I was 18 when I watched porn for the first time. It was a late week night and I was doing homework on my laptop. I was tired, running on little sleep and overall stressed when a random pop-up hit my screen—it was a sex ad. In that split second (wrong) decision, I changed my entire perception of sex, God, and truth.
I don’t know what brought me to that exact moment, but I do know that a huge part of me watching porn was due to curiosity at first, followed by a crippling addiction once the curiosity wore off. After I watched that explicit, unrealistic sex scene, I was amazed and disgusted all at once. WHAT. IN. THE. WORLD. I could not believe my eyes. I closed my laptop, completely ashamed and repulsed by what I had just done and watched. As I tried to sleep I vowed to myself that no one would ever find out about this. This was embarrassing and I told myself, Christian girls don’t struggle with this kind of thing.
The next day at school all I could think about was porn. I wanted to see more of it. I wanted to see if I still got the same feeling as before. I walked around the halls in a daze, perplexed that I had really just engaged in porn and liked it. What made me really distraught though was the realization that when I got home that day I would watch it again. My fascination with it and desire to engage with porn was bigger than I could control. There was no way out—I was hooked.
And just like that, I started a viciously detrimental cycle in my life. For two years I engaged with porn almost every day. It became my all-consuming shameful secret—me, my laptop, and the people behind the screen. I hated myself for wanting and liking that momentary high feeling. But… always, without a doubt, after watching porn I would feel disgusting, ashamed, gross, alone, miserable, angry, helpless, ugly and awful. I felt every negative emotion under the sun. I wanted it and hated it all at once. What a paradox; to desire a sensation that made you feel like the scum of the earth.
There were nights when I cried myself to sleep. I didn’t actually like porn that much. I didn’t actually want this secret life. I didn’t actually want to do this every day. I didn’t actually like that I was an addict to porn. But I could see no way out of this nasty, secretive lifestyle. As a Christian girl, I was taught that only boys struggled with these things. Only men ever gave their “freedom from porn” testimonies. I racked my brain to find someone, anyone I could talk to about this. I definitely couldn’t tell my parents—they raised me better than this and would be so disappointed in me. I couldn’t tell my youth pastors—they were aggressively and dauntingly set on NO SEX till marriage; no room for slipping. I couldn’t tell my teachers at school—they were all about exploring and safe sex. I could not ever tell any of my friends--they came to me with their problems and I couldn’t let them down with my issues.
I was trapped… but I desperately wanted out. D e s p e r a t e l y. I asked for God’s forgiveness every night, promising to never do it again if he would just forgive me and help me. But there I was every night, a little puppet in the hands of porn. God really wasn’t coming through the way I wanted him to. I started begging and nagging God in my prayers: “God I hate that I watch porn. I hate that I can’t stop. I hate who I’ve become because of porn. I am so disgusting and fake. I need help. Send something, someone, anything to help me.” I would pray this every day. The emptiness and sadness I felt after porn were indescribable and it made me want to come clean and never look at porn again. Porn wasn’t worth the shame and agony. The quick seconds of euphoria it gave me did not compensate for the torturous, self-loathing thoughts that I carried around.
And then it happened. Just as randomly as my first night watching porn, I unintentionally got a glimpse of hope and freedom one night. A close friend of mine came to me, frantically imploring for my help. She was struggling and really didn’t know who to turn to. Bound by shame and fear she only alluded to what was going on, but I knew. I knew right away what was happening because I was in the same boat. I timidly told her I couldn’t help her because I too was struggling with the same thing. She then uttered words that were so healing for me. She said, “Oh my God! I thought I was the only one. Thank God you know what I’m feeling. I’m not alone.” That night, we unexpectedly started on our road to freedom and healing. We opened up to each other and prayed for one another. It was such a relief to no longer have this weighted secret resting on my shoulders. I was not alone.
Today, I see that when I was stuck in my addiction, everything was clouded by the lens of fear and lies. The chains that held me down obscured any logic and clarity that crossed my mind. But today I can look back on those years with a forgiven, clear conscience and distinctively see the path of healing God laid out for me. My journey towards healing is what I want to emphasis with you today.
I know that porn and God’s design for sex are topics not regularly talked about in many churches; when it is talked about girls are not often associated with struggling with porn. But no matter what gender you are, I want you to know that you are not alone. There is hope and there is a way out. The healing process of any addict is messy, and there are no easy 1-2-3 steps to follow for recovery. There are, however, important facts that greatly helped me overcome my struggle with porn. And although the shame, embarrassment, and fear of rejection/anger/disappointment/isolation may be big, I cannot stress and share enough that the hope, redemption, peace, healing, and forgiveness that God has to offer us surpasses all the dread and uneasiness we may encounter in coming clean about our struggles. Addictions and sin are ugly and difficult and bigger than us. But never, ever, ever bigger than God.
