I had come across an interesting quote sometime back which went something like this:
“Temptations begin at the time of our birth and remain until we die. Infact they remain for ten minutes after we die, just to confirm that we are 100% dead”.
I found this very amusing and quite true, but with a pinch of sarcasm in it.
Since my high school days I always have had lustful temptations and would very easily give in to them. I was so addicted to pornography and masturbation that I found it difficult to go through even a single day without falling into sin. However, as I encountered Christ in the coming years, I began realising that it was a grave sin to yield to these temptations. I tried saying NO to these temptations but to no avail. I began thinking that this sin would cling to me as long as I lived.
I shifted my whole focus towards fighting this sin and trying to uproot it from my life. It was at a spiritual growth camp in Mangalore where I was convicted that what I was doing was wrong. Also, I realized that I could never fight this sin without the help of God. Thus began my fight against the sin of lust.
I understood that I had spent most of my life just “TRYING” not to yield to these temptations. Never had I seriously “TRAINED” to fight them. Like any beginner, I started small. I began by reciting 2 decades of the rosary, spending some time in front of the Blessed Sacrament and going for confession. St Augustine writes that the confession of evil works is the first beginning of good works. There were times when I had to even go for confession every alternate day simply because I kept falling into sin.
As I moved to Pune for my graduation studies, I began going for regular adoration and Holy Mass since there was a chapel right outside my hostel. Slowly but surely, I realised the transformation in my life. Though I continued to get tempted, the inclination to sin reduced drastically. I realised that I was no longer bound by the sin of lust and now the sin had no power over me. Rather, the Lord was slowly helping me to conquer it.
The Lord made me realise a few things too.
The first was that I needed to shift my focus away from fighting temptation and more towards loving Him. Thus, I began changing the way I prayed. I now began asking God to fill me with his love rather than just asking him to take away my sin.
The second was that I shouldn’t get too bogged down by the temptations that come my way.
St. Philip Neri writes,
“Do not grieve over the temptations you suffer. When the Lord intends to bestow a particular virtue on us, He often permits us first to be tempted by the opposite vice. Therefore, look upon every temptation as an invitation to grow in a particular virtue and a promise by God that you will be successful, if only you stand fast.”
Lastly, the Lord made me realise that though temptation would probably never leave me, His grace would always be present in abundance for me.
As St. Paul writes to the Corinthians,
“Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me, but God said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.’ So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)
My struggle with lust is an ongoing one. The grace of God has helped me immensely in staying away from sin. I have learnt the need to train using the sacraments and other tools on a regular basis to prevent me from falling into sin. The journey ahead is a long one but I know that Jesus holds my hand every step of the way.
I will conclude with the words of the great St. Augustine:
“Your first task is to be dissatisfied with yourself, fight sin, and transform yourself into something better. Your second task is to put up with the trials and temptations of this world that will be brought on by the change in your life and to persevere to the very end in the midst of these things.”