2017-02_LT-LentWorkouts

My Relationships/Pornography/Sex and Chastity

Training Season: Lent Workouts to Overcome Porn Addiction

“ALRIGHT BOYS GET GOING!”

That was what I remember hearing one of my coaches scream at me at 7:30am for football summer workouts. The morning air was fresh and the sunrays pierced through the trees onto our faces… we just finished stretching and had to head over to the weight room.

One of the things that was sometimes most dreaded by friends of mine and I in high school was getting up BEYOND early for football summer workouts. Did we want to play the sport? Yes. Did we want to put in the work? Yes, but sometimes it felt like it was just so hard. Although I desperately wanted to get stronger and reach my goals, I had days I felt like I would never reach the point I wanted to be at.

The same feeling was present when trying to overcome my struggle with pornography. I wanted to be a better son of God, and I felt so dirty because of this addiction. I was super involved with church and I was on team for every retreat my parish hosted for teens, and I thought I would never get out of this hole I was in.

I was addicted for 5 years, and I started watching at the age of 13. After coming back from a Steubenville conference for the first time, I was determined to defeat that addiction. If there is a will, there is a way. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life, and he definitely paved the way to freedom from this addiction for me.

How did He do this for me? Through the same method that Jesus himself used for spiritual preparation for his ministry on earth: Lent.

“‘For we have not a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sinning’ [Heb 4:15]. By the solemn forty days of Lent the Church unites herself each year to the mystery of Jesus in the desert” (CCC 540).

My Lent Workouts

Since Lent is a time purification for ourselves, I decided to use that time period to defeat my addiction. Porn really got in the way of my ability to love because it made me objectify the relationships I had in my life. I felt so guilty every time I watched porn, especially because it honestly only increased my lustful attractions towards my friends and I wanted to just love them for them, rather than for their bodies.

I wanted freedom and the ability to overcome that addiction so I could love the peers I encountered in high school in a deeper and purer way. After going to several youth conferences that talked about porn and its negative long lasting effects, I knew it needed to go, and I also knew that if I was serious about overcoming this, I need to reach out to someone who could hold me accountable, and I needed to immerse myself in the Sacraments so I could attack this addiction from every angle and not get blindsided. Here’s what I did:

  1. Had an accountability partner with a person I trusted, and I used Covenant Eyes
    *Side note, there is this really dope app called Victory App by LifeTeen that you can use to defeat this addiction! USE IT my friends. Also The Chastity Project, The Porn Effect, and Fight the New Drug are all great websites and tool you can use in this battle to defeat porn.*
  2. Daily Mass for all of Lent
  3. Confession – I needed grace ASAP if I ever fell!

My accountability partner was my youth minister at the time (who also happened to by my godmother) I know… it was an awkward conversation at first. I told her about my addiction and I told her I wanted help. Since Covenant Eyes has the ability to set certain people as your accountability partner, I put my godmother down. She’d get a notification if something pornographic was ever viewed from my phone or computer… being that she is my godmother and it was embarrassing for her to ever find out if I fell, it only pushed me more so to avoid watching porn all together.

Along with accountability, I used the sacrament of the Eucharist to defeat my addiction. I had decided to incorporate Daily Mass during the season of Lent because I thought, “if I consume the Eucharist every day, I would want to keep my own body a holy dwelling place for The Lord, so no porn! After all, I had the God of the Universe dwelling within me…”

And on top of that, the spiritual strength and fulfillment I received from the sacrament was something I can’t even put into words. Yeah, like summer workouts, daily Mass was early. In fact, at 6:30 am! Were there days I did not want to wake up? OH YEAH… a cozy warm bed in the early morning hours felt like a temptation in itself at times. But developing that good habit of getting up early and going to Mass showed me that if I can win the battle of waking up early for Mass, I must have the power to overcome this addiction to porn.

The last big spiritual strengthening exercise I incorporated was Confession. I went to Confession without a doubt once a week, whether I fell into watching porn or not; it allowed for more growth. Now, I don’t know the exact number of times that I fell into watching porn during Lent, but I do know is that there was is a huge drop in the amount of times I fell. I was a heavily addicted porn user that fell often several times a day. During Lent, it really decreased to less than once a week.

Post-Lent Workouts

Did I manage to break free from this altogether immediately after the season of Lent ended? No, it still took me some time after Easter ended to completely eradicate this addiction… but I was making some serious growth in overcoming this sin, and Jesus showed me nothing but a welcoming embrace each time I ran to His loving arms when falling, no matter how guilty and ashamed I felt.

After Lent, I kept going to daily Mass, I kept going to Confession, and I kept using Covenant Eyes. Just like how going to summer workouts helps an athlete build a routine that helps them achieve greatness, following my Lent spiritual “workouts” well after the season ended helped me to build and maintain good habits that helped me grow and improve my relationship with God and the people in my life.

I don’t remember the exact day I won my battle against pornography, but I do know that ever since then I can honestly say I feel liberated. No more chains to that sin. I remember thinking overcoming porn would be too great a battle for myself to win. I remember thinking, “oh man I’m never going to stop this addiction… it is just too strong…” but triumph over this IS POSSIBLE, especially when you invite the Lord into your battle through Eucharistic Adoration, Confession, Mass, and into relationships with people.

Jesus raised the dead to life, healed the blind, and cured the sick. That really happened! YOU CAN WIN THIS WITH HIS HELP. There is more than one way to overcome this, so don’t lose hope my brothers and sisters. If a heavy addict like myself can defeat it, so can you!

“No trial has come to you but what is human. God is faithful and will not let you be tried beyond your strength; but with the trial he will also provide a way out, so that you may be able to bear it.”
-1 Corinthians 10:13

#FightOn #PornKillsLove

About the Author

AJ Santiago

Catholic. College student. Fitness fanatic. Music obsessed. And in love with my Eucharistic God.