Living in Freedom

Freedom from sin does not equal a perfect record, I’m coming to understand.

I’m going on 5 months of being masturbation-free. When I say that I mean that I’ve been free from the habit of masturbation that I’d been trapped in for the majority of my life. I’ve had two hiccups in that time. One when I was half-asleep, the other when I saw something online that I should have turned away from. During the latter, I began masturbating but then stopped. 

What am I doing? I thought, Am I really going to step back into this when I’ve been so wonderfully out for so long?

I decided, no, and put an end to it. 

Here’s where I saw the freedom: I didn’t let either of those failings drag me back into the usual cycle.

Before, that failure would have triggered my surrender to my flesh, and to the idea that I can’t ever get it right and be free from lust. I’d have given up and given in and the whole process would begin anew. 

Why? Because I believed that if I can’t do it perfectly, if I mess up once then I’ve ruined the purity streak and might as well indulge.

Now I see that even though I’ve messed up twice I’m still living in freedom. I didn’t let those failures get in the way of saying no now. It’s not about keeping a perfect record. It’s about choosing grace this very moment.

I say no to the cycle. It doesn’t line up with the Gospel, or with God’s grace. It isn’t sanctification, either. What I’ve got now is much better and it’s truth. If I stumble it doesn’t send me back to the starting line, so I shouldn’t immediately go back to it. I should get up, right where I am and press on toward the prize.

Also, I want to say to those who are also struggling. I’m still tempted, especially when ovulating, but the less you indulge the easier it gets and the less frequent the temptation. A HUGE part of this is saying no to watching or listening to things that make your mind want to go there. Like, last night I said I didn’t want to watch a certain movie because I knew there was sex in it though I couldn’t remember how much. If I’d seen it I knew it would make the temptation to fantasize more difficult so I said no.

It was easier to say no because I haven’t masturbated and so the physical desire was less, too. So keep going! Abstaining gets easier with time!

In other news, there was an almost romance for a few months last fall with a friend of mine, but he never made a move and God made it clear we wouldn’t be a good fit even if he had. It was all in all a good experience. I discovered I’ve lost all the shyness and insecurity that I once had, and I’m perfectly capable of flirting (which I’ve questioned more than once). And we are still friends so nothing’s really changed. I’m okay with that.

Victory

For the briefest moment I hesitated. A moment that quietly accepted the realization that if I spoke, if I revealed the truth, then there would be no going back. Only forward, toward light. Toward purity. Toward Christ.

 

I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned that I’m in charge of our student ministry this year. I’ve been one of the youth staff since I’ve led worship at my church and this year the youth pastor took a year-long study sabbatical. So that has left me in charge for 2013.

 

It was a Wednesday night in October after our youth service was over. All the students had gone and a rare thing happened that I was left with only Bushbaby and our other woman youth leader talking about how the night had gone. Usually some of the guys stay until all us women leave. But the three of us were talking and our other youth leader shared that one of our girls had just gone through some intense hurt because a teenage boy had taken advantage of her and thrown her by the wayside. As we listened, I was filled with urgency and passion that all of our girls know their worth and know that no matter what mistakes they’ve made or what someone has done to them there is grace and hope.

 

The Holy Spirit laid on my heart that we needed another girl’s night sleepover, but this time really have purpose behind it. I know that Bushbaby and the other woman had both gone through their own share of struggles and each of us needed to be honest with our girls and let them know they are not alone.

 

But if we were going to do that I knew that these two leaders needed to know my crap first. If I was going to be honest and vulnerable with our girls it had to start then and there. And I knew that if I told Bushbaby my struggle then it meant that I was going to fight, really fight for purity. I accepted this and obeyed. I told them that I’ve struggled with masturbation and pornography. They were filled with grace and agreed that opening up to the girls was important and necessary.

 

We left in agreement to work out a time to have the sleepover and Bushbaby and I got in the car. She exploded that she also struggled. I’ve told people before, (heck, I’ve written a blog) so it is easier for me to talk about it than it was for her. But that night I decided to fight.

