“I want what I want.” There it is; Temptation is calling.
You’re in deep and need an escape. But, you’ve made a commitment to stop.
Desire can flip the switch on commitment, detouring your willpower and ushering shame in like a tidal wave. It’s powerful that way but in moments of temptation, you may forget you have power too.
In this episode of “Becoming Whole,” Josh and Kit offer you a pro-active approach to temptation with practical ways to use your power. Be sure to scroll down to the Homework and Extras sections for ways to maximize your resistance before temptation gets loud.
Guilt says what I did was wrong. Shame says You are bad.
Temptations lead to a moment of escape. It’s a drug in that moment of difficulty.
Because God is kind and compassionate with us, we can be kind and compassionate with ourselves.
Step 1: INVITE GOD IN. You may have pushed God out of this scenario for any number of reasons. Now push back on that shame or guilt and invite Him back in. Step 2: ASK GOD how He sees you, to fight alongside you. Be specific and ask what ideas He would offer in times of temptation. Satan sees these moments and starts trying to fan the flame, then accuses you for having them.
Step 2: PREPARE. You’ve asked God, now be prepared for Him to answer. Keep a journal of this conversation, being aware of how He may answer. If there’s a specific verse, write it out and keep it handy for times of need. Maybe there’s a song or two that speaks to you, make a playlist to put on repeat for times when you struggle. Preparing for these weak moments with God is a powerful way to speak to yourself when you’re tempted.
IN THE MOMENT of temptation, acknowledge it. Be kind to yourself and be curious. Self-compassion and insight give you choices, agency, power. So, ask yourself: What’s going on with you? Comfort yourself at the moment. Self-empathy and understanding are very powerful in the recovery process.
Podcast Episode: “Self-Kindness Heals”
Romans 2:4 “Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and long-suffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?”
The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence
“Do not be discouraged by the resistance you will encounter from your human nature; you must go against your human inclinations. Often, in the beginning, you will think that you are wasting time, but you must go on, be determined and persevere in it until death, despite all the difficulties.”
Thomas Merton’s “Prayer That Anyone Can Pray”: “My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always, though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.”
2 Corinthians 12:9 “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
Matthew 17:20 “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
Click for Full Podcast Transcription
What do you do? When you have an area of temptation in your life? And you are committed to saying no, but you do not want to. As we’re gonna talk about today’s podcast, so many of us who are overcoming unwanted sexual behaviors or other types of unwanted behaviors, there, there are times where we are committed, we are all in I am going to stop this I’m gonna do life differently. I’m going to live differently. I’m going to say yes to things I want to say yes to and notice things I want to say no to. And then temptation comes in, it seems like some switch gets flipped inside of us. And we don’t want to say no to the temptation. I never experienced this kid. You ever experienced that?
Yeah. Yeah, I want what I want. I want what I want. And I don’t want anybody to tell me that I can’t have it. And that’s a very hard place to be.
It is. It is, what are some of the negative consequences when you when there’s an ongoing area of your life where you want to live differently, so let’s just use them in the sexual arena. I want to stop hooking up with strangers on my hookup app, I want to stop looking at pornography, I want to stop masturbating. But when the presentation comes, I seem like I’ve got no willpower. And it seemed like I don’t even want to really stop. What are some of the experiences people have when that happens? What are some? What’re some of the fallout of that experience?
I think a big one is shame. Yeah. Like why what is wrong with me? Why can I know, why do I keep doing this? And why can’t I get over and just beating ourselves up? You know, and that shame begets shame, you know, which enters us into the vicious cycle even more, and it’s not like we’re gonna say, it’s it, you know, it’s fine, do whatever you want, but there’s something definitely between shame and do whatever you want. And that’s this, like, you know, kind of like, okay, just like, you know, God tells us, you’re gonna fall, I’m gonna be there. I’m gonna pick you back up. And we’re gonna keep on moving. You know? So what does that look like to not just beat ourselves up with such severe shame?
Yeah, yeah. I got a question from asking in a minute. But I think shame has so many different faces and so many different voices. Yeah. Guilt, says, what I did was wrong. Yeah. Shame has a different kind of voice that says, You are bad, what you did wasn’t just you did something wrong is that something is wrong with you something. And I’d add to that something is unique, the wrong with you. The fact that you did this means that there is something unique from everybody else about who you are, and you belong somewhere else than the average person. And when I say that, there are different phases of it. I think, one of the phases can be a very religious sounding face, I think a lot of us who experience shame, with this ongoing, what feels like an inability to resist temptation can come with with a sense that God Himself is disgusted with us. angry, like, I was there to help you. I was gonna whatever, like, and you didn’t even you know, turn to me like and so now not only are we feeling the shame what we did, but now we’re, we’re feeling it alone. This leads me I want to come back to something you said. You said, shame begets shame. in this situation. What does that mean?
