Freedom from Pornography Addiction - A Letter from Bethany Swanson
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Dear Beloved Sister,
"I believe that You love me" were the words I prayed to Jesus in adoration that changed my faith-life forever. I received these words as part of my penance in confession. The priest told me to stay in the Adoration chapel praying these words until I believed that they were true. The words the priest gave me sent me on a path of healing from addiction.
He told me that they would help with the root of my sin. I kept praying them until my soul was filled with their truth. It was then that I realized that I had never felt that I deserved Jesus's love.
If you are struggling with deep-rooted sin, know that you are not alone. Christ loves you more than you can know. He is waiting for your in the confessional and wants to pour his healing love upon you.
I had spent many, many years addicted to masturbating and felt overwhelmingly trapped by the weight of my sin. This sin started in middle-school when a friend made a joke about men masturbating. I had no clue what that was I used the internet to learn more. As you can guess, that wasn't the best place to learn, so my addiction began and grew year after year.
I often felt isolated because it was only discussed as a men's problem. I never heard it discussed at church or at conferences, and even now it's still so taboo. There were times when I struggled to go to confession. It seemed hopeless and I was tormented by the hidden (Page 2) life I had. I felt so alone. I kept hope because I knew that Jesus believed in me. That He gave His life so that I could have freedom. So I kept going to confession even when shame and self-hatred consumed me.
Many people today think that masturbation and pornography are no big deal, but the Church teaches a message of hope and healing and promises the grace we need to continue fighting to live a life of freedom in the confessional. I'm so glad I kept going because every time I went to confession I got a taste of that freedom and peace that I so desperately longed for. I had returned to the loving arms of Christ's mercy and I didn't want to leave.
It took years for the knots of this particular sin to be untangled. I learned that I couldn't face this sin alone but needed to have someone to keep me accountable. I found healing in the Church's teaching on the dignity of the human person. Through all of this came healing and the words, "I believe that you love me" got me through many dark nights of temptation. I learned that Christ's love is strong when I felt weak and vulnerable.
I would encourage you to seek out sisters-in-Christ to confide in and help you be accountable. Don't struggle alone like I did for so many years, but find strength in Christ and receive help from those who he put into your life. My husband was the first person I told, and his acceptance of my past was a key part of my healing.
"Don't struggle alone like I did for so many years, but find strength in Christ and receive help from those who he put into your life."
There is hope and healing waiting for you in the confessional, even if it seems hopeless now when you confess the same sin week after week. Trust that Jesus is working in you and he is setting forth a plan for your healing and ultimately freedom. You are Christ's Beloved. Seek Him in the Confessional, He's already seeking you.
In Christ, Bethany
Get to know Bethany
Tell us a little bit about yourself!
Hello! My name is Bethany. I’m 26 years old, I live in California with my husband William, and we are overjoyed to be expecting our first baby in May. My favorite thing right now is feeling our baby kick. It fills me heart with awe and wonder in God’s great gift to us as a married couple. We are hoping to have a home birth, and are waiting to find out if the baby is a boy/girl, so we are filled with anticipation as we take the road a little less traveled. I also like to blog about the Catholic faith and about cryptocurrency, so I have a separate blog for each.
I work as a member of the quality assurance team at a cryptocurrency wallet company. I love talking about Bitcoin, blockchain, and what this digital money means. My favorite part about work is going on breaks for tea with my husband (he’s a developer at the same company).
How does your Catholic faith affect the way you live your day-to-day life?
I order my day to reflect my role as a Beloved Daughter of God. Before, I used to judge my self- worth by the things I accomplished each day, but now I try to surrender to God’s will even on the days I feel very fatigued and don’t do much of anything. I try to live out the feminine genius of receptivity and let my husband serve me on those days, when I’d prefer to do everything myself. That means that my day is lived out of a place of knowing that I am Beloved not based on what I do but on the very fact that God created me.
From one Catholic woman to another, how have you discovered your sense of belonging in the Church?
My sense of belonging in the Church has deepened over time. It started when I first heard the stories of the saints especially those of St. Therese and St. Bernadette and I saw how unique of a life one could have, when they answered God’s call. I wanted to grow into the person who God made me to be.
My sense of belonging was solidified when I attended Franciscan University of Steubenville. That’s when I really encountered the beauty of the faith lived in a passionate way. I’m so grateful for the community there that showed me time and time again how to pick up my cross and how to keep following Christ.
My sense of belonging continues to deepen every time I take part in the Sacraments, when I’m shown the merciful love of Christ especially in Confession. There’s nothing like knowing I am loved by Christ no matter how flawed, anxious and broken I may feel.
"...when I first heard the stories of the saints especially those of St. Therese and St. Bernadette...I saw how unique of a life one could have, when they answered God’s call. I wanted to grow into the person who God made me to be."
What’s the most empowering piece of advice you’ve been given as a Catholic woman?
The most empowering piece of advice I’ve received as a Catholic women was to live as a Beloved Daughter of God. I went to the same confessor and he would say that at the end of every confession and the simplicity of his advice really stuck with me.
Tell us about a woman who inspires you. What lessons have you learned from her? How has she influenced your life?
One woman who inspires me is St. Gianna. I’ve learned from her story how to rely on God in all aspects of my life and to place my trust in God’s will, even when it may be challenging. She’s influenced how I serve my husband and how I’ve been preparing for our baby.
What aspect of your life right now do you find the most beautiful? The most challenging?
I find pregnancy to be the most beautiful and challenging part of my life right now. I love knowing that there’s a little one growing inside of me and that God has chosen me to be this little one’s mother. I had a lot of health problems prior to pregnancy so it s an amazing blessing that I actually feel better overall now that I’m pregnant. The most beautiful part of the day is when my husband reads to me and the baby at night, and prays with his hand on my belly. The most challenging part of my life right now is feeling fatigued often.
What’s the best smell in the world to you?
My favorite smell is a local flower that blooms during the spring time in my neighborhood. When my husband and I go on our nightly walks sometimes you can catch the floral smell in the air.
What’s your favorite way to spend a Saturday off?
My favorite way to spend a Saturday off is at Coronado Island by the ocean with my husband. I love listening and watching the waves come onto the shore. Lately we’ve been catching the sunset there. There’s something healing about being by the ocean, and it’s a great place to talk and reconnect after a busy week as a couple.
Fill in the blank
A typical day in my life looks like…
A typical day in my life usually involves cuddling with my husband in the morning, reading a daily devotion, and getting ready for work. We take the bus to work together and at work I’m testing various features of the app to make sure things work correctly. Then we come home together, eat dinner, and I work on one of my blogs when chores are done. Our day ends with prayers and reading a book together.
My favorite quote is...
My favorite quote is Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know well the plans I have in mind for you—oracle of the LORD—plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope.”
I feel most inspired when…
I feel most inspired when I see my husband working and loving each and every day. He’s always inspired me to be my best self just from who he is. He truly brings out the best in me and encourages me to pursue my dreams.
The Catholic Church is…
The Catholic Church is my home, it’s where I have come to know Jesus and continue to learn and grow in my faith.