A couple of nights ago, I was struggling with something that I have been struggling with for a very long time. Its been a roller coaster of circumstances and temptations that have led me to this moment. The tendencies that I have come and go, yet they are only allowed to take root because I let them grow.
On this night, I had realized how my thoughts and feelings could lead me to a place where I once felt like a captive. When I was younger, I dealt with these pains and temptations by myself because I thought that I could handle it. I tried to deal with all of it because I thought I had to continue the image of my idea of being a good Christian. If people saw that I failed and tripped along the way, would they still like me or even see God in me anymore?
Last December, I finally admitted to a very close friend a struggle that I dealt with on a daily basis. I had kept it to myself for so long that I could barely get the words out. I finally stumbled over the words as I felt the shame and guilt of reality hit me as I voiced the truth. I also felt a weird sense of relief that lasted for a short time. My dear friend listened and prayed for me. She talked with me and heard me. The next day she suggested we fast for a little while. I felt so “exposed” since having uttered the truth, but I agreed to fast. For the next 9 and a half months, I didn’t wrestle with this sin so much that I gave in to it as much as I had in the past. I had the thoughts, but I didn’t act on them. I felt stronger. I was no longer being held captive by a sinful life.
A few months ago, I remember the thoughts being very strong and very real. After going so long without acting on these thoughts, I stumbled and fell to the temptation that once held me captive. As any believer understands about the grace of God, it chases you down and covers you in love. His forgiveness is beyond measure. “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.” – Ephesians 1:7
I have the knowledge in me that God forgives and is gracious. My mind tells me that I am a wicked person for having sinned against the God who loved me so much that He willingly died for me. THIS IS THE REALITY OF LIFE. I am a wicked person… apart from Christ. The game changer here is that in Christ I am a new creation, my old life full of wickedness is no longer who I am. Clearly, as I have shared, I still sin and stumble. As a new creation in Christ, I live differently and I no longer follow the old habits that I once lived by.
In the last few years, God has been showing me what habits I need to change and what living life according to God’s freedom and grace looks like. I have never been one to open up and share personal struggles. I have and will share struggles with a general, vague narration because I always thought that people would think differently of me or see me as something that I wasn’t if I shared about the real me. I am so thankful that God has begun breaking that mindset that held me captive by my own thoughts. On the night I really experienced frustration and guilt for giving in to my sinful thoughts, I texted my friend and she told me she was praying for me and to call if I needed. Normally, I would never call. I would just “get over it” to the best of my ability – even though it was pointless because my thoughts would still come and flood my mind.
I thought about it for a second and I called my friend. She talked to me and she prayed for me. I am so glad that I called her because, at that moment, 2 was better than 1. If you take away one thing from this post, take away this: don’t try and fight the battles alone. God doesn’t just save you and leave you to fend for yourself. He is always with you and part of that is putting others in your life who will be there for you no matter what is happening. My friend who I talked to that night had made a pact with me previously about keeping each other accountable for this one area of life that we both struggled with. At the time we made the pact, I didn’t always want to be honest and say that I was struggling, but I thought it would be good because then sin couldn’t hold me in its grip like it had tried before. Deep down, I felt that in my heart, I was keeping my friend accountable. That night, I realized that my pride was shattered. My friend, who has only been saved for a few years and has gone through a lifetime of struggles was the one holding me up. God used her to push me out of that thinking and into a place of realizing the greatness of redemption.
When you enter temptation or trials, pray it out and read your Bible. Don’t be afraid to call a friend who will lift you up and hold you accountable.
This is day 1 of January 2019. This is the new beginning of a new year to serve God!