The Blessing of Brokenness II

I had learned from my past mistakes and brought my anger issues to the light. Of course, my husband knew all about my anger. He was the recipient of it half of the time. But I needed to turn to some trusted friends.

It’s amazing how God places people in our lives. I often have the “woe is me” mentality that no one likes me and I don’t have any friends. What a lie from the enemy. The same friend who I turned to with my struggles with pornography is the same friend I turned to with my anger. She, along with another wonderfully open mother, encouraged me and helped me push past the feelings of guilt that were weighing me down. “Just give him formula! You will both be happier” said the mother who breastfed all three of her children and gave birth to each of them at home. “It took me years to finally connect with my first born, because of my anger,” said another. My stubborn pride was revealed. I was trying to live up to an impossible standard that I created in my own mind. My son didn’t need me to be any of the things I thought were so important about being a mom. He needed me to love and pursue Jesus. He needed me to be filled with God’s word and the Holy Spirit on a daily basis. He needed me to fight against my sinful nature.

So that’s what I began to do. And, as usual, the enemy did not like it. But this time, I was past the infancy stage of Christianity and I had something lethal to fight back with. I knew the only thing that would keep me from sinning in my anger was the Word of God. The blessing of being broken is that the worst parts of you are revealed. The blessing of being broken is that your sin can no longer hide in your spiritual blind spots. The blessing of bring broken is that our pride is removed and can no longer prevent us from receiving the promises God has spoken over our lives. I had been stripped of my pride. I could not google search the answer. Trust me, I had already tried.

I didn’t just need to read the Bible though, I needed to store it in my heart. If I wanted my responses to be rooted in Christ rather than in my sinful, reactionary anger, I needed to shift my thoughts from anger and negativity to Jesus. It wasn’t easy, but I have come farther than I could have dreamed six months ago. My son and I have a wonderful relationship. We pray together about our anger, because guess who has some anger issues just like his momma? 🙂 I am not perfect and won’t be until I see my Savior face to face (my sin and imperfections in this life make me long for that day more and more). But I am no longer bound by the sin that would have kept me in darkness. And although I may still struggle with sinning in my anger, I do not struggle with the guilt and shame. My shame has been removed and I am trusting for God’s grace in my son’s life as well as my own.

“I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” – Psalm 119:11

“Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.” – Galatians 5:24-25

The Blessing of Brokenness I

I can’t tell you how many times I found myself weeping on our bathroom floor, telling God that I didn’t want to be alive anymore. Four months into motherhood and the future looked bleak. I did not enjoy my beautiful son. I was angry. Angry with God for all the ways things had gone “wrong” from pregnancy to motherhood. Angry with myself for proving to be a terrible mother who couldn’t be like all of the other mothers out there. The anger didn’t exactly disappear, but God didn’t leave me broken on that bathroom floor. He never does.

Brokenness is a funny thing. It is the very thing we all try to avoid and yet it is the one thing that makes us utterly dependent on God. There is no one and nothing else to turn to when you are broken. Nothing you can turn to that will make you whole again, that is.

I am a planner. I like to be in control. I used to think I was a pretty awesome Christian, who didn’t need anyone to guide me along the treacherous path of motherhood. I had researched it all, so why bother asking questions when I already knew the answers? So when all of my plans for just about everything were ripped into shreds, I was angry. I was supposed to have my child at a birthing center without any drugs. I had an emergency C-section after laboring for 3+ days…so yeah, I had lots of drugs and a hellishly long recovery. I was supposed to nurse my child until his first birthday and never have to use formula. I made it 6 months and ultimately had to switch to formula due to clogged ducts and my angry fits when my son would bite or not latch properly. I was supposed to love my child unconditionally. I yelled when my son wouldn’t go to sleep, slammed my fists onto tables, walls, etc. when things were out of my control, and was detached emotionally as a parent for the first year of his life. I wasn’t this way all of the time. Anyone looking from the outside in would think I was a phenomenal mother who had it all together. My son was happy for the most part and no one need know the secrets behind closed doors. But God knew and he knows that there’s no room for secrets when it comes to our darkness.

I could be in the same place I was six months ago, but in the first four months of my son’s life, God broke me. And while it took another eight months to pick up the pieces, I am whole again and I am changed. Not only did God break me, but he reshaped me. When I was on that bathroom floor, crying out to God, he heard me and he answered. Over eight years ago, when I was drowning in my sin of viewing pornography, God required that I bring it to the light. And recently, when I was drowning in my failures with anger, God required that I bring it to the light. Thankfully, this time it didn’t take years for me to listen and respond. I had learned my lesson from the past and sin would not hook it’s claws into me again.

