Hi Everyone! My name is Laura, and this is the story of God's grace and redemption in my life.
I grew up in a very religious Catholic family. I went to church/mass every single Sunday and never missed a holy day of obligation. We had family prayer every night, and said the rosary as a family on a weekly basis. My parents did everything they knew to do to teach me about God, but something always felt missing. I did everything I was told to do (including the novenas, confessions to the priests, and abstaining from meat on Fridays during lent).
My addiction to porn began when I was a sophomore in high school. Growing up, I was not allowed to watch rated R movies, so the thought of porn never crossed my mind until I heard someone get in trouble for looking at it. That’s when I became curious. From that moment on I was hooked. I began to make excuses to justify in my mind that what I was doing was ok. Deep down, I knew it was wrong, especially because I had to keep it a secret. I felt the rush of knowing I could get caught, but hoping I wouldn’t. I saw what happened to people who got caught, and I didn’t want that to be me.
My being hooked spiraled out of control when I got to college and was on my own. The fear of getting caught decreased because my roommates were rarely around and I had my own computer. While in college, I lived a double life – drunk partying on Fridays and Saturdays, watching porn secretly, then setting my alarm for church on Sunday mornings because “I have to keep holy the Sabbath by going to church, otherwise God can strike me dead.” This was my perverted view of God – as long as I “kept” the 10 commandments, I was good. I had no clue what Sabbath, church, or a relationship with God meant.
Sometime later, I began to see that I had a serious problem. I was secretly depressed, and was secretly battling a lot of demonic and evil thoughts. I became very scared when suicidal thoughts came out of nowhere because I knew I didn’t really want to kill myself. Things were happening in my life that I didn’t understand, so watching porn for hours at a time became an escape for me. I was going late to school and work because I couldn’t get myself off the computer. I was even reading "romance" books, and would justify it in my mind by telling myself it was a really good and suspenseful book. But I knew it was wrong because I would always wrap the book to disguise the cover, or hide the book on my bookshelf so no one could see it.
Things were happening in my life that I didn’t understand, so watching porn for hours at a time became an escape for me.
I remember looking for help on the internet for women who are addicted to watching porn, and I couldn’t find anything. The closest thing I saw was for the women who were acting in the porn movies, not the ones watching. I kept finding things to help women cope with their husbands’ and sons’ addiction. This made me feel even more alone. I thought I had the strength to stop on my own, and would count days on the calendar since I last watched ("3 days sober!" "Today I'm 5 days sober.") It was only a matter of time before I fell back into the addiction again. At one point, I even thought I might be a hermaphrodite or have too much testosterone. I believed the lie in my head that addiction to porn is only a men's issue, so there must be something wrong with me.
The Transformation Begins
That same year, I started dating a guy I thought was “the one” (even though he wasn’t my type). Out of the blue, after a few months of dating, he completely abandoned me and the friendship. This just added to my depression and hopelessness. I was so upset, and pleaded with God to bring the boy back, that I vowed to God that I would read a chapter a day in my Bible if He brought the boy back. (Prior to this, I didn’t read the bible, and this was just another revelation of my perverted view of God, but God used this situation to draw me closer to Him).
So in my last semester of college, I started reading a chapter a day from the New Testament. I didn’t understand what I was reading, but after about 2 weeks of reading a chapter a day, I no longer cared if the boy came back. I continued reading everyday, but also continued to live a double life – clubbing on the weekends, still watching porn, and going to Mass on Sundays.
A little over a year later, my sister came back from a Christian conference she attended in December and explained to me how lukewarm people will not enter heaven (Revelation 3:16). How heaven is either a 0 or 10, and anyone that falls in between that is going to hell. God used that conversation to completely convict me. I began to feel very uncomfortable doing the things I was doing. I began to lose even more friends because (I didn’t know it at the time) God was changing me. I began to feel empty at Mass, and after "confessing" to the priest, I still felt the dirt, shame, and guilt of my sins and watching porn. I kept feeling like there was something more out there that I needed.
In the summer of that year, (almost 2 years after I started reading my bible every day), I drove to Mass on a Sunday, like any other Sunday, but this time, I was so fed up with the routine, that I sat in my car in the parking lot and prayed. I told God that if He didn’t put me in a new church soon, I will no longer go to church. I was tired of feeling empty and fake whenever I was in church. I knew I needed to hear the truth, but I had no clue where to go. Then for the first time in my life, I intentionally skipped church that Sunday – I left the parking lot after praying and drove back home. That entire week, God reminded me of a church I heard about while in college. It was in a nearby city, and even though I had never been there, I was desperate for God’s truth. I decided to research service times, and the next Sunday I went there by myself. Usually I would invite someone to go with me because I didn’t like going to new places by myself, but this time I didn’t care. I was desperate for change.
The Breakthrough and Healing
For the first time ever I heard the pastor talk about the exact sins I was struggling with. Granted, when it came to porn, the pastors always directed it towards men, but I was grateful I was finally in a church where it was being talked about. I joined a life group (small group bible study) 3 weeks after God led me to the church, and He immediately began to restore the friends I lost. Even though I had been reading my bible every day for 2 years, it didn’t start making sense to me until God opened my eyes and mind. Hearing God's truth taught consistently in church, allowed everything to begin making sense. I went from listening to "worldly" music on the radio and TV, to worship music my new friends introduced me to. Even the books I read changed. The depression and thoughts of suicide were literally gone. The demonic and very dark thoughts that I struggled with for years (secretly) were all gone. God’s word literally transformed and renewed my mind.
One month later, the 7 year addiction I had with watching porn was completely gone. I still remember the night: my church was hosting a prayer night, and one of the sections was praying over God breaking the chains of bondage. For the first time in my life, I believed that God could heal me, and He literally took my addiction and nailed it to the cross. Every secret and shame I ever had was gone, and I was able to walk in freedom for the first time. I literally experienced what the song “Amazing Grace” talks about – “How precious did that Grace appear the hour I first believed”! From that moment on, I knew God didn’t save me, just for me. He saved me so He can also use me to help other women who are dying in secret.
I NEVER thought I could think so clearly, and have so much peace of mind. This was the freedom that only came from Jesus, and only came from God’s word of truth – The Bible. Self help books, listening to psychologists and therapists, thinking positive thoughts – all those things were nice, but not a single one of them healed me like Jesus and The Bible did. One year later, I joined a discipleship group because I wanted an even better understanding of who God is. Even though I was baptized as a baby, I learned what God’s Word says about the importance of declaring my faith through baptism. I was baptized on December 12, 2010 and was filled with boldness for Christ.
When people ask me why I’m so serious about God, and why I talk so much about Jesus, my only response is “how can I not be?” He chose me even while I was dead in sin.
I said I loved Him, but my words and actions said I was a hypocrite. He gave me a new life, new mind, new heart, and new Spirit. He lifted me out of the miry clay and set my feet on solid ground. Jesus gave me purpose. I no longer wake up hating Mondays, just to look forward to Fridays, and repeat the cycle every week. Life has so much meaning now, and it's not dependent on children, a spouse, or a career. The least I can do is tell you who this Jesus is in the hopes that God will grant you the same grace and repentance, so that you too can walk in freedom!