Wow! What a week! There are a few things I could rattle on about, but I will stick to the most uncomfortable ones. Why stay in the box of easy?
Last Sunday my pastor preached a fantastic message on what we deserve and how Paul lived his life with contentment because he lived in a constant state of comparison between what he had and what he deserved. I think that is what the message was about. If I am wrong it is probably because of the contents of the next paragraph.
I totally agree with the theological truth that without Jesus Christ I deserve death. Intellectually. I really, really struggle with it on every other level. Occasionally I come to some sort of real grasp of it, but I lose focus a couple seconds later as I quickly refocus on all the things I am doing for Jesus and how desperately hard I am trying to follow Him perfectly. Emotionally I find the truth that I deserve death really repulsive.
During the message last week, I sat in my seat with my arms at least mentally crossed and on some conscious or subconscious level, I thought, “You’re right. You deserve death, but I don’t because I try my best. I am really, really trying over here.”
You know a fascinating thing? The Bible never says, “Try really hard, and you will be saved.” It’s just not in there.
Anyways, this week I have done some major repenting. For reals.
My counselor and I have actually made it to the hardest work in my recovery. By far the hardest work I have ever done. We have made it to sex.
Now in my life, there is a lot to repent of and heal from when it comes to sex. I have been ABUSED. After the abuse ended, I spent the next ten years doing whatever I wanted with my sexuality and self. Sometimes running away from my issues altogether. Sometimes creating more issues. Basically, what someone else didn’t screw up for me, I finished off on my own.
So this week’s counseling homework was answering what God’s view of the balance of emotional and physical intimacy during sex was. Don’t worry. I am not going to answer that question here!
Honestly, I never really got around to even trying to answer it because I got hung up on God’s view of sex. Forget the details of balance between physical touch and emotional intimacy!
Did you know that God created sex as a source of life? Isn’t that the most simple and obvious truth you have ever heard? Yet for some reason when I wrote it on my paper this week it was mind-blowing. On the third day of creation, God created plants. This was His first creation act where He decided two would create one. Sex from its very origination creates life.
Sex has never brought life in my life. It has always shattered me.
Clearly sex is a source of physical life, but I couldn’t help thinking about all the other aspects of life. Connection, relationship, love, healing, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness…
Wow! My sex life so hasn’t lived up to the reason God created it! My experience with sex has only ever brought death. Disconnection, pain, fear, control, lust, envy, pride, selfishness, greed, nightmares which seem endless…
My counselor isn’t letting me go to the dark places in my past on my own time, but it didn’t take me focusing on my past for me to realize how I had destroyed a precious gift from God. My abusers had the audacity to take the liberty to destroy it outside of my control. I am innocent as a victim, but then I mutilated what was left.
So I got down on my knees and repented. I don’t get down on my knees much, but it was the posture of my heart. What had I done? I fell very, very short; and yes, based just on the way I have used my sexuality, I deserve death. But based on the death of Jesus Christ and His resurrection, He has given me life. What a way to go into Thanksgiving!
I have never done harder work in recovery. My nightmares have been nightly (except when I wake up before 5 – then I don’t have time to dream). I struggle and wonder if it is worth the work to recover in this area. I am single and celibate anyway. I can hear Andy Stanley’s advice ringing in my ears: Work through your issues while you are single, it is the wisest thing to do. But here’s the catch – you will never have less incentive.
I have started to pray for incentive. I need some!
But if the only thing I gain from all this work is a healthy connection with touch, isn’t it worth it? Touch being something God created?
In my journaling about God’s view of touch and sex, I realized He was the first one who touched us. When He formed us from dirt, He must have done so with such tender care and intricate detail. I find it so comforting to know the first touch we received was one of perfect love.
In my last two years of very abstinent celibacy, I have learned a lot of things about touch. I began consciously watching the couples at my church who are obviously laying down their lives for Christ and living in a Christ-centered way. I have watched them in simple exchanges as they hand over a child or a set of keys. I have watched deeper conversations. I have observed the nuances of body language and tone of voice. As I journaled, I was surprised by how much I have learned through observation.
Christ-centered physical touch is… sweet, unity, trust, affirmation, peace, love, self-less, humble, bonding, respectful, submissive, servanthood, intimate, focused on the lover, expresses admiration for the partner, joyful, fun, god-like, mutually dependent, a celebration, it always gives, it never takes, an exploration and rich appreciation of the differences that make two one…
I wrote more, but I will stop there. The couples at my church are pretty amazing mentors, aren’t they? (They don’t even know they have been teaching me!)
Two weeks ago in counseling I described sex as degrading, gross, humiliating… I’ll stop there. I don’t want to depress us or go places I shouldn’t.
It is time to go through the hard work of learning in my heart what I know in my mind. I guess when the difference is so stark, shouldn’t that be all the incentive I need? I’ll try to remind myself of that tomorrow morning when I wake up with my next nightmare.
His grace is enough, and someday soon His truth will make it into my heart.
In your deepest and entirely private honesty, what adjectives would you use to describe sex? What do you believe God’s view of sex and physical touch is? What can you do to begin aligning your view with His?