I Struggled with Pornography, Masturbation, and Suicidal Thoughts. Then, God Moved.

Yvonne, 20, Aalst, Belgium

[As told to Then God Moved editor Adira Polite]

Growing up in Belgium, I dealt with a lot of bullying over my skin color. Throughout middle and high school, I battled deep, deep insecurities. Though I struggled to find my own sense of self-worth, I got attention from boys; as a result, I was led to believe that my worth came from my sexual appeal. I became consumed with lust, which resulted in a host of problems, including a preoccupation with pornography and masturbation. 

Throughout all of this, I always had this nagging feeling that I was doing something wrong. At the time, I believed in the general idea of God, but I didn’t know much about Him and I was certainly not following Jesus. This lack of a relationship, paired with my need for human validation, resulted in major loneliness. After a while, I fell into a depression. I’d stay in my room for days on end and, eventually, I began considering suicide. 

It was around this time that I came across a bunch of sermons and testimonies on YouTube. I listened to one, then more, then many. My interest in Christ’s Gospel increased to the point where, one night, I found myself Googling “How can I give my life to Jesus?”. I found a prayer online. As I read over it, I felt the sudden urge to go into my family’s living room.

When I got there, I was greeted by an immense peace — “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7). I declared Jesus my Lord, out loud, and resolved to follow Him. Immediately, my suicidal thoughts disappeared. They literally disappeared, just like that! I was shocked, to say the least. I’d heard that Jesus was capable of such healing, but I was in awe that He’d done it for me.

Though many of my battles disappeared overnight, I continued to suffer from a masturbation addiction. I also still craved external validation. Unsurprisingly, I soon found myself in a relationship. He was a believer, but of course, things didn’t work and we ended up breaking up. I grieved the loss for a while…then, the Lord showed me that I’d been worshipping my boyfriend instead of Him. “You were so focused on being a good girlfriend that you turned from me,” He said. “You need to be My child first.” I was so convicted. It was true; I’d been fully focused on my boyfriend — even my attempts to overcome sin were rooted in a desire to be good enough for him. 

I repented of this idolatry and, a few months later, I got baptized. This was a turning point for me. The symbolism of being literally washed clean enabled me to accept the newness given to me by Christ. I’d long been in a cycle of falling into sin, shaming myself for the sin, feeling condemned and defeated, then repeating the sin. But, once I finally accepted that I’d already been cleansed and freed on the Cross, I found myself able to walk in my freedom. 

The more time I spent in prayer, worship, and reading the Word, the stronger I became. People think that they’ll grow closer to God by trying to refrain from sin, but they’ve got it backwards; if you remain close to God, He Himself enables you to refrain from sin. I am living proof of this. Though I still struggle, lust’s hold on me has been loosened — not as a result of my own efforts, but by God’s grace, alone.

Throughout my walk with Christ, this has remained clear: if He is our first priority, everything else falls into place. As Scripture tells us, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” He takes care of us. He gives us what we need. And He’s already won our spiritual battles! 

Don’t look to man for your salvation and sanctification — and that includes yourself. It simply won’t work. Look to God, only. Focus on Him and His Word — for He is “from where [our] help comes” (Psalms 121).

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