In a month where we think about giving and lists, let’s make a list of important steps for sobriety this Christmas:

Stopping is the essential first step to sexual sobriety. You have to stop unwanted behaviors and turn your back on your old way of life. Stopping is creating distance between you and porn, hookups, strip clubs, masturbation, sex outside of marriage or whatever you’re trying to turn your back from.

Stopping requires commitment, discipline, acts of your will, hard work, withdrawals, pain, suffering, and sacrifice.

But stopping is only temporary on your own power. You have to tap into a bigger support network, including God, counselors, an X3 support group, ministers, and even doctors and lawyers in some cases.

Stopping means cutting out bad people, bad places, and bad things. Some relationships will need to die (or be limited). You will have to stop going places that tempt you. Cleaning house of sexually charged material becomes necessary. Channels will need to be blocked. Computer boundaries will need to be raised.

But sobriety is not just about stopping. If you stop an unwanted sexual behavior or a habit or a ritual it leaves a gap begging to be filled. So next on the list is…

If you stop a habit or behavior and don’t take aggressive measures to fill it with something healthy, then what happens? A gaping hole opens up in your heart, emotions, mind and body, remaining unfilled. In fact, it’s less like a hole and more like a vacuum. If we don’t begin new ways of thinking, new habits, and better behaviors, then the vacuum will suck us back into our old ways.

Sobriety purgatory. An unsettled state between bad behaviors and good intentions. The only way to push yourself to the next level in your sobriety is to get better at the next thing on the list…

Starting means filling a gap. You’ve stopped a bad behavior–now start a better one. You cut out mindless computer surfing and trade it in for purposeful surfing where you “get in and get out.”

Starting means doing things differently. If you’ve started over 1000 times, something probably needs to be done differently. You might need a stronger boundary. You might need accountability for a difficult area. You might need to get X3watch for your computer and mobile devices.

Starting means taking new risks. You might need to share your struggles with someone you’ve never shared with before. You might need to see a counselor or minister. You might need to get accountability through X3groups.

Starting is familiar for some. You’ve stopped unwanted sexual behaviors 1000 times and started on a new path. You’ve asked God’s forgiveness. You’ve repented. And here you are again. Celebrate one more new beginning. You could have gone dark, despaired, and given up. You didn’t. You started over again.

Make these action steps a part of your Christmas list this month… and beyond.