Pornography

Sick on a Sunday: A Real Encounter with Temptation

It was Sunday– always my weakest day.

Church that morning had been amazing– always my weakest moment.

I had a bit of a headache, so I should have seen this coming.

Sick on a Sunday– it has always proved fatal for my walk.

I got home from lunch with family, and headed to my room.  Exhausted from a late night Friday working in our church’s food ministry, I laid down for a quick nap.  The plan was to kick this headache first.  Then, I would get up, do my devotions and work on some ministry stuff.

I dreamed.

About watching porn. 

I woke up, checked the time and then laid back down again.  The dream picked up right where I left it.  Why can’t the good dreams do this?  I woke again, twenty minutes later.

That’s when it happened.

No one’s home.

Huh?

No one’s home.

Wait… I knew this whisper.  I knew this feeling. Oh, good night, not now.  Really?  Why is it my flesh always wakes up faster than my spirit?  Still rubbing sleep out of my eyes, I tried to turn off the onslaught of temptation, but it had jumped me.  In my dream, I had given in, with people in the room.  With my family sitting right beside me, I had determined to watch and had actually turned the screen away from them.  My flesh and arrogance already had a decent head start.

You have time.  Just real quick.  You’ve made it for a long time without watching it; what’s the big deal with just a little right now.  Reward yourself.  Then, you can start over.

Seriously?  I groaned, and rolled over in my bed.  Too late.  The battle was full on.  There was no going back to sleep but I still wasn’t fully awake.  I finally pried my eyes open and sat up.

Good! 

I didn’t do that for you.

Come on.  Your family is gone.  They won’t be home for hours.

I went through the mental checklist.  Three siblings at work, mom at church.  It was true; I was free for at least the next two hours.  Wait?  Why am I even listening to you?

Because you want it.

No, actually I don’t.  What I want is for my headache to go away so I can work.

You know how to cure a headache, right?

Shut up.  I got out of bed.  Usually getting up and walking helps clear my mind and get me awake.  Still, getting out of bed felt like it could easily be the first step toward my falling.

The computer is downstairs right where you left it.  You can still clear your history on that one; you haven’t disabled that yet.

True again.  My mistake.

So, see?  No one has to know.  You can just go down, get rid of your headache and then work on what you need to get done.

God will know.

And He will forgive.  Just like He’s done before.  Besides, you’ve already technically kinda messed up.  I mean, after all, you did have a dream about it.  You might as well do it for real so that you have something real to ask forgiveness for. 

Seriously?  What kind of twisted logic is that?  Why am I even debating this?

Because you want it.  Nothing hardcore, just the soft stuff.  Just enough to clear that headache so you can think.

I made my way downstairs, still unsure of what choice I would make.  The computer in question was sitting on the floor in the living room.  Why hadn’t I disabled clearing the history when I was strong?  How could I have been so foolish?

Just once.  No one will know.

I sat in the chair and fired up the computer and opened up Internet Explorer.  I don’t have headphones.  I always use headphones.  Wait, what am I doing?  I’m rationalizing.  Stop that!

Use your sister’s.  They are sitting right there.

I am getting ready to write another chapter in my book!  How can I do that twenty minutes after watching porn?

You are writing a book about grace.  It makes perfect sense to write it from a place of failure where you need grace.

What?!

Where on earth was this coming from?  I had just gotten home from church, for Heaven’s sake.  Church, where I spent time under great teaching about the importance of living a genuine life and then turned around and discussed the importance of servanthood, stewardship and the body of Christ.  Aha!  Busted.  That’s where this was coming from.  Oh no, no, no.  Not happening. 

This was not an attack on my purity as much as it was an attack on my purpose.  I know this story enough to know how it ends– with me feeling completely incapable of leading a purity ministry because I cannot seem to manage my own, much less encourage it in others.

No, you are not taking this.  You aren’t doing this.  You’re done.

For those of you wondering if the temptation ever goes away, the answer is no.  I truly believe that I will have a weakness in this area for the rest of my life.  In freedom, Christ gives me strength to fight, but the choice to do so is still mine.  Without Him, I have no strength to fight at all.

I know the example of Christ is to fight temptation with Scripture.  On occasion, I do, but God tells us He will make a way to escape temptation.  He doesn’t confine that to just the use of Scripture.  There are other ways to escape temptation.  Obviously, one option is to flee, but since my temptation is internal, that could be difficult.

The other option is to call the devil on his bluff, to call my flesh on its foolishness, to call my heart on its deceit.  To rip the blinds off and let the truth shine in.

