I did it again.
After years of battling approval addiction, after years teaching others how to break free from the chains of people pleasing, I found myself right back at square one…I took on a task I wasn’t meant to take because I wanted to be the agreeable good girl. Someone asked something of me, but instead of requesting time to pray, I blurted out, “Sure! I’m happy to do it.” And now I’m resentful.
The same old pattern. The same old struggle. Have you been there?
Each of us battle with different things. Some of us find ourselves lured back into the arms of drugs or alcohol after living victoriously sober. Others think we’ve made great progress with our spouse until we found ourselves shouting and fighting over the same old argument that has plagued us from year one.
Pornography. Binge eating. Codependency. Toxic relationships. Shopping sprees and money management. Victim mentality. Approval addiction. Is there anything more discouraging then finding ourselves repeating the same deadly mistakes we so valiantly worked to break free from?
It’s like falling into a mud hole, knowing full well the pit of slime and muck was just around the corner, yet we find ourselves flailing in the trap again. Is there anything that feels more shameful?
So we cry out to God, “Why? Why am I here again? I thought You’d healed me completely. Why can’t I break free of the trap?”
Quite honestly, I believe we fall for the same old lies because we don’t know our own worth in Jesus’ eyes. Or we’ve never fully dug deep into recognizing and understanding our wounds—wounds that have festered for years. Or we’ve listened to Satan’s lies so long, we have trouble distinguishing his hiss from truth.
I recently ran across this analogy by Portia Nelson:
“Chapter One. I walk down the street. There’s a deep hole in the sidewalk. I fall in.
I am lost. I am helpless. It isn’t my fault. It takes forever to find a way out.
Chapter Two. I walk down the same street. There’s a deep hole in the sidewalk. I pretend I don’t see it. I fall in again. I can’t believe I’m in the same place! But it isn’t my fault. And it still takes a long time to get out.
Chapter Three. I walk down the same street. There’s a deep hole in the sidewalk. I see it there. I still fall in. It’s a habit! My eyes are open. I know where I am. It is my fault. I get out immediately.
Chapter Four. I walk down the same street. There’s a deep hole in the sidewalk. I walk around it.
Chapter Five. I walk down a different street.”
Godly living doesn’t come naturally. We have two opposing natures inside—the flesh and the Spirit. Do you know which one will emerge victorious in any given situation? It’s the one you feed the most.
Avoiding the mud hole in the sidewalk must be learned. The battle is for your mind.
“For His divine power has bestowed on us [absolutely] everything necessary for [a dynamic spiritual] life and godliness, through true and personal knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.” ~2 Peter 1:3 AMP
Did you catch that? He has already given us everything we need to live in victory, but we won’t accidentally fall into being like Jesus. It’s a conscious choice. The person we will be tomorrow is dependent on the choices we make today.
If you struggle with alcohol abuse, don’t keep it stocked in your frig. If you struggle with being negative, don’t hang out with bitter people.
I need to be mindful of what nature I’m feeding. The stronger the Spirit, the weaker the flesh. I’m pressing forward, imperfectly progressing towards being more and more like Jesus. The good news? I’m not alone. He is walking beside me, holding out His nail-scarred hands to veer me away from those old traps. But a helping hand is only beneficial if I grasp it.
It’s hard to fall into the same hole when I use a different sidewalk.
“He gives us more and more grace [through the power of the Holy Spirit to defy sin and live an obedient life that reflects both our faith and our gratitude for our salvation].” ~James 4:6 AMP
Have you ever found yourself repeating the same behavior you thought you’d defeated? What do you think causes destructive cycles of behavior? What have you learned in the struggle?