I'm 18 years old, and still struggling. This is even harder to talk about because I'm a girl. And apparently girls aren't supposed to struggle with pornography. But that's a big fat lie, because girls can be just as visually stimulated as guys, and we can be just as vulnerable and sexually-minded as anyone else. It began when I was just ten years old and I got an old TV handed down to me for my room. I was flipping through channels to see which ones were available to me, and I saw explicit scenes in R-rated movies that should have not been airing during daytime TV. And I was hooked. I fell so easily into that trap, and for nearly a year, I adapted to a cycle of hiding out in my room - locking the door, the TV volume turned down really low, clutching the remote and absorbing anything pornographic I could get ahold of. I justified my actions by telling myself it was educational - I was just learning how sex works. And I sustained that mentality every time I looked at it. I don't even remember the kind of relationship I had with God at the time. I had accepted Christ before then, but I didn't have the strongest relationship with Him - I wasn't living for Him. I was a hypocrite, and I lived as such. Everyone at school saw me as the innocent Christian girl, the goody-two-shoes. But no one knew what was really going on. My best friend didn't know. My family didn't know. Only God knew. And I ignored Him before and during the times I would get my "fill" of pornography. But I would cry to Him when I turned off the TV and my disgusting nature would sink in, and I would apologize over and over again, asking Him to forgive me. But I would always fall into the cycle again. So nearly a year after I had started, guilt broke me down and I told my parents. I repented, and turned away from it all. I recommitted my life to God at a Christian conference later that year, and I was on the right track to fully devoting my life to Him. I was homeschooled from seventh to eighth grade, so by getting up early and working hard, I was done with my lessons by 11am. My dad worked all day, and my mom was often out of the house running errands or meeting with single ladies that she mentored as a part of the Navigators ministry with my dad. So I had a lot of time to do whatever I wanted. And I had an empty house to myself, and a computer with no filters, no parental controls, nothing. I can't remember exactly how it happened, but I stumbled across internet pornography, and I was addicted, again. It's like, everything I had worked for, I had protected myself from, the relationship I had built with God - everything was thrown out the window for pornography. My desire for sex replaced God and attempted to fill me up. It became my comfort, my escape, my hobby. Of course, it was even worse than the TV porn addiction I had in 5th grade because this was the internet. And you can find anything and everything on the internet, whenever you want. And I was SO good at covering my tracks too. No one knew. It was my dirty little secret, and only God knew. I remember times when I would close the internet browser, put the computer to sleep, and stare at the blank screen, eyes wide open and I would sob and tell God I was so sorry. I would beg him to take it away from me. I didn't want to live like this anymore. But I wasn't strong enough. And as much as I wanted to escape that dirty addiction, my desire for sex was stronger. My pornography addiction led to masturbation. And at the time, I didn't even know what I was doing - I didn't know that what I was doing had a name, or that it was even wrong. But I would masturbate as I looked at pornography, I would masturbate when I wasn't. I would do digusting things, some stuff that I will never confess to anyone but God. I was completely consumed by sex. The only thing I wasn't doing was actually going out and having sex. When I think back, I don't connect my addiction with any other memories that I have of that year. I can't. It's all a blur to me, and I don't even know how I kept it up, how I was able to hide it for so long - I even hid it from my diary, in which I wrote every single day. I remember my parents tucking me in every single night, and my confession would be on the tip of my tongue. But I could never follow through. I just couldn't. It killed me to hide it from them, to be going behind their backs and looking at pornography when they weren't home. But I was too ashamed, and too afraid of what they would think, how they would never be able to trust me again. I remember telling myself that I would tell them in ten or twenty years, when they no longer had any control over me, when it would be too far back in the past that it wouldn't matter all too much anymore. My family and I went on vacation, visiting family in the Philippines the spring break of 2004. We were gone for nearly two weeks - the longest time I would have to go without pornography since my addiction had started up again. The whole time, it bothered me. I ached. It was practically a withdrawal. The night we arrived back home, I remember lying in bed, planning my next search for pornography. I actually planned these things. I never just stumbled across pornography - I went looking for it. Anyhow, as I was lying there and thinking about how tomorrow I was going to make up for the two weeks I had gone without pornography, God got a hold of me. And I couldn't sleep. Never before have I been so sure of His voice, so sure of His hold on my heart, begging me to stop. So I told Him He would have to help me, and I headed for my parents' room at one in the morning, shaking and crying, and told them everything. The first few months were technically easy considering I was grounded from everything and when my punishment was up, there were parental controls on everything I could get a hold of. But it was very difficult in mind and heart, as the desire was still there. But God was purifying me from the inside out, and I grew closer to Him. That night that I had confessed was my ultimate recommitment to God, a conscious decision to want to please Him, love Him, and obey Him. I promised to accept His help, and let Him purify me. I struggled a lot, but every time I messed up and caught myself looking at pornography again (I learned there were ways around parental controls), I would run back to God and run to my mom as well, as she has been my accountability partner ever since. And though I have renounced my addiction to pornography and masturbation, I still struggle. Actually, I struggle even more now than when I had first given up the addiction. Pornography makes me feel worthless. It makes me feel stupid, dirty, and ugly. And I go to it, hoping it will fill me. But I'm always emptier because of it. Only God can fill me up. Even now, He is working in me - to assure me of myself, to be my Everything, to rid me of my desire for sex and fill me up with a desire for Him. I'm a prodigal, and God has always been my Father. There is no way to conclude this, because it's still going on. And sometimes I wonder if I will ever be truly free of pornography here on this earth. This is my thorn. And I know God will use me and my testimony, my struggles and fears, to help others and to ultimately make me stronger in Him. "To keep me from being conceited... there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." - 2 Corinthians 12: 7-10 I'm not excusing this addiction to pornography, or saying that it's okay to struggle with it because everyone struggles with something and God will forgive anyway. But I am saying that it's pointless to beat myself up about it, and wallow in self-pity and filth and torment myself with shame and guilt. Only God can free me, and only He is mighty to save me. I have the dire need to break free of this addiction, but to also remember to look at it from God's perspective, knowing that He loves me and will always take me back, and that He is with me every step of the way. I'm fighting this pornography addiction on the field, and God is rooting for me.
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