Five years. It’s been five years of writing this blog (and ghosting in true INFP fashion in-between). Sorry for the extremely long ghosting session this time and if I’ve worried you. I’m alive. I haven’t forsaken my faith in Jesus. I haven’t randomly boned someone and quit writing out of defeat.
And it’s crazy how not much has changed in my circumstances and yet much has changed in my heart.
First, I want to say, God is good. His mercy and His grace are complete and wonderful…and undeserved yet so lovingly given.
I’m 30. I’m single. I’m a virgin. I’ve never been kissed. I’ve never been in love or even in a serious relationship. I’ve never had a boyfriend.
2016 was a crazy year of growth for me. Going to the small group for the first half of the year was amazing and such a good experience. I learned so much, met people who challenged me, and was creatively inspired. The small group stopped in the middle of the summer, and though I was sad and missed it, I knew God had His reasons for it ending.
Work kept me busy all fall, and I asked for some time off. I was granted a 7-week sabbatical which I took in March and April. I rested, traveled, and it was soooo good. I began to learn more about my personality-type and it has been eye-opening to say the least. I know that Meyers-Briggs is not the Be-All-End-All but it has definitely helped some things fall into place for me.
I went on one single date with an acquaintance of a friend but nothing came of it. Dating is even more obscure and confusing than ever, and the experience dredged up some old insecurities and frustrations, but I survived.
One of my close friends has been divorced. The first of my group to do so. Her experience kind of reinforces the side of my brain that appreciates my singleness. I know God loves me and His love is perfect, even if it isn’t always easy, and so I can trust Him. But trusting another person that way when it’s guaranteed that they will hurt me because they are human… Good gosh my fairytale ideas of romance and marriage are laughable as the years go by and humanity, my own included, takes a big dump on that sort of foolishness. I think God has continued my singleness to keep my little idealistic self from being completely destroyed by disappointment. Real love isn’t appealing the way romanticized love is. It’s the humility of the mundane. It’s hearing someone tell the same story a million times. It’s accepting that people don’t change in ways we wish and do change in ways we don’t. And sometimes it’s getting your heart ripped out and your identity being stripped from you because everything you thought was true suddenly wasn’t because that other person chose not to keep their vows. Once again I’m learning lessons by proxy, from people braver and more impulsive than me.
It’s been nearly a year since I’ve posted and I can tell you most of the reason why: I’m still horny. I still masturbate. But I’m in a new place with it and I have been figuring it out and I also don’t want to cause anyone to stumble. This is the main reason I haven’t written. So let me explain where I’m at with this as carefully as I can.
One of my married friends mentioned that she had trouble in her sex-life with allowing herself to be vulnerable with her sexuality. She was struggling with being embarrassed and inhibited in certain ways, and asked me if I was still staunchly against masturbating.
“Now that I’m married, I can’t say that masturbating is the worst thing for you. I just wonder if it might help you more comfortable with yourself and so it might be easier for you when you get married than it’s been for me. But don’t take that as from the Lord. If you still have that conviction then please keep it.”
Basically she was wondering if she’d shamed herself into an unhealthy view of her sexuality, making her own pleasure a place of insecurity and embarrassment.
I did think about this.
At this point in my life I’ve finally realized that my sin no longer separates me from God. It does have consequences and it does have an effect, but it does not have separation. By this I mean that because of Jesus, in the very moment you screw up, God is there. It is forgiven. No distance exists. No working yourself back into His good graces. His good graces are already on you full force in that moment. His good graces being His love, His kindness, His fondness of you, His acceptance of you, His approval of you. He doesn’t even have a disappointed face on when you turn back to Him.
Sin and pride produce shame because we know when we screw up. And that shame tells us that we have to wait a couple weeks until God cools off from His latest disappointment in us before we can hear from Him again. Shame tells us that as our latest screw up fades from our memory it will do the same with God. Shame tells us that if we are extra good we can make up for our mistake and slowly take down the giant wall of sin we put up. Brick by brick we can take it down until we can once again be in His presence.
