In the midst of my battle with pornography, a sacred hymn let me know that I was loved.
You wouldn’t have recognized me that Sunday in Los Angeles. I was 19. I had tangled, unkempt hair that came down past my shoulders and a bushy beard that hid most of my face. I didn’t smile. My shirt was wrinkled, and I hadn’t showered. If you had seen me that morning, I would have forgiven you for thinking that I wasn’t used to being inside a church building. But I was born and raised in a family active in the Church—I was baptized at eight, served as teacher’s quorum president, graduated from seminary, had pioneer ancestors, check, check, check.
I was 13 when I started down a path that veered away from the gospel principles I had been raised to follow. I was over at a friend’s house when we came across the underwear models in a newspaper insert. It was a brief moment, but it was the start of an addiction that would go on to dictate my future. When I was 17, I was accepted to BYU, but I dropped out after just one year, in part because my addiction to pornography was out of control. I was in a downward spiral and didn’t see a way out.
Eventually, I worked up the courage to confess to my bishop about the problem I was having. He put me on a path to strengthen my faith and break my addiction. Quitting was hard, and I often felt I was alone. For every two steps that I took forward, it felt as if I always took one step back. During this time, I would cry in my room and beg God for the strength to resist temptation. I doubted that I would ever be completely free of my pain.
That Sunday, disheveled and broken, I went to church with my family in California. We sang “Master, the Tempest Is Raging” as the opening hymn in sacrament meeting. As I sang the second verse, “Master, with anguish of spirit / I bow in my grief today,” the Spirit overwhelmed me. Tears welled up in my eyes, making it hard to see the words, and my voice caught with emotion. I was overcome with a burning, constricting feeling in my chest, and I knew God had picked this hymn for me. My Heavenly Father answered my unspoken prayer. He let me know that he loved me, that I was his son, and that he would make me whole.
After a lot of hard work, I successfully overcame my addiction to pornography. Since then, I’ve served an honorable full-time mission, have returned to BYU, and have never been happier. In great part, that happiness is founded upon the faith that was built during that sacrament meeting in Los Angeles, when the Lord of the universe answered the unspoken prayer of a lost boy through the words of a hymn.
Source: LDS Hymnbook
—Jonathan Concidine, Mormon Insights contributor
feature image by marc wieland
Find more insights
Read “The Pornography Problem: Unavoidable, but Not Unconquerable,” a Mormon Insights article by Nicole Day Olson.
Read “My Journey to Overcome Pornography” to find out how pornography can be a stumbling block for women as well as men.
Watch the video series “Men’s Pornography Addiction Recovery Meeting” to discover the twelve steps that a group of men took in their battle to beat pornography.