Well, I mean, I think if you feel shame, when you were talking, I was thinking if you believe that you’re uniquely flawed and that you are just bad. How do you accept healing? How do you think you’re even worthy of healing? You don’t. So you feel shame, and then you can’t receive healing? And then you feel more shame and more shame. And it’s just it’s a vicious cycle, you know? So if we have if we believe that this fundamental lie that because we have sinned, we are never redeemable, then we won’t be able to receive the healing that God wants to give us because we won’t think that we’re worthy of it.
Yeah, yeah. And I think rewinding that that goes right into that moment of temptation to I think, when we expect that just because I’m a Christian, or just because I had this encounter with God, or just because God has helped me even for people who understand why temptation has come, you know, those have, when we work with people here, one of the things we do is we really try to help people uncover what’s really happening for me in the moment that has triggered this temptation to show up when it’s showing up. We try to walk people even to be, you know, like, kind of disgust with disgust within that moment, figure out like, what’s happening for you. This is so intense right now. And even to find that moment, I know that I had a stressful day, I was feeling inadequate, and I’m running to this behavior because even for a moment, it’s going to make me feel better about myself. And still, I want to Do it. So I know it’s not going to work, but I want to do it anyway. And people are surprised at that. I think so. So there can be a shame. And like you know, I know better. Why don’t I want to resist this temptation? So Kate, let me ask let’s put it that on the table. Why don’t we want to resist the temptation? Why don’t we want to fight in that moment? It’s imitation. What are some of the reasons? This
life is hard? Hmm.
say more about that?
Unknown Speaker 5:29
Well, I mean,
I think it’s hard. And we’re, we, we have limits, and we, we, we in our humaneness, we can’t do this alone, it’s really hard to fight all this hard in life, it’s really a battle. And so I think if we’re depending on our own strength, and our own problem solving and our own figuring this out, you know, we’re, it’s overwhelming, it’s not doable, you know, life is really hard. And so the, you know, the fact that we do have these issues is, is it’s understandable, and it and we have them, and the only way is supernatural, you know, to be able to fight this battle to not have it be up to us.
Think another reason that we don’t want to resist temptation when it comes, somebody wants to hear from you is it It feels good, it’s a moment of reprieve of the escape of what’s the other word? space in it. But you know, it’s, it’s, it’s a, it’s a drug in that moment of difficulty. And, and if there are coupled with that, that’s not just an emotional thing. It’s also a physiological thing if we’ve become dependent on sexually acting out, or booze or food, to cope with the stressors in our life, are our brain, our nervous system is going to say, I don’t feel good run to that old stuff, like, bring us back to equilibrium here and let me feel calm again. So we can render unwanted behaviors on one such behavior, to feel alive in a moment where we feel depressed. And if we don’t, if we resist the temptation, then we still have to deal with the depression. And we can render our unwanted sexual behaviors. And given the temptation that want to say no to the temptation, because we feel too hyped up too anxious, and we need to feel calm. And so. So another way of saying all that is one of the reasons we don’t say NO to temptation is because we haven’t learned to regulate our emotions yet without the unwanted behaviors. Yeah, yeah. And another one another reason, I think that we’ve been learning more about recently, I’ve been learning more about recently, and I credit Jay stringer for this is we, we don’t want to say NO to temptation, because as much as we feel ashamed by it, we actually, we want on some deeper level to reaffirm the shame message. Better to reaffirm that I’m not a very good person that I’m out of control, than to have to do the hard work of, of, of growing up of learning to regulate my emotions, of having the hard conversations with people instead of feeling small and running from the conversations. And so it’s we take that much further for another podcast, but
yeah, so Josh, um, what do you think about this idea that, you know, part of it too, might also be that we don’t understand our story. We don’t know why we’re doing the things we do. And we don’t know that we actually have choices. We don’t even know that
I absolutely agree. But give it give us an example. So I’m,
well, I’m just thinking about how I think we beat ourselves up because we’re like, I can’t believe I’m, you know, I can’t cope with this pain. And I’m tempted to do this. But, you know, there’s probably really understandable reasons why, you know, this is hard and you can’t aren’t coping and getting in touch with that not only gives you a little self-compassion, understanding insight into Oh, oh, like, what’s our children when we finally figure out why they’re doing some of what they’re doing? We’re like, we don’t go, Oh, it’s fine. But we go, oh, oh, god. Okay. And then it, then that could lead us to? Well, because of that, then how do I look at that and determine choices that I have to deal with what’s underlying it? Maybe I have choices. I didn’t know I have agency. I didn’t know I had?
