My name is Calum, and this is my story of overcoming pornography and lust.
A little less than nine years ago I was working on a slideshow for a project in choir. Innocently scrolling to find just the right photo for each part of the song, I stumbled across some images of very scantily clad women, which was something my 11-year-old eyes had never seen.
Brought up in a Christian home and even attending a Christian school through middle school, I knew in my heart what I saw that day was wrong because I knew I had to hide it from my parents. Despite knowing this, every time I did schoolwork from then on, I had an extra tab open that I would use to search for progressively less and less innocent images. In no time at all this was a daily habit, regardless of whether I had schoolwork or not. And already by 6th grade, I began living a double life.
As time went on, I continued my daily ritual. Just like with all drugs, I needed more of it, and since porn is an arousal addiction, different types of it and more extreme versions of it.
How Porn Affected My Life
My addiction got me into all sorts of trouble. With my parents, I was disciplined to no avail. Once I was grounded for an entire summer. With my siblings, I had multiple close calls where I almost crushed my relationship with them as they nearly walked in on my sin. With my friends, there were times when I chose numbing myself to a phone screen instead of spending time with them.
Some days I would be so late to work from staying up all night that I was nearly fired. My grades slipped at school, and I often chose pornography to cope with my stress rather than facing and accomplishing assignments.
With confidence and who I am as a person, I knew in my heart that I was compromising my own words and beliefs each time I went back to porn.
I subconsciously objectified women without even knowing it. I clung to the short romantic relationships I did have so violently that it pushed them away. Looking back I was merely substituting where I was getting my “hit” from, and if I couldn’t get my “hit” from her, then she was no interest to me. Physical beauty became the only measuring stick for attraction. My love was hardly love at all, it was lust.
Worst of all, porn affected my relationship with God. He never stopped loving me, but whenever I wanted to give in to temptation, I just stopped listening. When I needed Him most, I ignored Him.
My Journey Toward Freedom
Around junior year of high school, a little while after my second failed relationship, I realized the deep mess I was in. I began taking steps to implement accountability in my life with a buddy of mine. Unfortunately our efforts were half-hearted. We relied on our own strength, and our addicted brains wanted to stay addicted.
A year passed with small victories, but no lasting change. By senior year I made the decision I wanted to be baptized because I assumed that the act of baptism would magically cure me. Long story short, it didn’t.
The two years following have been a progressive victory over not just porn, but also lust, shame, guilt, unworthiness, secrecy, ego, hurt, condemnation, and loneliness. Reading many stories like this myself, I’ve become numb to that disgusting four letter word, “porn.” But all that other stuff reminds me of my brokenness and the much bigger problem at stake.
As Steven Furtick says, “I was so busy asking God to get me out that I missed the fact that God was trying to get in.” The harder I tried in my own strength, the more I condemned myself for my own failures.
So, I got to work. I made a list of standards I lived my life by, and I did push ups if I missed a standard. I journaled. I got Covenant Eyes. I invested in a recovery app. I went to anonymous meetings. I made phone calls. I made a YouTube channel documenting my journey. I did devotions. I told my parents, my friends, my mentors about my problem, and I tried so hard!
I built up one month and two month streaks and then would fail hard, spiraling into an abyss of pain and tears and hopelessness before finding new motivation. Since all that wasn’t working, I figured there must still be a missing piece.
Finally I realized, the one thing I was missing: a genuine relationship with God. And the one thing I wasn’t doing: surrender.
As counterintuitive as it sounded, surrendering this addiction to Him was the only way out, for He was the only one bigger than all my problems and addictions who could bring lasting change.
So, I bagged all the habits and just gave it to God. Once again, I failed.
First I had good deeds, then I had faith, but I never put them together and one without the other proved fruitless. “So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.” (James 2:17)
Finally, we arrive in the present. I am far from perfect as I don’t believe anyone ever “arrives” on this half of eternity, but I am thousands of miles from where I started. My dark past doesn’t define me. I am more hopeful than I ever have been, and it’s all thanks to God.
