(This post was originally published 5-26-09).
This post is about my personal experience with The Love Dare. If you would like to learn more about The Love Dare, go here.
Day Ten: Love vs. Lust. End it now. Identify every object of lust in your life and remove it. Single out every lie you’ve swallowed in pursuing forbidden pleasure and reject it. Lust cannot be allowed to live in a back bedroom. It must be killed and destroyed — today — and replaced with the sure promises of God and a heart filled with his perfect love. What did you identify as an area of lust? What has this pursuit cost you over time? How has it led you away from the person you want to be? Write about your new commitment to seek Him — and to seek your spouse — rather than seeking after foolish desires.
From The Love Dare book:
¤¤¤ Adam and Eve were supplied with everything they needed in the garden of Eden. They had fellowship with God and intimacy with one another. But after Eve was deceived by the serpent, she saw the forbidden fruit and set her heart on it. Before long, Adam joined in her wishes, and against God’s command both of them ate.
That’s the progression. From eyes to heart to action. And then follows shame and regret.
We, too, have been supplied with everything we need for a full, productive, enriching life. ‘We have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either” (1 Timothy 6:7).
God’s blessings, however, go so far beyond these fundamental needs, we could rightly say that we want for nothing. Yet like Adam and Eve, we still want more. So we set our eyes and hearts on seeking worldly pleasure. We try to meet legitimate needs in illegitimate ways. For many it’s seeking sexual fulfillment in another person or in pornographic images designed to feel like a real person. We look ,stare, and fantasize. We try to be discreet but barely turn our eyes away. And once our eyes are captured by curiosity, our hearts become entangled. Then we act on our lust.
We can also lust after possessions or power or prideful ambition. We see what others have and we want it. Our hearts are deceived into saying, “I could be happy if I only had this.” then we make the decision to go after it.
Lust is in opposition to love. It means to set your heart and passions on something forbidden. And for a believer, it’s the first step out of fellowship with the Lord and with others. That’s because every object of your lust — whether it’s a young coworker or a film actress, or coveting after a half-million dollar house or a sports car — represents the beginnings of a lie. This person or thing that seems to promise sheer satisfaction is more like a bottomless pit of unmet longings.
Lust always breeds more lust. Lust will make you dissatisfied with your husband or wife. It breeds anger, numbs hearts, and destroys marriages. Rather than fullness, it leads to emptiness.
It’s time to expose lust for what it really is — a misguided thirst for satisfaction that only God can fulfill. Lust is like a warning light on the dashboard of your heart, alerting you to the fact that you are not allowing God’s love to fill you. When your eyes and heart are on Him, your actions will lead you to lasting joy, not to endless cycles of regret and condemnation.
Are you tired of being lied to by lust? Are you fed up with believing that forbidden pleasures are able to keep you happy and content? Then begin setting your eyes on the Word of God. Let His promises of peace and freedom work their way into your heart. Daily receive the unconditional love He has already proven to you through the cross. Focus on being grateful for everything God has already given you rather than choosing discontentment.
You’ll find yourself so full on what He provides, you won’t be hungry anymore for the junk food of lust.
And while you’re at it, set your eyes and heart on your spouse again. ¤¤¤
There are still so many lessons that I could have shared with you from The Love Dare book. And I would have loved to continue sharing those lessons with you, but I don’t think the authors would have appreciated me virtually presenting their entire book to you, free of charge. So honestly, I urge you to go out and buy this book so you can practice the rest of the dares and read so much more on what I’ve written here.
(And for the record, I was not asked to promote this book. I did not accept any sort of monetary or materialistic incentive to talk about The Love Dare. I did all of this, I bared my soul to the Internet, I shared my marital life with you, in the hopes that through my experiences and the excerpts I’ve shared from The Love Dare book, it would touch and bless your life.)
But out of all of the remaining lessons in this book (forgiveness, intimacy, the importance of prayer, faithfulness, accountability, unity, etc), I chose to share the love vs. lust lesson with you because to me, it’s one of the single most important contributors to a failing marriage.
I should know – it nearly ruined my marriage.
When you hear the word lust, you automatically think of sex. And yes, of course, lusting after another man or woman is wrong and the fuse that could ultimately destroy your life (if lit), but I opted to talk about the lust part of this dare to also point out to you that it doesn’t always mean the sexual kind of lust —
It can also apply to anything that takes your focus, dedication and desire away from your marriage.
And in a lot of ways, I think it’s more dangerous because it’s subtle, it disguises itself in good intentions, it’s manageable, and it’s everywhere.
It’s incredibly easy to lose sight of what’s important. Temptations are everywhere and they are attractive, fun, dangerous, delicious and decadent – hence the reason they are temptations. If they weren’t all these things, people wouldn’t be tempted to go down that road to begin with.