Absolutely. I love that. Yeah, I think I mean, I’m thinking about it. A man I’ve walked with a bit who had a very dramatic shift in his behaviors after confessing in one of our groups. And you know, he, for the next several months, no slips, no falls, no temptation. He was like, Man, that’s what I needed. I just I needed God’s forgiveness. And then it crept back in. And he was so disappointed and so ashamed. And not recognizing that you know, this didn’t come out of anywhere for you, you’ve actually got a lot of stories, a lot of history that that prompted this stuff to begin with. And that’s going to be some of the hard work of the climb.
And I think that’s so important. And as we’ve said before, and I’ve said this to you many times, you know, I feel like I’m doing some of that hard work, even just now in this later season of my life, where I’m really understanding my own accepting some things about myself that I’m like, oh, wow, I really didn’t see that I didn’t understand how much that impacted me. And so how that brought that into my adult life and into the habits that I have. And, and it’s just really, that self-empathy and understanding is is very powerful. In the recovery process.
So good. Yeah. Self-kindness, self-compassion, and, and where does that come from? Not because God doesn’t give us kindness and compassion, but because he is kind and compassionate with us. We can be kind and compassionate with ourselves, Romans two, four, it is the kindness of God, that leads us to repentance, it is the kindness of God that turns us from continuing to reach for that old temptation. Yeah, instead, choose a better piece of fruit a better, powerful,
powerful connection. It isn’t just it is about self kindness and compassion in the good of it. And it’s not just about that. It’s the kindness that leads to repentance. It is that self kindness, kindness from God, that we’re able to receive kindness from ourselves through God that we’re able to receive that leads us to strength.
So let’s take a moment, let’s go right to that moment of temptation. Where the listener, like you and me Kit, is is feeling temptation, and it is strong, and it feels overwhelming. And they look inside and find no desire to say no to the temptation. Yeah, a matter of fact, there might even be a friend or loved one that is top of mind or is nearby they could reach out to and they think I don’t want to reach out I don’t want to think about them right now. Cuz I want what I want. They might think about God in that moment thing, I don’t even want to pray and they push god, they’re tempted to push God out of their thoughts, because they want to do whatever have you. In that moment, in that moment where the wanting of the good feels so insignificant, to the wanting of the bad. What do they do in that moment? And we wanted let’s spend the rest of our time talking about that. Yeah.
What the first thing that comes to my mind is what I hope they don’t do, which is just the rate themselves. You know, like, what, in that moment? How do they say? How do they acknowledge? Wow, I don’t want I want to give into this. How do I separate myself from that, but how do I say what’s going on with you? Like you wouldn’t you know, like that, or they ask themselves? How do they comfort and be compassionate with themselves in that moment?
Yes. Right. Right. Because we are so used to responding to temptation, especially strong temptation, with a strong, you know, punch in the nose, like, get out of here, you know, and listen, when the enemy’s involved in temptation. And yeah, and he is, yeah, he, we’re not kind of the enemy. We don’t want to be, we don’t want to get treated with kid gloves in the name of Jesus Get out of my face. Like, that’s certainly a way we can respond to temptation. But we also have to recognize that temptation. James says, temptation comes from within as well. So like, yes, the enemy tempts us, but you notice that, that there are specific areas of your life where he tends to tempt you? That’s because you’re already prone to temptation, that area like Satan typically does not, you know, tempt me to try to think of it as an example, to go out and buy new cars, you know, that I can’t afford, like, that’s just not a problem for me. I know that I know, it’s probably some people, right, so. So, so yes, so we’re not kind of enemy, but we are kind to ourselves, and I love you start their kit, because if not go back to the enemy here for a minute. He, when there’s a glimmer of temptation, he’ll Stoke it. And then he’ll accuse us for having it. He’ll accuse us for wanting what we don’t what we shouldn’t, quote-unquote, shouldn’t want. And so instead of responding to ourselves with loathing, or disgust, which is going to make us want to turn away from our friends and turn away from God. Instead, can we cultivate in that moment, a sense of curiosity and kindness like this? This is where I am again. And who did this really, really well is, I think, brother Lawrence, in his book, practicing the presence of God, I was just stunned with how, how gentle he was around his mishaps. And I think his prayer was something like, oh, Lord, you know, I did it again. And I will always do it. Unless you helped me. And it wasn’t an entitlement. It wasn’t like, you know, Forget You, God, you obviously aren’t helping me because I keep doing it wasn’t that it was just a humble like, I need you. I need you. I need you. And so in that moment of temptation, yeah. Yeah. So, so.
