[Guest post by Hudson Byblow]
I was only 9 years old when I became fixated on pornography. I felt shame for having little self-control and because I was using people. I often wondered what the heck was wrong with me for wanting to look at certain things I never initially sought out to look at (oftentimes things I never imagined that I would ever look at). That shame drove me to isolation so that people wouldn’t come to know my darkest secrets.
By this young age, my sexual palate was already transforming on account of my exposure and experience, an appetite formation concept in Dr. Monica Breaux’s Wholly Men program. That transformation continued over time in ways I did not expect. When, as an adult, I began to learn about the impact of exposure and experience and my expectations, I was finally able to begin to let go of the shame that weighed on me. This helped to restore hope and to begin the journey of the restoration of man.
My journey to restoration began with encountering a number of very holy men. I wanted the peace and joy they emanated. They helped me understand the love, mercy, and justice of Christ. They also helped me realize I had to not only rely on God’s grace, but also had to cooperate with it. And this also meant taking responsibility for my own formation going forward.
From Spiritual to Physiological
Along this journey, I came to learn how my decisions actually transformed my brain. With each glance at internet pornography, for example, new clusters of brain cells would come to be, and would drip a neurochemical trail to increase the desire to re-experience that high. This helped me see pornography not as not just “something people do” but rather something that forms people. And I knew that I had to become “un-formed” of that.
That “un-forming” came through the desire for something better and also from being terrified enough of the consequences of continuing on as I was. It was aided by these holy men who drew me past the white-knuckled “No!” of behavior management and into the joyful “Yes!” of pursuing holiness and virtue. Contemplatively praying the Holy Rosary helped, but my prayer life actually started with prayers small enough to get in between the machine-gun bullets that Satan would try to shoot at me in times of weakness. Jesus. Jesus. Jesus.
More than Chastity
While chastity was a good focus, God brought people into my life to point me to something bigger; namely, the virtue of temperance. This is because the virtue of chastity arises out of the virtue of temperance and thus, unchastity arises out of intemperance. Learning how chastity can be strengthened by temperance was a joyful realization because it meant that I could improve my strength in chastity via good decisions in every other area of my life. It helped me shift my focus from having chastity as a primary objective to having temperance as a primary objective, whereby increased chastity could result as a fruit.
God, the Author of Hope
What has also helped is that God has shown His mercy to me by blotting out some of the images/memories that used to be so deeply entrenched in my mind. In times when unwanted images, memories, or even desires come to mind/heart, focusing on the crucified Christ (and contemplating his loving sacrifice for us) has been a very effective remedy. What also helped me a lot was remembering that through Jesus I now have freedom, and that freedom is motivated by His love for us.
What About Relationship?
Entering a relationship to “fix” myself or to remove certain temptations could be disastrous. Rather, I ought to focus on continuing to grow in relationship with Christ, who helps me grow in my spiritual fatherhood and who helps me become the man that God has created me to be. In understanding that God has not excluded me from holy vocation (which includes marriage to a woman or the Church), I remain open to His will. Today I realize that He always draws us towards deepening holiness, virtue, and respect for what He has written into the order of creation.
In striving to grow in the fullness of virtue, I live with magnanimous hope that a future spouse may look towards my choice to pursue fidelity to Christ above and beyond the temptations I don’t specifically choose to experience. I have that hope, as do many others. And while it is true that particular temptations (and attachments) may reveal wounds that may yet to be fully healed, I trust she will uphold the pursuit of holiness and virtue to be of greater importance.
I also live with the hope that a future spouse will recognize that while a boy runs from suffering, it’s a man who willfully faces it, brandishing his spiritual weapon, ready for battle. And I am now engaged in that battle, unafraid.
Today I know that serving the Lord must come first and if a relationship should arise as a fruit of that, then all glory be to God. If, however, I remain single, then also, all glory be to God. No matter what happens, all glory be to God, for it is He who restores me to new life as a man. Fear and shame no longer paralyze me and I no longer live in the past, nor do I live as a victim. Rather, I drive forward as a renewed man; a beloved child of God, who is willing to give to the Lord all that he can, in whatever way He calls.
And in the limited time I have left on earth that is the most sensible thing to do. This is because an eternal destination excludes no one, and we know not the hour at which we will be received into it. And while taking in the new-found joy of a life restored in Christ, I still want to be as ready as I can be for when that time comes.
Blessings in Christ +
Hudson’s story can be heard by clicking here.
Hudson Byblow is a Catholic speaker, author, and consultant who lives in the Midwest where he has a career in education. He has presented at National and International conferences in the United States and Canada and also presents to clergy, schools and parishes. Additionally, Hudson serves as a consultant to various Catholic agencies, speakers and educators. His website is www.hudsonbyblow.com and he can be booked by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
For such a time as this have we been given Saint John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. By taking us beyond the alternatives of prudish repression and damaging indulgence, the Theology of the Body opens the path to the redemption of sexuality and the real healing of our wounds. Learn more by watching my short film, The Cry of the Heart. Click below to watch it.