There were many circumstances that led to my complete and total addiction. There were many that led to my conversion as well. However, God was sovereign over all of it. He orchestrated everything so that He would receive the most glory. So, as I am happy to forget the shame and guilt associated with my past, I am also happy to recall the tremendous work the Lord has done for me. It is why I now share with you the testimony of my bondage to sin and then my miraculous freedom found in Christ alone.
I was raised in a Christian home, having a mother and grandmother who were very active in our church and in my life. I thought I was converted at the age of 5 after a summer VBS session, when the realization of hell scared me so much that I prayed that the Lord would save me. I lived a relatively good and quiet life. I was a very shy girl, but inwardly, I always wanted attention. Then as I approached my teen years, for some reason, men, particularly older men, seemed to be attracted to me. I had family members, family friends, church members…the list truly goes on and on…all make comments to me whenever they had me alone. On top of that, everything I saw in the culture around me, movies, television, magazines…all seemed to tell me that that very attention that made me feel so uncomfortable and dirty at first, was what I wanted and what every woman’s goal should be. Praise God, I was spared from real, serious physical or sexual abuses, but mentally, my brain was being warped!!
Fast forward into my later teens and things were getting worse rapidly. Many circumstances just kept pushing me toward this awful girl that I was becoming. My shyness was partially overcome, at least in the circles where I was comfortable. I was now in a Christian high school and surrounded by “Christians”, but most of us weren’t any better than the world. We didn’t do drugs or drink alcohol. We didn’t even sleep around, like so many teens our age in public school were doing. Outwardly, we were the good girls we claimed to be. However, a large number of the girls had eating disorders and most were completely obsessed with body image. Lunch time was either binging and purging afterward or instead counting your saltines. Even the girls who didn’t seem to have these disorders were still totally into their looks and the attention they could get. Cell phones were not popular yet, praise God, so there at least wasn’t much social media to fuel this all. But, nonetheless, I was turning into a monster!
Shortly after high school, I got married to a man who claimed Christ but didn’t know Him. We were both awful to each other and sin truly abounded! It was a mess from the beginning, and divorce came quickly after.
I will say that through all of this, I thought I knew the Lord. .I mean I prayed and felt convicted of my sinful behavior and desires. However, never enough to change them. I would change for a few days and then go right back to what I knew. Whether His child yet or not, my gracious Father, was always protecting me and showing His hand in circumstances. There were so many times, that my behavior put me in real danger, and yet, I was spared! Thank you Lord!!
So that is my background. The highlights, or rather, lowlights of my early years. I am not sure exactly when it really started for me, the addiction to attention from others that is. However, I can remember during those teen years, looking in the mirror and practicing mannerisms, things to say, how to dress, etc. all to get the attention that I thought I needed. It truly had turned into an addiction for me. I thrived on attention from others, mainly males. I would get high off of it. My mind was consumed with opportunities to get attention. Something as small as a trip to the grocery store could be used to feed my addiction; but what I really loved were parties, weddings, and other gatherings where I knew I would be expected to dress up and show off. It was at those events I could get a great deal of attention and no one would pay much consideration to the lengths I went to get it because everyone would be “at their best” so to speak. What made this even worse was that I still really thought I was converted and had even known well the scriptures about a woman’s true beauty being her fear for the Lord (Proverbs 31:30) and her adornments being that of a meek and quiet spirit (1 Peter 3:4). My tenth grade bible class was wholly devoted to what Proverbs says to women! These truths did not make sense to me though. In the world around me, women were beautiful if their outward appearance caused men to lust after them and caused women to be jealous of them. Even the women I admired, sometimes in the church, seemed to dress provocatively and enjoy attention. So those were ALWAYS my goals…I mean always!!…sad, but true. I was on cloud nine when I achieved these goals and miserable when I felt I had not. These culturally acceptable and media promoted objectives became all I ever thought about. I lived for the next opportunity to show myself and get praise and attention. As I look back, I truly was a monster, plain and simple! I hurt family members and friends, did many shameful things, and never felt bad enough about it to stop…on my own that is. For years, I lived this way. Even after I married the love of my life, I could not stop the addiction. I knew my husband loved me, and I loved him; but my need for attention from everyone around me just would not go away. I tried many times on my own to change, but instead I just got better and better at keeping my addiction hidden. I mean I knew it was wrong to be immodest, materialistic, and vain; but I couldn’t achieve what I wanted without those sins. They were my tools to succeed in my goals. I was indeed a slave to sin!
For various reasons, my husband and I both started reading the scriptures. Circumstances, better known as God’s providence, had caused us to really feel the need to study and decide why we believed what we believed. We were no longer satisfied with our surface knowledge of the Bible. God used this to bring my husband closer to Himself and to truly convert me…Praise the Lord! Although I cannot give a specific date or time for this conversion, I can remember that a little while after I had started reading God’s Word and also attending a great church regularly, I noticed a major change. I was unloading the dishwasher and singing hymns when it hit me; I could not remember the last time I had thought of trying to get attention or even felt any need for it at all. Instead of my thoughts being consumed with all that sin, I was singing hymns, meditating on scripture, and thinking about ways to serve the Lord. I was now focused on being conformed to the image of Christ and attaining beauty through the fear of the Lord and a meek and quiet spirit. The sins that I could not give up, my total addiction to attention, were all gone. I hadn’t even tried, God just took it all away. I was no longer a slave to sin, but a bondservant of the Lord Jesus Christ!!! Hallelujah!!
I know that God does not always save His children from their addictions and sins this way, but in my case, He truly did. And so, to God be all glory, honor, and praise! I am not saying that I never have a down day where my looks or weight bum me out. I am not saying that there are not times where a comment may give my ego a prideful boost that I have to check. But I am saying that the addiction is gone! No longer do I live for attention, but through His grace, I instead live for Christ!
Now I could end there, and that would be enough, but I feel so burdened for young girls when I recount my youth. So many are growing up with a story just like my own or worse. They are even more so bombarded today. Everything they see in the world is pushing them to mature physically and mentally, far sooner than they can or should. It is so confusing, as a young girl, hearing one thing preached from the Word, but then seeing something totally different lived out in the world around you, including in those that claim Christ. And the social media we have today makes the problem ten times worse. It so much easier to feed the addiction…and make no mistake, this addiction to attention that I experienced and that many girls and women experience, is sin!
Our culture wants a 12 step program to cure our addictions, a pill to fix us, or instead to just say that we are all free to be whatever we want to be! But I am here to say that the only answer to every problem we face, including addiction, is Christ!! So preach Christ! Live out the gospel to all those around you! It was only when I stopped focusing on myself and instead focused on Christ that He freed me from my bondage!
There is indeed wonder working power in the precious blood of the Lamb!!!