Jennifer Green is a born and raised Kansas City girl. She and her husband, Matthew, live there raising their two children. Jennifer works in churches and communities mobilizing volunteers, planning events, and speaking at local events.
I can’t remember a time when I hadn’t had pornographic images around me. From workspace calendars at a parent’s job, soap operas in a home I was in, or late-night as-seen-on-tv ads, sexual images are some of my earliest memories.
The chaotic yet Christian home I grew up in didn’t invite open conversations about my curiosity when it came to those images, and I often felt alone and forgotten or invisible in my family. So seeing “intimacy” and attraction in those pictures left me with a sense of longing to be seen and desired with the passion I witnessed in those fantasies in front of me.
So when given the chance at 11, I typed in “porn.”
All It Takes Is One Click
That first click was exhilarating and enlightening, and I was immediately drawn in and addicted. I didn’t really know that porn and masturbation were “bad,” yet I felt the urgency to keep it a secret. By the time I understood them as sin, I was hooked and feared being found out and rejected as the freak I felt I was. After all, porn is an older man’s problem and not an 11-year-old girl’s, right? Porn became my comfort, companionship, and acceptance for hours upon hours each day. Exposing my addiction posed a threat of discomfort, isolation, and rejection from the real people in my life.
I began to live a double life. I often describe myself in that season as Two-Face from the Batman series: I loved God with all my half, and I loved my addiction with all of my other half. Over the years, that tension wore me down with exhaustion and I knew I needed to find freedom but had no idea where to start. At 19, when a friend admitted her own addiction to porn, I began the long journey to freedom.
Finding out I wasn’t alone was an important first step, but for the next 7 years, I went on a cycle of counting porn-free days, falling into an online binge, collapsing into shame-filled confessions with people close to me, and beginning all over again.
My solutions weren’t working and I was worn in my soul from my addiction.
A Season of Pain
In 2010, after 16 years of addiction, I asked God to make me whole no matter the cost. I didn’t want to live two-faced anymore. I had heard of a local Kansas City girl, Crystal Renaud, who was running a small recovery group for women at her church. I didn’t hesitate to sign up and that first night walked away with hope because I saw that my recovery had already been underway. I hadn’t realized that each time I confessed, had accountability, cried out to God, and counted days, that I had been inching toward freedom.
Each of the other ladies was so brave that night as for them, that was their very first step and they carried so much shame and fear in their faces. That was the night I knew God was already healing me and he was going to make me whole.
A week later, I was out walking and a drunk driver left the road and hit me.
Deflated doesn’t begin to describe what I was feeling during my season of physical recovery. I was broken physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. I was left on the side of the road for dead. In a state I find ironic, half of my face contains metal to hold my broken bones together—I am literally two-faced. My coping through porn hit a low as I began to engage in chats, texts, and in-person connections. I felt alone, rejected by the world and God himself, and punished for my freakish imperfections. I felt so much pain from the recovery and so exhausted from trying to fix myself.
I was self-comforting in the lowest way. I couldn’t understand how a good God that supposedly loved me could allow such a thing in a season where I felt I was finally arriving.
Surrendering Control to God
I began professional Christian counseling. I thought it was going to help me cope with the accident and my injuries; instead, I found myself healing from so much more. My breakthrough of freedom came on January 25, 2011, at a point where I didn’t think things could get any worse. In my car, I had a very honest conversation with God, telling him exactly what I thought of his plan for me. I blurted out every feeling I had felt over the years and how I couldn’t understand why my life felt so horrific if he loved me. In a final statement, I told God I wasn’t walking away. I told him I was done trying to free myself and that I was tired. I told him if he wanted to turn my life around, he would have to do it without my help.
That was when he took over. It certainly wasn’t overnight, but that was the day my life began to move again. With my surrender of control, I began to heal. God used this accident to make me whole. I like to say he waited for me to take my name off of the author’s page so that he could get full credit for the healing.
I wish I could tell you that I never struggled after that day, and was whole and fixed to perfection. Instead, I think the more honest statement is that God took over the work and I began to simply walk where he led me.
Through professional services, peer groups, accountability software, and a supportive circle, I have been on my freedom journey for 10 years. My husband keeps me accountable with reliable technology software on all of our devices. We create a safe environment for our kids to ask a number of questions they have about the world around them.
Even though I haven’t engaged in pornography or similar behaviors in several years, I know that until I meet Jesus face-to-face, I will be prone to sin. I will always need redemption, grace, and mercy as a broken human in a broken world. That knowledge has motivated me to see as many people as I can find the same beautiful road.
Freedom Is Worth It
Pornography is a symptom of a larger brokeness. I was using sexual experiences as well as many other vices (binge eating, impulsive buying, people-pleasing) as a coping mechanism for low self-worth, anxiety, and discomfort in my life. When I looked at recovery for porn addictions I discovered that I really needed to find the root and the triggers that lead to relapses. Through my counseling sessions I started healing from the hurt and rejection in my past so I could feel worthy of a better future; not just for me, but for my family legacy.
I am writing to this audience specifically because I see so many people discouraged in their journey of recovery, wearing their shame like a cloak. If that is you my heart for sharing this story is that you would walk away understanding that it is okay if you cannot “fix” yourself overnight. If you fail and you have to start all over, you’re not alone and you’re not a lost cause. If it takes a decade or more to recover, then find hope that you are on that road.
There may be consequences along the way, but maybe the Lord guides you through those consequences with grace and mercy. It will most certainly be painful, but isn’t the freedom worth it? Take heart Dear One, be patient and kind with yourself. God loves you so much more than to simply heal this one area of your brokenness. He wants to heal all the areas of your life that paved away for pornography to take over and that will take time.
Resources That Helped Me Along the Way:
She Recovery (online support for women)
Covenant Eyes Screen Accountability (and resources)
Licensed Christian Counseling (local to me)