From an early age, sex became an interesting and a secret desire. It wasn’t until I was in middle school that it became a daily struggle in my life. I began masturbating every night and it always led to shameful feelings. It led me to feel like I wasn’t worth very much and I couldn’t ever be anyone special. I was so shy that I could never raise my hand in class. I didn’t have very many friends. And I wouldn’t desire an intimate relationship with God because I felt so dirty. I grew up in church and I felt like such a liar when I sat on the pew every morning.
Sexual desires completely controlled my mind and how I expressed myself. It got so bad that I couldn’t even sit in class without thinking sexual thoughts. It wasn’t just a thought that popped into my head, I would intentionally do it. I would go to church camp and awesome things would happen, but I wouldn’t fully commit to God. I played tug-o-war with the Man who intentionally died on the cross for me. I thought that I was the only one who masturbated. In fact, I didn’t even know there was even a word for what I was doing. Nobody ever told me and I was hurting myself and the people around me every day! I was depressed, I was hurting, I was shameful, I was fake, and I had no idea of what God’s love was and how He could completely transform me beyond my belief.
“I would go to church camp and awesome things would happen, but I wouldn’t fully commit with God. I played tug-o-war with the Man who died on the cross for me.”
It was right before spring break in my 8th grade year that I decided to give up the life I was living. I was going on a missions trip with my church and I had recently been digging into the Bible more. I felt like it was time to start living a different life. Little did I know what was in store for me. God knew and now that I look back, He was helping me through it all. After the missions trip, our whole youth group began reading a book about sex, dating, and relationships. The book, thank God, approached the topic of masturbation. It was then that I realized I wasn’t the only one, and now I knew there was actually a word for it! I was and am so thankful that somebody was brave enough to write about such a touchy issue.
Since then I am a completely different person, not just because I gave up masturbating, but because I gave God complete control of my life. I am a new person in Christ. God has helped me so much. He has taken away my shame and hurt and I am responding to the calling He has on my life. I am so grateful that I can wake up each day with the joy He has put in my heart, rather than the shame of what I did when no one was looking last night. I am now a Junior in high school I can gladly and thankfully say I have been free since the 8th grade! Thank you Jesus for lifting me up out of the place of darkness that I was in. Thank you for healing my heart and enabling me to find identity in You and not finding identity in my past. Thank you Jesus!
I remember the first time I masturbated. I was on a school trip to Germany, sharing a testosterone-charged room with my peers. We were all competing to prove that we were making it through puberty and could demonstrate our “manhood.” I remember wanting to be a man and wanting not to be bullied. So, I did it. At that age of 13 was when that boy discovered a new drug. After I made it home, all I could think about was this overwhelming desire to get that feeling again. This became my life. Every day I wanted to wake up and feel it, and arrive home from school and feel it. It was all I could think about. I would destroy friendships with women because I would sexualize them and “use” them as fantasies for masturbation.
“We were all competing to prove that we were making it through puberty and could demonstrate our manhood.”
When I realized that I was destroying my life and future, I started to fight it, but it was harder than anything I had ever tried to do before. Then I realized that to see God, I had to look at Him, but merely turning away from my guilt and shame actually turned me away from Him. He was on the other side of the shame and guilt; I had to go through them to get to Him. The good thing was that He was trying to pull me through them, too. I actively would pursue Him when I felt horny or wanted to look at porn, until eventually the shouts of the lust grew dim and the voice of the Lord grew loud. Day by day, fight by fight, I overcame the addiction. Now I can have responsible relationships with women. I can control my sexual needs. And I am learning to understand my body, what it really wants, and how to fill it with the help of God, friends, and family.
Most of my life, I have attempted to control, stifle, and sometimes completely disown my desires. Unfortunately, when dealing with sexual desire and longing for intimacy, I was unaware that they could be expressed in a healthy way. More often than not, I would try to fool myself into thinking that I didn’t really have those desires, or that they were from the devil and I should try to rebuke them. If I was attracted to a woman or noticed that she had a nice body, instead of being able to simply admit, “She is pretty and there’s something I see in her that I’m attracted to,” I would deny the feelings of attraction in the guise of “staying pure.”
