Starving out our Temptations, Part IV, Final Thoughts—Sisterhood…Reflections from Ellen
Did you fast last weekend? How did it go? I fasted from checking and writing email, except for Saturday pm. I checked it because a friend had sent word via a mutual friend of some urgent news shared over email. So I caved on my commitment but felt the reason was justified rather than selfish.
When I’m feeling lonely, disconnected from people, going online to check my email or checking my phone for text messages, is where I go to have my heart soothed and comforted (that is, if I hear from anyone!). But when I reflect on why I do this so frequently, I realize that I am not going to the Lord for my comfort.
When I turn from the Lord to something else, in order to pursue life, comfort, security, value, feeling loved etc., this is when the temptation has been fed, rather than starved out. I’ve found that a common thread in the lives of women, who become ensnared in sexual sin of any type, is having a heart full of emotional pain. That pain must be soothed, denied, or escaped from at any cost and it is through sexual encounters, or a sexual fantasy life or through emotionally entangled friendships that the pain is soothed and calmed…for a time.
But when we move in that direction, it comes at a cost. What we feed on grows. What is growing in our lives becomes the focus of our lives. Will that focus lead to Christ-likeness…or to a deeper ensnarement in my sin patterns?
One initial step for you to grow in Christ-likeness, rather than in patterns of sin, could be to think about:
1) Can you “name” the desires in your heart that seem to rule over you? Desires can be holy or evil…depending on the motive of our heart!
2) Can you identify the paths you go to in order to soothe those desires? This connects with the ‘fasting’ exercise I mentioned in my last blog post. What we can’t give up for a week, a day, or an hour may be something we are using as a way to feed and nurture sinful desires.
3) Take one passage of Scripture (let me suggest one of three: 2 Peter 1:1-11, or Galatians 5: 22-26 or Col. 3:1-12, as these are passages that describe qualities of Christ-likeness), and reflect daily on the passage that you have chosen, meditating on the qualities listed that you want to see growing in your life. Focus on CHRIST first, NOT your sin that must be done away with.
4) Find a ‘safe’ person to pray for you, and help you think through how you can develop ongoing habits that will nurture your soul in Jesus, and starve out the pull of your flesh. A safe person is someone who lives a consistent Christ-like life, is honest about their own struggles, and is self-controlled with her mouth and can listen with wisdom and speak words of grace and truth back to you.
These are just some initial steps to take. Are there other things you’ve found in your spiritual journey that have been helpful as you’ve sought to turn from temptation? I’d love to learn from you!