“So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.”

– 1 John 1:6-7

Defusing My Anger

Anger.

Where do I even begin?

Ever since the birth of our first son, my anger has become like a wretched weed with a branching network. Trying to pull out all of the roots is a seemingly never-ending task. Here’s an even better analogy for this from the movie Hurt Locker

In this scene, the Staff Sgt. uncovers a wire that, once pulled out of the ground, brings several connected bombs to the surface. There is nothing else to do but take a deep breath and start the process of defusing each bomb.

It is the same with the type of anger I have been experiencing and once you start rooting out the issues beneath all of the anger, there is no going back. It’s no longer beneath the surface and now you know that it has to be dealt with before something sets you off and you do something you will regret for the rest of your life.

I used to wonder how a mom could ever harm her child. You hear about those horrible stories where children are abused, even killed by their very own mothers. I don’t wonder how it happens anymore. Unchecked and unrighteous anger is a powerful thing that can grow into something you never intended it to be. I have never gotten to the point of inflicting the kind of harm on my son that would make the world gasp in shock, but I have done enough to recognize that I cannot pretend like the bombs aren’t there, just waiting to be triggered under the surface. I have had enough minor explosions to know that bigger ones will go off, if I don’t learn how to deactivate them.

That is my current journey. I have read several amazing books and am being mentored by a wonderful woman who’s the picture of calm and has three well-rounded sons that love the Lord.  But the most important thing? I have told several people about my struggles, and I mean every part. There is something wrong with Christianity if you cannot share your deepest regrets and your deepest current struggles for fear of rejection and condemnation. I have not felt that from anyone I have shared my anger struggles with, because they are all women who know what it is like to struggle and to have a desperate need for grace.

There is so much of my recent story I am going to share with you, but for now I will leave you with this beautiful verse. When I feel the most hopeless about my sin, this is the verse I bring to mind.

“For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him.”  – Philippians 2:13

Loneliness as a Reminder

“Does it get better when you’re married? The struggle with loneliness and feeling hopeless?”

My single friend, who was approaching her 30’s, texted me those questions late one night. She had recently had a bad break-up in which she lost the potential of a husband, a good friend (his sister), and her church small group. They both went to the same small group and he told her maybe she should look for another one if she was going to be so emotional about the break-up. Who wouldn’t be feeling hopeless after that?

I didn’t want to lie to her. “No. It doesn’t really get better.”

Let me explain. Sure it gets better in the sense that you have a companion, the ability to start a family, and potential for some great sexy time. But the struggle with loneliness? No, that doesn’t necessarily go away just because you’re married. We all crave to be known in ways that no human being can ever know us. So whether you’re married or not, whether you have tons of friends or just a couple of good ones, whether you are popular or flying under the radar, you will be lonely.

When you are turning to your husband, to your friends, to how well known you are for your satisfaction, it’s easy to fall into the trap of loneliness because you have taken your eyes off of the only who can truly satisfy. Maybe for a while these things can keep the loneliness at bay, but it will only be a matter of time until you either lose them or they fail you. And then the loneliness settles in.

This is something I struggle with even as a married person. At various points, I have found myself bemoaning the fact that I don’t have any friends who actually care about me. I watch all of the single people I know who have several intimate friendships where their friends actually hang out and call them and wish them Happy Birthday. I just don’t have a friendship like that in this season of my life. Maybe it’s because most of the people my age also have young children and are just trying to survive. And the ones who are still single don’t seem to view me as friendship material. Or maybe I am not putting myself out there enough. It doesn’t really matter why, because I have talked to those single girls that I am so envious of and they can be just as lonely as I am. The grass is not greener. You can be lonely and feel hopeless with the best this world and the people in it have to offer you and you can be lonely with the worst.

But thankfully, we don’t have to stay that way. Every time I experience these bouts of loneliness, I always find myself on my knees crying out to the God who sees me. And he reminds me of all the ways I am not alone and never will be. The worst can come my way: loss of family, loss of friends, loss of possession, but I will never lose my God. Hope is always within sight, if I choose to look towards the source of it.

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

– Romans 8:35-39

Dreaming Single

“I was talking to a friend of mine and she was telling me about her dreams for the future. She turned to me and said, ‘So, what are your dreams?’ I didn’t have an answer for her. I guess I don’t have any dreams.”