I discovered that we are not powerful enough to deny the desires God has created in us from coming to fruition, and if we go too long with ignoring them, they will come out one way or another. The longer I denied my natural sexual desires, the stronger and more uncontrollable my urges got, and after labeling these desires as bad, the only way for them to surface were through perverse versions of the beautiful desires God had planted in me. Without a healthy way to express my sexuality and longing for intimacy, I turned to placating these desires with masturbation and pornography. Of course, this never came close to touching the desires God had put in me and left me feeling more wanting than before, with a huge side of guilt and shame.
“I would try to fool myself into thinking that I didn’t have those desires, or that they were from the devil and I should rebuke them. I denied my feelings in the guise of staying pure.”
It wasn’t until God dealt with my shame that I was able to fully embrace my desires. Through a series of events, I was able to lay all my shame before the Lord — all of my shortcomings, failures, disappointments, everything. After I exposed all of myself to Him, His response blew me off my feet. I felt Him looking at me with kind eyes. I was so shocked to see such genuine love, and even the sense that He missed me and had been waiting for me. There wasn’t any look of disappointment or disgust, which I had thought I would surely find. He showed me that no matter how big a hole I dug or how bad I messed things up, His love is greater and He will always be there eagerly awaiting my return.
With the shame gone, I was able to talk with God about my desires. When I saw a woman I was physically attracted to, I was able to admit it and talk to God about it. It was revolutionary for my life. Instead of hiding some of the deepest longings of my heart from God, I was able to invite Him in and He began teaching me! He showed me how He had handcrafted my heart and placed every hope and longing I’ve ever felt inside it. He told me that the pain and emptiness I had been feeling was meant to be there, because He would not let any of His children continue on in life missing the gifts He had prepared for them. He wouldn’t take away the pain because the pain was an indicator that there actually was something missing that only He could help me find.
“There wasn’t any disappointment or disgust (which I thought I would surely find). He showed me that no matter how bad I messed up, His love is greater and will always be there.”
The biggest revelation that has changed my life is realizing that I can trust God with taking care of my heart. He is completely aware of my wants and needs (because He is their author) and understands how to meet them more then I could ever hope to. Now as a single person, I still experience sexual urges and even sexual frustration from time to time, but instead of hiding from the urges, I tell God, “Thank you that the desires of my heart are alive and well. I know that you made them to be 100% met. And I’m okay with waiting and being frustrated because I know where you take me will meet those needs 10 times better than anything I can do on my own. So, Father, I completely trust you. Continue to teach me about what you have put inside of me.”
In my first relationship, we were both young and had few tools for communicating our feelings and needs. I would make jokes with her like I would with my guy friends, and she would react to them, though she couldn’t talk to me about how I made her feel. Similarly, I would never say how uncomfortable or hurt conversations or actions made me feel. This led to major misunderstood actions and reactions.
“We were both young and had few tools for communicating our feelings and needs.”
One day, I blew up after bottling my emotions and lashed out at her. The relationship was over all because we couldn’t communicate about our own foundations, what we needed to work through, and where we needed help and understanding.
Today, I am now with my perfect match — the woman of my dreams. She is gorgeous, powerful, God-fearing, and she completely loves me. However, we do have problems. We both have a history, we both have things that are not each other’s “normal”, and things that are just generally not amazing. However, we came into the relationship saying, “Okay, I am not perfect, but I will be the best ‘me’ with your help.” We have managed to work through things with communication. We know we don’t need to react, but need to communicate, understand each other’s heart, and grow together.
About three and a half years ago, a sequence of events began that would ultimately change my life forever. About that time, I was living with my girlfriend who, in all honesty, I hooked up with in a one night stand. We both grew up in church and knew that how we were living was wrong, but we wanted it to work so we made up every excuse we could to make it seem okay.
Fast-forward to today. We are still together, we are madly in love with each other, and even greater, we are insanely in love with God. We have huge hearts to help others transform their relationships to allow God to be at the center. How did all of this happen? God. Only God could pour out enough grace in our relationship to completely transform it to one of purity, honor, and covenant.
“Only God could pour out enough grace in our relationship to transform it into one of purity, honor and covenant.”
We allowed God to basically put our relationship in reverse and then slowly rebuild it, all the while changing our beliefs and mindsets. This isn’t an easy process, especially when couples stay together like Libby and I did. We moved out and became physically pure with each other, which meant no sex, no foreplay, and during certain time periods, no kissing and no hand-holding. During this time God taught me that I needed to know myself before I could attempt to understand someone else. I had Libby in my “God spot.” I looked to her for everything— joy, happiness, value, confirmation, and even guidance. I had to come to the understanding that only God can be in the God spot. I had to learn what it meant to have an identity as a son to God.
