In the past, I’ve had struggles with sexual addictions, especially watching pornography, masturbating and creating sex scenes in my mind, but thank God, I’ve gotten over each one.
Recently however, these struggles seem to be coming back. Not physically but as thoughts – subtle yet strong. I’ve been asking myself if it’s possible to return to addictions one quit over four years ago and these recent happenings provided me with an answer, in at lesson #1
1. Yes, It is possible to return to an addiction:
I got over my sexual addictions in 2012 after coming into a relationship with God and letting Him fix me. Since then, I’ve been telling others about how strong God’s love is, how He accepts even the most broken people, how He fixes us when we stop trying to fix ourselves & focus on Him and how one day, we just find ourselves effortlessly unable to go back to that thing that once consumed us. All of these are true. One thing I’m however learning and didn’t mention earlier is that “once your fellowship with God is affected in anyway, it is possible to return to that addiction, irrespective of how many years you’ve stayed away from it”.
I realized that these thoughts started coming again at a point when I had left school & was separate from my local assembly. I had also started working and was forming too busy to pray or communicate with God as often as I should. So, even though my relationship with Him was intact, my fellowship was being breached and those thoughts found a way back in. But these temptations didn’t just barge into my mind all at once, they had been waiting and building up at the door of my mind until I let them in. How? This brings me to lesson #2
2. Be careful the things you watch, read and listen to:
Every week from Monday to Friday, I spend at least 4 hours sitting in a bus to and fro from work per day. Usually, I wake up by 5 to start preparing for work and once it’s 6:30, I’m out of the house. I have to leave that early cos I live in Ota, Ogun state and work in Ikeja, Lagos. I don’t find time to pray, except when I’m in the bus and listening to music or messages. However, my memory card got full at some point and I had to delete some things from my phone. Irrationally, I deleted most of my messages and songs. As I usually get stuck in traffic a lot, I soon got bored with the few songs I had left and to heal my boredom, I downloaded new ones, but they weren’t edifying. They were hard core secular songs, some of which had explicit sexual messages. I also exposed myself to watching movies and books that had a lot of sexual content.
It’s not like these things are totally avoidable, I mean, we are in this world and everything here right now has sex has its selling point. So, even advertisements or the most innocent google search comes out with a sexually appealing image amongst others. That’s why we are told as Christians to guard our hearts and minds. This I didn’t do and that’s why when those temptations started piling behind the door of my mind, there was no guard to drive them away. The door wasn’t even locked and they just let themselves back in. So, “irrespective of whatever addiction you are battling or might have gotten over, be careful of the things you watch, read and listen to. These things might just be the access points.”
Moving forward, when these thoughts came in, they didn’t come in as though they were bad, which brings me to lesson #3.
3. You have to consciously remind yourself of the regrets and the things at stake if you return to those addictions:
I realized that a temptation would usually come in the form of something pleasurable, sweet or needed. Even Jesus was tempted with food when He was hungry. Back then when I struggled with masturbating, it didn’t matter how unreasonably fleeting the pleasure was, anytime I thought about it, I returned to it.
Now when these thoughts came back, they came back in form of those pleasures. The regrets I had, the guilt and the shame I felt – all those didn’t come back. The temptations came back as pleasure. That in itself is enough to return me to those addictions, but I had to consciously remind myself of what’s at stake. For one, I don’t want to live a life contrary to what I teach people about brokenness and healing. I also don’t want to displease God and consciously reminding myself of these things help. But even that in itself is not enough, which brings me to lesson #4
4. You, yes you have to work together with God’s Spirit to subdue your flesh:
Like I said, reminding myself of what’s at stake if I return to these addictions wasn’t enough. Since I cannot fix myself, I learnt to yet again hand everything to God to fix me by His Spirit. It however doesn’t stop there. You see, God’s Spirit works on a willing heart. So the more I prayed, the more I still wanted those pleasures, the more I kept returning to masturbating. It’s like saying ‘I want you to take this away from me, but heeeeyyy, I still want it.’
It wasn’t until I was willing to work together with God’s Spirit to subdue my flesh that my healing really began. So, for one, I stopped watching sex videos and even I, saw how sincere I was about stopping. Now, when those thoughts started coming back, I was reminded of that again. Your willingness and sincerity about giving up an addiction are two ways you can work together with God’s Spirit to subdue your flesh. The last but not the least lesson I’ll share with you here is this:
5. The devil has no right over you again once you are in Christ:
No friend, he doesn’t. You are free! It took me seven years to learn this one. During this time, these temptations would first come as a thought. I was sure it was the devil bringing them but I would still succumb anyway. Then, I would feel so guilty and filthy and would blame myself for not being able to hold my body together. Like that wasn’t enough, I would feel very ashamed to talk to God, afraid that He wouldn’t listen to me and someday, somehow, I would still get punished for all my sins. So, I would try forming that I was one bad girl who didn’t care. Like that, like that and the whole thing just continued.
When I however learnt of how strong God’s love is for me (which is actually what the devil tries to prevent you from knowing), how even without being deserving God showers His Grace on me and how He has given me righteousness as a gift, I was able to throw the devil’s guilt right back at his face and since there was no more guilt, there was no more shame or fear to talk to God, who eventually healed me.
So, there you have it. Those are five of the lessons I learnt from my addiction to sex. If you are battling with any addiction whatsoever, I hope you learnt something from this.