Those are words that are not supposed to go together, but they often do. When you ask Jesus into your heart, don't the struggles go away? Aren't we supposed to stop having those feelings deep down in the pit of our souls?
I pretended they didn't exist. I said and did all of the right things on the outside. I was active in church, did well in school, and was successful; but none of those things cured the emptiness in my soul.
So I hid. I created the person I wanted to be on the outside and played the part well, but the real me was hidden. Insecurity and fear kept me isolated and I began believing lies from the enemy that no one would ever love me if they knew the real me. I had to get away and find a place of escape (or so I thought). So, this lead to over a decade long addiction to pornography.
I am embarrassed and ashamed. There is such a stigma connected to pornography among women. But it's the sin where I ran and I cannot undo my choices, but I can share my story with boldness in hope that it will give you the courage to share your own story and help set other captives free.
I was exposed to pornography as a teenager. Throughout high school and into college it really became an issue. I was drawn to it because I could hide there and no one would know. I could still look good on the outside but feed the inner frustration and rebellion that was growing inside. I honestly thought marriage would help, and it did for a while, but when the stress got too much with life and work, I ran and hid right back in my addiction again.
I tried so many times to ask for help, but never had the guts. I begged God to take it away, but I didn't understand then that I had to fight for freedom; I just wanted a free pass. I blamed God, and as a result, our relationship that we had way back in my teenage years became disjointed.
Finally, a dear friend confronted me; I had to fess up and own my sin problem. I couldn't excuse it away anymore. I couldn't pretend to deal with it another day. It was now or never and there was no time like the present.
Maybe it was the fact that someone finally saw me at my lowest and dirtiest and still loved me. Or maybe it was the fact that I got caught. Or maybe it was just a combination of a whole bunch of factors; but God's grace finally made sense. For so long, I had tried to clean myself up before I came to Jesus, but that's not how Jesus works! He wants me just like I am! Matthew 11:28 says, "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest." (NASB) Jesus didn't say for the cleaned up and pretty or the perfectly primped, he wants us tired and worn out, weary and burdened.
So I came to him again. This time, all those nagging areas and issues that good Christians weren't "supposed to have," well this time, I brought them ALL into the Light. Every concern, fear, issue, worry, or sin, I confessed them to Jesus. I cried. I mourned. I felt guilt and shame. But I let Jesus see it all and I let go of it. All that sin and garbage stopped defining me and for the first time Jesus had my ALL.
I am not going to lie, that first year was one of the hardest journeys I have ever been on. Letting go of an addiction that had defined me for so many years took all of my focus and energy. I confessed to my husband, turned off satellite and internet, sought help from a Christian counselor, and installed accountability software on my computer. This sin had become my master and I knew it was time for an impeachment! It was only through God's continued grace and strength that I was able to learn how to fight myself and become victorious in this battle with sin.
It's been over eight years now and God has continued to carry me into this abundant life of freedom in Jesus Christ. Do I still struggle with temptation? Absolutely. Have I fallen a few times over the years? Yes. But my sin is not what defines me anymore, Jesus is. He is my rock. He has shown me that my value and worth is found in him, not in the standards or measures of this world. He has shown me how to be confident with the gifts and talents he has given me and to embrace the unique person he created me to be. He has allowed me to see his deep and personal love and to experience the power of the Holy Spirit. He has shown me that he never made me with a desire to look at pornography, but he did create me with a big hole in my soul; I was just trying to fill it with all of the wrong things! We will never be satisfied until we truly and completely meet Jesus.
This is just a quick version of my story. I could go on and on about all that Jesus has changed in my life, but for now, I will end. I hope to share more and more through the Inspirational Blog on this website over the coming months and years. May this story encourage you to be bold and share your secret. Darkness only wins when there is no light. Jesus is the Light that can expose it all and change it all for the better. Peace is real. Freedom does exist. And hope is actually an everyday feeling; let Jesus help you experience these.