As some of us know, football season is over! And many of us are recovering from March Madness as well.
Take a minute to wipe the tears from your eyes before you continue reading. Take another sip of your mid-afternoon coffee binge. Do what you need to do to get right before moving forward.
Okay, you’re back? Great!
Even though the football and college basketball seasons are over, the season for healing and change is not. The time for change is always IN SEASON.
As long as we live on this planet, our need for lasting health is continuous and always IN SEASON. We must intentionally work to be more and more self-aware, more and more devoted to health, more and more vigilant for sexual purity.
As we are making our way through the spring season and headed toward summer, sexual purity and healing seems to become more difficult. With warmer weather, less clothing, and less structure, summer can be a challenging part of our CHANGE SEASON.
In our world—and sadly, in the church—when it comes to the common approach of how to change behavior, this is the message we consistently hear: try harder.
This approach—try harder—we’ve all heard this. It’s the common approach to breaking any negative behavior in our lives. If you have a problem, you can fix it if you just work harder. If you become better. If you devote yourself to it. If you believe more in yourself.
Those all sound nice and fluffy, but the church is just as guilty when it comes to using this language. We just morph these words to fit into Christian-lingo. How do we translate that into the language of the church?
It looks like this: read your Bible more, pray more, love Jesus more, get discipled more, read more Christian books, journal your prayers more.
The scary truth is that these messages all make sense. We find that these are great habits to implement in our daily relationship with Christ. But an equal truth is that these messages set up people for failure and push them into a shame cycle. What do I mean?
Think of it this way—what happens when we practice these things every single day but nothing changes? What if I’ve tried loving Jesus more and prayed more for months and months but nothing gives? I begin to see that there isn’t something wrong with what I’m doing—there is something wrong with me. I must not be good enough, holy enough, Christian enough, or loved enough by God.
This approach to changing behavior is commonly referred to as White Knuckling. White Knuckling is the try harder, work harder approach to solving life’s issues or struggles. This is the approach I used for years and years to try to break free from sexual brokenness.
It didn’t work.
If you’ve read any of my past blogs, you know that I’m a movie guy. Love them! Can’t get enough of them! I was recently watching Invincible. This movie is a true-story of Philadelphia-native, Vince Papale. Vince attended an open try-out for the Philadelphia Eagles in 1976 and made the team!
As anyone who isn’t a professional athlete will know, it’s impossible to go from working a 9-5 to playing in the NFL. Obviously.
Well, in the movie, Vince Papale (played by Mark Wahlberg) is rooming with Dennis Franks, the center for the Eagles. I want you to watch a scene between these guys before we keep going.
Watch their interaction:
This was one of those scenes that really hit me. I knew in this moment that God was trying to speak to me. He was trying to teach me something, asking me to evaluate my life in that moment.
I remember thinking three specific thoughts about this scene.
First—it shows me the importance of having others around us who can be honest with us. Those who can give us an open evaluation of where they see we are and how we can improve.
Second—it highlights the importance and value of the small, little details in life. We can’t just focus on the big pieces of life. There is power in the little things.
But the Third, is the most powerful in my life today—the color of my knuckles will dictate the direction I go in my journey of freedom from addiction.
As Dennis Franks was describing to Vince Papale, the color of your knuckles will dictate the direction you are going. When it comes to sex, pornography, and love addiction, we have to evaluate the color of our knuckles. Are we working harder and trying to amp up our personal performance? Are we just trying to “stop it?”
If you are in a season of White Knuckling, what direction is that taking you? Is trying harder going to change anything? Is it going to make a difference in your life? In your addiction?
The answer is no.
We all need to seriously ask ourselves the sobering question of, “What direction am I going in my recovery?” If you are not sure how to determine what direction you’re going, here are some questions to ask:
If the answers to these questions are “no,” you might be White Knuckling it in your recovery.
You must be around others, people who are like-minded and who are committed to helping you on your journey to sexual health. You cannot do this alone! No one in history has ever accomplished anything of value by doing it alone.
The process of renewing your mind and your heart takes time, intention, hard work, and a community of consistent and gracious people.
We all need to identify the areas of our life where we are White Knuckling. The color of our knuckles will dictate the direction we are going. We are either moving toward health or we are headed toward unhealth.
Those are our only options: there is no third option or direction. It’s either healthy or unhealthy.
Ask yourself, “What color are my knuckles?”
Trevor is the Communications Manager at Pure Desire Ministries. He has been in ministry leadership for 8 years in the areas of Worship and Student Ministries. Trevor has a bachelor's degree in Psychology and is passionate about people finding sexual and emotional health.