The best way for me to describe my childhood is to say that I was alone much of the time. When I wasn’t alone, I was often playing with my older sisters and was labeled a “sissy” at an early age. Even though I hated this identity, I assumed it as my own and it suffocated me like a heavy blanket. I was ashamed of myself. I didn’t feel “normal.” Although, I was brought up in a nominally Christian home and was taken to church, I believed in an impersonal Jesus and had a very fear based relationship with Him.

This early childhood experience was the backdrop upon which my lust addiction took root. I had begun innocently masturbating at a young age. I felt no shame about it until I found porn at age 10 or 11 and began masturbating to the porn and realized that what I had been doing was sexual behavior. I promised myself I would never masturbate again—that lasted about two weeks. Once I broke that promise and started masturbating again, I became quickly hooked and started a regular pattern of almost daily masturbation, often with the use of porn. I had no idea that what I was doing was solidifying in my brain a pattern of behavior and sexual response that would become ingrained in me—it would become a way of life for me. I also found myself identifying with the men in the porn I was viewing—I wanted to be them. This led to some significant confusion about my identity and my sexual orientation.

Not surprisingly, I had trouble dating girls in high school and always felt really insecure and inadequate around them. I finally did start dating in my late teens and early 20’s and eventually became sexually active. One of these relationships resulted in a pregnancy that ended in an abortion, which I agreed to and supported. After the abortion, I cut all ties with God. I felt that I had committed the worst possible sin. I bought my first VCR and started renting porn videos to watch in the privacy of my own home.

I met the woman who would become my wife in my late 20’s and we married a couple of years later. I told my wife nothing about my problem. I thought my secret life of porn and masturbation would end with marriage, but things only got worse. When I gained access to Internet porn in the late 90’s, my addictive behaviors became much worse. This led to a downward spiral over several years, which ultimately, brought me to the end of myself for the first time. I sought help from a Christian counselor and found some relief from the addictive behaviors. I was then able to share my struggle with my wife who was obviously deeply hurt by my disclosure.

Things initially got better, but I slowly began looking at porn again and masturbating. I became more and more discouraged and desperate. I finally started attending meetings in a recovery program. I also began opening up to some friends at church about my addictive behaviors and began to experience a lot of freedom in the community I found there. I also began receiving healing prayer. These things were all helping me but I wasn’t really working the recovery program as designed, and my freedom was short lived. Once again I started slipping back into old patterns of behavior.   I switched to a different recovery program and got more serious about working that program. I began experiencing longer and longer periods of freedom, but I was still slipping and experiencing more discouragement. So, I decided to get out of the recovery program altogether (not a good idea) and rely on my church community and accountability with men there. I remained active in my church and was accountable to the men there. It didn’t take long until I was back into the same old patterns of looking at porn and masturbating. I stayed out of recovery for three years. The frustration, discouragement, feelings of failure, and despair were indescribable. I finally went crawling back to the same recovery program from which I had left—I was defeated. God met me in that place of utter defeat. I started over working this program of recovery and haven’t looked back since.

I finally learned that lust was my problem. I am learning more and more each day how to surrender my lust and my life to Christ. In doing this, He is becoming very real and personal to me—I am beginning to experience what it means to walk in His freedom and peace. I am participating in ministries and programs at my church and I am able to give back and serve God in ways that I never thought would be possible. Praise Him for that!