Pornography is a bane to any society and it wreaks havoc in the lives of those who turn to it for pleasure and connection, or who seek to escape from the pains of daily life. Once caught in its grasp, getting free can feel like an impossible task, especially when you find yourself battling with it alone, hiding in secrecy and hoping no one will ever find out that pornography has become a part of your life.
I know what this sense of impossibility and isolation feels like. I felt it for many years, during my own struggle with pornography. Though I wanted to break free of the wicked hold it had upon me, my pride and fear of being discovered was acute, and kept me bound for far too long. Thankfully, I was able to break free of it in time by taking certain steps that were essential in making the freedom and healing I so eagerly sought possible. This is a summary of that journey, which began when I was about 7 years old.
A Backdrop of Curiosity
Like any child, I loved to explore my surroundings. On one particular day, I decided to walk through the surrounding areas of my neighborhood, and ventured toward a dirt lot, adjacent to our property, that had a small shed on one section of it. I walked into the shed and started venturing through the contents strewn about the floor, when I stumbled across a magazine with images I'd never been exposed to before.
I was quickly taken back by what I saw, namely adults semi-clothed exposing their genitals, but there was a natural curiosity that unfolded. As a child, I knew nothing about pornography and how it lures people in by playing upon their natural sexual desire, yet I had been introduced to something which would later affect my ministry, my sense of self, and my marriage.
The Exhilaration of the Forbidden
Looking back, particularly at my elementary and middle school years, viewing porn became a social event. My friends and I would arrange to stay over at each other's homes in order to play, stay up late and find a way to watch porn on mediums like HBO or Showtime. Were these experiences exhilarating for us as kids? Absolutely.
Not only were we getting away with something we knew was wrong, we were feeding a sex drive that developmentally was readily increasing over time. No one ever told us that by viewing porn we were engaging with an incredibly addictive substance. Moreover, any sense of right or wrong was seemingly masked by the fun and camaraderie of the moment.
Hindered by Fear and Pride
By the time I started high school, I had parted ways with many of these friends, and my use of porn eventually stopped. It wasn't until later, when I was pursuing my undergraduate studies and working simultaneously in ministry, that I found myself dealing with acute stress and depression from the nature of those activities. Subsequently, my porn use resurfaced and feelings of guilt and shame began taking effect. As I mentioned earlier, I knew something was wrong and wanted help, however my fear and pride relentlessly kept me in a place of silence. No one knew what was wrong, but I was scared and hurting inside.
Taking the Issue on Directly
In 2006 my wife and I moved from our hometown of Las Cruces, New Mexico to Seattle, Washington so I could pursue studies as a Marriage & Family Therapist. I was excited to engage in deeper study again, to live in a new city, and to hopefully leave my porn use in the past. But, that's not what happened. My porn use continued here and there, and I knew something had to be done.
Between 2006 and 2008, I realized freedom from pornography would never occur until I broke the secrecy of my usage. In essence, I had to face my fear and humble myself in a manner I was unaccustomed to, yet I knew in my spirit it was absolutely necessary. I decided to start by being transparent with my wife about my history with pornography. Though the conversation was very difficult for us both, she offered me a grace I knew I didn't deserve, and solidified a trust that allowed me to be open with her in the future.
Shortly thereafter, I wrote a letter to the pastor I served with prior to starting graduate school. Though I never heard back from him, it was still imperative he knew about my use, as it had occurred during our service together in ministry. I additionally started reaching out to trusted men in my life, who not only understood what I was going through, but also shared their own histories with porn. This was an incredibly important part of my healing process, because it helped me recognize I wasn't alone after all.
Valuing Transparency and Humility
In the end, this process of transparency and humility over the course of time allowed me to break through my fear of secrecy and experience an end to the hold pornography had on my life. That being said, I need to be clear about something. None of this would have occurred without God providing the wisdom, favor, courage and strength needed in that endeavor. It was His guidance and grace that propelled me toward a place of healing. It is still, without question, what I depend on today.
May we will continue to humble ourselves before God, and make a fervent and joyous effort to abide by the wisdom of his Word, that we may find rest in the never ending battle for our heart.
Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist
Fulfilled Christian Counseling
For more information about Fulfilled Christian Counseling, or to schedule a consultation, please contact us by clicking on the button below.