Every Thought Captive

Stephen’s dorm room was dark. His eyes were closed; but sleep was far from him. His stomach was in knots, twisting one way, then another. The shadow-splashed walls echoed the lie that he was completely alone—that he may always be.

Loneliness was a trigger that usually drew him to entertain lust, to fill the void, to drown out the fear, to see the images that he'd been addicted to since he was 12 years old.

But not tonight. Tonight, that was the furthest thing from his mind.

Stephen raised a shaky finger in the darkness and spoke out against the fears threatening to suffocate him. “Jesus on the cross was the greatest expression of love for me! No matter how loved I do or do not feel, I will remember his faithfulness to me.”

The words hung in the air.

In that moment, something broke apart.

Instantly, the tension in his stomach released and a peace entered his heart. It was the first time Stephen exercised the power of “taking every thought captive” as described in Corinthians. It was a defining moment. A moment that not only proved Jesus cared about his deepest fears, but that pornography no longer had claim over areas of his heart that it used to.

It had been a long road.

160721_Stephen_story_7474

Preceded by a decade of struggle, Stephen spent his youth and adolescence hiding his addiction. And in that divide, between discovering pornography and not yet fully understanding the extent of God’s grace, he wasn’t sure how God could love someone with such sin. “I knew that God loved me, but to a degree I still believed his love was dependent upon my own morality and goodness, and not ever-present and unconditional.”

Stephen’s lack of self-control caused him to harbor negative thoughts about his identity. Words like, “failure”, “pervert” and “hopeless” gained traction. “I knew I was sinning and that it controlled me, but keeping it in the darkness was easiest—almost like it didn’t really exist.”

No matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t go long enough without it. “Before I really understood that God’s kindness was meant to lead me to repentance, I looked for every excuse to stay as close to my sin as I could without feeling guilty. Not only did complete abstinence from porn feel impossible, but I thought if I tried to achieve it then I was trying to earn God’s love. I stayed in that cycle of excuses and complacency for so long.”

160721_Stephen_story_7404 copy

By the time Stephen headed to college he had a robust appetite for pornography. “Desiring a stronger satisfaction, I dove deeper and deeper into it. I secretly felt that if God was calling me entirely out of this sin, he was trying to hold back real satisfaction from me.” At the same time that his addiction was at its fever pitch, God was simultaneously paving the way for him to find freedom.

Once at college, Stephen found Christ-centered community and began walking alongside a friend who was experiencing deep sexual brokenness. God began illuminating ways that pornography and sexual sin had destroyed what was meant for beauty, "He was so broken, and I realized that would be me if something didn't change.”

After one particularly hard conversation with that friend, Stephen went back to his room to process. While listening to a song, the lyrics brought him to a place of brokenness over his own sin. Contrite with his face in the carpet, he finally saw his sin for what it was: separation from a Father who loved him.

160721_Stephen_story_7516

Compelled by that close encounter, he continued to engage in confession and close-knit accountability with his DNA group. “There’s a depth of relationship there, they ask the hard questions. I continued to learn that persistence in obedience would eventually make me into the kind of person for whom the impossible became possible.”

Through the empowerment of the Spirit, Stephen made slow, grace-compelled progress. “By continuing to look at porn, I was denying the identity that God had given me. My behavior couldn't be rooted in the desire to improve myself." By now, Stephen knew that bootstrap behavior modification didn't work.

"It wasn't a cold turkey deal,” he shared. But there was a noticeable Christ-caused tension between him and pornography that wasn't there before.

160721_Stephen_story_7581

“Despite my failure, and constant attempts to improve myself, there is always an identity that has more power and more truth than my circumstances. The truest thing about me will always be what God says about me.”

Even though temptation hasn’t changed for Stephen, his heart towards it has. When a trigger arises, he turns to Jesus first—denying his instinct to hide. “Jesus’ faithful love causes me to run after him more than any other motivator, not selfishly, but out of response to his radical, senseless, unconditional, never-ending love.”
Does this story resonate with you? You are not alone. Start a conversation with one of our pastors. Additionally, here is a list of resources to help you take steps towards sexual sobriety:

ARTICLE // Addiction Recovery: What Do I Need To Do?

