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Porn Was Defeated on the Cross: Eric’s Freedom Story

Last Updated: June 17, 2021

Victory Stories

Every day at Covenant Eyes we hear inspiring stories of victory over porn. Here are just a few of them.

Pornography changed my life forever.

My name is Eric Doerneman, and I’m a Dragon Rider.

Let me explain.

I was exposed to pornography at an early age.

Growing up at home, we had the internet with no filters. On top of that, my parents knew that I was a good kid—that I’d never do that stuff. They never entertained that possibility. So, it was easy to hide.

Pornography held my soul captive for over a decade. It promised everything I felt I ever wanted, but always left me empty in its wake. Over time, it taught me that I was dirty, broken, and above all else, that I was rotten. To my core.

Theodore Roosevelt had me hooked the very first time I heard his timeless address about the “Man in the Arena.” A fighter. I was this Man in the Arena. No one knew my struggle. My face was marred by dust and sweat and blood. I strived valiantly and knew what coming up short looked like. I was devoted to the worthy cause of battling my addiction. My inner dragon. When I failed my battles, at least I failed while daring greatly. I knew victory and defeat.

I felt known. I felt seen in those words.

Every resource out there reinforced this fighter identity I clung to. I learned numerous tools and picked up countless lessons, tactics, and tricks. I devoted myself to slaying this beast I was cursed with.

That man is not who I am anymore.

The thing about addiction is you rack up defeat, after defeat, after gut-wrenching defeat. Every victory is tainted by the looming pressure of needing to extend your streak just another day! Just one more day, please. I was fully entangled in measuring how long my shackles were. Freedom was something I lost a sense for over time.

Was there supposed to be some magical number of days that would mean I didn’t struggle anymore? I’ve gone 100 days and it was still there. Maybe it was 1,000? I used to think I would never be able to hit 1,000 days without porn. On top of that, the people I looked up to said I’d struggle until I died, but I already felt dead inside.

So, I kept my eyes open for anything that spoke to this deep thing inside me. Then this one afternoon I met this shining light beam of a person—well, re-met! It was my sister. We had gone separate ways off to college and we were both visiting home. I saw my sister, but there was something different about her. Beautiful. Something glowing from inside her. She was zestful for her life. I could see that she had an appreciation and love for herself. So naturally, I pulled her aside when I got the chance and said, “Hey, who are you and what did you do with my sister?”

She smiled and we talked for quite some time. She shared with me how she had her own set of sexual related struggles. How she was steeped in shame. How she felt empty and unseen. And how she met Jesus.

That last one threw me for a loop.

Because her and I knew Jesus. We went to Catholic school our whole lives. But as she kept talking, I realized that I didn’t truly know Jesus. I was not personally friends with Him. He was just a guy I apologized to for acting out and kept asking for help when my dragon would show up and tempt me.

Freedom only came in knowing Christ.

From that day on my sister made me question everything I knew about my faith. Her passion was showing. She was on fire with her whole being. It’s the most beautiful thing when someone begins living out who they are supposed to be. And as she just kept living her true self, I noticed other people were naturally gravitating towards her as well. They saw it too.

This is what I came to learn over the past several years since that day my sister showed me how truly amazing Jesus is—a Spiritual Grand Master Assassin.

Related: The Apostle Paul: His Secret to Fighting Sexual Sin

He climbed upon that tree of death and descended into hell. For me. What I missed the whole time is that my journey was intended to be much more personal.

I needed to allow Jesus to descend into the darkest places in my heart. So that he could show me how bright his love truly shines. Show me that I am not defined by my actions. That there’s something deeper which lies underneath all that I do which his gaze is eternally set upon. That my actions are defined by me.

That changed everything.

So I stood there, a defeated fighter in front of a relentless dragon. I set down my sword and filled my lungs with air. I looked at my dragon right in the eyes. I saw through all the layers our battles had tacked on. I saw something raw and beautiful. I saw my 10-year-old self looking right back at me.

There are beautiful, powerful forces within each one of us. These passions lie in the deepest center of who we are. Unguided, these desires roam free and become twisted by the world. For the longest time, I tried to rip out, delete, and slay my greatest asset. My fiery passion. My dragon.

