To Love

I’ve never been in love. I’ve longed to be for as long as I can remember. And it isn’t just the desire to be loved, but to love! Sometimes I feel I could burst with the mere potential of love I possess within me. The potential that craves to be realized, to be unleashed upon the one who’s won me. It’s like a wild beast. It’s something that will be kept close and guarded and contained until the right man earns trust and coaxes it from its cage with an offer of freedom. And at last my wild love will allow itself to take flight and will fulfill its purpose.

I think I’m a One Great Love kind of woman. I hope. I pray that that can be the case. I’m the kind to give myself wholly and deeply, but so so rarely. Only once have I even come close to allowing myself to love someone, but it was unrequited. But when another rare instance takes place and finally clicks with the right man, I think even I will be surprised by the depth and wholeness of my love for him.

Cursory Crushes, Date Offers, & Open Wounds

Intensely Passionate 30 Minute Crushes

Yesterday I was in love for about an hour. Maybe 30 minutes or somewhere in between.

On my way home from our church’s Easter service I was convinced that I was in love with one of the guys in my band. Like, why aren’t we together? We should just be together. We’ve probably been in love these 4.5 years of our friendship and we just don’t realize it. So maybe I should just come out with it and he’ll be my boyfriend and we’ll just be together!

Sometimes, as a woman…well…maybe just as a human in general, for no reason you get swept up in these emotions that have nothing to do with logic whatsoever.

See, he is a friend that people have been asking me why I’m not dating for the four and a half years we’ve been friends. He’s sweet and SO MUCH FUN. Well, the most simple answer: I’m not making the first move and he refuses to do so.

So when my 30 minute passionate love for him died down, logic made it’s way back in.

I’d want to change him, he’s too passive, I’d hurt his feelings with my honest nature, he’s not as passionate about God and ministry…etc.

So all in all, even if he DID ask me out, I don’t know that we would have a future. But if he got up the nerve to ask me then I would definitely consider it because it would show growth and I’d want to give us a chance to see if the other things are true. I’d just be scared of the consequences since he’s my friend and we are in the band together.

But as a single, for that brief time I wanted so badly for me to really be in love with him. Because he’s so FUN! And I was mangry.

Let’s be real. Mang-er was the reason for all of it.

 

Turning Down the First Date You’ve Been Offered in 5 Years

I got asked out for the first time in a long time and it was not by someone that I wanted to ask me out. I turned him down as gently as I could (“I don’t really see us”) and he was polite about it. This guy is the king of awkward. A very desperate, needy, insecure type of guy with just a hint of creepy. I’ve given him no reason to think I was remotely interested and yet he still took the chance. So for that I at least give him props for putting himself out there and asking like a man…a gentleman at that.

So why can’t someone like my bandmate or the friend that I was considering last fall, who actually would have a chance, man up and ask a girl out? With a direct, clear question? Why is that too intimidating? My respect for awkward guy went up just because he was brave enough to take a chance. Bandmate’s unwillingness to do so is exactly what makes me hesitate the most about him.

All in all, I still don’t think any real prospects are in my life at the moment. But I’m changing, or trying to. Christ is showing me areas that need more work so that I can thrive as His temple, as His child, and as a single adult. He is showing me how to be a good gift for my future husband, because He only gives good gifts to His children. A LOT of this has to do with my physical health, but more so my spiritual walk with Jesus.

As I said before, there have been stumbles and failures, but more victories and avoiding temptation altogether. This morning I had intense physical desire but prayed, “Holy Spirit, help me! I need you!” and the longing left me. I’m experiencing victory by the power of the Holy Spirit in the moment of crisis! Not only is there great joy in overcoming, but also in knowing that God truly is bigger than our carnal nature! And He’s faithful if you turn to Him!

One last thing.

Encouragement vs. “Helpful” Criticism

I’m trying to make being physically fit a bigger priority and part of my lifestyle. I don’t always have good eating habits and I gain weight far too easily (lame!), but I also loose it fairly easily if I actually do the work and stay away from the fries (O, fries of the french! Why doest thou tempt me with thine deliciousness!?). In the past I’ve gotten down to the size and shape I want to be and feeling so good about it! I love it! But I also love tasty things, and as anyone who has read my blog knows, self-discipline is not my strongest suit! So since Christmas I’ve been carrying around that extra weight, trying to scrape up the motivation to deny my tongue the joys of french fries and ice-cream, and hadn’t been doing so great. This, of course, poured into the rest of my life in not so great ways, I guess.

One day I called Dreamer (the one who is engaged, whose wedding I’m in), not knowing I was about to be blindsided by extremely hurtful words that left me in tears and feeling like I’d been casually stabbed in the chest with a bowie-knife a few-dozen times.

She said she was worried about me, but when you are worried about your friend you should pray about what to say to them and how to say it. She did not. It kind of came out in a big rush of her raw emotions that left a wake of desolation across my unsuspecting being. I’d rather her of just said in summary, “I take issue with…this.”

