In a world that oftentimes promotes sexual promiscuity, it can feel especially lonely and isolating for Catholic women who struggle to live out the virtue of purity. It comes as no surprise that the devil distorts our desires when we try to live out that virtue. My struggle began in middle school with pornography and masturbation, and later involved wrestling with intrusive lustful thoughts and a difficulty viewing others chastely. Whether you are tempted by this or any other sexual sin, you’re not alone. I don’t know your story exactly, but I share in common the loneliness and shame that many women feel when tempted by sins of impurity.
I was exposed to pornography in middle school and sadly my curiosity led me down a rabbit hole. I felt trapped and didn’t tell anyone for five years. I attended Catholic High School, went to church weekly, and enjoyed participating in youth group and many retreats. But I felt so alone, like I was the only one fighting these demons. While at retreats, men’s talks were full of practical resources on how to combat temptations of impurity but women’s talks didn’t address it, making me feel even more helpless. Eventually, I decided to watch some of the men’s talks on YouTube. I felt so alone in my addiction. What made things worse is what people would say about women who struggled with impurity- that they are “disgusting” and “gross.”
I want to pause right here and say that you are not disgusting, and you are not gross— any voice that tells you otherwise is from the Enemy. You are a beautiful, beloved daughter of God. You were worth dying for. If the God who created the universe says this, why should you believe anything else?
Ironically, it wasn’t until I told someone about my struggle with impurity that I truly started to experience freedom. This was the most vulnerable I had ever been. In the fetal position and bawling, I told my friend of my struggles with purity. She looked at me with such love and acceptance- the way I envision Christ looks at us when we come to him. Then she just sat by me. I’m convinced her presence was God being present to me through her. She encouraged me to open up more about my struggles, and I did.
It wasn’t easy but I began to give my witness to others, I went to confession often, I asked people for prayers and advice, and I started to combat my sin with prayer. It was not easy. Shame had its hold on me for years. However, it is truly by the grace of God that I was able to fight this fight. The devil wants us to internalize our struggles, so I did the opposite. I began sharing my experience with people in hopes that they would help me, and as a result, God worked through these friends, and it became easier. I am forever thankful for these people’s prayers.
Was I perfect in my fight? No. But I didn’t stop and I am much closer to freedom, and I now can better control my temptations. Jesus wants us free, that’s why he redeemed us by the cross. Don’t lose sight of that.
Today, I am no longer trapped by sins of impurity. Although, temptations hasn’t totally disappeared, and Satan will occasionally try to tempt me, the devil has no power if we don’t give it to him. When I feel spiritually attacked, I immediately turn to Mary, Our Mother. I reach out to a support group I lead for women who struggle with purity. It is comforting knowing there are other women carrying this cross and knowing that I am not alone.
You are not alone in this fight either.
I encourage you if you struggle with impurity to tell someone you trust. Laying out your sinfulness to others can be one of the hardest things to do, but from that you will start to experience the freedom only God can give. He wants you to bring this into the light. Telling someone you trust provides accountability and prayerful support when you need it. It can be difficult to find resources just for women, but keep looking, even if you wind up utilizing information intended for men. You can cater them to yourself, which is okay. I have listed some resources below. In the end, your efforts will pay off. You can do this! Put your armor on and keep fighting the good fight. I will be praying for you.