Lust and Lent: trying to move on
Well, I’ve struggled with lust since I was 12 years old (I’m now 24). It started as curiosity, which over the years has become addiction. I moved from just masturbation and my own thoughts to the use of porn. I tried several times to quit, but it always crept up on me. I confessed to 2 accountability partners once when I was 17 and then a different person 20, but both those accountability relationships did not last very long as we drifted out of contact, and as I drifted back into old ways.
I have never had a girlfriend, or even found it really easy to make friends. At the moment, I don’t really feel like I have many friends, particularly because I have moved between churches in the last few years. Meanwhile, lust has of course also made matters worse in terms of me relating to people, especially women. I sometimes feel like I can’t talk to women that are attractive, because I am feeling ashamed of the lust in my life.
About 5 months ago I felt convicted to confess my struggle again. This time, my pastor has been consistent about keeping me accountable, and he asks me the tough questions. During that time, I had found ways to circumvent the accountability measures that were in place on my devices. But one week ago, we found a way to stop that, so now I do not have any access to the internet that is not monitored by him.
It now also happens to be the season of Lent, so I have made a commitment to try not to masturbate at all during Lent. It’s going to be tough: I haven’t gone that long before. But what is even more tough is: how can I move on to healthy relationships? I’m not just talking about marriage, I’m talking about friendships too. I haven’t mentioned yet that I’m actually training to be a pastor as I feel called to that. Yet, if anything, I sometimes feel as if this isolates me even more. People treat me differently, I feel that people do not treat me as someone who could be their friend, but as someone who is on a different planet to them because I may work as a pastor one day, as opposed to a civil servant or other ‘normal’ occupation. This is not just women and not just non-Christians: people in the church seem to treat me this way!
I’m not trying to gain sympathy for myself. My sinful behaviour in the past has affected how I interact with people now. Yet I do feel called to be more of a disciple, and I do feel called to serve God as a pastor. It’s just that it’s a long, lonely and hard road, where I feel as though I give much of myself, my time and energy to others, yet at the end of the day still feel lonely. I feel the calling is something I can’t resist, yet it is a difficult calling. In summary, I humbly ask for your prayers during this season of Lent, that I can put my trust in God to help me pick up the pieces, and to move on.