Today, we are going to dive into three key questions to ask yourself when you are struggling.
As we’ve covered extensively in the lessons leading up to this one, contrary to our intuitions, our sexual compulsions not to come from an overactive sex drive, but from the deeper place of longing to be loved.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer famously said, “The pursuit of purity is not about the suppression of lust, but about the reorientation of one’s life to a larger goal.”
When you are struggling or you are wrestling with negative thoughts and feelings that typically lead you to be tempted, the answer then, is not simply to push your sex drive down, but to recognize your true, deeper needs, and address them. In the words of Chip Judd, a longtime Christian counselor, we must learn to R&R—to receive and rest in God’s love. To that end, Chip gives us three key questions to help us “R&R” through these difficult moments. They are as follows.
1. How do you see God?
The way we see God will often determine whether we run to him in our time of need, or if we turn to other things. If we view Him as distant, disappointed in us, and waiting to get us when we mess up, we will find it nearly impossible to run toward him when we are tempted. However, if we view Him as a loving Father whose heart toward us is good and who understands our weakness, we will find ourselves running to him when we are not feeling very loved.
2. How do you see yourself?
Make a list of words that come to mind when you think of yourself. Do you see yourself as a failure? A disappointment? Loved by God? Pleasing to God? Dirty? Clean? Weak? Strong? Be as specific as possible, and just be honest. Then ask yourself a follow-up question—do the words you feel about yourself align with how God sees you or are they coming from somewhere else?
3. What do you have to do to please God and get your needs met?
Do you feel you need to do something to please God or do you feel that God is already pleased with you? Counselor Chip Judd likes to say that religion is spelled “DO” while Jesus-centered Christianity is spelled “DONE.” Are you resting in the finished work of Christ and seeing yourself as the object of His love, or do you see yourself as having to earn His affection by your behavior? Oddly enough, trying to behave differently to earn God’s love typically has very little impact on behavior, while learning to receive His love and rest in His affection for you tends to empower you to change.
When you find yourself struggling with the temptation to look at porn or to give into another sinful habit, it helps to get up, flee whatever situation you are in, and pull up these three questions. Answer them honestly and prayerfully, inviting the Holy Spirit to speak to you in the process. These questions will not only help you to understand where the focus of your struggle is—they will also help you shift from trying to push your sexuality down to focusing on what’s really going on in your heart. When you learn to reorient yourself in God’s love rather than just suppress lustful desires, you will begin to experience a big shift in your battle against porn.
Here’s the thing. God isn’t waiting on you to get free in order to love you. He has already chosen to love you unconditionally. He loves you as much on your worst day—the day you feel furthest from Him—as He does on your best day. And He won’t love you any more when you are completely free than He does right now, in this very moment. In fact, the reason He wants you to be free in the first place is simply because He loves you. His heart breaks when you struggle because He loves you, and when you walk in victory, His heart rejoices because He loves you! Either way, He loves you. For many, just breaking out of this mindset that we have to somehow earn God’s love is a critical step toward freedom. Learning to R&R—to receive and rest in God’s love, is an important part of that process.
Day 20 Freedom Work
Scripture Reading — Read Matthew chapter 3 and John chapter 17. As you read, ask yourself how God sees Jesus and how God sees you.
Journaling Exercises — Answer the following questions at length in your journal. Use the cues from the lesson above and aim to write for about 5-7 minutes per question:
- How do you see God right now?
- How does God see you right now?
- What do you need to do in order to please God and get your needs met?
Prayer — Father, I don’t want to have any thoughts in my head about me that aren’t in your head about me. Help me to identify thoughts and feelings that are not from you, and help me to replace them with thoughts and feelings that align with your heart. Break any negative patterns of thinking and help me to rest in what you say about me. I so deeply long to be loved and to know that I am pleasing to you. By your Spirit, reveal the depths of your love to me—especially when I am hurting and struggling. Thank you that I do not need to earn your love, but that you give it to me freely and lavishly. Amen.