know, you’re a good guy, you know, you really smile, you’re all these things. But actually part of me really hated myself for you know, doing this sort of thing, you know. And I always thought, like, wow, if only people knew, you know, they wouldn’t be saying this stuff to me. So it really really, you know, was attacking my conch, my confidence and just my self image. And I was just really unhealthy, you know, to really kind of hate myself in that way. So actually, you know, you bring a good point in one sense, because, like, although I really didn’t want to bring that to my blessing, I guess I just didn’t want to be that person into my blessing who didn’t, you know, like them stuff, you know, and who felt they had something that they were hiding, you know, who couldn’t really just be authentic and like, you know, real because I thought that would be so important. You know, in my future relationship is like to have on all the cards on the table, you know, and really be able to be known for who I am and to be accepted and to be loved in that way, you know? Um, so actually, yeah, at one point, my motivation became much more kind of, like, on the individual level of just like, I just want this out of my own life, you know. Because I guess Actually, I, I’ve focused down to more like the individual. Because I realize like, there’s kind of still a lot of like, pressure once that’s what you think about. Like, oh, I need to get this out of my life for my mom or my future or being, being a husband, being a father. It’s kind of, it’ can be heavy to think in that way. But I just thought, like, even just in my life right now, as a single individual, I don’t want this in my life. Like I’m really tired of the way it makes me feel. I always feel like crap. I always, you know, hate the fact that I’m like hiding something you know, and like, it’s like this, the secret that is just kind of eating me away from the inside. I want to get away from it, but I can’t and then not having the strength to get away from it makes you feel even like weaker. Because I don’t have the willpower. As I thought though, it was all about, right. I just needed the willpower to do it. And I obviously didn’t have enough of the willpower to do it.
Robert Cunningham: Yeah, that kind of the situation.
Sammy Uyama: Yeah, that’s a bad jam right there. We’ll highlight that section of this episode. It’s really amazing. Thank you. And so then, okay then, with that, in continuing – so you were approached by this family, which I’m guessing was…
Robert Cunningham: Actually, no. I had not entered the picture quite yet.
Sammy Uyama: Oh, okay, okay.
Robert Cunningham: Well, actually, we had met at that point.
Sammy Uyama: Right. But that wasn’t it. So you’ve gotten word some families.
Robert Cunningham: Yeah.
Sammy Uyama: And so that kind of stirred something up for you.
Robert Cunningham: Yeah. Because I realized just how not ready I was yet because I hadn’t taken this out of my life yet. And so of course we told this family, you know, I’m not ready. And it really just got me starting to be much more kind of serious about it. It wasn’t until the summer of 2017, when I had the chance to go to a, well, a High Noon… how would you call it? I guess the seminar in, in Washington at the Wolfenbergers’ house, actually. And actually, at that time, where you guys High Noon or were you Pure Mind?
Sammy Uyama: I don’t remember that point. Maybe Pure Mind.
Robert Cunningham: Yeah. Pure Mind. I think I want to send you a…
Sammy Uyama: (crosstalk) and Andrew do like the mini…
Robert Cunningham: Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Yes, he did. Yeah. Andrew Love. He did a mini talk with us. And actually, I initially, I came there thinking, oh, yeah, I’m gonna hear to learn and I wonder what I learned. I want to help other people. But it’s funny, like, just before that time, I had a slip. And I realized, like, wow, I really need help still, you know. I have to keep, I stopped pretending like, I’ve got things under control here because I don’t. And so, going to talk and being invited to actually join this program, you know, which was going to be 90 days, you know, learning content, and also joining a small group, accountability group, it still took a little bit for me to join, but eventually I did start in I think, end of August. I joined and right away, right away, I noticed just how impactful it was. I mean, just the fact of coming together with a group of guys, every week, once a week, and just sharing honestly, you know, and it’s like, you really start to kind of look at yourself much more, just honestly, and you look at yourself, you know, there’s a lot more chance for reflection. And as you share, and you get comfortable sharing, you realize that actually, you know, this isn’t something I have to be ashamed of. Well, yes, I can feel guilty, but I don’t have to feel ashamed. And then, and then kind of hide it away. But actually, I can bring it to the, to the table, and actually be able to look at and be like, well, why am I doing this? You know, how is this still coming up? And really, it was like in that 90-day period, while also listening to really good content from actually Sammy, and Andrew, who were the ones who actually make the content like the videos and the writing to