By Adia Colar
I struggle with Egypt syndrome.
Egypt Syndrome refers to a spiritual, rather than physical, Egypt. Think back to the book of Exodus in the Bible. The Israelites went to Egypt and were enslaved. Hundreds of years later, they were rescued out of Egypt. They began their journey to a land that God had promised to them, one flowing with milk and honey. Things didn’t immediately work out how the Israelites wanted, so they started complaining that it would’ve been better had they just stayed in Egypt.
I’ve had many Egypts – things that have enslaved me – particularly a food addiction. It was ruling my life, as eating disorders have a tendency to do. Near the end of my rope, God rescued me from it to show me life on the other side.
But I, just like the Israelites, have gotten frustrated time and again when God hasn’t responded how I wanted on my timetable. I’ve turned my eyes from God and all of a sudden, Egypt looked really nice and I started longing for it again.
If you find yourself struggling with Egypt Syndrome, here are ways to challenge it:
- Ask God for help.
There is a saying that prayer should be our first resource, not our last resort, and this is no exception. Sometimes the simplest prayer can be the best. A prayer I use is, “Dear God, I’m struggling right now and I want to go back to Egypt. Please help me not to.” Another favorite prayer is: “Help” (followed by “Thanks” when God helps me). God’s not going to take you out of Egypt just to leave you in the wilderness. Ask God for help – that’s what He’s here for.
- Avoid Your Triggers.
1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.” This is one area where it’s completely applicable. It’s easy to fall into the trap of the past and end up pining for Egypt again, but actively avoiding the thing that remind you of your personal Egypt helps you resist going there.
If you struggle with alcohol, surround yourself with people who don’t drink and stay away from alcohol-related events. Do you find yourself wanting to gossip about people? Let those you talk with know that you don’t want to do it anymore. If you struggle with disordered eating, you might want to avoid scales, full-body mirrors, and fashion magazines. Obsessing over a past love? Get rid of the person’s phone number. It’s important, particularly in early stages of recovery, to avoid situations that pit you against your old life.
- Talk to someone who remembers your struggles in Egypt.
As dangerous as Egypt can be, your head can be just as toxic. When you’re pining for Egypt, it can be easy to romanticize the past without keeping things in perspective. To counter this, talk to a friend or loved one who remembers how things were when you were in bondage. This person can remind you of the low points when you were struggling. Once you’re able to acknowledge the past horrors, Egypt won’t look as inviting.
- Keep inspirational quotes with you.
Reading an encouraging quote can help when you’re struggling. Keep motivational sayings on your wall, nightstand, refrigerator, mirror, at work, and anywhere else that might be helpful. For instance, I keep inspirational quotes on my phone, computer, and in my car. Create an inspiration board and cover it with pictures and phrases that represent your goals. They can help you keep a positive perspective and remember why the promised land is worth it.
- Record your progress and refer to it.
I’ve heard it said that it’s easier to keep going down the right path than it is to get on that path. Use that motivation to note each day you stay on the path you’re working toward. For instance, I put stickers on my calendar to celebrate every day that I don’t practice my eating disorder.
What progress is it that you want to measure? Maybe it’s how long you’ve gone without drinking or how long it’s been since you’ve gossiped. Whatever it is, find a way to note each time you don’t go back and reward yourself for it. Reminding yourself where you’re going is a great motivation for moving forward.
- Keep a list of joys of recovery.
When the road to recovery seems bleak, you can refer to all of the reasons for staying on that journey. For me, this includes:
- Not living in fear
- Improved relationships with people
- Not constantly lying
- Being able to show up for life
- Reduced physical complications
Compare your list to your reasons for wanting to go back. Chances are your recovery list contains many more worthwhile and lasting things than your Egypt list.
Most of all, keep pressing on! The land of milk and honey is not necessarily always visible, but it’s always better than going back to bondage.