To My Lifetime Adversary,
I remember the moment I first met you. I don’t remember my exact age; although, I think I was 12. But I do remember where I was. I encountered you at my Dad’s apartment. He wasn’t home at the time. It had only been a few months since Mom and Dad divorced. But here I was, in my Dad’s apartment. This was Dad’s home; the place where I should have felt most protected.
Protected. Sounds ironic now. For six years while we lived in that small town, I endured ridicule and torment from several malicious children, otherwise known as my classmates. Maybe that was just the way kids were (and still are). But where were the grown-ups? Where were the teachers, parents, or responsible adults that were supposed to be there to protect me? Protected? Humph! There was no such thing.
It was those kind of conditions back then that made me ripe for the picking. You knew where to find me and when to begin your plot against me. You knew how vulnerable I was and you approached me in the place where I should have been protected from the likes of you; in my own home. You took advantage of my naiveness and made me pay dearly for it.
The trouble began when I discovered you in the pages of a magazine. It seemed almost thrilling to find you. I opened up the pages of that magazine and like a shiny new object I became enamored by the images I was seeing. My friend, Daniel, was there with me. I recall both of us feeling very confused about what was happening to our bodies as we were aroused. There we were; in an instant we had both lost our innocence. We discovered there were feelings that neither of us could quite explain and, naturally, both of us became very uncomfortable with what was taking place. Not surprisingly, though, you took great pride in that.
Many such encounters ensued throughout my formidable years. Those are the years that a young boy is supposed to learn how to be a man. But where were my mentors? Where were the adults in my life that were supposed to teach me how to grow into manhood? How was I supposed to learn how to treat a young lady? How was I supposed to learn about purity, respect, dignity, and honor? Who was going to teach me about the birds and the bees and how girls are different from boys apart from the obvious? The answer, so it seems, was no one.
But as it happened, because of the void created in my life, you swept in to fill in the gap. You opened up the pages to sexual encounters that could only play on the fantasies of an impressionable young man. When I wanted to know about how to treat a lady, you introduced me to letters where men and women talked about casual sex like it was a normal part of life. I was so intimidated by the stories, I felt like I needed to be able to perform sexually just like these porn stars before I even had my first date.
It seemed like too much pressure to me. The idea of performing sexually was so overwhelming that it created doubt and low self-esteem. I dismissed many opportunities toward normalcy, such as asking a girl out on a date, for fear I wouldn’t know how to engage in a real relationship and embarrass myself. I had already started becoming a slave to my own inhibitions.
There was something else that you exposed me to that has had long, lasting effects. Somewhere between the pages of your glossy photos, you introduced me to the idea of masturbation. I’m not even sure how, where, or why but I wanted to be a “man” so badly that I tried to ejaculate many times. You somehow tricked me into thinking that was part of being mature and all grown up.
In my youth, I was extremely curious…and aroused. You provided an outlet for my frustrations and for dealing with reality. You took me to a place where I forgot where I was and who I was, albeit for short periods of time. And truth be told, I found pleasure in turning the pages and looking at all the pictures of beautiful women. I couldn’t get enough.
My perceived problem as an adolescent was that I couldn’t get enough of you. That was during a time prior to the rise of the World Wide Web and the plethora of pornographic images that would ultimately saturate the internet. After catching a glimpse of you at my father’s apartment, I kept looking for you in other places. It wasn’t all that difficult really. My brother had you hidden under his bed and my brother-in-law had you tucked away in a nightstand at his and my sister’s house. So whenever I wanted to visit you, I knew exactly where to go.
You were shameless and yet you filled my heart with shame. I didn’t want anybody to know this deep, dark secret of how you and I would rendezvous and spend so much time together. The first person to confront me regarding our relationship was my mother. There was more than one occasion when she would discover our secret and become very angry with me. She never liked you and would always demand that you never step foot in her home again.
Unfortunately, those moments didn’t deter me from looking for you in other ways and in other places. There were nights when I went out on my own and couldn’t help but stop at one of those convenience stores that sold you behind their counter. However, I learned that I couldn’t keep you around the house so I would hide you and then force you to leave so I wouldn’t be caught with you…again. But like a vicious circle, before long, I would go out and find you in the dark places all over again. Over and over, I would look for you in the middle of the night and then kick you to the curb when morning came. Now that I think about it, it was much like an adulterous affair.
It wasn’t until I left home after graduation and began making my own decisions (so to speak) that I began to realize how much of a hold you had on me. I started realizing that I spent so many hours at night wasting time with you. My days were filled with thoughts of you as well. I probably didn’t recognize it as such then but I was completely addicted to you. And like most addictions, I couldn’t ever get enough. Despite your overwhelming influence in my life, though, there was still something missing. I wanted more.
I realized at some point that I wanted more than just a fantasy-based love affair. I wanted a real relationship with a real woman; not just various photographic images of women on the pages of a magazine – lifeless, emotionless, and unfeeling. The problem, however, was that you had already warped my mind and had given me a false, worldly view of women, relationships, and sex.
I did everything I could to turn away from your influence. I tried walking away and engaging in normal relationships. My mistake was that I dove headlong into the first relationship that came along and rushed myself into marriage. It crashed and burned. Within a matter of a few short months I was filing for divorce.
It wasn’t long after that that I married again. This time I was married to a beautiful woman for three years before it ended badly. There were several issues that led to that divorce but one significant cause, a familiar one, reared its ugly head once again. Yes, that culprit was you. It may not have seemed at the time that you were largely responsible for the marriage going sour but in hindsight it seems you had more to do with it than I first imagined. Both my wife and I had a perverse and incorrect view of sexual relationships. Because you had essentially given me a warped view of women and relationships, I didn’t really know how to be an honest, sensitive, caring man that put his wife ahead of himself. I was in fact very selfish and self-absorbed that in the end it ruined my marriage.