 

I decided to struggle, really struggle against my flesh and fight for purity. Not just an absence of indulging in the physical act, but to fight for a purity of heart.

 

I wrote Matthew 5:8 on my mirror, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”

 

I’ve experienced times of incredible intimacy with the Lord, times when I’ve experienced His presence and seen Him at work. In those times I didn’t have the desire to masturbate. I was content. I was full.

 

I realize now that for so much of my life God has fought for me and I’ve responded to Him, but now I’m choosing to fight for Him. I want to “see” Him. I want that intimacy and I will fight against what hinders me in order to have that once again.

 

And He has proved to me James 4:8, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” I’ve been tempted but have asked for His help and He has helped me!

 

I’ve messed up a little mentally but His grace catches me and the Holy Spirit has helped me repent almost immediately. Having the support of God to fight also brings me closer to Him in intimacy. It means so much to experience His faithfulness and support. I feel like I’m being hidden in the shadow of His wings. It’s worth every denial of my flesh. It’s worth being humbled when I mess up.

 

So I’ve been masturbation free for over a month and hope that continues! It also really helps that Bushbaby and I check up on and support one another, too. She will sleep in my room with me if either of us are having a bad night. I just know that I don’t ever want to have to tell her I’ve failed.

 

I wouldn’t be able to say any of this if I hadn’t told her. I wouldn’t have told her if God had not ignited a passion in me for our students to know purity themselves. It’s kind of cyclical I guess. The truth is that I really do care about purity! I believe that sex can be an incredible gift if we humans don’t cheapen it. I believe that some of the deepest wounds are because it is cheapened and distorted. And it is so tied with self-worth that I want to do all I can to protect our girls from having regrets.

 

So that’s what’s happening right now. I know I might screw up but God is good and faithful and worth it! He’s so worth it.

 

 

I also have to tease that as of two weeks ago something romantic might finally be happening in my life…but I’ll give it a little more time before I expound. J

 

 

For those still struggling or those who are completely in bondage: There is hope and there is victory, but you won’t find it unless you accept the grace and forgiveness and help of Jesus. And again, I’m not able to do this because I want to do it for me. I really do want it because I want to “see God” so I’m fighting for my relationship with Him. It has to start with that motive. And then your first step is to (prayerfully) find the right person to tell. I wouldn’t be able to do this alone, and from other testimonies I’ve read, not many others can either.

 

Tears

“And there will come a time, you’ll see, with no more tears.
And love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears.
Get over your hill and see what you find there,
With grace in your heart and flowers in your hair”

After the Storm by Mumford and Sons

 

I cried yesterday.

 

For once I think it was a healthy cry. I let myself feel my emotions as they happened instead of stuffing them down. 

In my extremely long post Jealous Rage Monster I described the group of really close friends that I had in high school. Basically, my tears were over the fact that I will be last. Over the feeling of being left behind. 

Reader, Charmer, and Wit are married. Hippie probably doesn’t plan to marry anyone. And Dreamer has found herself a wonderful Irish man. She left yesterday to visit him for 3 months, and it is very likely she will come back engaged. 

It was hard saying goodbye to her knowing that everything is about to change. 

Why is it so hard for some of us? Or a better question: why is it so easy for others? I can’t help but wonder if there is something glaringly wrong with me that makes me undesirable. People are constantly trying to set Bushbaby up with people.   Probably because she’s younger and she’s a charmer. Everyone loves her. 

But it is hard being the last and it is hard being overlooked. It’s difficult to keep myself from comparing or thinking I am not enough and too much at the same time. 

However, Dreamer told me yesterday, “I always thought that you had unrealistic expectations about your future husband, Ace. I always thought you would have to move to the city and work harder to put yourself out there. But God just dropped Irishman into my life out of nowhere and worked everything out so much more perfectly than I could have imagined…I know that He can do the same for you.”

