Q: Dear Mr. Man.
I am struggling with temptation and I don’t know what to do.
A: Sometimes there are things that run through your mind that, if heard aloud, would embarrass, shame, and dishonor you. As guilt-ridden as you may feel, you allow the decadent thoughts to run across your mind. You take silent pleasure in the moment.
You long to taste the bittersweet succulence that you once enjoyed and long to savor again. You know that you shouldn’t. You know that nothing good could come of it, but you can’t seem to shake the desire.
You are a different person now (or so you thought). You don’t want to want to give in to your baser instincts, but you feel your resolve crumbling. If your family only knew, they would be so disappointed in your weakness. That’s why you can’t tell a soul.
Your heart is racing. A light sweat breaks across your forehead. You mentally succumb to the fantastical indulgences that have been running across your mind all day long. The moment is finally here. You give in to temptation as waves of guilt and euphoria. And then…
You look up from your reverie and remember that you are sitting at your desk, your co-worker calling for your attention. You clear your throat as you pull yourself together as your sinful thoughts slip away.
There is a line in a Prince song called Electric Chair that goes like this:
“If a man is considered guilty for what goes on in his mind, then give me the electric chair for all my future crimes.”
Let’s get back to reality. The scenario above could be thoughts of taking that first drink after being on the on the wagon for the last 15 years. It could be the temptation of having a cigarette after a long hiatus. It could be a diet that you do not have the will power to stick with. It could be another person that comes and interrupts the tranquility of your life. We are human and we commonly suffer from our frailties. This we understand. Life throws us curveballs that cause us to momentarily forget our better judgment.
It is difficult to control the thoughts that come and go though your mind. You can filter what you take in terms of your environment, but something always seems to slip through the cracks that sends your mind into overdrive. However, it is how a person responds to these temptations, in my mind, that shows the true measure of the man. The man of strength and character will recognize these curveballs and knock them out of the park. He will not succumb. He will not give in. No matter what. No matter how much his flesh is pulling him down. He will seek redemption.
It is also important to be surrounded with like-minded men of faith who love you enough to hold you accountable. If you are honest and you allow it, these men will call you out, pull you from the depths of hell, and be a source of strength where you may be lacking. They will help you man up when you may not be able to see it in yourself to do so.
Question: How do you handle temptation in your life?