really, as I said, learning more about this issue and learning about, wow, okay, so this actually has triggers around, surrounding what we do. And actually, oh, we also have rituals that we get into. So it’s not just something that just like comes out of the blue. Actually, we kind of walk ourselves down this path, it’s actually we can kind of trace back, we can realize that all this emotional response, you know, you know, this is the response I have to this emotion, actually. So why don’t I deal with it differently? Like so, it was a such an eye-opening time for me. And again, it was such, such an amazing experience to be able to share with people finally, you know, on a regular basis. And I think that in itself is really probably the most healing part of the whole recovery process. So actually, I had really great results in my first 90 days. And I had a huge breakthrough of just like, finding out like where I was really kind of getting stuck and then putting a putting a lid on it, which is my phone and (inaudible). Since that, since that night I put my phone away in a different room and it really like such a small action, but actually it really changed things for me. And then just, I continued with High Noon kind of since then. But of course my my role has changed as like a facilitator but constantly I wanted to keep working on sharing like that. You know, just being, sharing honestly from, I mean,what really happened to my situation. Not trying to tell any white lies, not trying to like make anything sound better than it was. But just trying to really be honest with what really happened and you know, only from that place of honesty be able to make a re-determination.
Carina Cunningham: I have something to add. I got the opportunity to read Robert’s notebook with his reflections about that time, and I can really see he wasn’t a person who be the program in a passive way. Oh I’m going to just watch the video, then I just read the content. He was really, really, really active, really into it. He was like, all the suggestions, like reflections, he will like get it in another level, because he was really serious and consistent each day of the program to make sure like, right. It wasn’t something just like, oh, let’s make this done or something like that. It was really like, I need, I need this and and he was really really active with that. Very intentional with that and basically he wouldn’t put it as a priority. And for me like receiving that as well, is such a different, when, when you receive, when someone shares with you all the effort that they put. Pray, prayer with this uh, this problem; you’re gonna feel, like, hurt. You don’t feel anything because you know that there were like effort behind that, you know. And it’s just, I don’t see the pro… I then, I don’t see, I feel, receive any problem. I just feel like I receive all the effort. All the effort that he took to overcome. So yeah, of course, like, it wasn’t easy even like afterwards. But yeah, I can see the effort, and just the effort is such an amazing thing. So knowing that someone is serious about it and,,yeah it’s amazing.
Sammy Uyama: Yeah, really, really amazing stuff. So you, and one of the, one of the thing was like the liberation of experience. I know what you said earlier about never feeling people really knew you. I saw you and then kind of experiencing that for the first time. And then really taking your life by taking responsibility and ownership for your life and not looking for something else to change you in any way. But using that, like as an opportunity to invest in yourself. Sounds like you did, really, like proactively. Yeah. And that actually didn’t realize that I knew and had such a huge chance. Like it was such a catalyst for like this turning point in your life.
Robert Cunningham: Oh, yeah. You know, it has such a, like, the feeling of being like kind of known was so like, like, wow, you know, in my life that actually… So, as I said, I started with High Noon in August 2017. And I, I felt like I had like, well, actually, I stopped watching porn in November, actually. And of course, I didn’t know for sure that was gonna be my last time viewing porn, but you know, it was. And I continue the process since then. But I was like, had such a good experience with it. That actually starting to January, I made my own personal blog sharing actually more kind of like what was, what I thought and what I valued and like putting it out there in the world. And it’s funny because that’s something I never would have imagined doing. But, and it wasn’t, I didn’t initially think of it. But especially as I look back now, I can see the connection very clearly. It’s like, wow, it’s like, because of that, I felt so much more like lighter, free and it oh, you know, have the courage to do that kind of thing.
Carina Cunningham: And through that blog, we started to write together,(crosstalk). We were like accountable partners on blogging the year before…
Sammy Uyama: You both, you both like writing?
Carina Cunningham: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Robert Cunningham: So this is in the stage before we had actually, intentionally started to be in relationship. I was actually…
Carina Cunningham: We were just friends, being accountable in our writing on the blog.
