By: Brendon Edwards
Sitting alone in a dark room never creates a great person, and that is true in more ways than one. For a large part of my life, I found that this was the only way I could function. Yet, it was only when I was alone that I felt I could really let go of my own fears, frustrations, and lack of identity. In that place of solitude I found freedom, or so I thought. In a world that constantly seeks to tell us what to do, how to think, and who to be, I found that in the lonely place, I was accepted and spared from the judgmental world I was so desperately trying to hide from. I felt free and no person, no higher power, and no book could tell me otherwise. Just a dark room with a glowing box on the other end…and it was all based on a lie. But the lie looked really, really, good.
I grew up in a small town in the Texas Panhandle, it was the stereotypical kind of place where most city folks cringe with disgust and sincere lack of empathy. But to a good ole country boy, there just really isn’t anything like it at that time in life. In all honesty, I told the Lord at a really young age that I would never live in Dallas because it was too big and there were too many criminals, yet I’ve been here for nearly 12 years. You can’t tell me that Jesus doesn’t have a snarky sense of humor about the things that we say to Him sometimes.
My family was the typical Christian family in small town Texas…you know…Church on Wednesdays and Sundays. But I also was raised in a Christian school also growing up till 8th grade. At home and at church I was the only boy in the “kids section” with two younger sisters and a mom that were always home. My father also was constantly on the road with working in another town about one and a half hours away from our house. In my Christian school, my home, and my church activities, I was more often times than not, one of only a few boys in the room. I was the only boy in my school grade class, I was the only boy at home most hours of the day, and my church was usually filled with girls too. In my lifetime, this created such a dynamic misunderstanding of men and what it took to be a man. In the majority of my life, a father presence was always lacking and in shortage. In my formative years of life, I struggled daily with knowing what it took to be a man. I never questioned my sexuality or had “gender confusion” thoughts but I wanted to know HOW to be a man, yet there were really none who were willing to patiently show me and teach me. I essentially learned how to be a man by being heavily influenced by women and their thoughts about men. Boy, oh boy, what a great way to learn how to be a man of God and lead by example as stated in the Word!
My father, however, taught me the basics: “Don’t get drunk, don’t smoke pot, don’t start a fight if you’re not going to finish it, and don’t have sex before you’re married.” You know…the essentials. So I didn’t. I never drank, I never smoked pot, I never got in a fist fight in my entire life, and I never had sex with anyone before marriage. He was the example I wanted to be, so I did everything I could to live up to those expectations with excellence because I wanted his attention. As he was never home, I wanted that he find value in me in the little time we did have together, but most usually when he got home he was so tired from his day at work that he usually passed out in his favorite recliner to recover from a 12 hour day in a 100 degree metal fabrication shop. There wasn’t much time to get the affirmation needed, so if I could follow all the rules, that would get me what I really desired from him. This too would also confirm how I would follow Christ growing up: If I could do everything right in that of which He asked me to do, then I would also get His attention. Screw up and you lose it. So, by all things sacred and holy, don’t screw things up.
I batted a perfect 1.000 on the “Dad rules.” But there was one area that was never addressed a “Dad rule,” and wouldn’t you know that I would grab onto that with everything I had in me. That “one missed rule” was porn. But in order to understand it a bit more, it is important to first understand the physiology about what sex really does to you to truly understand how powerful it is.
Your brain essentially is based on a “reward system.” You learn traits and habits based upon what brings rewards in the things that you like. When you achieve the process of something you really desire, it “rewards” you with a dump of chemicals in the brain in either Oxytocin and/or Dopamine. These are released when you eat something that you really enjoy, when you ride your favorite rollercoaster, when you hear a song that is near and dear to your heart, because your brain has determined that this is how it will reward you. Now, the dump is not always substantial…initially. But after time, if you keep eating the same foods over and over and over, or riding the same rollercoaster over and over and over, or hearing the same song over and over and over again, you notice that the effect gets a bit bigger each time. However, after a brief season, the effect starts to get smaller. So, the normal process is, “I LIKE THAT FEELING! I WANT MORE!” So, in response to this new-found drive, you eat more food, or you ride faster rollercoasters, or your listen to more songs that remind you of your original favorite.
Sex works exactly the same. This is why God created it! HE LOVES GIVING US THAT INCREDIBLE FEELING! That is why most guys (and girls too…don’t be biased) want more sex after experiencing it for the first time. What really sidetracked my reward system was placing an “auto-sex” function into my reward system called porn. You may say, what do you mean? Well…
Porn never says no.
Porn never is too tired or too upset
Porn is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Porn is always changing, meaning if I get bored with one person, there’s always hundreds of thousands of eligible ladies in line waiting for their opportunity to impress me.
Porn is always happy and is always looking to satisfy.
Porn is always young, skinny, perfectly tanned, beautifully decorated, and fabulously aroused.
No person who will ever walk this earth can operate this way. It is simply not possible. I would never be any combination of any of these functions, much less simply just one of them. However, this is what porn does to lie to us, and I bought into it hook, line, and sinker simply because of this:
Porn gave me the attention I had always wanted but was never able to fully receive from my father and, due to my lack of understanding, Jesus.
My story started in a dark room. But in His life and light, I have found fullness of joy, a peace that surpasses all understanding, and a freedom from the addictive natures of porn. I pray that wherever you find yourself in this story, you will see and know that He is great enough to love you, forgive you, and save you through it all. You are not alone.