Let's Get Practical: 8 Tips for Walking Out Purity
I've sat in the front row of really inspirational church services, staring at the speaker thinking, "Yes. This is it. I will never be the same after this message. My life is changed forever." I've also woken up the next day, been hit with the normalcy and routine of life and thought, "Wait, what did that speaker say at church yesterday?"
We can have all the inspiration in the world pointing us to a life of purity, but without practical ways to walk it out, inspiration fades and we can often find ourselves in the same cycles. So in this post, we are about to get really practical.
Here are eight practical ways to walk out purity:
1. Know Your Triggers
When you find yourself depressed and tempted to engage in an unhealthy behavior, figure out what got you there.
Example: "Oh man, I was feeling great about my life until I watched that TV show with all the steamy romance scenes..."
Slip-ups in purity are usually not random. There are patterns we can recognize that get us to a place we don't want to be. Figure out what sets you off. It might be a certain TV show or movie, type of book, or maybe even just looking at social media late at night. If it's not good for you, it's not worth it. Pick another TV show. Turn off your phone after a certain time. Being healthy and happy is worth it.
2. Go to Sleep
When it's late and we're tired, we don't make the best decisions. For example, never have I woken up in the morning and thought, "I'm going to eat an entire package of Oreos to start my day off right." When does this happen? Late at night after a long day when I want to finish things out with some double stuffed comfort food. When it's midnight and that guy or that girl texts you with "Hey...," you don't have to answer. Shut down that texting conversation, put the laptop away, and go to sleep. If you've had a long day, you'll feel better in the morning.
3. Rewire your thought patterns
When your thoughts start to wander into a fantasy about someone or you catch yourself starting to fall back into an unhealthy behavior, find a phrase you can use or a way to redirect your thinking. This can look a few different ways. A phrase might be something like, "Okay, we're all done with that," or "No thanks." Scripture is also a powerful tool because God's Word is alive and it connects us to the truth. Say something out loud if you have to, just give your mind a signal that you are not going down that road. You are changing directions.
4. Come up with a plan
When you're in a relationship, it's important to set a plan early on for how you're going to walk out purity. Why? Because when you two are in the car late at night with R&B music playing in the background, that is not the time to come up with a plan. Any plan you come up with at that point will not be good. Decide where your boundaries are ahead of time. We're not going to set solid rules for you, but think about the situations that are going make it easy or tempting to compromise, and decide that you're not going to put yourselves in those situations.
Here's a bonus tip on setting boundaries: set standards you both agree on. If you're fine with kissing but the other person doesn't feel okay with it yet, guess what? You probably shouldn't be kissing. The goal is not to see how far the other person will go for you. The goal is to value them by respecting their boundaries and making them feel safe.
5. Bring people around you
Don't do this thing alone. Have people around you who believe in you and will fight for you. We've said it before, but things can get hazy when you're in the midst of relationships because you have feelings involved. Be open to the feedback of people around you who love you and want your best. These might be leaders, family, or friends, but listen to people who have healthy relationships whom you respect. When you're struggling, these are the people you call. After you've messed up, this is who you need to tell. Don't let the only person weighing in on your relationship be your friend down the street who is also trying to figure out their own dating life and has the same struggles as you do.
Yeah, you might be skeptical about this one, but it works. Sex or sexual encounters release endorphins in your brain, and if you're lacking endorphins, you might be more tempted to find an easy way to get them released in the form of an unhealthy behavior. Don't do it. Get up, go for a run, go to the gym, or find another way to get endorphins released. You can even try watching a funny movie or cat videos on YouTube because laughter also releases endorphins. Figure out what works for you.
7. Don't let mistakes break you
Often after a mistake we feel shame and discouragement and the temptation to distance ourselves from God. Don't. Invite Him in instead. Say, "God, I messed up. I'm sorry, and I need your help."
Just because you slip up doesn't mean it's over.
Figure out what led up to it, like we talked about before, and make a change. You're still in this, you just have to get back up.
8. Think long term
You may have heard something like this before: "It's you and me, baby. All we have is right now. All we have is tonight." Wrong. More than likely, you don't just have tonight. You have tomorrow night and the next night, and a thousand nights after that. If you make this decision tonight, how are you going to feel tomorrow? If you repeat this pattern, how will it affect your life in the long run? You have more to think about than just the moment you're in. You have an entire future and all the people who love you to think about.
No matter where you are on your journey, remember that you're not stuck and you're not powerless. God's given you everything you need to walk out purity. It may take some big steps, some drastic changes, but you can be completely free and completely healthy and you can walk others into freedom as well. Don't hesitate to check out our other resources and blogposts to help you on your journey to purity. Our team is with you and we believe in you.