I’d never felt so alone as the day my wife caught me in the midst of a near two year long online relationship and thirty year tryst with pornography. The mess I found myself in was unlike anything I’d ever experienced. Who could I turn to? Who would understand and not further condemn me more than I was already condemning myself?
I felt absolutely alone, completely helpless, and lost. I’ve discovered feelings of hopelessness commonly accompany the feeling of being alone. If that’s you, worry not. It’s normal.
Loneliness and being alone are not the same things. I could be in a room full of people, or even with just a few others, and still experience profound feelings of being alone. I wasn’t lonely because of the coworkers, family, and close friends who stuck with me, but I sure felt alone.
The Beginning of the End of Aloneness
In the midst of our marriage hanging on by a few thin threads, God providentially began to change my circle of friends. For the first time, I met men whom I discovered I could trust and confide in. I expected to be called a sicko, or even worse, and sent packing as a pervert. That did not happen.
More lies, masked as fears, fell flat of my worse expectations–a pattern that continued throughout my journey of freedom from porn’s addictive grip. By the way, Satan still tells me those same old lies. Except now I’ve wised up to his snake-in-the-garden-like tactics, and so can you. Shame is the voice of lies and the chief liar is Satan himself.
Statistics Tell Us We’re Not Alone
A recent Barna study reveals that 65%+ of professing Christian men are using pornography at frightening frequency (as are increasing number of professing Christian women). Pastors and youth pastors also struggle at lower levels, but it’s just as real for them.
We also know that the divorce rate among professing Christian couples is essentially the same as non-Christian rates, and pornography is listed among the top three causes in both segments of the American population.
Not that this is to be celebrated, but it’s pretty clear you and I are not alone in the battle for our sexual integrity and health. Porn, much like cancer, knows no socio-economic, racial, or religious boundary. Porn and sexual failures have taken down the common and powerful man alike.
Start by Sharing Your Story
I shared my story with a close friend from high school, who had just come to faith in Christ, and another man I met in our church. Through their journeys, I quickly began to see that I was not alone. They too had their own battles with pornography and sexual strongholds.
The fears of being completely alone, and therefore finding no one who would understand, started to dissipate.
It’s critical that those you initially share your struggle with are people you can fully trust. I like to refer to them as “foxhole buddies.” Friends that will come running when the bullets are flying and you are in need of life saving help (metaphorically speaking…sort of). Here’s how I guide the men I mentor today to choose an accountability partner (foxhole buddy): Choose men you would trust with you and your family’s lives, and this I mean literally.
Be Strong and Courageous
Joshua 1:9 says, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Being courageous does not mean having no fear. It means forging ahead through the fears by making better decisions and healthy risks to confront the fear. Opening up and sharing your story is an example of a healthy risk. Installing Covenant Eyes on your computer and all Internet accessible devices is another example of healthy risk and good decision making.
I understand that telling your story, especially the first few times, will not be easy. I can tell you that each time you do, you loosen shame’s grip over you and your recovery process. Shame wants to keep you living in isolation by believing lies.
Put Isolation Behind You
I’ll leave you with a few activities you can engage in today to help you confront aloneness and embrace community. Look at this entire topic this simply:
God created us to live in community, not in isolation.
- Get connected to a men’s purity small group for weekly support.
- Engage 2-3 men (or ladies, if you’re a woman) as accountability partners. Meet with them weekly for connection.
- Journaling: Begin daily journaling of struggles and successes, with emphasis on progression and not perfection toward greater purity.
- Pray with a heart of thankfulness. Thankfulness and shame are not compatible partners.
- Daily Bible reading: Start with five minutes if this is not a regular habit now).
- Consider seeking a Christian/Biblical Counselor (I urge you).