I am a regular PV attendee. I am the girl who smiles as you walk down the hall on Sunday mornings. I volunteer in the children’s ministry, attend a community group, go to the Freedom Ministry, and I am about to go on a mission trip. This is my Jesus story.
As with most, my story begins long before I came to Christ at the age of fourteen. I grew up on a farm, the oldest of five kids, and homeschooled. Pleasant Valley was not the church I grew up in, but I did grow up in a church where salvation in Jesus was preached.
My Dad was my hero, but an often absent hero as he traveled much of my childhood for work. As a kid I was fairly lonely, and I learned to base my self-worth on what others thought of me from a young age. When I was eleven, I was exposed to something that would change my life drastically for the next seven years: pornagraphy.
Yes, I am a girl, and yes, I struggle with porn. By the time I was thirteen it had become a full-blown addiction as I began medicating all of my emotions with porn. I hid it well. Even in a conservative Christian home, I found ways around the internet protection and flat out lied more times than I can remember. The secret haunted me, but I never dreamed of telling anyone. I couldn’t. No one would ever love me if they knew the truth. I was sure that I was the only girl in the whole world who struggled with porn.
At fourteen, I held enormous responsibility due to family circumstances. By the beginning of the school year, our entire family was in survival mode. I was completely drained of motivation.
One day, in a big fight with my Dad, I told him that I was just completely empty inside. That day, God spoke through my Dad and asked me, “Who are you depending on Haley? God never runs out.” That broke me because up to that point I thought I was a Christian. I realized that I wasn’t truly surrendered to Christ, and alone in the loft of our barn, I gave my life to Jesus.
My life began to change after that. I began reading scripture and got baptized. Yet there was still one terrible secret that I held onto. Just because Jesus came into my life didn’t mean my sex addiction went away, and I continued to suffer in captivity alone. Anyone who has been addicted to something knows the cycle well. I would sin, be convicted and ashamed, confess my sin to the Lord, ask forgiveness, and swear never to sin again. Rinse and repeat.
Almost two years later, the Lord began pursuing me time and again with people’s stories and scripture. In desperation I decided I had to tell the truth to a friend of mine, so I wrote a letter and read it to her. The power in being known is extraordinary, and that marked the beginning of my recovery.
The next year was extraordinarily difficult. Our family began attending Pleasant Valley, and I felt lonely as I attempted to plug myself in and begin to build new relationships during a tragic time in my life. I felt as though my self-worth depended on how well I performed during this time. By August, I was entirely frustrated with my attempts to break free of my porn addiction. I was willing to do anything and tell anyone to find some hope.
Enter a lovely lady from Pleasant Valley who God brought to me at exactly the right time. She told me that there was hope, and that I could be free. After she contacted Pastor Jeff Baird and his wife Deb, who run the Freedom Ministry here at Pleasant Valley, I began to attend every Wednesday night. It was in this place of safety and acceptance I learned about recovery and hope.
It has taken time, but through several women’s mentorship, accountability, the Freedom Ministry, counseling, and God’s grace, I can finally say that I am free. In early March of this year, I reached 90 days sober from my addiction, and I do not plan on ever looking back. Jesus has brought me so far in the past few years, and I am so thankful for the community here at Pleasant Valley that walked through the darkness with me.
18 months ago, I would never have guessed that I would share my story like this. I was terrified of what other people would think of me, and this was the deepest, darkest secret I had. Today it is only a part of my Jesus story, and I share it freely both inside and outside the church because I care about what other people think of Him. I could never change myself, but thanks to Jesus this verse is my lifesong.
For at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light. Ephesians 5:8
This spring, I felt led to take my next step and join a mission team going to Ramah, New Mexico over Easter weekend. This Navajo Indian Reservation has no hope, and as someone who knows exactly what that feels like, I am going to share hope with these people. The Lord is still shaping me, and I am slowly learning how to trust him and his timing.