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Do-Over: How God Turned a 30-Year Mess Into a Message

“I was spending my private time online in the chat rooms and meeting these men and inviting them into my bed, into my heart and living this secret life on my own. Yet during the day I was holding down a full-time job and was very responsible.  I came across as someone who really had it all together.”

Joanna grew up believing she was unwanted. Born out of wedlock, she felt she forced her parents into a marriage and a family they wouldn’t have chosen otherwise. “The pregnancy was accidental and I just translated that into meaning that I hadn't been really wanted. It reinforced that message that my presence here was sort of a mistake, that I was an accident.  I really just wanted to be wanted. I wanted to know that someone had wanted me.”

She longed for acceptance and rushed into a marriage when she was 21. But over the years Joanna and her husband grew apart. She noticed he was spending more time on the computer. After 11 years of marriage, she discovered he was involved in a relationship with a woman he met through an online chat room.

“I confronted him at that point and asked him what did she mean to him. And I remember he told me she was his new best friend.  That just devastated me.  I mean, I had been married to him for 11 years and I thought I was his best friend.  He was talking to someone 3,000 miles away who was his new best friend and it was happening under our roof while I was in the next bedroom.  It just killed me.”

Joanna and her husband divorced. Both angry and curious about what had drawn her husband away from her, she created an online account. The chat room conversations were casual at first, but became sexually explicit over time. “It was like being a kid in a candy store, having access to all these men who seemed far more interesting than my first husband had been.  And they were interested in me.  They were interested in what I had to say.”

Joanna became addicted to the attention. “I started to get hungry for that and was really looking forward to feeling like that again, because I had felt so unwanted and tossed away and rejected. I didn't necessarily want to get healthy or get better and recover from the divorce, I really just wanted to feel good all the time.”

The conversations led to in-person meetings and then sexual encounters.  “I was absolutely driven to get those face-to-face meetings because I really believed, at that point in time that my only real value was as a sexual object.”

“I even nicknamed myself, "The Queen of the One Night Stand. I knew deep down inside how empty I was and if someone got too close and got to know me really well, they would see that emptiness.”

For seven years Joanna lived a secret life of promiscuity and online addiction. In 2007, she met a man who was a Christian and began attending church with him. It was then she was faced with a choice.   

“And he eventually told me that he was interested in being with someone who shared his faith.  I certainly wasn't that woman at that time, but I wanted to be.  I wanted to be with him.  I remember that night praying as best I knew how, and having a conversation with God and telling him that I wanted Him to make me into the kind of woman that the gentleman I was dating said he wanted to be with.  You know, I had no idea really what I was asking for.”

The next time she attended church, something was different. “Everything they said seemed to make sense.  It was almost like God was just giving me these insights and revelations just one right after the other. I realized I wanted to do things God's way.  I realized all of a sudden that I was tired of doing things my way.  I wanted to know what the gospel meant.  I wanted to know what it meant to be saved.”

Joanna met with a pastor, who shared the gospel message with her.  “I went home after that meeting and I read through the scriptures that the pastor had given me.I turned around, got on my knees next to my bed and just started to confess, confess a lifestyle of sin, I confessed my addiction.  I confessed all the sexual sin, the years of sleeping around. The tears came and I was sobbing ‘I'm sorry, God.’ God met me there.  God met me in that mess and he lifted that burden and he forgave me.  I remember feeling happy.  I felt giddy almost, and physically lighter like I was just completely unburdened from all of that.”

Joanna surrendered her life to Christ and was delivered from her online addiction and promiscuity.  And while the relationship with the Christian man eventually ended, the acceptance she found in Christ has been there ever since. Today she shares her story through her book Do-Over— a testament to the love that changed her life.  

“I know, without a doubt, I know that God wants me. I know that I was wanted from the beginning of time by Him and that I am loved by Him.  I literally heard, You are a treasure.  And it was only because of the fact that He had created me.   To have value just because I was here, because the God of the universe knit me together because He said I was fearfully and wonderfully made and because He had plans and purposes for my life from the very beginning of time. There are no accidents and there are no mistakes and I am living proof that that's true.”

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