(Photo source: Pexels.com)

(Photo source: Pexels.com)

I’ve wrestled with two addictions in my life: caffeine and pornography.

Actually, I wasn’t technically addicted to caffeine, I was physically dependant.

I say this because one of the definitions of addiction is undertaking repetitive actions despite negative consequences. I had no idea how much damage caffeine was doing to me until I quit soda cold turkey after my dentist explained what it was doing to my teeth.

I know caffeine addiction is a joke in our society, but the stuff is a drug. It took me three weeks to recover. Three physically painful weeks. I swore off the stuff and I’ve never gone back.

All that to say I was not technically addicted, because when I found out about the negative consequences, I cut the stuff out of my life.

Porn, on the other hand, was a different matter. It’s a habit I picked up in middle school like many other boys. By the time I realized that stuff was incredibly unhealthy, it was a “normal” part of my life. Unlike caffeine, I wasn’t able to kick that habit even though it definitely had negative effects.

It was after I decided to become a Christian in my senior year of High School when I realized I should get rid of pornography in my life. Not because Jesus gets angry if I look at porn. That’s a ridiculous image of Jesus. Like, some kind of angry, jerk boss — when Jesus is basically the opposite of that. He cares deeply for me and wants what’s best for me — that’s why he’s given me rules.

In that sense, I knew I needed to quit because not only was I warping the sexual expectations in life,  I was helping to perpetuate an entire industry that treats people like commodities  — which is loathed by any philosophical or moral system worth its salt.

But even though I wanted to stop, I found that I just couldn’t make myself do it. The internet made bad choices so effortless.

Here was the cycle I found myself in:

1 – Have a desire to look at porn

2 – Tell myself that I shouldn’t look at porn

3 – Cave in and look at porn

4 – Feel like garbage that I looked at porn

5 – Want to find some comfort from feeling like garbage, you know, like maybe porn?

(back to step 1)

It was a perpetual cycle. The more I fought my addiction, the worse I felt after giving in to it. So I basically stopped fighting and just accepted that the addiction was part of who I am.


The more I fought my addiction, the worse I felt after failing again.


Brenè Brown wrote a book called “Daring Greatly” where she helped me understand this phenomenon.

Brown explains that there is a difference between guilt and shame.

Guilt says, “I didn’t live up to my expectations and I need to do better.” It’s actually not an inherently bad thing. I forgot my best friends’ birthday, and I’m never going to let that happen again.

Shame, on the other hand, says “I didn’t live up to my expectations, and that makes be a bad person.” See the difference? One is what I do, the other is who I am.

When I couldn’t get rid of my addiction, I started to believe it was who I was. I was a terrible person, and if I was a terrible person, I couldn’t expect to behave any differently. Every time I gave in to my addiction, it reinforced this idea and wrapped me tighter and tighter into my destructive behavior.

I wanted to quit, but I couldn’t. It was my destiny. I tried everything: crying, praying, making commitments, asking for help from friends… nothing worked. Because I was the failure — at least, in my own mind.

I didn’t have the benefit of Brown’s writing back when I finally escaped from my addiction, but I kind of figured out this dynamic on my own.

One day, I decided that if I looked at porn, I wasn’t going to beat myself up about it. I would pick up and move on. I would trust this Christian message I had been told that God knows everything about me and loves me anyway.


The thing driving me to look at porn was the fear of looking at porn.


You would not believe how fast porn faded from my life after years of addiction when I changed my outlook. Instead of letting the old tapes play in my head of, “I’m a piece of crap who can’t stop looking at smut,” I went with, “I screwed up today, but God still loves me, and I’m gonna try to let that change me tomorrow, but if I don’t, God will still love me tomorrow too.” And you know what? When I got rid of the part of the cycle where I beat myself up, the cycle broke down.  

The thing driving me to look at porn was the fear of looking at porn. Crazy, right?

Now, maybe you have no issue with porn. We all have our own struggles. Maybe it’s drugs or alcohol or cutting or sex or anger or one of a million other things for you. But you know what I believe? I believe that God made you, I believe that God knows everything about you, and I believe in the midst of that, God chooses to love you; and nothing can change that fact.


So if you’re wrestling with an addiction, please do me a favor, and get rid of the part where that addiction defines who you are in your own mind.


So if you’re wrestling with an addiction, please do me a favor, and get rid of the part where that addiction defines who you are in your own mind. Instead of “a guy with a porn addiction,” I let myself believe that I was “a guy who God loves.” For me, it was the key to everything.

Listen, I also have good people around me who help keep me in healthy patterns, and I continuously take steps to separate myself from opportunities to make dumb choices. I waited years before getting a smartphone after they came out for this very reason.

But none of that would have mattered without the very center of the equation changing.

You’re not just an addict. You’re a human being with an addiction. Your value doesn’t come from what you do, it starts with who you are. And who you are loved by someone who was willing to do whatever it takes to save you from yourself.


For another story about overcoming an addiction to porn, watch Jason Castro’s new White Chair Film: