I could just end the post there, couldn’t I? But perhaps I should also fill this blank space . . .
I don’t often blog about my life’s current happenings; it’s usually a lot of flashback-storytelling. If I’m gonna blog in the present tense, I do have a separate personal blog for that; or, I can journal about something or talk about it in counseling or share with a friend.
(Or stuff it all inside myself, but that’s another blog entirely.)
Alas, every once in a while I feel that pinprick in my soul that I need to share something I’m currently wrestling with here.
Ugh. Pinpricks of the soul are so annoying.
Let’s cut to the chase then. Anyone else feeling super tempted during this pandemic? Especially the longer this thing drags on?
Because I’ll be the first to raise my hand. I’m feeling super tempted. I’m feeling super restless. I’m actually feeling super-duper tempted and restless.
People ask me all the time how I “do it.” How do I live this life of following Jesus faithfully with my sexuality? How do I not watch porn or not hook up with guys or not pursue any other illicit online outlets?
My advice to others has always come down to exercise and relationships.
As a feelings-based person (as opposed to a thoughts- or actions-based one), it’s vital for me to escape that devastating feelings-vortex inside myself. To connect with my body in regular, tangible ways.
Namely, exercise, exercise, exercise.
But not just walks around the neighborhood or yoga in the living room. Vigorous exercise. I gotta kill it. Again and again and again.
Pre-COVID, CrossFit was such a vital outlet for my physical health. And my mental health. And my emotional health. And my sexual health. All the healths. Nothing else I did had such a sweeping effect.
I achieved greater physical health.
And so I felt more confident about my body.
And so I envied other guys’ bodies less.
And so I lusted after other guys’ bodies less.
And so I wasn’t nearly as physically tempted by other guys.
When the pandemic first hit, I did my best to work out from home. But it just wasn’t the same. And then when I got diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, all notions of vigorous exercise vaporized for months.
It only figures, then, that if you remove one of my biggest sources for combatting temptation — I’d experience an uptick in temptation. And I have. A significant uptick, actually.
Again, it’s hard to write about all this in the present day. I wish I’d figured this out by now, months into a pandemic, months into an autoimmune disease. But I haven’t.
Some nights temptation hits me, and temptation hits me hard. I often feel powerless to fight it, because I feel powerless in an ailing body right now.
I often feel a lot of pressure to be the one to have “overcome.” Nobody is necessarily telling me this directly, but I feel it indirectly with comments and emails, and I certainly inflict much of this expectation on myself as someone running this website and hosting a podcast and otherwise leading our little community.
There’s a lot of shame in admitting my weaknesses. But also freedom. It feels good to type it out.
I want to be a healthier leader, but I also just want to be a healthier human. From my physical health to my emotional health and sexual health, I’m simply not where I want to be. Where I need to be.
I often fall into that “I’m all alone” trap, that I’m “the only one” struggling with whatever fills in the blank. But I’ve been around long enough to know these are flat-out lies.
It’s why YOB exists, after all: to remind you, again and again, that you are not alone.
I need to remind myself of this truth, too.
It’s important to recognize and reaffirm that everyone on the planet has needed to readjust sections — sometimes entire libraries — of their lives because of this virus. New workout rhythms. Certainly new relational rhythms.
The other huge way I’ve combatted temptation in recent years is by being in regular connection with others, especially other men. And while I’m grateful for the wonders of the Internet, being able to connect digitally with my local church as well as with fellow YOB guys all around the world, it’s just not the same as face-to-face contact.
I miss gathering in a room with people where I live. I’ve not done that in months, and it feels absurd admitting that.
Being immunocompromised in a pandemic, I’ve been more than a little careful not to expose myself around others. No large groups, no physical touch.
On the one hand, I’m being safe. But safe has consequences the other way, too.
While I’m taking less risks physically, I’m also taking more risks emotionally. I don’t see others as much, and I don’t touch others at all.
What a strange world to have gone without touch for so many months. We weren’t made for this. Even the least touchy-feely among us.
Autoimmune disease or not, I know so many of us are feeling more than a little touch-deprived right now; again, you are not alone. I feel it, too.
Normally I go back through and edit a post several times before posting, but I’ve only given this particular post a single run-through, wanting it to come across as raw and real as possible.
If your temptations are off the charts because of this pandemic, because of the isolation, because of the fear, because of the lack of touch, because of the hopelessness hanging in the air —
I get it. I’m living it, too. I’m tempted, too. And I hope we can all be honest about our temptations in this community. Starting with me.
How are you managing temptations during this pandemic? How are you staying connected with others, and how are you staying connected with God?