The Journey to Change: Taking Realistic Steps Against Temptation
In my previous article, I emphasized the need to build up a genuine desire to want a change and not just taking information without making good use of it.
Well to be candid, building up a desire is not the ultimate solution to becoming a changed person because the Devil is very ready to make your sins and struggles a status quo that you have to return to no matter what you do.
I’ll be using masturbation as an example. I don’t want to be cliche as most people use sexual sins to illustrate most of these issues but it’s the only way, my message can be accurately comprehended right now.
So…using masturbation as an example. You’ve realized how horrendous it is. You’ve come to realize that it’s not worth it at all since naturally speaking, the pleasure only lasts for a range of two to three minutes, and the hatred you feel towards yourself which could be prolonged for a few more days should not be traded for a few moments of ecstasy and a blissful climax.
You don’t want to be in that situation where you would say, “Oh, I did this again when I couldn’t have.” So in order not to feel that way again, you start making a conscious effort not to find yourself in a tempting situation by building up a desire and eliminating anything that triggers your mind.
So you decide to take the process slowly. For instance, you can make a resolve not to masturbate for a full month. Or maybe if you normally would masturbate five times in a month, you decide to reduce it to once a month or if you already masturbated, you decide that that would be your last time of doing it for that month.
You’re trying to make your change a gradual process. You’re taking it step by step because it’s unrealistic and seemingly unattainable to decide that you won’t masturbate for the rest of the year which is a wise thing to do. Set realistic and easily attainable goals.
So you’re doing well and going for days and weeks without touching yourself. But the temptation comes because it always does. The Devil will surely come to remind you of what you do even when you try not to remind yourself.
The Devil could say stuff like, “You’ve not done it for three weeks now.” To be more realistic and accurate, it could even be you reminding yourself unconsciously because your mind and body are used to the act. It’s crazy how addiction works but that’s the point of it being an addiction.
So now you’re wondering, “Will I ever truly be free? I think about this thing like it’s a routine I will go back to. Only that I’m taking a long break from it. It’s only a matter of time before I do it again.” But since you’ve fairly succeeded in building up the courage to see the grossness of your act, you remind yourself of how it felt the last time you did it.
The fact that it didn’t last. The fact that you felt so terrible when you prayed to God for forgiveness. You don’t want to relive that moment and go through that same cycle but at the same time, the pleasure you derive at that very moment, that moment where all reasoning and awareness is lost and the effort towards reaching a satisfying climax are all that your energy is focused on is what replays in your mind.
Just like the last time you did it. You remember how satisfying it was even if it was very ephemeral and even if you felt regret afterward. At that moment, there’s an urge for you to risk it all. And there’s no way these thoughts wouldn’t do unmentionable things to your body.
So, what do you do in times like this when your heart and mind are in a chaotic state?
First, trust yourself. You went for an entire month without masturbating, and you have what it takes not to do it. You have already been able to establish the fact that you’re not supposed to be doing this and through your journey of staying clean before God, you knew what you had to do to stay holy.
When I was dealing with my struggles, I read my declaration out loud almost every day (read my previous article for the declaration) and I realized that this thing worked for me. I was able to stay clean before God so when those worries crept in again, wondering if I would go back to the same routine, I thought of writing another declaration.
Part of trusting yourself is constantly taking intentional and deliberate steps. If I didn’t trust myself to a certain extent, the idea of writing another declaration wouldn’t have felt like a helpful solution. I wouldn’t have had faith to trust that step to work out for me.
Part of trusting yourself is genuinely helping yourself to become who you want to be – to become the true identity you envision for yourself. After all, we as humans only put in efforts and strive for what we believe in. So, believe in yourself.
Secondly, you can never overcome thoughts with more thoughts. The heart is a very chaotic place and the worst place to be in most times is your head.
We think our way into several things and into doing these things that we think of. So you can’t remain in your head if the goal is to get out of it. Truthfully, this was my biggest problem. I thought I could think my way out of my temptations. I even affirmed scriptures in my head without saying them out loud. None of that worked.
After reading my declaration habitually, and seeing the ripple effects of it was when I realized the power in spoken words. So naturally, it only seemed like the effective way out to speak my way into a perpetual holy life.