Robert Cunningham: Yeah, but I feel like it helped us to kind of get a little, get to know each other a little better and you know.
Sammy Uyama: It’s where I stand. That’s your…
Robert Cunningham: That’s right. Yeah.
Sammy Uyama: Yeah, I’ve read your blog.
Robert Cunningham: Oh, you have. Okay.
Sammy Uyama: Yeah, how many times, the posts that you’ve made?
Robert Cunningham: Yeah. Well, I did. I did it for a whole year. At least, at least once. I want to do once a month. So that was 2018. So 2019 I didn’t do any, but yeah… That was good experience.
Sammy Uyama: So basically, just to wrap up everything, everything you said what I’m hearing is that all this amazing stuff that you have going on your life? I’m the personal reason for how…
Robert Cunningham: Well, yes. That’s one way we can put it….
Carina Cunningham: … you think of it that way.
Sammy Uyama: No, in jest. I’m inspired to hear how much like, yeah, just you really did the work. Like, the effort you put in and to growing and really with the mindset of like when you… you didn’t know when. But when you’ll be in a relationship with someone, you wanted to be someone that could give them something? Like, you said it perfectly, Carina, that you didn’t feel like you’re getting his problems, you were just getting all of his effort.
Carina Cunningham: Exactly.
Sammy Uyama: And that wasn’t by accident. Like you. That’s exactly what you wanted is that you didn’t, you weren’t looking for relationship just to get something, and you didn’t want what you give to be, like a bad burden to the other person. You want him to be able to contribute something. And so that’s the kind of work that you put in. Nice, super awesome.
Robert Cunningham: Thank you. Yeah. Can I just make one note? Because it’s something that like, as I’ve facilitated some groups and been a part of other groups, I realized that yes, definitely personal initiative. And your own effort is important, but so many, like, I’ve made my personal effort before joining High Noon. But I, I didn’t have the structure that was needed. So one thing that if anyone’s listening who’s, you know, thinking about doing the program, you know, is in the program, I’d really say actually, really surrender to the process, actually, you know? So if it tells you to reflect, reflect, you know? If it’s, if you’re, if you’re meant to share, share. It’s just something that, like, I’ve run into a lot, and it’s just something that I want to kind of add to that. To the, to that point. Yeah, that’s…
Sammy Uyama: Yeah, that’s awesome. Just in, in so many areas, it’s like the difference that it makes between doing like the minimum requirement to and like going full out. And it’s like really what you brought to your experience going through the program. And I guess it, like you’ve facilitated many people by this point. And I’m sure you’ve seen the, the different results that reflect people’s attitude to the program. Right. So, you know, that’s kind of, that was like a perfect combination of, like, my question was about your own individual process. And then you also segue that into how you became involved with High Noon. Now you personally got it, initially, like, always want to learn how to help other people, right? And, right? But then actually, like, oh, yeah, I need to work on myself and then doing the work on yourself. But then also when the time is right, turning around and looking for ways to help other people along the path that you would come. And so up until this point, facilitating really consistently for many groups; many groups, few groups, right?
Robert Cunningham: Yeah, it’s a few groups but yeah for longer periods of time.
Sammy Uyama: And, and I’m also curious about Carina like, because you’re also like an accountability partner for female participants and available as facilitator; have you actually facilitated?
Carina Cunningham: Yeah, yeah.
Sammy Uyama: Okay. And so you’ve experienced facilitating as well for female participants. But what was like your personal, your personal interest in connecting with High Noon? I remember when we first met it was at the summer camp in California and my wife and I spoke and you came up to us after and you’re very inspired. So like, what inspired you about High Noon and that, because let me just brag about Carina a little bit. So a lot of people, they come up to us and they’re like, oh, this is so amazing. How can I help and, and then people have the desire to help. Then the desire fades. But Carina is someone that really like stuck with it and really stayed in touch and was always like, really proactively, like hey, you know, what can I do? What can I do? And so I want to speak that. So you’ve contributed a lot to our work but where did that come from?
