Rick has been released from the addiction of pornography. Christ has replaced it with HIS peace, HIS purity and HIS truth, so Christ can minister through Rick to others. (June, 2007)
My story is not uncommon. Growing up as a child I saw many terrible things. Physical, emotional and psychological abuse, mainly delivered from my father to my mother. It was very common for my two little sisters to huddle in my room, all three of us fearing the worst. After all the yelling and screaming would come the isolation, with the fear my dad was going to leave me, leave my sisters and
divorce my mom.
I was also introduced to pornography at the age of five by my older brother. Through all of these experiences, the enemy slipped many lies and false beliefs into my heart. He told me that I was neglected as a child because I wasn’t good enough, so I tried to be perfect to gain love. After feeling powerless to be heard by my dad, powerless to earn his love, I made a vow that I would never be powerless again. I was going to protect myself. Satan, ‘the father of lies,’ told me that I couldn’t trust others as well, so I put up a front of confidence and retreated into my own world of pain and suffering. I learned to suppress and control my emotions, losing touch with this part of my heart in the process.
I learned to believe that people are evil and that they will hurt me, so I used pornography as a substitute for intimacy with my wife. Not realizing that Satan was the source of these negative thoughts, I believed the lie that my heavenly Father was the same guy as my earthly father, in the sense that He would abandon me. So I turned from God instead of running to Him. I walked in darkness all of my life, adding more sin, more suffering in my life and in the lives of those around me who I loved.
God allowed this suffering to finally break me when my addictions and lies were exposed. He called me out of darkness and gave me the strength to confess my sins to Him, to my family and my pastor. My pastor referred me to Pastor Paul Coneff and Straight 2 the Heart’s discipleship ministry, where I learned to understand and receive God’s love for me, (www.straight2theheart.com).
During our first meeting a picture of Christ was shared with me that I had never seen before, the “Hidden Half of the Gospel.” I saw Christ dying for my sins and for my suffering, experiencing being abandoned by those closest to Him, being betrayed and abused. I saw Christ being tempted to numb His pain, but saying “no” in the midst of all His suffering and rejection choosing to trust His heavenly Father instead. Why did Jesus go through all of this? So He could embrace all my sins and all the ways I had been sinned against as well, (Hebrews 2:10, 17-18; 14-16).
As I looked at the cross in a new way, I knew it was okay now to bring my sins and darkness and emptiness to Christ. Jesus wasn’t looking at me with judgment, as I feared, because He took all that judgment Himself. Now I could see the cross as an invitation to come to Him with my sin because He had understanding and compassion for me. I knew in my heart that Jesus had suffered at the hands of evil just as I had. I knew that Jesus understood my suffering so I brought it to Him. And Jesus does what He does best – He healed me and set me free, bring His wholeness into my brokenness!
During the prayer time, God revealed to me the root lies and false beliefs the enemy had planted in my heart, showing me how Satan was using these against me at the same time. And how these false beliefs were producing the sinful ‘fruit’ of pornography. As the Holy Spirit revealed each false belief, we would ask Christ where He could identify with these experiences and temptations in His life, (being abandoned, being tempted to perform to gain acceptance/approval, being powerless and worthless etc.).
Each time a false belief was revealed, followed by identifying with Christ identifying with me, showing how Christ went through a similar experience, we would pray through the cross. I would thank Christ for choosing to include His own experience of being abandoned in His life, so He could suffer for me, as me, as He also became all my sins as well (2 Cor. 5:21), so He could rise again to fulfill His mission statement, “healing my broken heart and setting me free from sin.” (Luke 4:18)
We also brought all the emotional bonding to pornography to Christ, thanking Him for taking all this part of the sin to death on Calvary. And we thanked Christ for rising again to forgive me and cleanse me, bonding my heart and mind to Him after breaking those bonds to pornography. We prayed for Christ to fill my heart, mind, soul and body with His purity, as I become His temple, filled with His Holy Spirit. (Matt.15:19; 1 Cor. 3:16, 7; 6:16; 2 Cor. 11:2, 3; Phil. 2:15; 3:10; Heb. 13:4)
I have experienced Christ’s grace and truth and power to over come (Rev. 2:11; 3:5) not only my behavior of pornography but the false beliefs behind my sinful behavior. Jesus has also removed all the guilt and shame and condemnation from me living in sin and secrecy. This was very important to me because it seemed like the only thing I had done was to destroy, hurt and break down those around me. Someone who professes to be a Christian and love God should do this. Straight 2 the Heart believes that prayer is the greatest power on earth because it connects us to Christ, “the Wonderful Counselor,” (Isaiah 9:6), and this has never been more true for me.
