I still remember the first girl that I ever really liked. I was in fifth grade, and the very image that leaps into most people’s minds when someone says “home schooled.” Five feet, four inches of Lee jeans, plaid Ocean Pacific, and buzz cut complementing a mildly overweight, bespectacled introvert with literally a handful of friends. It’s unnecessary to describe the girl in question, because by now it’s pretty clear that I probably would’ve been turned down by just about any girl out there. The diva of my grade at church found little appealing about the PBS-fed bookworm that I was and she rejected me quite vehemently. As we were both still pre-teenage era, I recall the main term used being “weirdo.”
This was well over a decade ago, and her words are still floating around in my head. Funny how “weirdo” sticks. Maybe it was the connotations more than anything. The girl that I was so crazy about thought that I was weird. I mean, obviously I was, but to hear it from her just sucked. She sincerely believed that I was peculiar and odd, and this realization was devastating.
At age twelve, pornography became a safe haven for me, a place where I discovered women who found me engaging, attractive, and worthwhile. All of a sudden, I could just block out all the girls who didn’t want me and retreat to porn. Even as I fell further into addiction and the cycle of shame that naturally tags along, it still felt more appealing to me than having to go outside and get humiliated again.
After struggling with sexual purity for eleven years now, I’ve come to one seriously important conclusion: guys are terrified of rejection. A lot is made of the fact that we are visually-driven, which often leads us to porn, and that’s absolutely true, but what isn’t as often understood is the way a guy’s ego enters into the equation of porn addiction. When I’ve been rejected in the past, as every guy in history has, it made it a little harder to try again. Fear kept me from manning up, in a sense. The internet became a way to stay unharmed, but in the process it left me weaker and far less of a man.
The local alternative rock station round my parts has a rather tasteless daily feature on their website called Babe of the Day, and it’s nothing more than a girl in her underwear or a bikini, just a new photo every day. What struck me, however, is the way they advertise it on the radio. The tagline is, verbatim, “One girl who will *never* turn you down.” It’s marketed perfectly. The first time I heard it, I actually wanted to go check out this babe of the day. Not so much because I had an interest in seeing an attractive girl wearing mostly nothing, but because the line resonated with me. In my head, it started bringing up all the times I’d been turned down, even laughed at in the past, and the promise of someone who actually wanted me, in any manner, was unbelievably appealing.
In the last few years, as I finally began to come out of my addiction and learn to live a life that was set against sexual impurity, much of the battle was won through loving and being loved. The first thing that really got the wheels turning was the notion that there was a God out there who watched me every night that I was by myself, giving in again and again and again to carnal desire, watching me and grieving over this tragedy, and still finding a way to love me. We are born sinless, into a sinful world, but this perfect state doesn’t last for long at all, and heartbreakingly fast, we’re tarnished and dirty, filthy and muddy. You and I become a whore of a bride, wearing grubby tatters of a dress, and yet God, our groom, still looks at us and sees beauty. He sees promise. When I finally started to understand this, to believe it and claim it as my own truth to hang on to, that’s when I started to see a way out. God has a million chances every day to reject us, to call us unclean, to call us weird and imperfect and so far broken from his mold that we can never return. Yet he hasn’t. I believe he never will.
For years and years, I served pornography, for the sole promise of a girl who would never turn me down. If you’re reading this and you’ve struggled with porn, you know what a lie this girl is. She satisfies for a moment, but even that pleasure feels hollow, and after that moment passes, there’s nothing left but shame. Crazy enough, it leaves you with an even keener sense of rejection. After living my life that way long enough, though, that idea in the back of my mind that there could be something better out there forced its way to the forefront. There is love out there, both from God and your fellow man that accepts, and doesn’t reject. There is a God to serve who will never turn you down. Love saved me, and there’s still an abundance of it, waiting to pull you out of wherever you’re at.