I came across an acronym years ago that has served me well over the years. Whenever you find one of these areas heightened in your life, watch out. It’s called the H.A.L.T. reality. Just recently, however, another letter/reality was offered by a friend. And I think he is spot on. So I’ll update the acronym to H.A.L.T.S.
You are most tempted to ruin your life when you are:
Ever notice how irritable you become when you haven’t eaten? This points to a deeper reality. Your human appetites in general. Not just your physical appetite, but relational, emotional, sexual. Whenever physical hungers, relational hungers, emotional hungers, and even sexual hungers become your focus, moral failure lurks.
Anger will make you say, email, post, comment, and do things you regret. Also, anger fantasies can lead to anger realities. When angry you will look to either numb yourself or vent yourself–verbally, physically, or through social media. The result is almost always sin, pain, and regret. Unresolved anger is especially dangerous. In fact, the Apostle Paul says “Be angry and do not sin. Do not let the sun go down on your anger” (Ephesians 4:26). Paul’s point is to not dwell on, seethe, or boil in anger but to resolve it daily. And why? Because not to resolve anger gives the devil a foothold in your life (Ephesians 4:27).
When you get lonely, you get desperate. Any attention, affection, stimulation, or escape that can ease or eradicate your loneliness will become overwhelmingly seductive, regardless from whom, what, or where it comes. Along with loneliness, boredom brings its own seductions as well.
When I’m tired, I crave sugar–soda, ice cream, candy, cookies, and the like. Fatigue festers not only the physical appetite, but the other appetites mentioned earlier. Plain and simple, when tired, you want relief. Unfortunately, relief through rest is usually the last option. Instead you are tempted again to find relief through numbing, self-medicating, and escaping your reality. Regrettably, many don’t stop with sugar. In addition, fatigue clouds your thinking and emotions. An issue that typically registers a “3″ on your frustration/anger scale, is now an “8.” When fatigued, your reality is not fully “reality” any more. But the temptation will be to react to it as such.
Thanks to my friend, Alex Rossi, for pointing this out. When life is good our hearts tend to drift. Subtle self-sufficiency and pride creeps in. You’re not praying like you once did. Reading Scripture gets more of a pass. And a sense of entitlement begins to settle in. No wonder God said to His people, “Take care lest you forget the Lord your God…lest, when you have eaten and are full and have built good houses and live in them, and when your herds and flocks multiply and your silver and gold is multiplied and all that you have is multiplied, then your heart be lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, who led you through great and terrifying wilderness…who fed you in the wilderness…. Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.’ You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth…”(Deuteronomy 8:11-18)
What’s the remedy to H.A.L.T.S.? Meeting with God. Every day. Early morning, lunch time, break time, or late at night after all are in bed. Get in His Word and feast and drink. Walk in His Holy Spirit. God Himself declared he would meet all your needs (yes, even sexual needs) according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).
Confront and address issues and people to resolve your anger immediately (before the day ends!). Eat a big meal with friends and family you love. Go to bed earlier, or take a nap, or “rest” in God’s strength. Give thanks every moment of your life and resolve in your heart that you can live without any success because Jesus is enough. Know yourself and your heart to recognize when reality is distorted due to fatigue and restrain yourself until further notice.
And take this to the bank: No matter how lonely you get, the pain of loneliness will not compare to the pain of what will come from whomever, whatever, and wherever you seek to escape and eradicate that loneliness outside of Jesus.
Plain and simple, the answer to H.A.L.T.S is J.E.S.U.S.