This was from a conversation I had with a single friend of mine recently. It broke my heart. It ended on a more encouraging note after I prodded her a little more on what her dreams might be and we came to the conclusion that she didn’t have to wait for a man to really start dreaming and asking the Lord what to do with those dreams.

It’s a huge problem within the Church. I don’t have the answers as to why, but the ratio between godly women and men is alarmingly unbalanced. Where are all the godly men? I watch my single friends approaching their late twenties discouraged and unwilling to dream. It hurts too much to dream about things like marriage and children when the likelihood of a godly man appearing in their life seems impossible. For some, careers become their passion and their dream. Some choose to serve God on the mission field and devote their lives to serving. But what about the ones who dreamed of marriage and children?

If this is your dream, I am not writing this to tell you that “nothing is impossible with God” although it is true. I am not here to tell you that God will send you the right man, if you just wait. I am here to tell you that God desires to use you for His kingdom right now.

I know an amazing woman, now approaching thirty, who recently adopted her first daughter from Haiti. She has always had a passion for the children of Haiti and didn’t let the lack of godly men stop her. She is unmarried. Will her pursuit of her dreams to love and have children of her own destroy a future of marriage? Perhaps. But she was willing to go after her dreams in unconventional ways. She is providing for and serving the least with the means God has given her, with or without a man to walk alongside her. She didn’t listen to the fairy tale of “one day my prince will come” and faced the harsh reality that there may never be a prince with boldness and bravery. She waited for a husband and realized he just wasn’t there. And then she chose to live her life in motion instead of frozen in time. She chose to start living at least part of her dreams, trusting God with the rest of her heart. Trusting that God would shape her desires to line up with the desires He has for her future. And if that includes a future husband, praise God! And if not, praise God for the daughter she is raising to be loved and cherished and known by a mother and the Father of heaven.

My challenge to the single, Christian women of our generation is this: start dreaming again. Don’t give up hope on having a husband, but don’t let it slow you down. You are made for love!! Love that is so much more than sexual love. A selfless kind of love. A kind of love that gives sacrificially and fulfills you in ways that no man could ever fill. As a married woman to a phenomenal, godly man, I can attest that not even he can fulfill me the way  that selflessly serving and giving of myself for the Lord fills me. If you have been frozen and given up on your dreams, I am praying God will begin thawing out your heart again for His kingdom and the work He has for you right now!

Often times we talk about how God will give us the desires of our heart. I think we confuse what the desires of our heart truly are with what the desires of our flesh are. I believe that the deepest desire of our heart is to be righteous and to be like Jesus. There is a reason we feel so invigorated and full of life when we choose to sacrifice and love selflessly like Jesus did. If we are walking in step with God, He fulfills that deep desire and brings forth the righteousness that Jesus has given us. It is a glorious thing to behold when women (single or married) shine like the Son.

“Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him and He will act: He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.”

Psalm 37:4-7

Don’t Judge!

Other people were judgmental and rude. Not me.

It’s amazing what different seasons of life will reveal if you let them. After having our first son, it was like God ignited a bomb within my soul that exposed some major sin in my life. I am sure many moms have this aha moment, but I was completely caught off guard. It’s crazy how sneaky pride is in our lives, convincing you that you aren’t a judgmental person. “I’m not judging her, I just won’t be doing it THAT way.” I would tell myself pre-childbirth.

Sure, I never said anything out loud (at least not to that person) about my thoughts on how wrong they were. But slowly my perception of other mother’s would be one of pity. Such a shame that they just couldn’t get their act together so their lives would be better and they wouldn’t have to be so overwhelmed. “I won’t be like that”, I said. “I will learn from their mistakes and we won’t have all these problems.” I scrutinized and analyzed these mothers who allowed me to see their messy lives and silently chose to write them off as far as potential mentors went. They clearly weren’t the ones I wanted to be watching and learning from. I was exceptionally harsh with one friend in particular. Her life was entirely different than mine, from the type of marriage she had to her personality. This is the same friend who was brave enough to declare in front of me and all my friends that she had looked at porn, when everyone around me was expressing disgust at the thought. And so I found myself mentally separating myself from her and placing myself on a pedestal. I would be different.

