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I Failed Many Times Before I Succeeded

I Failed Many Times Before I Succeeded
  • YEAR BORN: 1953




My father emigrated to Australia from Germany in 1949. He came looking for work in the mining and power-generation industries and settled in rural Victoria. There he married my mother, and I was born in 1953.

Just a few years later, my mother began studying the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses, so the Bible’s teachings formed part of my earliest memories. However, my father had no tolerance for any religion. He became violent and intimidating, and my mother was terrified of him. She kept studying the Bible in secret and came to love its teachings. While Dad was out, she shared what she learned with my sister and me. She told us about a future paradise earth and how we could be happy if we followed the Bible’s standards of conduct.​—Psalm 37:10, 29; Isaiah 48:17.

At 18 years of age, I felt compelled to leave home because of Dad’s violence. Although I believed what Mum had taught me from the Bible, I did not appreciate its value. So I failed to live by it. I started working as an electrician in the coal mines. When I was 20, I got married. Our first daughter was born three years later, and I reconsidered what was important in my life. I knew that the Bible could help our family, so I started to study the Bible with one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. But my wife was very opposed to the Witnesses. When I attended one of their meetings, she gave me an ultimatum​—stop my Bible study or leave the family. Feeling powerless, I gave in to her demands and cut ties with the Witnesses. I later came to regret my failure to follow through on what I knew to be right.

One day, my workmates introduced me to pornography. It was both fascinating and sickening, and it left me feeling overwhelmed with guilt. Remembering what I had learned from the Bible, I really believed that God would punish me. But as my exposure to lewd images steadily increased, my attitude toward pornography changed. In time, I became addicted to it.

Over the next 20 years, I drifted further and further from the standards that my mother had tried to teach me. My behavior reflected what I was putting into my mind. My speech was vulgar, and I had a filthy sense of humor. I developed a warped view of sex. Although still living with my wife, I was involved with other women. One day I looked into a mirror and thought, ‘I don’t like you.’ My self-respect had been replaced with self-loathing.

My marriage ended, and my life was in tatters. Then, I prayed to Jehovah with all my heart. I resumed my study of the Bible, although there had been a lapse of two decades. By that time my father had died, and my mother had been baptized as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses.


An enormous gulf separated my way of life from the Bible’s lofty standards. But this time I was determined to attain the peace of mind that the Bible promises. I set out to clean up my speech and calm my bad temper. I also decided to give up my immoral lifestyle, stop gambling, stop drinking excessively, and stop stealing from my employer.

My companions at work could not understand why I wanted to make such drastic changes. For three years, they constantly needled me to revert to my old ways. If I suffered any small setback, such as displaying a burst of anger or saying a bad word, they would shout triumphantly: “Aha! The old Joe is back.” How those words hurt me! I often felt like a failure.

My workplace was saturated with pornography, both electronic and printed. My workmates routinely distributed filthy images through their computers, as I had previously. I was trying to escape my addiction, but they seemed determined to trip me up at every step. I turned to the person conducting my Bible study for support and encouragement. He patiently listened as I poured out my heart. Using specific Bible texts, he showed me how to confront my addiction, and he encouraged me to seek Jehovah’s help through persistent prayer.​—Psalm 119:37.

One day I called a meeting with my work crew. When they had assembled, I told them to give two of the men, who were self-confessed alcoholics, a beer. The group howled in protest: “You can’t do that! These men are struggling with an addiction!” I responded: “Yes, and so am I.” From that day onward, those men recognized my struggle against pornography addiction and no longer pressured me to return to my former ways.

In time, and with much help from Jehovah, I conquered my addiction to pornography. In 1999, I was baptized as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, grateful that I had been given a second chance to live a decent, happy life.

I now understand why Jehovah hates the things I had loved for so long. As a loving Father, he wanted to shield me from the damage that pornography causes. How true are the words of Proverbs 3:5, 6! That passage says: “Trust in Jehovah with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding. In all your ways take notice of him, and he will make your paths straight.” The Bible’s standards have been not only a protection but ultimately a guarantee of success.​—Psalm 1:1-3.


In the past, I felt disgusted with myself, but now I have self-respect and inner peace. I live a clean life and feel Jehovah’s forgiveness and support. In 2000, I married Karolin, a beautiful Christian sister who loves Jehovah as much as I do. Our home is a haven of peace. We feel truly privileged to be part of a clean and loving Christian brotherhood that extends around the world.