But shame is a lie when Jesus is involved. Shame is the tool used by the enemy to keep us from realizing that God is right there, waiting for your relationship to continue. There’s no barrier in-between. Jesus paid the price so the veil could tear and nothing comes in-between anymore. No working back. No tearing down. It’s already been done.
Masturbation is not the problem. Masturbation can be a symptom, however, of a deeper problem.
It is something I’ve turned to in place of God. It was a habit I relied on as an excuse to distance myself from Him because I couldn’t live up to what I thought I should be.
Pride. I wanted to be perfect. I knew I needed God, and I was a sinner, but pride made me want to need Him less. It’s that damn independent thing inside us that demands our own way, when we were created to be dependent on Him.
Somehow, it’s just easier to be a lustful failure who rages against the sinful desires that plague her than to allow myself to be accepted just as I am. I want to change and be rid of these shortcomings, but it isn’t to please God, not really. It’s to please myself.
These truths started to sink in. Grace permeated yet another layer of my heart. And with it came the realization that my masturbation habit was no longer an excuse. God was right there. EVEN WHEN IT WAS HAPPENING. And I could resume the conversation with Him at any point and in any moment and not have to work back into relationship at all.
If you’ve read some of my oldest posts maybe you remember my processing at the time.
But then I think, “If it isn’t wrong then why am I so hesitant to ask God if it is? If it isn’t wrong then why does it happen when I’m not close to God? Why do I feel farther away from Him when I’m doing it?”
I think masturbation becomes wrong and damaging when:
- It is interrupting and controlling your life. If you can’t function without it. If you can’t abstain from it. If it is a habit and it controls you vs you controlling yourself.
- If it is lustful. Lust is fantasizing about someone. Which of course leads to…
- If it supports the consumption of porn. Porn is harmful and damaging on so many levels. Porn is the embodiment and food of lust. Porn hurts not just individuals and their sex-lives, but society as a whole.
- If it is replacing intimacy in a marriage instead of supporting it. And last but not at all least…
- If you are convicted by the Holy Spirit that you are turning to the act instead of God to meet your emotional needs.
I no longer hold myself to a standard of living masturbation-free because I no longer believe the act is itself sinful. But I do know that having the freedom to do it holds very specific parameters for me because it can become sinful. I also know that I cross the line at times, that I still turn to it instead of God. But instead of being this huge road-block it’s an indicator. It’s a symptom of something deeper going on. When this happens I need to ask myself: Why am I turning to this lately? What am I feeling that I need to take to God?
Let’s stop making masturbation the issue and get to the heart of the issue. If you are struggling, please believe that grace has you covered and be brave enough to start asking yourself the question why?
And then go boldly to the Lord with the question and the answer. Easier said than done, I know. But until you accept that Jesus has given you His righteousness so that you can go freely before God, shame will continue to plague you and drive you to anything other than relationship with Him. But shame is a lie. There is no more guilt and no more shame. So live in that freedom! Stop trying to make yourself a more palatable version of yourself! Because that person is a mirage. The only truth about you and me that matters is that Jesus saved us and we are new and His. We will never stop needing Him to be that savior. Praise God, He will never stop being that savior for us!
This confession was a long time coming because I hate inconsistency in people and this is definitely a change from my previous writings. And I don’t want someone who has been experiencing freedom differently to stumble. And I haven’t known for certain that I’m right. But it’s where I am. And if that changes, then ok. That’s covered by the grace of God, too.
One last thought as to why it’s taken me so long to post again: honestly I’m just kind of over this subject. I’ve been content and focused on other areas in my life for once and writing would simply be more of the same story: I’m single, ya’ll. Same old thing, ya know? The fact that there’s nothing to report is in itself a bit painful. In this season, if I’m not having to write about it, I’m not thinking about it. So I might not write as much.
If any major happenings take place in my love-life, there will probably be lots of posts about it because I will be freaking out and need to process. So I’ll tell you what I told my mom: If anything happens, I promise I will let you know.
Because I love you for caring enough to read and comment. Thank you for that.