I grew up in a Christian home with two parents and a younger brother. When I was nine I asked Jesus to be my Savior and in those days, I thought God was the best ever!

The public school I attended at the time had a Halloween day parade so I put on my vest that made me look like I was on the safari, took paper towel rolls, scotched taped them together, and made a sign in my best elementary handwriting that read “I am a missionary of the Lord”.

I was bold because people needed to know Jesus loves them!

My father was an officer in the military so we moved just about every other year. Moving around a lot meant that I frequently needed to make new friends.

As the years passed I became more concerned with becoming popular the quickest. I fell easily to peer pressure and just went with the flow.

When I was in the sixth grade we moved to New Mexico. Along with all the changes that are included with a move, my parents made a decision that completely changed my life. They told me I was going to be homeschooled.  At first it was great, I got to study what I wanted and I got involved with a few homeschool groups and YES—I made friends.

The drawback became shorter school days when I was left with a lot time to myself and I had no idea what to do with it. As the old cliché goes, “Idle hands are the devils playthings.”

In that time adolescent insecurities began to set in and I listened to all the lies. I played basketball but I wasn’t much of a baller. I sang in chorus but never could get a solo, and the boy I had a mad crush on wouldn’t even turn his head my way.  I just went through the motions and brooded inside about how boring my life was. I searched for a thrill.

One night I googled, sex.

The images excited me and I felt alive. I would watch a few videos online at night then let the images run through my mind whenever I felt unhappy. It wasn’t long before a few videos became a few hours to achieve the same level of satisfaction.

I was a 12 year old porn addict.

A year and a half later, I began going to youth group and I saw what it meant to be consumed by Jesus. These teens were definitely different.  They didn’t try and outdo each other with their worldly achievements and pointed each other, and me, to Christ.  I was inspired by these peers so I put on an act pretending I was just as close to God as they were. I wished it was genuine but it was all just a façade and I found that leading the double life is a complicated and exhausting.

I attended a youth conference with this group and it was there that God revealed Himself to me, but I wasn’t having it. I was dirty. I couldn’t look at boys without lust and I could turn the most innocent conversation into sex jokes. I masturbated on a regular basis.

I was convinced that God couldn’t remove that wretchedness from me. I mean, even if I stopped didn’t mean I wouldn’t be filled with guilt from then on.

God repeatedly told me that if I asked for forgiveness my life would be clean. I was tired of only pretending I loved God and wanted to be the “third grade Mare” again who really loved Jesus. 

That night I told God that my life was His. I was done with porn.

One of my main fears as I was letting go of this addiction was that I would never be free from the guilt and that the images I had seen would continue to run through my mind. Scientifically, images such as this stay with a person forever, but God showed me just how great His forgiveness is and erased the images from my mind.  My parents found out about my addiction and placed me in counseling.

I don’t remember much from counseling except for one thing.  My counselor asked me to memorize 1 Corinthians 10:13.  It says, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (ESV)

That is the biggest point I want to make when I share my testimony. You will be tempted but it is Christ in you makes you infinity stronger than even the most seductive temptations.

I am still sensitive to sexual images and lust but this verse reminds and convicts me that God has made me stronger than sin.  He will bring me lasting satisfaction. Other things in this world may offer satisfaction but it will only be fleeting and last for a moment, not matter how pleasurable it may seem.  It is only in Christ that true, lasting satisfaction can be found.

Mare Suddarth rides a camel while traveling abroad with Corban’s study abroad program.

Secondly, the verse says, “No temptation has over taken you that is not common to man….” Being female and having porn as a part of my history made me feel like a freak for a number of years.

I was sure that I would be judged as a misfit and people would avoid me and think of me as gross. I was sure that I would be judged as a misfit.  I was afraid that people would avoid me and think of me as a slut.

Pornography is a serious issue for women; it is NO LONGER a male only issue. Pornography websites have recognized the community of female viewers and specially produce videos that they will enjoy. For every 3 porn watchers, 1 is women.

If you are a girl and you are in stuck in porn or masturbation, YOU ARE NOT ALONE! Talk to your nearest Christian friends, chances are at least one of them are struggling along with you. You can begin to hold each other accountable and point one another away from it and towards Christ. The immediate gratification doesn’t last, but God’s love does, and his forgiveness heals.