We had just moved away from my hometown, leaving behind my best friend and the classmates I'd known for seven years. We now lived two hours away and I was keeping in touch with my friend, hoping that I would be able to visit her soon.
In this new town, I was scared and lonely. I had been angry that we'd left, and I soon distanced myself from God and my family, even though I'd grown up in the church and my mom was a strong Christian woman by this time.
I started to tell myself that I didn't need any new friends here because I had my best friend. I spent a lot of time online, fueling myself with lies and believing that what I was doing now didn't matter.
I discovered that the internet is a place where sin can thrive and was dragged along with it. I believed I was bisexual (and in love with that friend from my old home).
I masturbated every day, watching porn and actively searching for pornographic images or stories.
My friend from my old town clearly wasn't in love with me because she soon stopped texting, avoiding me when her volleyball team came to my school and blocked me on social media.
When I realized what was happening, I asked her what was wrong, and she didn't reply. I still have no idea. I blamed myself for not telling her that I loved her enough, and believed the lie that there was something wrong with me.
This was when I took a turn for the worst. I was alone and scared.
Masturbating was an escape, it turned my mind away from the stress and loneliness and made me feel good, but the moment it was over, I felt only guilt and anger. I knew it was wrong, but didn't understand why. And I wasn't going to turn to the Bible, because no one wants to be convicted or told they're wrong. But for me, I knew it was wrong.
I knew that my questions about my sexuality weren't good, either.
2019, I was at the Good Friday church service and it hit close to home. Keep in mind I'd been to over a dozen of these, but this one opened my eyes. I don't remember much, but I can tell you that I probably wanted nothing more than to cry.
I prayed to God, begging him to take it away, and I took communion. This was a turning point.
I still struggled with my sin - kind of a lot - but I was growing. I was learning right from wrong and realizing that my social media was full of negativity and views that directly opposed the kind I wanted.
A Bible story that I identify with my time of change is the story of the sinful woman who washed Jesus's feet. It's found in Luke 7:36-50 and I often turn back to it. Something about that story made me feel seen and I think it was the image of that woman just crying and coming to Jesus, vulnerable, that struck me.
Jesus truly has changed my life. I've learned so much and am so grateful every time I remember that Jesus died for me and you.
The days can seem long and full of traps, and it's not my strength that keeps me going, but God's. It's not my strength that is breaking my chains, but God's. It is God's strength that I rely on daily.
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