One of the things I’m often reminded of about the recovery journey is that it’s anything but static. There’s a constant state of movement and change going on every day for the person who has made the decision to get healthy. For the man or woman who for years has been enslaved to pornography, there’s a massive amount of transformation that must take place in their heart and mind. 

This month, we’ve been talking about the difference between attraction, desire, and lust. At first, these three words may seem completely different from each other. But for someone who’s walking out of addiction and into recovery, the lines between them can quickly become blurred.  All of a sudden natural attraction to the opposite sex can become misconstrued as being lustful. Soon, that person may begin to question whether sexual desires are wrong. 

Are you starting to see how complicated this can get? 

2 Corinthians 10:5 has long been one of my favorite passages of Scripture, especially as a man in recovery. Here is the part of it that sticks out to me in this moment: 

“We capture, like prisoners of war, every thought and insist that it bow in obedience to the Anointed One (Jesus).” 

Here, we are given pretty clear instructions on what to do with our thoughts and the things that live beneath the surface of our hearts that contradict what is true: Take them captive. Take them prisoner. I love the imagery here! They must “bow” to Jesus. Who is Jesus? In many ways He is the opposite of who we are. And yet He understands who we are. 

So how does all of that translate to men like us in recovery? When it comes to things such as attraction, desire, and lust, the reality is that they are all completely different and separate from each other. WE are the ones who blur the lines when we allow our thoughts and our hearts to feed upon things they were never meant to consume. 

Let me be very clear: Attraction isn’t wrong. Desire isn’t unhealthy. But lust is taking what is sacred and holy and twisting it in an attempt to fill our own pain. 

What does that look like on a practical level? It means that we need to begin aligning our thoughts with our values. We need to begin thinking and living according to what we we know is true. And how do we know what is true? We look to God’s Word for the standard. We won’t go too deep on this right now, but check out Philippians 4:8 to find out what Scripture has to say about how we are to think. 

I understand that this isn’t easy to do for the person whose judgement is askew and perhaps has been damaged through years of addiction, whether that be to pornography, alcohol, substances, etc. With pornography, we’ve trained our brains that sex looks and feels a certain way. That if we could only find a harder form of porn, then the pain we feel won’t be as deafening to our hearts. We’ve believed in things about ourselves and others that aren’t  true. And so those beliefs have to essentially be unlearned. That takes time my friend. But it can be done! 

Once we’ve started the healing process and our beliefs about ourselves and the opposite sex change, then our brains have the capacity to change and re-wire as well. And we stand a much better chance of our thoughts and values aligning. Only then does it become easier to  understand the difference between attraction, desire, and lust. 

All of the above I’ve mentioned is virtually impossible to do without the help of someone who really cares about your heart and your well being. For many, this is typically some kind of  accountability partner or trusted friend. If they are for real, they will ask you the tough questions and lovingly challenge you when you need it.

Accountability software will also help with this, as  your partner can receive reports of your activity when you’re online. Protecting yourself online  doesn’t have to be viewed as an inconvenience. It’s meant only for your good and your well being. Consider checking out X3watch 2.0 to help you out with this. 

One final thought: Recovery can often feel more like a slippery slope than level ground. One  day we feel like we have the proper footing and then the next, we have no idea what’s coming  our way! As the season changes and things start to warm up, do your best to keep your heart anchored in Truth.

When our hearts are inviting what is healthy, our thoughts will follow.  Remember that recovery is a fluid process, it’s not static. So there will be days that you will have be more vigilant when it comes to where your eyes go. Just remind yourself that your heart doesn’t have to go there too.