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

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?

Ted Talk on Porn Addiction

I came across this interesting video concerning porn addiction. Now, granted it is only discussing the perspective on how it affects guys, but it is definitely intriguing nonetheless. Take the time to watch this video. It could change your future sex life and save you from painful years whether you are single or married.

Masturbation – Wesley Hill

John Piper posted this on facebook the other day and I thought I would share it as well. 

Obviously, he is writing this for the benefit of men, but I think it could be applicable for women as well. He definitely has some interesting ideas that many would probably find intolerant, but I tend to agree with most all of what he has to say on the subject.

http://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2014/02/escaping-the-prison-of-the-self

A Moment of Realization

I think most Christians would say there was some kind of moment in their life that they realized there was so much more. The moment that the focus became more about Jesus than about themselves.

My moment was terrifying.

I grew up in a Christian home. I really do believe that I loved Jesus and had a childlike faith, but I wasn’t very outspoken or dedicated for the majority of my childhood and high school years.

It wasn’t until my junior or senior year that I really started to peruse God’s word and try to dissect what it meant for my life. I came across Matthew 25:31-46, what I have concluded to be one of the most eye-opening chapters in the Bible.

To sum up the passage, Jesus is sitting on his throne at the end and separating the people into “sheep and goats”. The sheep are the ones who fed, clothed, inviting in, and visited Jesus in prison. When the sheep ask Jesus when they did all these things he tells them that when they did this for the least, they did it for Him. The goats were the opposite. They refused to help the least and are sentenced to eternal punishment.

Many of us live our lives for ourselves and think we are fine. But according to Jesus in this passage, that is not even close to reality. So many of us are really goats, walking through this life thinking that we have our ticket to heaven and we are set for life. When the time comes, Jesus will look at us with no hint of recognition in his merciful eyes.

I began to really think about it. I wasn’t fearful for my own skin, but I was realizing that most of my brothers (family members) could be considered a goat. I know I have no right to judge, but based on the lack of fruit and lack of concern for the words of Jesus I couldn’t keep lying to myself. I was fearful for their souls. Family, people who you grew up with and hold dear, are the ones who can really open your eyes to reality. I feel like Jesus gave me a heart for the lost in that moment. And it was heart-breaking.

I found myself crying out for their souls and realizing the light that Jesus gave me was not really for me, but for those that I knew needed Him as well. That was the moment that I stopped hiding my light and began to find out how to shine it as brightly as I could. That was the moment that I started to heed the words of Jesus.

What are some of your moments? I would really like to hear them.

Feelings and Truth

Sometimes I can get pretty discouraged reading other Christian women’s thoughts and how they bash people like myself who are not interested in pursuing a life including masturbation. I sometimes wonder if perhaps I am wrong about the whole thing and should just give up writing my thoughts on the topic.

But then I remember that God specifically told me to start writing. So, I am going to write until he wants me stop. And I don’t think that day is here yet.

I have read about both Christian extremes and don’t necessarily agree with either. There is the one extreme that masturbation is evil and a horrible sin that women should never allow to ensnare them. Then there is the other side: that everyone should masturbate and there is nothing wrong with it and the church is just making women feel guilty for no reason.

I would like to address both of these opinions as what they are: extreme.

To say that masturbation is evil and disgusting and horrible for a Christian woman to do is very misguided. There is nothing in the Bible that clearly states that that is the case.

On the other hand, just because the Bible doesn’t say anything specifically about masturbation, doesn’t mean it is something that Christian women should do.

I believe that masturbation is unhelpful on many levels, and for me even a sin. If someone were to tell me that it isn’t a sin and I am being silly and should just masturbate to my heart’s content, I would be very hesitant to bring my thoughts to them in the future.

I was talking to a friend the other day concerning the topic. I wanted to know how she knew that masturbation was wrong for her. She explained to me that she had Christian friends in her first years of college who persuaded her that there was nothing wrong with it. These friends would openly talk about how masturbation was a good thing and advocated it whenever they could. My friend always wondered why they felt the need to push this idea on as many Christians as possible. She concluded that they were insecure about their position on the matter, and like any insecure person they hid it behind strong opinions and pushy tactics.