Carina Cunningham: Well, so actually in my last months of high school, I was in a relationship outside of our values. And that became a very big, like I have a breakthrough. And after six months of that lifestyle, and, and yeah, I kind of like gone back to the path. But those months become a very big, dark and huge shadow in my life that I felt that I didn’t deserve anything. Like I’m in basically this habit to leave. I was like, leaving chills because God saved me. So God saved me. I don’t deserve to live. I’m basically like, I just need to do what God.. Yeah (inaudible). But if God needs me, I got to be there because I don’t have the right to leave. Basically that was kind of like my attitude and it was like a huge shadow in my life. And I was like full of (inaudible, guilty?) and fear that these, like, I don’t even felt like I deserve someone in my life. So when I just made it, when I met High Noon, it was just a moment that we were starting the process. But as things start to get serious, I started, this shadow and it was in my life, and start to be like bigger and bigger and bigger, like I don’t deserve this. This is, this is a blessing that I don’t deserve. He’s, he’s amazing. I’m, I’m trash and kind of like, all these guilt that I was working on before. But it was like more on (goatee goatee – guilty??). I need to look (inaudible) to kind of like cover all that I do. When if you see him first with me was like just six months on like, like twenty three years of life. But that six months took over all my life, like kind of like a huge, the way that I was bringing it. And then I heard like I, I received the final talk about purity and I saw it changed my life. Because (inaudible) then I know that , that purity wasn’t a… lot of you…. but it breaks and it will never come back. I that’s what I felt. Like okay, that’s my purity. It broke and it will never come back again. And I like just trash. But then like hearing that, oh, that concept of purity yeah, actually wrong. It’s bad. Purity is like a plant that you need to grow, take care of, put some water on. And, and yeah, like maybe at some point in your life, like, there might be mistakes and (inaudible) something to plant. But the plant can keep growing afterwards. It doesn’t need to be like break, and like your life can, you can still grow your purity. Nonsense. Now they’ve broken? Like, forget about it. So I will, I was like so really? What? Why no one told me that befor?e I was so relieved that, I was so amazed that, yeah, its just like I felt like doesn’t make sense and that’s what I felt like. I, I actually do conditions and I deserve to live. And I deserve to be happy. And, and it’s hard to keep working. So maybe I didn’t have as much like problem with pornography, but I still like know that all these sexual integrity problems are connected and you feel the same kind of, like feeling of either like guilt or shame. It’s like all those things become a shadow in your life. I don’t remember any, like the church will tell me, like don’t share! No need to share, is like all forgiven. I like, how I can keep going in this relationship without sharing this and I, like I was like, give me feeling more shame for it. But, but yeah, after, after that I was like, wow. And I should, I would throw over and I received grace. I was like, whoa. These, these are very, very what is supposed to be so I told myself even like before, I know, I, I knew that my call. But it was a call more because I feel like in the end we start to leave and now I feel like it’s a call because I’m alive and happy now. But I really, what am I causing when I was like I don’t want nobody have to go through the same path either. Like, go to the same path or needed to mistakes in order to realize their path. There’s, I don’t know if it’s something for everyone that needs to go through that path. But at the same time, I don’t want anyone who does mistake to feel like they cannot go back to feel like they there’s just guilty and the shadow and their life is gonna be just for that. Sure thing. Your life is just like (inaudible). So, yeah I think there’s another thing is and then that is a process and that was like something I thought it was like okay that mistake. I received like God’s forgiveness. And either like I talked with a leader, with my parents or whatever and okay, that’s it, it was in the past. You never have to check it again. But it was there in my mind. It was there killing me is, isn’t it? And I’m (inaudible) about people like that. So that’s in the past don’t even like look in there, forget about it. How am I gonna forget what is there, like killing me from inside. When only through High Noon like I learned that it is a process. It is a process of growing yourself, knowing yourself, at the same time creating habits. Who do you want to be? Knowing your original self. Growing, like, that part of, that part of, of you through that. The shadow is gonna, it’s gonna almost like, become part of you. But in the process of growing, not like something that is killing you, but it’s something that is kind of like real. Yeah. Compost.
Sammy Uyama: Almost. Yeah.
Carina Cunningham: You know, it’s like trash to plant. Something like good and horrible. But if you become like a compost for you to grow like, more like, is, is such a, it really helps.
Sammy Uyama: Oh, that’s fantastic. I never thought of that.
Robert Cunningham: Did you just come up with that?
Carina Cunningham: Another word that they told me before.
