Realizing We Can't and Doing it Anyways
I struggled with shmiras einayim for years. I tried every trick in the book, every kind of inspiration, but nothing lasted for the long term. Until I finally gave up.
Surprisingly though, it was actually when I gave up that things finally changed. I came to the realization that I just can't beat this. I can't figure it out. I can't wrap my head around it. No inspirational thoughts, no thinking, and no strategies will ever keep me from lusting for the long term. It's just too strong for me, it's too powerful, to baffling and too cunning.
But I knew G-d didn't want me to just throw in the towel. So I admitted to Him with a broken heart that I had tried a thousand times, with a thousand strategies, and yet I simply couldn't do it. I told Him that I was afraid of its power and knew that when I was lusting, I was useless to Him. I knew that lust could ultimately pull me away from Him and from everything precious in my life. And so I asked Him for His help to save me from it, so I could be useful to Him and those around me.
And that's when the miracle happened.
Somehow, the obsession was lifted. I was able to go into the street and just surrender gazing. I had this new inner awareness that I simply couldn't deal with the immense power of lust and instead had to just avoid and surrender it. And G-d helped.
I've been able to maintain this mindset for far longer than any other inspirational mindset I may have had in the past.
It occurred to me as well, that if this is the way G-d works, then it was probably true in all areas of our lives, not just with shmiras einayim.
What does that mean? Are we supposed to give up and not even try?
Precisely the opposite. It means we need to give up and still try.
How does that work?
When Nachshon went into the Yam-Suf up to his nose, did he really think he could BEAT the power of the sea? He knew that he was powerless over the sea, but he still jumped in and trusted G-d to catch Him.
Instead of trying to fight the sea, he just moved forward and trusted G-d to split it.
That is the meaning of messiras nefesh, giving over our nefesh--our desires.
It's not as hard as we think. It doesn't mean overcoming our desires. Only super-heroes can do that.
It means recognizing that we CAN'T overcome our desires, yet surrendering them ANYWAYS and trusting G-d to take care of us.
If we want success in any area of our lives, including parnassa, our best-bet is to be honest and admit that with all our efforts, we will never be able to control the outcomes. Yet in spite of this awareness, we continue doing our hishtadlus, moving forward into the sea, throwing ourselves into G-d's hands and trusting in Him fully to care for us.
When we do this with true sincerity, He never lets us down.