Basically, what she meant but failed to say was “You were right after all.” She moved to the city and “put herself out there” for years and that wasn’t the reason she met Irishman. God worked everything out between them, hand picked him, just so perfectly. They have an incredible story so far. 

I have two battling reactions to Dreamer and Irishman. I’m tempted yet again to give up and shut off my heart because being left behind is painful, watching the dream happen for someone else can really hurt, I can’t deny that I am also filled with joy and hope. I LOVE that God has worked everything out so beautifully for my dear, dear friend. It makes me so happy and excited for her. She’s one of the people who I really respect for how she’s sought the Lord and I love seeing how He’s blessed her. And seeing God display His love for her and how awesome it is because of her faithfulness fills me with hope that He truly can work everything out for me. My expectations of God when it comes to my story are not too high. He can and will do amazing things, and I can make room for those things by trusting and being faithful. If He does have marriage planned for my future, by George, my story will be spectacular. 

“Those who sow with tears
    will reap with songs of joy.” – Psalm 126:5

Lust and Masturbation: The Struggle

First, I want to thank you all who have commented. You continue to encourage and challenge me, making me want to continue to write, confess, and seek God’s truth on these issues. Thank you.

Someone recently asked if I was actually struggling with masturbation, actually resisting, or if I’ve just accepted it. Here’s my answer:

First, I will say that I’ve definitely struggled with the mental/moral debate of whether it is sinful or not. I’d say that a great number of those who’ve found my blog have done so seeking the answer to the same question. As I read my past posts I can see the evidence of my struggle with this. More and more I am coming to understand that masturbation is something I should struggle against. The journey behind this belief has been a long one. To be honest I’ve waffled for years due to not wanting to really know how God truly sees this. Not wanting to really know that crucifying these specific desires of my flesh is actually what is best for me and most glorifying to Him. At times I’ve declared that I believe that, but when it’s really difficult, all the same questions/excuses resurface. But God has indeed used this blog, this space that was created for me to wrestle and seek the truth, to better understand the why behind the belief that I shouldn’t masturbate. And for that I am thankful, even though it strips me of my excuses.

At this point I absolutely must acknowledge Torik89 and her blog “Women Masturbate.” She has delved into the why and has done so without judgement, simply sharing her story and what God and experience have taught her. As I’ve tried to navigate through the thick forest of this topic, her words have at times been a machete to clear away the brambles, and at times been a gentle sunbeam to guide me through the trees. Thank you, my friend and sister-in-Christ, for your amazing heart and wisdom for leading me and others toward the light.

Second, the battle against my actual fleshly urges…oh man. Where to start?

The Mental/Spiritual: I’ve read that the mind is the most powerful sexual organ. This is true. There’s the whole debate about being able to masturbate without lusting (which of course brings up the whole “what constitutes lusting” debate, which I won’t go into now). Let me put it this way. I’ve tried to masturbate without thinking any sexual thoughts. It didn’t really get me anywhere. Because my mind is my primary sex organ. Which means that most of the time my mental state is what determines my masturbatory habits. If I’ve given my mind sexual material to recall, whether by viewing, reading, or imagining it, most likely I’ll find myself indulging the habit instead of fighting it. And if I’m not filling my mind with eternal, Philippians 4:8-type things, then my mind’s habit is to seek the sexual. My spiritual walk with God is crucial to being in the right frame of mind to repel sexual thoughts, and therefore resist masturbating.

The Physical: It is rare that I’m ever not in the mood for sex. So, you can imagine that I, being a woman with a cycle of hormones, go through regular bouts of EXTREME horniness during that time that I’m supposed to be making babies. So, sometimes the actual physical need is super strong even when my mind is in a good place.

So basically – If I’m not spending time with God/walking in the Spirit then my mind will go to sexual thoughts, and then my body will respond and most likely I’ll give in to masturbating. This is most of the time. Sometimes it’s the opposite. My body will crave sex so strongly that my mind will go to sexual thoughts and I’ll masturbate, even if I have been spending time with God, and then I’ll often distance myself from God because of that.

