September 18, 2012 by A Girl Like Me
We never wanted to claim that we knew everything on the topic of sex. Actually, we hope that you’ve seen that we are learning and relearning a lot when it comes to all the arenas that surround this tricky topic. One arena we knew we’d never be able to fully relate to was the struggle with pornography and masturbation. Neither of us finding it a problem, Kelly and I wanted to make sure we had some way to give you hope and insight into these dark trenches. So we did what we do best and we asked for help. What we found were two amazing women who both have battled this sin, both from differing backgrounds and both at very different places in their healing. Below are their stories. We hope that you will find hope and encouragement as you read them. But most of all, we pray that you would see the grace of our Father and that he truly is for us and not against us as we walked this bumpy path to freedom.
I still remember the day I hit my lowest point. I was babysitting, and when the kids’ mom got home, she paid me a really nice compliment. “Audrey, I hope my daughter grows up to be just like you–you’re such a great girl.” Her kindness cut me to the heart. Everything in me cried out that, if she really knew me, she would never have said those words. I was secretly, and to my shame, battling a pornography addiction. I had happened upon it by accident at 15, flipping channels–it was leaking through our television. I had no idea what it was at the time, but I was hooked before I knew it. Suddenly I was sneaking downstairs to find it, and even though I’d never been exposed to it before, I knew in my heart that it was wrong. Something was very off about it. I was deeply entangled for several years…it consumed my thoughts when I laid down in bed at night, and I found myself all too often giving in to it, only to cry bitter tears of regret afterwards. Over and over I apologized to God, and promised that I wouldn’t “do it again.” I finally managed to stop watching it at the age of 17, but not until I was 19 did I start experiencing real freedom from the effects of it. I continue that journey today, walking further up and further in to the freedom that lies on the other side of sexual addiction.
The fruit of my pornography addiction included self-loathing, narcissism, and a warped understanding of my own sexuality, as well as the sexuality of others–these things took mere moments to develop and have taken years to unravel. But I am overjoyed to be able to tell you that I have been changed so deeply, so fundamentally, so radically, that the Audrey who was once addicted to pornography is a drastically different woman, joyful and free and new! Pornography no longer has any hold on me. I have left it behind and shed my old skin.
What helped me escape this crippling addiction is as follows:
I came to understand that Jesus wanted to be Lord of my whole life–my sex life, my interior life, my prayer life, all of it. And if I wanted that too, I had to let Him help me experience freedom from the sins that held me hostage.
- I couldn’t experience that freedom without allowing Him to give it to me. One of the ways He gave it to me was by convicting me to share my struggle with others. I picked a few close friends and told them. I was shaking in my boots…and wouldn’t you know it, each of them had been struggling with the same problem in one form or another? All of a sudden I knew I was not alone, and that was extremely freeing.
- I learned that pornography incites lust by stripping human beings of their God-given dignity as male and female bodies knit to eternal souls. Think of it this way: a ghost is frightening because it is a spirit without a body, and a corpse is frightening because it is a body without a spirit. We were knit together as body and spirit by God, and even in heaven we will have new bodies–watching pornography or lusting after someone is robbing them of the dignity they were given by God as a created being–it is not His plan for us to experience sexuality in that way.
- Pornography was disrespectful of myself in the same way it was disrespectful of others. In the same way that I stripped and robbed others of their dignity, I stripped myself of my own dignity by abusing my body and my mind with pornography and compulsive masturbation. It was not God’s plan for me to experience my own sexuality in that way.
- There is always, always mercy and forgiveness for me. Always.
Change doesn’t happen overnight. I had many, many slip ups and falls along the way. I still keep my guard up, because even though I have experienced freedom from this for 10 years now, I am still human, and pornography is still very difficult to escape. The thing is, freedom doesn’t come just from not watching it, or not masturbating–freedom comes from knowing your identity in Christ—knowing that God created you as a body and a spirit knit together in His image, with an inescapable dignity that is stamped on you—knowing that you are not alone in your struggle—and knowing that there is mercy greater than all your sin. You do not have to shoulder the burden of pornography or sexual addiction by yourself—you are loved and you are not alone.
People often ask me what advice I would give to a girl struggling with anything in this vein; I always say the same thing. Confess your sins to God, and then confess your sins to someone else who can pray for you. You will never be really free until you name it aloud. When you call your sin by name, it begins to lose its power over you. No longer does it reign over you in secret. Suddenly it has a name, and it is known by another—that is the first step in finding healing from pornography addiction. It will teach you to stop fearing it, and also teach you that you are not alone.
And remember–there is always, always mercy for you in the heart of God. “O Holy Night” is a hymn I have always loved — and one of my favorite lines reads as follows; “He knows our need; to our weakness He’s no stranger.” I leave you with those words in hope that you find peace tonight in your heart knowing that Jesus is no stranger to your weakness–He is the perfect Saviour for you.
