The road to freedom

To hope in oneself is the beginning of pride, which turns out to be a fatal poison of the evil spirit

I would like to share the story of my battle for a chaste heart. There was a time in my life when I was free from masturbation and pornography. Despite the temptations and consequences of those sins, God has led me through every rage and storm.

It all started at an MPH retreat, thanks to which my faith got stronger. I received a lot of valuable advice regarding prayer and coping in times of temptation. I tried to find time each day for prayer, work and rest. I felt free from my addiction, applying these principles in life. I was also greatly involved in in the local community of the Movement of Pure Hearts.

I felt that my vocation was to bring joy into the lives of others by having a pure heart. During that time, I also had a desire to give my life completely to God through the priesthood. Now I am sure that only through everyday Eucharist, prayer and reading of the Holy Scriptures was I able to fulfil my duties and service to the community despite the obstacles and feelings of discouragement. However, I felt that a fight for my soul was taking place every day.

Soon, it was to take place for good. Satan did not like what I was doing and would not give up easily. My vigilance was rather dulled, because I was convinced that I would never return to the morass of my earlier sins. To hope in oneself is the beginning of pride, which turns out to be a fatal poison of the evil spirit.

Return to sin

“When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it wanders through waterless regions looking for a resting place, but not finding any, it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ When it comes, it finds it swept and put in order. Then it goes and brings seven other spiritsmore evil than itself, and they enter and live there; and the last state of that person is worse than the first.” (Luke 11: 24–26).

One day, feelings of discouragement started to assail me, and I began to have doubts if those things that I was doing were not some kind of slight exaggerationand narrow-minded religiosity. And I started to believe it was so and that it was enough to have greater “moderation” in religious practices. After all, I did not have a lot of time; I needed to write my Master’s thesis and to work, and there was still the community. I beganto be afraid and anxious that I wouldn’t be able to manage.

I began to argue with those thoughts, forgetting who could be behind them. I attended Holy Mass the next day without praying the Holy Rosary, which I always try to do each morning. Instead of going to Jesus,I started justifying my spiritual condition using psychological definitions that I found on the Internet.

Perfectionism torments me. It’s what Satan used to turn my heart away from faith so that I would concentrate on myself. I felt exhausted and powerless to move on. That same day, the evil spirit created some kind of confusion in my head, so that I did not even notice that I had plunged into pornography again.

I told myself then: “I fell into sin – unfortunately – and I need to get up and go to confession”. I had no idea that my state was worse than before, that the evil spirit had returned to his house and was surely in no hurry to leave. The battle lasted for a year. During that time, I experienced a lot of falls and repeated confessions, which actually looked like short breaks between the rounds in a boxing match.

Beaten and battered, I was goingto Jesus to have my wounds dressed, and I then would return to the ring again to face evil. I lost faith and resented that God had left me on my own. The evil one could do with me what he wanted, hitting me harder with unimaginable rage and incomparable hatred. Thoughts like: “Where is your God now? Look, what kind of reward you received for all that! You’re completely alone. No confession will help you”… It wasterrible. Prayer became even more difficult and my falls took place more often – sometimes shortly after confession. The addiction became so strong that I felt like an alcoholic or a drug addict. I returnedto reality after many days of feeding myself with pornography, which gave me consolation and relief. Later,I felt enormous pain and despair.

I had a terrible feeling of remorse and depression, as well as the fear that in such a condition I would surely be condemned and would end in hell. I was already at the verybottom and only waiting to be finished off… Such was the slavery and torment that suicidal thoughts started to appear more often. In totalhopelessness, it seemed to me that I had tried almost everything to “prove” to myself and to God my desire to improve. I attend- ed the meetings of Sexaholics Anonymous. I bought a lot of books where I could learn how to free myself from that hellish addiction.

I took part in healing Masses and decided to go on a pilgrimage to Our Lady of Leśniów for this intention. I wondered why this was happening and why nothing was helping me. Was God angry and unwilling to help? That’s what Satan was telling me, but he could not put out the burning wick of hope sustained by Jesus to keep the fire going. There were times when I felt better, and every few days lived in chastity were great achievements and opportunities to take a breather from the battle against the powers of evil. I never knew what could be the root and trigger of my addiction.

All that time, I was tired of writing my thesis on the computer. I did not realise that studies, the computer, pornography and masturbation had become my gods. My constant falls were due to tension and stress connected with school. I sought relaxation in pornography. It was actually during the stressful exam period that I would often go back to my addiction, after many months of living in chastity. The return to freedom sometimes lasted for about two weeks or a month, and later everything was back to normal and “somehow lived”… Now, however, I had been struggling for a year and I simply felt possessed by masturbation and pornography.

What happened later has changed my life and my worldview forever. Jesus was waiting for my step and for decisions of my own free will, in order to act and take me out of the mire. All that time, I only wanted God to heal me from my addiction, but never to take or change anything in my life. My prayer then sounded like this: “may my will and not Yours be done, oh Lord”. God wanted to lead me out of slavery, where the road leads through the wilderness. But I wanted at all costs to avoid the short path.

The road to freedom “If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into hell, where the worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched.” (Mk 9:43–48)

I noticed that after a fall I oftenhad thoughts of getting rid of my computer. I would often come across a passage from the Gospel about cutting off what causes you to sin. Earlier, I tried installing Internet blocks, but I always managed to avoid them. I didn’t know if this was due to my helplessness or powerlessness, or perhaps the promptings of someone who did not want me to be free from it. The studies were most important for me. I could not destroy the computer; I needed it to be able to write my thesis, even though it created a lot of damage in my life. I relied upon the master’s thesis that I was writing for my future. I had low self-esteem and continually wanted to “earn” the love of God and other people. It seemed to me that the studies would determine whether I would become someone and would “mean something” to society. I only realised all this after a long time.

