[*Girly Post Alert]
Is it just me, or have you ever felt like every human being in the world is getting engaged, getting married, or making babies right in front of your eyes on your Facebook Newsfeed – while you’re just trying to survive (in Africa), struggling to find a reason to shave your legs, and barely finding the time to take a shower.
…Anyone? No? Just me?
Let’s be honest. Being single is hard, in fact, it’s harder than hard – and it’s something that I’ve been battling with since the 6th grade, when my parents told me I wasn’t allowed to date until I turned 35. Not to mention, as a maturing Christian woman who desperately wants to do the “right thing” when it comes to dating and marriage, the struggle has been exponentially real. This journey has been full of twists and turns, victories and failures, and butterflies and face-plants. I know that I am not the only female in the universe who struggles with this issue, so I thought it may be encouraging to share some of the nuggets of wisdom and revelations that the Lord has been teaching me throughout this faith adventure. I still have a lot to learn, but here are a few points that have helped me thus far…
Sex isn’t bad – and neither is wanting it. This may gross you all out, but I need to give a quick shout out to my amazing parents for showing me how beautiful and fun love can be. My mom and dad were always super affectionate around the house ( they still are to this day), and it used to make me and my sister roll our eyes in disgust. Now however, I’ve learned to really appreciate how they celebrate love in our home. My parents showed me that they aren’t ashamed to express their love for one another, that it’s a wonderful gift they get to enjoy, and that it keeps them bonded as a couple (even in front of their kids). That’s the kind of intimacy that I want to experience with my future husband one day (especially with the goal of grossing out my children).
One thing however, that my parents did a not so good job of was giving me “the sex talk.” In fact, I don’t think “the sex talk” actually ever happened – our conversation at the time sounded more like “Sam, don’t even think about it, and if you do think about, you better be engaged to be married, and if you are engaged to be married, you better use protection, but DONT EVEN THINK ABOUT IT.” I don’t blame my parents for that at all, because I was the first born “trial and error” child, so they were doing their best to figure things out. Plus, the Word of God wasn’t exactly a significant part of my life until I turned about 18 years old, and by then, my mind was already warped due to sexual abuse, pornography, and religious guilt. Over the course of these past few years though – through friends, spiritual mentors, and some seriously good books (including Intended for Pleasure, Get Lost, Pulling Back the Shades, Captivating, Redeeming Love, and the Bible amongst others), the Lord has taught me so much about sex, relationships, and my sexuality as a woman.
The first thing that He taught me was that He created it. The second thing He taught me was that everything He creates is good. Sex is beautiful, sacred, holy, and exciting – and it’s meant to be used to glorify God, celebrate unconditional love, create intimacy, and unify two people in a bond that should last a lifetime. God instilled in us desires for sex and intimacy because He created us to be relational beings – and that is not something for us to be ashamed of. Rather, it’s something we should protect, appreciate, and cultivate as we walk with the Lord (and with our future spouses). I used to think sex was dirty, scary, and ungodly, and I remember praying for God to take away my sex drive because I thought it was a bad thing – but that’s because I wasn’t using the word of God to discern truth from lie. My sex drive is a gift, I just need to use it properly – and not abuse it outside the safety net of marriage. It’s something I should praise God for, because it’s a blessing – not a curse.
It’s not about giving 50/50, it’s about giving 100/100. I’ve heard it so many times that a relationship is about putting in “50/50” for each other – when God actually calls us to give our 100% (…100% of the time). But here’s the thing, if you are functioning at 80%, how can you give someone else your 100%? Until I know how to be completely content and secure with who I am in Christ and completely free from the bondage and brokenness of my past – how can I expect to give my entire self to another? So instead of using the cliché, “You complete me” to our significant others, we should actually be saying, “You compliment me” – because God made us complete all on our own.
The Lord must first make me whole before I can wholly love someone else with joy, surrender, sacrifice, and purity. No one is perfect, and I am not saying that God must first make me into the perfect woman before I can get married – no way. He will however, want to prepare me for marriage, and sometimes this will require breaking bad habits, renewing my mind, or building me up in Him as His beloved and accepted daughter first. This has been tough for me to swallow because it means two big things – patience and trust. I have to put all of my faith in the fact that the Lord can redeem the broken pieces of my heart and rebuild me into a woman who is after His own heart. I also need to trust that He knows what is best for me, which could mean a marriage one day (soon or far off), or a super awesome single life filled with adventure and exclusive intimacy with Him. Either way, He is good, and He has my best in mind.
