My story?

It’s not a unique one.

It’s not storybook worthy.

But it’s mine.

Pornography gripped me like many others, past and present. I was in middle school. I was becoming involved in the opposite sex. Girls suddenly became, well, cool. And then curiosity snuck into my mind, and swiftly the innocence I once knew become foreign to me; clutched by the hands of the computer screen. Back then, though, it was just “something.” However, before long it became a habit that killed every bit of my very being.

Yes, my very being. I know that can come across as heavy or even “too much,” but it’s true. Girls lost their hearts in my mind, and suddenly their worth became found in what they could “give” me for my benefit…and this was still in middle school. I was deceiving, lost, and cold-hearted, but I thought I could fix it. I knew it was wrong, but high school was surely the answer for all my problems, right?

Wrong. High school, as great as those four years were, were also four of my worst years. Jumping from girl to girl, objectifying them, playing the “Christian” game as a part of my deception, I left many broken. I angered many too (rightly so), and as much as I hated it, I couldn’t quit. It also affected my relationships with my “bros.” I was jealous, hidden, and, looking back, probably annoying. You see, pornography is never just about pornography. Its seed gives weight to dozens of evil roots that affect every part of your life…and I lived that.

Even worse? I was “the Christian” in high school. I was that youth group guy. I was the guy with the Christian Facebook statuses. I was the guy who played drums on Sunday. But people weren’t stupid – oblivious to my mistakes and failures – however, I was still dubbed the Christian. This scared me – continues to scare me. You see, that meant that outside of those who simply labeled me a hypocrite or possibly called me out (I thank those people to this very day), I was presenting what Christianity looked like to them. I was leading people astray. It breaks my heart today.

As my four years of high school were closing, I was desperately searching for answers. It was then that I came across a man named Nate Larkin. I heard him say one of the most influential statements that have passed through my ears to this day. I want to share it with you:

“I remember so many times screaming at God as I pulled away from some place I shouldn’t have been, banging on the steering wheel saying, ‘Take this away, I don’t want to do this anymore.’ He never answered that prayer. Eventually I concluded that He didn’t care, or He didn’t exist. Today, I’m so glad he didn’t answer that prayer.”

You see, like Nate, I came to those two conclusions near the end of my time in high school. I figured that if I could just overcome pornography and the problems that it had brought, then I would be okay. But you see, that’s not it. It’s never it. I’m messed up beyond porn, or girls, or anything else. I need Jesus in every aspect. Like the paralyzed man found in the Gospels, I thought that Jesus was a means to an end. Not the means for experiencing the life, the grace and true healing that was planned for me in the beginning. Thankfully, I started realizing the truth during my senior year. I continued to struggle, but little by little I was giving parts of my hidden life to Jesus.

Now, as a freshman in college, I’m still faced with challenges. Every day it’s a battle, and sometimes I lose, but I’ve been able to be open with others, and that continues to free me to this day. What once was a hidden addiction is now an ousted tool to heal others, while it continues to heal me, and that’s such an astonishing thing. There will always be consequences for my actions in the past. I am still piecing back the parts to a successful relationship with a woman of Christ, but it’s a beautiful journey. I am still facing those that believe I have never or will never change. I am even battling those from my past that want me to be who I was. Satan has an elaborate plan, but if I’m on the path that God has laid out for me, I can praise Him in my successes and failures.

So that’s my story. It’s a story of the loss of innocence. It’s a story of failure and your typical Christian “hypocritical” behavior. But it’s also an ongoing story – a journey if you will – of redemption that’s only found at the cross,a story of repainting who I am through the lens of Christ. It’s about being the Tate that I was created to be – imperfections and all. And man, it’s absolutely beautiful.