Driven: Why Intimacy Doesn’t Equal Intercourse

A must read!

the train of his robe

“Our sexuality is about who we are, our sense of identity as men or women, how we see our places in the world, and what we believe about our potentials and capabilities. It has to do with biology and psychology, with pleasures and values, and with relationships; relationships with ourselves, our friends, and those who might become our partners.”

-Sexual Education Resource Centre Manitoba

Gender month graphic

This post is the second part of the conversation begun in “Worth Waiting For? Why Abstinence Doesn’t Equal Sexual Wholeness.

Driven

Your sex drive is similar to every other physical appetite you have:  your hunger, your thirst, your ambition, your love of adventure.  It’s inherently good and can spurn you on to do things that bring health and wholeness to your body and mind, if you let it.

It’s easy to see the value in your sex drive within the context of marriage.  Because each…

View original post 861 more words

The Great Underwhelming

The following is gross synopsis of a conversation had with one Mr. Reeves and his extremely inquisitive mind. I encourage you to view this message not as a “How To” or a “Wake Up Call for Christians,” but instead as the honesty of two individuals who are whole-heartedly invested in their love for one common God. Think on it as you’d like and ponder whatever tangents you’d like…but in everything,
“…lean not unto your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.”
_____________________________________________-
.

He started by suggesting that we rip apart the Bible. Nothing out-lawish, so I suppose I should rephrase.

He wanted to unbind the books. He wanted us to read every one of those “chapters” (as I called them), fully and with complete weight of sanctity, but for us not to believe that we were any lesser than John, or that he Holy Spirit couldn’t move today as greatly as he did in Acts.

“We teach Christianity as if it was history,” said Reeves.

My mind jumped to the sight of a collegiate classroom, the fifty or two hundred students sitting in a lecture hall, their arms crossed over dingy textbooks that had been revised twelve times over since their first publication. The topic of study would be Christian history, Jewish roots, the early church…and this would most probably be an introductory class. Perhaps modern thought would be mentioned, but to be conducted as a class of its own? To have an entire curriculum devoted to the complex assortment of Christian ideologies in an era where “freedom” and “intolerance” are the primary cries —

I didn’t have further time to mature the thought. It would have breached the flow of conversation.

“That’s different,” I argued.

“Why?” he pressed.

Why? “Because. It just is.”

“Why?”

“Those disciples lived with Him, walked with Him. Those books were written by people who met Him.”

“Not all of them did.”

“But He spoke to them personally!”

“Does He not speak to us?”

“N – ” Of course, I see. My entire faith rests on the belief that His resurrection was for the purpose of eternal relationship. Personal relationship. Not audible conversation, but… 

“We look at the past,” hecontinued, “and keep living off of that. We look to examples in the Bible, but why don’t we also ask each other? Learn about God based on examples in our lives today? We don’t see signs and miracles anymore because we’re too busy looking at the ones that happened years ago. It’s like He’s saying, ‘I want to show you things, but since you’re too busy looking at the past, okay. Keep looking at those.’”

And I sat.

He wasn’t finished.

“We ask Jesus to be with us and he says, ‘Alright, here’s my friend [the Holy Spirit].’ But then we say, ‘No, Jesus, I want You.’ And He says, ‘Okay. Here is my Friend who is me.’ But we take the Holy Spirit and say, ‘Kay, thanks, for the gift, but it’s alright…we’ve got it from here. And we spend our lives trying to figure out the best way to do things…we study scriptures trying to see how God would handle things in other people’s situations… and all the while He has given us the Holy Spirit to interpret things here and now, and teach us for our lives.

It’s like a math problem. Your textbook shows you a bunch of examples and teaches you how to do the problem, but when it’s time for a test, are the actual problems in the book?”

“No…” I felt like a child.

“No, there are different problems and different numbers based on what you learned in your homework. The Holy Spirit is what helps you pass the test…He interprets things and helps you remember how to apply the principles (the Bible) to everyday life. And everyday life is your test.”

.

I’m going to leave these words here. My friend, the provoker, did not by any means claim that his perspectives and opinions were right. He didn’t say they were wrong. He didn’t say I should live by them, and He didn’t claim to be righteous or unoffensive.

But in that conversation built on the foundation of his musings and genuine concerns, I wondered…

what if we are living only 10% of the life that Christ intended once giving us the Holy Spirit?

Such a mistake would be great, and such an existence would be largely underwhelming.

