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

Mari R: My Battle With “Masturbation”

Submitted By: Mari R

Greetings and God bless! I feel honored (and a bit nervous) to have the privilege of fully sharing my story of my battle with “masturbation” for the first time. I added quotations around the word masturbation because God showed me that the struggle actually was a lot deeper than that.  My desire is that whosoever reads this will be greatly encouraged, and that through Jesus Christ we are more than conquerors.

And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.  For this thing I besought the Lord three times, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”         – II Corinthians 12:7-10 (KJV)

Around the age of 10 years old, puberty came knocking at my door… almost knocking it down. I became what is affectionately known in the Hispanic community, “a woman.” I was quite aware of what it was because my mom gave me “the talk” beforehand, especially since I was, to her, showing signs that my period was coming. I guess ever since then, that’s when I began to really, and I mean really notice boys.

I grew up in a slightly dysfunctional, but an overall great family. I had a mom, dad, and one older brother who to this day, I am very close to. I praise God that I never underwent any kind of “exposure” to any sexual material at a young age, such as porn or even sexual abuse. My family and I were very open and could talk about everything – even sex. I knew what it was, and like many of you, I knew that it was meant for marriage. Why? I had no idea.

During my early adolescent years I became like almost every teenage girl; I loved fantasizing about the future such as having a “real” boyfriend, marriage, kids, etc. Though, it was during those times that those innocent fantasies became not so innocent. Sex started to be on my mind…constantly. I was curious, but that curiosity then later turned into actions. I remember the first time I masturbated (with my sexual fantasies) was at the age of 12 years old. I felt completely ashamed and dirty. I asked God for forgiveness immediately, but the guilt remained persistent. It wasn’t until I turned 14, that my addiction started. By that time, I still felt guilty, but slowly Satan persuaded me through “coming-of-age” teenage websites, that it’s “normal.” That all female humans need to explore their sexuality. That you can actually find techniques on how to do it. And so I did. I would read techniques on this “innocent” adolescent website. I eventually learned about my clitoris, vulva, g-spot, and etc. The stories on the site were graphic, and they only added to my sexual fantasies. By then, I was masturbating almost daily. I would make a quick prayer, and then get into my bed and masturbate. Ha! How horrible. The Holy Spirit definitely was not there with me.

At the age of 17, I REALLY dedicated my life to Christ. I prayed, fasted, read the Word, lead worship service, and helped with youth group. My addiction was pushed to the side, and I was on God’s team again. Until…it came back. The thoughts of sexual encounters, the unsatisfied urges. I feared that God would give me over to my lusts (Romans 1:24). But then something wonderful happened. I had met a wonderful guy, who so happens to be my husband of only 3 years so far. I thought that when I got married, that all those “urges” would disappear. That I can FINALLY be free from sin because I am “allowed” to have sex. I was wrong.

I had soon discovered that my amazing husband and I were not compatible sexually. My husband, although perfectly healthy in ALL ways, is less sexually driven than I am. Sure, I am content with it now, but in the beginning, it made me angry, sexually flustered, and bitter. I mean isn’t it always the man who wants more sex and who has to almost beg his wife for sex? Am I even normal? But the reality was, I was sick. Sick and completely depraved by my sin.

Then one night, after handling over my addiction to Christ, tears flooded my face. I told Him that I was sick of it. That my sin had distanced me far, far away from his presence. All the countless amount of times in the past of me pleading and almost fighting with God to remove my addiction, was always asked for the wrong reasons. I wanted it only for MY glory. I WANTED to feel good. I WANTED to be free. None of it was to allow God to show his grace and power in my life. Deep down, I had sincere intentions of honoring God with my body, but I was still selfish and sought my own desires. He then showed me that my addiction had an even bigger root. I actually struggled with discontentment. When my husband wasn’t “pleasing” me the way that I THOUGHT he should, I would “escape” into one of my fantasies which included a perfect life, with an even better sex partner. How pitiful.

