To stay free from lust on an ongoing basis involves knowing one’s weak spots, or temptation-triggers, and dealing with them appropriately. New coping mechanisms need to be learned if we are to continue living a life free from sexual sin.
Here are a list of common stress points, and suggestions for how to deal with them:
Porn is often used as a way to cope with stress; the momentary pleasure from acting out is seen as a way to calm anxiety and relieve tension. Which, it does…for a few moments. Once the act is over, the stress comes back compounded with the shame and guilt-interest of acting out.
Postive, alternative methods to dealing with stress include vigorous exercise, listening to music, prayer, calling a friend and airing out the issue, reading a book (such as the Bible), or doing something fun.
One caveat – gorging on junk food; i.e. pleasure-eating, is not a healthy way to deal with stress. This is just another false coping mechanism.
Porn is not a shelter from fear. To overcome fear requires facing the thing we are afraid of head-on. This involves wisdom, patience, the ability to step back from a situation and asses it, and faith. I have often found that if I merely stop, back off from a situation, pray, and then give God breathing room to work, that the situation often works itself out without much of my intervention. Sometimes the best thing we can do is pray and wait, which is a faith building exercise. If there are times when we need to confront someone, we do so after we’ve had time to pray and ask for wisdom and courage.
Blowing our stack in rage or pretending there’s no problem and stuffing our anger until it compounds to bitterness are two ways that many deal with anger. Many lust addicts, who run from their emotions, will be prone to the latter. There is a better way. Ephesians 4:26 says we are to “be angry and do not sin.” Ephesians 4:15 tells us how: “Speak the truth in love.” If someone hurts us, the best approach is to step back, pray for wisdom and a calm heart, and do our best to remove emotion from the equation. Then we can proceed by expressing what happened and how it affected us, and seek to work together with the other side to resolve the issue.
There will be times when conflict resolution doesn’t go our way; sometimes we will need to agree to disagree, and let it go. In every case we will need forgive the other side so bitterness doesn’t get a foothold in our heart, whether they apologize or not.
I used to fail miserably and often when it came to porn in hotel rooms. The loneliness would hit me with such force that it would be a matter of minutes before I gave in. There will always be times when we have to be alone. Deadening the noise by turning on the TV is a distraction, but little else. The key is to deal with what’s really going on the in heart, which I have found is often emptiness. If we can learn to fill our heart with the right things, the pull of loneliness loses its intensity.
Ultimately, sexual addiction is about pseudo-connection; trying to connect with the perfect woman so she can give us life. When we’re alone, we can work at connecting with God; which requires learning to be content with silence. This may be hard at first, especially for those who don’t like having to face their emotions, which is what silence forces us to do. But I have discovered that I can come to a place of peace if I quiet my mind, allow the manic thoughts of the rat race to dissipate, and start focusing on God and asking Him to fill me. Sometimes I worship Him; others, I might slowly read a portion of Scripture He might have led me to.
In our iphone crazy world, silence with God has become a lost art. It doesn’t have to be. I have found that alone time with the Lord is many times more fulfilling than wasting time on the computer or watching TV.
In the end, we’re all hungry for connection with God. This is the ultimate way of dealing with any trigger or temptation we may face.
Mike Genung struggled with sexual addiction for 20 years before God set him free in 1999. He is the founder of Blazing Grace, and the author of The Road to Grace; Finding True Freedom from the Bondage of Sexual Addiction, available at www.roadtograce.net