My Best Friend’s Wedding Day

Today, my friend Anna Shelnutt (now Hall) asked me what I thought of her wedding day. I wish I could’ve expressed the torrent of thoughts that cascaded through the corridors of my mind, but I couldn’t possibly have covered it well. So Anna, here is your wedding day.

 

Dear Sister-Friend,

You were light, sunshine, laughter and kiddie giggles wrapped in human flesh. I observed you quite carefully all weekend, and I felt like a student. Through every action, every facial expression, every word that escaped your lips, you taught me a new lesson.

You were selfless. With numerous people calling for your attention – bridesmaids, sisters, parents, guests, husband-to-be – you were a portrait of Jesus. I imagine that during the weekend of May 10th, the Lord allowed me to observe you so that I could see just how seamlessly He is able to split Himself up in a way that materializes as no division at all. Somehow, every guest and every craving for your ear was met equally; I wouldn’t be surprised if it took nothing from you. Only Abba could provide such grace to a human being. Only He could grant a gift that would multiply endlessly.

You were joy. I believe that this quality will possibly always be my greatest memory of your wedding day. Burned on my mind is the image of your face, shining – glowing – not just with love for your spouse, but with kindness, gentleness and appreciation for the many guests and individuals who contributed to your nuptials. Somehow, you made me feel as if I was important that day; as if each of the people you encountered were the reason we had all gathered. My goodness, if I learned nothing else, it was that I can be a better person. Despite the selfishness and anxiety that exists in my heart, I can – with the help of the Holy Spirit – overcome that and live in a way that others would see only Jesus in me. Because on your special day, your most magnificent adornment wasn’t your lace-bodiced gown or your bare feet… it was the light shining through you that made you virtually transparent, allowing God to pervade that space.

How was your wedding day? It felt like we weren’t in Georgia anymore; like we weren’t anywhere. Your wedding day was a slice of stolen time wherein which a select few were transported to a practice run-through of the Glorious Wedding Day to come. If I may say so, Jesus presided over your wedding. It was marvelous.

I am proud of you. I don’t know why I feel that’s weird to say, but I’ll say it anyway. I’m proud of what you have accomplished, what you have set out to do, and who you have set out to do it with. I’m proud that you’ve chosen to walk through life with a spouse who glorifies and adores your First Love as much as you do. I’m proud that, together, you two will accomplish miracles and shake mountains and bring healing to those who are confused or doubting…

And you will, of course, do none of this on your own. But our God is mysterious and wonderful. Everything about our first meeting, Anna, was on-time and impacting. You, me, and Jesus, sitting there at that creek and saying nothing (but also saying everything). If you’ve decided (which you have) to begin this new chapter of your life with Him, I can only imagine the awesomeness of your journey to come.

And to your new husband: thank you for loving my friend. Thank you for loving this child of God who will do everything in her power – and with strength given from Christ – to love you unconditionally and relentlessly. You’re a swell guy!

This might all be a bit much, Anna, but I mean every word. God knows your heart, dear one, and I know that He will always take care of you. He has been your beacon, your path, your strength, your comfort…and now a new kind of sweetness will be added to your relationship, because the pronoun “your” will apply to your new unit of two. Your threefold cord – Anna, Alec and Abba – joined to face triumphs and disappointments and peaks and valleys together. And one timeless day, we’ll all get to sit together and feast again at the Ultimate Wedding. And the glimpses of His character I’ve seen in you throughout our friendship (and on your special day) will be exposed clearly and plainly before us in purest form.

God used your wedding day to draw my attentions back to Him. I hope I’ll be able to keep learning from you through our lifetime friendship. So yeah…that’s how I saw your wedding day 🙂

 

Love,

Sade

What I Mean When I Say “I Love You”

We were given language to use it for beauty.

We congregated at Babel and were struck with this gift, this curse… we were struck with a miracle:

because suddenly, we were given a basis on which to build new cultures. We were given semantics and pragmatics, sounds and cues, meanings and emphases, all of which could provide effective communication, expression…

we could give tangible entities and audible form. We could paint landscapes and stories in the crooks of an ear. We could give some kind of definition to the feelings and thoughts that swirled within our chest.

Beautiful. That curse, that gift, was beautiful.

Yet we’ve failed at its usage,

for at its core, the gift was not for the glorification of self, but for the audible and cultural display of One untouched. We were to become the water on the Earth that reflected His character: namely, when all else is summarized,

Love.

