They Do Exist.

Forgiving Myself For Pornography

Editor’s Note: “Forgive” is defined as, “to stop feeling angry or resentful towards someone for an offense, flaw, or mistake”.  It is one thing to let the reality of God’s forgiveness settle into our hearts, and another thing to stop feeling angry or resentful towards ourselves for our own sins and mistakes. Shame would have us believe that we are broken beyond repair, and that we are unforgivable, past the point of redemption. But Isaiah says God “forgives your wickedness and remembers your sins no more” and Psalms reassures that “with You, there is forgiveness.” In Luke, Jesus asks us to “be merciful, as your Father is merciful” – and I fully believe that in this command he asks us to give out mercy even to ourselves. Today’s post is written by Brooke Ternes and she tweets at @brookesara25. – Lauren

I was 12 years old. It was late at night. I just wanted to watch something on the TV in my bedroom until I got tired enough to try to sleep. I scanned the channels. There was nothing interesting. News, infomercials, and then something that shocked me. Something that I knew shouldn’t have been there. Something I shouldn’t see. We weren’t even supposed to get that channel. Why was it there? I quickly changed the channel. And that was it.

Well, for that night anyway.

Curiosity is a wonderful but dangerous thing. And I was one of the most curious kids you’d ever meet. I ran off in stores. I touched anything in my reach. I got in trouble a lot as a curious child but I never imagined where that might lead.

That night didn’t end in watching porn but it was the beginning of my two-year addiction. It was just a glimpse. But it was one that forever changed my life. I could write about those two years. I could write about wanting porn like it was a drug. I could write about the hurt that I was trying to alleviate with my addiction. Or how guilty and dirty I felt. But I won’t.

The interesting thing about being addicted to pornography is that there is no support group. When something like porn addiction is in your past you don’t normally talk about it much. I have many friends who used to be drug addicts, some of them dealers, who share their stories often. I don’t share mine that much. The stigma attached can be crippling. And so can the guilt.

I thought I was the only one for years. I constantly beat myself up for the horrible decisions I made in my brokenness. As much as I knew I was forgiven by God and covered by the sacrifice of Jesus the guilt just wouldn’t seem to go away.

I’m no expert but if there is one thing that I learned in my healing process, it is that much power lies in forgiveness. And as much as I had to rest in God’s forgiveness, I also had to forgive myself.

I am not trying to say that the knowledge of God’s forgiveness is not important or not transformative. It is! But there is also great power in forgiving yourself when you royally mess up.

The turning point for me was a service at a church youth camp. The speaker was talking about forgiveness but in a way that I had never heard before. He briefly mentioned the concept of forgiving yourself and the light turned on. In that moment, I realized that I could not fully experience the grace and forgiveness of God if I wasn’t giving it to myself.

Do I regret the decision I made at 12? Absolutely.

Can I change the fact that I made that decision by continuing to beat myself up? Not at all.

So, at 16, I made one of the best decisions of my life… to afford myself the same grace that God had given me. I let it go. It doesn’t change those two years. And I’m not proud of them. But in that moment of saying out loud to myself, almost like a prayer, “I forgive you,” God finally had to room to do what he does so well.

He got to be God. He got to forgive. To cover. To heal. To redeem. To restore. To renew. In that moment filled with tears, grace washed over me like a flood. The weight of my own sin was lifted off of my shoulders and I came face to face with grace.

It is still a process. I still have to remind myself that God doesn’t see that when he looks at me and that I should strive to see myself through his eyes. But those moments of my history don’t haunt me like they once did. They are part of the story of God’s unending grace, power, and love in my life. Parts that I hope he can use to reveal himself to others..


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10 Responses

  1. i'm a dude and that is a good word!

    November 17, 2011 at 7:03 pm

  2. Wow… just… wow. Thank you for sharing. :) God bless!

    November 17, 2011 at 8:00 pm

  3. Kayla

    I am not struggling with forgiving myself for pornography but this hit home 100%. Thank you for being brave enough to share your story in hopes that it helps another.

    November 17, 2011 at 10:22 pm

  4. Brooke

    I'm glad that it spoke to you all. I hope we can each be agents of God's grace in our own lives as well as in the lives of others.

    November 18, 2011 at 11:52 am

  5. "They are part of the story of God's unending grace, power, and love in my life. Parts that I hope he can use to reveal himself to others."

    I love how you sum it up here. Currently, I am struggling to forgive some people in my life. Your closing statement help put my faults and struggles, and the things that have happened to me in perspective. Thanks for sharing your story

    November 18, 2011 at 12:16 pm

  6. FatherOf4

    Beautiful!
    There is one additional reason for forgiving yourself. If we don't forgive ourselves, but God forgives us, we are now holding a higher standard than God and, by doing so, usurping his authority and engaging in treason once again.

    November 21, 2011 at 9:26 pm

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  8. Superbe article, une fois de plus

    May 15, 2014 at 5:01 am

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