By Jennifer M.
I am 18 years old, with an independent nature and sometimes shy persona. I grew up all my life in the church. When the newly formed contemporary worship team invited me to play the drums, I finally found my place in the church. Life was pretty good, but I felt empty.
Later in high school, the emptiness grew and my curiosity grew to find something, anything to satisfy me. First I turned to petty things, like stealing cigarettes from my abusive uncle. But that wasn't strong enough to distract me from life and fill that emptiness. I wouldn't give up that easily. I'm Jennifer, as strong as steel and I will get what I want. As a computer geek, I could access a lot of things that the average person would have no clue about how to do. I found what I wanted, and I got what I wanted. Pornography.
Before you knew it, I was addicted. This disease was not a replacement for sex in my life... in fact, I was a virgin and still am. It was simply something to fill up the emptiness I felt in my life. When I was sad, when I had a bad day, I could simply go into my room, shut the doors, and feel better again. And it was free. It was harmless. No one would know. Every time I turned to the internet, what I lusted after would eventually not be enough. Like drug addicts going after harder and harder drugs, I had to go after harder sources of fulfillment. It never ended until God stepped in.
I don't really know when, or why, or how (besides the much-needed intervention of God), but one day I came to the sudden realization about how screwed up my life was. My father used to smoke, and he quit smoking COLD. No patches, no gradual cut down. That's what I knew I had to do. I discovered that God was the only thing that could heal my emptiness. I deleted EVERYTHING off my computer. All the web pages, all the videos, all the passwords, everything that would lead me back down the path that had labeled me a disgusting person. Harmless curiosity so easily turned to addiction.
Soon after, I went on a Christian retreat. I was excited, but I didn't expect the life-changing effect it would have on me. That weekend I rededicated my life to Jesus Christ. This means that I said to God once again: I want to live for you, totally and completely. I want to be a new creation1, transformed by the love you have shown me. I know that I have done many wrong things, and even the righteous things that I do are not worthy of you.2 But I also know that God saved us because of His mercy, not because of things we had done.3 So from that day on, I make a commitment to God saying that what He thinks would be more important than what the world thinks or I think, and that all that I do will be for His glory, things that He wants me to do.
The love that I experienced at the retreat was the thing that won me over. I knew that God loved me... but this much?! I was surrounded by people I didn't know that were serving me left and right, praying for me, giving me advice, and expressing the love they had for me. But why did they love me, complete strangers? The Bible says that "we love because He first loved us."4 They loved me because they felt God's love for them. And now that I feel God's love for me, I want to share it with the world as well! In addition to the love, I experienced worship music in a way I never have before. I grew closer to old Christian friends and made new ones. After that weekend, Jesus was shining in my face and in my actions. Every day I have found reason to praise God... there was no emptiness left in me. No anger. No loneliness. No sadness. No fear. In Psalms 119:62 it says, "At midnight I rise to give you thanks for your righteous laws."
That's how I feel right now. I feel like rising in the middle of the night, just to praise God and worship Him for the change that He's brought in me and my friends. You can never be too young or too old to change because of God. "Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity."5
Today. Today give yourself up to God -- fully and completely. You have nothing to lose, and eternal life to gain. Paul says, "For the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord."6 Take that offer and run. Run to God because you are His and always will be. When the whole world has turned away from you, He will be there, because He is, was, and is to come. And He loves you.
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Footnotes: (1) 2Corinthians 5:17 (2) Isaiah 64:6 (3) Titus 3:4-5 (4) 1John 4:19 (5) 1Timothy 4:12 (6) Romans 6:23