Today Marianne courageously shares her story with us. As I was reviewing her story before posting I began to realize how much I relate to her in this season of my life. Sometimes things need to be broken down in order to be rebuilt and her story reflects that truth perfectly. The Word says “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away.” (John 15:2)
If you find yourself in a similar season, take courage! God is removing the things in your life that distract you from Him, that derail you from your road to recovery. It does not mean He has abandoned you, for He says He never will (Hebrews 13:5). It does not mean that your life is over. It means that He is taking these things away (maybe permanently, maybe temporarily) so that you will draw nearer to Him, so that you will seek Him above all else.
As always, we pray that you find hope & healing in these stories that we share. – Lauren
I had been involved in viewing pornography, reading erotic literature and self-gratification for longer than I can remember – literally – I don’t even know when it started. But what I thought was a private sin, a skeleton in my closet, too shameful to let anyone know, soon spilled out into my public life when I would get myself in relationship, after relationship – always destructive, physically too intimate, emotionally damaging. And in the later relationships, they were already in other committed relationships; I was ‘the other woman’. I betrayed myself, my beliefs and my God, consistently, yet each time I was stuck in this pattern I felt I could not break free from. Any attempts to pursue freedom were quickly met with repeated failure. I would go into a cycle of being convicted and stopping, only to relapse later on. Sometimes I’d console myself that the pornography, reading erotic literature and self-gratification was not as bad a sin as the physical relationships, no one else was hurt by the sin. Or I’d be convinced that I had it under control, that I could stop it on my own. Sometimes I even believed that I was already fallen so it made no difference if I continued in sin.
In my final destructive relationship, I had risked everything: his ministry (he was a pastor), my financial support (my church had offered to support me through Bible college the following year) and possible disqualification from ministry. I had been working towards going into missions work most of my life and in that moment of weakness, I jeopardized everything. I realized then that what I had longed for, was to be free from the consequences of my sin, but not from the sin itself. My heart still ached for intimacy and whenever it was offered, I lapped it up.
In the aftermath of the turmoil that followed, I resigned from my very stressful job. I couldn’t go to work and give out of my emptiness. Graciously, my church did not view this moral failure as disqualification from ministry and was still willing to support me through theological training but I was asked to wait for a year. So I found myself out of a job, not in school with financial support and watching my savings slowly dwindle. It is in this brokenness and despair that I finally confronted the root of the sin.
I finally made a full confession of the viewing pornography, reading erotic literature and self-gratification to my female pastor and a few close girlfriends. I grew up in a conservative Christian family, extremely naïve. So this sin had been a secret too shameful to share. Even with my closest friends, supportive as they had been with my destructive relationships. It was not the kind of sin a good Christian girl was ‘supposed’ to struggle with. After that confession, I set about making real changes in my life. I set up accountability software on my computer, started the 60-day Way of Purity Bible study on Setting Captives Free, and joined the DGM community. My pastor and girlfriends responded with so much love and grace, that I was blown away. I had monthly meetings with my pastor, and I made myself accountable to the girls, they in turn, made themselves available when I needed support.
It was hard at first. I showed the classic signs of addiction. I was cranky and emotional all the time. My sexual sins had been my coping mechanism, my means of escape. Plus my resignation meant I had too much free time on my hands, and financially strained. The whole combination of factors brought me to my lowest of lows, even lower than before. And in that lowest of lows, God met me. I realized that I was like the Samaritan woman, drinking from the well that would never satisfy. As I tarried with Him daily, He showed me how he was the Living Water that would quench all my thirst – to be loved, desired, fulfilled. I wanted to live my life for His glory only. I want to live my life pure – worthy of the calling I have received.
When I took communion for the first time after I was sober, it was an experience like no other. I took it knowing that my sins are finally laid bare at the foot of the Cross. And there is nothing is my life I need to hide. I took it knowing that I walk in freedom and purity.
God has been supremely gracious to me. He rescued me from this miry pit I dug for myself. And through the whole process He still loved me. It has been almost two years since I made that complete confession and turn around. It doesn’t seem that long ago and it mystifies me still. I have been in seminary for the past year, learning to love God with all my mind, and He continues to blow me away. After the initial withdrawal symptoms and recovery, I avoided anything with a hint of sexuality like the plague. I didn’t think I was strong enough to withstand temptation. So I cut off everything – movies, TV, books, even ‘normal’ playful conversation. It was much easier to stop the thoughts in their tracks when I did not have any triggers. In the past year, I’ve slowly be emerging from this avoidance into ‘normal’ society. It hasn’t been easy. I am still judicious about what I choose to expose myself to, but I don’t run away from ‘normal’ expressions of sexuality now. I know that to live in this society is to learn to deal with them. And I also know that my God is big enough, no, bigger than all of these. To Him, be all the glory.