As a 25-year old college graduate, I have been battling pornography for just about half my life. The fact is, more young men than ever are growing up with this same struggle against pornography. I decided to write a letter to myself, a younger version of me, sharing some of the things I wish I had known when I first started looking at pornography and what I’ve learned in the past ten years.
As you enter tenth grade you’re going to be faced with many challenges. You’re going to be hit smack in the face with a new set of struggles and the navigation won’t be easy, but you’re going to make it.
There will be insecurity – mostly around the pretty girls. This will happen for a few reasons, one being that half a dozen of them have turned you down already. I want to tell you that your value doesn’t come from being accepted by them, but I’m not sure you’ll believe me.
You’ll feel different. You’ll start to feel an apparent distance from every other person on earth, and the looming sense that you’re the only one of your kind, the only one who gets you. You’ll feel alone on a very crowded planet and you won’t understand why. I want you to know that you will eventually find people like you, people who understand and get you. I want to tell you to hang in there. It’ll happen.
I want to warn you – most of all – that you’re about to begin the battle of your life. The struggle with pornography.
Ethan, you’re going to live for quite some time in a dangerous place; a place where you feel like the struggle doesn’t really matter because marriage is a long way off. I mean, you’re still in high school, and no one else is being affected by your little secret, right? You couldn’t be more wrong. I know you expect that the struggle will simply fade away eventually. I know you expect to finally reach a point where you can just stop and live life to the fullest. I know all of your excuses. The one that says it’ll stop when you meet the right girl or get the right job. Or maybe just when you find the right circle of friends so you don’t feel so alone, then the struggle will just fade and you’ll carry on with life.
You need to know that it doesn’t happen that way.
Pornography doesn’t simply fall off or fade away, but clings tighter the longer you let it invade your life.
Your secret sin of pornography is going to follow you. It’s not just going to go away on its own. It can’t. I want to tell you to stop and do something about it, find help, tell someone – but you aren’t going to. You’re going to let it hang on, and it will stay just as long as you let it.
Pornography will follow you into your first year of college. It will tag along as you travel around the world and do international ministry for a few years. The sin and struggle will hide itself in the shadows; in the corners and crevices when you close the door. It will follow you to your third year of college, the place where you expect to meet the girl who would become your wife.
But here’s the thing with this porn ‘habit,’ without working through the insecurities and pain from the past, you will only be more tightly tethered to it. This addiction, and I hate to break it to you but it is an addiction, will prevent you from making any real move toward an actual woman. Your brain has been altered, the lines between pornography and reality are blurred. You will graduate as single as ever, and the struggle will only continue.
You see, Ethan, porn has a way of sticking around. I know in the beginning it creeps up so slowly. It lies to you with its sultry voice telling you it’s no big deal. It entices you with its deceptive ways and makes you believe it’ll go away on its own later on.
That’s the lie pornography wants you to believe. It’s fine. It’s temporary. You can quit anytime.
Pornography is like a weed in your garden: The first one shows up and it seems like no big deal. You simply ignore it because one little weed poses no real threat. Five days later, you return to the garden and things have changed a bit more, now there are a bunch of weeds. Three weeks later the garden is being overrun and you can’t stop thinking about the weeds. 6 months later the weeds begin to choke the very life right out of your plants. Pornography is a weed in your life. Don’t wait to fight it. Take action against it now!
I know what you’re thinking – how? What do I do? How do I stop this habit that has barged into my life rather uninvited? The truth is, it won’t be easy. Remember I said you were about to enter a battle? Battles aren’t won easily and they certainly aren’t won overnight. And truly, there is no clear-cut, simple path to freedom from pornography. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t start.
Start now. Start today. Start before you wake up 10 years from now and find yourself in deeper than you ever thought you could be. And once you start, keep up the fight – never letting your guard down.
And remember that when you mess up, there is grace. When you feel down, the Lord can lift you up. And when you feel dirty, it is Jesus who makes us clean.
25 year old you.
Need help? Here are some places to find it: