Love One Another! 11/2008 → True Love Waits - Pure Hearts
I began masturbating in my second year of college. The last time I did it was two months ago. The habit plagued me for six years. Since I firmly believe that I have finally kicked the habit, I would like to share my experience with you, for I am convinced I have found the antidote to this and other addictions. The remedy is not what, but who — and He is God.
Forget about willpower. Forget about things changing after you get married. The only thing that will change is the manner in which you commit the sin, for then you will be using your wife. I understand your discouragement. So many attempts at breaking the habit and still you find yourself mired in sin! But you have to believe you can get out of it. It is not as hard as it might seem. You have to believe, but not in yourself, but rather in God. I must have tried to break the habit at least fifty times. Finally, I came to the realization that I had lost control of this area of my life and that it was not I who was deciding whether or not and when to do it.
That realization alone proved to be no special breakthrough or turning point. My earlier unsuccessful attempts had consisted of little more than going to confession ( a very shallow, superficial one) and receiving Holy Communion. Before I knew it, I was mired in sin again — because of TV, the computer, pornographic magazines, etc. I would “do it” as if I were in a trance.
When I look back on it now, I feel great sorrow. All those wasted days and nights! That was how I repaid God for His love and forgiveness! This hell went on for six long years. My powerlessness and weakness was always before me. Every giving in to my habit left me in a state of lingering sadness and mild depression.
How did I finally conquer the habit? Well, first I went to confession. But this time it was different. Not only did I make a clean breast of my sin, but I also admitted to God that I had a real problem, that I did not know how I could manage, and that I was losing all hope. I could not hold back my tears. That confession, I believe, was the turning point. It was then that God, in the person of the priest, spoke to me. He listened to me in my wretchedness, consoled me, and restored my hope. He took me into His arms again like a small child. The priest was important. I asked him to be my spiritual director.
After that watershed confession, I thought my problems were over. But a few days later, I began watching a movie on TV. Despite the warning “explicit sexual content,” I did not turn off the TV, and before long I was into erotic scenes, and the game was over. Though I felt God prompting me to “turn off the TV and leave the room,” I refused to listen to Him. The temptation to sinful pleasure was stronger than His voice. I fell into sin. In a second I forgot all about the confession I had made just days earlier.
Today, even though I have been chaste for two months, I know perfectly well that if I sat down to watch TV at night, I would succumb in no time. Once again the world and God would go by the board. That is why I have stopped watching TV at night; in fact, for the last two months I have hardly watched it at all. I have no time for it. But I have time for prayer. I begin my day with God. I carry my rosary with me and recite it at the bus stop or on the bus. At three o’clock sharp I say the chaplet of divine mercy. Every evening I try to pray the rosary, although I find it hard to meditate on the mysteries. Still, I make the effort. Why? Because I feel the power of this prayer! Because thanks to this prayer, I know when I have to switch off the TV or leave the room. Thanks to this prayer, the temptations are getting weaker, and I am beginning to walk with God. I now attend activities at the campus chaplaincy, which is something I always used to be afraid of.
It feels great to be free. Of course, I have other problems as well, even more than before; but that is because I notice them now. I still have to be careful and be on my guard in case I fall into sin. I have to watch what I look at and sometimes turn my eyes away. I have to watch what I read and whom I associate with. I know that if I continue to avail myself of the sacraments regularly as I do now, if I pray every day, and go to Holy Mass during the week, then with God’s help I will persevere. I wish everybody this.
Perhaps this letter will help someone. My advice is pray, avail yourself of the holy sacraments, and, if you do not belong to one yet, join a church organization. It helps. It is the antidote to your addiction and daily troubles. Remember God is always with you. All you have to do is invite Him into your heart!