Overcoming an addiction is tough. It’s full of ups and downs, victories and failures, and so many good intentions.
If you haven’t read my post on addictions and finding fulfillment in Jesus, read that first, then come back here.
If that post is why you’re here, read on! 🙂 Here are four tips that I can offer you from personal experience and the wisdom of those around me on overcoming an addiction to lust.
1. Be careful what you put before your eyes.
If visual triggers are a stumbling block for you, filter every last thing that you lay your eyes upon. If you see a link to a porn blog, look away. Block certain tags on Twitter and Tumblr. If this means not watching a PG-13 movie that doesn’t bother any of your friends, be strong and step out during the sex scene or avoid the movie entirely. If you can’t watch The Notebook, 500 Days of Summer, etc. because you know there’s a sex scene coming up… just know what is going to trigger you and resolve to make the right choices.
Sometimes I get caught in situations where I can’t avoid it and I simply close my eyes, as subtly as possible. For more unexpected situations, like a billboard or a magazine cover, find something blue to look at – besides the model’s blue jeans. Keep looking there or at other blue things until you are out of sight of the stumbling block.
2. Rejoice in every victory.
You made it a day without lustful thoughts? Celebrate! That is a huge victory to glorify Jesus for. Keep a tally of how many days you make it. I keep a mini daily journal, and a tally mark by the date is sufficient. Soon you will look back and it will be a week, then two weeks, and a month. The longer you to without it, the less it will tempt you. And when you mess up – because you probably will – let tomorrow be Day 1 again, and rejoice in it.
3. Divert your thoughts.
When you feel your thoughts start to wander, think of a phrase that will help redirect your thoughts. Mine is simple – I look up and just say, “Thank you, Jesus” and that completely changes my state of mind. It’s hard to think lustful thoughts while thinking of things to thank Jesus for.
Another trick my friend Michelle taught me is to picture your temptation getting into a boat and floating down a river away from you. Watch it get smaller and smaller until it’s gone. It sounds so silly, but it has worked for me countless times!
4. Replace youthful passions with the pursuit of righteousness.
2 Timothy 2:22 tells us to “flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace.” Not just flee the evil desires of youth – if we weed out the evil and leave a blank in our lives, it will feel empty and we will revert to our temptations. Deliberately pursue righteous things instead. Maybe your active pursuit of righteousness is memorizing new verses or reading through an entire book of the Bible. Maybe you need to deliberately take time to pray more often, and that can fill the time you would normally spend glued to the computer.
Ultimately, remember the admonition of 2 Corinthians 10:5. Paul instructs us to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” Make every thought that enters your mind glorifying and honoring to God, as this is pleasing to Him.
If you’re still reading this, know that I love you. If I can help you overcome through prayer, encouragement, or support, my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can contact me via Facebook, Tumblr, or phone if you have access to these channels of communication. 🙂