I stumbled across masturbation when I was 13. It immediately became an engrained habit. It was probably a month or so before I combined a swimsuit television program with masturbation. Then, mom's lingerie catalogs that I would take out of the trash. That summer the neighborhood gang of boys (of which I was the senior member) found a stack of pornographic magazines buried under a wooden board in a fort we used to hang out in. The other boys looked at them for a while, but I was more drawn to them. A few days later I took the magazines home, and of course hid them and used them for masturbating. I'm not sure where God was at this time in my life, as I had been a Christian from childhood and raised in a strong Christian home. I felt guilty after a week or two and threw the magazines away. Yet I continued masturbating, usually to the same swimsuit video I had taped. This pattern was maintained for 3 1/2 years. I wish I could say I had a spiritual revelation, but in reality I noticed the social barrier that masturbating (specifically the guilt from it) had created between me and friends (especially girls). So, without trying, I quit. I had exciting things to look forward to. Some international travel, school, friends and most of all real girls. Thank God I never went beyond kissing. I had great relationships with women and remember those years with fondness. From age 16 1/2 to age 22 3/4, I avoided pornography like the plague. I also masturbated maybe 12 times over those 6+ years. College, and then a promising career in an exciting city (with female friends)...and finally a solid church and relationship with Jesus kept me safe. I then had a major medical crisis and lost my job and had to move to a different city. The crisis was of the sort that I could not tell anyone due to the social stigma attached to it (mental illness). I attempted to bounce back by attending graduate school, but the illness resurfaced. This was the crushing blow. I took a job in an industry that was the one industry I never wanted to work in. 15 months later I was home, alone, watching a documentary on the research done by Dr. Kinsey. The documentary mentioned that masturbation was normal, and at the time, I did not feel normal. I wanted to be, desperately. So after some thought, I masturbated that night. It started infrequently, but within a few months had become routine. At work, I began looking at pornography on the internet. That is when it got me. I would say I became I addicted to pornography and masturbation that summer. I would also say that the cause was, in retrospect, depression. I was self-medicating, but unaware of it. I don't think the depression has lifted. I have gone months without pornography or masturbating, but there is a loneliness and pain from losing my career that remains. Until I give that hurt to God, I will find an outlet to vent. The reality of having to hide my history of mental illness feels like a bridge to a good life has been destroyed. I know of no person who could understand what I have been through but God. He took nails for me...and that is real hurt that I will, thanks to Jesus, never know. I do not see pornography, or masturbation, as the problem. I see legitimate pain...a hurting person with a longing for his savior. I want to know Jesus in His fullness now. Yet that is impossible. I believe and know, but I do not yet see. I am waiting for the day I can see Him. He will return, in glory perceivable by all as befits His awesome and perfect person. Fellow saints, continue the fight. We do not lack faith, we simply are not yet home. He will return, and we will all see the perfect God our souls long to know and love...forever. Until that day, we have awesome resources such as the Bible and fellow Christians to keep us fighting. The fight does not end until God returns, and the reality is that we all will have difficulty in this life. Do not think that pornography is the primary problem in your life. When that is fixed, another problem will replace it. The point is not to live without problems, but to surrender each moment to God. He will do great things in our lives even as we struggle. That's all I have. It has helped me to write this, and I encourage everyone to share their stories as well.
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