Ever since my mum sold the car a few months ago, I’ve been taking the train everywhere.
And to be honest, that’s introduced a new problem into my life: I’ve been finding it super hard to stay pure, especially since I’m particularly visual. Simply put, I’ve realised just how prone I am to falling prey to lust while on the commute.
But that’s not to say I’ve given up in this fight to keep my eyes pure. Most days I make it through my train rides on the North East Line just fine, but some days are pretty bad.
I want to talk about three Ps that I’ve found to be really helpful on the good days. And then maybe you can pray for me on the bad ones!
It matters what we’re looking at. It also matters where we place our eyes.
Are you familiar with that verse from Matthew 5:29? It reads: “If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.”
As I thought about what Jesus said there, I discovered I could “tear” my eye out in a different way. I could just simply take my spectacles off!
These are probably the only instances I’m thankful for myopia, but I realised reducing my vision to a 8-bit world really helps take the sauciness out of what I would otherwise be looking at. Without my vision, I’m freed up to close my eyes. And that also helps me think or pray better.
To deter myself from lingering looks, I’ve often found it beneficial to glue my eyes to Scripture. The ESV Bible app is really handy for this because it preoccupies my attention and vision on the train. I prefer electronic Bibles on the go for this reason, because my physical Bible isn’t particularly portable.
When I’m eye-to-eye with God, and when I’m connecting with what He’s saying to me in the moment, I find it harder to peel myself away for a temptation in the next cabin.
There’s another option that needs to be mentioned with caution, but I’ll put it in anyway.
My Nintendo Switch, for however addictive it has proven to be in the past, has had the effect of keeping my attention off girls and on games instead. When I’m engrossed with a game like Dragon Quest XI (very meaty free demo on the eShop, by the way), I find myself less enticed to look up and look around.
Let’s just take it as a given that you’re already praying for God’s help to stay pure. Because the prayer I’m talking is about prayer for others.
Sometimes it just helps me to acknowledge that the woman I’m looking at is attractive or beautiful. If I manage to start with such a thought, I can go on to the next one in the chain: “God, I praise You, because you have made her really wonderfully.”
I suppose this has to do with perspective in some way because how I look at a woman is so important. When I’m currently in a conversation with God over a person He made, it’s almost impossible to split away from that more wholesome perspective and trade it for a lousy, lusty look.
As I talk to God about the woman I’m looking at, it humanises her and reminds me that she isn’t an object for crude viewing pleasure but a child who God loves!
If I’m able to get to that space in my head, then the prayer begins to shift and take on a more intercessory nature. I pray for her. I pray for her to come to know God. Usually what happens next is I start praying for other people and then it feels unfair to stop, so I don’t stop and I just keep praying…
Do you see what I mean? Every time I’m able to catch myself and begin praying for someone in such a way, we both end up winning. To take a second look means both parties lose.
PUT YOUR LOVED ONES IN THEIR SHOES
This last point has ruined the nice one-syllable thing I wanted each ‘P’ to go for, but I think it’s way too handy to leave out.
Just like that point about prayer, if you’re able to catch yourself before you make that second look and just take a step back to say: “Hey, what if this person was my sister? What if this person was my daughter?” then the battle is already won.
It almost pains me too much to place my wife in their shoes. When I put my loved ones in the shoes of the women I look at, it makes me feel utterly disgusted and angry that people would take advantage of them that way.
Then I quickly realise I am that guy. Lust gives way to shame, and shames forces me into a hasty, penitential retreat towards God.
So those are the three Ps that I’ve found are really helpful. At the end of the day, I’m not a perfect person and I still fall sometimes. On days such as those, I need even more grace.
How I look forward to the day Christ returns. On that day, we will all be brothers and sisters in His Kingdom. I suspect we will all be too caught up with the radiant glory of God’s face to even want to look elsewhere all too much.
God, bring me on that train home because I dearly want that!
THINK + TALK
- What temptations do you struggle with?
- How do you keep your eyes/mind/heart pure?
- Is there something you need to repent of today?