This is Dave.

His parents divorced when he was ten, which “significantly rocked [his] world.” His dad left in the midst of Dave’s youth and struggled to be involved in Dave’s life. On top of that, Dave had been exposed to pornography at the age of six by an extended family member.

Despite being raised in a traditional Christian home, Dave struggled with pornography from his younger years through college. It had a grip on his life and there were no socially acceptable resources for him to get help.

After graduating and working as a youth pastor, Dave moved home to work with high-risk youth and he rekindled a friendship with someone he knew before college. They developed a relationship, married, and started a family immediately.

“As life began to happen within the marriage and we began to struggle, I found myself digging deeper into pornography. And then it began to impact my marriage. I became very manipulative and I would manipulate to get what I wanted and became sexually abusive towards my wife.”

In the following years Dave attended counseling and tried seeking various types of help. However, he had a Christian background and knew what to say and do to look like he was changing without actually having to change.

After being together for fifteen years, his wife left.

Living alone for the first time in his life, Dave began a new journey in his relationship with God. He was discovering that God loved him and he didn’t have to earn it.

“God loved me despite all the underlying issues.”

He attended a men’s retreat and opened up to other men for the first time, but they didn’t know what to do or how to help. He had a sense of having to do it all himself.

Dave had no hope. He was ripe for God to work, and God used Ephesians 5:25.

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”

God continued to show Dave He loved him. Through scripture and his friends and family who walked with him, Dave knew he was not alone. Dave’s focus changed in how he saw his marriage. He no longer felt like he had to earn God’s love and he no longer expected his wife to earn his love either. God loved him for who he is, and he could see how God loved his wife in the same way.

After six years of separation, Dave and his wife attended a conference on communication with one of their daughters. The conference turned out to be about communication in marriage. For the first time in years, they went on a date.

As God continues to heal Dave from the wounds pornography left in his life, Dave knows God’s love is not dependent on his actions.

Looking forward, Dave knows God is in control. He can trust that God will be in the midst of his job, his friendships, and his marriage.

“Life has become less about the destination and more about today and what God has in front of me.”