We were to use the diversity and colors to express the meaning of Love.

You could read all of His letters and know that love is not a simple concept. It is messy, uncomfortable, awe-inspiring and all-consuming. It amazes and transforms. It is, for lack of better word, incredible.

Yet we “love” everything now.

“I love pizza.” “I love that chair!” “I love my car.” “I love you.”

When it is convenient.

An unlimited array of words and potential for words, yet the best we could do to define it was:

“An intense feeling of deep affection.”

A stronger form of fondness.

But Love was not meant to be reduced to the description of the hormones and desires that swirl inside of us. It was not meant to describe the temporary things that bring smiles to our faces and warmth to our hearts. It was not meant to describe us, but what we are willing to do. 

“I love you.”

It means:

I present God to you.

It means that you have nothing of your own capability that can express the worth, value, and significance of your sister or brother human being. It means that no matter what you do, you could never do enough or think enough good thoughts to treat them the way they deserve to be treated. It means that there is only One who can be everything…

and when you find a person for whom you would like to give everything….

when you run into a stranger who feels a deep sense of lack, and you wish to supplement and overwhelm their gaps with abundance, goodness, grace, and mercy,

when you realize that this world is not enough for someone, and wish to offer them more, you can say: “I love you.”

I present God to you.

“Here! Have this river of satisfying water, this fountain that will never run dry.” (Isaiah 58:11, John 4:14)

“Here! Take everything I can never give you. Take something that goes beyond the emotions, the feelings, the arguments, the disappointments. Take this constant source, for I can never be constant for you.” 

And this statement means sacrifice. It means that only through God, and only with His will and mindset can you learn how to give of yourself for another’s benefit. It means that the thoughts and ideas He contrives will be bigger than you, harder to enact than you can promise, grander and more satisfying than anything you can give.

I present God to you, friend.

I present God to you, my love.

I want to follow His example and lay down my life for you.

I have nothing greater to offer you than He who is everything to me.

How would that change the way we use the word “Love”?


Could You Love Without Words?

Do you know what it is to love without words?

To speak absolutely nothing and show, act, demonstrate. 

To brush the cheeks of the sick or offer to fetch a glass of water or sit and listen with intent ears.

Do you know how to be sensitive to the beating of a heart? To feel the rhythm and to know when som  ething is jus t  off  bea   t?

Can you understand what a face means? Know a person enough to distinguish between happy and sad, and – what’s more –

can you risk yourself for the sake of intimacy? Can you invest your heart wholly and completely, expecting nothing in return yet expecting to lose everything for the sake of another’s cause? Can you expect to love the little quirks about someone and allow their life to become a part of yours?

Can you appreciate the time you enjoy in the present and be willing to embrace the road’s continuation or detour in the future?

*   *   *

I have no words to describe this thing I’m putting into words. I have no explanation of the beauty, the messiness, the persistence, the prayers, the sacrifice, the discomfort, the fun, the warmth, the joy, the peace, the rawness

that goes into love.

A word is nothing if is not connected to an action.

I know this:

if our actions of love ever become diminished, we are in trouble. If we ever lose sight of the immensity and depth, the non-romantic passion, and the devoted desperation of a blind faith (one where we see everything and choose the good), we will be sorry.

We will deeply regret it.

We will say, “I love you.” And they will respond, in their hearts, “You do not.” But we will both smile, souls dead, and accept that this is reality now, and love has ambiguous meaning.

And we will run through the town despairingly, hands held out in anguish, eyes begging for a truth.

We will ask every living creature the questions that were already answered: “Why am I empty?” “Why do I still feel alone?” “Who am I?” “What is love?”

We will curse love and the notion of its existence; spit on the ground in front of any soul with glistening eyes and peaceful chest who claims to know what it is. We will become the scholars who look at an object and say, “I cannot understand the object’s existence; therefore, it does not.” And forbid anyone disagree with our doublespeak.

But He will remind us of the moment when He bowed his head, relinquished His life-healing hands to the control of chains, and walked a silent road to a hill – one initially created to reflect His face  – so that He could love us without words. He will whisper about how He took everything that threatened to confuse our perception of His character… the loneliness, fear, hatred, anger, doubt, vanity, self-loathing… and bore it on His back, in His hands, in His feet, in His side. He will point us to the  moment when He publicly declared and defined His love for all eternity.