Robert Cunningham: Oh, okay.
Sammy Uyama: It’s like the, I mean, the analogy that I’ve used before. It’s like this. In Japan they’ve got this art form where like, it’s like something; a jar breaks, then they, they glue back together with a gold thing. So all these cracks are gold-filled. So it kind of highlights the flaws. And, and I really feel that’s how like how God views us. We know God does not demand perfection from us, but that we have this opportunity for grace to come back from like a trash or, you know the, the things that we are ashamed of and our mistakes. And then it’s like one level but then the next level is actually to use those experiences, too, as part of our growth and then even to like, give back to the people. And then sounds like you know, it’s like what you have that heart to like, you don’t want people to live with this. You know, this guilt that you had, t’s really crazy, right, that your whole 23 years of life in this six month period at so much control over you. And it wasn’t even, it was a shadow that not even was ongoing, but something had happened and finished. Yeah, it was still like, controlling you so much. Yeah. Yeah, I actually remember when we met and you’re mentioning like, oh, yeah. Here’s… don’t talk to Robert, he is just beginning. And I remember you had asked, your debating, you’re thinking like, I want to kind of share about this with him and I don’t know, like, how will it go? And is it a good idea? And it’s so amazing to see years later the, the other side of that of, you know, in the very beginning for you two and just whether you’re even not sure if you should even share some, something particular. And now, you have the most really incredible kind of relationship of a knowing of one another and you’re married now. It’s really incredible.
Carina Cunningham: Yeah, and from then on we share everything. Even when we, like, our trigger with said like, emotion system. We know each other and like we help each other, support each other to, like we’re both going through this path of sexual integrity. We want both to experience sexuality together in the right moment. So we support each other even in the difficult times. So we try to view that, that kind of like the kind of values of honestly, grace ,and accountability in our life. Yeah.
Sammy Uyama: Yeah, it’s um, so that’s enough. Then, thank you for, like, kind of sharing your backgrounds. So amazing. And I think the last thing I wanted to cover with you guys is you have a really unusual relationship and just the level of unusual it’s like remarkable. It’s like another word, just like the level of openness that you have with each other is really a non-ordinary right? Like do you get, do you see that? I don’t know if you like you expect it’s, it’s really, yeah. I don’t know really how to say but just like you’re both, your commitment to like being known by one another and so opening yourselves up for that honesty and that kind of exposing yourself in you know the weakness; you’re letting yourself, like, vulnerable to, you know, if you wanted to hurt one another. But having that trust with each other and you know sharing and for many people that can mean different things. But for yourselves the, the things that you do have, the shadows that you have in your lives, and like things that you carry guilt around, like having the courage and the bravery to share those with each other and not just once. But like, continuously even this, you make it fun even like this emoji thing as a process to be able to share very openly with one another. And that’s really something else. And so like, I guess my, you know, my question then would be, I guess how were you able to develop that kind of relationship? First, you can answer, and then the other one be like, so what’s, what value have you seen and having that kind of relationship? Or maybe the value on first sight? Like why is it worth it? And then, you know, how did you develop that?
Robert Cunningham: I feel like the love we feel is like, really, it’s like deeper and it’s, it’s real, because one thing I would add though, is like even if we’ve had those experiences, it’s still good. It’s actually good. Though you know, each time, you know, you make a mistake, you do something, and you feel like oh my gosh, you know, she won’t be able to, like, accept this or, you know, be able to forgive this or understand this, you know, and I mean, and this is also what you can feel towards God too is like, oh gosh, like God can’t forgive me for this mistake, even if you’ve received grace actually before. So I feel it’s always kind of been like a constant kind of like, we’re like a little bit of a fear but then you do it and then you realize just how amazing the other person’s capacity for like love and understanding forgiveness is. And that just makes you feel on top of the moon, you know, and someone like, actually, often our experiences. Like we had some kind of like something, you know, we had to tell like, honestly about, you know, to each other. There’s always like afterwards we felt even more connected with each other. That, that’s always our experience, you know,
Carina Cunningham: I mean really healthy, like when, when you’re in the process, they allow growth. Of course the hormones are there. So, so many times you feel like a trigger like you can get to find your imagination and imagination can be like, you’d be like wars and then real life. But when you’re like, hey, look, I went too far with imagination.