Everything is connected.

So the simple answer to the question “Do I actually struggle?” is yes but sometimes no. Sometimes I’ve fought to the extent of getting out of bed, even though I was really sleepy, and making myself do something. Other times I’ve gone weeks just giving in. Currently, I read this blog every night because it helps me remember to resist. Another problem is that my mind and body go there when I’m sleepy. I’m sure some of you know what I mean by this. It’s hard to fight when you’re half-asleep.

I’m praying about talking to someone I know personally about this. I have told people in the past but it’s been a while since I’ve done so. I know that it needs to be the right person, and I’m not sure who that is.

All-in-all, I’m trying to remember that the main why is not for me to be a better person, but to glorify God. My body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, and my life has been given to Christ. I owe Him all of me, and I want to be obedient to Him, and I want to love Him above all.

Encouragement for the Single

The absolute most encouraging thing I’ve ever heard about being single was from David Platt in this series:

http://www.radical.net/media/schurch/view/872/secret-church-family-marriage-sex-and-the-gospel-part-3?filter=series

He talks about singleness at 27:14, and you can read the transcript by pressing “Read” beneath the video because he goes REALLY fast.

The rest of the series is so good. Crammed full of scripture and challenging truth. Check it out!

Some Things I’ve Learned

An update on things that I’ve previously mentioned:

1. Bushbaby and Captain Adorable

It’s over. PRAISE GOD! It’s over! Actually it was a little over a month ago but I’ve been swamped so I didn’t get the chance to write about it.

First, I must change his moniker to “Captain Adios” because he’s bye-bye.

Remember when I was all jealous and wanted a relationship and all that? Well…watching this relationship take place cured me. It cured the crap out of my jealousy. It was awful.

Why is it that abusive guys somehow know which women to go after? They have like this 6th sense about it. “Hey, she’s sweet and beautiful and easy to guilt and manipulate…let’s do it!”

It started so wonderfully…and then the personal issues came out and vomited all over that relationship and everyone within a mile radius of it (which, sadly, included ALL roommates involved). Poor guy has serious trust issues. Bushbaby is a fun, caring, and giving person. She’s not hard to get in touch with. She knows how to take care of people. And yet he found something about her to take issue with 90% of the time. Ok, folks… if you are having unhappy disagreements 90% of the time within the first 6 months of the relationship…and are only happy or even just neutrally okay 10% of the time… do yourself a favor and breakup with that.

He accused her constantly of “Not being as serious about this relationship as he was.” He used that line when she didn’t text him every 15 minutes. And countless other times when he found little things she did or didn’t do that bothered him.

Here’s what I learned from this situation:

A. Get to know someone before jumping right on into the relationship. Take it slow. The crazy will come out sooner or later and hopefully before you’ve declared your love so that you’ll know if it’s a crazy you can handle.

B. Don’t tell God what you need because He might just give it to you. Instead, tell God “I don’t know what I need, but You do. So I’ll take that instead of what I think it should look like.”

C. SAY NO TO EMOTIONAL ABUSE

What is Emotional Abuse?

Abuse is any behavior that is designed to control and subjugate another human being through the use of fear, humiliation, and verbal or physical assaults. Emotional abuse is any kind of abuse that is emotional rather than physical in nature. It can include anything from verbal abuse and constant criticism to more subtle tactics, such as intimidation, manipulation, and refusal to ever be pleased.

Emotional abuse is like brain washing in that it systematically wears away at the victim’s self-confidence, sense of self-worth, trust in their own perceptions, and self-concept. Whether it is done by constant berating and belittling, by intimidation, or under the guise of “guidance,” “teaching,” or “advice,” the results are similar. Eventually, the recipient of the abuse loses all sense of self and remnants of personal value. Emotional abuse cuts to the very core of a person, creating scars that may be far deeper and more lasting than physical ones (Engel, 1992, p. 10).

