Debilitating guilt. Difficult habits. Dehumanized marriage. You recognize the warning signs of sexual addiction because you have firsthand experience. While your story might not be something you’ve shared with everyone, you’ll notice that some people will need to hear it. You’ll find yourself wanting to guide them to the exit.
Am I worthy to share my story to help others?
One of the most significant rewards for overcoming addiction is the ability to show others the path to freedom. However, just as victory itself is a process, the ability to explain how you got there doesn’t happen overnight. So many insecurities can keep you silent. Will I be judged? Will I say something wrong? Will I hurt them instead of help? Is it hypocritical to protest sin when I have fallen to the temptation? Am I the right person to talk about this? Am I worthy?
Well, there’s good news: you are. You’re an expert on the subject because your experience has given you the unique ability to empathize. While others can only pity, or even criticize, you know what it’s like in the trenches, and that makes you a prime candidate to speak.
II Corinthians 1:3-7 explains that “we may be able to comfort those in any trouble, with the comfort with which we are comforted,” and our suffering enables us to help others endure suffering (NKJV).
Here are four practical tips for sharing your story so that someone else might be comforted by it.
Analyze Your Old Mentors
When you become a mentor—whether as a long-term accountability partner or as a momentary encourager—consider people who’ve mentored you, were they so strict that you felt condemned? Were they too lax? In what ways was their compassion effective in your recovery? Consider the balance of sternness and gentleness shown to you or what you wish was shown to you. By remembering where you once were, you’ll better understand where your listeners are.
Admit Your Faults
It’s alright to talk about how your past influenced your decisions. Sharing what traumas prompted self-medicating can give insight to your listeners. However, make sure you don’t blame your parents, abusers, circumstances, or desires. Don’t downplay the seriousness of addiction, either. Vulnerability might incline you to say your shortcomings were “irresistible,” “inevitable,” or even “permissible,” but that can endorse not taking responsibility.
Be intentional about owning up to your mistakes. If you make excuses to water down your addictions, then you teach listeners also to make excuses. The last thing you want is for someone to interpret your confession as a green light to sin.
Share Your “Why”
In narrative stories, heroes have goals, and the stakes are high. Describe why pornography was worth quitting. Did you crave clean thoughts or a relationship with meaningful intimacy? Describe what was on the line. Did pornography put your marriage at risk, or distract you from your life dreams? What about your rock-bottom moments? Maybe you realized pornography left you empty. Pleasure is a cheap knockoff of genuine peace. How would things be different now if you’d continued indulging in sexual addiction? As you recount your narrative, consider asking your listeners to do the same. Discussing the benefits of quitting pornography might get your listeners self-analyzing.
Leave Your Story Unfinished
Addictions don’t always end with a brilliant moment of epiphany, where all desires and traumas instantly vanish. While testimonies like that do exist, most people’s victories are gradual. There’s no distinct line between “addicted” and “free,” but rather a transition from darker shades into lighter ones. Our story is ever a work in progress. We’ll be imperfect as long we’re humans here on earth—so we shouldn’t believe we must wait until we’re perfect before we can impact others.
Rather than trying to define the moment when you became “free,” define the moment when you decided you wanted to be free. Recount your journey since then; how have you fallen despite your decision, and how did you get back up? Now that you’re out of your struggles, what are you doing today to avoid going back? It’s not uncommon for former addicts to continue attending therapy programs, meeting with counselors, or engaging organizations like XXXchurch, even after years of sobriety. This isn’t a sign of weakness or bondage; it’s proof that freedom is too good ever to risk losing again.
Even if you haven’t fully overcome your addiction, you don’t have to wait until you have all the answers before you help others. Maybe you fall short in your struggle, but your battle proves your opposition to temptation. Striving for your purity and promoting it to others speaks volumes of your heart, even if your body is still catching up. Just as you were honest to admit your missteps in the first place, be humble enough to share what steps you’re taking today.
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