Sammy Uyama: Don’t need too much imagination with this handsome face.
Carina Cunningham: But it’s real with… long distance relationship, you just keep thinking, imagining things and sometimes you go for and like, you get triggered. Yeah. And it’s such an incredible scene, like, you send them watching the person. They say, hey, I’m here. Like, hey, the person who I’m talking now is real, not the one who is in my mind. I’m like, all that many times with colleagues, friends, like all that. A trigger like, they just will. They just go out, because it’s like, he’s real. No, that one case in my mind…
Robert Cunningham: You know what you’re waiting for. Yeah, you know, you know just looking you actually realize like,wow, this momentary satisfaction might have this moment is nothing compared to what I want with this person who’s there’s, who’s waiting for me. And that’s that’s what those moments are.
Carina Cunningham: Yeah, I will like just being even more intentional say like, okay, I’m going through this, but I want to express this with you so I’m gonna wait. And just when you do the declaration, your body follows your declaration so when you live in the equation and you make it an external from you, it happened like your body that needs to follow your mind. Because you’ll be very (inaudible) so it’s really, really helpful. That’s how the body felt.
Sammy Uyama: Wow. Yeah, I mean after what you just described, I mean, like I don’t want anything else. That’s really amazing. Yes, like the, you know, like a real like, gourmet hamburger versus McDonald’s, you know, I mean, the real deal versus an imitation. It’s like, what you just, what you just described as like the real thing that, that, yeah. And so I guess for you just that was the axis for that is that openness with one another?
Carina Cunningham: Yeah. And we’ll just say like, how we did it. I think it’s just a process. Yeah, you want to start from day one, sharing. But as long as you’re getting like, you start to share about your boss and then like, you compete with each other on growing and helping each other’s accountability. Like, hey, I want to be accountable for you and vice versa. And then like it comes naturally, and anytime that happens, you need to feel like strong like I want to be honest with the other person because we don’t want to bring any shows. And that’s why these (inaudible) in it, like be completely ourselves for each other. So, yeah, it comes in that process of naturally sharing.
Sammy Uyama: Wow. And so especially I love where you emphasize is that, so like being really clear on how the value and how worth it is. But then also I love that you mentioned it’s a, Robert, what you said, it said, like a new battle each time. That’s such a key thing. Yeah, is that and that’s what really keeps it alive. I think it’s like a re-experience of it. And hearing, hearing you share that was like really, I was like reflective, like completely mirroring my own experience with it. It’s exactly the same, like you are two years getting to know each other. But even like my wife and I’ve been together for 10 years, and it’s just continuously like the same, the same. And so it’s so amazing.
Robert Cunningham: So it never gets easier?
Sammy Uyama: It gets, I guess the It Gets, it gets easier in the training of it. I don’t know. Like, it’s just like, becomes this is what I do. Right. And this, but that scariness, it’s I think it’s an important thing for people to know that that’s part of it. Right? And then that’s what makes it such a ,you know, like that, that risk that’s there, right? And then taking that is what makes it really an extraordinary experience. Wow, you guys. Just amazing. Amazing to hear from you. Yeah. Did you like Robert, did you want to add anything about kind of like how you’re able to have, yeah, like taking a process, right? And then, i don’t know, to add anything? Like how you were to able to develop this kind of relationship?
Robert Cunningham: I mean, that’s that was a pretty good kind of like, way to put it. It’s like, yeah, it’s process. It takes time. I mean, I feel like the connection’s kind of already out there, but maybe just to restate it. I really felt like doing, you know, you know, actually years of like accountability group, like learning how to share and be like, I don’t want to talk about this and the call is coming, but you share about it. I really felt like that’s what I needed. Because I was always kind of like someone who kept things to myself and especially my mistakes. I felt like I needed that time to learn how to do that, you know, so, even just articulate my feelings and be able to say it in a way that’s like, also sensitive to the other person. I think it’s important, you know, it’s not just something like, oh, yeah, this one I did. You know, you have to understand that the other person, they care about you, but also it’s like, you know, the impact that it might have on them like this, I think there’s a lot of like, empathy and you know, care that has to be taken in order to do you know, in order to share the sort of things.