I quit the role of fighter because I finally saw that I was killing myself. That I was only ever making my internal void larger. I finally saw my dragon as an integral, eternal part of me. So I began talking to it. Listening to it. Learning from it. And teaching it. All with the merciful help of my Father, his Son, and Spirit.

I am a sinner with a great Savior.

Over these past two years, I have earned back my own respect. Something I thought was long gone. Love taught me that though I am a sinner, I am not hopeless. Hope grabbed me and never let go. The target of my worthy cause moved on and I began searching.

For the longest time I was striving for detachment and freedom from my dragon. But now, I was on the hunt to understand it. To understand me. Who was I in the grand scheme of things?

So that’s where I’m at now, and I would be lying if I said I’d be here without Covenant Eyes. It didn’t fix me, but it gave me the space I never knew I needed—the space to breathe and see that there was more to me than I ever thought. When it was just me and the unfiltered world in my pocket, I couldn’t see anything else. I drowned in temptation. I couldn’t focus. It was the good hearts and efforts behind Covenant Eyes that gave me enough space to start asking the questions that changed me forever.

Related: What Is Your Reason for Quitting Porn?

Satan tried his best; his game truly was grand. There were many, many layers.

I was caught up in the battle of doing battle. Thinking I was right for trying to slay my gift of fire.

But in the end, even a fallen angel can’t escape his creator.

Death was defeated on the cross.

I love my life. Jesus is my best friend. The ultimate ALLY.

Pornography did change my life forever.

My name is Eric Doerneman, and I’m a Dragon Rider.


Eric DoernemanEric Doerneman has combined his problem solving engineering background with his faith. He is a self-proclaimed engineer of love! His passion is preaching the power of true love through the topic of pornography. He believes there is more to life than counting days and that there is a fire in each and every soul, waiting to be discovered.

 

 

  • Comments on: Porn Was Defeated on the Cross: Eric’s Freedom Story
    1. Charlie Wessel on

      Eric,
      Could you expand more upon this dragon and this fire? In one sense it seems that this ‘dragon’ you speak of is your passion and zeal, but I feel the dragon could also be interpreted solely as ‘lust’, and I wouldn’t say that lust is an asset; which I don’t believe is your message. Your message about your dragon seems to say that you once battled this fire of lust within you, but you later came to acknowledge that the fire you felt was not only lust. There was something more to be understood. There was a passion and a fire that was for the holy and the good, a truly masculine fire, but which often got twisted and expelled itself through lust. That seems to be how i interpret your words but is there more light you could shed on this?

      Any more reflections you could give to your words: “Thinking I was right for trying to slay my gift of fire.”

      Reply
      • Eric Doerneman on

        Charlie GREAT question. You definitely grasped what I was going for in writing this testimony.

        It speaks to the fact that Satan can’t create, rather twist what exists. I think the battlefield for our soul runs right down the middle of our heart. In the realms of desire and intention. And our efforts, at least any of which reside outside of God’s graces, are worth putting towards discovering the originality or fullness of the desires we are created with.

        I’ve actually been talking A LOT with my friends and siblings on my analogy of the dragon and the rider. One of my favorite comments referenced in conversation is from The Great Divorce. It’s in Chapter 11. For the sake of brevity I won’t summarize it here, just know it’s intimately tied to where I’m about to go…

        “Thinking I was right for trying to slay my gift of fire”….. I used my analogy, the rider and the dragon, because it resonated very deep inside. I’ve been chasing the things that resonate spiritually and it’s been such a flipping gift. However I think this specific analogy has matured a bit since writing it down a couple months ago. I think the passion and zeal that comes from God is more akin to the Dragon’s soul, maybe it’s heart, rather than the dragon itself. In that case the embodiment, or form factor, of this soul is built upon your experiences and beliefs. That’s where it turns into a dragon. That’s where Satan likes to step in and twist beauty. I’m actually still going through all this in prayer but I believe I’m in the process of slaying this dragon within.

