It’s hard to write this, I’ll admit it. I wrote an article about, um, yeah, cheating that was recently published in the book, Talking Taboo: American Christian Women Get Frank about Faith. We wanted to answer the question: what happens when young Christian women speak the unspeakable about our experiences in faith? We all hoped to move past, push deeper than the typical Christian women talking points.
Christians women can go on ALL DAY about godly submission but what about how God feels about divorce, about gay Christian women getting married or Christian couples choosing (and loving) their choice not to procreate? Also? Christian women are a leeeeeeeeeettle slow to touch on our own lust issues, our own porn battles and when we cheat…or least kinda sorta want to.
So I took that one on. Honestly, I wrote it for the broken woman. Because, solidarity.
I wrote about being an attempted cheater. I put it out there not as a one-time wow-factor story. No, no, no, no, no. Here’s the thing: this IS my struggle. This IS my ongoing shame. This IS what the Devil has used for the entirety of my life to push, shove & TKO my ass.
Three days after I decided to accept Jesus into my life, Jesus met me right in the middle of a sordid sexual encounter. When Jesus said, “you don’t have to be this anymore, you don’t have to do this anymore,” I heard & believed. I believed it was true enough that I let go of that man and I pursued a life of complete sexual purity until I married.
For a long time, I believed that Jesus could keep me. Until one day I realized I didn’t believe that anymore.
I believed it until again the Devil came back waving that particular carrot right in front of my face, reminding me, “you, Grace have no worth outside of your sexuality. You remember that you good-for-nothing, hoodrat, hoochie.”
“Okay,” I sigh. “I’ll remember that.” I’m too tired to argue with the Devil today. And I’m tired for tomorrow too.
The truth breaks in momentarily, weekly, monthly, annually.
Somewhere in between, random men tear it down with the flick of a wand and the lies flow back in like a river pent-up under a crusty damn.
I rehearse: I am good for nothing outside of my sexuality. I am good for nothing outside of my sexuality. I am good for nothing. Grace, you are no good. Come hither men, for I have the sex demons.
“Remember the post you wrote about Jesus and the, ya know, blow job?” Marla says.
“Remember Jesus told you you don’t have to do this any more, be this anymore?”
“Remember that your Dad was a serial cheater, your Dad was an abuser but YOU are not a serial cheater, YOU are NOT an abuser?” She asks.
“You are the redeemed of the LORD, Grace. It’s your fricking blog tag line!” She says.
“Do you remember? Do you remember?” she says with 15 pleading eyes.
I sigh. Oh yeah, my blog. I’m such a fraud.
But, I AM the redeemed of the Lord, I try to remember. I mean, right? That’s still true right? I suck up a deep breath, WILL myself to believe it. Do I still believe God can and will keep me? It seems like I should, after all I WROTE IT IN THAT BOOK.
The Devil breaks through that resolve yet it still sounds a lot like me, “what point is there in trying to do the right thing? Get what you NEED, Baby Girl. Ain’t nobody else lookin’ out for you. NOBODY.”
Around and around and around we go.
I am still struggling. Seriously?
Jesus is fighting for me. My friends are laboring in prayer for me. I am trying to fight for me. The Devil is fighting for me. My husband is fighting for me. Hell, even my blog readers are fighting for me. Everyone has a dog in the fight it seems.
Marla, Cindy, Jess, Patrice, Tia, Michelle, my Godfather, Jean, God, Jesus, The Holy Spirit, the Devil and I are wrestling in this SAME conversation, this same battle every hour, every day for three months straight. I am exhausted. I’m in too deep. My counselor rattles off “PTSD” as if it’s no biggie. This is surely beyond what I can handle. I read the Enneagram book. I look for clues to handle my particular psychosis.
I google it: “effects on severely sexually abused children in adulthood.” It’s not that I haven’t read all this before. It’s not that I haven’t invested thousands of dollars and hours in therapy over the course of 14+ years. It’s that I am searching for anything to remind me I am not alone and maybe even still a normal person with normal problems given the deck of cards I was dealt. Maybe something will change my mind. Maybe the internet will drown out the Devil a little more. Hell, at this point, I’d beg, borrow, steal or pay for hope.
I see something I’ve never seen before. Or, maybe the Holy Spirit has bolded & italicized it for my brain because it stands out: Apparently, children severely sexually abused pre-puberty often never recover. Never as in never-ever. Or, to put it in SOBER numbers: only 10% are able to live in healthy, committed relationships or enjoy a relatively healthy relationship to their sexuality…the rest of us are full on sex addicts or can barely handle sex at all even in a committed marriage context.
Oh God, I think, that is me —part of that fallen 90% because surely everything for me is ALL fucked up.
I tell Marla. She passionately argues, “YOU ARE THE 10%! ARE YOU CRAZY?” She gives her arguments and I give mine.
I let her win because, God, I want to believe her SO HARD.
I wrote that article in Talking Tab0o about the time I kinds sorta want to cheat not all that long ago, but trust me when I say, this battle is real, raw and ever-present. I will confuse the relationship between love, sex and my worth until the cows come home. It is constant. I will fight this battle, I will fight these sex demons until my hair is gray and I’m far too tired to box dye it.
The only thing I know for sure is that I don’t ever have to be strong enough to handle this. I only have to keep fighting to believe that in God’s grace and presence He is actively fighting for me, keeping me, loving me, forgiving me, holding me.
That is all the strength I have y’all. I have HALF A MUSTARD SEED to believe God can do what He says He can do.
I refuse to promise you or anyone else that I will ever get this right. I promise to drag myself to the foot of the cross listening for these words, ‘you don’t have to do this anymore. You don’t have to be this anymore. I have redeemed you.’
Even if I’m fighting the war between the truth and the lies every other minute, I know the truth can always push harder, can grip my soul, tether into my Spirit and bind up my broken heart as it has done since April 27, 1996 when Jesus bound into my life. I had a whole mustard seed to offer him then, but now I only have a half. Yet, it’s good enough for Him.
May you, weary soul, like me, find that hope for today’s battle. Maybe for this very minute.
God’s got you. And He ain’t done yet, baby girl. He ain’t done yet.