If there’s one thing that I remember from having a porn/lust addiction, it was that during tough times, I had something to turn to—my addiction. Whenever I was feeling lonely or down, I could watch magazines or cable TV shows that would feed my “pleasure zone”—the receptors in my brain that released that oh-so-feel-good oxytocin. And if those things weren’t available (which they weren’t, after I restricted myself), it was fantasizing. I could easily lose myself in my thoughts, focusing on things that would make me happy, whether physical or emotional intimacy. By doing this, I would simply immerse myself in a world where I had no hardships until reality settled itself back down. Unfortunately, due to my hiding, my God identity trait of perseverance was severely underdeveloped.
Google defines perseverance as “steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.” Here are three things I am learning about persevering as God intends:
- Perseverance should make us joyful. The porn identity told me that no one cared that I was suffering, so I should withdraw from everyone and focus on my addiction/fantasy life. I would also whine and cry through my suffering (I’m still working on this!) until it was over. But the Bible says that we should rejoice in our sufferings (Romans 5:3)—one of the hardest things to learn. One of the ways I try to rejoice is by reminding myself that the devil is always going to attack those he feels are a threat to him, those who may have significance in the kingdom of God. So when things are going well for me, I have to ask—have I become complacent about my walk with God? Because Jesus did not say “if” you experience troubles in this world, he said “when!” So I should be joyful during difficulties, knowing that my suffering is normal and that God plans to use me in a great way—if I will just persevere!
- Perseverance produces maturity. My porn addiction forced me to stay in what author Tim Challies calls pornolescence. This adolescent mindset made me believe that I could stay the way I was, keep doing the things I was doing, and still be godly and holy—and fulfill the God’s calling on my life. But truthfully, I was not growing in character, wisdom, or maturity in my walk with God. When tough times came, I was turning immediately to what would make me feel better, not what would make me BE better. But taking on the God identity means persevering and maturing in Christ. James 1:2 says, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” Trials produce steadfastness—if we let them. And when perseverance takes full effect in us, we mature in Jesus.
- Perseverance brings blessings. I feel like I missed out on a lot of blessings in my life because I didn’t choose to persevere through trials—I chose to hide. I feel this most in my relationships with others. Being a prophet gift who sees and knows truth within relationships is difficult; and when I am hurt, sometimes I want to hurt others or withdraw instead of pushing through the difficulties of talking things through with others. Because of this, I’ve missed the blessings of strengthening my relationships. But the Bible says I’ve missed even more than that! The Bible says that those who endure will receive what is promised (Hebrews 10:36). The promises of God are many and wonderful, and I can’t help but wonder what other promises I have missed because I have not worked on developing perseverance.
The great news is that I don’t have to miss any more promises and blessings! I can start developing perseverance today—and I have. In the midst of my current hardships, I have been choosing to focus my thoughts more on God. Better yet, I am choosing to persevere, even though life is challenging right now. But I take solace in knowing that if the trouble is big, then the reward will be even bigger—including maturity and growth in my most important relationship (with God) and the strength to face whatever is next!