A note: here is a website I highly recommend for people dealing with pornography addiction. http://theporneffect.com/
“Every hurt and shame you carry, all the tears and pain you’ve buried
Every broken dream and every doubt, all the wounds that left you shattered
Worried that you just don’t matter, every fear that you will be found out
Do not be afraid
Oh, let yourself, let yourself be known
You don’t need, you don’t need to hide, step into the light and be known
Let yourself be known.” – Abandon
Hi, my name is Lori and I’m 24. I live in a small town just south of Hartford, Connecticut (yes, Christians do exist in the Northeast). I’ve been in this ever-growing, ever-painful, ever-beautiful journey with Christ for about 5 years now and I’m learning to love every moment of it (even those painful, awful moments). Oh yeah…one more thing about me? I’m a recovering porn addict.
I guess it took me a long time to not only realize it, but also to begin to admit it to people. You see, I was the girl that was always everyone’s friend in high school – always the girl that always tried to be nice to all the different groups but never really fit in with the popular crowd. It didn’t help that I was about 50 pounds overweight at the time and couldn’t get a date even if I tried. I was the girl who asked a guy to senior prom, only to get rejected right before prom….only to find out that he was gay. And he had just come out. Yes, seriously. If that wasn’t a great opener to my encounters with men, I don’t know what is.
Needless to say, I didn’t have my first real relationship until I was 19. I was actually friends with the first guy I dated for a while before I even thought he would ever date me. He was in a 4 year relationship with a girl but then they broke up and we began dating 6 months after (red flag #1). In between that time, he was hooking up with a few “friends” that were girls (red flag #2, 3, 4, 5). When we first began dating, he swore he broke off all connections, so the first two months were great. Then, we were out to dinner one night and his ex-girlfriend (the girl of 4 years) was at the same restaurant and from there, she basically made it her personal mission to get him back and make my life a living hell.
So, I did what any hopelessly in love and desperate-to-keep-him girl does. I had sex with him.
She continued to pursue him for months. He didn’t stop her. Nor did he stop the other girls that he was “just friends with” from coming around.
So, I did what any naïve, hopeless girl does – I watched porn. Lots of it. I attempted to learn new things to “keep him”.
You see, I had gotten saved 6 months before this – was on fire for Jesus, but then when this guy became single, the only man I was concerned about was him. At that time, it was like, Jesus…who?
From there, the casual watching porn became more obsessive and I thrived on learning new things and the results of them. I couldn’t stop. Something about watching porn was – almost therapeutic, I guess. It’s kind of hard to describe, but like any sin, it was a great way to numb the pain and mask what I was truly feeling inside. Porn was like a drug that gave me the momentary high I needed – that rush of endorphins,the feeling that I was invincible and could do anything. I loved it – I thrived on it. But as quickly as it came, it would leave and pretty soon I found myself wanting more.
I remember one day, this guy and I were literally in the middle of having sex (which at this point was a pretty normal occurrence) and clear as day, I heard God say to me “Beloved, what are you doing? This isn’t what I want for you.” That shook me to the core for days, because even though I was new to the faith, I KNEW that was God. I just knew. But, like anyone caught in sin, I brushed it off and continued doing what I was doing. Months went by, and my relationship with that guy rapidly went down the tubes. After our relationship finally ended, I dated another guy (we’ll call him guy #2) for a couple of months. He was much sweeter and did NOT do the things that the first guy did. However, I couldn’t help but compare him to the first guy I dated – including down to sex.
I will never forget the day that I did not want to have sex with guy #2. I honestly didn’t enjoy it. I tried everything, but I was like…okay, seriously? What gives? It was as if God took away my body and my senses. Shortly after, guy #2 and I broke up. I ended it with him, because God was seriously moving in a HUGE way in my life and I didn’t know what the heck was going on. My world was shattering and I pushed him and most of my other friends away.
During that time, I was in-between churches, single, not fellowshipping with anyone from a church, and was seriously depressed. The weight of not only one, but TWO failed relationships attacked my mind and I did the only thing I could to cope – watch porn and masturbate. What was once a casual and kind of a re-occurring, just-to-learn-thing became an addiction.
I don’t know what it’s like to be addicted to drugs or alcohol (thank the Lord) but I DO know what it’s like to addicted to watching porn. And man…it is NO JOKE. It got to the point where I couldn’t fall asleep at night unless I had watched porn and masturbated. Sex was all I thought about. Women are wired to be thinking of many different things all at once, which can be a blessing or a curse. For me, it was a curse. If you were to take a picture of my mind, every part of it would say “sex sex sex sex sex sex”. It was consuming. All it would take was one mental image or dirty thought and I would descend into this pit of emotions and feelings. It was a way that I could express myself and get what I needed, because no one knows me like I know myself, right?