GROUP // Sexaholics Anonymous: Puget Sound or Worldwide

PHONE APP // Sobriety Clock - "Nomo"

Stephen’s dorm room was dark. His eyes were closed; but sleep was far from him. His stomach was in knots, twisting one way, then another. The shadow-splashed walls echoed the lie that he was completely alone—that he may always be.

Loneliness was a trigger that usually drew him to entertain lust, to fill the void, to drown out the fear, to see the images that he'd been addicted to since he was 12 years old.

But not tonight. Tonight, that was the furthest thing from his mind.

Stephen raised a shaky finger in the darkness and spoke out against the fears threatening to suffocate him. “Jesus on the cross was the greatest expression of love for me! No matter how loved I do or do not feel, I will remember his faithfulness to me.”

The words hung in the air.

In that moment, something broke apart.

Instantly, the tension in his stomach released and a peace entered his heart. It was the first time Stephen exercised the power of “taking every thought captive” as described in Corinthians. It was a defining moment. A moment that not only proved Jesus cared about his deepest fears, but that pornography no longer had claim over areas of his heart that it used to.

It had been a long road.

160721_Stephen_story_7474

Preceded by a decade of struggle, Stephen spent his youth and adolescence hiding his addiction. And in that divide, between discovering pornography and not yet fully understanding the extent of God’s grace, he wasn’t sure how God could love someone with such sin. “I knew that God loved me, but to a degree I still believed his love was dependent upon my own morality and goodness, and not ever-present and unconditional.”

Stephen’s lack of self-control caused him to harbor negative thoughts about his identity. Words like, “failure”, “pervert” and “hopeless” gained traction. “I knew I was sinning and that it controlled me, but keeping it in the darkness was easiest—almost like it didn’t really exist.”

No matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t go long enough without it. “Before I really understood that God’s kindness was meant to lead me to repentance, I looked for every excuse to stay as close to my sin as I could without feeling guilty. Not only did complete abstinence from porn feel impossible, but I thought if I tried to achieve it then I was trying to earn God’s love. I stayed in that cycle of excuses and complacency for so long.”

160721_Stephen_story_7404 copy

By the time Stephen headed to college he had a robust appetite for pornography. “Desiring a stronger satisfaction, I dove deeper and deeper into it. I secretly felt that if God was calling me entirely out of this sin, he was trying to hold back real satisfaction from me.” At the same time that his addiction was at its fever pitch, God was simultaneously paving the way for him to find freedom.

Once at college, Stephen found Christ-centered community and began walking alongside a friend who was experiencing deep sexual brokenness. God began illuminating ways that pornography and sexual sin had destroyed what was meant for beauty, "He was so broken, and I realized that would be me if something didn't change.”

After one particularly hard conversation with that friend, Stephen went back to his room to process. While listening to a song, the lyrics brought him to a place of brokenness over his own sin. Contrite with his face in the carpet, he finally saw his sin for what it was: separation from a Father who loved him.

160721_Stephen_story_7516

Compelled by that close encounter, he continued to engage in confession and close-knit accountability with his DNA group. “There’s a depth of relationship there, they ask the hard questions. I continued to learn that persistence in obedience would eventually make me into the kind of person for whom the impossible became possible.”

Through the empowerment of the Spirit, Stephen made slow, grace-compelled progress. “By continuing to look at porn, I was denying the identity that God had given me. My behavior couldn't be rooted in the desire to improve myself." By now, Stephen knew that bootstrap behavior modification didn't work.

"It wasn't a cold turkey deal,” he shared. But there was a noticeable Christ-caused tension between him and pornography that wasn't there before.

160721_Stephen_story_7581

“Despite my failure, and constant attempts to improve myself, there is always an identity that has more power and more truth than my circumstances. The truest thing about me will always be what God says about me.”

Even though temptation hasn’t changed for Stephen, his heart towards it has. When a trigger arises, he turns to Jesus first—denying his instinct to hide. “Jesus’ faithful love causes me to run after him more than any other motivator, not selfishly, but out of response to his radical, senseless, unconditional, never-ending love.”
Does this story resonate with you? You are not alone. Start a conversation with one of our pastors. Additionally, here is a list of resources to help you take steps towards sexual sobriety:

ARTICLE // Addiction Recovery: What Do I Need To Do?

GROUP // Sexaholics Anonymous: Puget Sound or Worldwide

PHONE APP // Sobriety Clock - "Nomo"