When I was 18 years old, I completely compromised my sexual purity in exchange for what felt like acceptance. It was a reality I had never experienced before, but one my heart had hungered after my entire life. I was lonely and longing to feel loved. I knew that what I was doing was wrong, but I didn’t have the strength to stand for what I knew was right. I didn’t have the confidence to let go and believe that someday I would be loved the way I truly deserved.
The further I walked down the road of allowing another person to meet my needs in an unhealthy way, and fill the place in my heart that only God can fill, the more hardened I became. I placed my identity and worth entirely in another person, leaving me feeling powerless. A few months into this lifestyle, I gave up and turned back my back on God — not because I was mad at Him, but because I was too ashamed of myself to look Him in the eyes.
“The further I walked down the road of allowing another to meet my needs in an unhealthy way, filling the place in my heart that only God can fill, the more hardened I became.”
One day, I looked at myself in the mirror and said aloud to God, “If You’re real, then please get me out of this.” That’s exactly what He did. Soon after I prayed that prayer, some leaders at church discovered my relationship, and it became impossible for me to continue having contact with the person who had consumed my life for nearly a year. I moved back to my hometown and was faced with a choice: I could hide this painful, embarrassing part of myself from everyone, or I could be known and guided through it. I knew that if I didn’t let somebody in, it would surely eat me alive. I thought I was the scum of the earth. I hated everything about myself. I was convinced that I had ruined my life and that God would never use me for anything good again. I was ashamed.
“I knew that if I didn’t let somebody in, it would surely eat me alive.”
As I was honest and let a few significant people in on this deeply vulnerable and wounded place in my heart, I was overwhelmed and humbled by their response. They were overflowing with love, acceptance, and compassion for me. Nothing about what I had done scared them or made them question their love for me. In fact, they only loved me more. They walked hand-in-hand with me through my healing, and more often than not, believed in me more than I believed in myself. Their love kept me going. They had eyes to see me when I was blinded by pain. For the first time in my life, I understood the raw, real, radical grace of God. This grace doesn’t care where you’ve been or what you’ve done. This grace keeps no record of wrongs. This grace doesn’t not require performance or that you have it all together, but only that you have an open heart to see the unconditional love you are made to dwell in. For eight months, God led me through the books of Romans over and over again, until the truth of His Word permeated my entire being. These truths are now what I stand on. My gifts and callings are irrevocable. Nothing can separate me from the love of God. I am free of shame. I am in the light and I am extravagantly loved.
I fasted and prayed for twelve years, hoping that somehow the Lord would keep me from looking at porn. I wanted Him to keep me from being tempted. That didn’t quite happen. I would have taken some kind of weird “I’m-stuck-to-the-floor-and-can’t-move-to-look-at-porn-no-matter-how-much-I-want-to-but-know-I-shouldn’t-and-I-would-if-I-could-but-I’m-stuck-to-the-floor” experience, something against my will, but that didn’t happen either. I didn’t get the impartation of holiness or a miracle verse that took my sexual struggle away. I was the most spiritual person that I knew, and yet I couldn’t quit sinning no matter how immediate and sincere my repentance was, or how noble and pure my intentions were toward everyone around me.
“I didn’t get the impartation of holiness or the miracle verse that took my sexual struggle away.”
One month before I turned twenty-three, I found myself in a unique situation: I was sober enough to see that I was stuck, and, despite my pretensions, I needed some answers. I felt like my years of confused petitioning of the Lord culminated into the next season of my life. The Lord superseded my healing with His leading. I made myself a part of a group of guys who were serious about finding their purity and their freedom. They didn’t do much that I thought they should (like pray and intercede); they just talked to each other. It was unbelievably uncomfortable. For the first six months, all I could talk about was how bad I messed up and the dirty things I was thinking. For the next six months, I talked about how I was afraid and how I’d been hurt.
“I was sober enough to see that I was stuck and I needed some answers.”
