Saturday, May 31, 2014

My Testimony: From addict to free

I apologize in advance for the length.

This post is for the Proverbs 31 online Bible studies blog hop. We are currently studying, Limitless Life by Derwin Gray. For this week’s blog hop, I’ve chosen to share my testimony of going from addict to free that corresponds with Chapter 2 of the book.

I actually have 2 testimonies of going from addict to free.

The 1st is my addiction to cigarettes. I had been a smoker for about 17 years. I started when I was 20 & ended up officially quitting in 2011, after several failed attempts. I had gotten sick with a bad case of bronchitis and the last thing I wanted to do was smoke. It took about 2 weeks for me to get over the coughing & being sick, but it was enough to get me started on my road to quitting smoking. By God’s grace, I am proud to say that I have been smoke free for 3 years now & I think it’s been one of the best things that I have done for my overall health and well-being.

My 2nd testimony of being set free is a little bit more personal for me & the fact that I am able to write & share this with you today is only because of the work that God has done in my life. Especially since I dealt with this addiction in silence for about the same time that I started smoking. It was one that has caused a lot of shame, guilt & fear - which was an addiction to pornography. For many years I carried this addiction that no one knew about & I was too ashamed to admit. But through God’s grace & mercy, He made a way for me to be open & honest with some people through my church & I am now set free of my addiction.

My addiction started when I was in my teens and my parents were going through a separation. I had been snooping one day & came across some of my dad’s adult magazines & ended up sneaking them up to my room. By the time I had graduated high school, my parents had divorced and even though I was a Christian by this time – I accepted Christ at 15 – I was devastated. Instead of turning to God for comfort and help during this time, I kind of went through this rebellious stage. I was looking toward others to find my worth and security.

My porn addiction escalated when I got into a relationship with a guy I had met at a bar where my coworkers and I went for karaoke & several months later, I moved in with him. His roommate had a huge porn collection that my ex & would sometimes borrow videos to watch when he wasn’t home. Over the years that we were together – which was 8 – we ended up using porn to “enhance” our relationship.

Several months after we broke up, I had been working for a company of over 1000 people & I started dating a guy who worked on the same floor as I did. We went out for almost a year & broke up after I started attending & joined a local church with my mom. While we were together, we would visit adult stores because he knew about my previous relationship & how we used to watch movies together. This was my last relationship I’ve had. I’ve been single for almost 10 years now, but I also thank God for this season of singleness.

I ended up attending this church for 5 years until I felt that it was time for me to move on to another church. The church I had been attending is considered to some a legalistic type of church. So while I was a member, I learned a lot about God, but didn’t really have a strong knowledge of his love for me. I always felt that I wasn’t good enough or that I wasn’t doing enough for Him. So, after I left that one, I took some time off and about 6 months later, I started attending a spirit-filled non-denominational church. Four months after that, I ended up joining that one & becoming a member.

During this time of singleness & church attendance, I spent time growing my relationship with God through prayer & bible study, however, I still continued struggling with my addiction to pornography in which no one knew about, except God. I kept going through the sin-confess-sin-confess cycle for years until last year when I told God I was finally done & something needed to change.

For many years I had been so embarrassed, ashamed, guilty and fearful of my addiction. It almost seemed taboo for a woman to struggle with this type of addiction. And even if they did, it wasn’t something that was talked about in the open. At least where I came from. But God, in his grace & mercy, answered my prayer & made a way for me to be open & honest about my addiction with some trusted Christians that I had already been seeing for prayer and counseling.

I was nervous about contacting my prayer counselor & spilling my guts about something that I had never spoke a word to anyone about, except anonymously online to strangers. But I was shocked & relieved when I received a response from her thanking me for my honesty. She was so gracious & didn’t judge me. We set up an appointment for me to meet with her & 2 other ladies for counseling & an anointed prayer session. After the appointment was over, I felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I was also able to share my freedom with a lady I had met with later to set up getting re-baptized that weekend at church - I was baptized once when I joined that church after my relationship ended.

Afterwards, I had set up weekly meetings & bible studies for several months to keep myself accountable, but to be completely honest, I really didn’t need it, other than to help grow my relationship with God. The reason I say this is because I truly believe that once I was open & honest with several people about my addiction & then getting re-baptized, I think it helped fortify my freedom.

This was back in July of last year & I am happy to say that I am completely free of my addiction. I have not had any urges to look at a movie or magazine of adult nature. And if I do come across something like that now, I just shut it off or walk away from it because it no longer serves a purpose in my life.

I feel like I have been given a fresh start in life & I know that God has a plan & purpose for my life. I do hope that I will eventually end up getting married one day, but this time, I am going to do it God’s way. I am also going to cherish this time that I have as a single person & use it serve God the best way I know how, especially when opportunities like this one open up for me to share my story with others.