“Pride goes before destruction, and haughtiness before a fall.” – Proverbs 16:18

Well that fall came and it came hard. It turns out I was not different. It turns out, I was worse. I am confident God was disgusted with my prideful heart before my journey in motherhood even began and he proceeded to remove it as quickly as possible. I am thankful, but it was extremely painful. I was going to be one of those moms who does everything right. You know, like all of those mom bloggers. I would have a natural birth at a birthing center with no meds. I would nurse my child for a year and never use formula. I…….I…….I would do none of those things. After five days of labor ending in an emergency C-section (that’s right, five freaking days), an intense and difficult recovery, major difficulties nursing leading to a switch to formula at six months, and countless other “failures,” I was in a dark and depressing place. “I am a failure. I can’t do anything right. I hate myself. I…….I…….I CAN’T DO THIS ANYMORE!!!” 

You know what’s funny? That same friend who I judged so harshly, is the one who told me I was not a failure. This mom who I viewed as doing it “wrong,” was the one who encouraged me every step of the way through my horrible labor. She was the one who told me that it was ok to use formula, even though she herself never had to use it for her children. She accepted my failures and had grace on me. She did not judge me in my hour of need (even though she never struggled in the areas of motherhood that I was struggling in). She was there for me and prayed for me and answered the phone when I desperately needed a friend to talk things through.

My pride was exposed even more for what it really was, and I was brought lower than I had ever been before. “I can’t do this anymore.”

It’s true. I couldn’t do it anymore. I couldn’t continue in my pride. Thankfully my story didn’t end where it does for so many others. I stopped looking at myself and started looking at Jesus. I stopped trying to do it by myself and reached out for help. I took myself off of that pedestal and brought myself low at the feet of my King.

“And he gives grace generously. As the Scriptures say, ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” – James 4:6

Oh, thank God for that grace.

What’s In a Testimony II

I have written on testimony and shared mine as well as others. The cool thing about sharing your testimony, is that just like Jesus, it never gets boring. Or at least, it never gets boring as long as I am seeking to grow in Christ.

Our testimonies change over time due to the joys and sorrows life throws our way. So far, in my experience of sharing my testimony, it has not been a clean cut script about everything that has happened in my life up until this point in time. It’s not like I say the same boring old story and tack on a couple of new highlights every now and then. God is consistently giving me fresh perspective on my life: my past, my present, my strengths, my weaknesses. And that fresh perspective makes for some good material.

There are a couple of key factors that determine what I share with any given person.

  1. Who am I talking to?
  2. What are they going though?
  3. Will this point them towards Jesus or towards me?

If I can answer the first two and still feel good about what I want to share, but the answer to number three is pointing them towards me, then I need to choose to share nothing. Because as I have said in previous posts, the purpose of my testimony is not letting people know the depths of who I am. It’s only purpose is to point people to Christ. And if what I am saying isn’t doing that, I might as well keep it to myself. I’m not saying that I don’t joke around or have small talk. But if I am going to go deep and expose things about myself that I wouldn’t normally share, it better be for a higher purpose.

I am not perfect in this. I like to talk…too much at times. There are times where I start to share what’s been going on in my life with someone and I can just sense that maybe I should stop. You know when you realize you went wrong somewhere in your monologue but you choose to keep going and watch the train wreck of your words unfold before your eyes? I’m trying to work on stopping at the realization part and avoiding the wreck.

How do I know whether or not to share something before it’s already too late? Honestly, it’s a work in progress. The more I am filled with the Spirit and have been in God’s presence, the more likely I am to say exactly what needs to be said. Nothing less and nothing more. It’s when I am not resting in Him and trusting that He will speak through me, that my words pour out haphazardly hoping to somehow hit the mark.

So why am I writing about testimony yet again? I think it’s because I want to set the tone for what I am going to be writing about. I don’t plan for this to be a place for you to download my life into yours. I am praying that my words will be an encouragement and even a challenge. I want this blog to be a testament to what God has already done and bring hope to what he will do! God bless!

 

Women do other things too…

It has been a long time. Two years, right?

I am so thankful for the blessing this blog has been to those of you reading and pray that it will continue to bless others. The things that I wrote are still just as true today as they were when written. But here’s the thing. My life is extremely different now that I have been married for several years, and not just sexually! So while I still have some to say on the topic of sex and masturbation, it’s not quite enough material to sustain this blog as is.

That being said, will you go on this journey with me to explore the things that women (at least this woman) do other than masturbate? For those of you who have actually read my blog posts, don’t worry. That’s not something I still indulge in. My husband is far too good at what he does! 😉

This blog may undergo a merge, a title change, or stay the same other than the content being a little more varied. We’ll play it by ear, but I’m glad to say that after a very intensive two years of God rooting out some sin in my life, I’m back! And if you want to know what that sin could be, you’ll just have to keep reading won’t you?

