Overcoming your greatest struggles requires total commitment, what I call burning your boats. This level of commitment doesn't allow for backing out, and freedom requires that you put everything on the line.
As our example, let us take selfish sexual behavior, something most men struggle with. But it doesn't matter if your biggest problem is lust, alcohol, or control. We all seek to avoid suffering and get what we think will bring fulfillment with as little effort as possible.
It might sound like an exaggeration, but there are perhaps only three fundamental reasons why you are trapped with selfish sexual behavior. You've been using these boats to survive life's chaotic storms.
But it hasn't been working. The boats may be old friends, but they have betrayed you and will never deliver you safely to the shores of your deepest desires.
Let's define the boats.
The first boat is fear, the second boat is anger, and the third boat is selfishness.
Despite what many say, transformation isn't primarily about the will to stop your particular struggle, removing stressors, or forming healthy habits. These are all helpful and perhaps necessary, but they are not fundamental. Despite their best efforts, I've known many people with admiringly healthy habits who cannot control their lust.
Lust is only a symptom of a deeper problem. Your fear, your anger, and your selfishness are the real problems.
Let me ensure you don't miss it: fear, anger, and selfishness are the real boats you need to burn. They are what feed your lust, and they are the deepest roots of your uncontrollable behavior.
Even if you manage to dampen your lust but keep fear, anger, or selfishness afloat, you will be making a deal with the devil and will lose.
These boats aren't working for you or anyone around you because they always lead to shipwreck.
But let me tell you, you've spent vast amounts of time riding the storms of life in these boats. The treacherous nature of these boats is that we are typically unaware that we have these fundamental struggles, and they are usually so ingrained in our lives that we don't even see them. But everyone thinks they are unique, and no one I know wants this to apply to them.
It was the same for me. I used to be so full of self-deception I didn't even realize that I was full of fear, resentment, and selfishness. On the surface, most people wouldn't have known this about me, including my family. I couldn't see myself clearly until I started facing my pain, seeking to live in the truth, and choosing to believe that vulnerable honesty is strength.
If you struggle with lust, you must be radically committed to purity and honesty to change. Having one foot in and one foot out will bring death to your soul and kill your marriage. 99% commitment won't do. You have to be willing to sacrifice or lose everything to get what you long for.
And fear will kill your chance at success. Fear is that inner voice that doubts that what God says is true and best for your life: that you don't really need to be honest, that you don't really need to surrender, that you can keep things under control.
Fear of rejection, anxiety about what others will think, and being filled with the toxic shame of self-hatred: these boats will keep you stuck in your struggles and misery.
Then there is anger. You may feel justified in what you've done, and you may feel angry or hold resentment. Perhaps you have told yourself lies like, "if only she would have done such and such, like given me more sex, then I would have honored her." Or "If she hadn't gained weight or been so controlling, I wouldn't have gone to porn."
Resentment is like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies; it is death to intimacy, trust, and purity.
You may even have some fear or resentment cropping up as you reflect on your choices or how others have hurt you. Well, you need to burn those boats. They lead to death. Spiritual and relational death comes when you let fear or anger control you.
Finally, the boat of selfishness. Perhaps you believe you can get away with the lie that your lust doesn't hurt anyone else. But selfishness always hurts you and others. And to the degree you are selfish is the degree that you are compromising yourself and stealing the chance for others to flourish.
Focusing on what others need above what you need is a sure path to experience healing and growth.
Selfishness is saying what I want is best. What I feel is most important. It's placing self on the throne of your life, rather than looking to the true King, and following Christ every moment of every day.
Central to burning the boat of selfishness is surrendering to what is out of your control and the negative consequences you might have to feel.
It turns out that the only real solution to life is to take ownership of your choices, burn the boats, and surrender so you can connect with God.
Everything else will lead to destruction.
"God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time; accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; taking, as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; trusting that You will make all things right if I surrender to Your will; so that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with You forever in the next. Amen."
"You cannot maintain trust in yourself if you lie. You cannot maintain trust in yourself, likewise, if you act in a manner that would require a lie if it was discovered. Similarly, you cannot maintain trust in your partner if he or she lies, or betrays you in action or in silence. So, the vow that makes a marriage capable of preserving its romantic component is first and foremost the decision not to lie to your partner."
Jordan Peterson, Beyond Order
What is within your control? Can you really control that?
What do you need to entrust to God?
What courageous action is needed today?
I'm a follower of Jesus Christ. My invitation to you, if you do not have deep peace and if you have not been able to overcome your greatest struggles, is to stay curious and to take a deeper look into the life of Christ. Then see if you dare to try to live as if he is really who he said he is, and agree to his invitation to become his apprentice. Crazy as it might sound, it also might be your path to peace. Apprenticing myself to Jesus Christ has been the best way I have found to be able to burn the boats and find peace in this life.