Last spring I took a spiritual formation class during my last semester of undergrad. Honestly, I expected it to be a breeze. I was used to academics. I knew how to study well, maximize my time, and give professors what they wanted. When I saw that we were assigned a different spiritual discipline to practice and journal about every week, I was prepared to go through the motions and check off any box necessary for me to succeed (I had severe senioritis!) But what I didn’t expect was a loving but convicting lesson from the Spirit about my tendency to do all the things (prayer, worship, Bible reading) to feel as though I was succeeding in my relationship with God rather than to simply bask in his presence.
If I am completely honest, prayer is something that has felt daunting to me. I have often become discouraged because my prayer life is not what I want it to be. I get distracted. I don’t always know what to pray for. Sometimes it feels like a chore. Often I feel guilty because I know prayer is a beautiful gift we have, and it is a calling. I want to have intimacy with my God, but my own imperfection discourages me. I often let my discouragement paralyze me, which inhibits me from growing in prayer.
When it comes to human sexuality, the Church knows what we are against, but does it know what we are for? That's the question this book seeks to answer. Throughout our 2000-year history, the Church has failed to thoroughly articulate a Christian vision for the body. Scripture teaches us that creation is good, that we are made in the image of God, and that we represent Him in the world, yet we often ignore the ways our bodies communicate His grace in our everyday lives.
I didn’t think I wanted to get married so young. I wasn’t looking for a husband. I was looking for a career. Marriage and family? That could wait until after I’d put my degree to use. Maybe 28. Maybe 30. That’s when it would be time to settle down..... Those were my thoughts as a nineteen year old girl. I knew that I wanted to get married… someday. But that someday seemed a lot farther off than the two years when I’d be standing in front of the altar exchanging wedding vows at only 21 years old. So what changed? My perspective on what marriage is and what marriage isn’t. As a 21 year old bride, I realized that marriage isn’t just a season of life. It’s doing all of life... together.
My husband and I are celebrating our five year anniversary. In some ways it seems new. Like we got married yesterday. And in other ways, knowing him feels like knowing every last word to my favorite song.
Sitting in the church pew, Mo admits that she looked every part “good girl”. She wasn’t trying to lose her virginity before prom night like so many of her classmates. She didn’t even feel the need to have a boyfriend. No. She admits that it all felt beneath her. Like a judgmental prude in her ivory tower, she pompously promoted abstinence knowing she still had her own virginity vow intact. But her self-righteousness lacked the humble reverence for God’s ways. And it didn’t take long for her heart to shatter under the weight of her pride.
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.
The devil has taken the message of purity and warped it - to make us believe that our virginity makes us worthy in God’s eyes. It has caused the church to turn sexual purity into an idol. Sexual purity is a gift from God, and it is just that - a gift. It reveals God’s heart to us. The gift of sexual purity should never take precedence over the Gift-Giver.
Sometimes it can be difficult to draw any sort of parallel between our lives and fairy tales. Is that because they don't exist or because we don't spend enough time looking for the lessons hidden within these stories? Snow White is one of the most iconic and difficult to relate to fairy tales, but even in her story there are treasures to be applied if we just open our eyes to them.
We live in the age of dream-seekers. Of heart-followers. We’re told that in order to be happy in life, we must follow our hearts and chase after our dreams. Then, and only then, will our lives truly have meaning.
“Follow your heart.” It’s Disney’s mantra. Nearly every princess ends up with a dashing prince because she was listening to her heart. She found that fulfillment came from being true to herself.
Wouldn’t it be lovely if it worked out that way? If we listened to our hearts, and ended up with a fairy-tale ending?
But there’s a just one flaw.