Zion put it well when sharing with his therapist, “If I’m honest, sometimes temptation feels so strong, I don’t even want to resist. I just want it to let it wash over me and carry me wherever it wants to go.”
Temptation—perhaps especially sexual temptation—can be immensely powerful. So much so, it can be difficult to even want to resist. If you have a pattern of habitual unwanted sexual behavior, you have certainly experienced this. The reasons include literal changes to your neurochemistry that leave you feeling your brain and body are on auto-pilot, heading toward the same whitewater rapids and deadly waterfall you’ve been trying so hard to avoid.
Is there hope?
There certainly is. First, there’s hope because you’re not merely your neurochemistry. You have a spirit and soul united with the Spirit of God, who is more powerful than even death. God is near to you and always willing to help you in your moment of need.
In addition, here are three practical steps I’d encourage you to begin practicing. Even if you feel they are not immediately as effective as you’d like, keep practicing them and you’ll see things begin to shift.
Here are the 3 Steps to Navigating Temptation
- Admit you’re feeling tempted. Auto-pilot can begin to take your boat because no alarms are going off letting you or others know what’s happening. By acknowledging you’re tempted, you’re turning those alarms on. But here’s the tricky part: It’s important to turn the alarms on the moment you experience even a little temptation, and this feels risky. Most people want to wait a while, just to be sure that the situation actually calls for action. But the longer you wait, the faster the currents and the more difficult to navigate to safety.
- Tell an ally. The next logical step if you’re heading toward the falls is to let someone know who can help you. Hitting the alarm does you no good if no one hears it, so tell God and tell at least one other person that you are feeling temptation. The path to unwanted sexual behaviors is always taken in isolation, but opening up to others is the choice to not navigate these waters alone. An ally is someone who knows the truth about your habitual sexual sin and is prepared to walk with you in your recovery. This may be a close friend, another person in your recovery group, or a mentor who has the time to be available to you. No one can be available all the time, so it is best to recruit two to three allies at a minimum. Also, while texting may be a quick and easy way to let another person know what’s going on for you, it is better to make a phone call, or better still to make a FaceTime call or to meet in person. You’ll understand why with the next step.
- Figure out what you’re really looking for. Your habitual unwanted sexual behavior is never simply about the physical pleasure of sex. If it were, you would not have risked so much for it over the years. When you’re tempted, you’re actually looking for something deeper than sex—something real and important. In other words, your sexual sin has been a series of attempts to meet a legitimate need in an illegitimate way. If you don’t know where to begin, with your ally’s help, start by asking how you are feeling about your personal identity or worth and how you are feeling about your relationships. These are common areas that can trigger sexual temptation. Once you get an idea of what it may be that you’re really looking for—what you’re truly needing or desiring—you can then take steps to meet the real and important longings you’re experiencing in ways that can actually satisfy.
The Father cares for you, friends. He cares about more than whether you sin sexually or not, but because He cares for you, He wants to help you so you are not repeatedly swept downstream and dashed against the stones. His desire is to help you become a man or woman who can navigate the waters of your life with Him and others, navigating the beauty, pains, and adventure of each day.
If our team can help you, just let us know.
Question for you: Which of the three steps listed above speaks most to you today, and why?