And Thomas Merton had that prayer, you know, where he says,
I don’t know where I’m going.
I think that I think when I’m going pleases you, but I really don’t know. But I think my desire to please you really pleases you.
I mean, just humbly, acknowledging, like, wow, I really don’t know what I’m doing, I really want to give into this thing. Hey, I just really humbly acknowledge that, you know, and that the, you know, when it’s in Scripture, where it says, you know, when, when you are weak, My grace is sufficient, when you are weak. I am strong, you know, his, his spirit comes in rests on us, when we acknowledge our weakness when we humbly acknowledge it, you know,
so maybe, maybe one avenue, and this won’t work for everybody listening. But if we could summarize this kind of the first step, I’d say, if you can imagine a young child, who you’re deeply affectionate for coming to you, with a rather benign for that for them, it’s big, but for you, it’s rather a benign area of temptation. And they say, to you, I am, I’m feeling really tempted right now. Like, let’s say, just suck my thumb. I’m trying to stop, but I’m feeling really tempted right now to suck my thumb. How do you respond to that child? You better not suck your thumb, they’ll tell you what, let’s take your arm to your back. Like, that’s that that might work for the night to keep them but it’s not. It’s all sorts of damage, right? So, so maybe even in the moments where you’re not tempted, imagine how would you respond to that young child? And can you practice even if it’s just experimental? And you’re like, I’m not sure I like to sit here. Just experiment, like treating yourself that way with this temptation. And you might be listening to Josh, it’s not sucking my thumb. It’s a really severe significant area of temptation. Okay, that’s, that’s fine. But is what you’ve been doing is the harshness that you’ve been trying to is the evasiveness that you’ve been trying to deal with? Is that been working for you? And if not, might you dare, participate in the kindness of God? In that moment? Yeah.
And there are little girls inside of us and little boys inside of us. Yes, they are very, very much alive. And, and part of what the acting out that we do now is, is, is them. And so they need our understanding and compassion, they really do. You know, there are times when I’m, and I’ve done this with my own, in write for myself, I’ve done this with clients, where we go back and imagine ourselves as a little girl, or a little boy and, and meeting our child, our little our younger self, and getting to know them and having compassion on them. And often people are moved to tears because they see the pain and the disappointment, and whatever it is, it’s happened in that little child. And so I think that’s a really beautiful actually, and, and powerful idea, to think about yourself that way to think about it being, you know, talking to a child and how you would do that. I think that I think that’s very, very powerful.
If you imagine a year, two years before you started this unwanted behavior, and a year, two years after, in that time span of your life, how old were you? What was happening for you? Who was helping you? Who could you talk to? What kept you from talking to them? You will uncover a child who needs compassion, kindness? Yeah, not harshness, someone to come and bark orders at them? Yeah, not someone tells them like, Oh, that’s shameful. Just go do that somewhere else where I can’t see but someone who comes alongside and says, What’s going on? You
know, and, and, you know, this isn’t just one time you do that. And then you’re, you know, then you’ll be fine. It’s like, this is an ongoing way to learn how to be with yourself, how to talk to yourself over time. So, you know, recovery is a process, learning new ways of talking to ourselves, and habits of seeing ourselves differently is a process. So it’s not like, you know, we’re saying, just do this and you’ll be fine. It’s it takes time. It takes time, and you’ll continue to learn about it your whole life.
Yeah. And that and what we’re talking about just now may not be something you do in the moment of temptation, but outside of that, to help equip you and empower you and prepare you for those moments of temptation to treat yourself with a little bit.
Even in the moment of temptation. I’ve told people and I’ve experienced this myself. We’re in the moment. You know, it’s like you know, bringing God into And imagining what he might say to me if I can truly hear what God would say to me in that moment would be helping me.
