This is a post I have shared and taken down a couple times before mostly because of fear. But today I am thinking only of greatest gift I have ever received. The audio segment below was shared at church the morning I was baptized in 2008. The rest of it are the parts of my life that I was uncomfortable sharing in a mixed audience that included the very young.
I would like to say I am a good girl. I would like to say I am innocent. I would like to say my thoughts are pure…but the truth is, I simply cannot say that of myself. The truth is, I am 24 years old and more than half of my life, I have had an addiction to pornography.
My past is a murky one including sexual abuse, lust, sexual sins, and a host of other things. I was the type of kid who always knew too much for my own good. I read a lot and I’m pretty sure I knew what sex was by the time I was seven or eight even though I had never seen the actual act. I started “exploring my body” aka masturbating around that time as well. One day when I was ten years old, I was doing my laundry at the Laundromat in our apartment complex and I came across a magazine someone had left behind. It was a pornographic magazine. I picked it up and thumbed through it. And so began my first experience with pornography.
I had never seen anything like it—it was all new to me. Still shocked at what I’d found, I folded the magazine in half and took it with me to show to my best friend. She had always been a bit of a wild child. Her response was “that’s nothing, wait ‘til you see the tapes my mom has.” That day, I watched porn for the first time. I saw actual sex, which I had only had a head-knowledge of before, and it became a real, living, and breathing thing to me. That day I became caught in the death-grip of pornography, and I have been clenched there ever since.
A few years passed and so others would not know, I was secretly obsessed with sex and anything related I continued to watch and look at whatever I could get my hands on. This wasn’t very difficult because I had a brother three years my senior who kept a hidden stash. I would often volunteer to stay home alone and so I could watch and masturbate.
I hadn’t been raised in church. But when I was 16 (2005), a girl from school invited me to something at her church. I didn’t really want to go but I went anyway. People often say that they were radically saved but I think every salvation…God reconciling sinners to himself is radical. Anyway, I went to this church and kept coming back because they kept inviting me back. It really wasn’t my cup of tea. To me, the Gospel of Jesus Christ was nothing more than a story, something like a fable and I remained unchanged. This went on for about a year and a half then I slowly began to want to know more, I started asking questions and reading the bible, which I had never done. I can’t recall the exact date that the Lord saved me but I do know that as I continued to hear the Gospel, I began to HEAR the Gospel and as I did it became more than just a story to me. I saw myself in it and not just as the apathetic onlooker I had once made myself out to be. I was among the scoffers that ridiculed, mocked and yelled “crucify!” I saw my sin for what it was, rebellion against the one true God and that His just wrath was what I deserved. I ran to the only place I could…into the arms of my Savior. My heart has been changed and I know I will never be the same.
I wish I could say that from that time onward, I never looked at pornography or masturbated ever again. I wish I could say I never cut myself again, doubting even for a second that Jesus took the scars bearing the full wrath of God in my place so I could be free. Truth is, the last time I cut myself was on October 21st, 2010. And the last time I viewed pornography was a few weeks ago. Masturbation is a daily struggle that I just can’t seem to get victory over no matter how ashamed and disgusted I get with myself. Every day I don’t give in is a small victory.
It’s hard though. I think I’ve made it harder on myself by silently carrying the burden of my addiction. Too afraid to say it out loud, and too ashamed to tell it again. I’ve told a handful of people in my life my story and to them, “the perfect Christians” they started treating me differently withdrawing somewhat and never once encouraging me in the fight. I’ll be honest, I was hurt by their responses, but I’m not angry with these particular women. They just didn’t understand. If someone has never experienced this addiction and never travelled on this journey, it’s harder for them to understand what we are going through. So I learned not to talk about these things. But I’ve also learned the hard way that silence doesn’t mean the problem doesn’t exist. Sure, I can put up a front to those around me, but it doesn’t make the issue disappear. I have days where I want nothing more than to let it all out to yell to the world “yes, I struggle with sexual sins, I have struggled with pornography for more than half of my life, my thought life is as impure as they come, and I struggle with masturbation! I’m not perfect, but don’t look at me as though you are because you aren’t either!” Then I have other days where the very thought makes my stomach churn and my palms start to sweat.
I’m scared. It’s no secret that I am afraid. If I weren’t afraid, the people around me would know that I have a pornography problem and an even deeper problem with lust. If I weren’t afraid, the things I tweet as @silentstruggle would be on my other twitter account that actually has my real name, location, picture, life (or at least the life I reveal to others, etc.). I’ve realized that it’s okay to be afraid though. Fear doesn’t mean all is hopeless. I’m done pretending. I struggle. I fail. I don’t have it all together…but I am His. This is me…all of me- the good, the bad, the ugly, the victorious, and the defeated. It is a fight for purity. When I get to heaven I want to be covered in battle scars from fighting the good fight, instead of the pristine skin of compromise.