Focus on the Journey
Elder Dale G. Renlund said, “God cares a lot more about who we are and who we are becoming than about who we once were. He cares that we keep on trying” (“Latter-day Saints Keep on Trying.”)
We often want to count our days of abstaining from pornography as a way of evaluating whether we are making progress. Although abstinence from viewing pornography is one of the outcomes we seek, just stopping isn’t a plan. Many find that the best indicator of progress has more to do with how our heart is changing than how long we have gone without viewing pornography.
As we’re attempting to change our behavior, we should focus on the journey we’re making—who we’re becoming and the Christlike attributes we’re cultivating. We can recognize growth by how willing we are to learn from our mistakes and how quickly we turn to the Savior in moments of weakness. Additionally, part of becoming like Christ is seeking to improve ourselves. Trying to understand and address the causes of our setbacks reflects our desire to become like Him. As we focus on measuring, improving, and adapting ourselves and our plans, we are more likely to achieve our goal of overcoming pornography.
The process and the steps we follow will look different for each of us, but we can judge our progress by focusing on how sincerely and consistently we put forth our best effort and work toward improvement.
Progress Takes Time
Elder Richard G. Scott said, “We become what we want to be by consistently being what we want to become each day. . . . If you have determined to live righteously, don’t become discouraged. Life may seem difficult now, but hold on tightly to that iron rod of truth. You are making better progress than you realize. Your struggles are defining character, discipline, and confidence in the promises of your Father in Heaven and the Savior as you consistently obey Their commandments” (“The Transforming Power of Faith and Character.”)
Overcoming pornography—as with any other major challenge we face—requires patience, time, and consistency. It takes time and concerted effort to identify our influences [link to 4.1] and make plans. We also must be prepared to encounter setbacks and adversity [link to 4.2] and to respond by learning more, adjusting our plans, seeking to make progress, and preparing for future setbacks. Change can be a frustrating process, but when we turn to the Lord and wait upon Him, He will strengthen us in our struggles. (See Isaiah 40:31.)
Ideas for Taking Action:
Here are some ideas that others have found helpful. Prayerfully consider what actions might be best for you, taking into account that they may or may not be listed here.
- Consider regularly writing in a journal. Record your feelings and observations as you navigate each day. Review past entries periodically to look for growth, development, and opportunities for change.
- Learn more about specific emotional challenges you may be facing, such as anxiety or depression. Identify resources for research, such as self-help books.
- Evaluate what might be influencing you and whether these influences are biological, psychological, social, or spiritual.
- Consider engaging in physical exercise, changing your diet, or meeting with a medical professional for a physical examination and necessary treatment.
- Seek support by speaking with your spouse, a friend, or a family member.
- Make a plan for daily prayer, scripture study, and other important spiritual behaviors.
- Consider your attitude toward others who have different weaknesses than yours. How can you be nonjudgmental and uplifting toward others struggling with different challenges?