Sammy Uyama: So what you’re saying is that everybody listening should go sign up for High Noon’s program and get practice sharing in their groups
Robert Cunningham: It’s actually just such a good experience. Like, even though like I made such good connections with people on a deeper level than like, everyone, you know, there’s just some kind of like, there’s something special about like when you really can just be honest and real with people. Then you don’t even need to know what they do in their free time. Like what’s their job? It’s like you’ve already connected on like a much deeper level than you know people you’ve maybe even known your whole life. I mean, that’s my experience with it. It’s like, it was, that alone is cool.
Sammy Uyama: Yeah, so I guess just to kind of wrap things up then we talked about I mean, everything you said is so amazing. I’m so totally is like, up until this point in our podcast, me, the most exciting episode I’ve been a part of. And then so you know, you shared some amazing things. And so for people listening, what would you hope for them to be inspired by or to maybe like to take action on? Or to you, know something you know, for, for the people listening, oh, any like parting words what would you hope for them to get out of this conversation that we all had?
Carina Cunningham: I think like I notice about sexual integrity and for each person, (inaudible) has something that hurts more than other thing. Maybe someone is fighting with pornography, is on, is fighting against masturbation. Maybe someone is fighting about like sexual integrity itself or something is say fighting about sexual integrity in an emotional level. Like I think there is like in the realm of sexual integrity, there are very different areas that we should know which one is the one that hurts us the most. And use sources like High Noon or other sources to actually like work on it. Before being in a relationship or even afterwards in a relationship, I know like, what are my flaws and how I can do it? I feel like sometimes we don’t feel related because they don’t actually talk about our problem itself. But I feel like we had to connect Oh, this is actually this is my problem and this can I think he can help me. So yeah, seeing High Noon as a sexual integrity thing by itself, isn’t it Like, we can talk about, like many different things, (inaudible) , all related with sexual integrity. So yeah, knowing what, what are your flaws and what you can work on that in a healthy way. You say like, in a very healthy way for yourselves and find accountability; someone or a group or a place that really can help you in the process because it’s not gonna be there one day to the other. You become a totally different persona, like, all these problems just like finish. Yeah, find the place where you can receive that grace and the help for through this process. That whatever is your sexual integrity flaw or problem. Yeah.
Sammy Uyama: So, so for people to really be reflective on themselves and find where they need to grow and then, and then to get support in that.
Carina Cunningham: Exactly, exactly. Yeah. Exactly.
Sammy Uyama: Perfect. Thank you. And, you know, Robert, what about yourself?
Robert Cunningham: How to just (inaudible).
Sammy Uyama: Imagine, like we really have a really broad audience of you know, people. I don’t know actually who our audiences, so yeah let us know who you are. But uh, you know just imagine some people listening and you have an opportunity to part something and what you, what you’d hope for them in their life, what ,what would that be?
Robert Cunningham: Well, actually the one thing that kind of came into mind was just like the simple just like never get discouraged, you know? Never kind of give up on this. Like, I’ve been there, you know? I’ve been in this state of mind where like, well, I don’t know if I’ll ever get over this issue; whatever your, you know, issue is. But like important thing is like understand that yeah, it is a process of life and each each stumble we have can actually be a stepping stone rather than like a mistake that you feel like oh, like I I screwed everything up. Back to zero. No, like every every mistake you make. every slip can actually be a stepping stone for it, as long as you learn from it. As long as you’re willing to like look at it and be like hey, like ,Ttis happened. I’m forgiven. Like God’s already forgiven. This guy’s already seen this. And like, especially when you share with other people, then you get the acceptance and forgiveness of other people, then actually, you can only move forward, actually. So that would be my biggest thing. Because like, whatever path you have to take to get to where you want to be, most important thing is just never to give up on that. You have to just keep trying, even if it looks there, even if it looks like you’re taking steps backwards, actually, at a point, you can always go forward again.
Sammy Uyama: Thank you. So thank you so much for this wonderful conversation that we were able to have. And it was such a pleasure and I enjoyed it. Yeah. And of course, we’ll be in communication. You know, we’ll still be talking a lot together. And maybe if other people like this conversation, we’ll have you on again. We’ll see. So, and I thank you very much.
Robert Cunningham: Yeah. Thank you, Sammy. Thanks for having us on.