Summer is quickly fading into the cooler days and nights of Autumn. The days pass by and time inches closer to “dorm move-in” day. I get giddy with the anticipation of seeing my friends, starting classes and getting back into a routine. I’m excited for how this new school year will enrich my faith, encourage my calling to the mission field and grow and deepen my relationship with Christ. However, as September rolls in, the more my struggle with lust hangs over me like dark storm clouds.
I took the time over the past few days to read through my journal entries that I kept from last semester and wow, my temptations with lust added an extra issue I had to deal with on top of all the normal study/write papers stress of a college student. In the spring, I was fresh off my trip to Cambodia where I saw first hand the sex industry at its worst. I came back repulsed and fearful with one eye always over my shoulder. After some PTSD counseling, I was feeling better, but soon started to lust worse than ever and I felt ashamed that I could go from one extreme to the other in such a short time.
The most beautiful illustration came last semester when not one, but three different professors of mine spoke about Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. The visual of Jesus’ temptation and pressure in the garden being so grievous that he actually sweat blood (Hebrews 12:4). This scene described how Jesus understands the difficult temptations of life that literally cause us physical pain to turn down for God’s glory. I wrote in my journal back in February “that while it was a struggle to give up drugs for God, perhaps this illustration means more for my life – for the deeper more painful struggles, the ones that torment my mind. Satan uses my past sexual experiences to tempt me into sin.” I hadn’t yet resisted a temptation to the point of sweating blood, in fact more often I was giving into them and sinning.
It wasn’t until weeks later that God grabbed hold of me tighter. My devotional read, “Every difficulty and every temptation that comes our way, if we receive it correctly is God’s opportunity.” Those words spoke into my heart as did the book of Hebrews. I spent the remainder of the semester simmering on God’s words for how to overcome my sinful temptations. Everyday was a struggle, and some days I failed, but everyday I praised the Lord that I was a conqueror in Christ Jesus.
Then summer hit and as quickly as this issue I have with lust came, my issue with lust disappeared (or seemed to). When I’m put into a situation with attractive young single men, my eyes wander, my heart is evil and I have to try so hard to not be pulled down by that. But, during the summertime when there isn’t a single (godly) man in sight for months on end and the closest I get to a guy is my brother, lust isn’t even on my radar.
But, I know better though than to walk onto campus this year thinking my sinful temptations went away.
I have just 10 days and counting until I’ll be in close proximity to young men on fire for Jesus. Ah, my weakness (beards too & I hear they are back in fashion! haha.) Anyway, so I’ve come up with a plan of attack for the beast inside me (and the beast inside you) to make sure that we continue to overcome temptation and live lust free.
Preventing Lustful Behavior
- The best way I can think to win the battle against lust is to continuously work at a relationship with Jesus. This means praying, journaling and reading His word daily. It is only when one is well equipped that she can properly exercise control over a situation.
- Know your triggers. This is so important. I have been figuring out my triggers for almost a year now, since I first discovered that I was even sinning in this way. For me when I see guys with tight pants or V-neck t-shirts (with chest hair sticking out) my antennas all begin to buzz. When I glance and notice something like this and it peaks my interest, instead of continuing to stare (knowing I might lust), I need to recognize it and consciously look away to avoid sinning.
- Write down a list of times you remember having control over your temptations of lust and times when it was more difficult. This is helpful for utilizing healthy coping skills in the future to overcome lust issues.
- Also, plan on getting an accountability partner. I kind of had one last year, but she (yes, same sex or accountability goes right out the window) was not consistent. This time around, I’m hoping to lock in on a consistent accountability partner who will ask the hard questions that no one else wants to and find out if I am struggling and offer to pray with me. This type of relationship will be super helpful.
- Plan on getting your group of friends involved. Last year my friends all admitted that we struggled in the area of lust. (This is no surprise to me, women struggle with lust and porn more frequently than I believe studies suggest.) Pray that all conversations can stay clean and uplifting, not focusing on sins or temptations in the gossip sense, but more centered around prayer to overcome them.
- I did a lot of research into my past history with my issue of lust and I do believe for anyone who struggles – there may be deeper reasons why. This is something that’s important to figure out. When did this battle start? What triggered it? Satan knows our weaknesses, but nothing it too hard with God!
- Lastly, have steps to use when you encounter a temptation:
- Look away/Don’t focus on the temptation
- Pray and recite scripture (1 Corinthians 10:13 is always a good one!)
- Call your accountability partner