Bushbaby broke up with him and never cried or felt sad about doing so. Because she was freed from this awfulness. She said she just felt relieved and happy…and like she was herself again.

So this is me…confessing that I’m eating my words right now. Jealousy is stupid for many reasons, and this is one of them.

2. The world of dating

Okay, so I’ve talked about online dating and weddings and all that. After my post-wedding meltdown I had a really good conversation with my dad that helped me. He basically told me to let myself off the hook about needing to meet people at weddings. And I did. My new wedding strategy is to just enjoy myself…whatever that means. Talk to who I want to talk to. Period. If I want to sit with my friends then I’ll sit with my friends and have fun.

Still not online dating. Still fine with that.

I’ve been a little more proactive about asking my friends to set me up. A few of them have people in mind and I’ve urged them to make it happen. We’ll see.

3. The Man-Longing In General

I’ve actually been pretty good (hence the lack of posts, recently). I got to hang out with an old high school friend who is in the same situation as me and noticed that she was really frustrated and I…wasn’t. It was a nice surprise to realize that I’m pretty content right now. Of course there are still days and still moments. I’ll have moods of loneliness or I’ll masturbate. I’m still horny the majority of the time. But I’m not unhappy or discontent with my singleness.

4. There’s No Nice Way To Confess That You Masturbate.

No matter how many times you write it. I masturbate. Yup. Still horrible.

Wedding

I just came back from an old friend’s wedding. I saw a LOT of people I know but am not really friends with.

I’m an introvert. I’m not shy but, on a daily-basis, being around people non-stop drains the heck out of me.

Being around acquaintances, a very large group of them in which we are all crowded together in an enclosed space is much much worse. I feel so uncomfortable its like the pressure of being there squeezes out my energy at an alarming rate. I’m left feeling insecure, out of place, and the opposite of happy, while pretending to be confident, content, and glad to see all these people that I really don’t care to see for the most part.

Because I don’t want to be a taciturn dud who just sits there while the party rages, and yet I can’t really get comfortable enough to go party with these people I’m not really friends with. I end up going to and fro, talking to people here and there, constantly looking for something to do or just standing awkwardly, trying to find some reason for existing in the chaos, and the whole time I’m miserable and counting the minutes until its over with. 

So, why not just sit there, you ask?

Because, as a Horny Christian Single Girl who’s social life is limited to her small, eligible-batchelorless church family and has little time to try to go somewhere else to meet people, a wedding is just about the only place to do just that. 

And goodness knows that if I were to just sit there in dud-like fashion, my parents, siblings, extra church parents, and my very own self would be disappointed that I wasn’t “putting myself out there.” 

What the heck does that even mean!!!!???

Do I just stand by myself, smiling at nothing, hoping that a guy would walk up and start talking to me? Must I go up and introduce myself to every guy I think is cute, whether I know if they are taken or not? I mean, really? Am I supposed to stare a guy down until he’s either freaked out or turned on?  

How am I supposed to figure it out while being in my least favorite situation? Honestly, I feel like I’ve done much better in emergency situations! I stayed calm and was able to do what needed to be done, but put me at a party with tons of people who aren’t my friends and I implode.

And don’t anyone say that I should just relax and enjoy myself. That is like me telling you extroverts to go on a week-long vacation all by yourself and relax and enjoy yourself (sounds like great fun to me!). 

*Deep breath*

Ok, I’m going to calm down now. It was a really long wedding and reception. And I felt like this for hours and needed to vent. Thanks, blog!

It was a gorgeous wedding. The closest to what I want my wedding to be like than any I’ve ever been to. Only I would be on the inside of the celebration, surrounded by my closest friends, not on the outside feeling uncomfortable and alone. Trying to stop wanting and hoping because the wanting and hoping hurt. Guilty because it’s not about me, but about these wonderful people who I’ve come to celebrate. 

Parties make me feel like the worst version of myself. I feel like a total failure.

 

My heart hurts.