I Obsess. I Procrastinate. I Isolate. I Avoid. These are the traits of my ‘drug’, my escape, my addictive trend. Today, I live “in recovery” from these things (as opposed to specific actions or substances). I’m being healed and transformed. It’s a long, rough road. Sometimes the “destination,” a life full of sobriety, seems very, very far away. No wonder, when I look at it that way.
I sit here in the midst of my life, and seek a “life full.” Do you see? The only time I will know that my life has been full (of anything) is at the end of it. Knowing that I need to stay sober for it all, I then think to myself when I’m tempted, “Never again.” How utterly dismal that seems. Many of my problem areas are life’s pleasures!
For someone who so easily becomes obsessed with anything – especially if it helps avoid any kind of pain or discomfort, “never again” is insurmountable, impossible. I know I won’t be able to accomplish it, so why not just let it go now?
I needed a way to shrink my goal down to a manageable size. How do you eat an elephant?
I determined it could be done with a change of this point of view. I welcomed the limit of “not right now.” This is a period of time I can handle.
Take this morning, for example. I lingered over a problem behavior, flirting with danger. I was in despair, in a “never again” mood, and was dejected about my chances of success, so I let the ‘nostalgia’ of old times play. I yearned for it, distracted from the reasons – the things I know I’m capable of – the things I want to stay away from, the things that are milestones on that downward-spiraling path. I confess, it was a close call.
I was saved by another recent change to my point of view. The old definition of ‘sober’ included “force”. I was ‘keeping myself from’ these things I really enjoyed. Who wouldn’t resist such efforts? Nowadays, I have turned it around; I now voluntarily give up an opportunity to experience a gratification – as an offering, a living sacrifice of a bodily indulgence – to keep myself whole, holy, and pleasing to God.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship.
This has made a huge difference. Even though temptations occur predictably, I have maintained my purity. But, as the above example demonstrates, “never again” can still dig me into a hole. I’ve also been praying daily for protection from thoughts, memories, fantasies, visions, and dreams of by-gone bad habits. “Right now” it is working.
To summarize, two point-of-view changes to help “stay clean” are:
- rather than thinking that I’ll “never again” be allowed to do a thing I enjoy, I am ‘sort of’ doing it – just “not right now”
- rather than thinking that I must ‘force’ myself to be sober, I gladly offer the opportunity to do a thing as a sacrifice to my God
- Bonus: pray specifically for protection from the things that give temptations free reign