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Most little girls dream about their knight in shining armor rescuing them from a tall tower of solitary confinement or from an evil villain sorcerer casting wicked curses. Disney princess fairytales, chick flicks, and romantic comedies fill the movie collections of many women I know.

Let’s just say I am more of a Black-Widow-fire-bender-kick-butt-kind-of-gal. Of all the Disney princesses, I for sure take more of a Merida approach to life. Don't know what I'm talking about? You'll have to watch the following movies: The Avengers, Avatar the Last Airbender, and Brave.

I am a fierce, short-tempered redhead. Occasionally while on my cycle I eat my ice cream while lamenting through tears that no man ever pursues me. But for the most part, I take the route of, “I am a strong independent woman that can do anything. If you think otherwise, I will put you in a jiu-jitsu chokehold before you can blink.”

If there is anything the Lord has to teach me in life, it is definitely humility. And trust. And probably a whole lot of things. Let’s be real.

I think this attitude of stubborn independence is a big reason why the Lord allows me to struggle with pornography addiction. If there is one thing I have learned in my eight years of fighting against porn, it is that I cannot save myself.

Many teens and even children are addicted to porn before they even know it is wrong—and I am no exception. When my body developed in middle school and high school, I turned to google in the midst of my curiosity. I wanted answers to questions, and instead, I found videos that fed this innate sexual excitement and pleasure. I had no idea what I was watching. And I could not stop seeking it out. By the time I learned what pornography is and that it is wrong, I was chained to this addiction. I spent years trying to break free in silence, but I was left more frustrated and trapped.

Still, shame kept me from telling anyone. My closest friends, my parents, my respected teacher, and my mentor all knew nothing. I sat in the shadows trying to stop through my own determination and power.

This shame only grew.

In my senior year of high school, I started to pursue the Lord. I started actively listening for His voice by praying every day. I wanted to love Jesus. I even wanted to be a religious sister! But thoughts echoed in my mind: you are not good enough. You are too dirty. You have hurt Jesus too much. If you actually wanted to be holy, you would not look at other women the way you do. You are not strong enough to say no to temptation. You can never be a Saint.

I would look at the crucifix and sob; when I saw Jesus on the cross, all I saw were my sins that put Him there. It is important to be sorrowful of our sins and to do penance to atone for our wrongdoings. However, in this case, the shame surrounding my sins blinded me from the love of Jesus and the mercy that flows from His sacrifice. I did not receive His forgiveness. I only thought about how bad and unworthy I was.

Sometimes it was easier to feel anger than shame. Some evenings I yelled at the Lord for not freeing me. I heard stories of women who miraculously stopped looking at porn or of women who “grew out of it.” I was furious that Jesus let me struggle and suffer. I begged for freedom. He saw me trapped and it felt like He did nothing about it. In a moment of temptation, I would tell Him to not let me give in. But I ended up in sin anyway. I wanted Him to take away my choice and to make me stop because I was not strong enough on my own.

I was in this state of turmoil and conflict for almost a year until one day I thought of an image in prayer. One of the mysteries of the rosary I always come back to is the scourging at the pillar (that and the annunciation and the coronation of our Lady as Queen of Heaven.). I thought about the scourging at the pillar and I imagined Jesus whipped and beaten by the guards. But this time, the scene was slightly different. I was there. I was curled up on the ground in a ball, small and afraid. Jesus leaned over me. He was almost holding me as if He were protecting me like a turtle shell. The guards carried out their slashing and beating. Occasionally one of the instruments nicked my arm or stung my face, but Jesus shouldered almost all of the blows.

He wanted to. He knew I wronged Him. He knew I sinned. But still, He wanted to protect me. He wanted me to be free.

He wanted to save me.

For the first time, I realized I tend toward this attitude of independence and self-reliance because I do not think that I am worth saving. Somehow, if people see “the real me” full of sin, I think that they will not love me or not fight for me or not want me. I have to fight for myself. But this is not true! Jesus sees me. He sees me full of sin, and still, He wants to save me.

After receiving this image, I had the courage and the grace to share my story with others. I needed help. I needed accountability. I needed a hero. I did not need someone to whisk me away with a magical fairytale ending where my addiction miraculously disappeared. I needed (and still need!) grace that gives me the strength to fight. 

Something that bothers me about a lot of old princess movies is that the hero does everything. The princess sits there emotional and in distress, or even in a deep sleep! She gets to have a funny animal sidekick. She sings a few songs, dances with some townsfolk, and then gets locked away for the prince to find. Meanwhile, the hero kills the dragon, fights the bad guy, and saves the day. So often, the princess does nothing. I am not the kind of person to sit by passively while somebody comes and does all the work. I want to show them what I have got. I want to fight too.

And I do fight.

Sometimes it is painful and I fall, but the Lord allows me to be an integral part of my own story to sainthood. He died for me and it is by His grace that I am saved. But I get the joy of cooperating with His grace! I can say yes or no to His help. I fight and make life-or-death decisions. I choose to tell my accountability partner when I fall. I choose to pray every day. I choose to not bring my cell phone into my bedroom. That is the gift of free will that we are given.

I heard an analogy once about people and sin. Sin is comfortable and easy, but it is a prison. It is like sitting in a jail cell that has a king-sized bed with fluffy blankets and a TV with Netflix. The grace of God keeps the door to the jail cell open so we can walk out. But we still have to choose to walk out. Sometimes we do not want to because the cell is so well-furnished and cozy. It is easy to live there. But if we stay, we are not truly free. We are not living as the people we are meant to be. We are ultimately alone. And eventually, when we die, the door to the jail cell closes and we are trapped forever. We have to choose to walk out of the cell. Jesus opened the door for you the moment he died on the cross. He loves you so much that he chose to die to save you from that eternal prison of death.

I think the hardest part in my struggle for purity is remembering that outside of the jail cell is better. Porn can be so comfortable. It feels good or we would not pursue it! It is really uncomfortable to tell my accountability partner when I fall. It is really inconvenient to leave my phone in public spaces. It is not fun to get up early to pray when I could be sleeping. Sometimes we have to trust that purity is worth it.

The Lord never gives up on you.

For the last four years, I have been in and out of addiction. I fall into relapses more than I like to admit. But that constant struggle is a consistent reminder that I need a Savior. I need His grace, His protection, and His mercy. He knows my pain, He knows my struggle and He wants to work with me toward my salvation.

He never stops pursuing your heart. Whether you meet Him with a stubborn will, open hands, or a heart entangled with addiction, He desires intimacy with you. He does not want to carry you away magically erasing all of your crosses. It is our crosses that shape us into who we are - just ask any Saint! Still, He wants to carry your cross with you and share its load.

Trust in Him, and He can be the hero of your story, too.

Resource
Download the e-book

Transformed by Beauty

Description

In this ebook, you’ll meet a priest, a musician, a ballerina, and a bodybuilder who all have one thing in common: They found freedom, healing, and peace because they encountered the beauty of a transcendent God.

Audience: Men and women 
Language: English 
Resource Type: Ebook  
Cost: Free 

Sophia Horinek works for the Catholic nonprofit Teach for Christ in administration and database management. She served two years of mission work with the organization NET Ministries. She is obsessed with her yellow lab, Alex. She loves adventures, nuns, Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, and writing poetry.