Give Thanks for the Progress You’ve Made
As we approach this Thanksgiving holiday, I’m reminded of a time that God’s people were called to give thanks in the Old Testament.
During the Jewish Passover, the Israelites gathered to remember God’s goodness in redeeming them from Egyptian slavery. They were to eat a meal of bread without yeast and a specially-prepared lamb. This meal commemorated the day the Lord “brought the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt” (Exodus 12:51).
In the battle for freedom from porn, we can easily fall into the trap of focusing on the struggle… a struggle that regularly notes our failures and times of weakness to resisting temptation.
There should also be a time to give thanks for progress made in sexual purity.
Do Not Despise Small Beginnings
In the Conquer Series, a cinematic DVD study that has helped 450,000 men on their journey toward freedom from porn or sexual addiction, it’s noted that complete freedom can take two to five years.
Yet you shouldn’t wait until the end of this time to celebrate progress.
“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin…” (Zechariah 4:10)
Looking back on the journey presents us with a series of ups and downs. While we strive to improve in areas of weakness, we can enjoy and even celebrate the small victories we make.
Leadership expert John Maxwell also notes the importance of celebrating small wins: “A big vision is filled with many small goals. Celebrating victories in those areas helps team members track their progress and find the motivation to continue on the journey.”
How can we give thanks for progress made in our battle toward sexual purity?
A look at both Scripture and the experiences of others who have made progress in purity offers these five tips.
Tip #1: Write It Down
Much of the book of Exodus was a chronicle of God’s work to bring His people from bondage to freedom.
In our own lives, writing down the story of how God has transformed us from our past to our current place in life offers a powerful reminder of the change we have experienced.
In the Conquer Series, Dr. Ted Roberts, who has helped thousands of men find freedom from pornography, shares powerful tools that men can use on a daily basis in their journaling, such as the FASTER scale, which helps men to understand where they are emotionally and how to make changes before they hit relapse.
Not only will a journal give us insight into our present situation, it will also show us how far we’ve come so that we can rejoice for the progress we have made.
There are several other methods that can help encourage us through this journey, serving as a means for us to reference the ways God has worked in our lives:
- An online blog
- Handwritten Bible verses
- Writing out motivational quotes
- A written prayer list of specific requests… and answers
Each of these opportunities recalls our past while also emphasizing our progress.
As the apostle Paul notes,
“One thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14)
Tip #2: Remember Your Relationships
In addition to writing down the progress in your fight, we can focus on remembering our relationships. In other words, think of the relationships that have been saved, repaired, and improved through the progress you have made against pornography usage.
Maybe in your case your marriage was saved. For others, a relationship with a child or a parent is restored. Even pastors who have struggled with sexual addiction have been able to find purity and restoration to future ministry.
Whatever your situation, your progress is in some way improving your relationships with others, including God.
Have you taken time recently to flip through an old family photo album? It is amazing the power this experience can have.
When you look back at life, it is the relationships we have with others, and usually those closest to us, that matter most. Reviewing these relationships in the context of the improvement made in purity can serve as a powerful, positive reinforcement on the journey.
For some, this can be a painful step as you may still not have an answer to some broken relationships. Ask God to show you the relationships He has repaired, and that He continue to heal any brokenness you might be dealing with. Also, ask God to reveal to you what steps you can take in the coming year to help heal any broken relationships.
Tip #3: Make It Visual
The Passover included a specific meal on a certain day each year.
Later, the Israelites crossed the Jordan River into their promised land and were commanded to set up 12 large stones to commemorate God’s faithfulness to fulfill His promises. In our own lives, a physical reminder can serve as an effective force in remembering our progress and encouraging future purity.
For example, one man recovering from online pornography usage chose to tape a family photo to the side of his computer monitor. He said it would remind him of why he would continue to avoid impure websites. Another wears a wristband he received when completing rehab, so every time he looks at his wrist, he is reminded.
Others have chosen a physical item with special meaning in their own lives. This could include a particular sign, rock, a walking stick, framed art—any item that holds special meaning for your life in the battle for purity.
Tip #4: Share Your Progress with Others
It can be a scary thing to open up to another person about your struggle with pornography.
However, when telling the progress God has made in your life, it can also serve to empower you as you communicate the change taking place in your heart.
In the Conquer Series, the goal of meeting in a group is to provide a safe, confidential place for men to share their highs and lows in the battle for purity.
A person joins a Conquer Group because he is struggling. Yet at some point in the journey, there is a transition to winning battles. These victories need to be told, both for your own encouragement and to encourage others.
Tip #5: Invest in Helping Someone Else
As the Lord works in your life to provide victory against sexual temptation, you can celebrate progress in an even greater way by investing in the life of another person struggling with pornography.
The Conquer Series was specifically designed to prepare you to win the battle for sexual purity and to help you guide others through the process.
This powerful DVD series includes biblical principles and daily practices to help men pursue purity and overcome the temptation to consume porn. You can join the 450,000 men in 65 countries who have learned to move beyond “not watching porn” to start living a transformed life.