Sex, Jesus, and the Conversations the Church Forgot

 

“We’ve suppressed honest and real discussion because the enemy has convinced us we have no room to talk about it unless our eyes, hearts, lives, and track records are completely clean. We know, deep down, that we have suppressed so much conviction when we wrestled with these very things that we think our previous sins disqualify us from speaking. We grow paralyzed by fear of admitting we’ve fallen short in guarding our own eyes, and we forget that, by grace, God has called us redeemed. We are afraid to boast in our weaknesses and point to the power of the cross, so instead we stay silent and leave far too many hurting hearts feeling like they are the only ones weak enough to have given in to these broken things.” -Mo Isom

Oh man. How deeply I relate to this…and I am certain I am not the only one. As far as God has brought me in my own healing from sexual sin, there are still a lot of people who don’t even know I ever struggled in this area of my life. Maybe they had a clue as to what was going on. Maybe they didn’t. If anyone ever had any indication of the brokenness I was experiencing inside, they never said a word. I think far too often when we have the deep sense that someone we love is not okay by evidence of their actions, we speak to the consequences of their actions instead of the issues of their heart. And sometimes we say nothing at all. While there is no justification for the decisions I made in that brokenness–the people I hurt, the divisions I caused–there are reasons why I did what I did.

I kept my secret sins hidden for years. I believed that if I simply asked forgiveness from God, then why would I need to tell anyone else? As long as I was pursuing Jesus, I could look whole and healed, without ever having talk about what I did. Right? Jesus doesn’t remember my sins, and He keeps no record of my wrongs. I should just be like Jesus! But the thing is, Jesus is Jesus–He is perfect. We are sinful. We share our stories because we are never alone. We share our stories because it’s not about what we have done, but about what Christ did on the cross for us–forgiving our sins. We share our stories, because in so doing, we find healing and freedom (James 5:16).

So here is my story. May you know that you are never alone. What you have done could never outweigh what has been done for you. And that healing and freedom are yours in the name of Jesus.

I used to be the girl who wanted to save herself for her future husband. Even now, I still want to be that girl. I never knew what I wanted to do for a living when I was growing up. But I knew who I wanted to be. I wanted to be a wife. I wanted to be a mom. That was the only thing I ever wanted. I went to church every Sunday, and attended the purity seminars every year (those had to earn me some brownie points right?). I prayed. I read my Bible. I went to Bible studies all throughout middle school and high school. My mom told me I was beautiful, and people seemed to like me. Surely someone would be interested in me! But no one ever was. At least not anyone I had my eyes on.

I would watch all the romantic movies growing up, and just think of how desperately I wanted what the women in the movies had. But every year it just seemed to pass me by, and left me feeling hopeless. To add insult to injury, I was bullied fairly consistently and that just served to reinforce the belief that I was not good enough or pretty enough that someone would want me. I would often make friends with the guys that I was interested in, but as soon as they caught wind of the fact that I had a crush, they were out. Every single one of them immediately stopped talking to me, and that crushed me. I didn’t understand what was so wrong with me that we couldn’t even be friends.

Though I stayed in the church, partly because I really did enjoy it and partly because my mom would have made me go anyway, my heart grew distant from God. Everyone else seemed to be getting what I wanted, and I was left hanging out on the sidelines. Alone. Inside I grew bitter and prideful. Bitter towards the ones who got what I wanted. Prideful towards the ones who fell prey to sexual temptation within the church. Surely I would never do such things. I loved Jesus!

“Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” – Proverbs 16:18

Little did I know that I was about to learn what that verse truly meant.

He ran right past me as he clocked in for work, and he said “hi” to ME. He was adorable. That was it. I was hooked. We became fast friends, and not three months later did he ask me to be his girlfriend. Of course I said “yes!”–this was what I had been waiting for my whole life! After 20 years, I finally had someone to love me. I held on to that relationship with everything I had, even when others started to point out the red flags. I didn’t care. I wasn’t about to give up the man who said he loved me. I had waited this long, and what if no one else came?! I held on for two years. I had given every bit of myself to him–physically, spiritually, and emotionally. In the end, I wound up breaking it off through a text message. I was in basic training for the military at the time, and I could barely get him on the phone for 5 minutes before he had something else to do. He seemed so disinterested and most of our conversations were through text. He had admitted to seeking out another relationship while I was gone. I was DONE. I told him that if he wanted her, he could have her–and that was it.

I wish I could say that I returned to God with a repentant heart, but if anything I was more bitter than ever before. Relationship after relationship, I continued to give myself away. Each time I was left more empty than before. I had no idea of my worth in God’s eyes. I was so busy seeking my worth from everyone else, and each time they failed to see it I became a little more broken inside.

“I had given men my body in hopes that they would give me their hearts. I had spent too long in the darkness, too long filling my ears and eyes with things I didn’t need to hear or see. I had wasted too much time being enslaved to my sins, enslaved to my lusts, and enslaved to my insecurities. There were very real, very dominant, very debilitating things that needed to die in me. And I knew, deep in my spirit, that breaking those chains was going to require incredible intentionality. I was going to have to fight like hell against my flesh and against the enemy. But I finally knew and truly believed God, in His rich love and mercy, was willing to and capable of making a way for me.” -Mo Isom

It took me almost 30 years to not only understand, but believe in my worth as a child of God. To believe that He loves me more than I can imagine. I’m learning that I have to live from that love and walk in it every day. Sometimes I still question it–like seriously God why do you love me?? I am a mess. I honestly find it ridiculous that God loves me, but in the same breath I believe it with all my heart that it’s true. I can’t even explain it.

No matter who you are, or what you have been through, I pray that you know how deeply loved you are by God. And believe it. I know the world is messed up, and we tend to see God through the eyes of what we have been through or what we witnessed someone else go through. But if you’re willing to seek Him with an earnest heart, I promise He will be there with open arms and full of love.

“Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.” – Jeremiah 29:12-13

 

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