warning: this blog is long, as in 2600+ words. don’t say that you weren’t warned.
Hi. My name is Bobbey and I’m addicted to the internet. By that, I mean in the sense that I cannot be on a computer without being on the internet and I do not ever miss a day online in some form or fashion.
Wow. That wasn’t nearly as hard to say as it used to be.
I’ve always been a computer person and go through phases where I intensely throw myself into whatever my newest fixation is. This current battle, if you will, started a few months ago sometime over the summer. While reading a Harry Potter fanfic, I was introduced to the Cullen family. I didn’t realize until I had completed the story and read an author’s note that the family of vampires were from another book series. Curious about this new series that had all the HP fans in a chatter, I checked out a copy from the local library and was instantly hooked. It only went downhill from there.
Sometime around the end of summer, I don’t remember exactly, I knew I was way to heavily involved in the Twilight world. We were studying the End Times and our pastor commented on Ephesians 5:27 (…and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.) A friend requested clarification – it’s impossible for us to be perfect, therefore how can we be without blemish and know that we will see Heaven? I don’t want to say that he explained it as different levels of sin, but that’s the only thing I can think of that would make sense without hearing the actual sermon. Basically he said something to the effect that God knows what is in our heart. Was the sin a true slip up and not something bound to happen again? Is it something that we’re honestly doing our very best to overcome but we’re just not strong enough on our own? Or is it something that we’re doing, that we’re trying to justify our actions to make it better for ourselves when in reality we know that we’re not really trying. That, he had explained, was the true sin that would hold us back.
At that point, it hit me. More like He hit me really, and very forcefully pointed out that *that* was exactly what I was doing. I had a problem, I was aware of my problem, but I chose to keep my problem and didn’t want to give it up even though I KNEW it was keeping me from my relationship with God.
I stayed at that point for quite a while. I felt like I had at least acknowledged it and that should count for something. I said okay, I had a problem, I was addicted to this book, but it wasn’t all that bad b/c I certainly wasn’t obsessing over it to the degree that other people I’ve come across IRL or online are. For the record, you can justify it any way you like but it doesn’t matter. It’s still a sin, still an addiction, still an idol that’s wrecking havoc in your life.
That brings us to the September/October time frame. I knew that God was calling me out; He was pushing me to step out in my faith and walk with a boldness like I never have before. I started coming under conviction about my computer time and my stories and how they were taking up all my free time. I was neglecting private worship and prayer time, time with my family, not doing chores… Everything was being pushed aside for the sake of imaginary characters. I didn’t like it anymore, I was ready to make some changes in my life. About this same time, Pastor stated preaching special series on Pentacostalism and Heroes of Faith. As all this came up though, I came under attack something fierce. The attacks came from every direction. My workload picked up at the office and left me frazzled and frustrated because I wasn’t used to it. The house started falling apart around us more quickly than normal. Manny and I have both battled increased sinus/respiratory illnesses that left us tired and unsociable and kept us from church. Alex started having problems keeping up in school. Things that I’d normally stay on top of slid to the wayside and I felt like I was letting people down. Even the very limits of lifelong friendships were being tested. I grew more quiet and reserved, knowing that I shouldn’t stress over it b/c God would take care of all of it, but the only way to not stress over it was to not think about it.
A few weeks ago, I decided I was tired of dealing with it all and tried to give up control of my circumstances and my addictions to God. I didn’t succeed, or perhaps I did and then took control back. I don’t know and it probably doesn’t matter. All I knew is that the attacks kept coming and each time they were worse than before.
And then came last week.
Last week, Pastor sent out an email with a few prayer requests – and a warning to parents about the book/movie Twilight. He neither commended nor condemned it, but rather only gave notice to parents that might be unaware of what it was and for us to use our God given parental authority on whether to allow our children to read this.
That email hit me hard. My first response was to actually respond and tell him that its’ much more than just a ‘teenage girl’ thing – that fans span multiple generations and include both sexes – boys like it for the action just as much as girls like it for the love story. At the same time I didn’t want to say anything to him about it b/c that might make people aware of my own interest in it and I didn’t want to go there. I didn’t want to deal with the judgment and condemnation or anything else that might be tossed my way when people found out. But the more I stayed silent, the more convicted I became.
Thursday night I forced myself to go to worship practice. I didn’t feel good – this sinus infection is kicking my bum something good – but I felt like I REALLY REALLY needed to be there and frankly, I was tired of letting the devil win. That was also the day that I cracked and pretty much lost it. I don’t even remember the details, I just know that I couldn’t handle it anymore.
As I prayed in church that night, I felt alone. No, that’s not right. I could see Him, hear Him, sense Him close to me, but He was just a fraction of a hairsbreadth out of my reach no matter how hard I tried, no matter how far I stretched. I was frustrated and I hated it. My friends prayed over me for healing and that helped in a sense to reassure me that I wasn’t alone even when it felt like I was.
Friday came and I went back up to the church to help set up and clean up for weekend activities. Saturday morning came and I was there yet again for a fundraising breakfast. Not a lot of fanfare from either functions, but both left me with a sense of accomplishment I haven’t had in a while. Saturday night was an evening for just Manny and myself to celebrate our 16th anniversary. Nothing fancy, just a relaxing dinner and some leisurely shopping, followed by a quiet evening at home after banishing the boys to the rooms. Again, not a lot of fanfare but a gentle rekindling to remind us of how it all started all those years ago.