She went on to explain to me how feelings had a big part in helping her make her decision. She masturbated for a while telling herself that nothing was wrong with it and she could do what she wanted. But deep down she knew that it wasn’t what God wanted for her. Every time she would give in to her desires she knew that she had let herself down and let her Savior down. It was only a feeling, but sometimes God speaks to us through our feelings.

People say you can’t trust your heart. It’s true. In 1 John 3:20 it says, “For whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything”. Our heart is what condemned us in the first place so why would we trust it?

There is wonderful news though! We can trust Jesus’ heart and he has given us the ability to access his heart on matters of this world through His spirit. If you are filling your life with Jesus and with His word and his Holy Spirit your feelings can be spot on. And my friends feelings were telling her what she was doing was wrong. So she stopped. As a single woman she hasn’t masturbated for at least a year and she has no regrets. She is obeying the voice of her Father in heaven. There is nothing to regret.

I began masturbating when I was 10 years old. Up until I was in college, I never had a single person in the church, my family, or my friends tell me that masturbation was evil. I just felt that it was wrong. No one planted those ideas and feelings in my head. And when I started to ask Jesus where His heart stood on this subject in my life, I still came to the same conclusion: masturbation should not be allowed to have a place in my life.

Feelings: that is the root of this post, but not just any feelings. What are God’s true feelings on this subject in your life? Have you even asked him about it or are you just doing whatever you want to do because you can. Does God want masturbation to be a part of your single or married life? I can’t answer that question for you, but He can.

If you haven’t ever done this, I would recommend you do one thing. Forget about all the things you have read on it. Forget about the different extreme opinions Christians have on this topic and how the majority of people (whether Christian or not) masturbate at some point in their lives. Forget about your own desires and your own opinions. Focus on Jesus, and ask him to reveal His true feelings on this matter in your life. Ask that He would help your own desires to line up with His desires. I promise, you will not regret it.

Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered. – Proverbs 28:26

Your Heart Is a Storage Unit

I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. (Psalms 119:11 ESV)

Sometimes I think we forget the importance of storing up God’s word in our hearts. Growing up in the church I think a lot of Christians become tired of memorizing scripture. They have been told to do it all their lives and it is impossible for most normal people to memorize and retain the entire Bible.

Not to mention the fact that there are so many different versions and if you don’t choose the version you will stick with for the rest of your life you will just have to re-memorize it in another one.

But there lies the problem. Memorizing and storing up are not necessarily equivalent. Just because you have an entire chapter of Philippians memorized, doesn’t mean you have actually stored it up. You could know it perfectly word for word, and it still means absolutely nothing in your life.

Other versions of this particular verse in Psalm 119 say “hidden” instead of stored. Either way it is something that is thought to be of value. There is no value in memorizing the entire Bible. The value lies in how it transforms us.

I still like to memorize. I am a perfectionist, what can I say. But I have to continually remind myself of the purpose behind it. I want to pray scripture over myself. I want to have God’s word readily available to speak truth into the lives of those around me. I don’t want to show off how much I know. In an instant, I could lose my memory or become disabled in some way preventing me from retaining information. I am constantly praying that God would really help me to store it in my heart and not just my brain.

I see the way this storing up affects others lives. My grandmother is getting old and losing her short term memory. She gets confused easily and doesn’t even remember what happened just a few hours before. But she still knows her Savior and she knows how to tell people about Him. She is the sweetest person and makes friends out of perfect strangers wherever she goes. She may even still have Scripture memorized, but her impact is not due to what her brain can retain.

It is due to her sweet spirit; her gentleness and her way of listening to those who need to unload their sorrows. She is unselfish in every way, and always wants to do everything she can to further God’s Kingdom. Only the Word of God can do that in a person’s heart.

The most important part of this verse is that storing up God’s Word gives us the ability to not sin against Him. That should be our desire. We were made to bring Him glory. And if we sin, we cannot accomplish this. Jesus is good and our Savior regardless, but while on this earth our desire should be to become people who are continually glorifying Him!

The only way to do that is to not sin against Him. And the only way to stop sinning is by storing up His Word.