I Was a Porn-Addicted Pastor’s Kid, Then God Moved

Ariel, 20, Georgia, USA

[As told to Then God Moved founder and editor Adira Polite]

My mom’s a pastor, so I witnessed the movement of the Holy Spirit at a young age. I believed, but for most of my youth, I lived in the shadow of my parents’ faith. This became apparent at around age ten, when I first saw pornography. I was new to all of it, so it really confused me. But I kept watching. Two years later, I was still watching, but it was no longer out of mere curiosity — I needed it. I was a full-blown porn addict. 

My parents knew nothing about any of this. They spent a lot of time fighting each other, so I kept it all to myself. As I drifted away from God, I began falling into many other sins: cursing, lying to my parents, among others. I was just very aggressive. I was consumed by the spirits of lust and anger. 

Then, at around age 13, my parents decided to homeschool me. Something about the change in environment invited a time of spiritual purging. The desire to watch pornography and masturbate simply faded out. It became foreign and disgusting to me, which is incredible, because I’d been battling that addiction in secret for years. Looking back, I know it was God who freed me.  

Though I was no longer addicted, I was still far from God. In high school, I hung around the wrong people. There were a whole host of issues; teenage pregnancy and witchcraft are among them. I often thought of God and who I knew He had made me to be, but I was bound to my worldly identity. On top of that, as I neared graduation, I fell into a depression.  Unmotivated and exhausted, I decided to take a gap year before college. I took odd jobs here and there, but I was totally unfulfilled. I felt that I had little to live for…so little that I thought I might be better off dead. 

Then, in the fall of 2018, God reached out to me in Walmart. I was in the seasoning aisle with my parents when an older man approached us. With wide eyes, he asked my parents, “Is that your daughter?” When they said yes, he came up to me and broke down in tears. He said that as soon as he stepped into the aisle, he’d felt a strong anointing and presence. “I started looking around and when I saw you, I saw a light over you,” he told me. He said that he’d seen my face in a dream. 

The man then spoke about all sorts of things that I’d never confessed to anyone. “I know you’re tired and don’t feel like doing anything,” he said. I know you feel like you’re a failure and would be better off dead. But, God has a special calling for you. You need to stop running away. You need to come to Him.” I wanted to cry right there in the aisle. I mean, I’d never opened up about these things to anyone and here he was, an obvious messenger of God, telling me exactly what I needed to hear. Growing up in the church, I’d seen people prophesy over others…but, a prophet saying something to me? Me, who was certain that I would never amount to anything? His words stuck with me.

When I was invited to a Christian youth retreat a few months later, I decided to go. I spent three days up in the mountains with about 20 other kids. The first evening, we listed all of the sins we were struggling with on paper face masks. I wrote down cursing, anger, lying, and other things. We then put the masks on our faces, so our sins were on display. 

I was nervous, especially because everyone knew that my mom was a pastor. But when I saw everyone else’s sins listed, I realized that it wasn’t just me — all of the other kids, even the ones who were so obviously on fire for God, were dealing with many of the same sins that plagued me. We then heard a sermon on “taking off our masks,” or essentially leaving behind our perfect exteriors in search of true obedience and healing. After the sermon, we threw our masks — and sin — into a bonfire. 

Before that day, I’d tried to fight sin on my own, only to find myself falling deeper and deeper. But now that I knew I wasn’t alone and that God was greater, I felt free. In the following days, I heard Him speak to me for the first time. I knew that I was near Him.  Worried that the change wouldn’t last, I pled with Him: “If you’re really calling me, if you’ve really chosen me, change my life. Change my heart. I want to think differently. I want to see differently. I don’t want to live like I’ve been living.”

Sure enough, when I got back home, my life completely changed. Rather than just relying on my parents’ faith, I repented and began pursuing the Lord for myself. It was similar to the purging I experienced as a young kid, but this time, there was knowledge, intention, and trust behind it. I lost a lot of friends and I battled a lot of anger, but I just kept asking God to remove all of the things from my life and heart that were not like Him. 

As He purified me, my love for the gospel grew and as this love grew, I began sharing the news with those around me. To this day, I have a special heart for sharing the Word with children. It’s so important for kids to have a foundation in the word of God and an understanding of His character. Most importantly, they must know Jesus for themselves. I know this because I grew up with some knowledge about the Scriptures, but my focus wasn’t on Christ or God’s Word. Had I known Christ, I would never have gotten so caught up in the world. Fortunately, God is using my past for His glory. 

Considering where I came from, the joy I now have is unbelievable. And it remains with me, regardless of my circumstances. Even now, even the midst of so much death and racial strife, God has given me so much peace. And because of that grace, I’m able to extend mercy and strength to others. 

“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us.” -1 John 4:16-19

View Comments (2)
  • This is such a beautiful testimony!

    As a fellow Pastor’s daughter, I can relate to much of what you shared. It took His absolute mercy and grace to come out of where I was! God truly does love and care for His children and goes length and breadth to bring us back where we belong–with Him. I am so glad you had that divine encounter at the grocery store!

    May the Lord continue to make you a bright light in this world and in your generation!

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