My Flesh Is Weak, but My Faith Is Strong (Scholarship Essay)

The essay below was written by one of our 2019 Covenant Eyes scholarship winners:

In 2-3 paragraphs, please explain how you use Covenant Eyes, and how it has impacted your life.

Pornography entered my life at the unfortunate age of 11. I do not remember exactly how or why I saw what I did, but a dangerous habit began to form much sooner than I ever could have anticipated and before I could fully understand what had happened.

For the past 8 years, through the intervention of my parents, my Catholic high school, and my own conscience, I have battled the temptation to indulge in my habit with varying levels of success.  Despite knowing that the explicit material I have watched is inherently wrong through its degradation of the sanctity of human life, I really couldn’t seem to rid myself of the habit permanently.

I had to face a humbling truth: my own flesh is weak, entirely susceptible to society’s presentation of immediate pleasure and self-satisfaction. I needed to take more serious action.

About a month ago, my father introduced me to Convenient Eyes’ Screen Accountability software.  He explained that he and I would be allies in the fight against porn.  Although I was initially hesitant, I understood that the monitoring would be private, and that we would work together to beat a psychological but entirely real addiction within me.

We chose to subscribe, and I downloaded the service on both my iPhone and my MacBook.  Nothing changed on my devices except the small VPN Covenant Eyes logo appearing in the top of both my devices.  On that day, I felt vindicated that I had taken by far the most definitive step toward overcoming this evil in my life.

Since I started using Screen Accountability, my recovery has taken off like never before.  The daily email I receive notifying me that I made it another day without falling back into porn gives me the sustainable and repeated positive enforcement that I need. Even on the days where I feel more tempted than normal, the ever-present Covenant Eyes network logo gives me pause, and I take a minute to think about why I decided to install it in the first place.

Through this, I can repeatedly foster my resolve. The world is against those who seek to walk the righteous path, but Covenant Eyes makes it that much easier.

Part of the Covenant Eyes mission is to equip men and women to live lives of integrity, to assist people in their commitment to set no worthless thing before their eyes. In your academic, social, and spiritual pursuits, describe how you strive to demonstrate a life of integrity.

The virtue of integrity is the hardest to foster.  Every other desirable quality—love, fortitude, patience, etc.—can be strengthened and maintained through the watchful eyes of others.  Integrity, however, is only about what you do when no one but your own self and God can see.

Covenant Eyes seeks to jump start integrity in its users through first giving them the security of accountability. Once this habit forms, the recovery from pornography fosters a growing aspect of independence, and with it, integrity. As I aspire to achieve the highest level of integrity possible in my fight against porn, I try to practice it in the other main areas of my life: namely, in my academic, social, and spiritual pursuits.

I have always held my schoolwork close to my heart.  To me, learning is a privilege and a gift.  God placed a natural desire in me to know the world as fully as possible, along with the gift of natural intelligence which allows me to fulfill this natural curiosity. In high school, I challenged myself by taking the most challenging courses available. I studied hard and felt proud to earn straight A’s.

As I studied and learned, I did my best to help classmates achieve the same level of understanding and appreciation academic success through tutoring them in math, chemistry, physics, and Spanish.  My reception of the valedictorian award, and the graduation speech I had the pleasure of delivering, was a fantastic culmination of my time at Bishop Watterson High School: a place where I was a third generation student. It was special to walk the halls knowing that not only my parents but also my grandparents were there in their time, studying hard and developing their minds in the enduring light of Christ pervading the school.

When I went to Ohio State to start my degree in mechanical engineering, even though my courses became more challenging, I had practiced academic integrity all my life. Therefore, it was natural for me to persevere and succeed in these demanding college classes.  I surprised myself this past year: in my core engineering course, I successfully constructed and coded a fully automated robot with my team.  This project’s success, to me, was a testament to all of the hared work I have put forth not only in the past year but rather my whole life.

Just like in academics, I have been blessed with a fantastic social network of loving friends and family.  I am the oldest of 5 kids, so the natural responsibility of being the example has always been my duty. For the sake of my siblings as much as my own, I do my best to present myself as a kind, genuine, fun-loving young man to my friends and acquaintances. I’m lucky enough to have friends with very similar value sets as myself.  They encourage me when I am weak just as I do for them to be strong in their morals.

My best friend is the best example of this.  We have frequent car ride conversations where we update each other on our lives, present some of our concerns, and talk through how to maintain our sense of elves in the crazy world we live in.  He shares with me his struggle to keep his relationship with his girlfriend pure; I relate how my struggle with depression can pose a threat to my resolve to be a good Catholic.

These are just a couple examples that highlight the conversations I have with my close friends and the ways in which we support each other’s best interests.

Finally, I strive to maintain a solid, strong connection to my roots: my Catholic faith. My mother is the spiritual leader of our family. She leads nightly prayers, offers sacrifices for the sake of others, and starts our weekly discussions about mass as we ride together to church every Sunday. She has been my anchor to the faith for my entire life.

When I moved into the dorms at OSU last year, I found that suddenly my faith was much more of my own responsibility than before. I had a choice to make. So, even though being religious is not very popular on campus, I went to mass every Sunday evening, participated in religious retreats, and periodically joined a group of young men in the Saint Paul Outreach program for dinner as we discussed matters of our tested faith.

It was not easy to do these things; often times I was tempted to simply study more, or sleep, or to go out with friends instead of slowing myself down enough to work on my relationship with Christ. While I was far from perfect, I believe that my efforts this past school year to practice my faith were substantial steps in my quest to have the integrity that Christ asks of us.