Yeah. Well, I think that so that brings, I think, to the, to the next point, I think here, which is, when we don’t want to resist temptation, often for a lot of us we are trying to push God outside of our thoughts, because we anticipate something from him, that is probably most likely less than he actually will bring us. We need to practice in our memory in our minds and our hearts the reality that God, God’s hatred of our sin is not hatred of us is hatred or sin is because He loves us and he sees better than we do. The damage that sin reaps in our lives. So I think, yeah, so. So understanding, recognizing God’s love and compassion for us in that moment, and, and even daring to believe and to anticipate a generous response from him.
And to say, and what you just said, is so significant. He doesn’t in that moment of temptation, he does not hate us. He hates the sin because He loves us. That’s such an important distinction. You know, when we’re in the midst of that he’s not hating us. He’s hating the sin because He loves us. Yeah, that’s, that’s a significant way to think about things.
I picture comes to mind, maybe it’s from the Lord, have a drug-addicted person who’s really just you know, their body is screaming for the drug, as they’re, as they’re trying to abstain. And you can imagine that the Lord’s kindness in that moment does not stand too far off. But the picture I have is the strong father coming. holding this person, as they shake as they tremble as they sweat, as they scream, not holding them angrily, but holding them with just a deep strength and a love for this person. I am committed to you, I will be here with you through the whole all these the night sweats, the fears, the trembling, until this past, I’m not going anywhere. I’m that committed to you through this?
And that is the truth. And I think when we begin to believe that, that he is like, No, no, no, you’re not in this alone. No, no, I am your partner, I am your co-labor, I am with you. We are in this together. I will never leave your side. I’m fighting for you. You know, that’s Yeah, yeah.
The last thing that comes to mind for me is this one, we’ve said that we’re talking about in this podcast is when you don’t want to say NO to temptation. And if you’ve listened this far, if even if the title itself piqued your interest, oh, wait, what do I do when I don’t want to say NO to temptation, then there’s actually another truth buried underneath this topic that I want to unearth right now. And that’s this. If you care, that you don’t want to say NO to temptation, and it is also true of you, that you do want to say NO to temptation. And that, again, the image I get here, almost like, like a, you can imagine like a somebody who’s laying on the floor. And you know, there’s been this, this dogpile of other stronger people kind of pile up on top of them. And, and they’re kind of down and you can even hardly see them can even hardly hear them. That is they’re trying to move, but they really can’t that much. But they’re still there. And sometimes that may be may feel how we feel. You know, like, I’m down here, you know, like, I don’t do that, you know, God hears that tiny voice in you. God sees that tiny bit of strength in you. I think this is part of what Jesus is speaking to you when he says if you have faith, the size of a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain move and it will move. And I think sometimes we’ve been frustrated by that, by Jesus’s words there because I’ve said it’s not moving. But knowing that moment, a tiny little part of you like if you will let that part of you whisper out a cry for help the Lord hears you and that and it matters to him. And so when I mean, here’s a great prayer of faith. Lord, I don’t want your help. Right now. I’m observing the fact that I don’t want your help right now. And that means I need your help. That I don’t want you to intervene. And that means Will you intervene? like yeah, will you let you even if your yes is tiny, will you let that out to the Lord in that moment?
Let’s get Josh. Very good.
We’ll get with you. Why don’t you um, and by the way, listeners, we are not suggesting here that they’re still not battle and that there’s not ups and downs ebbs and flows in this and we are here for you to walk with you. And I know there are other allies that would love to walk with you as you continue to battle this. As we all do. These moments we don’t want to send notice temptation. So Kate, would you closing up in prayer especially for those listening who are wrestling in that way.
Oh God, we know that you know our weakness. You know, our all of our temptations each for each person who’s listening or you know them, you see them. But you see way beyond their temptation you also see who you created them to be someone you love and that you want to redeem. But these aren’t empty words. This is the truth. And I just pray, Lord, that there is power in the truth of your love for each and every person who is struggling who feels like they can’t resist the temptation anymore. That there is still great hope. Or do we just and trust each person listening to you and that they would entrust themselves to you in some way right now. Trusting in believing and helping in your love for them and your strength and in your power to help them in Jesus’ name, amen.
We would love a 5-star ⭐ rating and review on the Apple Podcasts app if you’re an avid listener of the podcast. It helps us reach more people! Also, it’s a free way to support the podcast❤️
Original music by Shannon Smith. Audio engineering by Gabriel @ DelMar Sound Recording.
Lastly, if Becoming Whole has been a blessing in your walk with God, would you consider making a donation to our ministry?