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The Freedom in Being Known

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“Fully relying on Christ might be uncomfortable, but it’s so worth it,” said DeAndre Williams. “I felt like I was always trying to do something to earn God’s grace, but God has humbled me in so many ways. He continuously shows me that it’s only because of Him that I am able to do anything.

“I grew up going to church, but it felt like a chore to me, and I don’t think I ever actually understood what having faith in Christ meant. When I was 15, I asked Jesus to be my Lord and Savior, because I believed Jesus died for my sins. But there wasn’t any difference in my life or actions.

“I was exposed to pornography at a very young age. Growing up, I was convinced that looking at porn was normal but should be kept secret. I thought everyone did it, but no one talked about it. It quickly became an addiction.

“I carried my porn addiction with me to college, and at the same time I started an unhealthy relationship with alcohol. I always had this tug in my heart that I was professing to be a Christian but had sins in my life that I kept secret. I kept thinking, ‘I don’t want to do this, but I don’t know how to stop.’

“In the midst of this, a friend invited me to a Bible study. The speaker preached from Philippians 4:6-7 about not being anxious—that God cares about us, and whatever we’re going through, we can take it to Him. That changed my perspective. So, I started praying about my struggles and anxieties, and that’s when I really started to experience a dependence on Christ.

“After college, I met Sarah—who’s now my wife—and she invited me to The Porch, Watermark’s ministry for young adults. The speaker that night talked about his own past struggles with pornography, and I was shocked. I thought, ‘Did he just say that from the stage? He’s the pastor!’ That was my first exposure to authenticity about sin struggles from people in a church. I didn’t think I could ever do that and be open with so many people about my struggles. But it sparked something in my faith.

“I kept attending The Porch and church on Sundays, but I avoided becoming a Member because of the emphasis on biblical community. I didn’t want other people to know my problems. I thought I could do it all on my own.

“As I grew in my faith, I made the decision to get baptized, and that act of obedience cemented my faith. I experienced the new life I read about in the Bible (Romans 6:3-4). I think of baptism as a wedding ring. It is a way to show that I belong to someone, and I’m committed. That night, I was tempted to look at porn, but I felt a strong conviction and resisted. I wasn’t a slave to it anymore! That’s the first time I experienced God’s power over my sin.

“After months of abstaining from pornography and sexual sin, I gave into temptation. I realized I needed to seek additional help and accountability. I decided to check out re:generation, Watermark’s biblical recovery ministry. Unfortunately, I came into it pridefully thinking, ‘These guys are sharing some hard stuff. I don’t need to do all these steps – I’m just here for a small problem.’ But the more I participated, the more I learned about God, His character, and my sin. Re:gen encouraged me to daily abide and connect with God. I learned I couldn’t find freedom from sin on my own. I had to depend on the Lord to help me fight temptation and sin (Hebrews 2:18).

“Sarah and I started attending Watermark’s ministry for seriously dating and engaged couples. In Merge, we were encouraged to become Members and join a community group. I was still hesitant, but when I did join a biblical community with other men, it changed my life. Those guys modeled to me the power of confession, repentance, and being known. There is so much power in letting God and others know where you are in your sin struggles and faith. I fought it for so long, but I learned that authenticity and vulnerability is where healing comes from (James 5:16).

“Even today and in marriage, I can struggle with temptation to sin. The other day, I wrote in my prayer journal, ‘Lord, I have the space, opportunity, and desire to look at porn right now. If I don’t, it’s only because of You (Philippians 4:13).’ It’s been amazing to see God’s work through my struggles and how He’s helped me overcome sin. He’s broken me down to depend on Him in every aspect of my life.

“It’s so much more comforting and freeing to confess and be real than to say everything is fine and hide. I’m a mess but saved by grace (Ephesians 2:8-9). I’m not at a point where I’m finished at all. He’s growing me every day (Philippians 1:6).”