“I know all about the despair of overcoming chronic temptation…No amount of falls will really undo us if we keep picking ourselves up each time…The only fatal thing is to lose one’s temper and give up.”
— C.S. Lewis, Letters, January 20, 1942
Chronic temptation: the enticement to repeat a behavior we know isn’t right or helpful for us to do, and yet, over and over, we do it.
Have you ever lost your temper at yourself for the seeming inability to overcome some sort of “chronic temptation?” Have you wondered if trying once again is worth the effort? Have you ever questioned, “What’s the use?”
Yeah, me too!!
I recently heard from a friend who confessed she did once again something she knew she would regret—a behavior that has left her feeling emotionally exposed in the past. I provided a couple suggestions I thought may be helpful, but mainly, I encouraged my friend to pick herself up once again.
I confess, I’ve been feeling rather angry at myself lately.
One of the “soul care” disciplines I sought to pursue last year was abstaining from sugar. I know this behavior is good for me on many levels, and even though moderation is probably the most desirable remedy, I’ve discovered abstinence is easier for me than moderation where sugar is concerned.
For 10 months, I was successful. Then, the end of October, while on vacation, I gave into temptation, indulging in blackberry cobbler one evening and a cinnamon roll the next morning!
Then came Thanksgiving and pumpkin pie.
Then came Christmas!!
This isn’t the first time I’ve determined to abstain from eating sugar, and this wasn’t my first sugar relapse! Ten months, however, is my longest period of success.
Overcoming chronic temptation, like so many other spiritual disciplines, is often a process. Sometimes, progress is three steps forward and two steps back, as is the case with sugar and me. The behavioral roots related to chronic temptations are generally rooted deeply. Every step in the right direction takes time, isn’t easy, but is worth the effort.
C. S. Lewis’ sage advice, given before I was born, reminds me the struggle against temptation is nothing new to humankind. In fact, struggles with temptation were addressed even long before Lewis’ observation. The Apostle Paul spoke of the matter to his friends in Corinth almost 2000 years ago.
The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful…When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure. 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NLT)
So, once again, I’m going to tackle my temptation to eat sugar! I’m going to do what C. S. Lewis suggested and pick myself up once again. I’m going to realize I’m not alone in the struggle of wrestling with chronic temptation, and mostly, I’m going to pray God will show me a Divine “way out” so I can keep on keeping on.
Listening on YOUR Journey:
Chronic temptations are not always external behaviors, such as unhealthy food choices that cause physical inflammation. Internal thought patterns creating fear, self-pity, comparison, worry, anger, grudge-holding, insecurity, unreasonable expectations or passing judgment cause spiritual inflammation. Behaviors such as talking/sharing too much, stuffing/withholding true feelings, over-spending, stinginess, complaining, criticizing or refusing to listen and respect differing opinions inflames relationships.
What about you?
- With what chronic temptations do you struggle?
- If God were to show you a “way out,” what might be different in your body, spirit and/or relationships?
- What one once-again step will you take in January 2018?
Blessings this new year. I’m praying for you, and I hope you’ll pray for me as together we continue to move forward—listening on our journeys…
A New Year on a cold winter’s day is a great time to think about starting over ‘once again!’