        But, Eric, WHAT. You just said you quit trying to kill it and now you ride it! How could you double back?! haha

        I think I needed the space to step back and look at my dragon, that deeper part of myself. My err was in thinking ALL OF IT was bad and evil. That the core of me was bad and evil. That is where I was wrong. (that’s where this testimony came from) I was wrong in wanting all of it dead. After trying to kill all of it and not succeeding for over a decade I started listening to it. And attempting to respect and learn from it. I found that it’s soul was in fact my gift of fire, I saw something beautiful. Stepping back out of the analogy for a moment… this means when a temptation came up I needed to not demonize and ignore it. I had to listen to it. What lied under the desire I felt in temptation? When I asked that question properly I could transform my temptations into prayer and find a very deep part of me that was hurt and just wanted to be known and seen and loved. Essentially it was grasping for my attention through the only thing that I paid enough attention to, fantasy, and I was trying to ignore it.

        I think I do need to kill my dragon, but my intention needed to be aligned properly for it to work. As is the case with SO MUCH in the invisible world. Intention is key. I needed to kill it’s body, the twisted embodiment of lies, but I needed to keep its soul. I never would have thought that until I quit trying to kill all of it and began to entertain that there was something good inside it. I think after killing it and keeping it’s heart in tact, my gift of fire will be reborn. (seriously, check out that chapter of The Great Divorce) Maybe it’d transform into great stallion with a golden tail but whose wings create the Thunder. Because that would be pretty freaking stellar. That’s something I’d be willing to let go of my dragon for ;)

        Maybe it’s worth shooting for a Part II to this testimony…

    2. Matthew Rasmussen on

      Thank you so much brother! I’ve been exactly there, thinking that these feelings and desires are evil and should be cut out from me. But it is so encouraging to have the different view, that this IS me. And when properly channeled, this fire can clear the way to joy and fulfillment. Thank you again so much! I had no idea that other people felt exactly like this! Keep up striving to be the best you!
      Your brother in Christ, Matt Rasmussen

      Reply
      • Eric Doerneman on

        Brother! YES. You are super welcome. Those passions inside are beautiful and powerful yet extremely gentle when approached with compassion. I’m glad I could spark a little joy in your bones. It sounds like you’re definitely in the journey of finding your flame.

        I will keep striving. You do the same.
        Remember, you are the Gift of Fire.

    3. Ethan Evans on

      Hey Eric,
      Nice encouraging story. Glory be to Jesus Christ.
      Am also struggling with the same temptation of pornography and masterbation.
      I really need Christ to be with me.
      Your story is related to mine. Am also a church kid but l have lived with this serious craving and insatiable desire for sex and it has made me turn into a porn addict and a Masterbater for a long time now of about three years.
      For the past few days, I joined the convenant eyes 40 days challenge and it has atleast help me out so far though am still stumbling and falling back into pornography and masterbation…
      Please pray for me so that I can feel the light of the love of Jesus in my life and that I can be Free from pornography and masterbation.
      Am Ethan Evans. Am 17 years from Uganda, East Africa.

      Reply
      • Eric Doerneman on

        Hey Ethan!

        I appreciate the kind words and I understand your situation. Part of it reminds me of mine. You feel trapped with no options. I have two thoughts I’d like to share with you:

        1) Keep going through the 40 Day Challenge but try to invite another intention into your heart in addition to finding freedom from porn and masturbation. You are more than someone who shouldn’t watch porn. And your story, Ethan’s story … is NEVER over. Life won’t stop throwing curve balls your way but you will ALWAYS have the choice of how you will respond to them. I know what it feels like to think you have to start over every time you sin. But here’s the thing. God sees deeper than your actions. He sees the part of you that lies under how you act. And He wants the best for (a.k.a. loves) that part of you. He will forgive you for your mis-actions but He has so much more planned for your life than no longer watching porn. Try to invite Him into that deeper part of you. Music helps! Listen to “Hand of God” or “Blu” or “Stupid Deep” or “Maybe IDK” by Jon Bellion.

