After I had our first child, I struggled with post-partum depression. I wasn’t reading my Bible or praying much anymore, and I just felt completely overwhelmed. It was at this point that I started looking at pornography online. I had a loving, attractive husband who I had been married to for almost 2 years who I knew would be devastated if he found out.
This time I could not walk away from the porn.
It had a tight grip on me, and I didn’t know how to break free. It was literally killing me inside, and I felt like such a hypocrite. I was very involved in my church, but I knew no one would ever suspect what I was doing. Still, those fantasies in my mind became so powerful that I didn’t know how to turn them off.
I relied on them and got to a point where I didn’t even want to be with my husband sexually anymore due to the guilt I was feeling.
I would rather avoid being with him than be reminded that I ruined my brain forever.
More than a year went by, and this secret was consuming me. One day I finally told him. He, of course, was hurt, surprised, and felt betrayed. Telling him, though, was the beginning of my healing. I had no idea that confessing this secret to him could help to set me free. This is the point where I gave it to God and began to let Him heal my heart.
Talking to God about this was not easy. I knew He already was aware of what I was doing, but I felt so much shame. Talking to God about pornography and sinful sexual fantasies was not something I knew how to do, and I felt incredibly embarrassed! Just the act of speaking these things out loud to Him (and hearing myself saying them) was so humbling. As I learned how to talk to Him about this, though, my heart started to heal.
Even after I physically stopped looking at the pornography, the images remained vivid in my mind. God started to reveal to me that I was believing certain lies that kept me stuck in bondage. He started showing me that when my husband and I got into arguments, I would just drift off into my fantasy world.
This became my idol – my escape.
I believed that I would be happier with someone else, and I liked the way the fantasies made me feel. The feelings these fantasies evoked in me were much stronger than anything I felt in real life, and I couldn’t re-create them with anything else. But God showed me that they were not only based on lies and false intimacy, but I was also idolizing this fantasy world in my mind. As I surrendered these fantasies to God and learned to find true intimacy with Him, my heart began to heal.
As I began to surrender each thought, picture and fantasy in my mind to Him, I asked Him to replace these things with the thoughts and images He wanted me to have. This was the longest and most difficult part of my healing, but it was also the deepest. There were days and weeks that I felt like healing wasn’t reachable, but every time I reached out to Jesus, I found that His strength, grace, mercy and love was enough. He carried me through!
Four years have gone by since I confessed this to my husband, and God has healed layer after layer of my heart. Am I ever tempted by these same things today? Yes, sometimes. But it’s no longer a daily struggle or preoccupation for me. I still guard my eyes and my heart, but I no longer guard them in fear. I now know to check my heart when I feel any kind of temptation or desire that I know is not from Him.
John 8:36 says, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed”, and I know that now to be true!
I’m learning that freedom is not necessarily about never being tempted again (even Jesus was tempted), but freedom is about becoming the woman God created me to be. As I continue to look to Jesus for fulfillment, He continues to restore my heart and my marriage. Jesus is truly my Restorer, Redeemer, Healer and my Rock, and He has set me free!
Many thanks to Amy for sharing her story. To read more from Amy, visit her blog, walkinginfreedom.net!