“Sweetie Pie – look at this cool website to fight porn! They even have Pete the Porno Puppet!” my husband exclaimed while trying to hook me into watching an intro video. “My friend Juan showed me these cool guys and what they’re doing to fight pornography in Jesus’ name!”
“I’m so happy you found something that you and your friend have as a helpful resource.” I felt honored that my husband would share his issues with me, and prayed for his continuing recovery regularly.
Thankfully, my husband continued to visit the website, read the blogs, and be encouraged by the work they were doing in his own fight against pornography addiction. He always bought a t-shirt and wore it regularly throughout our entire marriage, but we never really talked about it, even though I knew it was a source of help for his struggles.
He openly shared about XXXchurch without shame.
Little did he know my lack of conversation about xxxchurch.com was all based on my own shame about my fantasy and masturbation issues that I never faced, even after working through and continuing to heal in various ways from my 11 years of promiscuity.
Years after his discovery of this life-changing ministry, just before my husband turned 37, he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Afterward, he made a promise to God in the form of a prayer:
“Lord, let me never masturbate again.”
“That’s easy for him to say (ha!) because the chemo has taken his testosterone away,” I thought in my mind. I didn’t want to pray a prayer I couldn’t keep, so I said nothing about my own issue with masturbation, even though my husband knew about it. I tried praying the same prayer privately a little while later, and then out loud when we prayed as a couple but failed miserably.
I hid my problem from my dying husband and God because I felt so much shame.
After my husband kept his vow for the last four years of his life, I wondered how but never got a chance to ask him because I was personally failing and too ashamed to admit it. Even more than that, I wondered how I would bring myself to talk about masturbation to anyone else on the planet after he died because he was the only person I’d ever felt comfortable enough to talk to about the topic.
Three years after my husband’s death, I took the risk and told my therapist. Her response was that I needed accountability as well as a place to share my struggles with others who struggled too, in order to give back.
That was my “Ah HA!” moment with xxxchurch!
I finally understood what Ryan said to me almost two decades prior, except he wasn’t there for me to congratulate him that he was right and I was, um, less right. After reading some of the more recent blog posts, I saw xxxchurch as a ministry that is truly a safe place for change and a haven for men and women who want genuine healing from any and all areas of sexual addiction.
I reached out to Carl Thomas via email and was surprised by his personal agreement when I said I’d be happy to write for them, in order to share my 22-year sobriety story and encourage the men and women who continue to struggle with porn, masturbation, and sexual addiction issues, as well as the spouses who stand in support by their side.
Immediately, I saw how Thomas’ leadership rings loud and clear in every blog post as well as every email.
The Live Free Wives community that is spearheaded by Melissa Ruff has been instrumental in encouraging women I’ve known to get the support they need, and I am so grateful to the many women who also volunteer under her fantastic leadership.
It was because of meeting these remarkable, godly people, and reading the words of all the people who write their grace-filled and godly blog posts that I wanted to be a regular contributor, as well. This place has meant personal healing in my own marriage and even the five years beyond since I’ve become a single, celibate woman.
I could think of no greater privilege than to give back a small portion of what was given to me for the years my husband struggled and the marriage we wouldn’t have had otherwise.
One of the best resources to come out of this ministry aside from the community groups has been Carl Thomas’ amazing book When Shame Gets Real. This book is incredible and I couldn’t put it down, devouring the pages within a short time- seeing the message as a powerful voice of reason, written to everyone as a clarion call for change.
This book and these communities have both allowed me deeper change in my own fantasy/masturbation journey that sometimes looks more like two steps forward, and one step back than a perfect pathway.
Can you relate?
To the single out there who is struggling and maybe reading this blog post as their first time attempting recovery or facing relapse, I say this:
Keep checking in with the community, reading the blogs, and making connections with fellow travelers. No matter what. Your journey is far from over and we’re here for you – cheering you on and praying for you! Keep going!!
To the married man or woman who has ongoing addiction issues, and perhaps has had them for years, I say this:
Rome wasn’t built in a day! There’s a reason recovery is a journey, and won’t ever be described as a destination. We’re praying for your recovery, no matter where you’ve been or what you’ve done. God’s grace is sufficient!
To the married man or woman whose spouse has addiction issues, I say this:
Your support is a bedrock of hope. Even when the darkness seems large, it only takes a tiny bit of light to make the darkness flee. Your support, no matter how small, is a light of hope – keep shining for your spouse!! I commend you and am praying for you as you support your spouse, through thick and thin. You’re amazing and I applaud you!!
There’s a reason this community has not only survived but thrived for twenty years – the men and women who work and volunteer here tirelessly to facilitate a place for recovery to happen for the thousands of men and women who receive the gift of God’s grace. I would venture to guess that Carl Thomas and his team would do anything, even bring back that silly puppet, if it meant one more person could live in victory for another day.
Maybe that one person is you?
Please join us on your journey to freedom from sexual addiction, by becoming a part of our Live Free Community or Live Free Wives community, grab a copy of When Shame Gets Real and as always ask any questions during Office Hours because absolutely nothing is off limits!
Keep coming back because we’ve got your back!