So I’m still sitting here stewing about my birthday. (I know, LET IT GO, PPG!!) Actually, I’ve been examining my heart the last couple of days to find the source of my hurt. The person who forgot my birthday is someone who I have spent a lot of time, attention, and resources on in the last year. And although I’m not asking for a return on my investment, to not even get a simple, “Happy birthday!” text made me feel very used and taken advantage of. It feels like the person doesn’t see me as a person with feelings, but instead as something to be used when needed and ignored when not. In fact, if I think about the “friendship” in its entirety, that’s exactly how I see myself: as an object.
Interestingly enough, I’ve treated lots of people that way through the years. One of the most difficult things to overcome from a porn identity is the objectification of others. Objectification is defined as treating a person as a thing, without regard for their dignity, personality, intelligence, or emotions. While physical or sexual objectification is the most common kind, there are others kinds of objectification that pornography encouraged in me. Here are a few of those object lessons I’m still struggling with:
- Porn encouraged me to have no concern for others’ feelings or experiences. Pornography isn’t about feelings, and it’s not about other people. Pornography is about one person: the viewer and his or her pleasure. Porn teaches selfishness, plain and simple. In a world that was all about me, I didn’t care if I hurt other people with my words or actions, and I was very open about that. I had learned that life was all about me, and I lived exactly like that. I’ve learned over the past few years that selfishness is the exact opposite of what God requires of me. The example of Jesus was a selfless man who always cared about others—their grief, their heartache, their sin, their loss. I have improved in this area, but I still have a long way to go.
- Porn encouraged me to throw people away. When people don’t give you what you want, cut them out of your life! This was a pushy prophet girl essential—get rid of people who aren’t serving your needs. In porn, you find a new partner to satisfy you. In life, you find a new friend or spouse or whatever. Relationships are not important. But this isn’t God’s way. Fortunately, Celebrate Recovery helped me to reconcile with many of those I hurt, and God continues to work in me. But learning to not push people away when they hurt me or disappoint me is the most difficult lesson I’m learning. I’m struggling with it today.
- Porn encouraged me to accept these treatments for myself as well. It wasn’t enough that I felt like I could treat others that way…I also allowed others to treat me this way. I based my worth on what I saw and learned from pornography—I allowed myself to be physically and sexually objectified instead of allowing God’s Word to define me. I allowed others to not care about my feelings. I allowed people to throw me away when they no longer needed me. This is my current struggle. I know I am worth far more than my contributions to a friendship—but I’m worried that I’ve allowed myself to be treated as far less. That is why I am doing some serious soul searching—so that I can learn how to move forward in a positive, godly way instead of making the same mistakes over again.
Our culture sends the message that people can be objectified and dehumanized on every level possible, especially physically and sexually. But there is a God in heaven who wants us to treat each other better. He committed the most selfless act by sending His Son to be an example to us and to redeem us from our sin. In following Christ’s example, we must love others unconditionally, treat others as God’s children, and value ourselves as well. It’s one of the first steps in moving from a porn identity into a God identity!