Seven years ago I spent a weekend alone with God, and I’ve never been the same.
At the time, I felt as though I were drowning. My addiction to pornography had been ruling my life for nearly fifteen years. While there had been glimmers of light and hope at various times, I always found myself back in the prison of my choices, bound up in shame and guilt. The cycle always seemed to be pulling me downward, relentless in its desire to consume me.
Ready to give up, to stop fighting, I used the last of my strength to throw my hands out in hopes of finding something to cling to that might keep me from drowning. I thought maybe getting away from everything would help. I found a couple who rented part of their farmhouse out as a retreat center. I went with no plan, no expectations, but with the hope that God might be willing to meet with me.
I spent hours in worship. Alone in a room with God, I didn’t have to worry about what others might think of me. Sometimes I sang. Sometimes I just listened. I stood, knelt, and lay face down. I wept, laughed, and even danced. I experienced God’s presence and love in a new way. He showed me he was not only willing but desperately wanted to meet with me.
As I explored the house on the first day, I found the DVDs from a Beth Moore Bible study called Believing God. In between my worship sessions, I listened to each of the talks, hearing Beth speak about the Israelites standing at the edge of the promised land. They had to make a choice to either believe God and walk into it or not believe him and continue living in the desert. I felt as though I were facing the same choice.
In one of the talks, Beth focuses on the idea of believing our sins are forgiven—not just the “little” sins, but also the big, recurring sins that wrap us in chains and never seem to let us go. She said until we believed we really were forgiven, the chains would never be broken. She shared her own experience of finding freedom one day at a time. At the beginning of the day, she’d ask for grace for the next twenty-four hours. At the end of the day, she’d thank God for bringing her through it.
Suddenly I knew what choice I needed to make. Would I believe I was already forgiven of fifteen years of sin? Would I believe the chains were broken, the prison door was open, and I was free to go? Would I believe my identity was no longer defined by my choices but by God’s love and grace?
Seven years ago I made a choice to believe God, and I’ve never been the same. I went home from that weekend and started living in freedom one day at a time. I woke up every morning asking for the grace to live free the whole day. Before I went to bed each night, I circled the date on my calendar and thanked God for another day of freedom. Days became weeks became months became a year.
Here I sit, seven years later, still in awe of what God has done. In the Bible, the number seven is associated with perfection or completion. I wish I could say I have achieved perfection, but I have not. Some days I’ve had to ask forgiveness for the choices I’ve made. Thankfully, God is perfect when I am not, and he is always faithful to forgive. Just as I did seven years ago, I choose to take him at his word and believe I am forgiven. It’s the only way to break the chains and live in freedom.
Katie Mumper is a daughter, sister, friend, writer, and singer. She loves Jesus, music, books, and great TV shows. Because she’s far from perfect, she is grateful for God’s grace in her life. She writes with the hope that others might be encouraged to let God make them new as well. You can read more of her work at beautyrestored.me.
Photograph © Timothy Paul Smith, used with permission