Freedom from sin does not equal a perfect record, I’m coming to understand.
I’m going on 5 months of being masturbation-free. When I say that I mean that I’ve been free from the habit of masturbation that I’d been trapped in for the majority of my life. I’ve had two hiccups in that time. One when I was half-asleep, the other when I saw something online that I should have turned away from. During the latter, I began masturbating but then stopped.
What am I doing? I thought, Am I really going to step back into this when I’ve been so wonderfully out for so long?
I decided, no, and put an end to it.
Here’s where I saw the freedom: I didn’t let either of those failings drag me back into the usual cycle.
Before, that failure would have triggered my surrender to my flesh, and to the idea that I can’t ever get it right and be free from lust. I’d have given up and given in and the whole process would begin anew.
Why? Because I believed that if I can’t do it perfectly, if I mess up once then I’ve ruined the purity streak and might as well indulge.
Now I see that even though I’ve messed up twice I’m still living in freedom. I didn’t let those failures get in the way of saying no now. It’s not about keeping a perfect record. It’s about choosing grace this very moment.
I say no to the cycle. It doesn’t line up with the Gospel, or with God’s grace. It isn’t sanctification, either. What I’ve got now is much better and it’s truth. If I stumble it doesn’t send me back to the starting line, so I shouldn’t immediately go back to it. I should get up, right where I am and press on toward the prize.
Also, I want to say to those who are also struggling. I’m still tempted, especially when ovulating, but the less you indulge the easier it gets and the less frequent the temptation. A HUGE part of this is saying no to watching or listening to things that make your mind want to go there. Like, last night I said I didn’t want to watch a certain movie because I knew there was sex in it though I couldn’t remember how much. If I’d seen it I knew it would make the temptation to fantasize more difficult so I said no.
It was easier to say no because I haven’t masturbated and so the physical desire was less, too. So keep going! Abstaining gets easier with time!
In other news, there was an almost romance for a few months last fall with a friend of mine, but he never made a move and God made it clear we wouldn’t be a good fit even if he had. It was all in all a good experience. I discovered I’ve lost all the shyness and insecurity that I once had, and I’m perfectly capable of flirting (which I’ve questioned more than once). And we are still friends so nothing’s really changed. I’m okay with that.