It is hard to admit this, but for much of my life I struggled with pornography. All right, it wasn’t a struggle, it was an addiction.
Over a year ago, the addiction I worked tirelessly to hide from the world came to light. And with that exposure came the subsequent crashing of my life—at least life as I knew it.
The next several months were excruciatingly hard. Not just for me, but for my family. For the first time in my life, I had to acknowledge I was facing an opponent I could not defeat alone. I went to counseling for the first time. I battled depression for the first time. But through my experience, I learned much about God and life.
Today, I am free from the addiction of pornography, but the path was not easy. Recovery is a road filled with potholes and sharp turns. There is no magic formula. But there are discoveries I made along the road to recovery that helped me turn the corner:
1. Your Addiction Does Not Define You.
The enemy wants to label you. He wants you to label yourself. You’re a porn addict. You’re a drug addict. Fill in the blank.
But rest in the truth that what you do doesn’t define who you are. Yes, you have an addiction. Yes, your actions are sinful. But those things are not who you are.
This is who you are: a child of God. You are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). God’s love for you has not diminished or decreased. And it will not, because it isn’t dependent upon your behavior.
Regardless of how low you are. Regardless of how much you dislike yourself. Believe in your true identity. Rest in it. And then work from it to overcome.
2. Others Are Not Responsible for Your Addiction.
When humans struggle with anything in life, the tendency is to blame others. When it comes to addiction, the tendency is often to blame God.
It’s easier to blame other people. External circumstances feed your porn addiction. Your spouse drives you to other people. You are beyond stressed from work. You can continue to use those as crutches if you choose. But remember, crutches prevent you from walking by yourself. Crutches prevent you from breaking free.
It wasn’t until I stopped blaming God and everyone else for my pornography addiction that I was able to start the process of recovery.
It will hurt. It will be hard. But nothing about this process is easy. Put down the crutches.
3. You Can’t Overcome Alone.
For years, I walked alone. I was ashamed. I was scared. Who wouldn’t be? But it is foolish to walk alone and believe you can break the cycle. I can’t tell you how many times I would view pornography, say to myself I would never do it again (and I mean it), then fall back.
The day everything changed for me was the day my wife joined the journey. She is the ultimate example of grace and steadfast love. I am convinced without her I would still be addicted. Her discovery of my porn addiction meant I was no longer walking alone.
If you have any sort of addiction, tell someone. Stop hiding. You can’t do it alone. Get help. Find an accountability partner. Tell your small group. Get counseling. You can’t overcome this alone.
4. There is No Silver Bullet to Overcome Addiction.
If you believe following a 10-step process will ensure you overcome a porn addiction, you are misguided. There is no silver bullet. Go ahead and read all the self-help books your heart desires. They will not heal you.
There is no quick fix to addiction. It takes time. It is not easy. The road to recovery is filled with people who are looking for a magic potion.
Those who make it to the other side have one quality in common: perseverance. They don’t look for a shortcut. They fight. They struggle. They crawl. They run. But they never give up.
5. Don’t Set Long Term Goals—Ask God for Strength to Win Each Day.
I am a planner. I love to cast a vision and look into the future. So, why not do the same with addiction? Because you will end up discouraged. Each time you set a 6-month or 1-year goal and fail to reach it, the monster looks bigger and bigger.
Overcoming addiction happens when you get out of bed every morning and ask God for the strength to resist for that day. Before you know it, you will start winning weeks. Then months. Then years.
But if you start by trying to win years, you will lose most days. Don’t worry about long-term goals. They are meaningless in the initial stages of addiction. Focus on winning each day.
6. God Can Handle Your Frustrations and Anger.
Through the process, there were times I was very angry, upset and frustrated. I would then have to fight the battle of keeping those feelings to myself. I thought God wouldn’t be OK with my anger and frustration, that He wouldn’t understand.
Then I started to notice how many people struggled in the Bible. And I noticed the response of many I considered to be the “most holy.” They were honest. They were transparent. King David was called a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22). And he was really honest with God, too honest for my narrow theology. I would find myself telling David, “Stop talking to God like that. He deserves better.”
Then I realized my stupidity. If God is not big enough to handle my yelling, venting and anger, He is not a God worth serving.
Go ahead and tell God how you feel. Close the door. Go off in the woods. Ride down the road. Be transparent with God. He will listen. He will hear you.
I am not a counselor or an expert on overcoming addiction. I am just a man who understands the addictive power of pornography, the hurt associated with addiction, the loneliness of walking alone, the encouragement of walking with others and the exhilaration of overcoming through God’s power.
Addiction can strike anyone. But God hates addiction and He wants to help you out of it and celebrate with you as you overcome.
This article was originally posted at frankmatthewpowell.com