And that brings us to the here and now. Today was one of those days that will forever live in my memory as one of those monumental life-altering events on my spiritual journey to follow in God’s footsteps.
I knew we were having a Miracle and Deliverance service this morning. I knew the devil wanted to keep me away from it and I wasn’t going to let it happen. Last night I had insomnia and didn’t go to sleep until 4:00am today, only to wake up at 8:10 but I still made it to church by 8:45. During pre-practice prayer, I prayed again to be freed from the chains that bound me with more honesty and desire than I’ve done in quite some time. The devil tried to strike again – Wendy had grabbed the wrong CD from her car, leaving us to practice acappella while Pastor retrieve the disk before service started. I didn’t know what God had planned, but I knew it had to be something awesome. The devil doesn’t try that hard to block nothing, kwim?
As we sang I just let it all go. I ignored everyone else, did what I felt the Holy Spirit leading me to do, and just tried to give my very all into our worship time. Then we had communion – that was intense, very emotional, for me as well. I don’t remember exactly what Pastor was saying, but it was hitting home.
We sang a few more songs, I joined in and laid hands on some others in prayer, prayed by myself some more, prayed over others some more. The more I prayed, the stronger the struggle became. I KNEW I had to fess up – I had to verbally confess my addiction in order to overcome it, but it was a terrifying thought. The devil kept trying to tell me that I shouldn’t tell, that everyone would laugh at me or judge me, that it wouldn’t even matter b/c it wouldn’t change anything. I continued to pray over others, to put them first before myself, but it became too strong to resist. I could feel the Holy Spirit leading me to admit it. I was already being overcome with tears and every time the devil tried to whisper in my ear I spoke quietly but out loud that I wasn’t afraid – I could do this. By the time I finally stood in front of Pastor, I could barely speak above a whisper, my voice was ragged and hoarse from the combination of illness and emotion. I took a deep breath and told him. I said I had an addiction to the internet and to books that don’t glorify God, and that I needed deliverance from them b/c they’re holding me back from being the bold warrior that I know God is calling me out to be. I also told him that I was so very very tired of fighting this battle. I felt so ashamed and embarrassed, but it was okay. He asked if he could tell the church what I was dealing with – I was already sobbing and could only nod in agreement. I don’t remember what he said, but he said something about not knowing that when he had spoken earlier about people being bold for God that he was talking about me, but that I knew. He said I’d given permission to tell them about my addiction and I felt hand after hand after hand being laid on me as my friends – my family – started praying over me.
Don’t EVER EVER EVER let anyone tell you that demonic possession isn’t real b/c it is. I’ve seen demons being cast out of people, I’ve felt it first hand, and even for something that seems as minor as a spirit of addiction, it’s still REAL and it’s still demonic and it still has to be dealt with the same way. And it’s very very painful. The devil does not give up his hold on us without a very strong fight, and I’d already been the rope in an extended spiritual tug of war. The sudden surge of power from the Holy Spirit as my friends and pastor began to pray over me was all it took for me to literally collapse to the ground screaming. Words will never be able to adequately describe how much physical pain there was at that moment. It felt like I was burning from the inside out, like every part of me was being ripped out piece by piece by piece. If you’ve been through it, you understand what I’m saying. If you haven’t, well, then I pray that you never will. (Ha. I started to say that I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy but that’s not true. I would wish it on anyone and everyone that needs to be set free from any form of a spiritual possession simply because God doesn’t want to see us bound like that. I just wish we could be set free without the pain, but nothing is without its price, right?)
It seemed like just as soon as I’d calm down and be able to take a few breaths of air, I’d feel the pain start anew and start screaming all over again. I can’t say how long I lay there, only that I was exhausted by the time I could finally stand up on my own again. Pastor pointed out that when he shared what was going on with me nobody had gasped or looked shocked – everyone simply came together in prayer. That was nice to hear; kinda a ‘ha’ in the devil’s face.
Once service was over, I asked Zephra the one thing that had been bothering me during the rest of the service – now what do I do? How do I resist a temptation that’s all around me? She reminded me that I cannot do this by myself, but that God is my strength and my shield and I can do it with Him to help me. She said when I’m tempted, walk away. Pick up my bible and read a chapter. She said it’s going to be hard, but I already knew that. Even by that point, what was probably only about 10-15 minutes after my experience, the devil was starting fresh, trying to tell me that I couldn’t do this, I wouldn’t succeed. All the way home I kept praying for wisdom: Lord, just show me how to do this, show me how to stay strong. He revealed to me where I’d gone wrong in the past – I can’t eliminate the temptation, but I can learn to resist it and ultimately to ignore it entirely.
Day 1 has since passed. I haven’t read a fanfic, not a single chapter. I did briefly check a blog but I also unsubscribed myself from it. I changed the wallpaper on my cell as a visual reminder of what I’m fighting for. I haven’t removed links or files or made other changes to my laptop since that would defeat the purpose of learning to ignore it. If that next story, or that newly updated chapter is sitting there staring me in the face every time I log on but I can resist checking it, I can resist the urge to lose myself in a fantasy world every chance I get, then and only then will I be able to feel that I have truly won this battle.
Don’t misunderstand me though. This is just one battle in the war. This marks the 3rd or 4th major stronghold that has been broken within the past year. There’s at least one more – I felt it this morning but it wouldn’t break free like the others did. I don’t know what it is, but it’ll become apparent in time. And right now, I’m okay with that b/c I’ve got my hands full as it is.