“Someone’s breakthrough is attached to the testimony you’re too ashamed to share.”
These words hit me like a bucket of ice water. I’m about to be very honest about something I have only told my husband. I love sharing parts of my testimony. I love talking about how God moved in my life when we were told we might not be able to have kids. I love opening up about how God built my faith by leading me through a struggle with postpartum depression, a fear of tithing, and several years of doubting my salvation.
But there’s one part of my testimony that I have always been ashamed of: my addiction to pornography.
I was only eight years old the first time I saw porn. I stumbled on an old VHS tape with no title and suddenly on the screen before me, I saw things I had no idea how to describe or process. I quickly removed the tape and tried to wipe it from my memory, but it wasn’t long until I sought it out again so I could finish watching it.
That began my journey into years of cycling in and out of addiction. It’s one of the biggest reasons I doubted my salvation; I would go months without “messing up”, and then it would take one moment of weakness to screw everything up and I would beg God to make me clean again.
My first turning point was when God spoke to me in a dream and showed me how much this addiction could hurt the people I love. It had always seemed like a sin that only affected me, but God showed me the impact on my future husband, my future children, my friends, my family, and my Christian witness. He showed me the ministry He had planned for me and He showed me how this addiction was going to ruin it.
I woke up crying. I could still see the pain and devastation written on the faces I loved. I asked, “Lord, what do I do with all of this?” And He said, “Give it to Me.”
My second turning point was the revelation I received about grace. I spent most of my life mixing up law and grace, to the point where I thought every negative thing that happened was a punishment for my sin: high school heartbreaks, my parent’s divorce, the loss of someone I loved. I knew that God was good and just, but I never desired a relationship with Him because I was too ashamed that I couldn’t pull myself together.
Meeting my husband changed my life. He pointed out that when the woman was caught in adultery, grace came first. Jesus didn’t say, “Go live your life perfectly, and then you will be forgiven.” He released her from her past and then told her to go and sin no more.
The truth is I couldn’t pull myself together, because grace had to come first. A relationship with Christ is the only thing strong enough to truly break an addiction that has your heart, and it’s because of the work that He has already completed on the cross.
If you are struggling with a hidden sin, there are three things I want to share with you:
1) Sin has a ripple effect.
It might seem like it’s only affecting you, but there are always others caught in the crosshairs. Just ask the mother who has watched her baby girl overdose one too many times. Ask the husband who knows the new dress his wife bought was meant for another man. Ask the little boy who never learned how to throw a football because his daddy drowned himself in a bottle. Ask the ones who are left behind, always wondering if there was something else they could have done.
Scripture tells us that temptation leads to sin and that sin leads to death, but it’s not just our death. How many children have grown up hating God because they’ve had an adult in their life quote His words right before breaking their heart? How many Christians have left the church because they’ve been beaten up by modern-day Pharisees or couldn’t stand the hypocrisy?
Sin is a disease that will eat at you, as well as the people around you.
2) Addictions can rarely be broken by you.
1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”
Note that the verse doesn’t say that you will provide a way out, nor does it say that you have to overcome temptation. It says that He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear and He will provide a way out.
Addictions don’t go away overnight, so don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Your job is to change your environment and trust God to change your heart. When you feel overwhelmed by temptation, tell Him: “God, You promised that You would not let me be tempted more than I can bear, and You promised that You would provide a way out. Lord, You are bigger than this addiction. I cannot, but You can.”
3) Messing up doesn’t send you back to the starting line.
One of the best pictures of grace that the Lord has given me came while I was training for a 5K. I had never been a runner, and when I first started running, I had to take a lot of breaks. But the beauty was that no matter where I stopped, I didn’t have to start at zero when I picked back up. If I left off at 1.5 miles, I started back at 1.5 miles. Growing up, I viewed sin as something that sent me back to the starting line, but while running, I realized that if I had to start back at the beginning every time I took a break, I would be too exhausted to ever finish my race. We don’t have to start over when we sin; we just have to turn around and start running again.
Isaiah 58:8 says, “The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.” The enemy is going to try to cover your testimony in shame. He’s going to whisper in your ear, “Imagine what they’ll think of you.” But God is standing in front of you, saying, “Give it to Me.” He has already promised that His glory will cover your past, so don’t let your shame keep you from running your race.