As I build my online presence I will be posting a blog entry on Tuesdays and calling it Transparent Tuesday. Future entries will be half the length.
This talk was given at my home church at 3 services in May of this year. It was harder than I could have imagined to be this transparent in front of a church full of men and women, children and adults that I would continue to see each Sunday. I am posting it here because I think it is a good snap shot of where I have come from, who I am today and where I am going.
Have you ever found yourself in a situation that you never, in your wildest dreams or nightmares, could have imagined? That is where I find myself today as I stand in front of you. Giving my faith story – yes – that I could imagine. I have shared my faith in many ways and many times over the years. But being a recovered porn addict – sharing that with a room full of people, including my husband and 2 teenage daughters – not even in the realm of possibility.
I was raised in a Christian home and came to Christ as a child. I was baptized in 1976 on Easter Sunday in a small Baptist church in a small Iowa town. I attended church camps, national youth conferences, Bible Studies and retreats growing up. As an adult I have lead Bible Studies for the last 15 years and spoken at conferences, women’s retreats and area churches for almost as long.
Everything looked good on the surface but underneath I was struggling with an addiction to pornography that was slowly damaging my self-esteem, my self-worth, my relationship with Christ and my relationship with my husband. The stress between how I was perceived on the outside and who I really was on the inside was exhausting. I had built a wall between myself and God as well as anyone who could have helped me with my addiction.
In the interest of time I am going to speak in sweeping generalities. For men pornography tends to be visual, for women there needs to be an emotional connection. I have been a reader all my life. And the reading material I chose to read on the privacy of my e-reader led me down a rabbit hole that I could not control and could not find a way to stop for several years.
In October of 2013 God broke me free from my addiction in a radical way. Overwhelmed by the depravity of the explicit material I was reading I landed face down on the floor wrestling with God and with my addiction. By the grace of God I arose freed from my addiction and forgiven of my sin. Thank you Jesus! End of story or so I thought.
God wasn’t done with me or with the fact that I am a recovered porn addict. Recovery and reconciliation is a process. First I needed to ask my husband for forgiveness. Although I had not cheated on him physically I had cheated on him hundreds of times in my mind with the material I was consuming. Next up, I had to confess to our two teenage daughters. They had been raised with the standard of reading, watching and listening to material that Jesus could sit down and read, watch and listen to with them. Needless to say, their mama had not been walking that walk herself.
For God to be glorified I needed to testify to the work that God had been doing in my life. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” It quickly became apparent that God’s purpose in all of this was for me to share my story, do my research and open a dialogue about what Biblical sexuality looks like for women today.
Over the last year God has clearly opened doors that have led me to ministry I never would have expected and certainly would not have picked. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 says “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”
So at over a dozen churches and retreat centers I have shared the comfort, the forgiveness and the hope of Christ by teaching workshops on 50 Shades of White: Biblical Sexuality for Women. And what God has clearly shown me is that sexual sins of all size and shape are holding people captive. But if you look ahead and read the end of the book - Jesus wins.
In the meantime grab hold of his promise in 1 Corinthians 10:13 where it says, “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”