I Was the Last Person Expected to Fall
Now, if you watched my life as I grew up, I may very well be the last person you would expect to fall into pornography. I had a great home life. We went to church regularly. My parents lived out their faith in their day to day lives, setting a wonderful example for me as to what a Christian’s life looks like, and demonstrating what true Christ-like love is. They’ve homeschooled me and have always been very involved in my life. I accepted Jesus as my personal Savior the night before my 4th birthday. I started ballet when I was 5 and have been involved in dance ministry and worship since the age of 7. I was the good Christian girl who always followed the rules and loved to dance for Jesus. However, just because you seem to have everything going for you doesn’t mean you are impervious to sin – of any kind – and at the age of 12, I slipped into pornography.
I spent months there not really thinking much of it. I just knew I liked it because something about it was exciting…electrifying even, and it temporarily quieted the emptiness inside of me. There was this longing, this thirst, in my heart. Jesus was the answer that I needed, but I hadn’t been intentional in my relationship with Him. I exchanged drinking from the Living Water for what the world offered me, porn. What I didn’t realize though was that, while it tasted good, I was actually drinking poison.
Help Me, I'm Addicted to Pornography!
One day, by the grace of God, it was like a light turned on inside of me and I knew how wrong what I was doing was. I didn’t just know it was wrong, I also knew how desperately I needed to stop. This was not honoring to God. This is not what He wanted for my life. So, I dug my heels in, flexed my super-awesome spiritual muscles, and said no more pornography ever again. The next day I found myself sitting there with my iPod touch, watching porn.
What was wrong with me? I knew I needed to stop! Porn was taking over my life. It affected how and what I thought. It changed how I interacted with my family. It interfered with school. It stole my time. What I was doing was dishonoring to the people – creations God made in His image and that He loves – in those pictures and videos. I was not honoring my future husband by not keeping my heart and mind pure. I wasn’t honoring my parents by sneaking around and hiding this from them. And more than all of those I was dishonoring God with the lifestyle of sin I was choosing to live in. Yet here I was doing it again- and after I just said I wasn’t going to anymore!
God Is the Only One Who Can Break Me Free
That cycle repeated endlessly for months. I would fall, pick myself back up, determined to “do better” or “try harder” next time, and then fall again. Finally, I was at the end of my rope. I thought I would never get out. How could that be?? This isn’t the kind of life God wants me to live, I know that, so why would He leave me stuck like this forever? There can’t be any way out, because God wouldn’t do that. He wants me to honor Him with my life, so why can’t I do that?! This thought brought me to the place I needed to be all along: on my knees before the throne of God. It was there that I learned a very important lesson. I can’t stay away from sin, and I can’t get out of the mess I made. God is the only one with the power to break me free, and all I have to do is go to Him and ask.
I love those stories of miraculous transformations, the testimonies of someone finding God and instantly everything they were in bondage to ended and they never struggled with it again. That isn’t my story, but that is okay because God is making the most perfect story of my life that there can be, just like He does for everyone. My story is one of a journey. It’s a journey with lots of rocks and bumps where I fall again and again, but every time find the arms of a loving God and Father to pick me back up as I learn more and more to keep my eyes on Him. My life didn’t transform overnight, but through a process of running to God again and again for forgiveness and for help, I left the lifestyle and chains of pornography behind.
I was free! I was no longer bound and controlled by pornography anymore! But….this question kept screaming in the back of my head: what now? What do I do now? Who am I anymore? How can I ever come back from this?…
I Felt Guilty and Dirty Drowning in Shame
Whenever you hear about someone who did something really bad it was always before they knew Jesus. Then they would hear the gospel and accept Him as their Savior, and their life would change. When they get saved their slate is washed clean. Not only that, but while sin is still wrong even when you aren’t a Christian, you can’t really hold it against someone who isn’t saved because they don’t have the Holy Spirit living in them. That wasn’t me though… I had been saved years before I messed up. There was no asking Jesus into my heart and getting a new start. How was there any hope of redemption for me?
This fear haunted me for months. I felt guilty and dirty, drowning in my shame. And I couldn’t dare tell anyone. I was the good girl who followed the rules and danced for Jesus, remember? I couldn’t imagine what people would think if they knew what I did – if they knew how horrible I was. And I couldn’t stand to think about telling my parents and seeing their disappointment when they realized who I really was. I despised myself, and I hid in my fear under the crushing weight of my memories. Even as I was in that place, God was with me – just as He had been through everything up to this point – and He loved me. He had something special waiting that He was bringing me to.
