Most of the words in this post were also posted on my friend Jenni’s site. When I wrote them almost no one was reading my blog but these words felt too important not to share with more people. So Jenni graciously allowed me to put them on her site. Thank you for reading even if you’ve read them before.
For the last couple of weeks, two things have been echoing around me. The first thing is the word Trust. Everywhere I turn I see the word TRUST in some form or the other. I know that this time with the Father during Lent is about helping to restore my heart’s trust in the Father and His love for me. He has been nudging me down a path in prayer that is admittedly very hard for me but with each step my trust in Him grows. My heart is grateful, still fearful at times but grateful that His pursuit of me is relentless as He reminds me it’s okay to trust again.
The other thing that has been echoing for me is around sex and sexuality. A few weeks ago several blogs that I follow started writing about sex and purity in the church culture. It was random that so many of them were writing on this topic and it caught my attention. It has since turned into a very intentional conversation about how the church has historically handled the issues of sex and purity. You can go here to see a list of the blogs that are participating in this conversation. This post is not intended to add my voice to that conversation but rather to share the space I am in as God is working to redeem sex and sexuality for me.
I have a very skewed view of sex. I was not one of the girls who waited until marriage to have sex. There is a lot of shame for me around this issue. I grew up in a church culture that taught me I was supposed to wait and if I didn’t wait then I was a bad girl (who, by the way, was going straight to hell). I was a rule follower and a perfectionist as a child. I wanted other people to like me and I knew that if I was perfect, I could always guarantee they would love me. For this reason, among others, maintaining my good girl image was very important to me. So when I started wrestling with sexuality as a teenager, I didn’t talk to anyone; not that there was anyone to talk to but still I had no place to go to process any of this out loud. And when I eventually started having sex, I wore the bad girl label like a second layer of skin. It was my identity and I have stayed in that place of believing myself to be the unlovable bad girl.
I am 40 years old and still single. On really bad days, I believe my singleness is punishment for having sex before marriage. On the not so bad days I tell myself that I don’t really want to be married because deep down, I believe that no one will ever want the bad girl. It is the most consistent lie that the enemy has whispered in my heart over the years and the one I keep believing despite KNOWING it is a lie.
But with each blog post I read, I hear an echo of the Father inviting me into a story of redemption for this area of my life. I read Isaiah 41 a few days after stumbling on all these posts and verse 14 jumped out at me like never before
“Despised though you are, O Israel, don’t be afraid,for I will help you. I am the Lord, YOUR REDEEMER. I am the Holy One of Israel” (Isaiah 41:14 NLT. Emphasis added)
He is my redeemer and He wants to redeem every area of my life including this one. I read Romans 5 this morning and throughout the chapter I saw more echoes of His promise of redemption.
v. 1 “…we have been made right in God’s sight…”
v. 9 “…we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ.”
v. 10 “..we were restored to friendship with God”
v. 15 “And what a difference between our sin and God’s generous gifts of forgiveness.”
v. 22 “…now God’s wonderful kindness rules instead, giving us right standing with God…”
I feel the Father’s love in these words. I feel Him peeling off the layer of shame and rewriting my identity so I see myself as He sees me, loved so much I was worth dying for. I don’t fully believe it all yet but every day He draws me more and more to Himself. Putting the past and all my mistakes behind me and setting before me an invitation to step into this new story He is writing just for me. His love and His grace truly astound me and I am grateful beyond words.