A word from Valley Women's Ministry Director, Debi Lydic... I recently read that nearly 30% of all visitors to porn sites are women and it seems this number is on the rise.  This is not a women's issue that is discussed much in the Christian community.  However, as we are highlighting the transforming power of Christ in the lives of Valley women, I can think of no more powerful way to proclaim the mercy, grace and love at work in our lives to bring lasting change and glory to God, than in issues of addiction.  I want to thank our very brave Valley Gal for sharing her transformation story of victory over her addiction to pornography.  She has chosen to remain anonymous, probably representing more women than she realizes in our church and community.   If you would like to read more about this addiction, check out these resources from Focus on the Family and Insight for Living.  And...if you find yourself trapped in this or any other type of addictive behavior, please email me or call me at 226-9973.  Your inquiry will be confidential and I can point you in the right direction to receive assistance and help.

We all have defining moments in our lives. These experiences shape our character, identities, beliefs, and our very sense of self-worth in the Lord. They often pertain to great moments of triumph, as well as times of utter failure. One such time in my life came during my freshman year of high school. When I was a teenager, instant messaging and chat rooms were a popular way to pass the time. Although the details are now fuzzy, it was during an experience in a chat room that my life was forever and drastically changed when I somehow got connected to a pornographic image. This one image would come to define the next twelve years of my life as I descended into an addiction to pornography.

I was raised in a Christian home, was active in AWANA, and continued my participation with the church through youth group and Sunday School. I knew that pornography was wrong and that every time I succumbed to my addiction I was breaking my Father’s heart, but the enemy’s temptation was just too strong for me to say no. My normal life became two-sided, as I continued to proclaim the Lord publicly, but held onto this deep, dark secret in my personal life.

 My first attempt at freedom from this addiction came late one night a few years after my first experience. On this night my shame and guilt overwhelmed me and I reached out to my best friend, who was also a Christian. She came over and I revealed my deepest secret to her, and then with her by my side, we woke up my parents to tell them. They were understandably shocked, but were very supportive in helping me through this. We set up parental blocks on the computer and everyone thought that would be the end of it.

I wish that this was one of the victorious defining moments in my life, but unfortunately it wasn’t. I found ways to get past the blocks on the computer and continued my addiction. When I went to college it became even easier to have access to pornography because I no longer had to work around blocks on the computer. My faith also shrank when I went to college and no longer had anyone holding me accountable to attending and volunteering at church.

The shame and guilt of my addiction and the struggle between wanting to please my God, but falling short every time, wore away at me until I started living by my own rules. I found then, that the temptation to watch pornography lessened, because Satan already knew that I was far from God during that period. He didn’t have to work as hard to separate me from the Lord. I was already creating that distance myself. I finished college, got married, went to graduate school, and still held on to my deep,  dark secret.

My triumphal, defining moment came in June of 2014, when I connected to a new church. The very first service I attended I recommitted my life to Christ and began making changes in how I lived my life. I enthusiastically started getting involved, signed up for a prayer group, but had the fear of my addiction returning with full vigor.  At one session of my prayer group I told the Lord about my fears and He reminded me of the passage in Matthew where Jesus is tempted in the desert. In that passage I found that God had laid out exactly how I could overcome Satan and this addiction in my life. Jesus, my ultimate role model, was victorious over temptation because He relied on God’s strength and on the words of the Bible. I saw that I could use these tools too to finally overcome my addiction to pornography. Along with Jesus’ example, I began to shed light on my dark secret. I told that same friend from high school and my parents that I was still struggling. I also talked to my husband about it, further bringing my secret out of the darkness.

Although the road has not been smooth and without failures, I can now stand up against the addiction and not allow it to break me when Ifall.  A verse that I now take so much comfort and hope from is 2 Corinthians 12:9: “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’” I’m not alone in my struggle and don’t have to rely on my own strength to overcome this addiction. My God is with me and His strength covers any falls or trials I face. I choose to have Him by my side as I face the rest of the defining moments in my life.