WHOLE: from What Others Say About You

We are currently featuring guest posts from a several of the women who are leading breakout sessions at WHOLE.

Today’s post is from Jenny Miller, DGM’s Director of Operations. She is leading a breakout session for women on recovering from pornography addiction at the WHOLE. But today’s post is relevant for every woman who has ever believed a lie about herself. That’s all of us, ladies!

It’s important to know that at WHOLE, every woman who leads a breakout has personally experienced the topic she’s addressing. These are real women who have found wholeness in their specific area of brokenness. There’s hope for whatever you’ve faced or are currently facing and for that friend, sister, mother, etc. that you don’t feel equipped to help today.

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Breakout: You Are Not Who They Say You Are (freedom from porn addiction)
Leader: Jenny Miller

Dirty. Filthy. Alone. Afraid. Unlovable. Unworthy. These are words I used to describe myself for the 11 years I struggled with pornography addiction. It didn’t start out that way, it started long before I ever viewed that first image on the computer screen. Growing up with a distorted self-image, a girl with insecurity who didn’t feel like she quite fit and no outlet to express her feelings led to a curiosity and longing for attention which I sought out in all the wrong places.

I became an object, reduced to the worth of what I could be used for, representing the images and acts I saw played out on the screen. I thought this was what I was only good for, this is what I was desired for…..a false intimacy that was only skin deep.

Insecurity is a loss of self value, you forget who you truly are, who you are truly called to be. It’s selling yourself for pennies so to speak. It’s trading the vulnerable side of yourself, the part that was meant to connect to others in true relationship for something that is an afterthought the next day.

How did I get here?

I remember that sick feeling I had laying on the floor in an emotional heap one night after acting out. I was 11 years into my addiction, had hit many bottoms which should have grabbed my attention and caused me to change, but yet I couldn’t climb out of this pit of this addiction to pornography. I was crying and looked up and saw a photo of my family…my two children and husband. This addiction which had began when I was just a teen, which only affected myself (the lie I told myself) was now reaching out it’s ugly hands and starting to grab onto my family. It was affecting how I related with my husband (emotionally, sexually, spiritually). It was affecting the kind of mother I was becoming. They were paying, it wasn’t just about me anymore.

I had attached all these labels onto my identity – worthless, dirty, unlovable…if anyone found out I would be left alone, so I keep the terrible silence of holding this secret in, sometimes to the point I thought I would explode. What I didn’t know was because of the way I saw myself, unlovable and unworthy, I could never love anyone or find anyone worthy because I didn’t feel any love or worth for myself. My addiction and its affects were sabotaging every good thing in my life or any good thing that would be headed my way.

Addiction gives you a skewed view of the world around you, and even more so of yourself. You are so entwined into a life of lies, and a life of being someone you were not designed to be, it’s hard to even see yourself any other way.

But there was hope.

I grew up knowing the truth of God’s word, even memorizing Scripture as a child. I would memorize entire books, every verse of every chapter, and could even quote them by scripture reference if quizzed. I would travel to different states, and be in competitions reciting the word of God in front of many. I hid God’s word in my heart, but the problem was I didn’t open my heart to let it out. I believed the lie that His word was for everyone else, but me. I wasn’t lovable, so I was exempt from God’s love. I was not worthy of His grace, so His grace was wide and deep for everyone else, but I was too far down for Him to reach me.

I clearly remember the day I confessed my sin openly for the first time. I spoke the words, “I’m addicted to pornography.” And I said them out loud for the first time to a real person. I had let the first little crack in my cold, hidden heart open up and a beam of light shone in. The light of truth.

To make a long story short, it was a serious of these truth opportunities that kept shining into my heart that began to transform it. Truth opportunities that came from confession, building new relationships, a commitment to a lifetime of recovery, accountability. I’m still working on it.

But it all started with the transformation of the labels I had identified myself with.

I could have used my past as an excuse and blamed all those who let me try on those labels like oversized coats that were obvious to everyone they didn’t fit, but was told those ‘coats’ were for me. Standing in front of truth today as a mirror, it’s obvious none of those things fit, and they are not the truth about me. But it wasn’t easy getting there.

God is extending truth to you today, just like a mirror which exposes every lie you’ve ever been told, and every lie about yourself you’ve ever believed. That’s where it starts. Making the choice to stop looking at pornography and acting out is a great choice, but that’s not the end of it. It’s allowing God to transform you one step at a time, allowing Him to hold up His mirror of truth and see that what you’re ‘wearing’ isn’t what ‘fits’ you.

He’s inviting you to become WHOLE. Who you were designed to be. And the first step is knowing you are not who ‘they’ say you are.

By Crystal Renaud

Crystal Renaud is the Founder & Executive Director of WHOLE Women Ministries whose projects include Dirty Girls Ministries and WHOLE Women’s Conference. She is also the author of Dirty Girls Come Clean (Moody Publishers), a speaker and student who lives in the Kansas City area. Follow @crystalrenaud on Twitter and visit her website for info on coaching and speaking at http://crystalrenaud.com.

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