This summer I met with Emily to discuss an issue that has haunted me off and on since I was a child. It started when I was 9 years old in the third grade. After school one day I went over to Leanne’s house, a girl who was in my class. I recall that her dad (possibly step-dad) was home and we went into one of the rooms to play. At some point, I walked down the hallway and saw a very strange sight. Leanne’s dad was vacuuming with his back turned toward me, but he was completely naked! For me, this was shocking. I had led a pretty sheltered childhood and had no idea what to think about a grown man walking around naked with children in the house. After that, I went back to the room where Leanne was. I don’t remember if I said anything about it to her or not; either way, it was weird. What happened next is where my problem really began.
Leanne pulled out a few magazines from under the bed and showed them to me. I knew they were pornographic magazines from the pictures in them (I’m pretty sure one of them said Play Boy). Leanne then flipped to an article in the magazine and proceeded to tell me about it. What I soon discovered is that the article was specifically about how to give oneself sexual pleasure (or masturbation). Beside the article, there was a picture of a girl doing this to herself as an example. I remember that Leanne then followed the example picture by putting her middle finger up against her panties and said that you put your finger inside yourself to do what the article described. I don’t think I did anything while I was with Leanne, but I do recall that she showed me what to do.
Later on when I was by myself, I tried to do what Leanne had showed me at her house. It felt good, and at the time I didn’t think anything was wrong with it. At age 9, I had never even heard of masturbation and was simply curious about my body. That first day of curiosity initiated a downward spiral of guilt, shame, and secrecy that continued until recently. The older I got, the more I thought something wasn’t right about what I was doing, and during my teenage years I understood that it was truly wrong (especially for a Christian). So many times I would go through the process of first feeling guilty, then sorrowful, and finally asking God to forgive me. Confessing it to God was good, but it only helped me to stay away from it for a short time.
Unfortunately, as I came to realize, this problem had a deep hold on me and wasn’t going to go away without a fight–it had become an addiction. In my heart I knew I needed to tell someone about this, but it was so shameful to me that I couldn’t bring myself to share it. So, the struggle continued. The last few years this issue had been less and less of a problem, but it was still there, and it would resurface with an intensity that both surprised and frustrated me.
I was so frustrated with this issue and desperately wanted to be free of it, but I didn’t know what to do or who I could go to. The Lord answered my prayer when Emily shared something with me and I was able to open up about my long-term struggle. We agreed to get together the next week and discuss it further.
Before I met with Emily, I had prayed that the Lord would help me to do what was necessary to get past this problem and finally see victory. Emily had me go through a process of first identifying the situation and my memories of what happened. From there, she asked me to write down what happened while I was at Leanne’s house. I then identified all of the emotions that had resulted from the incident as well as the ramifications or behaviors. Finally, I wrote down the specific areas that I needed to forgive Leanne for due to this particular issue. After that, Emily led me in a series of prayers and action steps as the final part of the forgiveness process. At the end, she handed me a red marker and told me to cross out everything I had written down, including the name of the person who had offended me. The red marker represents the blood of Jesus that has covered my offender’s sins and everything from the past.
I went through this process once more to forgive Leanne’s dad. Then, we went through the same steps for repentance. I proceeded to ask the Lord to forgive me for what I had done and what had resulted in my life because of it. Finally, I came to the point where Emily gave me the red marker, and I eagerly crossed out everything on the page. At that moment, I knew I was free from the issue of masturbation that had haunted me for so many years. What an amazing freedom it is!
More than a month has passed since I met with Emily, and by God’s grace, I continue to see the victory that was won that night in this area of my life. I am no longer tempted to act on my sexual desires in a way that is disobedient to God and His Word. This doesn’t mean that I no longer have a sex drive (it’s still there), but how I respond to it has changed. Before there used to be a literal chain attached to me, and I would have difficulty resisting the temptation to sin, even when I tried. Now, however; it’s as if the chain has been broken and smashed. I am able to truly thank the Lord for my sexuality because I appreciate it and am no longer controlled by it. God be glorified!!!