Things That Helped Me Along the Way
Here’s some bullet-point wisdom that I hope can benefit others fighting their own battles:
- Surrender – You don’t have to be the strongest person in your life. God is your Heavenly Father who is infinitely bigger than anything you’re dealing with. Surrender your weakness to His strength.
- Focus – On where you’re going to not what you’re going through. There will be ups and downs. Stay close with God and your allies in recovery daily.
- Pray – Genuine prayer is a game changer. And you can take it or leave it, but I’ve quadrupled my prayer time and I feel like my personal growth has exploded.
- Self-Worth – ‘Your value does not increase or decrease based on what you or others might say or think about you. Your value comes from the ingredients God used to make and save you.’ (This is a daily reminder on my phone)
- Be Accountable – Accountability keeps you focused and reminds you that you aren’t alone on the journey to freedom from addiction. Get rid of the pride and take time for it.
- Community – Finding a community to talk about this with is huge (and I’m not talking about some subreddit). Some options I would recommend if you don’t know anyone personally who’s serious about this are:
- An anonymous meeting specifically for sex addictions.
- A mobile app community that is supportive and encouraging.
Boiled down to the basics, beating this addiction requires three fundamentals:
- Surrender – Admit you can’t handle it alone, give it to God
- Communication – With God and others. You aren’t alone.
- God – He doesn’t need any explanation. The more time you spend with Him, the more you want to sprint from pornography and lust to pursue the adventure he’s set before you.
Let’s Get Back to the Start
Nine years ago, the project I was working on when I first stumbled across this mess was a slideshow to go along with the song “Last Train Home” by FM Static. Nine years later I am stunned to realize how much the chorus speaks to this issue:
We’ve fallen apart
Somewhere back at the start
When we thought that we could fix each other
Let’s get back to the part
When things weren’t like they are
And we were laughing
On the last train home
I’ve given up trying to fix myself by myself because that’s the exact reason I failed. I’m getting back “to the part when things weren’t like they are,” and rejoicing in every moment along the way.
To everyone reading this, you are a child of God, endowed with the seeds of greatness, a walking miracle. And don’t forget: keep your foot on the gas pedal and give God the wheel!
Thank you for kind words and suggestions. Thanks for being so transparent. Have a Blessed Day.
Thank you thank you thank you this is an awesome testimony it gives me hope that I can do it too and I will do it with Gods’help
I like how this article is real. It doesn’t sugar coat and I’m glad the author of it can give his personal testimony so that we can help be motivated and convicted and also for him to benefit from it as well. Praise God for having a community like this where we can communicate freely about these issues.
Thanks for your openess. I believe victory is certain for me too.
I agree with Calum’s transparency. The best part was that he didn’t give up. And better still was knowing that there was a missing part,a major part. Having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. That is the only answer to all of our addictions. Surrender your life to Him. Satan wants us to fall, quit, condemn ourselves,”your guilty!”, and the best one: “And you call yourself a Christian! What a joke! What a fool you are to believe in that “religious stuff.” It’s true. Jesus is the ONLY WAY. He is the way, the truth and the life. Surrender to Him today. Admit your sin (addiction, pride) confess-He already knows it and you’ll feel better. turn away (run!) to the cross. His arms are still wide open. He loves you that much!
Thanks for sharing your story, Calum. While I’m way older than you, my story began just like yours, and whenever I’m in an Anonymous meeting and a young man shows up to begin his journey, I give him the greatest encouragement I can muster because he, like you, has the chance to leverage his story for His glory, for the benefit of others and of course so he can be fully alive in Christ in “this half of eternity.” Really good! Thanks!
Thanks for your testimony. Sounds like my life story, as well. I now have a stronger relationship with the Lord and am following the steps that you mentioned above.
I am a father and husband and want God to make me the man He wants me to be for my wife and kids. I have a son that I am trying to be the best example of how us as men can overcome this.
Thanks for your story.
Thank you. This means a lot.
This is a great testimony Amen brother
Thank you for sharing this story. I’m four months clean of pornography and it feels amazing but I know the guardrails that need to stay established to keep sobriety. I appreciate your openness and God bless you!
Calum-thank you for sharing! I am so proud of you. You didn’t make it a happily-ever-after story but were real about set backs and the need for true, solid accountability!
