Do not stare at your temptation too long. It does help to recognize what is tempting you, however. For me, there are two classes  – the memory of a past experience or the imagining of a future one.

As my life has changed, the memory of guzzling that full bottle of champagne and eating the 18 inch pizza the same night on my 21st birthday has become less attractive. The consequences which followed are also less memorable. However, the sparkle in the wine glass still tempts and the smell of the baking dough dripping with lactose-laden cheese evokes sensations.

The fantasy of a future pleasure seems to hold more promise because it is not attached to any negative outcomes, at least, not in my dreams The bucket-list trip to Barcelona goes off without a hitch as my mind imagines staring at Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia Cathedral. The exhaustion of flying for a full day and the food poisoning from the off-season, local clams does not enter the perfect image which I conjure up. The Tesla I “want“ has a never-die’s battery and no one’s car door grazes it in the grocery store parking lot. All is perfect, and permanently so.

As you can see my temptations are specifically designed for my imagination. Yours may involve money, persons, power, or possessions.  Those temptations will be tailored just for you. That perfect, uncomplaining spouse will have a shape, a height, hair color, and sweet fragrance designed to your now-unmet needs. The power you conjure up will be without any accompanying responsibility. The fantasy house will never have a roof leak and its refrigerators will self-fill with your favorite foods. All will be perfect.  Until you have them.

The greatest temptation is in the imagining of these ideals. The second level of the sin is a comparison to the item, person, or state that we wish to replace. The flawed job, the imperfect friend, the five-day leftovers in the fridge all fit the replacement list. Right behind those thoughts comes the ingratitude. This feeling is the actual goal the dark side prefers for us to slide into. Then depression and hopelessness take over and Beelzebub has us right where he wants us.

Instead, look upon the people, places, and conditions of your life with appreciation. Also, memorize this simple prayer. “Dear Lord, take this temptation away from me and sweep the thoughts about it out the door of the house of my heart.”

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