        2) There is a mindset you can strive towards that will help you not only overcome porn but continue in success beyond. I encourage you to check out The Universal Man’s YouTube channel. He has worked in this realm for years and years and his thoughts are beautifully organized around pursuing this powerful and spiritual mindset. If you want a jump start in your next chapters of life, go watch his stuff. Read his “anabolic optimism” pdf. It’s a literal gold mine. Pro Tip: the word “Catholic” means “Universal”. So even though The Universal Man doesn’t use Catholic words you can correlate them to the faith pretty straightforward. And if you’re not Catholic, you’ll still be able to understand the beauty of the message. That’s a benefit when you stumble upon truth that is universal.

        Keep going, Ethan. It’s not over. It’s never over. You’re eternal. You have so much more to offer this world than not watching porn. And if you really believe that…. then should all your prayer and time and efforts revolve around only not watching porn?

        Begin by opening up a little space for something else and chase anything that resonates.

      • Jesse Redding on

        Hi Ethan,
        Praise the Lord that you already are on the path toward recovery. Most guys your age are not even trying to change.
        A big piece of advice I can give you is to not let this sin define your journey with Christ. It may take some time before you find long lasting victory over pornography and masturbation, but have faith that God’s mercies are new every morning and that He is daily molding and shaping you to become more like Him. It is a journey not a sprint, so protect the joy of salvation you have in Christ and remain steadfast in the hope you have of sanctification. When you recognize the freedom you have in Christ and are not controlled by the shame of sin, then you understand God’s grace in a deeper way and will find freedom from the addiction out of love for God rather than shame or fear of condemnation. The Bible says in Romans that there is no condemnation for those who are Christ Jesus. Be encouraged brother, God is with you always if you trust in Him.

        May we be like the woman in Luke 7:36-50, understanding our fallen state and growing in the knowledge of the grace and love of God.

        God bless,
        Jesse

    4. Dan Puumala on

      Amazing story, Eric! I’ve been around recovery for more than 30 years and I doubt I’ve heard such a clear explanation of redemption as this: the inner FIRE, the misdirected passions now redeemed and used for the glory of God and for the sake of his beautiful bride-to-be. Thank you for sharing! I’d like to share this story with others that I journey with!

      Reply
      • Eric Doerneman on

        I had to take a moment to let your comment soak in.

        Dan I just want you to know it’s comments like yours that make my fire surge deeper inward, stretching out what I thought my heart’s boundaries were. You leave me speechless, smiling, lost in the eyes of my Jesus. He fills us more than anything this world provides. WHO ELSE could so redeem something I was certain rendered my life worthless?! This ain’t a movie. It’s the stuff of Saints.

        Thank you for sparking this beautiful moment of confirmation that I’m heading in the right direction. Please please shoot some prayers up for me. I got some for you comin’ in hot!

    5. William Battle on

      Eric, you have an incredible gift with words. You will never know how timely your article was in my journey. I pray the Lord will continue to use your gift for His kingdom. God bless.

      Reply
      • Eric Doerneman on

        Mr. Battle, Sir.

        Your words reignited me this morning. Thank YOU for spreading the fire and for your prayers, I definitely need them.

        His is a Kingdom worth every Battle ;)
        I’ll make sure to hit you back in prayer today.

    6. Devin Tarr on

      Thank you for sharing your story Eric! This really helped and encouraged me today :)

      Reply
      • Eric Doerneman on

        You’re super welcome Devin! I’m happy with all my heart that you found encouragement in it today. Keep fighting!

    7. Chelsea on

      Thank you for sharing your story. 10 years old seems like such a young age to be exposed and become addicted to pornography but this certainly helps me put into prospective ways I can protect my little ones. May your story continue to be an encouragement to everyone!
      Phil 1:16

      Reply
      • Eric Doerneman on

        Thank you for reading it and your kind words!

        If you liked my perspective I bet you’d love my mom Lori’s. Her and I have been working together in the parenting resource realm for many years. If you search for “Family Culture” on her blog The Parenting Dare you’ll come across some of her best work.

        Joel 2:12-13 :)
        (from Mom’s post “Let Love In”)

    8. Eric Bosquez on

      I can relate so much to your story Eric!! The fact that my name is Eric too and I too had started at such a young age with the same feelings and struggles. Thank You Eric for pushing through to inspire others to push as well. God Bless You Sir.

