Today we share Sundi Jo’s story. From her testimony she shouts the truth that the concept of failure is not of God, especially when it comes to addiction. There has been a lot of talk of failure on DGM’s community of late. And it is my opinion that this is a tool of Satan. He wants us to think that we have failed in our attempts to break free from the bondage of pornography & sexual sin. He wants us to think that there is no use in continuing in our efforts. THIS IS A LIE! Please repeat that to yourself now and anytime you feel discouraged after a relapse or a minor slip or even a moment of not being able to take captive of your thoughts. Our God is a god of GRACE, of MERCY, of COMPASSION, and of LOVE… not of failure. Thanks Sundi Jo for the much needed reminder! – Lauren
Mark Batterson writes in The Circle Maker, “If you keep trying, you are not failing. The only way you can fail is if you quit trying. If you’re still trying, even if you’re failing, you’re succeeding.”
Oh how I wish I had read those words seven years ago. It was then I was in the deepest, darkest part of my sexual addiction. I was 21 years old, managing a multi-million dollar company; in a relationship I didn’t belong in, and had just given my life to Christ. To others my life looked good. I had everything I wanted. On the inside, however, I was holding a dark secret.
The first time I looked at pornography after my relationship with Jesus began; this thing hit me like a ton of bricks. I didn’t know what it was. It hurt. My heart hurt. It was conviction. Though I had always known in the back of my mind what I was doing couldn’t be right, this time I knew without a doubt my choices were wrong. I was ready to stop.
But it wasn’t that easy.
I was around five or six the first time I saw pornography. It was on the babysitter’s TV screen as I sat in a circle forced to play “Spin the Bottle” with a group of teenagers. In the back of my grandfather’s grocery store was a large wooden case with a blanket hanging over it. One day the blanket wasn’t covering the case all the way, and those familiar images I saw on the screen were lining the shelves. From that moment the pictures seemed to be embedded in my mind. Thus started the long journey of a pornography addiction that would last over 20 years.
Something in me knew it was wrong, but I couldn’t make sense of it. After all, I was being sexually molested at the same time. Things I witnessed strangers doing through the television screen were happening to me. There had to be something normal about it right? By the time I was a teenager, pornography was a routine part of my life. Using a fake id to get into strip clubs and porn shops with friends was normal.
I would love to say that was it, but things got worse. (That’s a completely different blog post.)
I wanted to quit. I knew the fact that I was keeping secrets from others made my addiction worse than I really thought it was. I tried to quit, but it never lasted. I finally decided it was just a part of who I was and that’s the way things were.
By the time I came to know Christ I didn’t know how to stop. After the conviction hit me, I knew I wanted to stop. I hated it. I was determined to quit. I’d swear I’d never do it again. Then the images would be on my computer within 24 hours. I had failed. I would try again and fail. I didn’t know then that even though I was failing, I was still trying.
In December 2006 I had relapsed, again. This time I didn’t swear I was done. I cried out to God in the middle of my living room floor and begged him for help. I was desperate. That was it. I stopped. I was done. I meant it.
Until August 24, 2009. My life was done. I was ready to quit. My heart was broken. The pain was too much and there had to be something to make it better. I picked up the church laptop and within seconds my eyes were fixated on the familiar images that had comforted me thousands of times before. God quickly snapped me back into reality. I picked up the laptop and threw it across the room. I had reached a new low in my depression.
Severely depressed and broken, I checked into the Table Rock Freedom Center. I spent the next 12 months digging into the roots of why there was so much pain in my life. Porn was only one symptom I had to face. Those walls came down one brick at a time. Here I am almost three years later pornography free. Not because of anything I’ve done, but because God’s strength is in me.
Does it still get hard? Absolutely! There are days I know it would be so easy to comfort my mind, if only temporary, with the images that were glued to my brain over the course of 20+ years. But with my God I can scale any wall. With Christ in me I can fight any fight. I smile as I say this with the assurance that because of Jesus in me, I can turn my head at the temptations from Satan. He loses. We win. Pornography may have at one time been a part of who I was, but not today. Not tomorrow. No more! The same goes for you.
Don’t let it define you. Let Jesus. And remember, as long as you’re trying, you’re not failing.
Sundi Jo is an author, speaker, and social media marketing manager, making her home in Branson, Missouri. She blogs at sundijo.com. Her first book, Dear Dad, Did You Know I Was a Princess?, comes out next year. You can read her first eBook, Step Away from that Diet: Ten Steps to Losing Weight and Gaining the Confidence You’ve Been Searching For now. You’ll find her engulfed in the social media world, spending time with friends and family, hanging out in a pair of jeans, t-shirt, and flip fops, or writing. Find Sundi Jo on Facebook or Twitter