This will be the hardest post I have written. Mostly because the words that follow will leave me vulnerable.
But I must do this. Even if shots are fired my way, I must move forward. Why? Because some of you have battled addiction too long. You need transformation. You need hope. You need healing. And I pray my struggle will give you the strength, conviction, and courage to change. It is through my struggle I pray some of you are liberated.
So, let me take a deep breath…pray…and get started.
For much of my life I struggled with pornography. Alright, it wasn’t a struggle…it was an addiction. A year ago this week the addiction I worked tirelessly to hide from the world came to light. It was exposed. And with that exposure came the subsequent crashing of my life. At least life as I knew it. The next several months were hard. Excruciatingly hard. Not just for me, but for my family. For the first time in my life, I had to acknowledge I was facing an opponent I could not defeat alone. I went to counseling for the first time. I battled depression for the first time. But through my experience I learned much about God and life.
Let it be known…I have no desire to give you a checklist to overcome pornography. Pornography (and addiction, in general) deserves more respect than that. So do you. Maybe you have read other articles about defeating pornography. I apologize for most of them. Ridiculous is the appropriate word. They encourage you to follow a magic step-by-step approach, and your addiction will be gone. It’s a great idea…but so is Santa Claus. The reality is they are both fake.
I am free from the addiction of pornography today. The path was not easy. Recovery is a road filled with potholes and sharp turns. There is no magic formula. But there are discoveries I made along the road to recovery that helped me turn the corner. I want to share those discoveries. Not in the hope that following this list will result in instant recovery for you. But in the hope that reading this list will challenge you to start (or continue) down the road. Turn a corner. Give you comfort.
So…here are 6 discoveries I made during my struggle with pornography that helped me overcome.
1.) Pornography does not define you.
The enemy wants to label you. He wants you to label yourself. You’re a porn addict. You’re a drug addict. Fill in the blank. But rest in the truth that what you do doesn’t define who you are. You have an addiction…yes. Your actions are sinful…yes. But those things are not who you are.
This is who you are…a child of God. You are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). God’s love for you has not diminished or decreased. It will not. It cannot. Because it isn’t dependent upon your behavior.
During my struggle, Satan tried to tell me my pornography addiction disqualified me from God’s love. He tried to beat me into the ground with the constant whisper of lies. For years I bought them. At some point, however, God reminded me of my identity. Not a sinner. Not a porn addict. A child of His.
Regardless of how low you are. Regardless of how much you dislike yourself. Believe your identity is this…a child of God. Nothing more. Nothing less. Rest in it. Find peace in it. Work from it.
2.) God is not responsible for your addiction.
When humans struggle with anything in life, the tendency is to blame others. When it comes to addiction, the tendency is to blame God. At some point you will be tempted to do this. Don’t. It wasn’t until I stopped blaming God for my pornography addiction that I was able to start the process of recovery. Why? Because when you blame God, two huge problems arise…1.) You make a declaration about God that is contrary to His nature (James 1:13), 2.) You deflect responsibility from yourself, further crippling the road to recovery.
Yeah, I get it. It is easy to blame other people. External circumstances feed your porn addiction. Your spouse drives you to other people. You are beyond stressed from work. You can continue to use those as crutches if you choose. But remember, crutches prevent you from walking by yourself. Crutches prevent you from breaking free. And never forget this point…
If you allow God to be your crutch for addiction, He can never be your strength for recovery.TWEET THIS!
It will hurt. It will be hard. But nothing about this process is easy. Put down the crutches.
3.) You can’t overcome alone.
For years, I walked alone. I was ashamed. I was scared. Who wouldn’t be? But it is foolish to walk alone and believe you can break the cycle. I can’t tell you how many times I would view pornography, say to myself I would never do it again (and I meant it), then fall back.
The day everything changed for me was the day my wife joined the journey. She is amazing. She is the ultimate example of grace and steadfast love. I am convinced without her I would still be addicted. Her discovery of my porn addiction meant I was no longer walking alone.
If you have a porn addiction, I want to challenge you to tell someone. Stop hiding this. You can’t do it alone. You can’t. Stop trying. Get help. Find an accountability partner. Tell your small group. Get counseling. You can’t overcome this alone. You are powerless.
4.) There is no silver bullet to overcome pornography.
If you believe following a 10-step process will ensure you overcome a porn addiction, you are misguided. There is no silver bullet. Go ahead and read all the self-help books your heart desires. They will not heal you. I believe so many people struggle to overcome addiction because they are looking for a quick fix. Addiction doesn’t work this way. It takes time. It is not easy. The road to recovery is filled with people who are looking for a magic potion.
Those who make it to the other side have one quality in common…perseverance. They don’t look for a shortcut. They fight. They struggle. They crawl. They run. But they never give up.
5.) Don’t set long-term goals…ask God for strength to win each day.
I am a planner. I love to vision and look into the future. So, why not do the same with my pornography addiction? Here’s why…you will end up discouraged. Long term goals are like growth food for a pornography addiction. Each time you set a 6-month or 1-year goal and fail to reach it, the monster looks bigger and bigger. Defeating him looks more and more impossible.
Overcoming pornography happens when you get out of bed every morning and ask God for the strength to resist that day. Before you know it, you will start winning weeks. Then months. Then years. But if you start by trying to win years, you will lose most days. Don’t worry about long-term goals. They are meaningless in the initial stages of addiction. Focus on winning each day.
6.) God can handle your frustrations and anger.
Through the process there were times I was very angry, upset, and frustrated..at the same time. I would then have to fight the battle of keeping those feelings to myself. God isn’t ok with my anger and frustration. God doesn’t understand…so I thought.
Then I started to notice how many people struggled in the Bible. And I noticed the response of many I considered to be the “most holy.” They were honest. They were transparent. King David in particular. He was tabbed as a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22). But this man after God’s heart was really honest with God. Too honest for my narrow theology. I would find myself telling David, “Stop talking to God like that. He deserves better.” Then I realized my stupidity. Here’s the deal…
Go ahead and tell God how you feel. Close the door. Go off in the woods. Ride down the road. And be transparent with God. He will listen. He will hear you.
You have real fears. You have legitimate struggles. You are weak. God knows these things. Verbalize them. He can handle it. God is a big boy.
I am not a counselor. I am not an expert on overcoming porn addiction. I am just a man. A man who understands the addictive power of pornography. The hurt associated with addiction. The loneliness of walking alone. The encouragement of walking with others. The exhilaration of overcoming through God’s power. And now I want to walk with you.
Addiction is not a respecter of persons. It will strike anyone. But God is not respecter of addiction. He hates it. He wants to celebrate with you as you overcome.
Believe I will be in prayer for you. I am praying now. Whoever you are. Whatever context you are in. Know you are not alone. I leave you with the verses I came back to repeatedly on my road to recovery…
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.Romans 8:38-39
There is a contact form attached to this post in case you need to get in touch with me for any reason. Also, you can comment below. I would love to see the comments section serve as a place for people to find encouragement and strengthen.
I love you all. To God be the glory forever! Amen!