Purity Is Not Just a Physical Thing
The summer of 2013, when I was 14 years old, I went to Ballet Magnificat’s Summer Dance Intensive. During the two weeks I was there, they had a purity talk. We were split into two groups, primarily by age, but I ended up in the younger group even though other people my age went with the older girls. I wasn’t too happy with this, but looking back now I understand why it happened. In the group I was in, purity was talked about not as just a physical issue but as a spiritual thing – it is important to keep your mind and heart pure too. In fact, your mind and heart are where it all starts. God really convicted me of how I had not been doing that, and while the counselors in the room said they were happy to talk with us, I was too scared to approach any of them. I hid in a dark corner of the room and told God it would just have to be good enough for me to pray and talk to Him silently by myself. I closed my eyes and tried to work through it all without looking too emotional, but God loved me too much to leave me alone in that dark corner with my guilt and fear. He had bigger, better plans than that!
I Tried to Hide and God Had Other Plans
As I was hiding, He prompted one of the counselors, Jessica, to come and talk to me. She sat down next to me and asked if there was anything I needed to talk about. My heart started racing even faster. I was pretty much terrified, so I tried talking about some other things in my life, hoping that she would accept my answer and go away. She listened patiently to what I said, and she prayed with me about it. Whew! I was safe. Or so I thought. As long as I live, I will never forget the next moment after she finished that prayer. Jessica looked at me and asked if there was anything else I needed to talk about. I froze. She said when she was praying, she sensed there was something more…something to do with memories that haunted me at night….images that I thought about. All I could think is, “this can’t be happening.” I don’t remember if I actually managed to ever say anything or if I just kind of nodded my head in agreement, but Jessica prayed with me again. She prayed for full freedom for me, and she prayed that I would stop being chased by those memories.
That night marked a milestone for me. It was the first time I realized I could be more than just free from the act of watching porn. I can be free from guilt and shame too. My heart can heal and I can feel whole again. I had never thought that was possible. That night it started to make sense. I didn’t need to be saved again to have a clean start from my sin. I already had a clean slate. Jesus knew what I would do before I was born, and when He died on the cross it was for all of my sins – regardless of whether it was committed before or after I was saved. When Jesus cried “It is finished!" (John 19:30), He said that over my pornography addiction. I was covered. Paid in full. Not guilty. Right now.
God's Love, Grace, and Forgiveness
After that night, I thought I was good to go, but again God had bigger plans. The next day, four times, from three separate people, I heard reference to 1 John, 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” I knew what this meant, but I so wished it didn’t mean it: God wanted me to tell my parents. It was possibly the hardest conversation I have ever had, but more than the dread and the sudden inability to speak proper English, I remember the quiet in the room. They weren’t angry and yelling at me. They were quiet. But this wasn’t a quiet of disappointment or condemnation like I expected to find. This was the quiet of much love and grace. It was full forgiveness. I didn’t have to be afraid.
God has continued to heal me and redeem my life story. I have had opportunities to share my testimony with people, and I have found that not only does it help them, but it also brings just that much more healing to my heart. God has kept opening my eyes to what grace and forgiveness mean. My sin isn’t covered as if a sheet was thrown over it so that it is covered up and “out of sight”, it is completely washed away, thrown into the depths of the sea, as far as the east is from the west, remembered by God no more. “‘Come now, let us settle the matter,’ says the LORD. ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.’” (Isaiah 1:18) “as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” (Psalm 103:12) “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” (Hebrews 8:12)
Because of Jesus’ blood, it is as if I have never sinned. Jesus is my purity. In Him, I am completely whole and without flaw.
Amanda Turner is the founder and head writer of Breaking Free Indeed. Her hope is that by sharing her own story and the truths God has shown her, others might not feel so alone on their own journeys and can also find help in these truths. This passion grew from seeing how God freed her from the struggles that she felt so trapped in and redeemed the brokenness that she once thought could only be hidden at best.
Are you struggling with an addiction to pornography? For more help read "7 Steps Towards a Porn-Free Life".