When I first began my journey towards purity I had set my expectations extremely high. Once I learnt God’s plan of love – that we put others’ wellbeing before our own interest and desires – and God’s plan for sex – that a man and a woman may give themselves wholly to one another as an act of physical love and intimacy (and thus, giving birth to a new life) – then I was completely determined that I would lead a life of purity and chastity for the rest of my life.
You can imagine how that went down…
First day in I triumphed by supressing my sexual desires. Then the next and the next… until it went for a week, then I fell over harder than I ever did before.
Every single time I would fall over I would hate my feelings, my desires and weakness. And each time I would give in to my weakness (which was almost every day), I would get more discouraged to the point where I believed I would never be free from my sexual addictions. Maybe I was just setting the bar too high? Maybe I was wishing for the impossible? Maybe this was just part of my identity?
It took me about 3 years then to finally realise why it was so difficult for me to overcome my habits and why I was at the brink of giving up every single time I struggled. It wasn’t that I was setting the bar too high to the point where I was aiming to achieve the impossible, or that I was trying to completely remove something that was actually part of my personality. The problem was that I was expecting perfection in the way I would achieve a life of purity, but I forgot that I am completely human and that my value does not equate my achievements or failures.
So I want to share with you 2 things for you to remember that will help you to continue aiming high without giving yourself a hard time:
Be aware of your humanity
We were created with a human nature. As humans we were created with certain feelings and desires, which are part of God’s Plan for Love. When I was struggling with sexual addiction, I was seeing my sexual desires and my weakness as burdens. But my sexual desires and weaknesses are not wrong, they are actually assets that God has actually blessed me with to get closer to Him. We were created with sexual desires for a reason, because at the very bottom of those sexual desires are the purpose God made us for: love, intimacy and wholeness. And love, intimacy and wholeness can be truly found through a relationship with God through those around us. If you have a tendency towards sexual sin – whether it is porn addiction, masturbation or lust – it’s not because you are wrong, but because you are seeking that very love, intimacy and wholeness that you were made for! You are just seeking it in the wrong way. Our weakness is our reminder of our need for God, how we cannot do this alone, how we cannot get to Heaven without His grace and strength. So be aware that this struggle is part of our human nature and you can use it to your advantage to grow in love with God.
Remember where your self-worth truly lies
One of my favourite quotes of all time is one by St Pope John Paul II: “We are not the sum of our weaknesses and failures; we are the sum of the Father’s Love for us and our real capacity to become the image of His Son.” It is a good reminder that our worth does not lie at all in what we have done wrong, but in how much God loves us and wants us for Himself. His Son, Jesus Christ, gave His life up for us, not because we were perfect beings, but because He loved us even in our weakness and failures. He never condemned our first Pope, Saint Peter, who denied Him 3 times before He was crucified, but Jesus gave Peter a new opportunity to redeem himself and come back into the His abundant Love and Mercy. This is the same for us. He loves us so much that even in our weakness and failure, God will continually gives us new opportunities to begin again and renew ourselves in purity.
You may feel disheartened every now and then because of your struggle to overcome your weakness with sexual sin, but don’t ever lose your hope! I have been there too! You are not aiming too high, you are aiming right where God wants you to aim! Persevere in your fight for pure and authentic love and never give up!