I recently read a quote from a leader in the LDS Church, Elder Robert D. Hales, on the subject of addictions. He said, “Our success is never measured by how strongly we are tempted but by how faithfully we respond”. What a reassuring thought!
I have found in my work with men and women who struggle with addictive behaviors that they often shame themselves when they feel strong temptation to slip back into old patterns of behaving. Many feel like they haven’t made any progress if they still feel tempted. On the contrary, the fact that they can recognize and respond in different ways is evidence that they have made progress.
No one has escaped temptation on this earth. Those in recovery from sexual addiction will experience a lifetime of temptation in a variety of presentations. There is no discouragement intended in this statement. Instead, it is a realization that the ability to recognize and respond to the different types of temptation that will come with recovery.
Initially, addicts are tempted with the more obvious sexual temptations of acting out of lust. Eventually, the temptations include shaming thoughts and feelings, slacking from the diligence required of recovery, blame, procrastination, and so on. While sexual temptation is something that surround all of us, those in recovery will find that their ability to respond to these temptations strengthens with time.
As Elder Hales teaches, faithful responses to temptations are the sign of true and lasting recovery.