Here are some examples of things that can cause friction in the marriage if you’re not careful and if you don’t maintain self-control:
Hobbies / Entertainment
And the list goes on and on – it can be anything, really, if you stop to think about it. If something is taking your focus, your attention, your time away from your marriage and you’re allowing it to poison your thinking about your marriage and/or your spouse, then it can technically be called lust.
Let me explain:
Friends – Having friends is great. It can also ruin your marriage if you’re not careful. Let’s say your girlfriend is having trouble in her own marriage. And she spends most of her time bitching about her husband, or about men in general, and how she would love to just get out and start over. Even though you’re being a good friend by offering her your attention and your advice, be careful. That discontent has a way of penetrating your own life and if left unchecked, can start coloring your own opinions about your life and spouse. Before long, you’re also spending most of your time bitching about the little things and convincing yourself that your own marriage is less than perfect (which it will be – no marriage is perfect) and without even realizing it, you’re treating your spouse differently and making mountains out of molehills.
I should know, I’ve been there. I worked with a group of women who did exactly that and it started affecting me. I started acting differently. I was dissatisfied. I lost focus on what was important and when I realized what was happening, I quit the job. I walked away from the poison and I immediately felt better. It was like stepping out of a smoke-filled room and breathing fresh air for the first time in seven years.
Online Activities – This. Is. A. Biggie. We all spend so much time online that it’s so easy, so very, very easy, to step into an online persona, to BE a different person online.
It starts with the IMs. Then graduates into chat rooms. And before long, you start behaving like a different person because it’s all just harmless fun, right? What’s a little flirtatious activity? You’re not hurting anyone. You’ll never meet that person in real life.
But being that other person becomes more fun than being your real-life person. Stepping into that fantasy world starts becoming more fun than living reality and before long, you’re spending more and more time online and BEING that person so that you start doing uncharacteristic things like staying online later and later, or sneaking a chat when your spouse is not around.
You start becoming close to another online “person” and before long, you’re making tentative plans to meet, in real life.
*raises hand* Yep. Happened to me. And again, I had the strength to step back, take a good, hard look at myself in the mirror and ask myself, “What the hell am I doing?!”
I cut out all the chatting. I put a stop to the temptation and re-focused my energies on my marriage.
I honestly don’t know how Kevin has put up with me all these years. I like to pride myself on being this strong person, but honestly folks, I’m not. I’ve dipped a toe in nearly every temptation that is out there.
This also applies to online games. And that’s THE biggest reason I never allowed myself to join the online Sims game. Because I KNOW me. I KNOW I would get sucked into the game and though I would have loads of fun, it’s not worth neglecting, or hurting, my family in the process.
It also applies to naughty websites or websites that “encourage” you to have an affair because you “deserve” it. *snort* You DESERVE heartache and unhappiness? Because that’s exactly what will happen if you succumb to their empty promises. Stay strong and simply don’t click.
There has to be (or there will be) a time you HAVE to just shut it down and walk away.
Work – being too focused on getting that promotion so that you’re opting to spend more and more late nights at the office instead of making it home. (And then there’s the whole office romance thing. Another biggie).
Children – Yes, children are important. Yes, they need looking after. No, they shouldn’t be allowed to take your focus away from your mate. Children are smart buggers. And if they see they can take advantage of you, they will – every time. Children need to be taught that mom and dad need some alone time. They need date nights. And even though it SEEMS selfish to put your marital needs ahead of your children, it’s not. Children need to see the unity and the commitment. They feel more secure when their parents are happy and in order for the parents to be happy, they need to spend time with one another.
Children are tougher than we think they are. They’ll survive without mommy or daddy for a few hours or even for a night. They’ll be fine if you don’t spend every waking moment, or every last ounce of your energy on them.
Hobbies / Entertainment – same concept as the online activities. Just watch your time and devotion and make sure it’s not becoming a substitute for what’s real.
Commitments – Taking care of people is admirable. Volunteering your time is wonderful. But don’t allow your commitments to encroach on your time with your spouse. Cut back on your responsibilities outside the home. You can’t do it all. Manage your time wisely. Don’t make commitments to other people more important than your marriage. And even though you may not see it that way, I’m betting the neglected spouse does.
Again, I’m telling you all this because I’ve lived it. I KNOW how easy it is to be too tired, to be stretched thin, to be distracted or wooed from what’s important to me and my family as a unit.
And I’m STILL working on controlling this whole online/computer thing.
And I’m done.
Thank you for reading these past ten days. It’s been a long, mentally exhausting journey for me and though I’m tired, I’m glad I wrote all of this out. It feels good to purge and hopefully by reading about my experiences, it might help you with yours.
Hang in there. Marriage is a lot of work, but in the end, it truly is worth it. Hopefully, you can convince your spouse to make that journey with you.
Good luck and God Bless.