For me, the best way to do that has been through honesty, and through writing.  As I’ve worked in this ministry, I’ve battled with my motives.  Am I bringing glory to sin?  Wouldn’t it be easier if I just shut up and dealt with it on my own?

Easier? yes.  But I have learned that there are two ways this can be used.  It can either be used to glorify the power of sin or used to glorify the grace of God.  I can take my experiences and let them destroy me or I can take those some experiences and edify others.  Those are my choices, and I make those through writing.  Now, I will happily shut off my computer, take some Advil for my headache, go for a prayer walk and return to my computer if and only when the temptation has been silenced.  That is my escape, and I have made it now.

Thanks for holding the door open.

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10 comments

  1. WOW. You nailed that right on the nose. Reading the thought processes, I was able to identify exactly. That’s exactly how the temptation hits in regards to pornography. It actually made me irritated reading knowing that the exact same thing was happening to you.

    The enemy does strike when we are weak. Oddly, I’ve had an extreme headache the past 4 days while at work (I’m a flight attendant) so it’s difficult to maintain the “smile” all day long with a headache, then I arrive at my own hotel room- ALONE.

    Yep he hits, he hits exactly how you explained it!!

    I’ve always wondered if the temptations in this area of sin ever go away, it bums me out knowing it will not.

    I pray for His strength each day to carry us to the next day of victory.

    Bless you for sharing, I know it’ll strengthen others knowing we aren’t alone.

    Thank you.

  2. Wow, great post.
    And the thing about the dreams, I have TOTALLY been there.
    Especially when I haven’t given in for a while. I have dreams where I have given into temptation, and then I wake up feeling down and guilty, until I realise it was just a dream, and then the temptation comes.
    I love how you said the attack isn’t just on our purity, it’s on our purpose. I’m going to remember that next time I’m tempted.

  3. Great work! Sometimes we just have to realise that the enemy is ready to pounce at all time when we are weak but even when we are strong. In an attempt to place us down to where he wants us. It’s so crazy how many times I have felt tempted after doing great service for the Lord. I am sure that I’m not the only one that get’s those thoughts, “Come on, you did such a good job you deserve it,” or, “You know you can just confess your sins and repent after.” I guess it just challenges me more to be prepared and stand for God at all times.

    Keep it up the great work!
    ps. Come to Sydney, AUS 🙂

  4. Jessica,
    Thank you for your honesty! One way the enemy has continued to tempt me is through my dreams. I will have some kind of sexually charged dream that triggers me to want to view porn again. It angers me, but the enemy will try anything he can. And why I am forever dependent on Christ to stay free. Thank you for sharing.

  5. That mental battle between right and wrong is so very familiar (even used in Looney Tunes cartoons!). It reminds me of the lyric from DC Talk’s “In the Light” song: “I am the King of excuses; I’ve got one for every selfish thing I do.”

  6. Jessica,
    Thank you do much for writing this blog. I just found it this morning and it’s helping me already. I’ve been struggling for years and, while I think I’ve made a lot of progress, I have always felt extremely alone and ashamed. I still sometimes feel like people can see right through me and that they know what I’ve done and sometimes still fall into doing.

    Thank you for trying to help women who fight sinful sexual thoughts and actions on a daily basis. Thank you.

  7. I just found this one while reading your posts and it helps me alot. Knowing I am not the only one who experience this and that hearing how you put off this demonic whispers silent and of course with the help of God, it inspires me to do my best to avoid temptation and to deal with them in a way that i will not be tempted. Prayer is also a key. Let’s pray for each other. Praying for you Jessica 🙂

  8. Thank you for being so open and vulnerable. You are helping others, probably way beyond what you realize. I relate very much to the string of thoughts you logged here. Thank you.

  9. What you describe is a great picture of how we go about rationalizing sin. Everyone here recognizes it very clearly! …How our rotten, deceitful heart schemes away (with the aid of our Enemy) to justify what we know is wrong.

    So often these days, people blame sin on “low self-esteem” (especially if the sinner happens to be female), but in truth, the problem is what you describe here. We hear that inner voice telling us, “You’ve done X and so you’re dirty — hey, you might just as well go and do Y, too!” (though we know full well that Y is wrong and probably worse still than X — but our wicked old sin-nature just wants Y). It’s hard to be honest about this, but if Paul can say what he did in Romans 7:18, then we should stand by and say the same. Honesty about our sinful desires (that we do indeed feel them, and that they are indeed sinful) really takes the wind out of Satan’s sails!

  10. Jessica, I confess that this article gripped me with every line, and I apologize. This isn’t for my entertainment, but I must say that use of an introspective argument is a good literary mode; especially with a Christian topic, since every true Christian has had very similar experiences with Temptation.

    You’re amazing.