Each of the lies the enemy was using against me were brought to the cross during the prayer time, leading me to freedom, step by step, prayer by prayer. We also asked God to break any bonds between my heart and mind and the pornography, seeking forgiveness for seeking sexual gratification outside of God’s will. And just as important, we asked the Lord to replace my sins with His purity, His love, His wholeness into my heart, mind and soul.
As we continued meeting to pray, Pastor Paul asked me how my struggles with pornography were going I told him I was not sure I wanted to say anything to him. Not because I was still struggling with it, but because things were going so well in this area of my life. This victory I was experiencing was new and I didn’t want to lose it.
I am happy to say that I am no longer a slave to the sin of pornography (Romans 6:6, 7). I no longer turn to pornography for false comfort, for a phony and false sense of intimacy. In fact, this urge for pornography that has been in my life for more than 20 years has completely disappeared! In its place is a wonderful gift of grace from God, true intimacy with Him and my wife. And by His grace, I am rebuilding my marriage with my wife, based on the truth of God’s Word.
After praying together a few times, Pastor Paul also shared with me the DVD “Somebody’s Daughter” by Steve Siler, (www.musicforthesoul.org). In addition to songs about the dangers of pornography, there are testimonies from men addicted to it as well. One wife also shares how devastating it was to her when he told her about his addiction to pornography.
Hearing her question why she wasn’t good enough and whether she could ever trust him and what she thought she had in their marriage helped me to see a bigger picture. I saw the truth that pornography was much more destructive in my life than I had realized, now that the “deceiver’ had lost his power over me. The cross showed me that I’m not alone, that I’m accepted because of Christ’s suffering, death and resurrection.
Regaining trust is a process, but my wife has seen the changes in me and she is trusting me more every day. When I first admitted what I was doing, I was afraid I was a failure, condemned by my behavior, with no hope of forgiveness. I was afraid that my identity was directly connected to my sin. Because Christ has removed my guilt and shame, I don’t have to worry about doubting my own identity as God’s son anymore. Now I want to identify with her pain, listen to her, hearing how she has been hurt.
As part of my effort to listen to her, I took her to see the movie “FireProof” It is a story about a husband and firefighter who is a hero to those he saves, while he is addicted to pornography at home, hurting his wife in the process. After the movie I was able to ask my wife how it impacted her, how she was hurt by my sin and where she was in her own journey of healing and freedom, opening the door to connect heart to heart. I’m learning to be the spiritual leader in my home as well. And I take the initiative to share my thoughts and feelings, my struggles and what is on my heart, seeking to model the openness and authenticity I want to have with my wife. In the process, I’m creating a safe environment for my wife to blossom into the person God created her to be, becoming a man worthy of being trusted.
I’ve also started a small men’s group where I have shared my struggle and my victory with them. I’m studying my Bible daily and I’ve started memorizing scripture as well, to “hide God’s Word in my heart, so I don’t sin against Him,” (Psalm 119:11). Straight 2 the Heart’s Pure Power ministry of prayer and discipleship for me has been a wonderful resource to help me become a true disciple of Christ.
God is alive and well and He is still doing miracles of healing everyday. All we have to do is meet Him at the cross, choosing to surrender to Him, allowing Him to “forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness,” (1 John 1:9). Then we can over come, walking in the power of HIS forgiveness, HIS purity, HIS strength, HIS peace, (Col. 1:27). I am living proof of that!