If you had an abusive childhood, you can probably still hear your father's or mother's words ringing in your mind—"You're worthless. You'll never amount to anything. I wish you were never born. You're nothing but trouble."
Since they were your parents and adults, you figured they must have been right. The constant insults and put-downs became your identity. After all, how could a bad child ever become a good adult?
Then as you got older, you got a job, got married and had kids. But you always felt unable to be successful as an employee, husband or father. Or anything else.
You were fulfilling the words you had constantly heard. In your mind, you really had amounted to nothing. You thought you had become exactly what they said you would become.
These wounds can lead you to self-medicate with anything from drugs to alcohol to even pornography. You can withdraw into your own world and use porn to try and ease the pain. But you've likely realized by now that it doesn't work. The shame builds upon the worthlessness you already felt. You feel worse. You medicate more. The cycle continues.
If you're going to break free, you're going to need to understand your value in Christ. When you can see yourself the way God sees you, then you can experience real freedom from your past.
Claim Your Prophetic Promises
Dr. Ted Roberts is the founder of Pure Desire Ministries and the host of the award-winning Conquer Series, a cinematic small-group study helping men find freedom from pornography. He understands your feelings about your past.
Dr. Ted was raised in a dysfunctional home by an alcoholic mother and seven abusive stepfathers who passed through his childhood. He even recalls one of his stepfathers beating him when young Ted tried to stop him from drowning his mother.
"Trauma is personalized," Dr. Roberts says. "You can't take what causes trauma in one person's life and equate it to another. And you can't compare back and forth."
Dr. Roberts says that to overcome your emotional wounds and the negativity you have experienced, you need to discover your prophetic promises. He offers this process:
1. Think about four times when God encountered you.
These are not times when you heard a good sermon or song or read a good book. Think of times when your brain encountered the presence of God.
You may think that has never happened, but if you really think about it you'll see where God has been faithful to you all your life. You'll be able to remember four times when God has encountered you.
2. Write down what God said to you.
If you start with "God told me to ... ," that's the wrong answer.
According to Dr. Roberts, "God's not interested in your performance. He's interested in who you are. When you understand who you are, your performance will fall in line with who you are.
"He was saying this is who you are. Those moments where you encounter God, He's defining your character. He's defining your destiny."
3. Attach those prophetic promises to Scripture.
"Attach them to an eternal part of God's Word," Dr. Roberts says. "God speaks a word into your soul. ... It's taking the Word of God, which is eternal, but as you begin to study, and you begin to meditate on it, God says, 'That word's for you, son. I'm going to bring that to pass in your life.'"
4. Speak God's word into your situation.
"There has to be positive self-talk," Dr. Roberts says. "The primary battle we have is in our heads. The voice in your head saying, 'You're not going to make it', 'You don't have what it takes', 'You're going to screw up'—that voice is from hell."
When you hear that voice, you need to understand what you're feeling. Then fight back against the enemy.
"When that tightness of the gut, that tightness of breathing, you're starting to feel like you're going to choke, that's when you turn around and take that prophetic message and you shove it down the enemy's throat," Dr. Roberts says.
"When you start doing that on an ongoing basis, you will renew the structure of your mind. It carves new neurological pathways for you. I'm tired of living what my stepfather said was my destiny. I want to live under what my Heavenly Father says my destiny is."
It's Your Future That Matters, Not Your Past
Once you embrace your prophetic promises and use positive self-talk, then you begin to look forward and not behind you. You can start to get past the pain and shame and the bondage of your pornography usage.
Dr. Doug Weiss, a licensed psychologist and executive director of Heart to Heart Counseling Center, explains that many men in sexual sin feel that they don't deserve to be loved by God or their wives. They think, I'm bad. If you really knew me you wouldn't love me.
Dr. Weiss said, "A lot of men believe that because the shame of sexual sin has gotten into their heart and infected it, instead of believing, 'I did bad', they now say, 'I am bad.' When you believe you are bad, you'll push love away, you'll push help away, you won't feel worthy of the blessings of God, and then you'll act like you're worthless."
God is able to take the wounds of your past and give you an exciting future free from the bondage of pornography.
Paul Cole, president of Christian Men's Network, says, "What God gives us as men and women is a dream and a direction. Oh, it's not some sort of vision, 'You can be this.' In who I am as a man, I can become everything I was designed to be, and everything I was destined to be, and everything I desire to be in God. We're not defined by the mistakes we've made. We're defined by the direction we're headed. When a man turns and has a focus in life, and now he has a direction, then that defines who he is rather than his past."
Hope for Your Future
Maybe you have felt worthless or unable to be loved by God because of the negative things you have been told in your life. Perhaps you've turned to viewing pornography as a way to self-medicate your pain from those memories.
The Conquer Series is a dramatic 12-DVD study that is helping over 750,000 men around the world find freedom from pornography. The information is presented in an engaging and challenging format.
There is a study guide and personal journal that you can use every day to dig deeper into the lessons, dive into God's prophetic promises for you and apply them to your life.
Ask your church leaders to get the Conquer Series so all the men of your church can view it together. Or you can join an online small group.