Not only was I dishonoring my Heavenly Bridegroom, I was sinning against my earthly bridegroom. I was an adulterer in my mind (Matthew 5:8), lacked self-control, I was selfish, and a nagging wife. My husband has his flaws, but they are greatly outweighed by all of the wonderful qualities he possesses. One of the main ones being – patience. He knows my struggle and he sympathizes and prays for me. I seriously don’t deserve him.

So after that night, I began to renew my mind daily. Filling it with the Word of God and with prayer. The Lord lead me to read the 1st and 2nd book of Corinthians which happens to be loaded with verses about sexual sin. I allowed God to be my accountability partner. Every time I felt those desires coming again, I would let Him know, and his presence kept me safe. I truly learned what it is to be submissive, not only to my hubby, but most importantly, to Christ. I learned that my high sex drive is a PERFECT gift from Christ (James 1:17), but I needed to learn how to use it for His glory alone within my marriage.

So ladies, if any of you struggle in this area, there IS freedom. Like the verse quoted in the beginning of my story, I believe that this struggle is a “thorn on my side,” but by the Grace of God I am FREE. After that night, those thoughts about my alter-ego life supernaturally disappeared. That doesn’t mean that those thoughts don’t try to appear again. Satan is like a roaring lion, looking to whom to devour, and when he sees that you’re free indeed, he tries even harder to attack. I will not allow the enemy to make me think that I am not free if I happen to slip-up again, because rather than running away from God, I run TO Him.

I tried my best to keep this 9 year battle as short as possible, but I close with this:

“So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted,he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” I Corinthians 10:12-13

If you would like to share your own testimony feel free to let me know by sending me a comment below or emailing me at mtorik89@gmail.com and I will respect your anonymity.

Online Pornography’s Effects, and a New Way to Fight Them – Article

I came across an article recently while I was browsing through a phenomenal facebook group called Pornography Harms. I would recommend that anyone who has dealt with or is dealing with porn addiction to look through their page. They post all kinds of articles and some helpful websites relevant to the topic.

This particular article is going to be my post for the week, so I hope you will click on the link to read it! It has some good advice and a realistic look at how harmful pornographic viewing can be. You can read the full article HERE

Happy Mother’s Day everyone!

Images II

I recently talked about the importance of choosing the images that you focus on during sex with your husband. Translation for those who are single: don’t focus on any images now that you would not want in your mind then.

But that is not why I am writing this follow-up post. In my last point, I talked about how it is difficult to visualize my husband and I while we are having sex.

Some might point out that it makes sense and it would be difficult, you can’t see yourselves! Well, as you all know, this is the day and age of technology that makes all of your wildest dreams come true!

You could record or take sexy pictures to help you get turned on easily enough. And really, there is nothing wrong with this. But my husband and I won’t be doing this. Why?

Don’t get me wrong. We like to have a visual aspect of our experiences together, but we get that through other means that are not permanent.

The trap that I see lying in wait is this: placing our desires into something that is not only inanimate, but an image of who we once were sets us up for dissatisfaction in the future.

You both will gain and lose weight as the years go by. You both will become more wrinkled, less flexible, and the list could go on, but I really don’t want to depress you. If you allow yourself to focus on a younger version or a “better” version of yourself, you will struggle with feelings of discontent and longing for what once was. Perhaps you are that person who is completely confident in how you look and this is not a problem, but I know I am not that person and I believe there are many others who would feel the same.

I don’t want to give myself any more reasons to doubt my husband’s love for me and the desire he has for who I am now. He is satisfied with me. And I choose to believe him, even after gaining a few pounds and becoming less toned than I was in the beginning. I choose to believe him.

But if I were to find him looking at the pictures I could have given him at the beginning of our marriage more often than he looked at the body I have currently, I know that would affect me negatively. What would I do? Force him to throw them away? Allow him to continue, lowering my confidence along the way?

Instead, we chose to avoid that unpleasant decision making. We chose to be delighted in each other’s bodies as they are. Through the consistencies and changes of life, through joys and tragedies, we will learn to love and desire what is true in one another. I, for one, am excited to take this journey with my husband.

Communication is the Key

I had some feedback on a recent post that got me thinking about how masturbation has affected my marriage.

