I want you all to meet Karla. She first contacted Beggar’s Daughter in May of 2011 (yes, I keep all of my e-mails and pray for them all). I responded to her initial e-mail on June 1, 2011 and then all went silent. It happens, and my heart has learned to let it go and to pray for them. I’m not the one who changes people, God is, and if I’ve only planted a seed He can sow, I’ve done enough.
Imagine my joy, when I received an e-mail from Karla on May 17 of this year, almost a year from our first contact. She told me of an amazing story of healing and redemption and how God is using her to bring freedom to the lives of others. Please know that this can be your story too!
To Be Made Well (A True Confession)
For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been obsessed with romance — from clean Christian romance novels to innocent daydreaming. These things allowed me to escape reality for a little while, and they made me feel like I understood this whole romance thing that everybody else seemed to have in their lives. I had begun pursuing a relationship with Christ when I was very young, but I had also allowed Satan to take hold of this romance stronghold in my life when I was but 11 years old.
When I was in sixth grade, I was passed down an old TV to put in my room.
What started as innocently flipping through channels turned into a full-blown sex addiction when I stumbled across my first R-rated sex scene.
I justified by saying I was just educating myself. But something was released inside of me that got me hooked on this beautiful thing called sex. This later developed into a hardcore porn addiction on the Internet.
I was 13 when I first gave up this addiction and told my parents about it. For a few years, I was “clean.” But when I was 16, I found pornography again. Despite any Internet filters my parents set up, I found ways around them to satisfy my sexual desires. Over the years, I became numb again, not caring what God had to say about it, indifferent to my sin, and continually having to “up” the dose. Each time I was done having my “fill,” I would break down crying, asking God to forgive me over and over again.
I began to doubt my salvation and God’s love for me, believing there was no way He could look past this and love me the way He did before this addiction — I was too dirty for Him.
I eventually assumed the mentality that this was something I was going to be addicted to my whole life, and there was no point in trying to get rid of it.
When I went to college, the frequency of my sin got even worse. I remember one time I acted out and felt so guilty and dirty that I jumped into the shower, crying, scrubbing my skin red with soap, trying to get rid of the filth I knew I couldn’t clean up myself.
God is faithful. He surrounded me with believing friends and roommates who kept me accountable, at one point fasting with me for 24 hours every time I slipped up. My last summer of college, I finally began to understand His grace and love for me, despite my dirtiness. I realized He had not abandoned me to fight this alone. My pile of crap was not standing between me and God.
Rather, He was at my side, shovels in both our hands, looking at this pile of crap in front of both of us and saying to me, “We’re going to clean this up, together.”
My senior year of college, I shared a room with another girl who, in fact, shared the same struggles. We decided to do this study called “Into the Light,” put together by The Navigators, which full-on addressed sexual addiction. We did this study with four other girls in our campus ministry whom we knew also struggled with sexual addiction, whether it be pornography, masturbation or actual sexual intercourse.
It was God and Him alone who connected this group of women, who helped us be broken before each other, who helped us take the first steps in finding freedom, and who helped us encourage each other and speak truth into each others’ lives. It is such a beautiful thing when women step into the light and find freedom together!
Over the past 10 years of struggling with sexual addiction, I have seen what works and what doesn’t work. One of the things that doesn’t work is doing it alone. Fellowship is so important. My last year of college, simply living day to day with another girl who also struggled encouraged me so much. We talked about our sexual struggles on a regular basis, in a completely open, honest, and God-glorifying manner.
Talking about sex in the light makes it harder to do in the dark. Deciding to truly find accountability is also a big step in finding freedom. It’s not the only way to do it, but Covenant Eyes has been one of the biggest factors in my path to freedom. I recommend checking it out.
Sexual temptation is something I’m probably going to struggle with all my life, but that doesn’t mean I can’t walk in freedom.
Jesus has come to me and asked, “Do you want to get well?” (John 5:1-15). And after much consideration — because saying yes to the Lord means being ready for some painfully radical transformation! — I’ve said, “Yes, Lord, I want to be well.”
One last note: One morning, God spoke these words to me. I pray they speak to you, too.
“There will always be a world of pornography for you to explore, always a mixture of different keyword searches you could enter that will turn up new and exciting results, always ‘related videos’ that will lead you further into this world of sin. It’s never going to be enough for you.
“Be convinced of this, Karla — that desire is not going to leave you for a long time. Maybe it never will while you are still in this world. You might think you’ve figured it out and gotten rid of it, but you’re only thinking you’ve simply had your ‘fill’ for the time being, and you anticipate that you will have to satisfy the desire again later down the road. In this case, the time being was your four months of ‘freedom.’ This week, it was six days.
“Child, at some point, you’re just going to have to decide to put away with it and fight that desire, whether you have had your fill or not. At some point, you’re going to have to acknowledge you have absolutely no control over this and surrender it to Me. Stop trying to fix yourself, and let Me do it.
“But let me tell you something: you’re going to have to stop opening doors. You may not have control over what you desire right now, but you have control over what you do with those desires. I have promised you I will always provide a way out when you are tempted. Take the way out. Close the door. Let’s do this together, by My strength.
“When I look at you, Karla, I don’t see your sin. I see a pure and blameless child. You are free from accusation, and you are covered by My grace. But I can see the life that you are living, and it is a life under the bondage of pornography. It may not be as frequent as before, but that is only because you are suppressing it and refusing to get to the core of the issue.
“You are still allowing your desire for control, your desire for love, your desire for sexual pleasure to consume you, and though you are free from the eternal consequences of your sin, you are not free from its effects on your heart, on your soul, on your mind, on your relationships, on your view of yourself before Me, and on your view of Me.
“I want freedom for you. I gave Jesus for you so you could not only be free of sin’s eternal consequences in separating you from Me, but to be free of sin itself because it is not of Me, and I am good. I made you for Me.