1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (NLT)
9 Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, 10 or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people—none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God. 11 Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
I used to feel like I was living my life in deep waters. I was constantly fighting just to keep my head above water. I felt that the waters I had gotten myself into were too deep, too dark, and I had drifted so far away from shore for me to ever make it back.
For me, my deep waters started innocently enough when I was 12/13. I had a hard time feeling like I fit in and making friends. I grew up in a Christian homeschooling family who did all that they knew to keep me safe and teach me to know and love Christ. We went to a different church almost every Sunday for most of what I remember. This made making friends at church difficult as well. Friends on the internet, now that was a different story. I just wanted someone to care about me and to talk to.
By the time I was in high school. Some other things had happened in my life, and I decided to completely walked away from God. My family stopped going to church. I was okay with that decision because it made deciding to live my life however I wanted much easier.
I started talking to a guy on the internet, and he started asking me to have suggestive conversations with him. I wanted someone to listen to me so much, and I felt that was the only way I could get him to listen if only for a minute. I told him I didn’t really know how to have those types of conversations with him so he introduced me to pornography.
And like that, I stepped into what would turn into years of spending hours in the middle of the night talking to way more guys than I can count and watching hours of content that would grow into an addiction.
I thought all this would help me feel empowered, in control of my sexuality. That it would fill what was missing in my heart. Instead, I struggled with depression, cutting, eating disorders, and thinking about suicide a lot.
Right before my senior year of high school I had been attending a new youth group regularly and God was drawing me to Him. The summer before my senior year of high school, I really gave my life to Christ and asked Him to take me back despite everything I had done. And He did! I’d like to say that instantly all the talking to guys online and pornography wasn’t an issue anymore, but that wasn’t the case. No one knew my secret life on the web. I was believing lies. I was believing that:
-Women didn’t struggle with this, so something must be wrong with me.
-That, if I told anyone they wouldn’t understand, and I would lose my new friends in Christ. I already lost my old friends because I accepted Christ. I couldn’t bear losing more friends.
-And that it was just images and words…so it wasn’t that big of a deal, right?
I struggled with knowing what I was doing was wrong, but having no idea what to do about it.
Fast forward to college. I was going to Eagle Creek Community Church and The Rock at IUPUI, and God was convicting me that I needed help.
I finally decided I was done living in the darkness and fear. I was terrified but desperate for help. I broke my silence and let my secret out. I was met with love and compassion. Not shame and condemnation like I had believed I would be met with. I began learning to fight temptation, what living in God’s grace means. I had moments as well where I felt nothing was ever going to change. All along, God was healing and working in my life.
Then not quite a year ago an end of the year conference through my church, I came to a point where I knew I had to completely let go of some remaining things in my heart I was still trying to fix on my own. I had to trust God enough to let Him fix the rest and break the final chains. I made that decision —and let go.
What’s amazing is God didn’t leave me with gaping wounds bleeding out in the deep waters. Like the verse said, He “drew me out”. There was a complete difference from one day to the next. The next day I was filled with joy and peace like I haven’t ever experienced. Friends commented the next day, and even now, that they see the difference.
This year wasn’t always easy, I’ve struggled with health issues and still struggle with depression sometimes. But I have joy through it all now. I have a peace, that from a human perspective, makes no sense sometimes. And even what’s more amazing is that current, so to speak, that kept pulling me back into “deep waters”, its sound fades into the distance more every day as I walk farther inland-closer to Christ.
I’m not defined by who I was and what I have done. I’m defined by Christ. I find my value in God and who He says I am! Not in guys or what the world says about me. I don’t have to be weighed down by shame because that’s not who I am anymore. I’m new because of God’s grace, and because He has forgiven me and set me free! The same can be true for you through Christ as well!
Know that I am praying for all of you who have read my story. If you ever need prayer, someone to talk to or resources that helped me, please shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would also love to hear your redeemed journey story!