Seeing the Lord's Hand in Healing
When I was a young man, some friends and I started looking at the undergarment and swimsuit sections of women’s clothing catalogues. We thought doing this was just part of being a teenager. Unfortunately, we didn’t realize that these actions enhanced the likelihood of our seeking pornography.
Viewing these images led to improper thoughts and actions, but I dismissed them as trivial. I had a few superficial conversations about my thoughts and actions with priesthood leaders and one in-depth talk with my mission president. After that confession, I felt forgiven of my sins and remained free from my addiction during my mission and for a period after returning home from my mission.
After I got married, my desire to view pornography returned. I eventually convinced my wife it was okay for us to watch pornography videos together. I rationalized that because we were married and the videos were about the relationship between a man and a woman, watching the videos wasn’t sinful. Deep down, we both knew that our actions were wrong. My wife loathed the videos, and I felt bad about involving her in my sin. We never did it again as a couple. However, my desire to view pornography continued to haunt me and I began viewing pornography in secret.
I started living a double life. I had a secret, shameful behavior that I couldn’t stop, no matter how hard I tried. I stopped feeling the influence of the Spirit, and controlling my thoughts became more difficult. I felt so much shame that I did not want to live anymore.
I knew I needed help or my life would be destroyed. I gathered the courage to tell my wife. I was afraid she would leave me. However, I was willing to do anything to escape the agony. It was a crushing blow to her, and she cried many tears of pain. But despite what I had done, our deep friendship and inspiration from God kept her by my side. She believes in Christ and His Atonement, and the Lord helped her see my potential.
After confessing to my wife, I made an appointment with our bishop and shared with him what I had been doing and my desire to change. This appointment was a life-saver and was the first of several visits I had with my priesthood leader. In addition to meeting with my bishop, I got professional help and started attending the Church’s Addiction Recovery Program (ARP).
It took over two years for me to work through all 12 steps and fully repent. However, the relief I felt after completing the program was worth every effort. While I was completing the 12-step program, I went to ARP meetings and met guys just like me. As I attended the meetings, I felt my burden being lifted from me, and it felt good to be part of the healing process and to share my testimony with others.
Through this program, I realized that I am the one responsible for change in my life. I am the one who must take responsibility for my actions and set guidelines to live by in order to stay worthy. The ARP program is inspired of the Lord and helped me understand Christ’s Atonement and healing power.
My highest priority became getting my temple recommend back and remaining worthy to keep it. It took a lot of introspection, priesthood blessings, and repentance to finally reach that point. As I cleaned up my life, I started to feel the Spirit come back and heal the deep wounds I had inflicted upon myself. I talked openly with my wife about my struggles and challenges. I took her out on regular dates and started treating her like the queen and daughter of God she is. As I did, our marital relationship also began to heal.
I made life changes, creating healthy boundaries to keep my behavior in check. Now when I need to use the Internet, I do not do so alone. I have cut most movies and TV out of my life so I will not be confronted with temptations. When I am out of town on business, I never turn on the TV in the hotel room.
Creating these boundaries has given me more time for service, Church callings, and self-development. I started exercising and looking for uplifting activities to deal with stress and replace my addiction. I started going outdoors more and enjoying the beauty of God’s earth. I began writing down impressions I had, which enhanced my ability to see the Lord’s hand in my life.
I realized that the Lord was not going to completely remove this temptation from me. The chance to sin is always there. In order to prove who I am, I must have the choice to sin but choose to live the commandments.
These insights have helped keep me clean for almost two decades. I know the Church is true, and I know it is by the power of the Savior that I have been healed. Forgiving and respecting myself have been the most difficult part of this process. It was impossible to do these things on my own. I needed the cleansing power of Christ’s Atonement to make it possible.
I will be eternally indebted to my wife and to my Savior, who have loved me and stood beside me.
*Name has been changed.