How many times have we thought, what could this little temptation do to hurt me? Just a small fracture of not following the rules. Knowing that what I am about to do is not good for me, but it isn’t really that bad, right? We have all been there. The feeling of temptation and wanting to fill up our tank with an emotion that feels so good. Not realizing that we are filling our tanks with a gas that leads to engine failure.
Driving Between the Lines
As you drive your car down the road, you have a pretty white line on the right side of you and then there are those double yellow lines. Staring you in the face, telling you not to cross over. For the most part we do a good job at staying on our side of the lines, until those temptations come in that cause us to cross over.
One of the biggest temptations in a car is your cell phone. If people are constantly texting you, calling you, maybe you even receive Facebook or email pop-ups to let you know that you are wanted. The need sometimes to just look at the phone. See who is contacting you. To make sure that it is not an emergency, weighs out over the common sense rule that we are driving. That looking at our phone is not the best idea and that it could hurt you or possibly even kill you, might cross your mind. But, oh, that need to just look at the phone takes over and before you know it, you have your phone in your hand, not paying attention to the road and cross those dreaded double yellow lines.
What about kids arguing in the back. Yelling at each other, or yelling for you to help them. Mom!! Dad!! Talking really loudly. You keep trying to make sure that everyone is okay. Or, the time when they spill something and it keeps leaking as your driving. All those distractions that they don’t mean to cause, but usually do, can lead to disaster on the road.
The need to turn the radio station. The want to have another sip of coffee. The have to’s that make us turn our eyes away from the road, even if just for a second, causing our car to drift into an area on the road where we are not wanted. It can be so complicated to drive safely, yet, we have to drive to get where we need to go.
Temptation in Life
The same thing happens in life. You are going through life and everything seems to being going fine, then one day, a certain small temptation arises and you take it. What could it hurt? It’s only a small problem. How far can it go?
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, prowls around
like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)
That small temptation, always leads to bigger problems. I have never read a story about someone that gave into a small temptation, that led to them wanting that sinful item less. Usually it leads to wanting that enticement more and more till it takes you over.
It starts with a whisper in your ear, “Take it. It won’t hurt you.” And that voice keeps whispering, till your flesh gives in. How weak is our flesh? Every time that I have ever tried to quite doing something or start a better habit in my life, my own will power fizzles out within a week or two. But, if I let God be in control of my life and I follow where he wants me to go, then life is much easier. I am able to fight off the temptation without too much of a fight. That doesn’t mean that I don’t still have temptation in my life, I do, but at least I have a secret weapon that allows me to turn away and say “no.”
I have never suffered with drug or alcohol addiction, thank God, literally. I have never suffered from a sexually addiction. But I have suffered from a heart addiction. During my last marriage, I would find myself attracted to other men quite frequently. This happened when my ex-husband and I would be struggling in our relationship. I was going to college at the time and there were times when other men in my class would take the time to talk to me. Show me that they cared about me. Listened to my problems. This led me to think about leaving my ex-husband for something that seemed better.
This happened at least two times. The second time, I would find myself waking up in the middle of the night, after having a sexual dream with me and the other man. I would be so scared of my own thoughts. I couldn’t leave. We were married and had a daughter together. What kind of person would do that? But the thoughts kept coming. The feelings got stronger. I would long to see that other person when I went to college. And I couldn’t stop myself from wanting that other person. It was horrible. I would talk to my friends about leaving my ex-husband or cry about the guilt that I had from these feelings. No matter what I did though, the feelings never went away.
I never physically did anything with any of these men, but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t want to. I had an emotional affair on my ex-husband and he never knew. I hated myself for these feelings and thoughts. I lived with guilt for so long that it would eat me alive some-days. That is how I lived for the longest time.
How to Stop Temptation
I am currently remarried, and vowed to never feel the way that I did in my previous marriage about another man. This would take time and effort and I knew that I wouldn’t be able to do it on my own.
I started going to church regularly, right after I left my ex-husband, and before I met my current husband. I even started going to ladies’ Bible study and reading the Bible more. I felt this urge and need to fill my life with God. It was the only way that I felt whole. If I didn’t fill my life with Him, then there was this want to go out and drink away the pain. Instead, I ended up finding myself praying to God quite a bit throughout the day. I didn’t want to fall in love with someone else who would potentially hurt me in more ways than one, again. I wanted to have a life that was filled with God and whatever else came from that, so be it.
Well, I met my first husband and we fell in love pretty quickly. I still remember the first month that we were dating. We talked every night on the phone, after my two girls went to bed, and I would ask him every question under the sun. The ones that I asked the most were about his faith. I wanted someone to stand beside me, not behind me when it came to God.
We went to premarital counseling, because I thought that would fool proof our marriage, allowing us to never get a divorce. He talked a little bit about his pornography addiction, during the counseling sessions. I halfheartedly listened. I just thought that it wasn’t a big deal. He would figure it out on his own. That with prayer it would all go away. And for awhile it did. He threw away all of his old XXX movies, without me asking and I thought that was the end of it all. Boy, was I wrong.
After we got married, the pornography issue came back with a vengeance. I wanted nothing to do with it. For one, I had been cheated on by my ex-husband. Two, I was afraid of the feelings that might arise again. I was afraid that I would start to desire other men around me again, and I didn’t want that. I wanted to stay married this time. So I tried to watch the movies to make him happy, but all it did was make me mad, and start to tear away at our marriage.
When I said, “NO more,” to watching pornography, things got even worse. He pulled away and I became insecure and the thoughts of him cheating on me erupted. As I look back now, I know that God was testing us and the devil was tempting us. It was so hard. I wanted to make my husband happy, more than anything, but not at the cost of my faith. So I dove even more into the Bible. I started praying a lot. I was mad, confused, hurt and didn’t know what else to do.
There were times that divorce crossed my mind. I was so convinced that God had made a mistake. That my husband would be much better off with someone else. But, ever time that I prayed, God would tell me to, “Love your husband, the way that I love you.” Yeah right, I would often think. Then one day, the Holy Spirit convicted me to live that way. To love my husband, even when I don’t want to. Even when I a feel hurt. Even when he doesn’t deserve it. All of this because of listening to God.
You can pray all you want. You can read the Bible everyday. You can go to church and push yourself to help others. You can even force yourself to be selfless, but until you start to listen to God and obey Him, nothing will change. You will still be the person who tries to be Holy, by doing all the right things, yet still falls short and gives into temptation.
How has God helped you with your temptations in life?