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Felt Dirty at Twelve Years Old

Sitting in church wasn’t always fun when I was twelve. The pastor might preach about sin. Someone might give a testimony about a past as an alcoholic but then Jesus set them free. Everyone around me looked so clean. I didn’t feel clean at all.

I was probably one of the few kids that actually read the Bible at home. I prayed every day. I had gotten saved and baptized at age nine. But none of it helped. No one knew it, but I was already beyond hope.

I didn’t know why I did it. Why I kept going over to that teenager’s house. The one who showed me pictures of naked ladies and talked about sex all the time. The one who always asked me to take my clothes off and do embarrassing things with him. But I kept going back.

Then it was Sunday again, and I had to sit, surrounded by clean people, while God and the pastor pointed to my dirtiness.

So I prayed more. I came to church every time it was open. I joined the choir and volunteered to help clean the church. None of it worked though. My behavior escalated into multiple sexual encounters before I finished seventh grade. I developed a pornography collection larger than any kid I knew, and masturbated virtually any time I was alone. I came to believe I was beyond hope, though I never stopped presenting myself as the model of Christian youth.

I was in my early thirties before I had the courage to get help. I found a counselor who was not shocked at my behavior. I discovered a support group full of men who had once been just as trapped as me. Through both, I was finally getting some answers as to “why.” I learned new things to do that made it easier to say no to my old behavior. It was the first time in my memory that I felt a tiny spark of hope for myself.

I remember the first religious event I felt clean in. I was at a huge men’s convention and the speaker started talking about purity. That’s when it hit me; this was the first sermon on lust I had heard where I had nothing to feel ashamed of. I had just completed a year of “clean” behavior, and even my mind was clean. I felt reborn.

Sitting in church now is very different. I feel God smile on me. I feel gratitude. I feel hope.


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