Beneath his successes was an ongoing internal battle that took him to his lowest point.by Steve Watters, M.A.
Since launching his musical career six years ago, Clay Crosse has emerged as a successful and popular vocalist. Fresh out of the gate, he won a Dove Award (the Grammy of Christian music) for New Artist of the Year. Since that time he has had numerous #1 hits as well as the 1997 Adult Contemporary Song of the Year from CCM (Christian Contemporary Music magazine).
Clay shares now that beneath his successes was an ongoing internal battle that took him to his lowest point before culminating in 1998 on an intensely reflective airplane ride.
Clay Crosse became a Christian at the age of 13 and was active in his church throughout high school and college. He married his high school sweetheart, Renna, at the age of 23, and they now have two daughters. From the outside, it appeared that everything was perfect—a perfect wife, a perfect family, and a perfect career. But looking back, Clay says there was a consistent stain in his life.
Clay remembers first seeing pornography at a friend’s house when he was ten years old. “His folks were at work so we thought ‘why not?’” He recalls how the images from the magazine were burned into his mind forever. Over the next few years, Clay remembers occasions here and there where he again came in contact with pornography. “Even though it wasn’t many times,” he says, “the small amount of exposure was enough to leave lasting images that ultimately became damaging.”
“It began to affect the way I looked at women, and lust began to spill over into my everyday life,” Clay shares. “When I got married, pornography was not a part of my life, but lust was. I remained outwardly faithful to Renna, but my thought life was a problem. I thought that being blessed with a beautiful wife would keep me from slipping back into the ways of my youth.” Eventually, however, Clay began to allow things to creep into his life.
“I’m not even talking about pornography, necessarily, just normal TV shows, movies, magazine articles, music and comedians. A lot of these just pushed the limits of decency. Their standards were low. I should have filtered them out, but I began to relax my own standards and enjoy them. Pretty soon my thought life was wandering. I began to remember those images of porn that I’d seen over the years and desired to see them again.”
In 1998, after eight years of marriage, he realized he had a problem. Flying home from a concert in Seattle, Washington, Clay was overcome with conviction about his life. “Looking down from that plane at that moment, I was in complete misery and regret. I realized I was at my lowest point. I saw myself for what I was—a man crumbling in the hold of lust,” Clay shares.
The days and months that followed were hard. Clay knew he needed to open up to his wife. “Many times in life, something is necessary and appropriate but incredibly difficult,” he says, “it’s the right thing, it’s God’s will--but that doesn’t make the process any easier.” Clay sat down with Renna and confessed everything to her. “I knew that if I didn’t ask God to turn my life around I could have committed adultery and destroyed my marriage.” As difficult as it was to open up to his wife, Clay wants other men to know that tremendous things came from his confessional and reversal of behavior. “A renewed trust came out of this.”
Clay is now committed more than ever to filtering the media around him: filtering out inappropriate television shows, magazines and Internet sites. Recently, Clay developed a relationship with Integrity Online, one of the leading services in the emerging market of companies that filter Internet service before it enters the home.
Clay shares that he feels a new peace in his relationship with God. “Through this experience, I completely and wholeheartedly rededicated my life to Christ,” he says. “I have a real joy now and a peace that I didn’t have before. I am really at a broken place, and that’s a good thing. I feel like God has made me a little more lowly, but I feel His power in my life like I never have before.”
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