What happens when you wake up one day and find yourself to be the villain? I had committed a selfish act with a stranger who didn’t deserve to be a target. That night was one of my lowest points in my life. Even reviewing my thoughts of that night terrifies me. I really treated a woman as a means to an end.
You hear about men doing this all the time. I disliked those men. I’d never thought I would’ve become one. Yet, I was. I still don’t know how I had the courage to do it. You could say it was the liquor, and I’d like to believe you, but I got on that boat hoping I’d get what I found. It was preconceived, not in the moment.
Many of you have read that piece and judged me. That’s fine. At the end of it all, I found out that God’s love is still greater than my worst sin. God’s patience extends further than my strongholds. God’s compassion overpowers my guilt. I share this moment, and other moments, to continue to show you that God is everywhere, in every environment, and in every thought, trying to help you overcome.
He is there with you in your shining moments, when the prayers are answered and victory is being sounded from the mountaintops. He is there with you when you’ve been waiting for an answer to a hundred prayers for years and are lost, angry, bitter, sinful, and living in the valley. He doesn’t just want to see you at your best and elevate you. He wants to walk with you when you’re at your worst and still love you through it. He is a better spouse than any human on this earth. His love for me will always outlast the always changing views of who I am as a man from people.
After that fateful night, I discontinued interactions with women for over a year. It wasn’t the last time I sinned, but it was the last time I treated a woman that poorly. I had to learn where that wickedness sprouted from and learn how to put an end to it. It was the start of a true effort to end my addiction to pornography. It was the start of falling out of love with the clubbing environment and hookup culture.
It took many years, but as I write this, I am finally free of pornography. I have not entertained any temptation, and I’ve rarely desired to revisit. It has become a monumental victory for me, as the war spanned over a decade. I tried to do studies against it. I tried to fast and pray. I tried to have a group of men around me that held me accountable. As I weaned myself off, it finally got to the point to where I actually had to think about when was the last time I watched it, and I didn’t know.
I didn’t know because God taught me, “It’s okay.” I could forgive myself and press on no matter how far I had fallen. He would be there, and He would pick me back up. Not as some lame lover, who had no respect for Himself, as He couldn’t leave me no matter how much I mistreated Him or ignored Him. He loved me for the value He knew I had and could reach. He knew I had to learn that I could be a man that didn’t want to succumb to lust at every moment. I can’t say I am that man fully, but I am working often to become him, and I have come a long way. Watching each temptation’s strength fail to the will of God for me makes me so grateful that He didn’t end me that night, but rather loved me through it.
I thought I was going to bring it into my marriage. I thought it was going to consume me, but that night changed how I viewed strongholds. “It’s okay,” said the Lord. I had to get back up and try again – get back up and fight again. Every time I sinned, I told myself, “It’s okay,” and kept going.
It’s like the “next play” mentality that they talk about in sports. When you miss the shot, drop the pass, make a mistake, and hurt the people around you, you don’t harp on yourself and chastise yourself into misery. You forgive yourself, get back out there, and try again. The opportunity to do right by God will always be there. You just have to get there. Keep going. Keep letting life continue. Keep aiming for your moments.
I am so grateful God showed me who He was at one of my lowest moments. He didn’t point and laugh. He didn’t condemn. He didn’t leave me alone. He didn’t view me differently. He saw my heart. He came down to me in the midst of my mess, and He helped me get out. I wish more people had that mentality when looking at other people sin.
Seeing Him do that for me changed how I viewed men who did the same and wanted to continue to do the same. As God said, we don’t know what we’re doing. We don’t see the gravity of it all. We don’t see how many are impacted by our actions. We don’t even see how one act can impact future decisions.
I decided to stop disliking men that committed adultery and fornicated. I was humbled, and if you pay attention, all of us who do such things get humbled at some point. I decided to be more patient with myself and with other men. We all learned at different paces. We all need room to grow up. Though I wish, for the sake of women, that we grew up faster, I learned that so much sin is embedded in the societies of the world that it is hard to understand why God said we can be better. I do not excuse them, but I also do not chastise them. I simply let them know that there is a better way to treat women if they wanted to be real men.
Women, I apologize. Mom, I know I knew better, and I still failed you. I am sorry. I am sorry to all of you who’ve met me after that moment and thought I was a man who could never do such a thing. I am not trying to be that man ever again, but I know the ability is within me. I have zero intentions of treating any of you as a means to an end. I do not like that. I know that now. I hope you do not lose hope in me or in men. I know it is hard, and reading this makes it feel harder, but you are truly remarkable, and you truly deserve to be loved as Christ loved the church. There are men out there who do want to love you like that, and I am one of those men now. I just had to go through the muck with Christ. I had to experience my weaknesses and see that God is stronger than them.
To the lady I used, you are not a target. You are a remarkable woman. I apologize for my sin and including you in it. You do not have to accept my apology, but I humbly ask and hope you forgive me. It has been years since that day, but I have never forgotten it, or you. I was reckless with our lives and I am deeply sorry. I have said hundreds of apologies to God, and I hope you get to read this and are able to see how sorry I am. I shouldn’t have done that. I knew you were better than that, and I was extremely selfish. I, again, apologize.
I love you all from the bottom of my heart. If you feel some way about me after reading that, I completely understand. If you feel you have to change up in how you interact with me, I completely understand. The man I was that day is long gone. You are only just now hearing about his existence.
To my people struggling with pornography, freedom is only one, “It’s okay,” away. Forgive yourself, trust yourself, trust in God, and keep going. Strongholds always fall to a fight that sides with the Lord. Angels fight for your soul every second of the day. Let them fight for you and see your victory come.
God doesn’t run away from the muck. God is ready to forgive. God works with you and your sins. God is there even when we don’t want Him to be.
As the adulteress that was casted out before Jesus by the judgmental people, so was I casted out before God by my own thoughts. Just as God forgave her and told her to sin no more, so did He forgive me. I can’t say that I sinned no more, but I have sinned less. Thank God. If you learn anything from this, learn this: God is with you, God loves you, God knows the way to a better you, victory is assured if you want it, and God will help you get there.
With love and respect,