Have you ever met blitz and burnout? (No, they are not reindeer.)
Every year, January 1 rolls around. It is the day of great dreams and aspirations. This year will be the year you lose the fifteen pounds. This is the year you learn to speak Italian. This is the year you take cooking classes.
Then, right around January 15 comes the great New Year’s let-down. You step on the scale to find you have gained 15 pounds. You say ciao to the Italian classes, and try to make Italian at home instead but end up burning down the kitchen. That’s it! The whole year is wasted.
Forget that there are 350 days left, you are just going to have to wait those 350 days out and try again next year. The remainder of this year will be spent in the safety of your home on the comfort of your couch getting absolutely nowhere.
Maybe you are not like that, but surely, you know someone who is. That is blitz and burnout.
Burning Out on Purity
The problem is, some of us can be guilty of facing purity with this same rapid-fire gusto. We wake up one morning and say to ourselves, “This is it! I am done!” It does not have to be New Year’s Day. It could be Valentine’s Day, an anniversary, your birthday, someone else’s birthday, the first day of summer.
You reach that moment when you have had enough. You are finished–done. You want nothing to do with pornography any more, nothing to do with infidelity. You want to be that pure, chaste, and respectful man or woman of God and it starts today. Today is Day 1 of your walk of freedom. This is it.
It can be any given day that you determine to make your benchmark. You make it your starting point, set down the block, get in position and wait for the signal. Then, you make a mad dash for it. You want freedom—freedom in all of its goodness, and it starts today. You put software on your computer, read 20 chapters of the Bible, memorize Psalm 119, and plaster your house in Bible verse sticky notes.
Reading your Bible is great. Computer software is great. Little sticky note reminders are a great idea.
But, this is the blitz and burnout approach to purity.
Getting Up from the Fall
Then, on Day 6, you fall. You disable the software, shut your Bible, pull down all the sticky notes and sit there brewing in your own self-pity, sinning because there is no point in not sinning; you just cannot do it.
There is a way to passionately embrace and pursue purity that does not involve blitz and burnout.
1. Know your reason.
This is a good decision; no, it is a great decision. What is prompting it? What is fueling you? If your fuel is inspiration, be prepared for a burn out, because while there are a lot of great inspirational sermons, articles, and resources out there, inspiration alone will not get you to freedom.
If your fuel is fear, be prepared for a burn out. Maybe your spouse caught you. Maybe your daughter or a friend caught you and you thought, “I cannot let that happen again.” Eventually, your fear will subside, and you will find yourself tempted and you will fall until the next time you are caught.
Base your desire for freedom on what God desires from you. His desires for you are unchanging and unswayed by circumstance. You never have to worry about them dying down.
2. Have a plan.
Do not wake up tomorrow morning with the goal to run a marathon and wait until the day of to try and run it. You need to condition, to plan, to prepare. The same is true in your walk of purity too.
Think of your plan as your map. If you just start running without knowing where you are going, you are going to end up lost, and exhausted. Know your goals and put plans in place to reach them. Know what needs to change because unless something is changed, nothing changes. Your same temptations and struggles will be there, watching you run in circles until you collapse. Do something about them before you have to face them again.
3. Have a partner.
I know. We hate the idea of accountability, but sharing your struggles and your own desires for freedom with someone really helps. It helps keep you grounded in reality, and helps keep you humble. Besides, let us face it: we are all weak even on our best days, and two is always better than one.
4. Take it one day at a time.
Do not look at any one day as the beginning or end of a journey. We like to measure our accomplishments with time: “It has been 100 days since I looked at porn.” That’s great, but why are you looking back? His mercies are new every morning—not every year, not every 30 days, not every week—every morning. We need them every morning.
Why are you treating porn like it is a construction zone by tallying up the days since your last accident? We need to be looking ahead. Take a look at Philippians 3:13-14: “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for…”
For what? 365 days free of pornography?
No. It says, “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” That is our goal, not another tick mark on the wall. You make it to 100 days and fall: what do you do? Do you start your counter over again at Day 1? Were those 119 days worthless? Are they to be forgotten? Are you really right back where you started? What have you learned about God? Are you moving toward Him? Are you becoming more like Him?
5. Don’t give up.
I have always found such encouragement in Psalm 103:14. The whole Psalm is encouraging, but that one verse has always spoken strength to me. God knows—He remembers that I am human, simply dust. So incapable of perfection. He knows that.
I am the one so quick to forget that. I am the one so quick to believe that God is standing up in Heaven demanding that I have it all together. I think that He is the one with the daily report log, marking off the days that I struggle, stutter, stumble, or fall.
He is not giving up on you. Your freedom was worth the life of His Son. There is no way He is giving up on you. Why are you giving up on you?
Pull yourself together, put a plan in place, and make this the time you throw out the calendar. Every day, make it your goal to walk in purity. Put a plan in place to make that happen. Surround yourself with people who can help that happen, and when you fall, don’t stop—get up and keep going.