If I could speak my way into hating what I was doing, then I can speak my way into everlasting freedom so when the Devil is wilding and reminds you of that weed you haven’t smoked in five months, or that girl you haven’t slept with in three weeks, the words you have spoken concerning your struggles over time would become that weapon you will need at that moment because you would naturally want to live up to the positive words you have spoken about your situation and you would be reminded of how far you have come without doing those things.
Also, there’s always that need to “just do it” as a reward for staying clean for a long period. Yes, it happens because you are still finding it hard to believe that your change can be everlasting, or at least, you don’t want to believe it can be everlasting.
So it’s like… “Yeah I can stay clean for the majority of the time but I’ll just do it once in a while to commend myself for all the times that I didn’t.”
That’s not the way to go about it, sis! You’re just ruining everything.
If you want to reward yourself, treat yourself to a meal you wouldn’t eat on a normal day. Order something nice. If you’re broke, ask a friend who knows about what you’re going through to buy you something nice. Trust me, there are good, Christian friends who would be more than happy to celebrate you for exercising self-control.
Going back to your sins as a way of rewarding yourself is just like drinking herbal tea to lose weight. Perhaps it took you a lot of courage and willpower to drink that tea because it was unfortunately very sour but you did it because you want a flat tummy.
Now, what good would you be doing yourself if you eat all of the sugar the world has to produce just because you want to reward yourself for drinking something very bitter? Hello! The aim is to lose weight and nothing comfortable comes with that process. You’re either here or there.
It’s the same thing with pleasing God. It takes a lot of discipline but the good news is, you don’t have to do all the work by yourself. When God sees you doing your part, he does the rest of the work for you and one thing you have to do is believe the work has indeed been done.
Believe that it is realistically possible for you not to touch yourself forever. You didn’t have sex for a month? Bravo! You can remain that way for the months to come. Don’t worry too much about it. Don’t think about the days in those months, how long and slow they are, and how hard it might be for you! God saw you through the previous month like magic so you have what it takes!
Just be intentional about your journey. If the devil comes wilding or you find your thoughts tripping in the wrong direction, don’t dwell at that moment for too long. If you’re able to deal with your state of mind then it can be easier for you to occupy yourself with activities that will help you get your mind off the temptation.
Trust me, you will eventually masturbate when you’re done with occupying yourself because your desire not to masturbate was not intense enough and that’s when the mediocre thoughts come in such as “well I tried to get it off my mind but it was hard.” No bro. That wasn’t the case. You were secretly hoping to do it even while you were occupying yourself with other activities.
Don’t test yourself. Don’t harm yourself with your thoughts and try to do other things to see if you will be able to overcome them. No. You will lose. Deal with your state of mind first before you take any preventive action.
Lastly, don’t wait until you get to war before you prepare yourself for it. If you sinned today, begin to think of ways that will help you not to commit that sin again when the next temptation comes. Don’t wait until the temptation comes. Don’t give up on yourself neither should you make lazy moves. Doing that would make you a person with mediocre thoughts who is not invested in freeing themselves from their struggles.
In conclusion, it’s all a process. It’s your walk with God and you just have to be determined. These addictions are sometimes a product of an identity crisis that we battle with, PTSD, or a lack of self-love and esteem. If it requires you to trace your steps back to the very root of the problem, don’t be afraid to go back.
It’s your walk with God. Don’t rush it.
I love it when Christian rap artists talk about their struggles in public because it gives hope to many people that freedom is attainable. In one of Aha Gazelle’s recent replies to a tweet where someone was surprised to know that he drinks and Aha was like, “Yea and smoke weed too. I took a break from that tho. God told me he needed me to stop during this season of my life. I miss it, but I’m obedient.”
Yea and smoke weed. I took a break from that tho. God told me he needed stop during this season of my life. I miss it, but I’m obedient. https://t.co/kqefBtMxtC
— Aha. (@ahagazelle) February 12, 2021
All you need to do is be determined to get out of your mind and start to live in the realness of the declaration you have scribbled over your life and the word of God concerning your struggles. You’d do great.