When one of the inmates that my husband works with gets released and decides to go back to their old stomping grounds without extensive planning and thought, I get worried. One of the strongest triggers for addicts is environment. Experts say that when a drug addict drives past a house where they used to buy or do drugs, something chemical goes on in the brain to activate old cravings. The same holds true when a gambling addict goes near a casino or a porn addict goes near a computer. Or when a food addict gets near the cupboards that hold all of her old comfort foods. I realize that sometimes these things can’t be completely avoided, so at a minimum they need to be planned for.
My parents had healthy choices in the house. I’m pretty sure they probably even made an effort to go out specifically to get things to help me. But wow, when faced with the decision between a bowl of Krave cereal or a bowl of oatmeal, I chose two bowls of Krave every time. I could have had a turkey sandwich for lunch but it was much more enjoyable for me to go to Chili’s and get chips and queso. And my daily walks were replaced with trips to pick kids up from school, cleaning up after 5 children and a dog, and resting when I had a moment to myself. These are the types of things that need stop in order to have long term success.
Some people would say that I just don’t want it bad enough. And honestly, I think that is a bunch of crap. I know lots of people who want lots of things desperately and don’t do what needs to be done in order to obtain them. It’s not a matter of WANT. It’s a matter of discipline.
Am I willing to go through discomfort in order to achieve what I want? Can I deny myself temporary pleasure for long term happiness? Do I have what it takes to go against what is easy and push myself to places that are uncomfortable yet necessary for success? That is what I am struggling with. Not the desire.
This principle is not new. When dealing with matters of the flesh (as they are referred to in the Bible), denying yourself is one of the hardest things to do. Whether it be alcohol, sex, drugs, food, or even just being a lazy person - physical pleasure is extremely difficult to turn down. So what’s the answer? Well I guess that may be different for different people, but for me I know where I need to start. It’s not at the gym or in the grocery store - it’s in the Bible. Here is what I found today:
It‘s not good to be without self control:
“A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.” Proverbs 25:28
Self Control is a skill that has to be learned through practice:
“for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.” Hebrews 5:13-14
Like the guy getting out of prison (or the girl headed to her parent’s house), you need to plan:
“But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no plans to satisfy the fleshly desires.” Romans 13:14
Even if that means not even LOOKING at the things that tempt you:
“Don’t gaze at the wine, seeing how red it is, how it sparkles in the cup, how smoothly it goes down.” Proverbs 23:21
God has provided us with a way out of every temptation. That doesn’t mean it’s the easiest choice, but it is there:
“The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.” 1 Corinthians 10:13
So I guess the lesson for today is that we shouldn’t be like the alcoholic who walks past the bar every day on his way home or like the drug addict who goes to visit his old dealer just to say hi. Know your limits and practice denying your flesh.
It’s not fun, but it’s necessary.