Transgression

It’s easy to feel remorse for a transgression—a sin—the morning after you’ve spent a long night thinking about how stupid you were, how foolish you were when you, at the time, envisioned yourself so clever, so stealth. It’s easy to ask for God’s forgiveness in the midst of this remorse. You know, the old, “I’m so sorry that I screwed up. Please forgive me. It will never, ever, ever happen again.” You might even add, “. . . and this time I’m serious.”

You already know what’s going to happen; usually within days of your “great regret”.

During the temptation, during the “build up” to the actual transgression itself, that’s when it becomes the hardest. That’s when, even though your rational mind says, “maybe you shouldn’t be doing this”, emotion, desire, or good old-fashioned addiction takes over. The still, small voice gets shoved aside by the raging tide of excitement, desire and craving. You can surround yourself with helpful platitudes, little sayings that remind you of how you feel afterwards. It doesn’t matter. They’re just noise at that point. Your craving is in full force. The addiction rules.

Then it’s over. The craving is satiated, the desire fulfilled.

And the remorse sets in.  Almost immediately.  As you knew it would.

Yet you gave in anyway.

Remorse leads to regret. Regret leads to grief. Grief leads to self-loathing. Self-loathing leads to beseeching. Beseeching leads to buoyancy. Buoyancy leads to self-assurance.

But time passes . . .

Self-assurance leads to complacency. Complacency leads to boredom. Boredom leads to craving. Craving to . . .

Transgression.

Then you sit up for half the night wondering when this stupid, vicious cycle is ever going to end. Wondering why you cave into these useless temptations knowing full well there is no good within them. Wondering where your inner-strength is. Wondering where is, or if you even have, self-will.

And inevitably, if you’re a believer, wondering where God is.

It’s called the cycle of addiction.

Believers get the added bonus of the God card at no extra cost.

How do you overcome it?

You can’t.

Not on your own. And it’s more even than just God. You need people. You need to trust someone, anyone. You need to tell someone of your struggle. Odds are the person you tell will say, “Yup. Been there, done that.”

That’s what happened with me. It was actually surprising how “normal” my own addiction was. Here I thought it was just this big, secret thing that only I had ever struggled with. Yet someone else had gone through it before me . . . One of my pastors.

So, find someone, anyone.

One caveat . . .

I’d also like to tell you it goes away, but it doesn’t. You’ll struggle, you’ll stumble, and occasionally you will fall.

And with that fall will come another voice, different from the still, small inner-pleading that came before. This voice will tell you you’re not strong enough to overcome; that you have no willpower to resist; that you’ll always fall . . .

. . . that there is no one there to help you.

Giving in to that voice is the true tragedy in this whole vicious cycle. This struggle is even more difficult, at times, than the addiction itself; and easier to surrender to . . .

“You’re right.”

Two little words and the losses are so much greater than the remorse and grief of falling to temptation.  For with this little utterance you’ve lost hope.  Hope in yourself, hope in your overcoming, hope in finding relief, hope in a future and, ultimately, hope in God.

You see, you’re not just fighting an addiction here. You’re at war. Whether you believe in any kind of higher power or not, every soul that fails in hope is a casualty.

And that is a true, total and final loss indeed.

Job 6:11  What strength do I have, that I should still hope?    What prospects, that I should be patient?

Romans 5:3-5  Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

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