“You don’t want a boyfriend,” my friend told me on the streets of Melbourne, Australia.
We were both visiting the land Down Under for a year studying abroad when I was confronted by this friend about my unwanted sexual behavior.
I didn’t know how to handle her allegation. When I tried to protest, she looked at me with a condescending look that said: “Your reputation precedes you.”
Unfortunately, she was right.
It was the first time, at age 23, that someone had directly confronted my behavior, how it affected me and the people around me. To prove her wrong, without even telling anyone, for the next 6 months I stopped almost every unwanted sexual behavior.
After my self-imposed 6 month hiatus, I was in a bar finding everything I thought I wanted and found myself in a worse position than before I had “taken a break.” Yet, it was at that very time of hitting rock bottom and returning to the United States, that I truly became desperate in crying out to God.
“God if You are real, then show Yourself to me and make all of this STOP!” I prayed.
“I’m out of control and can no longer stop myself.”
Shortly after I prayed that prayer, I met someone who invited me to a women’s night at church, and it was exactly what I needed. Jesus, who forgave me completely, as well as a tribe of women who accepted me and loved me, despite all of what I had done, helped me begin again.
I got a new roommate who loved Jesus and started attending church service and Bible study with her. We had many late-night conversations about God’s forgiveness and how Jesus could redeem any behavior.
He could change me instantly, as well as change me over time, depending on His will.
I had mistakenly thought that once I accepted Christ into my heart I would get zapped and be completely healed of addiction. But rather, God refined me and my behavior over time.
After joining the church in March 2000, I started going on double dates. I had a rule that I wouldn’t touch or kiss the men I went on dates with. It was there, on those early first dates with purity, that I realized my friend in Australia had been right all along.
Nine months later, I met my husband Ryan. He was technically still a virgin and told me that wouldn’t change until his wedding night. And he kept his word, while we dated for three years.
It was during those three years, that there were many more confrontations about my past, and how it had affected my thinking and my present-day conversations with other men. Ryan and I started going to couple’s counseling a month after we met, and continued for many, many years, on an as-needed basis, with the same Pastor.
I wish I could say that I handled each confrontation well, but that wouldn’t be true. Especially in the early days. I was always blame-shifting, trying to squirm out of what was being pointed out through my excessive flirtation or seduction, as well as my unhealthy fantasy.
It was painful to see how I really was, and have my friends and my boyfriend, point out the ways that I spoke were not edifying to God, nor respectful towards myself.
I had spent several years in a sex-saturated home with pornography and sexual abuse, and then 11 years in unhealthy relationships and hookups that mimicked much of what happened in my childhood home.
That was still no excuse for me to act inappropriately – and I asked everyone in my life to call me out, but especially my husband. I read as many books as I could on topics of sexual brokenness and continued counseling for myself, both things I practice to this day.
Although painful, I had no means of escape because every person in my life, except my family of origin, became accountability partners for me. “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free,” Jesus says.
This was how God was able to undo the chains of unwanted sexual behavior I had with others, and leave that hookup lifestyle in the past, 21 years ago. Is there an easier, better way to do this?
Not that I know of.
We need people who are willing to love us, as friends, children, spouses, or family members – to confront the reality of the situation and guide us towards a healthier way to connect with others. This was true for me over the years, but it’s also true for you.
Beyond that loving confrontation – not one person walked away from me after I shared I needed help. My friends who loved Jesus walked alongside me, cheering me on, and helped me back up again after I stumbled.
“Speak the truth in love,” the Bible says. “And love thy neighbor as thyself.”
My God and my friends who loved me with the truth, and cared for me as they had cared for themselves, are the reasons I have remained sexually pure for 21 years and have only had sex within the context of marriage to the same man.
I’m living proof that miracles still exist!
This can also be true for you, my dear friend.
Let the safe people in your life into your heart and mind. If you don’t have safe people in your life, consider joining a safe community in a small group.
If you are struggling with porn, hookups, or any other unwanted sexual behavior, please talk to us about it or ask us during Office Hours.