Here’s what she could have said:

1. Because of some of the things I’ve noticed when hanging out with you and Bushbaby, I think you should pray about whether you’re relationship is too co-dependent. Just examine it because you might overlook opportunities for new adventures or friends because hanging out with her is comfortable. She seems to rely on you a lot and so it would be smart to just check on your boundaries.

2. Consider how you present yourself to people who don’t know you. I know you and love you, but you might not represent your best qualities to new people who meet you. I’ve noticed that you open up more when you are taking pride in your health, so make it a priority again! Your confidence gets an extra boost and you reach your potential. I want to see that again and I know you do too. Also consider that hanging out only with your younger friends (mainly Bushbaby) might reflect immaturity on you so don’t default to them. Don’t be afraid to stand on your own.

3. I’m telling you this because I love you and sometimes worry about you being in a rut and I never want to see that. Do you get where I’m coming from and is anything I say valid?

Here’s what came out:

1. You and Bushbaby have this awful co-dependent thing and I can’t be around it so I’m not going to stay at your house anymore. You act really immature around her and you need to hang out with people your own age to practice being social.

 

(Thanks for dealing out the punishment of never staying at my house again before giving me the chance to explain or fix it or work on it. So gracious of you)

 

2. “Your confidence seems way down.” “You need to consider what kind of man you want to attract because, well…do you want to marry, like…a gamer?” Those and her other comments summed to up say that I’m a loser with no confidence because I play videogames all the time, hang out with people waaay younger than me, and I like anime (all of which are vast exaggerations: I JUST got an xbox so I’ve been talking about it it because it’s new, but have not been playing it to the detriment of my social life. I do have 3 friends who are younger that I spend a good deal of time with but I also regularly hang out with people older than me and my own age. And I like Miyazaki films and Avatar the Last Airbender…WHICH SHE DOES TOO! So thank you for condensing my entire life into an exaggerated image of three tiny parts of it!)

 

Then she said, “I try to think of setting you up with my guy friends and I just don’t think…I just don’t see you being…” (Basically I’m not good enough for any of her friends. I’m not even set-uppable.)

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3. “I’m just worried about you! You just seem really insecure and I see peoples potential. I just want to make sure you don’t get stuck. But thanks for being so easy to talk to” (while I’m sobbing on the phone BTW) “and just take everything I said with a grain of salt.”

 

She did call and apologize the next day but for the “timing” of the conversation. She wasn’t sorry for what she said or how she said it. Only for when she said it, I guess. Just a clue to anyone out there who is thinking of giving their friend some “helpful” criticism. If you are upset/angry/annoyed with them for something, make sure you plan out what you’re going to say and don’t let those emotions drive you to say something harsh and cruel. Even if you think something you don’t need to share it all. Only what is helpful and encouraging.

Also, if you think your friend has low self-esteem, DON’T CRITICIZE THEM FOR IT! I didn’t feel particularly self-conscious until she told me I was an insecure loser. NOW my confidence is low!

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It’s hard enough to fight the lies of condemnation that Satan throws at you. Those whispers that something is wrong with you and that’s why you’re single. And then someone who was JUST in the same boat a year ago goes off on a wild spree and blatantly says those things to you without remorse…someone who you thought was safe. While I’m thankful that she isn’t afraid to confront me on things, I wish she’d shown more tact and grace, encouraging instead of criticizing, belittling, and judging me.

I’m not going husband-hunting. I believe that God can bring Him through the very doors of my church if He wants to, or that He will make it clear when I need to seek something outside my social circle. That’s not good enough for Dreamer. She thinks I need to join a new small group at a different church or get out more…but she didn’t meet her fiance doing that! She met him at a wedding and her friends introduced her. And guess what. I go to weddings. But I guess she won’t be introducing me to her friends because she doesn’t think I’m good enough.

The first list of things she should/could have said are the things that I’ve been trying to focus on because some of it I do need to consider, but it has been tough to drown out the accusing voice. And tough to forgive because I’m still hurt and angry that she said what she did, and was so condescending instead of loving about it all. I hate that during a time when I want to be there for her and celebrating with her this has come up between us…a big fat wall I’ve put up to try to recover. I’m still talking to her, I’ve seen her twice, but I really DON’T want to tell her anything about my life because I don’t feel like I can trust her. It’s hard to know how to go forward with my friendship with her.

I know we’ll work through it. I love her too much to give up our friendship because she was a huge ass to me that time. I want to forgive. Maybe I need to let it go, get over it and move forward. Maybe I need to work through it with her. I don’t know.

Confession: I know that some of what she said is true. I don’t like admitting that. Confessing it. I recognize my immaturity in even writing about it, too, with all my sarcasm and bitterness. But it is part of being a horny Christian single girl…the things people say and the effect words can have. How you handle it or don’t. How even if you’re someone that doesn’t have many feelings rise to the surface like me, certain words can bring as acute a pain as salt in a wound. Please pray for me on this. I’m trying to sort truth from lies and focus on what God wants to teach me, but Satan’s voice keeps trying to pipe in and bring condemnation and discouragement about my self-worth.

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!