One of the first things I learned in my healing was that I needed to un-partner with the lies I was believing. Lies like:
- I will never find help, because I am the only one who is struggling with porn.
- No one can help me because they will be disgusted with what I do.
- Engaging in porn is the worst sin.
- I will be cut off from my family, my friends, and my church if I ever come clean.
- The embarrassment and shame I will feel after I speak up will be worse than holding onto this secret.
These are all LIES LIES LIES. You have the power to un-partner with these dishonest thoughts by simply counteracting them with the truth. We undo lies with the truth.
- I can find help!
- I am not alone in this!
- I am precious, loved, and deserving of freedom!
- There is no sin that the blood of Jesus cannot cover!
- I will find freedom and be able to live a genuine life with my family, friends, and church once I come clean!
The opposing spirits (Satan and his demons) are hard at work in getting us to believe little thoughts about our identity that eventually turn into horrible, enslaving mindsets. If you have any thoughts that bring secrecy, shame, embarrassment, and fear they are not from God, and are actually thoughts produced by Satan himself. Choose today to un-partner with lies. You can believe the truth. *Meditate on 2 Corinthians 10:5*
Once you start to undo the lies we believe, continue partnering with the truth by having accountability. One of the most powerful tools of the enemy is getting us to believe that we need to keep our struggles in the dark. By not bringing our sins/strongholds/struggles to light, we give the opposing spirits power to keep us enslaved. Please know that there is no benefit in hiding our secrets, but there is so much power when we reach out for help. The beautiful thing about accountability is that it highlights God’s design for community, grace, and love. Without mistakes, there is no way for us to express God’s grace and love for each other. Find a trusted, godly leader/friend/family member and bring your addiction to light. Having accountability does three major things for us: 1) It allows us to experience trust and healthy relationships, 2) It breaks the cycle of secrecy and darkness, and 3) It allows us to walk in freedom while being covered in prayer by someone else. Please do not think you can walk out this struggle alone—that is a lie that will keep you enslaved for so much longer than you need. There is power in opening up and bringing things to light; do not be imprisoned by the lie of secrecy. The freedom you can experience will be so much greater than the fear that is torturing you right now. *Meditate on Ecclesiastes 4:9-10*
As I experienced freedom in sharing my porn struggle with a trusted leader, I realized that I had a huge issue with my commitment to God. The valuable aspects of an accountability partner are that they bring godly perspective, biblical advice and clarity on truths we tend to overlook due to our crippling addiction. It is one thing to say we believe in God, but it is another to live out our belief in God. I often spoke about my love for God to others, but at night I would partner with porn and live out the complete opposite. I didn’t realize it then, but I lacked commitment with God. My desires, effort, and time were centered around myself. My time spent with God was almost none existent.
I prayed to beg for forgiveness and out of guilt, but never to grow our relationship or for pleasure. But as my accountability partner started praying for and with me, I started feeling a desire to pray and read more on my own. As I prayed, God lead me to become more selective in what I listened to, what I watched, and how I spoke. As my commitment to God grew, my desire to watch porn decreased. I would still get urges, and sometimes I failed in sticking to my commitment to God, but the desire to engage with porn cutback a great deal. As I started making God a priority and focusing on godly things, it became much easier to resist the temptations of porn. *Meditate on Colossians 3:2-5, 12-14*
Finally, as our commitment with God progresses, get rooted in truth. Getting rooted in truth is a little more difficult than it sounds. It requires us to be vulnerable, honest, and willing to change. Before we even allow truth to take root in our hearts, we must first uproot any old, weedy roots we have. The root of porn addiction is based on lack of intimacy. We long for a deeper human connection, but if our needs do not get met we turn to a fake virtual “intimacy”. Uprooting our seeds of shame, self-hatred, and sexual immorality will bring us to a place of discomfort and pain.
In terms of wounds and healing, porn is a bandaid over our deep wounds. When we lack emotionally and spiritually (i.e. lacking in intimacy, community, love, forgiveness, family), we are wounded in our spirit. We carry open, festering cuts and burns. These wounds are only healed through the blood and forgiveness of Jesus. He is the only one capable of fully healing our hurts. Porn is simply a bandaid over a broken femur—it will never help with the root of the problem. Uproot the weeds in your heart, and allow the truth of God to change your mind set. Allow roots of The Word to take place in your heart. Believe what the Bible has to say about your identity and who you are created to be. Get plugged into a community that is rich in love and grace. Allow truth to overturn every lie you believe. Truth does not get rooted by mistake. We must be willing to plant, water, and care for the root of truth. *Meditate on Jeremiah 17:7-8*
- What are the lies that you have been partnering with?
- What is the root of your addiction?
- What is holding you back from walking in freedom?