How dare we ask if we could love without words? He has freely given us the ability to do so.

We’ve only been too foolish to accept it.

 

 

Joy Comes in the Morning…

I’m writing to you right now because I can, and that’s a blessing in and of itself.

I’m writing to you because Abba is a healer and the restorer of all things.

This morning I woke with pain, confusion, anger, sadness,

feelings of lack, feelings of incompetence, feelings of hopelessness.

I sat up, (breathe), contemplated the day ahead:

“You have to go to class. You have to go to class.”

“No, you don’t. Lie down here. Rest.”

Five times the battle, then I did as I was told. I “rested…”

Except this was no rest; this was talking, dissuading, feeling all things wrong…

There was no joy this morning.

(Freeze). I froze. 

and then I knew I needed help.

But Abba already knew…

To sleep He put me. Then rest I did, and dream I did, and I woke with a motivation to move –

one I did not prompt of my own accord.

>> That voice threatened to claim my accord. It would’ve had me  lie there forever, curtains closed, stomach growling, mind dreaming of things it claimed I’d never be able to have. The voice would’ve liked me to waste away, aiming to spite those who’d hurt me. This, then, was the battle for my accord.

But Abba has all might.

He intervened, and today He brought me friends. He taught me to dial their numbers, to reach out for help, to give up my pride, and to let Him guide me.

So thank you to Alexis, who flew by my side and sat with me once Abba had told me to rise. Thank you to Martha, whose sweet words were as near to my heart as our friendship has become. Thank you to Anna, who spoke truth and life into me with consistency, power, and tenderness. Thank you to my friends for obeying my Father’s voice.

Now through my veins courses the Spirit of redemption; the Spirit of the Helper, who snatches me from the pits without my consent…who grabs my hand like a parent does a child’s, and leads me from the strangers who promise fulfillment and a smile.

It is as if He is the cure, and His immediate exposure – though I never specifically asked – caused a joy and peace (neither being my own) to become part of my existence and part of today’s events. I walked, I smiled, I ate, I felt the things good; and I have no explanation other than the presence and all-pervading power of Jesus Christ.

I’ll take my moments one day at a time. As of right now I am happy, because He has never left me nor forsaken me. He is with me here, still, hearing me and creating me. He has a plan and a purpose, and regardless of my occasional discomfort with His timing, I know beyond all doubt that “no good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly” (Psalm 84:11). And I seek to follow Him; therefore, I assume that my posture is one that mirrors His.

So I cling to my verse – the one that is the anthem through my darkness – and recite it over and over again (in my head and spirit, where the battle is fought) when I cannot think of words of my own to speak to Him:

I could ask the darkness to hide me
and the light around me to become night—
but even in darkness I cannot hide from you…

-Psalm 139:11-12

Be Careful Little Ears

I’ve noticed that what I put into my ears significantly affects my thought life.

So we pray tonight / that you don’t get weak
and please pray that I /don’t forget what I believe
‘Cause these days are hard / and faith sometimes is work
Pray until He heals the hurt
I trust God will heal the hurt.

The above song lyrics are from “Everyone Hurts” by Kirk Franklin. I encourage you to listen to it right now, as I am. Place headphones over your ears…turn up the volume in your car… and if you are hurting, be comforted by the truth flowing all through this song.

These lyrics got me thinking: the songs I often enjoy do not necessarily communicate messages of truth.  Don’t get me wrong – they aren’t lying or proclaiming ideologies that are demeaning. These are overall innocent songs… the ones about love, devotion, affection, good feelings. Songs like “I Won’t Give Up,” or Demi Lovato’s “Nightingale” (which is amazing, by the way. That girl has talent!!). But even good things should come in moderation.

Excess exposure to fabricated fairy tales can make you believe that love comes easy, or that it’s always miserable, or that the warm and fuzzy emotions we feel should be the prime indicator of our relational lives. I love that music is able to effectively communicate our mindsets at specific points in time – after a break-up, before a first date, or well into a relationship – but music can also trap you in the “relationships are everything” mindset. Think about it… what percentage of mainstream (and even some lesser-known) music is about some variation of love or sex? 

I don’t know, maybe it’s just me, but sometimes I think that the constant bombardment of lovey-dovey music can be dangerous. It tempts me to think that I’m lacking something, or that my a life without an object of affection isn’t worth singing about. It can distract me from the romance of my daily life: intimacy with Christ, friends, and family….comedic talks with a brother in Christ…or the silly trips to Mexican restaurants with my giggly best girl friend… group dinner after hours of dancing and blocking for the Baptist Collegiate Ministry’s production of Tarzan… little things that become the big things.

