I grew up in Kirksville, Missouri as a typical preacher’s kid. I had a family that was loving and caring. My father and mother taught me the values of working hard and putting God first. At the age of 18 my family moved to Heartland. I had left our house behind, our church behind, and most of our friends.
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I started my senior year at Heartland Christian Academy, where there were a lot of troubled teens at the time. I saw and heard things I had never been confronted with up to this point in my life. I began to have a curiosity for what the world had to offer me. I had plans to graduate high school and go on to have a career in the military and law enforcement. All of these plans changed drastically half way through my senior year when my mother left home and entered the women’s recovery center at Heartland.
At this point all I wanted to do was run from any feeling or problems that were in my life. Here I was at the brink of becoming a man, and my feet had been pulled out from under me. I did not understand completely what was going on with my parents’ relationship, or why my perfect home was so broken. I left home a week after I graduated high school, moved in with some friends, and began to experience the college party lifestyle. The fact that I had no rules and could live as I wanted seemed exciting. I was the naive cool kid who would try anything for attention.
I had turned my back on God, and I knew it. I was living a lifestyle that was going to send me to hell, but I still chose to do what I wanted. Drugs and alcohol were never my addiction. I was the type of person who needed affirmation. This opened the door for a long lasting addiction to pornography, night clubs, and relationship with women. You see, I had taken the very place that Jesus wanted in my life and filled it with the pleasure of the opposite sex. My thoughts were that when I got married and settled down, I’d put all of the womanizing aside. How untrue and immature that thinking was.
I had met the woman who would eventually be my wife my senior year of high school. Two years after graduation we moved in together; nine months later we were expecting our first child and got married less than a month before our daughter was born. We had our second child 19 months later. I was working two jobs so my wife could stay home with our children. We were both miserable. We knew what God wanted from us, but we did not want to give it to Him.
March of 2008 we moved back the Heartland community. My wife was excited about moving and really wanted to ask God for forgiveness and live a righteous lifestyle. I was not so excited. Not only did I like living for my own selfish pleasures, but I put the blame for my broken family on Heartland. I had a lot of anger and hurt bound up inside my heart.
I had never let go of my addiction to pornography, the lustful thoughts, or the pleasure other women could give me. I tried to play the role of a good husband, but I could never make that happen while I was hiding a life I lived in secret.
In the fall of 2010, my wife and I were expecting our third child. We went to the hospital to have the baby, and eight days later we were coming home from the hospital without our son. He had been born with a heart condition and there was nothing the doctors could do to help. The death of my son hurt me very badly. I wanted to blame God, but I was afraid to.
Over the next several years I attempted to change. I knew the life I was living was not pleasing to God, but I did not understand how strong the chains of sin were. I was traveling a lot at this point as a salesman. It was evident to people around me that I was living a life of sin. One day, Pastor Charlie sat down with my father and I and told me he knew the sin I had been living in the past few years. He offered to help. I didn’t know what this help would look like, but I knew I was sick and tired of all the lies and deceit that had become so normal to my everyday life. Pastor Charlie asked if I would consider going into the Men’s Recovery Center. My thoughts at first were the same ones that ran through my head time and time again: I was not an alcoholic or drug addict, I was not a thief or criminal.
But, at this point, I knew I wanted to change. I had been hurting for so long, and had given excuses for the poor choices I had made. Within half an hour of committing to go into the program, everything I had worked so hard for had disappeared right in front of me. My company phone, my title, even the keys to the buildings that I thought made me somebody. God had me right where He wanted me. It was just me and Him. God began to show me the extent of my sin and how it affected the people around me. He showed me how my sin put Jesus on the cross. My sin became so dirty and disgusting to me. This had been preached to me for years, but for some reason, at this broken juncture in my life, God came in and began to be real to me.
God showed me that He chose me. That had always been a problem for me. Why would God choose me? How did I earn His love? He began to answer these questions. Within days of entering the men’s center, I started sleeping better. The demonic curse that had been given to me generationally had left. It was gone. The healing process had started. I think sometimes kids growing up in the church have a misconception of who and what God is.
I had learned at a young age the right things to say to get what I wanted. I had learned that by acting a certain way, people will think you are somebody better than you really are. By the grace of God, Jesus saved me from this. Jesus saved me from myself. Jesus saved me from a life of hell separated from the goodness of God. Now, I have a wife and family who love me and have joined alongside of me as I follow Christ.
Men do not understand that it is not normal to be addicted to sex. It is not normal to struggle with pornography. I am a living testament that there is freedom through the blood of Jesus who died for our sins on the cross.