“Get up and do something different.”
I read the message and the words jumped out at me.
“Does that even work?” I questioned in response.
“I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength,” came God’s reply.
I decided to try it out the next time temptation struck. Sure enough, it worked so well that it became deeply engrained when I think about temptation and now I hear this mantra in my thoughts regularly too. It’s harder to slip when you know there’s a way out.
I was tired of having difficult conversations with accountability partners about slips and falling back into my old vices surrounding sexual integrity.
Being single in my 40s has meant many opportunities for sexual temptation that didn’t happen back when I was married. That was before cancer struck our home.
I’ve had to learn to have accountability conversations with people other than my very grace-filled spouse. So in humility, I’ve learned to seek out safe people to do what I need to do in order not to stumble after 22 years of sexual sobriety.
In addition to myself and learning a new way of coping, the beauty that’s come from the ashes of my late husband’s death has been setting the groundwork for my children to have difficult conversations with me from a very young age.
Nothing is off-limits.
Nothing is shamed.
Nothing is unspoken.
I don’t want my children to have to struggle with being open and honest about their feelings, sexual or otherwise, as I do. I don’t want them to go into hiding or sexual addiction in order to cover their pain like I do.
Without difficult conversations from the start, there are dire consequences. For a lifetime.
The only way I’ve been able to set this example for them is by learning how to do self-care, which includes the necessity for difficult conversations and accountability. Soon after my late husband’s death, I took a course on healing from sexual abuse. From there I
learned that sexual abuse survivors often lack self-care tools to prioritize their health and well-being.
I cultivated a list that worked for me:
- Honest and vulnerable connection with God and people
- Prayer and meditation
- Regular exercise
- At least 7 hours of sleep
- Nutritious foods
- And of course, cold, cold showers
As I’ve gotten closer to daily meeting the actions on my list, I can maintain my sexual integrity pretty regularly, even in my thought life, and have fewer times of confession. However, there’s a reason that the Bible calls sexual immorality (or things like porn, masturbation, affairs, promiscuity, etc.) a stronghold.
It has a literal strong hold on our hearts, minds, bodies, and emotions.
Addiction recovery specialists, pastors, and laypersons alike suggest that humility, surrender, and paying attention to what you’re paying attention to are some of the most crucial keys to overcoming the sexual struggle.
How do we do those things?
Talk to God. Talk to safe people. Talk kindly to ourselves.
The embarrassment, shame, and guilt melt away when I have a difficult conversation with someone who can give me grace, listen without judgment, and hold space for any of my struggles. Instead of my sexual issues having a strong hold on me, I must have a strong hold on God and others to overcome what I’m tempted to do instead.
So, Dear Friend, the next time you’re tempted towards pornography, masturbation, or any other thing you know you don’t want to do, repeat this simple phrase and follow it:
“Get up and do something different.”
Want to have a safe place to hold difficult conversations but can’t find safe people? Join us! Come to Live Free Ministries where men share with men or Live Free Wives where women are supported too. We also have groups to support women who struggle with sexual integrity issues too.
One giant step to do something different could literally save your life. I’m praying for you to take that step, today!