Abba gave us song for a reason. I mean, just look at the Psalms! David wrote those as a poetry to be combined with music; a way of expression praise, adoration, loneliness, hope….all sung to His creator! I could only imagine what the actual music sounded like. The ability to change pitch, dynamics and tone to create a form of communication that can stand without words…wow! It has the power to uplift, encourage, remind.

What you put into your mind is important. It matters. It impacts your life. Guard yourself and be careful, little ears, what you hear.

Another Truth

I wasn’t the only one.

My first semester of freshman year was difficult. In my mind, the most analogous illustration I can conjure is simple and frightening: darkness. There was no hope as would have accompanied being in the depths of the ocean…no dream of a current to lift me up and wash me ashore. It was just pure darkness with the illusion of peace, and the disbelief that any condition contrary to mine had a form or existence. Or, in other terms, “light:” There was none.

But something happened in December. I can describe it only as the emergence of that which I had known to be false, as sure as we know that we are not made of cats and dogs. Abba peered into my disbelief, reached into my darkness, and saved me. He taught me not to hate Him, not to believe that He desired only my sorrow and grief – which is what I had foolishly claimed to be my own truth. He taught me of love, of light, of liberation. And by January, with one leap into His outstretched hands on an ocean of faith, I walked. I walked, and my darkness became light.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:5)

And so began the initiation of my new, fragile existence. I no longer trusted in myself to bring joy to a dreary day, for each moment of happiness was a treasure, a deliciously miraculous moment that I knew I had no power to conjure of my own accord; first semester had taught me that. I was weak. But second semester taught me that He was strong.

He reintroduced me to joy, and joy in its fullness. Joy: I wasn’t happy because I had no fear or pain. Instead, I enjoyed a peace that passed all understanding despite my consistent fears. Despite my worries. And the “despite” is what, to me, made the smiles of second semester joy, and the grins of its predecessor mere fleeting whims.

But, as I first told you, I was not alone. In that darkness, when the less-than-glamorous thoughts of death and destruction seemed to beckon me with chilling invitation, I was surrounded by bodies who endured the same tormenting voices of “You’re not good enough,” “You are alone,” “No one loves you,” “You cannot be loved,” “You. Are. Alone.”

Her name is Martha, and she is my new friend. She is gloriously beautiful and has a laugh that is as infectious as her charm. She, to me, is a radiation of light and beauty. She is the inner spirit that mean and women alike envy to possess.

And somewhere across campus in that first year of college, she was experiencing the same things I was. I learned this as we discussed our lives in a dormitory kitchen while the rest of the world cheered on the Seahawks and Broncos. She was vulnerable there, and revealed the same wound that I’d born. “Here’s my scar,” it was as if she was saying. As if she rolled down her sleeve to reveal a heart that had been slashed in half and had somehow healed. It matched mine.

We were not alone, either, for at that same kitchen table, our friend Anna revealed an equal distress. What is it about ripping away company that seems to suck the life out of people, knocking them to the ground and revealing the idols they’d held so dearly for so long? Relationships. The worst idols to those whom they affect, for they can be both a necessity and a handicap; a delirious gift and a wretched knife.

With piercing blue eyes and the dancing grace of the passing wind, Anna is a symbol of strength. In my mind, she is power and a fortress that is not to be overtaken. She is the confidence for which young women strive, and the ginger sensitivity that constitutes love and emotion. But somehow, the darkness had gotten her, too.

And somehow, we’d all been rescued in the same way: by His timely answers to our prayers.

I wish I could have shaken myself unconscious until I rejected the concept that I was the only one. I wish that my eyes had been opened in that first semester, and I’d seen the other sisters standing blankly next to me in the soul-gripping dark, their limbs frozen in shock and fear and wonder. I wish that the “Whys? Whys?” – the molecules that clustered together into a black nothingness – had been torn and sin had been broken and truth had been restored amidst the hopelessness that was The Dark.

I wish no one would ever have to feel fear in its tangible form.

There is no beauty in sorrow and, at the time, no thanks in the upheaving. But today, I am thankful for the conversation in the dormitory kitchen that revealed one everlasting truth:

He never leaves us, nor does He forsake us.