Have you ever struggled with the same sin/problem over and over, thinking “I don’t want to keep doing this. I’m going to stop this time.”? But you don’t. And if you do stop, it doesn’t last long until you’re dealing with it again? For the past two years, I have been in a spiritual funk, and it’s been one of my own making. Sometimes we go through a spiritual funk that isn’t necessarily because of anything we’ve done, but it’s a time of growth and testing to draw us closer to God. Other times, we’re in that place because we’ve put ourselves there. During the past couple of years, I have knowingly and willingly lived in sin in my life. That’s hard to admit, but it’s so freeing to do so. Now, I can begin to move on. Now, I feel the burden beginning to lift and freedom beginning to come. The last vestiges of guilt and shame are being removed. But for so long I didn’t want to admit my sin to myself, to God, or to anyone else. At first, it was because I didn’t want to change, didn’t want to give it up. Then, I didn’t want to admit it because I was afraid for others to know my failure. The enemy did everything he could to keep me from admitting it and dealing with it. He wanted me to keep it hidden because as long as it was hidden, he could keep me trapped in it, consumed by it, worried over it.
Here, let me start at the beginning, give you a little background, and explain what happened, how I got to that point. From the time I learned to read, I loved to read and I mean L-O-V-E, all caps! By the time I was in high school, I owned hundreds of books that I’d picked up at garage sales and thrift stores along with a few purchased new here and there or given to me as gifts. I went to the library to borrow whatever books I didn’t own. My mom took me often (biweekly at the very least because that’s how long I could keep the books) until I was able to drive myself. I would check out the maximum number of books allowed and have them all read and ready to be returned by their due date if not before.
Fast forward several years to me as an adult, a wife and mother. I wasn’t reading as often as I did when I was younger, but I did still read. Until I saw the tendency in myself to go on reading binges that would keep me from spending time with the Lord or from doing what I needed to do as a mom or wife. I decided that I needed to cut books out. So I did, and for years, I did not read a single fiction book. And then came my last pregnancy. I didn’t feel well which meant I wasn’t up to doing much, and while I was busy not feeling well, I discovered free books on kindle. FREE BOOKS, people! So I began to read while I wasn’t feeling well . . . and read . . . and read . . . and read. You get the idea. I was probably reading on average 3-5 fiction books a day, maybe more at times. When I had just about exhausted all the free books in the genres I like, I started Kindle Unlimited, giving me a whole library of books at my disposal.
Don’t get me wrong, not every moment of the past two years has been consumed by reading. There were times when I had things in perspective and would read my Bible first and spend time with the Lord first. But then came the times when I got up each day and delved right into a new book instead of spending time with the Lord. I read in every spare moment and in many not so spare moments. Finish one book, immediately begin another. And then another. And then another. Reading took priority over so many things it shouldn’t have. It controlled me instead of me controlling it. I wanted/needed to read all the time. I even disappeared from Facebook because why get on Facebook when you can read?!
When I wasn’t reading a book, I was thinking about the things I had read. My head and heart became consumed with the stories I read. I began to read things that that were not healthy for me to read, things that took my mind down paths it should not go. Reading those things led to unhealthy thought processes and patterns that were not glorifying to God and were a detriment to me.
I became burdened down by the sin of putting something else before the Lord, by caring more about what I wanted to do, what was enjoyable to me (at least for a time) than being obedient to the Lord. I allowed my thought patterns to become unhealthy by exposing myself to things that were not glorifying to God. I invited the enemy in by my repeated disobedience and ended up in turmoil with a weight on my shoulders. God allowed that weight for a purpose (For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son whom He receives. Hebrews 12:6 NASB), but I didn’t listen at first because I didn’t want to give it up. However, the more the Holy Spirit worked on me, the less enjoyable it became. The weight became heavier and finally the weight, the mess, the worry and fear over my sin became too much to bear and I crumpled under it and cried out to God for help and forgiveness and He graciously and lovingly removed the burden from me. I also confessed my struggle to my husband, someone I knew I could trust and someone I knew would pray for me and lift me up. I can’t tell you how amazing it feels to be free, to be unencumbered. I am so thankful for the Holy Spirit that lives inside of me to hold on to me, to draw me back, to give me strength to say no.
Are you struggling with a sin that has a hold on you and doesn’t to want to let go? Are you keeping it hidden? Don’t let the enemy keep you trapped in sin because you refuse to share your burden/struggle with someone else. It’s easy to struggle with sin and think to yourself I don’t want to do that again and I’m not going to it again, but not take the step to tell anyone about it. I believe that is often what ultimately keeps us trapped in the cycle and isolated from help. Believe me, the enemy will do everything he can to keep you from sharing your struggle. He will feed you every kind of lie he can to keep you captive.
“People will look at you differently.”
“You’re supposed to be perfect and have it all together.”
“You can’t have freedom.”
“You don’t deserve freedom.”
“Look at what you’ve done, the mess you’re in. No one will understand that.”
“It’s too hard to tell the truth and make things right.”
“It’s too hard to do things the right way.”
Don’t let him. Tell someone. Take that step toward freedom from the sin that has so easily beset you and know that you are standing with so many other saints that have gone before you.
I literally experienced each one of those thoughts during my struggle and each one weighed me down and kept me in a state of being tossed around. But, oh the moment when I opened my mouth to confess! The turmoil ceased and peace began to enter in in such a way that I knew it could only be God working in me. While I was in the midst of the sin and struggle, it was a real and intense feeling that I did not want anyone to know I had struggled, that I had sinned. But once I stepped out and the truth flowed out of my lips, that fear no longer had the power to paralyze me from action. And here I am telling you about my struggle and not feeling fear about it, but joy to be sharing with you something that I’ve experienced that may help you. I feel more fearful to NOT share this struggle because then no one would be able to know God’s redemptive power through this area of my life.
Now, I just want to clarify something and make sure you understand. I am not saying that reading is wrong. In and of itself, reading can be a great thing. It has its place in the world by bringing a little joy to our lives and doing even such a small thing as bringing a smile to a face. Over the last couple of years, I have read some incredible fictional books that shared the wonderful message of God’s redemption and grace over the brokenness in this world. I know these stories have reached people and I plan to share about some of those books and their authors in time on this blog.
Are my reading days over? No. Reading has been a big part of my life and a part of me, of who I am, of what makes me me. God created me a reader and I believe He still has a desire to use reading in my life, but it will have to be under His control, not mine. I will have to be on guard and watch how much time I spend reading and thinking about what I’ve read. I’ll also have to watch the content of what I read. And I believe the Holy Spirit will help me to do just that in a way that glorifies Him.