Most of us look forward to the holidays. We anticipate time off from work and school. We look forward to an extended vacation where we travel, visit family, reflect on God’s goodness, shop and watch sporting events. We dedicate a lot of energy to planning the celebratory part of our holiday, but we might not plan well for the purity part of our holiday.
I (with the help of my buddy Frank Honess) have put together this Purity Survival Guide to the Holidays to help you think through your holiday purity strategy.
WATCH our YouTube video on it. HERE
THINK THROUGH YOUR HOLIDAY TRIGGERS
A trigger happens “when something sets you off emotionally. In our purity journey, we need to learn to respond to triggers in healthy, godly ways. The problem is we have encountered a trigger, don’t know how to deal with it, so we take the shortcut and go to porn and sexual acting out to deal with our emotions. Sexual thinking and behaviors for us become a coping mechanism. A drug or medication we take to make it all better.
For the holiday times, you will need to think through people, places, things that set you off emotionally. Here are some common holiday triggers:
WORK / SCHOOL- There are stresses with work leading up to a holiday. Deadlines. Assignments are due. Tests need to be taken. People taking time off. You have to make sure you get your work done or delegated before you leave. There are stresses with work after the holiday, trying to manage a heavier work load.
TRAVEL – It can be exciting to travel, but getting on a plane, train or car when thousands of others are trying to do the same can be very stressful. Accidents, emergencies, delays and bad weather complicate our efforts to get there. If we’re traveling with our spouse and kids (and maybe a pet), their challenges become our challenges.
FAMILY – The holidays are great times to get together with family, but families have their own dynamics.
Some family members we like being around, others we dread. Some family members trumpet their great accomplishments and we are unfairly compared to them. Other family members criticize us, belittle and shame us. Family members have their own baggage that is hard for us to deal with. For many sexual strugglers we have abuse and woundedness in our pasts that make visiting family very complicated.
MONEY – Shopping and purchasing gifts for family bring money stress. Big, expensive lists and the expectations that these gifts will be bought make it hard. The holidays might also be times for big utility bills. Some companies (especially blue collar) lay off staff during the holidays or staff are forced to take unpaid days off.
PARTIES / SOCIAL GATHERINGS- These can be challenging for many sexual strugglers who have trouble making friends and developing relationships. Social awkwardness is a stressor. Holiday parties can also be places where men or women are dressed in sexy, provocative ways. People get flirty and lose, especially when alcohol is involved.
VACATION / RELAX TIME – The very thing we long for can be triggery if we’re not careful. When we relax, unwind, and decompress we can lose focus on our purity journey. Relaxing for many of us equals disengaging from sober thinking.
LACK OF STRUCTURE – It’s nice to be out from under the structure of work, school or family, but it can be dangerous. The sexual struggler hasn’t done well in the past with a lack of structure. And if we’re traveling to stay with someone else, we are often on someone else’s structure which can bring an added layer of stress.
MORE ALONE TIME – There are more times during the holidays to get off by ourselves. Alone time for many of us is one of our worst triggers isn’t it?
LONELINESS – Loneliness is not the same as being alone. Alone time means no one is around me physically. Loneliness is when I feel no one is around me emotionally. This is very common during the holidays. We get away from the busyness of our normal routine. We slow down, life gets quiet, we are around less people. We don’t feel supported emotionally. Sometimes it stops at that, but sometimes an emptiness emerges. Is loneliness one of your top holiday triggers?
GRIEF / LOSS – If we’ve lost loved ones, the holidays can often remind us of our loss. Or if we have suffered a separation or divorce we may experience a lot of grief and hurt.
UNMET EXPECTATIONS – These can take many forms. Some of us expect the holiday to be fantastic. We have big plans. We expect the perfect holiday, and everyone to be in peace, love and harmony. Or maybe we expect the perfect vacation, the kids to get along, and that we would have sex with our spouse every night. We are often disappointed when we don’t get what we hope for. These can bring an array of triggers like anger, sadness, disappointment, feeling unloved, or feelings of rejection.
WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN / SHOULD HAVE BEEN – This is a mix of unmet expectations, and grief. If our sexual sin has caused consequences to our personal life, career or marriage, we can get caught wondering what the holiday would have been like if we had not suffered the consequences our choices and behaviors have brought on. “If you had not done this, we would be having a great holiday right now?” “We have to tip toe around my family because of what you did to me.” This can very quickly take the form of shame. In your mind you interpret it as, not the bad things you did and their consequences, but the bad person you are.” That’s shame. A terrible trigger that sends us into a bad place.
HOMEWORK #1 – Make a list of your holiday triggers. Write them out. Walk through your holiday in your mind and put down the triggers you might face along the way.
Glad to help you on your purity journey.