I want to focus some blog posts on the ways I have reconditioned my mind to leave the world of fantasy that our sex-saturated world creates and to train it to embrace reality instead. This is a long and comprehensive process so each of these posts will hit on one tool in the toolbox. (Read Method 2, “It’s not important” here)
“It’s not real” –
It’s not real is a simple reminder that the “wonderful world” of fantasy has a glass chin. When I begin to feel attraction towards a person, I can remind myself this isn’t real and I need to live in what is.
For those of us that are married, this is a simple reminder that what is real is our spouse, our children (or future children), our jobs, our reputation, our Christian testimony, our house, our pets, our marriage vows, and everything else we share with our spouse. Essentially, what is real is our life.
Even if you are single, this concept can easily be applied to temptations for pornography, lusting, or premarital sex. These are all fantasies that have detrimental effects on our present and future real lives.
When we become attracted to someone who is not our spouse, we begin picturing a life with him or her that is just that: a picture. And guess what? Pictures aren’t real! You can’t live in a picture. Pictures are fantasy and fantasy will kill you.
Have you ever watched television when you are really hungry? Every food commercial looks so good! The onion, lettuce, and tomatoes on the hamburger glisten as they bounce through a cascade of water droplets prior to landing gracefully on the exquisitely soft bun. The juicy burger looks gigantic as well as mouth-watering, as its toppings billow out well beyond the edges of the bun.
You decide you must have this burger so you get in your car and drive to the fast food restaurant. At the restaurant, in reality, what is this burger like? It is smashed almost as flat as a pancake, the tomato is a pale pink, you need to hire a detective just to find the small shriveled piece of lettuce, the ketchup has made a mess of the side of the bun, the meat and cheese are not stacked evenly, leaving your first bite as almost all bun, and the top of the bun is still shiny from the greasy handprint of the sandwich maker. Not exactly how it was pictured on the TV commercial.
The fact is the food you see in TV commercials is typically not even edible. The deep red you see on strawberries is actually lipstick and the milk you see in cereal is heavy cream, or even glue! Sounds scrumptious doesn’t it?
And remember that mouth-watering burger you saw before you hopped in your car and headed to the drive thru? The beef patty was only cooked for 20 seconds on each side, then branded with a skewer, painted with food dye, and cut up and spread out to enlarge it. It is resting on a piece of cardboard to keep the bottom bun looking perky. The sesame seeds were glued onto the bun and the lettuce, tomato, and pickles were attached with pins. Bon appetit!
(Watch this video of how this is done…)
When we know what something would actually be like if it became a part of our reality (like eating a pin-filled glue burger), it becomes much less appealing. If I were to actually pursue a relationship with this person I’m attracted to, it would destroy everything I have in my life. When I come to terms with what this destruction would be like, the allure of this fantasy fades away.
Some may say, “But my reality isn’t good. The little high I get out of fantasy is better than what my reality can offer me, so I’m going to continue to indulge in it.” This is a moot point because it doesn’t matter how good the food looks on TV, you can’t eat it. You can bite into your TV screen all you want, but your stomach will remain empty. And if you were to run into that beautifully styled burger at the TV studio, your next visit would be to the emergency room if you attempted to indulge in its decadence.
This is exactly what happens when we as real people replace our real lives with fantasy. If we think the mantra of “I’ll just look but won’t touch” will bail us out, we will be left constantly hungry, perpetually disappointed with our real lives, and addicted to the brief reprieve that our fantasy world gives us. A reprieve that is quickly whisked away, leaving us ashamed and empty, with nothing to show for our life’s work.
We need to combat these fantasies for what they are: fakes! When a temptation comes our way we need to remind ourselves, she (or he) is not real. This temptation does not lead me to a place that is real.
And where do we live?
It will not do us any good to eat fantasy-food (nor is it even possible), so why waste any time on it whatsoever?
When we begin to see these temptations as thieves that steal from our real lives, their enchantment will begin to lose its power on us. I don’t care how good-looking a known thief is, or how low-cut her dress is, I’m certainly not going to let her in my house to harm my family and rob me of my valuables! I would call the police and if need be physically fight her off before I’d allow this to happen, with no thought whatsoever to any seduction she attempted to pull on me.
If your reality is in rough shape, the solution is not to continue to try to bite into the TV screen or to fantasize about eating imaginary food, it is to go learn how to cook! The solution is to make your reality better and to enjoy your reality. It’s all you have, so you better learn to enjoy it!
The grass is greener where you water it.
Whether you are single or married, identify anything that isn’t real as a destructive waste of your time, then do all you can to invest in your reality. The return on your investment will not disappoint you over the long haul.
Author of Beyond the Battle: A man's guide to his identity in Christ in an oversexualized world
Host of the The Flip Side Podcast
Join an online men's small group led by Noah and team at BeyondTheBattle.net
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