In A Boy and His Drug, I wrote of how I was not only allowed, but encouraged as a young boy to look at pornography. How that period lasted from the ages of ten-eighteen.
In The Unexpected Face of Grace I wrote of how God brought grace, and freedom, to me unexpectedly.
This is the rest of the story.
How I wish that had been the end of the story. How I wish, after breaking free, throwing out all of my posters and magazines, that I had never again looked at pornography.
As much as I’d like it to be true, I can’t say that. You see, as life got hard–had its trials–porn was there, cycling in, and out, of my life. I didn’t want to look, but I did. It was familiar. It was a friend from my youth.
Not really requiring anything from me, it had never let me down. Friends that is the insidious nature of evil, and of the evil one. First to tempt, then accuse. To first tell me “This will make you feel better,” only to follow it with “You horrible sinner! You call yourself a Christian! What would your wife think?”
Now let me be plain: Satan didn’t make me sin. I sinned–I chose to heed the voice of temptation. And true to his nature, the enemy was there to ensure I received a proper beat down for my choice. He’s not known as the “accuser of the brethren” for nothing.
In my guilt, and shame, I would cry out to God, confess to Him, tell Him how sorry I was. But in that spirit of that shame, believing I was alone in my wretchedness, I never told another human soul. And there was my undoing: I told no one. Not my wife, friends, anybody.
I bore the burden alone.
And so it went for many years–lather, rinse, repeat.
Until the time where I either wasn’t careful, didn’t care, or wanted to be caught: my Internet history found me out. Or rather my wife found my Internet history.
And what a blow that was–to me, yes, but much more to her. What do you suppose Satan’s message was to her? That her husband’s involvement in pornography was a way to anesthitize his pain, and stemmed from his childhood?
Not even close.
It was: “You’re not enough.” He looks at this stuff because you’re not enough woman for him. Thereby compounding his lies. He took my sin, and used it to assault her in the very core of her being: her femininity.
Even though to me it was never about sex, but rather medicating the pain of a life I couldn’t control. It was my besetting sin.
How I wish I’d never hurt her in that way, could take it all back. But I can’t. However, it is now covered under the blood, and not something I struggle with anymore.
Why? Why don’t I struggle with it? Why is it not cycling into, and out, my life like before?
There are five key reasons:
1) I have a God Who loves me enough to not leave me as I am.
2) I have a wife who, despite the pain I caused her, loves me enough to not leave me as I am. And who encouraged me to seek help.
3) I found help at Celebrate Recovery, and confessed my sins to similarly struggling men. I was astounded to learn that I wasn’t alone. Of all the lies Satan tells us, that’s got to be the biggest: that we are alone.
4) As corny, as cliché as this may sound, God spoke to me through Dr. Phil. The good doctor was doing an episode that featured a segment on porn, and said something that was seared into my soul: “That’s somebody’s daughter.”
That’s somebody’s daughter. I have a daughter. Would I want someone, somewhere, looking at my daughter? That thought alone brought me up cold–because the answer was a resounding “NO!!!!”
5) There is accountability in confession: by choosing to put my story out there I disarm the enemy. He’s no longer able to accuse me here in this place–because it’s not a secret anymore. And having done so, I was again astonished to learn that I’m not alone.
Mike Foster of POTSC says this: “Being brave with your story gives others the courage to be brave with theirs.”
Anne Jackson puts it this way: “By going first, you give others a gift. The gift of going second.” Meaning someone has to be brave, be courageous, share the uncomfortable–because you never know who you’re going to encourage by doing so.
Will you be brave today, give someone the gift of going second? You don’t have to share here, but please do find somewhere to share. You’re not alone.