My second marriage meant a lot to me. But I made a big mess of that relationship because I didn’t know what I was doing. The divorce probably sent me into a tailspin because within only a few short months I was at it again. Using the perverted view of sex that you brainwashed me with, I entered into yet another relationship that was doomed from the beginning. Just as with the first marriage, it ended almost as quickly as it began.
It was through these series of failures that I began to suspect I was doomed to be alone. I began to get depressed and decided I would drop everything and move back to Iowa where I would be closer to family. One would think that as the old adage provides where, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting it to come out different,” that I would have learned a few lessons along the way. But apparently staying away from you wasn’t one of them.
In the next few years, I began to discover how accessible you were on the internet. It was a time when the internet was becoming more commonplace and individuals and families were finding more and more personal computers in the confines of their homes. I bought one and, unfortunately, found my addiction to you become even stronger. I couldn’t wait to get off work so I could spend countless hours with you in the confines of the four walls of my home. You had come to resemble an addiction much like cocaine (so I understand.)
Then out of nowhere Someone else stepped into my life. I didn’t recognize Him at first despite the fact that He approached me several times over the years to get my attention. This time, however, it was different. It began when my second wife called me and told me she had met this special Someone and that He changed her life. Thinking about how I wanted my life to be different too, I decided I was going begin paying more attention to this Someone who had been pursuing me for so many years. That is when I chose to attend church again and attempt to get close to Him.
As I began attending church, I heard an amazing message like no other and afterwards an invitation for which I took notice. I realized firsthand how I was a sinner and I recognized how I had messed up my life. It didn’t escape my attention, by the way, how you were a big part of why my life was so messed up. I knew that my addiction to you was not the way it was supposed to be. So I turned to the One who could help me to overcome your influence.
I can’t point to a specific day but there was a time and season in the year 2000 when this special Someone entered my heart and changed my life forever. That special Someone was Jesus. I was so excited then but almost immediately became very concerned. It broke my heart that I was sinning against God the way I was by having this adulterous affair with you. I was genuinely grieved over this sin and I decided I needed to take drastic action.
Because I realized how you were such a bad influence on me and how you could so easily manipulate me, I needed to change the one thing that easily tempted me and drew me to you. I got rid of my personal computer. That did make a difference and I was able to avoid you for what seemed like years. I put my energy and focus on my true love, the Lord Jesus Christ.
It seemed that my life was coming together. Because of Jesus, my ex-wife (the second one that is) and I were able to reconcile and forgive each other and move beyond how we hurt each other in the past. Eventually, we began to see how God was bringing us back together and ultimately we remarried.
I would like to say that in the rebirth that all our old baggage from our previous marriage didn’t affect us, but I can’t. Sometimes God has other plans and we still had some issues to work through. The unfortunate thing, though, is that you had other plans as well. Instead of fading into the background never to be heard and seen again, you found a way to creep back into my life. You took advantage, once again, of the stress and the emotional roller coaster that my marriage had become.
Maybe it was because I dropped my guard. Maybe I thought I was over you and really wasn’t. But it didn’t take long and you were wreaking havoc in my life once again. But this time, my attitude was different toward you. I really didn’t want anything to do with you but you kept coming at me. I prayed and I prayed to God that He would just throw you out of my life. I’m seeing that it didn’t quite work that way. Over these past several years since being remarried you have caused pain, distrust, and have nearly destroyed my marriage just like before. I can’t understand why I still found myself drawn to you at all. You are despicable and you cause nothing but trouble.
It has taken me a long time to come to the realization that I need to take measures and formulate a strategy to stay away from you. The Scriptures from my Lord Jesus tells me that instead of giving provision to the flesh, which is placing myself in vulnerable situations with you, I should clothe myself with Him. I’m going to have to consistently guard myself against you and fight the good fight of faith every day, from the moment I get up to the moment I lay down. I need to understand that you are an enemy and to begin treating you like one.
There might have been a time when I felt betrayed and thought someone should have protected me from you. While that might have been true, that was many years ago. What I need now is to realize that I need to take responsibility for myself and my own actions. I’m an adult now and I can’t blame others or expect others to solve my problems for me. What I do need, though, is Jesus and not you. I need Jesus to give me His strength so I can say no to you and to my flesh. I no longer want you. I want Jesus.
It’s come time for me to realize the damage that you have done in my life. You never wanted anything for my good but for my destruction. You approached me like a drug dealer dispensing cocaine to a user and your effects on me have been just as deadly. Your end game was seemingly to kill, steal, and destroy. Much like your master, the devil, you’re evil and deceptive. And like most anything that takes one of God’s creations and gets them to look to someone or something else to lord over them is nothing but an idol, a false god. In fact, your attitude toward me reminds me of a song I’ve heard some years ago sung by Rob Thomas called Push. The chorus goes like this:
I wanna push you around, well I will, well I will
I wanna push you down, well I will, well I will
I wanna take you for granted
Yeah, I wanna take you for granted
Yeah, yeah I will
I think it’s come time for me to not be pushed around by you anymore. I want more for my life, my wife, and my marriage. I no longer want to see you secretly behind closed doors anymore and feel ashamed for doing so. I no longer want to sin against the Lord God, my King and my Savior. I choose today to put an end to this adulterous relationship and move forward with my life. As the old saying goes, don’t go away mad, just go away.