I have been in Catholic women support groups and several spiritual direction relationships. I’ve often wondered how common it is for women to actually be 100% transparent about their struggles in these forums–to really focus in on those things that keep us from growing in our relationships with Jesus.
After all, as women we can be quite hard on ourselves. We often don’t allow ourselves to be vulnerable and admit to weaknesses.
Being Open About Our Struggles
In my experience, it seems that the struggles women really try to steer clear from discussing are those that regard sexuality: both emotional and physical chastity. Particularly, how often do you hear women opening up about their struggles with pornography and masturbation? It takes a brave and courageous woman to do this. I know many women who’ve been able to go there. But to be able to open up, something happened to each one of them. Something or someone inspired them to be vulnerable!
Musician Audrey Assad has been that someone for many Catholic and non-Catholic women alike. In her music, and especially in her newly-released album Evergreen, Audrey openly speaks to the journey of faith and belief in God and the many struggles of life, including pornography addiction.
An Interview with Audrey Assad
I reached out to Audrey to learn more about her newest songs. I especially wanted to see how their messages could help women in need of inspiration to move past their struggles with pornography. Her interview is both hopeful and inspiring for anyone seeking to know what their next steps might be.
*My questions are in bold, followed by her answers.
What can someone struggling with pornography learn from your new album?
As a person who had a porn addiction for several years in high school, I can say from experience that I was deeply in chaos at that time in my life. I sought to find a sense of control and feelings of security.
Pornography of course did not fill that void. But I see my struggle as part of that search, along with several other compulsive behaviors that accompanied me at that time in my life. Evergreen, my newest album, teaches about a God that gives you permission to be in chaos. He doesn’t demand that you feel certain of Him in order to be accepted.
As a young person, I was constantly trying to scrub myself clean for God’s approval. My record deals with how I have been set free from a lot of that.
Is there a particular song in Evergreen you would recommend to someone seeking freedom from porn? If so, what inspiration might they receive from the song?
“Deliverer” deals with a lot of the themes I mentioned–dismantling a lot of ideas about God I held closely during the season of my life when pornography had the most hold on my interior life. At that time, I viewed God as mercilessly just, as offended by my every action, and as a demanding, possessive force whom I was constantly disappointing.
Being in touch with just how vast the mercy of God really is has been more help on my road to freedom from addictive behaviors than self-flagellation and diseased views of God could ever be.
What was the driving inspiration to produce Evergreen?
I went through a season of not being able to write any worship music to speak of. The reason was mostly my loss of belief and the surfacing of a whole lot of trauma from my past. Evergreen arose out of a lot of healing and new growth in what had been a pretty arid place for a long time.
What does the title Evergreen refer to?
In some Jewish traditions, it is said that the tree of life in the Garden was a sycamore tree. It’s also the same tree Zacchaeus climbed to see the Lord. The sycamore is an evergreen tree, and I found that notion very healing and inspiring. I like to say the record was my tree to climb to try and see God after a time when I felt I had lost sight of God entirely.
What inspiration can be found in Evergreen in regard to a relationship with God and the importance of relationships and accountability?
None of us is made in a vacuum, nor can we exist in one. In the third song of the record, “Little Things With Great Love”, a picture is painted of how we are mystically able to move through this world in sync with God’s love and desires. Then we can meet the spiritual and temporal needs of those we encounter all along the way.
Little things matter, done with great love—their spiritual significance is undeniable. The more we fill our lives with these little things done for and with others, the more the loneliness that often drives our addictions might be able to be crowded out.
The spiritual life, growth, relationships with God and others are all challenging. I think “Drawn to You” may speak to this. If so, can you explain the inspiration behind the song?
The song is the “closing statement” of the album because its chorus (which I wrote with Matt Maher) is truly the most honest thing I had to say when I made the album. After everything is said and done, no matter how much pain I have endured or how much belief I have lost, I still feel drawn to God. Sometimes that is all we have to go on, and I believe it is immeasurably enough.
Getting Help from God and Others
In conclusion, when asking Audrey if she had anything else to day to our readers she shared:
I know you probably know this, but the spiritual journey sometimes requires more than just praying and reading our Bibles. If you need counseling or therapy to deal with your pain, please get it. It will only aid you in living in greater and greater freedom.
Have you heard Audrey’s new album yet? Has it inspired you to be more vulnerable with God, with yourself, with others?An Interview with Audrey Assad + A Look at Her New Album #BISblog // Click To Tweet
Amanda Zurface is the Catholic Campaign Coordinator for Covenant Eyes. She holds a License and MA in Canon Law and a BA in Catholic Theology and Social Justice. Amanda has served in various roles within the Catholic Church both in the United States and internationally. She is the co-author of Equipped: Smart Catholic Parenting in a Sexualized Cultureand Transformed by Beauty. She resides in Zanesville, Ohio, where she also serves as the Director of Faith Formation at Saint Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church.
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