When we got married, my wife and I had a few ideas about what our honeymoon would be like. Aside from the obvious (giggidy), this was going to be the most indulgent vacation we ever had. We had worked hard and were tired and really wanted to let go, so we did! We take vacations seriously: a break from all forms of work, or basically anything productive.
One of the things we said on this indulgent vacation was we could eat whatever we wanted as much as we wanted all week. This was well-timed, because our wedding was quite lucrative! Aside from all the cash we got, we also received a few gift cards–several to restaurants!
So we dug in. We got Hostess donettes and Toaster Strudel for breakfast almost every day! We ate out at Olive Garden, Cracker Barrel, McDonald’s, Steak ‘n’ Shake, Garfields, and we even went to Pizza Hut TWICE! And if that wasn’t enough, we found a store called the Candy Emporium. We emptied our wallets. This doesn’t even factor in all the sodas, chips, cookies, and fried foods we bought from the store. And think of all the leftovers!
It was the best week ever.
Some of you are having a heart attack just reading this. Rest assured that after that week was over, we immediately cleaned up. You can’t live on that diet forever, you know! So, my wife and I turned to a much healthier regular lifestyle. We ate out much less and cooked our own food much more. We bought lots of fresh fruits and veggies from a local farmer’s market as often as we could and ate healthier snacks. Through that year, we even changed a few habits we’d always had, like I cut Pop-Tarts out of my life entirely, ate more fruit than chips, and my wife virtually cut soda out of her diet. In general, we ate much better in real life than we did that one week of vacation.
But then vacation came again next year. Well, we work hard, we play hard! We went at it again, saving money to be as indulgent as we pleased, and we ate and ate and ate.
But something happened. Shortly into our stint, we started getting bellyaches. BAD ones! Now, you may say, “duh, all that junk food!” And we thought so at first, too, but we had eaten just as badly–no! We’d eaten worse the year before and we never had any such stomach pains! Why was this happening now?
We quickly figured out the solution: we weren’t used to it. Last year, our diets hadn’t been the best in the first place, so all that junk food was taken much more easily. Now, we were more health conscious, and our bodies were used to eating foods that were lower in fat and higher in healthy stuff, so when we overloaded on garbage, our bodies rejected the input.
It’s called cleansing, and it’s the exact same way God works.
Here’s an interesting tidbit about me: I’m a recovering porn addict. I discovered it around age 11 or 12 on the internet, and the internet has only grown since then. Around the time I finally tried to seriously quit, I had over a decade of gigabytes in my head. Pornography works the exact same way as drugs: the longer you’re in it, the heavier dose you need to get your high, so I was deeply ingrained in some of the darkest fantasies imaginable.
And I called myself a Christian.
At that point, I could be surfing for porn for an hour before my Christianity kicked in (so to speak) and I finally said, “This is wrong.”
When I turned 23, I got serious and got help. I bore my soul to God and other men, poured more of Him inside of me through reading my Bible, praying, and talking with Christians. That was 16 months ago. I can’t surf porn for an hour anymore without feeling conviction. In fact, if I linger to long on a low-cut dress, my spirit will quickly say, “This is wrong. Stop now”.
How did that happen? I used to be able to look at pages and pages of material, plow through videos, and still not look back. Now I can’t take it. What happened?
Cleansing. God’s cleansing.
The more you fill up on good stuff, the more the bad stuff leaves your system.
That’s a critical truth to healing any addiction because deep addicts (drugs, sex, gambling money, etc) know that you can’t just quit. You can’t just stop doing what you’re doing. Something has to CHANGE inside you. The addiction fills a hole in your heart. Well the more you fill it with the proper things, the less space that addiction can fill.
I didn’t just stop looking at women. I got God in me. It wasn’t my willpower, but HIS will and power! I started eating the Good Food of the Bible and drinking the Everlasting Water of His Spirit. The more I did, the more my body adjusted to the healthy eating habits, and the more it rejected the Junk Food of pornography.
This is not always a pleasant experience. Carrots and water taste pretty lousy compared to cake. Clothed women weren’t nearly as fun as naked women in my mind, and fighting an addiction is nowhere near as easy as giving in to it.
But I’d had enough. I was determined, focused, and driven. But most importantly, I knew God was behind me. That’s why I changed when I turned 23. A guest speaker was talking about pornography and I thought to myself, “My situation is different. I’m getting better. It’ll go away.” And God very gently told me, “No, it’s not, no you’re not, and no it won’t. You need help, Michael. Go get it.”
And God never sends you to do somewhere he won’t go. God was with me these last 16 months, working out the addiction, purifying me of all the old issues I had stored up (anger, jealousy, selfishness, worthlessness, control, etc) and he did so by filling those voids in my life with His love and life.
I’m not done yet, it’s only been 16 months of actual trying! But the uphill slope is no longer as steep was it once was. I dare say I may even have leveled out. But I’m determined not to the “level out.” I want to slide down the other side, right into His arms.
Now, let me clarify. I don’t do this so that I can indulge later. That’s where the food metaphor breaks down; if you eat well, you can have a candy bar once and a while and nothing will happen to you. God has higher standards than that for me and will fulfill them through me with his own power. But I live in a hyper-sexualized world that keeps throwing raunchy images at my face, and now, with God, I’m strong enough to stand against them.
It takes courage, honesty, time, and God, but when you fill up on the good food, the effects of the junk food slowly fade away and you’ll be leaner, fitter, healthier, and more immune to disease than you ever thought possible.
I pray for freedom for those fighting themselves (as all of us do). And if you’re going through something like this, or anything similar, I’d love to talk to you.
God bless. Love ya.