I have learned throughout my years here at Nyack and ATS, that we all struggle. We all have issues with sin, at some point or another. We all have fears, insecurities, doubts, anxieties, wounds and the list goes on. Whether we admit them or not we are all familiar with “The Struggle”; those things that seemingly kick our behinds at times. And if you say that you don’t have any areas of weakness, if you dare say you don’t struggle, I’d dare say you are not being honest with yourself and those around you.
And so I am about to be very real with all of you about “The Struggle”. That one thing in my life, that kicked my butt for years. This isn’t easy by any means. It’s not easy to share ones struggles with friends, nevertheless sharing it with the world-wide web, where millions of people will have access to it, forever. But with this being a growing, prevalent, and perhaps the most unspoken of issues within the Body of Christ, I will share with you all, my journey with “The Struggle”.
I became a Christian in 2008, and within the first month, of making my decision to follow Jesus Christ; I stopped smoking weed and cigarettes. I left a very bad relationship, and I abandoned mostly everything that connected me, with my previous lifestyle. Except for this one thing, an addiction to sexual sin. Now before you find yourself outraged with my confession; remember you, and if not you, someone you know, also has and/or does struggle with the very same thing.
I learned from a very young age, that if I wanted to be loved and accepted, than sex was the way to go. Sexual abuse taught me where and how to find comfort, approval, acceptance, love. And so I found myself as a Christian, dealing with my issues of loneliness, rejection, pain, etc. in the way I knew how; by giving myself the self-gratification that I thought would ease my pain.
But I quickly discovered how different it is to engage in such things as a Christian. I would turn to this sin and immediately after feel ashamed, disgusted at myself and my behavior and completely disconnected from God. I would spend days depressed and angry at myself for committing such a horrible act. It took me years to understand that truly NOTHING could separate me from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus ( Romans 8). That even though, I messed up yet again, there is NO condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. That God still sees me as His beloved daughter and that His grace was TRULY sufficient for me (2 Corinthians 12:9). I learned this through my amazing leaders, friends and mentors while in Nyack College.
I learned to run to God the Father when I fell, rather than run away from Him. But this wasn’t enough. Eventually I became SICK and TIRED of falling and running and I just longed for REAL freedom. I recognized I needed accountability in order for that to happen. And so I began to confess my sins. I started to open up to my close friends and mentors about my struggle. I gave them permission to ask me the tough questions and be in my face about it. But that still wasn’t enough. Because no matter how many times I confessed and how many times they prayed for me, I still fell. And even though it was something that happened maybe once or twice a month, it happened enough for me to recognize something was seriously wrong in my heart.
And so through a class at Nyack, I learned how to begin to deal with the junk in my heart that was leading me to turn to that sort of comfort. I dealt with mommy issues, daddy issues, abandonment issues, rejection issues, abuse issues, fears, insecurities. I was as messed up as they come. I discovered that the more I dealt with my stuff, the less I struggled. But the struggle was still there.
So I went for a deliverance session, and dealt with some spiritual (demonic) influences that fueled the addiction, and that was amazing. I found myself walking in levels of freedom I’ve never known. Until I felt alone again, and fell again. And I realized then, that the only thing that would ever satisfy this longing heart was love, God’s love. So now I am learning how to spend time, daily, with the God who loves me. Allowing His love to wash over me, and fill every fracture in my soul. The more time I spend with Him, the less I crave a false sense of satisfaction and the more freedom I know.
We all have “The Struggle”. And after much trial and error, here are a few tips that have helped me walk in freedom:
Be real, admit there is an issue. Walk in the light. As long as you keep things hidden or pretend you’re not struggling, you will never find freedom. (1 John 1)
Run to God, not from Him. He loves you. He longs to pour out his love and grace over you and over those areas that you struggle with. He is not angry with you or shocked by your sin. He understands, He gets it and He longs to walk through this WITH YOU. (Hebrews 4:14-16)
Confess, share your struggle with a leader, friend, minister, a person you could trust, who will give you sound counsel, love on you and help pray you through; no matter how long it takes. (James 5:16)
Deal with the underlying issues. Allow God to expose the holes in your soul and walk you through healing. It sucks, it hurts, but it is WORTH it. (Luke 6:46)
Set up different levels of accountability– blocks on your internet, friends who will ask you the tough questions and keep you accountable for your decisions and actions.
Seek deliverance, often times addictions are influenced by critters. This doesn’t mean you’re not a child of God, it just means that we live in a world where there are spirit beings who seek to influence and rule our lives. And none of us want that.
Soak in God’s presence and love every day. Ultimately we turn to other things to satisfy a need that only God could satisfy. So let Him quench your thirst, and ease your hunger, with the richness of His love.