Sin was noise.
The more I sinned, the louder the noise got in my head. I would be overwhelmed by thoughts going in and out, continuously looping around my brain, day and night. It would get so busy in my mind, that the smallest thought would get lost in a maze never to be seen again. I would be paralyzed by words. Frozen by occurrences. Divided by past, present, and future.
I was doing everything right though. I looked the part. Women loved me. I acted the part. I had a handsome and cool crew of friends that commanded rooms when we entered. I had the prestige. People knew my name. I could hold a conversation with anyone. I could go anywhere and feel comfortable. I was doing all of the right things needed to be known, seen, and leave a mark. By all accounts, I should have been happy.
Even in laughter the heart may sorrow,Proverbs 14:13 (NKJV)
And the end of mirth may be grief.
In isolation, I would fall into depression. I would go out with friends, drink, meet women, and whether I went home alone or not, would want to be left alone while being deafly afraid of being alone. I’d pick a different girl every night of the week to spend time with but really didn’t want to be with any of them. I would lay awake at night replaying scenes from the day, over and over again, with different decisions and outcomes nonstop. I would rationalize the good and the bad until no option was unscrutinized. Decisions left me anxious in times of action, and depressed in times stillness. Focus evaded me, confidence alluded me, I doubted myself, and at the same time, I didn’t know me at all. I was a bundle of nerves held together by scotch tape with a fancy veneer.
I’ve had numerous moments like this in life. However, three or four years ago, I didn’t want to deal with things the same way I did before; going out until I built a steady stable of women to distract me from myself. I didn’t want to hide in a bottle or beg to be around people that were similarly empty. Yet, I would stay at home watching those going out, faking happiness, but faking happiness together, while I sat at home wondering if there was something I was missing.
There is a way that seems right to a man, PROVERBS 14:12 (NKJV)
But its end is the way of death.
I filled that space with religion, but not God, for a while. I built expectations of church, family, and friends that were unreasonable and got disappointed when they didn’t follow through. I did everything to reach some semblance of peace. I reached towards God, not knowing why or how. My surprise was when He reached back.
I started to hear from God again around that time and in Lukewarm Obedience I decided to push through the things thought were the most difficult to me, Celibacy and giving up my social relationship with Alcohol. The alcohol was the easy part, I haven’t touched a drop in months, but the Celibacy was the hard part.
Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.2 Timothy 2:22
It was more than just the Celibacy that seemed difficult. I hadn’t been having sex but everyday was a challenge not to bow to lust. It was the masturbation when stressed, easy access to porn online, sexual photos on Instagram, shows/movies with long love-making scenes, freaky conversations on Twitter, lustful lyrics in music, and the constant thoughts about relationships. Everything was connected to make me desire personal satisfaction without limit. I was fighting hard, but it was only me fighting.
This past January hit and during a new 21-day fast, God’s voice became clear. He wanted to see how much I desired to be free from the things that bound me for such a long time. I didn’t just give up food, it was a time to get closer to the Lord. I listened to only Gospel music, gave up hip-hop podcasts, read my Bible twice a day, woke up at 5:30am to pray daily, fasted, and spent more time with my spiritual father. All this time with God started to calm me. The noise quieted. My nerves were eased and it was just better. I woke up every morning happy, and ready to get closer to the Lord.
Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.Isaiah 26:3
In 2017, I focused on my Celibacy a lot. Every day was a success, I constantly counted days and celebrated each one, but when I stumbled, I stumbled hard. I would beat myself up and that would cycle into me stumbling again. It would start off as reading sexual tweets from women masked as their sexual liberation and fighting against misogyny. Then, it would turn into looking at pictures or 10-second clips of beautiful women. Then, I’d find myself searching porn or looking at old “memories” of my exes. By the end, I’d be a big horny monster, still unfulfilled, but content until the next urge hit a few hours later.
