Few people change in a straight line. Most change is messy, difficult, and plays itself out over time. So if you are frustrated that your journey toward freedom is taking a while, just stay the course. The people who get free are the ones who do not give up.
Proverbs tells us the following:
“The godly may trip seven times, but they will get up again.” (Proverbs 24:16 NLT)
Refusing to quit and never staying down when you fall are key components to the journey toward freedom.
With all of that being said, it’s very important that when we are stuck, we learn from our mistakes, figure out what is off, and find a new path forward. If you are struggling to find lasting freedom, here are a few reasons why people stay stuck. Make note of all that apply to you, and as you move forward, make the necessary adjustments.
- YOUR MOTIVES ARE OFF. We covered this at the beginning of this freedom journey, but it’s worth coming back to. In 2 Corinthians 7:10, we see that godly sorrow leads to repentance, but worldly sorrow leads to death. The person experiencing godly sorrow is genuinely grieved over their sin because they see how their sin has hurt God and others. This sorrow leads them to live differently and pursue a life marked by love. The person who experiences worldly sorrow over their sin is more concerned with avoiding the negative consequences that sin might produce in their own lives. In other words, their primary motivation is fear of personal loss and is focused inward. Godly sorrow comes from a genuine love for God and others and is first and foremost focused outside of one’s self. It’s not wrong to be concerned about the negative effects sin will have in our lives—but our primary focus needs to be much bigger than this.
- YOU ARE TRYING TO GET FREE ALONE. You can’t hide and heal at the same time. If you want to walk free, you need to immerse yourself in healthy community and involve other people in your journey toward wholeness. Proverbs 15:22 tells us, “Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed” (ESV). Who are you routinely asking to speak into areas of your life where you are struggling. Are you being open and honest with others who are in turn encouraging you and spurring you on in your god-given identity? Are you hiding in darkness or are you bringing things into the light, where you can experience the love and guidance of caring, trusted friends?
- YOU STILL LIKE YOUR SIN. It’s a hard thing for any church-going Christian to admit that they still like their sin. Sure, they will say they hate it—that’s the proper answer. But what they typically mean is that they hate the guilt, shame, and condemnation they feel as a result of continuing to struggle, but there are still elements of their sin that they love. We cannot be double-minded about sin and get free. In Romans 12:9, Paul instructs us to, “Hate what is evil, cling to what is good.” When we come into full agreement with God about sin and hate it fully rather than partially, we can then learn to cling to what is good and build our lives around that. It is only when we have a love-hate relationship with sin that we continue to struggle with it.
- YOU DON’T HAVE PROPER BOUNDARIES. When you are trying to get free from porn, it’s critical to have proper boundaries in place to keep you from engaging in behavior that hurts both yourself and others. Things like web filters and software that monitors web and phone activity are not the ultimate solution to porn, but they can be an extremely helpful tool to help keep you from porn while you are doing the work of pursuing inner healing and transformation. In the long-term, lasting freedom comes from learning to live according to your new, god-given desires—but in the short to medium term, having the right fences up is critical. If you are still struggling, sit down with a trusted friend and go through the Porn Proof guide, which will help you decide which boundaries and fences are appropriate.
- YOU AREN’T LEARNING TO LIVE LOVED. Deep struggles with porn most often stem from trying to get our god-given longing for love met in the wrong way. God is love, and we were made by love, in love, and for love. When this need goes unmet, we will look for other ways to feel the love we were made for. To this end, porn helps us feel loved for a moment, even if it is completely based in irrational illusions. When you learn to receive God’s love and rest in it, you will find the pull to pursue the false intimacy porn offers is greatly diminished. The simple truth is that God loves you as much right now as He ever will. He doesn’t love you less when you are struggling, and He will not love you more when you are finally free. If you have a hard time experiencing God’s love personally, find verses about the love of God and just meditate on them until they get deep in your heart. Pray through these passages and make a habit of asking the Holy Spirit to reveal the love of God to you. Over time, these practices will help you to live loved, and people who live loved don’t go looking for cheap substitutes.
There you have it. The five reasons listed above are not a comprehensive list, but they should help you identify key areas where you can still experience significant growth and transformation. Take an honest assessment of where you are on each of those areas, and make the adjustments you need to make going forward. Keep at this thing. Stay hungry for freedom, remain open to truth, and maintain a bias toward action, and you’ll keep making progress.
Day 22 Freedom Work
Scripture Reading — Read 1 John chapters 1–3, taking notes of how God loves us and the effect that receiving that love has in our lives.
Journaling Exercises — Answer the following questions at length in your journal. Aim to spend at least 7–10 minutes per question and go into as much detail as possible.
- Looking at the five common reasons people stay stuck outlined above, which do you feel you have significant room to grow in. Be honest in your answer, and go into as much detail as possible. The more honest you are, the easier it will be to figure out why you may still be stuck.
- For every area you were able to identify where you still have significant room to grow, write out practical actions that would help you grow in that area. Some action steps may be obvious like “invite a trusted friend into my struggle,” while others, you may need to lean into the Holy Spirit and what He has to say about it.
Prayer — Father, I ask that as I pursue freedom, you fill me with humility and wisdom to see the areas where I need to grow and to take actions that will lead me into life. Holy Spirit, search my heart and know me. Reveal to me the things I still believe that are keeping me stuck, and reveal the truth that will set me free. I ask that you continue to open my heart to receive the abundant love that you have for me, and that you heal me where I am broken. You know the specific things I need. Open my heart to receive correction and encouragement from you so that I can turn from destructive behavior and live in wholeness and healing. Amen.