      Reply
    9. Eric Doerneman on

      Fellow Eric! WHAT’S GOOD. Haha!

      I’m really glad you’ve found this relatable. Keep pushing. Keep striving. The goal isn’t to remove your desires. But to find and unleash their true potential.

      Here’s a unique nugget I’ve prayed with A LOT: watch the first 45 minutes of Batman Begins. Think of the bats and the underworld as metaphors for your sexual struggles. See if anything jumps out at you, especially in the interactions with Ra’s Al Ghul. Nolan did SUCH a good job with that movie. I’ve given porn talks solely on lessons learned from Batman Begins.

      “If you devote yourself to an ideal… you become more than man….. you become Legend, Mr. Wayne” (we refer to Legends as Saints in our world)

      Reply
    10. Troy on

      Wow, what a story. God is good.

      Reply
      • Eric Doerneman on

        He’s SO GOOD. You got me doing spiritual back flips over here, Troy! It’s this give and take where the fire’s hidden.

        G.i.g.’s in the chat!

    11. Bob Hazen on

      Hey Dragon Rider – thanks for your story. It’s given me something to really think about.

      Bob Hazen

      Reply
      • Eric Doerneman on

        Bob I appreciate you taking the time to let me know! It’s an honor to be a vessel. Hopefully CE approves all my replies, I’ve been sprinkling more thoughts to think about along with some gratitude to people commenting.

        – Dragon Rider

    12. Will Gowers on

      Wow inspiring Eric, thank you. That has really spoken to me today and allowed me the permission to breath and feel refreshed to understand the dragon as you said. Bless you

      Reply
      • Eric Doerneman on

        Keep breathing. Keep listening. The dragon is YOU, Will. It’s your passions. It’s your desires. You’re adapted to these things which are not bound by time. You. Are. Eternal. This language of Love frees your past, it brightens your present, and writes a future worth living. Never stop chasing it. Your passions, properly aligned and charged with Love, are stronger in their positive form than anything their negative form (temptations) ever tried to be. It’s not fiction that love always wins ;)

    13. Peter on

      This is soul lifting, thanks a lot for this testimony. I’ll share mine one day through the help of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen!

      Reply
      • Eric Doerneman on

        You’re DANG RIGHT Peter. Upon this rock, baby!

        Quick Pro Tip from a Wounded Warrior: a major shift for me came when I began to intimately pray and listen AFTER I acted out instead of only before. I began using my defeated energy as fuel and offered it to Jesus. Peter. I kid you not when I say it’s in those moments after opening up my absolute yuck to Jesus that I was filled with strength, purpose, and passion. Those are the times and places where I learned who Jesus truly is.

    14. Chris on

      Great story, and great insights. I’ve learned in recovery “what I resist persists.” In other words, fighting against something just serves to create more focus on what we’re trying to overcome. Doesn’t work. Giving it to Jesus is the only answer that works.
      Thanks so much for sharing…

      Reply
      • Eric Doerneman on

        I hope you don’t mind but I tried writing a quick response and it turned into a paragraph haha

        That’s exactly it Chris! What are you aiming at? That’s one thing question I keep coming back to. And when my aim slowly shifts towards ‘not acting out’ vs ‘being my best self’, so does my prayer. Then comes the internal disconnect which i think opens the door to those pesky periodic fantasies, i used to think they came from no where. The remedy I’ve been really resonating with lately is taking those moments and try not to ignore that they’re happening but to step back and listen to my dragon. It’s usually just trying to grab my attention and remind me it too wants to be known and seen and loved vs despised and ignored. I’ve been prayerfully striving to keep my targets set on connection. It’s not easy (at first) to listen to your dragon when it’s communicating through temptations.

        Secret Sauce: Jesus is fluent in the language of desire. He’s been helping me with translation.

    15. Lupita on

      Beautiful witness!

      Reply
      • Eric Doerneman on

        :) Thank you. Praise God!

    16. David Ng on

      Great article !!!! Thanks for sharing your story. Its definitely encouraging and inspiring

      Reply
      • Eric Doerneman on

        Dude. David. I appreciate you for taking time out of your day to not only read it but comment let me know. Thanks man.

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