My name is Matthew Rial.
I come from the legendary decade called the 80s. I bear some very important symbolic similarities to some of the great things we remember from that decade. Many of the people who grew up around that time, including myself, remember television shows like Transformers and GI Joe very fondly.
Like those TV shows, I have a good reputation among most of my community. I’m known among my friends and family as a kind and generous person with a good heart. Also like the shows, this reputation does not accurately reflect the truth about me.
Those TV shows don’t live up to our fond memories and I don’t live up to my good reputation.
I don’t live a double life. I do have those qualities. They simply don’t tell the whole story.
The Rest of the Story
Everyone in my community knows that I love Jesus and that I love my church. Few of them know that I dealt with a porn addiction for 10 years of my life. Even though I’ve found COMPLETE FREEDOM from that addiction, I kept this fact hidden from almost everyone I knew until now.
People also know that I lost my father to cancer in 2005 and I slowly lost my mother to Alzheimer’s in 2011. Few of them know that I struggled with depression for almost everyday of those six years and I continue to deal with some of the wounds that I received from those losses. For years, this combination of depression and pornography formed a dynamic duo from Hell, literally.
It took a good deal of prodding and encouragement to open up about these problems. I didn’t want to talk about them because I was ashamed of them. I also knew that these problems pointed to the central problem in my life.
I struggle with loneliness and bringing that fact to the light scared me more than talking about porn or depression.
We all come into this world with a hole in our hearts because we miss the personal relationship with God that our hearts were made for. Every loss, rejection, or emotional wound we experience in life only makes the hole in our hearts larger. For me, the loss of my parents widened the hole in my heart substantially.
The size of the hole made me feel that there was little hope of filling it. I thought it was best to ignore the gaping hole and turn to the pleasures of this world. I pursued success, drove fast cars, and played an incredible amount of video games.
All the while, I felt the ache and pain of the hole in my heart. I assumed that my loneliness and depression were just apart of my cross to bear. Sometimes this ache was too much to bear.
During those times, I turned to porn in order to distract myself from the pain and feel like I had some control over my life.
The loss of my parents and the hole in my heart made me feel like a victim and a slave to my circumstances. At times, I would do anything to escape this feeling of powerlessness. Pornography gave me a false sense of control and I treasured it.
I knew that what I was doing was wrong. I acknowledged that I was sinning against God. I just wanted anything to make the ache of loneliness feel a little lighter.
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God Caught Me
Of course my addiction to porn only made my life spin more out of control because a part of my heart was now under the control of my addiction. My addiction and my guilt caused me to experience dramatic swings in mood. My life spun faster and faster out of control until God reached in and took control.
Love, you’ve captured me again. Oh God, you steal my heart. – The Digital Age
God worked through some close friends of mine and after lengthy encouragement I found myself in a small group of Christian guys. This group started me down an incredible path of life change. These guys reflected the unconditional love of Christ into my life in a personal way that I didn’t know was possible.
Simply put, they broke through the walls that loneliness, depression, and porn had built up around my heart.
I slowly began to learn that my life didn’t have to revolve around trying to fix the loneliness or distracting myself from it. I discovered that I could make my life revolve around Jesus and his incredible love for me. As I opened up the broken parts of my heart to God, his love took root and life sprang up in places where darkness had reigned.
After I lost my parents, I looked out over the world and saw a wasteland of false promises and pleasures that I knew could never heal the terrible wound that I felt. I thought I had to lower my expectations and try to make the best of a life with the weight of loneliness and depression. Thankfully, I couldn’t have been farther from the truth.
When I experienced Christ’s unconditional love reflected through my community, I started to see the true power of God’s love. I saw that his love and forgiveness were bigger than my porn addiction and my depression. The chains of my slavery started to break
It’s important to understand that these guys were not the first ones to reflect Christ’s love to me. I know many authentic Christians who I know love me. Their love never made it past the walls of my loneliness because I never truly opened up to them about my problems.
The Battle for Freedom
It’s really difficult to know that you’re unconditionally loved until you open up about the dark parts of your life to another believer. Until you lay it all on the table, you won’t be able to shake the doubt that people would reject you if they really knew you. That’s part of the reason that I write and speak so honestly about my struggles.
I now know freedom from porn and I’ve gained more ground in my fight against loneliness than I thought was possible. One of the keys to my freedom comes from openly talking about my problems and what causes them. The more I bring them into the light, the less I feel their grip on me.
Christ is available to everybody who turns to him and everyone who calls on his name can experience the freedom he offers. The only unique parts of my story are the details. We all carry wounds and we all search for temporary fixes to these problems.
God cares about the wounds in our hearts. He desperately wants to heal them. We just have to open our hearts to him.
With this blog, I hope to talk about how I’ve dealt with the wounds in my heart and experienced Christ’s incredible healing of those wounds. The healing from wounds and freedom from pornography that I’ve found in Christ are truly priceless. I hope a part of my story or something that I’ve learned from it can help others find the same freedom and healing.Image Copyright Alex Indigo flickr.com/photos/alexindigo/1606826416 by