The last few days I have gotten to be with some men who are at the beginning of their journey out of the insanity that is pornography addiction. Each of them wanted to know what to expect once they make this decision to leave it all behind, and after telling them, they each expressed both surprise and gratitude. Surprise because they never heard this before and gratitude because they felt better prepared for the journey. So here I want to share what I shared with them. Take what helps, and leave the rest.
- Get ready for war. The first 30 days in particular, but most likely the next 90, are going to be the hardest of your life. You should expect this. The severity and the length of time where it is really hard depends a lot on the depths of your entrenchment. There will be days where you will feel like you are going to explode, where your flesh is just going absolutely crazy and if you don’t scratch this itch you will die. This is the point. You need to die. Death is painful. Expect it, and embrace it.
- When you feel the above you are now in the fight. There will be nights where you go to bed exhausted because you’ve fought the entire day, praying like you’ve never prayed before. You’ll go to bed exhausted from the battle, but victorious. Just like when you go to the gym for the first time and walk away sore all over, you will feel the same as you enter the spiritual battle of your life. You are learning to use spiritual muscles which have long been atrophied. Let’s face it, you haven’t really been fighting this sin in the past. You’ve been giving over for far too long and your faith-muscles are like limp rags. This is your Rocky moment. Put your big boy pants on, get up and go to the gym, even when it hurts.
- If you fall, you are not starting over. So you experienced a few weeks or months of victory and slip up? It’s not the end of the world, and you are not starting over from scratch. You’ve been given a great gift in having tasted some freedom, something you may have never known before. You began to see some glimmer of hope, and the cobwebs which have long been deluding your thinking and hindering intimacy in your relationships began to dissipate. Give thanks to God! Get back on the saddle and learn from your victories and your mistakes. You are not starting over because you now know more about yourself and what to do in those moments when you feel triggered so that next time you are better prepared to fight. God isn’t through with you, and even in our weakness He is teaching us something we have yet to learn so that we can be made ready to walk in the Promised Land of purity He has prepared for us. You are only starting over if you don’t learn from this!
- Hang in there because it gets better! The intensity of the battle you feel in those first 30-90 days will begin to subside the longer you walk in the light. Your spiritual muscles will get stronger and you will find yourself winning more than losing. Your mind will be transformed as God promised (Rom. 12:1-2) and you will find yourself experiencing a new joy and freedom you never thought possible. A day will come where you’ll remember with a jolt that it’s been days, even weeks or months, since you’ve thought of indulging in something so pointless and reckless as pornography. You will be overflowing with thanksgiving, and far too busy working on other things in your life – fruitful things – to give much thought to whether or not this is the day it all blows up on you. Why? Because you are a new creation! (2 Cor. 5:17).
You are in a fight. Expect to get beat up. But you are a warrior, and more than a conqueror (Rom. 8:37). And trust me, it’s worth every bruise your flesh is about to take. Freedom is sweet, and worth dying for!
For more on this, read: Are you REALLY “Struggling” against Habitual Sin?