I can take an oak seed and plant it in the ground. The first year, completely destroying the new tree without any help from tools or machinery is easy. For the next couple years I might need a shovel, and a bit more time, but I can still do it. If I let it grow for five years, I now need an axe and some strength, or light machinery to cut that tree down and properly remove the roots which have taken hold of the soil around it. At ten years, I now need some machinery and maybe even a friend or two. At year 20, it now becomes a project I have to hire someone else to do. Thirty years into it, the roots have grown so deep and wide, there is no way I can easily uproot them. The base is think and I need a small team of people to help me take it down – but first I have to cut down the 4-5 dozen branches which engulf the area around it. Removing that tree takes help, skill and lots of time take it down.

Is there a sin that you have which is 5, 10, 20 or 30 years old? Have you been holding in anger towards a person for a long time, not been paying attention to the only body you’ve been given or have done a job so poorly that your reputation is one you are not proud of? My guess is that you have one. Maybe you’ve know about it for years, and maybe you’re just realizing it now. You’re getting clarity on the impact its had on your life. I would love to be able to prescribe some magic pill which will take it away if you really wanted it gone from your life.

When you have issues which run so deep, which are so painful, I will be honest with you and say that medication which doctors will prescribe or therapy which a psychologist can perform can do little if you don’t have this one thing: A deep personal relationship with God. I don’t know where you are with your walk with God. You might be new, never have ever talked to God in prayer or gone to church. You even skip wedding ceremonies and just show up at the reception. On the other hand, you may have tried to walk with God all your life, having great Christian role models like your parents. Or, you might be somewhere in the middle. New to your faith, still trying to figure things out, get answers, etc..

Because I’m pragmatic, and I don’t know where you are with your relationship with God, much less where you are with whatever you’re struggling with, I’ll offer up a couple steps to take to start ridding out issues you might be wrestling with, especially if you’re committed to the 140 day challenge I started a couple posts ago.

1. Stop before it starts, or restarts. I love the saying, “Kill the monster while it is a baby”. If you can nip issues in the bud before they have time to grow roots or even get planted, take massive action towards thwarting its intention. I had some bad experiences in watching some grown ups during my childhood drink alcohol. As a result, I never have had one drink. As a positive consequence of that, I’ve never once been overly pressured to drink at a young age, have had a hangover, put myself in bad sexual situations, or have risked driving while drunk.

If you can bite your tongue instead of lashing out at a loved one, start eating healthy at an early age, keep yourself to a budget when you get your first job, you are giving yourself a gift which can bless you the rest of your life. On the other hand, if you’re been tied up with bad decision making in the past, and have stopped for any length of time, don’t restart. Put just as much energy in giving yourself a fresh start, as you would have if you could rewind the hands of time.

2. Seek the Bible’s advice on your trouble topics. If you think the Bible is an old out of date book of stories, you’re missing out. It is like saying Sun Tzu’s Art of War is outdated and made up of fantasy fighting scenarios, even though it was written 2500 years ago. The Bible is God’s book and I’m not going to prove it’s validity here, as there are many books and researchers who have done it through common sense and historical fact.

What I will say is that we have “bad” thoughts bouncing around our mind, because we are sinful beings. The Bible can give you empowering ammo to combat those bad thought patterns. In the back of pretty much every modern day Bible is a reference of topics. Find the area which you need help on, and write down a verse or two which lays out God’s righteous dealing with the subject.

3. Connect with a person or community. Ideally, the best thing to do is connect with someone, face to face, who has the same issue. This can be anyone from a close friend to a support group. If you can find someone who has successfully overcome an obstacle, even better. My second choice is to find someone who you admire, and is of a strong character, even if they don’t have experience in whatever you are dealing with. If those two options can’t happen, then turn to the internet. There are tons of support groups online for every kind of addiction, soft or hard, short term or long term, which you can think of.

Even if you don’t consider your issue as a full blown addiction, typing in any search engine, your issue plus “addiction” or “anonymous”, can get you a couple clicks away to a group who can lend a hand in your healing. If you’ve been sexually abused, there are tons of groups online for that. If you suffer from too much drinking, there are literally hundreds for that. Addicted to too much work, or feel like you are neurotic about something, just type it in.

This is a great first step if you can’t find, or don’t feel comfortable talking to others. In my issue, I found a site online which was a treasure-trove of information, strategies and real people going through the exact same thing. They had the same hang ups, and very similar (if not exact) temptations and pitfalls I faced. Connecting with them gave me an education, but also helped me see the bigger picture. When we are alone, and isolate ourselves we feel ashamed, and convince ourselves that we are the only one. As a result, we ignore are temptations, and repeat the same cycles over and over.

Connecting with real people in person, through a support group or online helps us break out of our shell, kill the shame, and find solutions. Knowing others are going through the exact same thing doesn’t give us the right to keep doing it, but by seeing others heal, gives us hope we can heal. As we connect deeper we’re able to jump over pitfalls, and stay away from triggers which make us feel helpless. Whether you need to get your diet under control, monitor your spending, or get hung up on any one of the sexual temptations in life, there are people who are dealing with the same thing, and can help. My prayer is that you take these steps and take massive action by attacking it full force.