It is amazing how He can put things in order in our lives if we give Him complete control!

The fact of pursuing the studies was connected more with pressure from my family and those around me than with my own will and wishes.

By finishing the studies, I wanted to deserve the love of my family and recognition from others; to have that “document”, like others, in order to have a better life. The day would eventually come when I “sobered up” after another “binge”. It got worse each time, and the pornographic films I watched were “harder” and more destructive… I needed a stronger stimulus to sate the emptiness and hunger for lust, which were becoming greater.

One day, I watched a film in which the main character was addicted to sex and pornography. In the end, he threw his computer in the bin. It wasn’t shown what happened to him later, but we can guess that the worst was over and that he had nothing left to lose. I believe that it was God who used this film so that I might finally see the light. Unfortunately, I did not have the courage and the readiness – but in the end, the day of triumph came. It was the feast of my patron saint: St Joseph. I told Jesus then that I was giving up, that I was powerless and wanted to fulfil His words in the Gospel, to cut off everything that caused me to sin. That meant my studies and the computer, which meant realising my own plans in life and not that of God. Finally, I listened to the words of Jesus, who was trying to tell me “destroy this computer and your work in it that enslaves you”. I took a risk in making such a decision, which seemed rather irrational to others. The last thing I watched on my computer was a short film about the passion of Christ, showing the crucifixion.

I cried watching that scene. It was my sins that nailed Jesus … I took my computer, where my thesis was saved, took a hammer and left the house. It’s hard to describe how purifying and liberating it was to destroy that device, so that it would never be a reason for me to sin. Later I took it to Jasna Góra and gave it as a kind of a votive offering to the Blessed Mother after my confession, which was different from previous confessions. The priest was greatly surprised upon receiving a thoroughly destroyed laptop. Leaving that place, I felt for the first time the great mercy of Jesus, who had freed me from what was enslaving me. I did not have to go back to the ring to get another hit, because it was Christ who had fought the battle for me, by dying on the cross and defeating Satan. I felt loved by God for who I was, and I knew that I didn’t have to prove anything to Him. Quitting the studies was a blessing and help for me, because God has a different plan for my life, though in the eyes of my family it was just a mistake.

“What’s next?” – I asked myself and God. My weekends had been spent watching pornography, on the Internet and playing computer games. It was a fear of loneliness and of everything that had overwhelmed me. But God did not abandon me. He immediately planned the coming free days. It is amazing how He can put things in order in our lives if we give Him complete control. In the beginning, a friend invited me to the seaside, later another friend invited me to her wedding, while on the third weekend the emotional “cripple” that I was met a wonderful girl, whom I “accidentally” met as if sent from heaven. It later turned out that she lived near the shrine which I mentioned earlier – the place where I entrusted my life to Our Lady of Leśniów and sought Her help, including with discerning my vocation.

Although I lived quite far away, Mary obviously wanted me to return to the place of my pilgrimage, but this time not alone. Now it turns out that I and my fiancée will be getting married in that same church next year. We are entrusting ourselves to our Mother, who miraculously brought us together. As you can see, God hears our prayers, though he is not an ATM or a cash machine to fulfil them. In my case, I had to wait a very long time for Him to give me the love that I can only receive with a chaste heart at the most appropriate time in my life.

It is not knowledge or even the best book that can liberate man from addiction – only God. Jesus heals every sick person in a rather unique way. It’s almost two years since that event, and now I can share the fruits of that decision. I see now that if I had completed my studies I might have had a job that would often require me to sit in front of the computer for hours in great stress. Now I have a manual job, where my body is tired in a positive sense, and my tensions are relieved. I don’t sit in front of the computer or the television, which I also got rid of. Thanks to that, I have more time for useful things and for cultivating my passion. Since that experience, there have been some minor slips and falls, but Jesus won’t let go of me anymore. Every time it happens, it teaches me the things that I still have to cut off and entrust to Him. The battle continues, and I must be vigilant in order not to fall into temptation. Avoiding occasions to sin – besides the Holy Eucharist and prayers – is the greatest weapon in our battles with temptations.​

I am convinced how important love is in the life of every man – the greatest among all other virtues, according to St Paul.

Perfectionism torments me. It’s what Satan used to turn my heart away from faith so that I would concentrate on myself

It’s not worth pursuing education, work and money at all costs, because in the end we will lose all of those things and they will not give us real happiness. My fiancée is a wonderful and warm person who is a God-given gift in order for me mature to real love and to purify me from every form of egoism and pride. We talk a lot and spend time together, and now we have to face another battle for chastity – this time in our own relationship.

I have written this testimony to thank Jesus for His great love and mercy. He will never leave us and will always wait for us with open arms, that we may return to Him. Sometimes we experience trials of faith in our lives. I think that God allows in his great mystery a time for “trials of fire”, in order to purify and destroy our false gods.

This is not solely about the problem of unchastity, which is only the tip of the iceberg. The roots run somewhere deeper. They are very often childhood wounds, rejection or a lack of love.

My gods were the studies and the computer, and I believe that what I have been through was necessary for me in the long run. I met Jesus anew – so different from how I had imagined Him before. He must have fought strongly with Satan for me when I was full of resentment towards Him… To my brothers and sisters who are fighting for a pure heart, I am sending you a word of hope. As long as you fight, you are winners for Jesus. Even though you have already lost dozens of battles, remember that the war is ongoingand something much greater is at stake: the salvation of your souls. May no one ever doubt in God’s mercy, because it is open for everyone – even the greatest of sinners. Jesus has placed his faith in you and never gives up on anybody. Cut off whatever causes you to sin, and you will truly be free! Praise be the Lord!