Ex-Porn Producer’s Blog (Read It)

Whether you are a Christian or not, if you have come to realize your addiction to porn is not worth it and is actually destroying your life, please read this. Jesus is the answer and He is so much more than what people on this earth portray Him as. Get to know Him and put all your past experiences with His flawed followers aside.

http://www.lifesitenews.com/blogs/yes-i-was-a-playboy-pornographer.-and-i-loved-telling-christians-what-i-did

 

Modesty in a Sex-Saturated Culture

I think it is safe to say that the topic of modesty is a difficult one. There are people with all kinds of different opinions on it and most people cannot come to an agreement on what the guidelines should be for girls and women of this day and age.

I have heard so many different arguments as to why women should be able to wear whatever they want. “Guys should be able to control themselves” and “Women in other countries don’t always even wear clothing, so I am actually doing pretty well.” I understand if you are someone who is tired of being judged for what you wear, but could you at least come up with some better arguments? Or maybe it is just that there really aren’t any good arguments for your selfish desire to get what you want regardless of the consequences to others.

I don’t know if everyone else realizes it, but our culture is sex crazy. I don’t just mean we encourage sex, we worship sex. It is in every aspect of our culture from seemingly innocent television ads to easily accessible hardcore porn. Now before you get all defensive, I am not saying that you personally, as a Christian, are sex crazy, but the culture you live in is. You have to accept that to understand the rest of what I have to say.

There are tribes around the world that do have a vastly different dress code than we do. It is perfectly ok for Himba women to walk around shirtless. Nothing is odd about it. It sounds quite freeing doesn’t it ladies? I would love to not have to worry about what bra or shirt I am going to wear that day. But there is something else that they don’t have either. They don’t have the billboards that are encouraging men (or women) to go see these topless wonders. It is not often that they have time to just sit and watch a movie where the camera lingers on a woman’s cleavage and lets you watch as she slowly, seductively peels off her top. So to see a woman’s breast in that kind of culture isn’t quite as titillating to the everyday viewer.

Jump back into your own culture and the same thing can’t be said. Everywhere you turn, the world is telling you that certain parts of your body are tantalizing. That you can control a man with them and that every man wants to see them. So, is that why you want to show yourself off? Because regardless of the real reasons for why you want to show off your body, that is what everyone else will think you want. You can whine and complain that it just isn’t fair and everyone else is judgmental and guys should have more self-control, but it won’t do you any good. The truth will still be the same. The more you show, the less you are in control.

I will delve more into this in future posts, but if you haven’t heard this from me already, here it is. Porn is an addiction. Porn is everywhere in our culture and very easy to access. Porn is something that nearly every single man in your life has seen. Porn rewires people’s brain to view women as objects to use instead of people to share life with. So, the closer you are to being naked, the more you reveal your body to the world, the more you become like an object.

Let’s take it one step farther. Christian guys are no exception to the porn statistics. Once they decide to fight their desire for porn, it is no picnic. God gives them a way out when they are tempted, but you do not make it any easier for them when you flaunt yourself the way you do. It may not be your intention to make your brothers in Christ’s struggles even harder than they already are, but intentions hardly matter in this case.

You want to be intentional about something? Be intentional about dressing in a way that is above reproach. Be intentional about not asking how much skin is too much, but asking the Father in heaven who created you if what you are wearing is beautiful in His sight. Be intentional about wearing clothes that make you feel beautiful, but don’t have you obsessing over what other people think about your body.

Do guys need to have self-control regardless? Absolutely. I actually read an interesting blog post on this very thing. You can read it here if you would like. He is a little bit harsh (and I hope he wouldn’t actually talk this way to his young son), but the point is clear. Guys have to control themselves. But Christian women need to control themselves too.

You might be wondering what my specific guidelines are when it comes to modesty. I won’t share them with you, because that is not the point. The point is that if you aren’t willing to sacrifice your choice of clothing to help the men and women around you fight their battles with this sex-saturated world, then you are not laying down your cross daily and giving your body as a living sacrifice. And if you don’t even know what your clothing choices should be, maybe you should start asking the one who created you and not the world who would love to claim you.

“Then he [Jesus] said to the crowd, ‘If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me.”

Luke 9:23