I will never forget my breaking point. . My mom was asleep on one of our couches one night and I was watching tv on the other couch. An actor who I think is very attractive was on SNL and since she was out cold, I thought I’d take advantage of that moment to myself. Yes, I masturbated in front of my mom without her knowing. And, to this day, she still doesn’t know. And she won’t. Ever.
I was talking to one of my best friends from college one day – her parents are pastors, and she’s grown up in the Lord. She wears a purity ring and one day, we were talking about them. I hinted that I wondered what it would be like to have a purity ring, but I quickly shrugged it off because I had already “tainted” myself. She kind of stopped and stared at me, and ever so lovingly looked at me and said, “Lori…you have to understand that God forgives you. Have you asked Him for His forgiveness for what you’ve done? A purity ring isn’t just because you haven’t had sex. It’s accepting the fact that Christ took that on the cross for you and now, you’re free….no matter what you’ve done.”
It was as if the Lord opened up heaven and spoke. I could be forgiven of it? Seriously?
I prayed about it, found a “true love waits” ring and put it on. Although it was a struggle, for 2.5 years, I did not have sex. Or masturbate. Or watch porn.
And not because of the ring, although it is a great physical reminder.
It was because of the fact that GOD IS GOD….and GOD IS GOOD.
The end of last month, though, was the first time in 2.5 years that I fell. I gave in to temptation and while I didn’t watch porn, I saw some pretty provocative things on Facebook that I shouldn’t have looked at but did anyway. After it was all over, it wasn’t even 2 seconds before I just started bawling. I cried as though someone died because it felt like someone did. I honestly felt like I blew it. I was so angry, so upset, so…disgusted with myself. I just kept pleading, “Oh please Lord, I’m so sorry…please forgive me. Please forgive me, I’m so sorry.” I fell….hard. I think I finally came to the point where I took it for granted.
My pastor gave a great visual of temptation in church one day. His favorite kind of chocolate is the Hershey’s Dark Chocolate, so he used the front row of chairs to illustrate. In a row of 6 chairs, he put a piece of chocolate – and he went on to explain that when we first see the chocolate (sin), we are initially tempted because we see something we like. And when we move to the next one, we like it more. Then we move to the next one where we’re really considering it. And this chair is the important chair…the 3rd chair. That is the chair that is in the middle – this “chair” gives us the right to choose whether or not we are going to turn around…or keep eating the chocolate.
Ladies, we all struggle. I think that this issue is one that only men seem to struggle with, mostly because women are too ashamed to expose it. But you see, when we bring things into the light, that’s when they have no power. Our sin is literally overcome by the light of Christ – and even the darkness is light to Him. For a while, I would give God my heart, my actions, my words in the morning during my quiet time; then one day it dawned on me that I’m not giving God my mind – one of the main things that leads me to sin. By holding my thoughts and keeping them to myself, I was only making room for them to grow and thrive into unhealthy thoughts that would ultimately lead me to that place.
I can’t watch anything on TV or in movies that has anything to do with kissing or anything like that. It’s true when they say that kissing leads to other things, including sex, so something as simple as that can send my mind in a tizzy in about 2 seconds flat. For the most part, if there’s something that I’m watching that I know will mess with my purity, I change the channel. Or, if I’m not in control of what is being watched, I’ve even left the room.
One thing that I’ve learned is that the Lord really is a gentleman. He won’t barge his way into your thoughts. Ever notice that Revelation 3:20 doesn’t say “I see the door, run really fast and barge My way through it”? Instead, it says “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.” Did you catch that? If anyone hears My voice and opens the door. You have to be the one to open the door to let Jesus into your struggles. Does he know about them? Absolutely. But you have to be the one to allow Him to come in and see you and your struggles for what they really are. That’s when the slow process of healing can begin.
I want to encourage anyone who is currently struggling with this issue to seek Jesus. It doesn’t have to be this way. You aren’t tainted. You aren’t impure. You aren’t any less beautiful or perfect in the eyes of Christ. How, you ask? How could that possibly be so? I’ll tell you, He took that on the Cross when He died for you and me. Those chains are broken – there is no need to hang on to them. In those chains, there is no life – there is only addiction, death and suffering. But in Jesus, there is life. There is hope. There is recovery.
2 Corinthians 5:17 – “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”
Romans 8:13-15 – “…For if you live according to the sinful nature you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received a spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, Abba, Father.”
We have received a spirit of sonship. One day, we will stand before God and the only thing we will have to stand for us is Jesus. Think about that for a minute. His righteousness alone is what makes us right with God. We are literally covered by the blood of the lamb.
Not because of what we did or didn’t do.
Not because of how we think, say, or feel.
Not because of the fact that we could “keep it all together” today.
Not because of our self-control and Jesus.
It’s all because of Jesus, and Jesus alone.