DesiringGod.org has an acronym that was created to help those battling the sin of lust to have a game plan, a plan of action, to go to when the sin overwhelms them. As I read it yesterday, I was struck by how it was applicable to much more than just the sin of lust. It worked well for addictive sins as well. And, in a way, lust is an addiction, so that makes sense. Here is the acronym spelled out to start with, as it was posted online by DesiringGod.org on their Facebook feed:
A: Avoid as much as possible and reasonable the sights and situations that arouse unfitting circumstances.
N: Say NO to every lustful thought WITHIN 5 SECONDS.
T: Turn the mind FORCEFULLY toward Christ as your SUPERIOR SATISFACTION.
H: Hold the promise and pleasure of Christ firmly in your mind until it pushes the other out.
E: Enjoy a superior satisfaction.
M: Move into a useful activity away from idleness and other vulnerable behaviors.
I hope as you read them, food concepts jumped out at you. I think they did for me because that is where the source of all my struggle lies. And Satan knows that. BUT GOD does as well.
Avoid as much as possible. We all know that food cannot be avoided in its entirety. That is part of what makes the addiction so difficult for me. But I can choose not to follow Facebook feeds that are entirely food related, even good-food related. I can pick a way to drive home that does not go past a lot of the food places that call my name. Last night, I pictured this way to get home from work that has no food places along it, and while it is a bit out of the way, on days when I am feeling vulnerable, there is a game plan in place.
One method of avoiding that comes to mind a lot is to simply leave my payment methods at home. But I constantly worry about emergencies where I might need them? I am praying through that idea and seeking His wisdom. Could I trust God to make that work out OK? Or is it not something He is asking me to do?
Five second rule. I allow my food fixation to just go on and on and on. There is a need to stop it right out of the starting gate, and for me that will probably need to be an audible, immediate NO. My tendency is to debate with myself and with God over how bad a certain choice really is?? End that debate with a decision to just immediately say NO.
Use force. The theme of this point is not the “forceful” part, but for me, it is. I am way too gentle with my mind. Long debates, justification, gentle words to try to discourage certain behavior. But as with the Five Second Rule above, it just needs to be an immediate and harsh decision of NO. Not going there; not doing that. But more than that, “I am not thinking that.”
Superior Satisfaction in Christ. This is a vague concept in its infant stage, but as I thought through exactly what that means to find SUPERIOR SATISFACTION in Jesus, I went to this spot of wholeness and joy. If something satisfies you in a superior way, it blocks out any need for anything else. Superior satisfaction allows you to sit back with a singular mind focus on what is best and comforting. If I am going to force my mind to get to this place of superior satisfaction, there has to be a plan in place.
Hold firmly to correct promise and pleasure. The world holds so many false promises and fleeting pleasures, neither of which can offer lasting satisfaction, let alone superior satisfaction. Document what makes a promise or a pleasure correct. If a promise holds true for just a short time, I don’t consider that a promise. If it provides what it claims, but that provision leaves me wanting, not good. And pleasure. Well, I think the world puts too great of an emphasis on pleasure. We have given it a greater definition than it deserves. It simply means to feel pleased. So, if I can get into bed at night with a feeling that I have done what was best to glorify God and Reclaim the Temple, that should be pleasurable.
Enjoy Jesus. Assume that your Superior Satisfaction is Jesus. Devise a plan to do a specific task that brings enjoyment in Him a reality. This seems a little vague and hard to me. Maybe just in my carnal mind. Enjoyment in Jesus is enjoyment in something within the soul and heart. But if I look for and establish a superior satisfaction that isn’t actually Jesus Himself, the world is wide open to choose a specific activity that makes me feel satisfied at a heart level and ALSO bring glory to Jesus.
So an example at a kid-like level would be every time temptation strikes I have a plan to play 5 rounds of Candy Crush as a distraction that brings me happiness. I will be the first to say I might have really wonky thinking here, but if I simply say Jesus is my Superior Satisfaction, then I am stuck trying to figure out what that looks like in a rubber-meets-the-road kind of way. So instead, I am going to choose something totally not-Jesus related to be my satisfaction to distract me from temptation.
Don’t embrace idleness. If I choose something to be my momentary satisfaction, it could be my ticket away from idleness, but rarely is my descent into food fixation a result of idleness. So this part of the acronym, again, has to have a bit of a different flavor. When food fixations start, I need to see this acronym as steps to go about in an order. First, I need a lifestyle of avoidance. But on a daily basis when the eating urges strike, I need to immediately say NO, followed by an immediate forceful mind renewing that focuses me on the pleasure and and promises of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. This might be reading Scripture, listening to and singing praise songs, praying. Maybe all three. Whatever it takes. Once that is past, THEN, I will enjoy a satisfaction that will be reward-like for partnering with God through the craving itself, followed by an activity to reconnect with the real world.
In the beginning this cycle will be continuous, but as I make the process habitual, I will trust that the fixation which will start the process will occur less often?
All praise to God for what He will do through and for me. I am gonna walk in the light of that future gift and grace.