My name is Aaron Reynolds. I am a follower of Jesus Christ, a husband, a father, a seminary student, and I am also a recovering porn addict.
The words porn addict are probably the two words that stick out to most people reading that sentence. They are jolting, and shocking to some, given the context of the rest of the sentence. I live in a world where most of the times that I have shared my struggle with pornography, I have been met with anger, rejection, disgust, etc. I have never been verbally told that I should be ashamed and disgusted with myself, but that is what people’s reactions have told me.
Shame. For 13 years of my life, shame has been my identity. Shame has been my shadow. Shame has been my shackles. I tried lifting myself up and breaking my own chains. I tried having others pick me up and break my chains. I was even able to get rid of some other chains along the way. But the chains and bondage of shame remained.
I lived a life saying that I found my identity in Jesus Christ, but I really, secretly, allowed my identity to remain bound to shame. There were some things and interactions that perpetuated this shame. Being in the church, where sexual struggles are often shunned or ignored, I felt like I had no place to turn. There were many times where I felt like even Jesus wouldn’t look at me because I was so dirty and not worthy of his love. I knew it wasn’t true, but the power I had given shame over my life was crushing, suffocating, and debilitating.
Now in my last year of seminary, and on the cusp of entering into a career in the brick-and-mortar church, I am confronting my shame. I have friends who have held me up along the way and who have helped me develop the tools to tackle this shame. I have a wife who always supports, forgives, and loves me regardless of what I have done, and reminds me that I am worth more than I believe I am. And recently, I have finally acquired the courage and wherewithal to take down the most difficult piece of this struggle, the shame.
I am now prepared to give my shame over to God, to lay it down at the feet of Jesus. I am prepared to present myself at the foot of the cross exactly as I am, without any shame, and to accept the love of Jesus that has been waiting for me for 13 long years. His is a love that says, I know your struggles, I know your heart, I know who you are at your very core, and I still love you. I still want you. I want to use you. I want to hold you forever, regardless of what sin is in your life. I want you to give it all over to me, because I can handle it. I already did it. A long time ago, on a wooden cross, I bore your pain, I broke your shame, and I gave it all so that you could be free. Free from addiction and free from the shame that accompanies it.
Today, I take my freedom. I release my shame, and I place myself in the arms of Jesus. I call you all to stand with me. You may not share my struggle, but everyone knows shame. We are calling for no more shame, no more living in the shadows, and no more fear of rejection. We believe that God calls us out of shame in order to experience true healing in His light. Share your story of shame with a friend or a loved one. Release it to God, and let’s stand together to hold each other up and remind each other that there is no shame in Christ Jesus.This new year, celebrate no shame.