After that, I started getting more powerful. I told people “no” when I wanted to say “no”. I’d tell people when they hurt my feelings, and when I had a need that they could meet. After three years of that, I’m now somebody that I never thought I could be: someone in control of their emotions and sexuality. My sobriety is measured in months and years now instead of days or weeks, and my freedom is being measured in powerful decisions that I am learning to make.
Like most girls, I have always wanted to feel loved and desired. Early wounds of rejection enforced lies that I believed — lies that said somehow I was disqualified from the love I longed for, which, of course, only kept the wounds alive in my heart.
In college, encouraged by feminist writings about worshiping the female body and claiming independence from men, I tried masturbation as a relief from pain. It didn’t really work. The sense of “release” only lasted for a moment, and then, instead of liberation, I felt intense shame. I actually felt more alone than ever. But after that first experience, though it never became a habit, masturbation was added to the list of “comforters” I used in my lonely, bored, or stressful moments. I kept thinking that maybe the feelings of shame and loneliness would wear off, but they didn’t.
“Encouraged by feminist writings, I tried masturbation as a relief from pain. It didn’t really work.”
A couple years after college, I embarked on an inner healing journey in which God began to break off the lies of rejection I had believed, and teach me the truth of who I am in Him. As I finally heard God tell me what He really thought of me — unfiltered by the old lies, which I had projected onto Him — I felt loved and desired in a way I had never felt my whole life. However, these healing encounters were only the beginning of my journey to actually live, day in and day out, like the daughter He says I am. I had to learn to run to Him in moments of loneliness and stress. I had to learn to fight the shame and remember who I was, even after I acted like I had forgotten.
“I had to learn to run to Him in moments of loneliness and stress. I had to learn to fight the shame.”
Like a child who runs to her mom when she falls down and scrapes her knees, I have learned to run to Jesus, and without fail, He embraces me, wipes away my tears, kisses my hurts, and tells me how much He loves me. He has freed me from shame, and He is helping me to walk in that freedom every day.
Before I knew my wife, I had a couple of serious relationships. Since I was a child, I knew I would not give away my virginity to anyone except my wife, so that part of purity was never in question for me. Unfortunately, there were other things I did because I didn’t really have a plan. I thought, “Well, I just won’t have sex,” but just having that boundary ended up not being enough. With those relationships I did things physically and emotionally that I’m not proud of, and gave a part of myself away that I will never get back.
“I learned that no matter how strong I thought I was, I still needed a plan.”
By the time I met my wife, I had learned that no matter how “strong” I thought I was, I still needed to have a plan for how I was going to be responsible with myself. Early in our relationship we made some clear boundaries to protect each other. The most important, and most helpful, boundary was that we would not kiss on the lips until we got married. Making this decision was not just out of our pure will — we prayed and both felt the Lord give us the grace to do it. It allowed our emotional relationship to build and become strong without the physical part becoming a distraction.
“…it allowed our emotional relationship to build without the physical part becoming a distraction.”
I found myself falling more and more in love with my wife every day. I truly found myself in love with who she was and not just excited about the newness of a relationship. There were times when I really wanted to kiss her, but I knew that it would be so worth the wait. I’m so thankful we did, because on our wedding day when we kissed for the first time, I felt like I won the best prize ever. My wife.
There was a time that I had little value for life, especially the life of a baby or a child. I thought abortion was no big deal and I didn’t care if I ever became a father. The thought of me being a father and having someone’s life in my hands scared me.
One day God spoke to me and said, “You don’t like who you are. You don’t think you have anything to offer a child.”
I didn’t have to think about this long because I knew it was true. I never liked who I thought I was, and I struggled with drugs, alcohol and sex-addictive behaviors in my not-so-distant past. My identity was based on my sin, not on who God said I am. So I went after truth. I started embracing the role of spiritual father, though I still wasn’t sure I had what it took to become a father of my own child — until I had an amazing encounter during worship one night.
“My identity was based on my sin, not on who God said I am.”
I was laid out on the pulpit and all the children in the church came up and sat around me even sat on my lap. In that moment, God spoke to me and said, “You are ready to be a father, not just a spiritual father.” I immediately received my role as a father into my heart. Less than two weeks later, my wife got pregnant. As I watched my little baby grow inside her, my father-heart started to explode. I started to understand for the first time the value of life and how I was made to protect it. Now that I’ve watched my little girl grow inside my wife, abortion takes on a whole new meaning. It was very clear to me that life began the day of conception and that’s the day I became a father.