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How Bad Do We Really Want To Be Free?

a rose ablaze..
A rose and fire, two popular symbols of passion and desire.

Nobody wakes up one day thinking, “I want to be an addict. I want to be controlled by impulses that do not serve me.” Whether that’s drugs, sex, food, porn, work, or lying, an addictive compulsion to do the wrong thing can be strong. In order to get free from anything, it helps to have compassionate, loving people in our lives who steer us in the right direction. Unfortunately, for many people a strong support system is more an aspiration than a reality. The absence of a strong support system, is, in fact, why many people struggle in the first place. If we have one person today who understands us and lends us their support, we should consider ourselves lucky.

When Willpower Isn’t Enough

Our second problem, however, is that willpower will only take us so far. If you’re reading this, you or someone you know has likely demonstrated that the will to resist temptation in the heat of the moment often falls short. What do we do then, if we can’t always count on others, and our own willpower is only so effective?

Our willpower may not reliably save us in the moment, but it can serve this vital purpose: to establish systems and processes that guide us on the path to success. For someone struggling with porn, for example, their willpower can lead them to install restrictions on their devices, establish accountability with another human being, limit access to their phone, consume literature on healing and sexual integrity (including wisdom-packed quotes). Or, how about, fasting to break the power of addiction? There are people who want to be free but are not willing to do these things, which is proof that their willpower isn’t strong enough.

The proof of how bad we want something isn’t the heat of the moment. It’s what we do in training that makes all the difference in the world. Compare your struggle to an athletic competition. On gameday, with the fans in the stands, the TV cameras on, and the adrenaline pumping, everybody wants to be successful extremely badly. The team that wins, however, is typically the team that trained the hardest and created the most effective processes and systems to achieve their goal.

Winners and losers have the same goals. . .

Atomic Habits by James Clear

You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.

Atomic Habits By James Clear

The desire of the sluggard kills him, for his hands refuse to labor. All day long he craves and craves. . .

Proverbs 21:25-26

Until we’ve taken all the steps we can to be free, we have no right to give up. Once we’ve taken all the steps we can to be free, then freedom is only a matter of time.

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An intellectually curious millennial passionate about seeing people make healthy, informed choices about the moral direction of their lives. When I’m not reading or writing, I enjoy hiking, web-making, learning foreign languages, and watching live sports. Alumnus of Georgetown University (B.S.) and The Ohio State University (M.A.).

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