I won’t lie to you, my past struggles haven’t damaged my marriage significantly. In fact, I would go so far as to say that I was able to explain the things that I like more easily to my husband. To put it bluntly, we have a great sex life.

But I don’t think the real reason for our great sex life is because of my experiences with masturbation.

A friend told me a few weeks before she got married that she had never masturbated. I wasn’t too surprised, but did wonder how that would change their sex life. Apparently, not much at all. According to her and her husband, they have a fantastic sex life and it was great from day one. If masturbation was the key to having a great sex life, then how could this be the case?

Communication will drastically change a woman’s ability to enjoy a sexual experience with another person. If you communicate well, things typically go well. If there is miscommunication or a lack thereof, things come to a screeching halt.

Masturbation cannot fix a person’s inability to communicate. In fact, it will probably cause you to enjoy your own touch more than your husband’s. Let’s face it, masturbation is easier than communicating to a man that doesn’t always understand the female mind.

This friend of mine probably didn’t know much about her body and how it worked sexually, but before she got married and started having sex, she asked questions; lots of questions. She became informed and she learned how to communicate well with her spouse. If you can’t communicate, it doesn’t matter how much you masturbate as a woman, you probably won’t enjoy sex like you could.

I hear it said a lot that masturbation is necessary for people to explore their sexuality and to be ready to have a sexual partner. It just isn’t true. Putting aside what you believe about how right or wrong it is, masturbation is not a necessity for a woman to have a good sex life. However, good communication skills are.

As a married, Christian woman, I will be completely honest: although masturbation didn’t ruin my marriage or even cause many issues, it could have. My husband didn’t know exactly how I would like things from the very beginning. Sex has always been good because of communication, but it has gotten better as time goes by because he knows me, not because I know me. Like everything else in marriage, sex is better when you’re both being selfless, not selfish.

A Great Sex Life

I had some feedback on a recent post that got me thinking about how masturbation has affected my marriage.

I won’t lie to you, my past struggles haven’t damaged my marriage significantly. In fact, I would go so far as to say that I was able to explain the things that I like more easily to my husband. To put it bluntly, we have a great sex life.

But I don’t think the real reason for our great sex life is because of my experiences with masturbation.

A friend told me a few weeks before she got married that she had never masturbated. I wasn’t too surprised, but did wonder how that would change their sex life. Apparently, not much at all. According to her and her husband, they have a fantastic sex life and it was great from day one. If masturbation was the key to having a great sex life, then how could this be the case?

Communication will drastically change a woman’s ability to enjoy a sexual experience with another person. If you communicate well, things typically go well. If there is miscommunication or a lack thereof, things come to a screeching halt.

Masturbation cannot fix a person’s inability to communicate. In fact, it will probably cause you to enjoy your own touch more than your husband’s. Let’s face it, masturbation is easier than communicating to a man that doesn’t always understand the female mind.

This friend of mine probably didn’t know much about her body and how it worked sexually, but before she got married and started having sex she asked questions; lots of questions. She became informed and she learned how to communicate well with her spouse. If you can’t communicate, it doesn’t matter how much you masturbate as a woman, you probably won’t enjoy sex like you could.

I hear it said a lot that masturbation is necessary for people to explore their sexuality and to be ready to have a sexual partner. It just isn’t true. Putting aside what you believe about how right or wrong it is, masturbation is not a necessity for a woman to have a good sex life. However, good communication skills are.

As a married, Christian woman, I will be completely honest: although masturbation didn’t ruin my marriage or even cause many issues, it could have. My husband didn’t know exactly how I would like things from the very beginning. Sex has always been good because of communication, but it has gotten better as time goes by because he knows me, not because I know me. Like everything else in marriage, sex is better when you’re both being selfless, not selfish.

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.

Some Things are Better Left Unsaid

You may believe there’s nothing wrong with what you are doing, but keep it between yourself and God. Blessed are those who don’t feel guilty for doing something they have decided is right.  But if you have doubts about whether or not you should eat something, you are sinning if you go ahead and do it. For you are not following your convictions. If you do anything you believe is not right, you are sinning.

