Lacking a male role model was no excuse for selfishness, Rod says
With dad absent and many financial struggles, Roderick Manton shares how he found freedom from his inner hurt and addictions.
"Dad was violent towards our family so my parents split," Rod explains.
"There were many areas of hurt in my heart because I grew up in a single parent home where we really struggled for basic needs. Life was tough, either bills were paid and we had no food or vice versa."
During this time there was one thing that always stood out to Rod, every time the family were in need his mum would gather the family together to pray.
"Every time we prayed to God for our needs, He answered in miraculous ways," he recalls.
Due to his father's absence Rod says he developed "daddy issues", had a low self-esteem and constantly sought attention from women in the wrong ways.
"I had no father figure to teach me how to treat women and to be a man," he says.
"I used to make excuses for the wrong things I did, like my addiction to pornography. I always saw myself as a victim. I lied to myself about it all saying I deserve to be selfish because of my family situation and what we had been through."
Meanwhile he says it was easy to view himself as "a good person" because he went to church. Yet he would judge his friends at footy for the wrong stuff they did rather than taking a closer look at his own life.
Rod's turning point came when his Christian girlfriend, Maddie, broke-up with him on their two-year anniversary.
"She found out that I had been flirting with other girls and lying to her about these things," he explains.
"I lied to her about the fact I was addicted to pornography. She couldn't trust me any more so we broke up and it knocked me right over."
Suddenly the consequences of his wrongs caught up with him and Rod realised that he had been a hypocrite and a liar.
"I cried and I cried, I was at the lowest point I have ever been in my life," he says.
"But God used this to help me see my sin for what it really was. He helped me see that my sin hurts God and other people around me. I saw that I am a liar, greedy, selfish, proud, and arrogant. I had a wrong view on women and sex and the list could go on.
"I was confronted by God, our perfect heavenly Father, who always answered my family's prayers when we were struggling. He never failed me. Whatever excuses I had seemed weak and pitiful."
It was at that point Rod remembers crying out to Jesus for forgiveness and a fresh start at following Him.
"I really saw my need for Jesus to save me, not 'cos I am a good person who has made mistakes, but because at the core of myself I am sinful and it is was separating me from God."
Suddenly God began changing his life, he says, and he felt motivated to connect with Him through prayer, reading the Bible and worshipping Him at church.
"Even though I still sometimes sin, the Holy Spirit reminds me that I am forgiven and it motivates me to want to do what God wants me to do instead of just my own thing," he explains.
"This meant that I had to call people and ask for their forgiveness. I had to forgive my dad for what he did to me and my family. I went through a two-year process of cutting off things in my life that caused me to sin, including certain friends, the computer and television – anything that would stir up temptation in my heart.
"I have also found that if we can't confess our sin to a close friend or our spouse, that sin still holds us captive."
Every time Rod feels tempted to go back to his old ways, he asks himself: "Do I really love and trust that obeying Jesus is the best thing for me? The answer has to be yes! Why? Because Jesus was willing to die for me!"
Ultimately, Rod believes there is freedom in obeying Jesus.
"Even though it might seem like we are missing out on life by denying our selfish desires; it won't matter in 1000 years when we're celebrating in heaven. I know that God loves me because of what He has done in and through His son Jesus Christ."
Back on track with God, Rod later got back together with Maddie and they married in June 2013.
"She has shown me much more love and forgiveness than I deserve," he explains.
"Every day we pray together and read the Bible together, knowing that its Christ's love for us that allows us to love each other in the way He calls us to." •