Porn wont fix your loneliness problem – and neither will one-night hook ups. No, seriously. In the moment, those things may feel like they will satisfy you and build you up emotionally, but they won’t. I don’t care what the media says, what MTV says, or what Cosmopolitan magazine says. Take it from my personal experience, I had to fight for years to undo all of the damage that a serious porn addiction had on my life – and every now and then, the dirty residue will crop up inside my imagination and I’ll have to spray it away with my “spiritual windex.” Porn is not real, and it does not depict sex in the beautifully intimate and accurate way that God actually wants it to be. Porn is staged, it is edited, it is misleading, it is abusive, and it is incredibly impersonal. It dehumanizes women into sex toys, while teaching men that sex is merely a physical act when it actually encompasses the heart, soul, mind, and body of both people involved. Real life hook-ups are the same. They may feel good in the moment, but after the night is over, you’ll be left feeling insecure and empty – unable to satisfy the feelings of loneliness and the feelings of desperately wanting to be loved inside and out (unconditionally). These are counterfeit measures that will slowly kill you from within the deep and dark recesses of your heart.
Every time I’ve fallen into one of those traps, the Lord reminds me that the heartbreak and the painful (and sometimes humiliating) consequences are definitely not worth it. I’ve lost confidence, self-worth, friendships, and many hours of sleep crying over the mistakes I’ve made in the past because of lust and wanting to be intimate with someone who was simply not right for me. I’ve tried to force relationships and compromise my standards to satisfy an urge that cannot be satisfied outside of the will of God. I’ve learned that the enemy has a way of presenting a temptation or a sin in such a beautifully attractive package that it draws us in while simultaneously hiding the “terms and conditions” in a place where we can’t find them – until it’s too late. We are presented with a seemly wonderful opportunity without being presented with the blatantly painful consequences of our actions. Our only hope in conquering these situations and fighting back is with – Truth.
Now, one last thing…
To the girl like me who has already messed up… don’t fear. If you’ve had sex already, have or had a struggle with porn, or are dating a guy who you know needs walk his boots right out your front door – you are not alone, you are still loved, and there is still hope.
I will tell you from experience that the journey will not be easy – it will require sacrifice, trust, and learning from your mistakes, but it’s possible to heal and to come out on the other side as an overcomer. The Lord adores you, and if you desire to turn back and do things His way, He definitely won’t condemn you. I’ve made my fair share of mistakes, and I will probably make even more mistakes in the future, but with every mistake – I make it a point to run back to God with a repentant heart instead of wallowing in my sin and shame. His word says that you are precious in His sight and He loves you – He wants to see you whole and He wants to bless you with every good gift from above. But to be blessed and to heal, we first need to be obedient.
Find someone to be vulnerable with, share life with, pray with, and be accountable with (a female friend if you’re a girl) who you can trust and depend on to lead you in righteous living. Then do your research, discover how God truly feels about sex, about your womanhood – and why. Prayerfully let the Lord undo all of the damage that has been done in your heart and mind from incorrect teachings, traumatic experiences, or lies that you’ve been told throughout your life. Make every effort to learn about your body and the way you are wired, learn about what godly relationships are supposed to look like from older couples who you admire and from examples in Scripture – don’t be afraid to get educated by seeking out wisdom and knowledge.
And, mostly importantly, enjoy the season of singleness that you’re in because it may not last forever – and it may come to an end before you know it. God has us in this season for a reason, and it should be embraced, appreciated, and enjoyed. Make the most of it. Find yourself, find God, and grow in a sweet and deep intimacy with Him while you have Him all to yourself (and while He has you all to Himself). Let Him mold you and shape you, and let Him prepare you for every single adventure that He has in mind.
And always remember, sweet friend, that your value and worth and beauty are not defined by a boy. You are defined by God – so hold on to that and start believing and behaving like the princess warrior that you are.