HE'S NOT YOUR PRINCE CHARMING: when your past haunts your present
Dear girls, Last week we talked about 5 truths about sex. Solid, unshakeable realities that are firmly rooted in God’s Word, interwoven through stories and verses, imbedded in Biblical poetry and prophesy and chronicled in epistles from beginning to end.
And this week as I read your comments and emails and messages I hear the lies that follow you right into the bedroom.
That you are not beautiful enough…
That you are not pure enough…
And, perhaps the most haunting of all, that your past prevents you from fully and freely relishing that romance and passion you long for.
Early this morning I sensed the Spirit of God urging me awake, inviting me into His presence, waiting for me to ask Him for wisdom for you, my daughters with aching hearts and haunting questions.
“I want so desperately to be fully engaged when we are intimate but so many of my past experiences haunt me in ways I can’t begin to describe…
I frequently find myself struggling to simply feel something emotionally…
Sometimes I feel like my heart has been permanently paralyzed and I wish with everything I could fully engage with my husband and lay aside the memories of my past…
I can’t help but feel like we are both continuing to be robbed for the sins I have already been forgiven for...
I would love to hear your thoughts on overcoming this and allowing God to heal us and make us new so that we can be fully free and fully engaged with our bodies and husbands which is the way God intended sex to be.
Could you possibly talk about how to re-learn sexual vulnerability for those of us who have been hurt in the past?
And as I sit here alone while all the world sleeps, I listen.
Asking the One who knows, who sees, who saves your tears in a bottle, for wisdom… for grace… for the kind of truth that sets wounded women free.
Two words echo over and over again in my mind— one, surprisingly easy and refreshingly freeing, the other defeatingly difficult and even more freeing.
Repentance (the easy one that sets us free from shame).
Forgivenesss (the really hard one that sets us free from pain).
But first, a story.
One day at church, a young woman I know and love wanted to talk to me. Alone. Her husband stood just a little bit behind her with his hands in his pockets. He looked worried.
We found a private place where we wouldn’t be interrupted or overheard, made ourselves comfortable, and sat in silence. I could tell she was trying to compose herself, getting her emotions safely tucked away where they wouldn’t interfere with her story.
“I need to tell somebody some really horrible stuff. I just can’t get rid of the memories and I feel like I’m drowning in images from my past. My husband has no idea how to help and would be horrified if he heard the details of my life before I met him him. Yet those pictures won’t go away! Every time my husband touches me I see things… dark things I’ve done… and…”
Here she looked at me with such deep remorse it caught my breath,
“I cannot feel pleasure, not like I know it should. I hold back, afraid of freedom, afraid to feel.”
For the next hour my young friend laid it all out. Every single memory. Every sexual partner. What she saw. What she felt. Every layer of blackness that hung over her every time she made love to her husband.
And after each recalled and confessed memory she repented. She prayed. She paused. Then she confessed some more.
I just listened, feeling the horror with her, cursing the enemy under my breath for wrecking the life of such a lovely woman.
We held hands the whole time, and though her hands trembled, she didn’t shed a tear. Stoically, with immense determination, she just walked through her list of misery.
When she was done we sat in silence.
And then we started to worship. Spontaneously, filling up with such joy, such relief, we took turns praising and thanking and admiring the One who calls Himself Redeemer. The beauty of His blood washed over us as we reveled in His choice to love us “while we were yet sinners”. We laughed as we remembered that He adopted us, fully knowing who we are, what we’d done, what we’d do.
We didn’t sing, didn’t weep, didn’t disturb the holiness of the moment with much thought of our feelings. We just got caught up in wonder.
How can it be? The old hymn writer wondered, That Thou, My God should rescue me?
We both left that meeting stunned— not by the wretched ugliness of her confessions, but by the shocking grace of our God who sees it all and never wavers in His forgiveness.
And my friend left that meeting free. All those memories fell off her soul, crashing at the foot of the Cross… and stayed there.
And slowly, but surely, she began to feel again. Her husband’s arms became a refuge instead of a reminder. His love mirrored the love of her Redeemer. She responded with increasing joy, finding intense pleasure where tense pain had held her captive.
And me? I cannot remember anything she told me. The burden I had thought I would have to bear with her is lost somewhere in that flood of grace. I can recall the beauty of our worship but not even a bit of the blackness.
So strange… so strangely wonderful.
And I tell you all of that so that maybe some of you who are caught by soul binding chords of guilt and shame might consider a similar way to freedom.
James 5:16-18 in the Message paraphrase lays out the truth of what happened in that room like this:
Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed.
The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with. Elijah, for instance, human just like us, prayed hard that it wouldn’t rain, and it didn’t—not a drop for three and a half years. Then he prayed that it would rain, and it did.
The showers came and everything started growing again.
Everything started to grow again. Just like my friend’s soul and marriage and sexuality began to grow again after she followed her courage to confession and repentance and acceptance of that overwhelming grace that only God can give.
This post is too long and I haven’t even addressed the second word: forgiveness. Maybe another time. For now, suffice it to say what I already have, that forgiveness is the key that sets us free from pain.
I love you, girls!
From my heart,