I recently asked a couple of high school girls at my church what they'd most want women of all ages to understand about what their generation faces; they paused to think, and then they started talking. The list came...and it kept coming. The key takeaway was that no matter what others were encouraging them to do, it always came with some level of pressure.
"One day my prince will come,” the words of Snow White echo in the hearts of many as we daydream of the day when we’ll be swept off our feet. This idea has slowly infiltrated our culture and told us that one day we’ll find our soulmate, and largely that it ultimately does not matter what we do or don’t do, but they’ll be coming for us when the time is right.
It can be tempting to not go deeper. Oh believe me, it can be so tempting. Staying hollow, staying laid-back, it can seem so safe. But as women (though this trait often gets attributed to men) we're born for adventure. We're born to make an impact, and above all, we're born to live knowing we're loved by God. He designed us to soak in His strength each and every day.
In the church, we often talk about the sexual acts we should not commit. Some sign purity pledges, some get accountability, and some simply say it’s too hard to live in purity, so they compromise their theology. Really though, as with all sin, at the end of the day, it all comes down to being a heart issue. With sexual sin, lust is the root of the problem, and lust is 100% a heart issue. Lust starts in your heart before it makes its ways into your actions. So it’s time we get real about what our hearts desire and start thinking about what we're thinking about.
As I waited to cross the street to get to the restaurant in my shorter than usual dress, it happened. At that moment as I waited for the light to change, a group of men rolled down their car window and hooted and hollered at me. It was my first experience truly being catcalled.
Fear is so sneaky. It’s like a really talented, conniving salesman. It convinces us something is undeniably true. Yet once we’ve bought in, we look at what we’ve “purchased” and we can see we’ve been duped.
As a kid, I thought God wanted me to do His bidding, almost like I was His little robot of good works. As a robot, I thought I should be programmed perfectly, and perceived that any flaw in my circuitry would cause me be to cast aside and rejected. However, God is so much bigger than that. He longs to have us be with Him, to seek His wisdom, and to encounter His loving heart.
At the same time I was raiding the candy store with my friend, there were two significant life lessons my parents were emphasizing back home:
eat food that is good for you, and pray about everything. I did not enjoy either lesson at the time. You see sugar was delicious, vegetables were disgusting, and prayer was a boring waste of time, but I felt constant guilt to do it.
I grew up believing sex was bad.
No one ever actually said it that bluntly, and I doubt I would have ever verbalized it that way (because let’s be honest, I never would have said that word out loud). But as I sat through church service after church service that encouraged saving sex for marriage, that’s the conclusion I drew.
My youthful “solution” = Do not desire sex at all.
The problem with my “solution” = A fear of that which God designed for His glory.
I’ve always been good at being self-sufficient. If I had a problem, I’d find a way to fix it. If I were feeling sad, I would realize it was my responsibility to make sure I stopped feeling that way. Essentially, I’ve always had the logical sense to realize that nobody else could fix my problems; I knew I had to be responsible and take care of them myself.
In many ways, I applied that to my relationship with God. He had good works prepared for me to do, so I’d better get my act together and get them done, right?