Giving up on “Figuring it out”
For many years, I tried to beat lust. If only I could figure it out, wrap my head around it, I would be able to control it. Many times, especially after falls or lots of pain, I was sure that I had finally internalized that it was SHEKER, that there was nothing there. I would find a new slogan or frame of mind that would keep me clean for another few weeks but, inevitably, the inspiration would wear off and I’d slip back into small-mindedness, craving, lusting, and acting-out. And that would make me even more depressed because I felt like I must be a bad person. If I had had such clarity about how empty and wrong it was, how could I fall for it again?! This would make me want to give up totally, thinking that my soul must be tainted and evil.
Until finally, one day, I had a deep realization that I will NEVER be able to figure it out. I will NEVER be able to “talk myself out of it” or convince myself how meaningless it is. I am powerless over lust, and I will inevitably keep falling back into it. But that doesn’t mean there’s no hope; exactly the opposite. This realization is actually the foundation of REAL recovery. When we finally admit we can’t, we open ourselves up to a true dependence on the ONE who CAN. We become broken-hearted and turn to Him and say, “Father, I can’t do this. I’ve tried a million times and failed. Please hold my hand and don’t throw me away from you. When I lust, I am useless to myself, to others and to YOU. Please help me, because I know that I can’t do it myself.” It is this very brokenness and needing G-d that actually opens us up finally to His help.
And besides for the fact that He helps us, there’s also a paradigm shift in how we view slips and falls. A slip or fall doesn’t mean we are “bad,” it simply means that we are forgetting how powerless we are over this and how much we need His help. It’s not that we know how wrong it is and do it anyway – proving that we must be bad at the root. Because nothing we can ever “know” will stop us. We are simply forgetting how useless and unmanageable lusting makes our lives and how much we NEED G-d’s help and can’t do it alone.
A slip or fall in the past used to lead to a cycle. If I can’t stay clean, I’m bad and I’ve already lost it, so what the heck. But now it’s totally different. Yes, I had a slip. That’s who I am. I am powerless over this. All it means is that I must have forgotten how bad this is for me. I must be forgetting how much I need Hashem. I must try to remember how this ruins my life and how much I need Hashem’s help to stay clean.
And as soon as I turn to Him again in truth with a broken heart, He right away grasps my hand in His and we continue happily together…