–          Romans 14:22-23

I come back to these verses often. Recently, I have written about how it can be discouraging to read so many Christian women telling people like me that we are wrong and should just get over ourselves and masturbate. I think this is why I like these verses so much.

If you are one of those women and you have no guilt for what you are doing and find it to be right, then blessed are you. But I am not one of those women, and to hear someone try to convince me that I really could do what I know is wrong is troubling. I think that is why Paul says here to keep it between you and God.

From my viewpoint and from reading scripture, there is nothing wrong with me explaining my thoughts on why masturbation isn’t a good thing. If women are already confident that they are doing right, then my words should just brush right off of them and they can continue. Someone who enjoys the pleasures of masturbation will most likely go on as they please if they don’t agree.

However, if you take the other end of that spectrum the story changes a bit. If a woman tells me or someone like my friend in my previous post that we are silly and really could masturbate without any repercussions, we are more likely to want it to be true.

Why? Because masturbation feels good! Orgasms are amazing! And if it is something you have already experienced and decided that it was wrong, the struggle and temptation is a very real thing. It is much easier to persuade someone to do what they know is wrong than to do what is right.

So why don’t we just accept the fact that there is nothing wrong with it and get over it? Because we know in our hearts that everything is wrong with it. We have wrestled with it and come to the conclusion that it is not for us. The doubts are already there, and we know we would be sinning if we do it anyways in the hopes that our doubts are wrong. We would not be following our convictions.

I don’t think there is anything wrong with people who believe masturbation is not sinful. But it is those who try to persuade young believers that they should indulge in this practice that discourage me.

 “Wrong does not cease to be wrong because the majority share in it”

–          Leo Tolstoy

This World

Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.

–          1 John 2:15-17

Recently I talked about how I enjoy memorizing Scripture, but need to consistently remind myself that I have to store it in my heart and not just in my brain. I have been working on memorizing the book of 1 John and I came across these verses. I have read them before but they really gripped my heart this time.

You could take these verses and become extremely legalistic and judgmental of other people. Or you could take these verses and apply them to your own life and come out on the other side craving things that will last forever. The things that are pleasing to God.

“For when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you.” That is harsh. The only real way for us to obey God’s commandments is to love others and we can’t do that with our own versions of love. Only the love of the Father in us can allow us to follow His commandments. So we have to figure out what the things of this world are and what it means to love them.

“For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see..”

All this world offers us is cravings and more cravings. There is never any satisfaction with the world. We always will want more, new, and better. I know this isn’t really new information to most people. We hear it all the time from different pastors and speakers, but I think it is something that we can always be reminded of.

It is so easy for me to get wrapped up in the things of this world and forget the real reason I am here. I am not here to become really good at grocery shopping and budgeting. I am not here to have a really good career and make a ton of money, have a mansion, and live the good life. I am not here to satisfy every desire that my body may have. In fact, I am not here for me at all! I am here for the glory of God, plain and simple. If I lose focus of that, the world has all kinds of ways to distract me and take all of my love.

There is nothing wrong with pleasure, as long as we don’t depend on getting our satisfaction from it. As long as we do not love it in the way that we should be loving Jesus. It should be a small part of our lives, not the sole reason we live and breathe. And yet, I see people living life for the sake of pleasure. Everything that we crave will pass away and then we will be left with nothing.

The book of 1 John is all about obeying God’s commandments. Sometimes his commands are to do things that require us to forego pleasures of this world. If we aren’t willing to put Him above every single pleasure in the world, we do not have His love. I don’t think God’s desire is to strip us of all life’s pleasures; far from it. But if we are clinging to them and unwilling to give them to Him, we will end this life with nothing more than ashes.

I do not want to be left with ashes. I want to crave the things of eternity and find my satisfaction and delight in the one that is eternal. I will eat delicious things and enjoy sex with my husband and be delighted with the little joys of life in this world, but I will not depend on them. Those things, although nice, will not last. I will seek Jesus and trust that He will guide me in this world and teach me how to please Him.

I will do these things, only by His strength and love that He has placed in me. And I pray that I will not be willing to give His love up for anything that this world could offer me. Something that I think I will be praying daily for from now on.