From Bondage to Freedom

This story is about a deep struggle with my sinful nature and a faithful, shepherding God who never failed to see me as I was and love me steadfastly.  This story is about a life once marked with bondage and shame, now marked with freedom and jubilance. I pray the Holy Spirit will be with you as you read, and that he will accomplish his desired purpose through my words.

As a little girl, I grew up in a loving, supportive home with two parents who knew God and served him faithfully.  Because of their Godly witness, when I was six years old, I repented of my sin and believed in Jesus for my salvation.  One thing I struggled with as a little girl (and even still today) was sleep. I believe my hardship had its roots in anxiety: I would lie in bed awake, knowing I needed to go to sleep, but my mind would turn and turn, and I would fixate on how many hours and minutes and seconds I had left to sleep before morning would come.  This was a problem for me even as young as four years old, because it was at that age that I first began to engage in masturbation to help myself fall asleep. I kept this a secret from my parents, because although I may have not known the sexual connections at that age, I did know that it was something which I should hide, and roots of shame began taking hold.  There are many opinions about masturbation in young children. Some would say it is a healthy action within the maturing process, a natural phase that children pass through. Others would say it should be discouraged. What I know is this: even as a very young child, I was using masturbation to self-soothe, and I knew it was not a healthy or appropriate choice. As I grew older and matured in my relationship with Christ, I came to recognize and realize that my continued behavior was sinful because it distorted God’s sexual design.

This pattern of near-nightly dependence in order to sleep continued throughout middle and high school.  As I matured, so did the sexual connections of my actions, although by the grace of God I never engaged in pornography.  I kept my habit completely secret, except from the Lord. I continually brought my struggle before him and asked for his help and guidance, but I never confessed my sin to other believers or sought help.  The shame and guilt and embarrassment I felt kept me isolated from seeking wisdom from my family. I was so afraid to tell anyone what I was doing. The longer I kept this secret, the more impossible it seemed to ever confess it to anyone else.  I would have periods of victory, but then fall back into sin, meanwhile never making the connections to the other roots of anxiety and worry that were likely perpetuating my dependence on masturbation.

After limping along by myself in this struggle for 14 long years, in God’s providence, he convicted me to share my struggle with my ever-patient, wise, and loving mother.  It was the summer before I left for college that I realized I could not bear this sin alone any longer. I knew that at college, no one would know me, and it would be even easier to hide my struggle and continue in bondage.  That conversation I had with my mother was one of the most difficult of my life. I cried for about an hour before I could choke the words out to her. I was so embarrassed and discouraged, filled with defeat and shame. She listened to me carefully and without judgement while I told her my secret that began when I was four.  She responded with grace and patience that I can only hope to possess one day with my children. She prayed with me, she told me that I was not alone, she told me she loved me. In the weeks and months following, she held me accountable. She didn’t tell another soul on earth. She loved me so deeply and wonderfully through that confession.  She also helped me see that there were triggers and reasons for my dependence. This behavior, as I mentioned before, was rooted in anxiety and compulsion. I had probably developed a psychological addiction to masturbation. She helped me walk through a holistic and honest approach to my struggle that acknowledged that wrapped up in this struggle were sin issues, but also mental health issues.

My road after I confessed was long and filled with discouragement.  I fell back into my old patterns more times than I can count. But I experienced such power from the Holy Spirit to ease my mind and soul that were so tormented before when I would lie down to sleep.  Psalm 23 reminds us that the Lord is our good shepherd, and he cares for us: he leads us beside green pastures and still waters. He restores our soul. And I remember clinging to Psalm 63:6-7 many struggle-filled nights, “…when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; for you have been my help.”  When I went to college, I formed deep Christian friendships with wonderful women that I was also able to confess to and share with, and I saw the Lord transforming my life with his power. There were always mistakes along the way. And even now, in a healthy, committed, loving marriage, I still make mistakes. But praise the Lord, I rarely fall back into my old patterns, because God has redeemed my twisted sexual desires and self-dependence and shown me that the way he created sex to be is so much more deeply satisfying.  Seriously, it’s great and such a gift! :) And God has taught me that he can sustain me and I do not have to succumb to anxious thoughts and fears.

Sisters, I want to say these final things to you.  First, you are not alone in your struggles in sexual sin.  God created us with sexual desires that are wrapped up in all the rest of our intricate selves and it is very probable that we all have fallen in this area in some way.  Second, the power of confession and repentance are real. If I had continued in secrecy to battle this sin, and not had the wisdom of other believers to help me troubleshoot and problem-solve and hold me accountable, I would never have experienced the freedom I have today.  James 5:16 says “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” Third, the Lord is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).  He will forgive you- over and over. Many times I refused to or avoided praying to God because I was just going to have to confess the same sin to him again for the thousandth time and I just knew he didn’t want to hear it. Sisters, that is a lie Satan wants you to believe to keep you from communing with your Savior.  He begs us to come to him and lay our burdens at his feet (Matthew 11:28).

Finally, consider this word from the Lord: “Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.” 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 It’s the God of peace who sanctifies us. He gives us peace and calm through the heavy and stormy seas of sanctification, when we feel as if we would rather die than continue through the sin struggle.  And believe me, I have been there. And he promises to keep us blameless at the coming of our Lord. He will surely complete all these things in us, as he is faithful to fulfill every single one of his promises. He will surely do this.

Sisters, I know I have shared this anonymously, but I would love to meet with any of you one-on-one if you want to hear more about my story or share yours with me.  Contact Kim if that’s the case for any of you. We are in this fight together and I want to battle with you. I love you, and I love our community of strong and faithful women here at Iron City Church.