Calum, what an amazing testimony! Only by the God’s grace, mercy and love is this possible. From one brother to another, thanks for sharing. Is it possible to share your story for others who may be in bondage?
Thank you so much for your heart-felt post. I am married to a man (over 30 years) that got caught up in porn which ultimately led to a lengthy affair. He used images he stored in his head from playboys and other magazines to provide self-pleasure starting at 14 or 15 years old.
This is all new info for me…secrets he kept all these years. Unfortunately his burden has now also become mine and our older children.
How I wish all of this type of information such as covenant eyes and other helpful sites would have been available for him in his teen years so maybe all of us could have been spared the intense pain, etc. that our family is now going through. God is in our midst though, and I put my trust in Him. I am so proud of your brave stance you have taken at a young age….with God in your life you will make a great spouse one day and be able to carry on a legacy of integrity and respect for all people.
Great story!! Well worth sharing with others who are in this battle. I appreciated the opportunity to read it. It was very encouraging for me in my journey to Freedom.
What are some recommended mobile apps?
I use screen time on iPhone! it is in your settings!
I was encourage to keep up the recovery with accountability.
I appriciate that you include God in this journey though no journey is worth doing without him.
Thank you for sharing your story.
Another great testimony
Thanking Jesus for your Victory, Calum! He had plans for your abundant life right from the start!
Thank you very much Calum for your story. It’s amazing and I was in tears by the time I finished the last past with the song. It speaks to me very much because I have found myself at a place where I have been struggling to just surrender to God everything (my helplessness, my weakness, indecisiveness, etc.). Thanks very much
(My first ever comment to anything on a blog. I hardly speak out but I am learning to)
Excellent article, thanks for sharing
This has helped me alot. Thanks for sharing your story
Thank you so much for sharing your Calum.
I would like to know the mobile apps that you recommend/used and the anonymous meetings that you attended. I would like to try them out myself. I started getting serious about eliminating porn from my life 2 years ago. I’m much improved than before (when I would slip up multiple times a day) and can now go a week or two without slipping up. However I’m still very far away from where I want to be which is a porn-free life.
Nevertheless, I’m hopeful and I believe that God can deliver me.
Ronaldo, read “Every Man’s Battle”, by Stephen Arterburn. It is an EXCELLENT read and clearly outlines a battle plan for sexual purity. I highly, highly recommend this book/series. It’s life changing.
Hi, very good article thanks for sharing.
You are excellent blogger
Thank you for sharing. Please -all of you who are striving for sexual purity – please, please PLEASE read the book “Every Man’s Battle”, by Stephen Arterburn and Fred Stoeker. It outlines a battle plan and is a must-read for both husbands and wives (the authors have also written other books in the series for teens, wives, etc.). This book will change your life, offering hope and freedom from the bonds of sexual impurity. I cannot recommend it enough.
Thanks for sharing your story. It’s helpful to all of us. You may want to check out the book Power Over Pornography. It offers some specific steps on how to deal with the temptation to view porn that really work. It’s different than all other programs but its results are impressive. I highly recommend it.
Dear one in Christ,
It’s a wonderful testimony of what God has done and has been doing in your life..,
The lines that grabbed my attention are
” Faith with Works ”
Fellowship with God and Fellowship with godly ones..,
You took courage to tell your story and this will surely be a blessing to many..,
May God bless you with His Grace more & more..,
Thanks so much. Am looking forward to my victory as well.
Thank you very much. I think I can do it.
Thank you for this wonderful story, I really needed this with all the time I have been on screens and stuck indoors. I really needed this so thank you.
Thank you Calum for sharing your story. You give many of us brothers hope in being able to break this addiction.
Brave writer…relatable story. Gives me hope. 💯
Powerful, powerful, powerful story. Thank you, Lord!
The transparency was something that I needed to see,
Your story is so much like all the brothers in this struggle. I will pray more each day to allow God into my heart. I will for us all.
Thank you so much God for this young mans journey with you to recovery to addiction there is only hope with Jesus to break addiction thank you for letting God use your story to help others