God started off gradual. He didn’t force anything. He just asked me if I wanted to continue like this. He explained to me that overcoming sin is not something I can do on my own. No matter how hard I try, there will always be moments of weakness, but in Him, I am strong. He told me that the reason I fail is because I’m doing it instead of letting the Holy Spirit work in me to change my desires. He explained that the reason I kept going back is because I’m not willing to change my current life. I cannot have two masters: myself & God. I needed to pick one.
No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.Matthew 6:24 (NKJV)
God told me to clean my house. I looked around at my apartment and it was like I could finally see for the first time. I saw old artifacts, gifts, and reminders of women, dating back eight years, still taking up room. God told me to make space. While I was cleaning out my dresser, I came across my bag of emergency condoms. I was about to close the drawer when God asked, “Are you planning to fail?” I paused. Felt the truth, and I threw them away. God never yells or condemns me. He just asked a simple question. My answer shocked even myself. I declared to God, “I am celibate until marriage.” My whole body quivered for a second, and then I placed my trash outside for pick-up.
I unfollowed people on social media that lived in ways that I’d be negatively influenced by. My rules regarding women changed, putting space between me and women in relationships or keeping additional numbers of people around so I not alone past a certain time. I deleted ALL of my old “memories” of exes so I wouldn’t have anything to be tempted by. There was even a young lady, from my past that I loved dearly, that I had to let go. I realized I was leaning on her in case of emergency. If I had a bad day or something didn’t work out right, deep down I knew I could call her up, and she would make me feel like I mattered. She was my crutch. God’s words rang true, “Are you planning to fail?”
Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. Matthew 5:27-29 (KJV)
It wasn’t just lust I started to deal with, it was insecurities too. I threw away t-shirts and objects connected to certain times in my life that weighed me down. I let go of people and ideas that seemed to hinder my self-esteem. I looked at my life and removed all the distractions and stumbling blocks I could think of. I just wanted to be free. But, God had to tell me, this alone wouldn’t free me. My pastor said you can get rid of all the objects in your house, live like a monk, and still be bound. God said he was right.
It wasn’t the objects holding me back. It was me. It was the feelings, emotions, and beliefs that had to be broken and came out of agreement with. I held on to those things from so many years ago because I was afraid I wouldn’t get new things, meet new people, or have new experiences. I held on to the hope of meeting them again at another place, in another time, because I didn’t trust that someone could, would, or should love me again. I realized that even the lust wasn’t really about the sex to me, it was about feeling loved. It was about feeling like I mattered to someone enough to share their deepest secrets with. Sex was valuable to me. It was a way for me to prove I mattered and give weight to my existence. Yet, when I went even deeper, it was about my trust in God.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,Proverbs 3:5-6 (NKJV)
And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.
I finally got it. Was I still planning to fail? Was I trying so hard to hold on to the past because those were my “best days”? Did I truly believe that was it for me? A handful of nights of spontaneity and liquor, followed by days of trying to retrace my steps, fix what was broken, or hold together until the next chance for letting go? I wanted more for myself. I believe that God wants more for me. Lust lost its luster. It became easy to give up the things I was holding on to because I trust God to give me better. I just have to be patient.
Lust hasn’t been a problem since. I might have a second here or there where I need to remind myself of God’s promises, but I feel more confident and calm than I have in years. I have no desire to get ahead of my blessings because I believe my Father loves me too much to not have the joy of someone to share my entire self with one day. I’ve tried too long to do it on my own with little to show for it. My Father put too much time and energy into shaping me for me to be giving myself away for such a low price and at such a high cost. Lust is a trick. It is the desire to take something ahead of its time without knowing if its yours or not. Lust is impatience, distrust, and pride rolled into one. Lust is a lot, but it’s not mine anymore.
Hope you all enjoyed this. It was much harder to write than I expected. My perspective has changed and I wanted to share my lessons learned. Do you have stories of confronting Lust? Let me know in the comments below.
Turn Your Brightness Up!