A fellow blogger asked me if I might share how it is that I go about sharing my addiction story with people. I thought that maybe there could be some readers who will follow in my footsteps and would like to know some of the details about how I’ve gone about telling others about my history with porn addiction.
First, I think the best place to begin is in a blog. Start by just being honest and tell the story like it is. That will get you used to being more open about it and you will get responses to encourage you and help you feel like people actually care about your story. That builds a lot of confidence. That first step I found to begin to erode the power of my porn addiction.
Next, I felt it was important to share my addiction with my inner circle of friends–people I could trust. I had become close to a group of four other guys through small group Bible study. One day, I had them over and we were studying the topic of discipleship. I asked them to come into a private room with me so I could share something important with them. When we got in there, I just opened up with them as follows:
I shared the text in the Bible that says, “confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.” James 5:16 I told them that there is some healing I need and I felt it was important for me to be transparent with them to receive that healing.
I told them that at an early age I had been exposed to pornography. I told them several details but, in looking back, I think it would have been enough just to mention that I had been exposed. I then explained that by college it seemed that all of my friends were very accepting of porn and masturbation. It was almost a joke, so I just became very accepting of it. When I became a Christian, I knew it was wrong, so I got rid of all of it. For five years, I had no problem with it. It didn’t even seem to enter my mind. But, then when I became a Pastor, things changed. It seems like I was getting a new focus. I was spending a lot of time trying to change the church and trying to put out fires in the church. I stopped going into the community to make disciples. My focus went from being purely outward to mostly inward. I lost focus on what is most important as a Christian. As a result, I became frustrated, discouraged, angry, and even somewhat depressed. I slowly slipped into porn as a familiar security measure. It was somewhat comforting at the time because it was an escape and took my mind off of everything else. Then, I told them that I have struggled on and off for ten years with it. It has hurt my relationships with people and with God. It has caused me to feel so ashamed and guilty and depressed. It has prevented me from experiencing the freedom I should have found in Christ. The depression became so bad I was becoming distrustful of myself. I didn’t really consider suicide, but I was afraid I could begin to. Then, I shared with them that an honesty has come into my life. In reading Romans 6-8, I felt I needed to admit to myself that I wasn’t having that experience and that I shouldn’t be trying to tell myself that I’m okay when I’m not. So, I got honest with God and now I’m being honest with my friends. I’m changing my focus away from the church back to discipleship. I’m finding freedom. But, I thought it was important that they knew.
That was about it. At that point, they offered to me their support and prayers and also confessed some specific sins that they had been struggling with. The discussion became very open and warm. It has been a really long time since I have felt close to people other than my immediate family. It was extremely empowering. I felt I had experienced a second erosion to the power of my addiction.
I think it was a couple days later that I went into the Pastor’s office at my church. I asked if I could have a minute with him. I am also employed at the church as a coordinator of ministries. This was taking a real risk because I could lose my job! But, I knew this was the next step God was asking me to make. I should tell you that toward the end of my work as a Pastor I was in a training meeting where the President of our conference and my boss held up an article about a Pastor in another conference who had come out with his struggle with porn. They were telling us that they would never employ this man in their conference and that it was a big mistake for him to come out into the open. They were upset because they felt that his honesty was going to be confusing to people. Is it any wonder that Christians are afraid to be open when this is the attitude of the highest leaders in the church! So, back to my story with my Pastor… I pretty much laid it out in the same way I had with my other friends. Again, I felt closer to him that day than I had ever felt before. He also encouraged me and thanked me for my honesty. I still have my job, and I believe he and I are much better friends than we were before. A little more erosion to my addiction’s power occurred.
Today, I had a providential appointment with someone who came to visit the church. I ended up spending most of the day with him talking about the gospel and Christianity. I won’t go into all the details because we talked about so many things. But, I will say that toward the middle of our conversation, the right time arose for me to tell him the truth about my struggle. It turned out that he has the same struggle. I think I was able to encourage him and offer him hope. God really blessed my words and gave me wisdom today as I talked with him. As of this morning he really didn’t like Christianity. But now I think he is seriously reconsidering becoming a Christian. It is becoming clear to me that the world is seeking authenticity from the church. But, we have been putting on a show for so long people have rightly become disgusted. Anyway, sharing with him was very powerful and I feel like even more power has been stripped away from my addiction. I’m not even sure how much is left!
So far, that’s what I’ve done. I intend to tell my daughters the truth very shortly. I’m looking for the appropriate time. Just to be clear, I don’t feel like I have to get a bullhorn and tell the whole world. I don’t really feel the need to stand in front of the church and announce it. But, here and there as it seems appropriate, I’m not afraid anymore to tell my story. I’m giving God all the glory and telling people of the grace that is setting me free. For me, that’s what this is really all about!
You might tell your story a little differently than I am, but I encourage you to at least start telling it if you haven’t already. I am convinced that this is one of the most important steps to kicking any addiction.