Thursday, August 23, 2012

True Confessions: I want to sex you UP

So I was thinking it was time to give you a real-time update on where we are in this Redemption process. There have been times when I have really questioned my choice to take this journey public. Baring your soul to the masses can be brutal. Alot of folks love *reality* on TV but the IRL reality often seems more than people want to be deal with. But as I began to write this post took a different turn. If you are here, please stay with me to the end. I really need to be heard.

I think I mentioned before that my childhood dream was to become a doctor. It has finally occurred to me that I have become a Christian Dr. Ruth. Ha! It’s never too late to walk into your destiny! :D

I like the topic of sex. Not in a weird way. There just seems to be so much mis-information out here. I was certainly ignorant sexually for the longest time. There is such a schizophrenic general cultural attitude about sex. Sex is nothing. Sex is everything. If sex is nothing (or whatever we want it to be), why do we even need the term “casual sex”? We chase the ghost of true intimacy in “casual sex.” But something within each of us testifies that we were meant for more...

Because sex is such an integral and important piece of the Gospel. Sex is how we all got here ( I know you know that. :D) Unless I missed something even the in-vitro babies require an ejaculation! But people just don’t seem to know what to believe. I saved a random comment from a HuffPost Blog where someone named Eric (perfectly) stated, “People confuse the mixing of genitalia with intimacy.” People will use the words sex and love synonymously. ( Have sex?, make love?) But they are not synonyms. I don’t care how much or how loudly the message of “free” sexual expression reverberates, there is no such thing as “free love,” i.e., sex without commitment and/or consequences. Author Lauren Winner says that with sex "your body makes a promise even if you don't." Sure you can do it without marriage. You can do it with a stranger. You can do it with whomever but without covenant it is a counterfeit. I will say it again, love and sex are not the same thing. They are designed to be related, but they are not the same. At the heart of the sexuality issue is the the truth that we all, men and women alike, want love. We want intimacy. We want connection. Ultimately, we want God.

Man and woman are the image of God. Sex was/is God's tangible gift of expression-- an image and representation of the wonderful, out of this world UNION that He has in store for Christ and The Church (those people who will accept God's love and responsibility for their lives). Sexual union is a taste, a picture of the beautiful things to come.

Our ideas, beliefs and behaviors about sex are an indication of our faith, a mirror of what we believe about God.

So yeah, I have officially picked up my degree. The PhD in All Things Sex. I know I seem credential-less, until you count the 32 years of *research* I have on the subject. Experience makes all the difference. The world wants to dumb sex down. To make us think that our sexual practices don’t really matter. That we can do it however we want. But I want to sex you UP. To ask you to consider why you believe what you believe. Let me tell you what "free love" imitation sex got me.

I was pregnant THREE times before I married. THREE.

It has been 30 years. But I remember that autumn day in 1982 like it was yesterday. It was just three months into my sophomore year at Spelman College…I was nineteen, happy, eagerly preparing for a bright future in medicine. I remember walking off campus early that morning, alone, to board a MARTA bus for downtown Atlanta. My destination: Planned Parenthood. This was in the days before Dollar Stores and First Responses. Once there, the whole process took less than half an hour. I can hear the woman’s cool voice even now. “Well, you’re pregnant,” she said.

I broke down and cried.

Several days later I boarded another bus, this time a Greyhound heading home to Alabama. I’d called and told my mother and (against her wishes) scheduled myself an appointment at a local Women’s Center for that next Saturday.

It’s funny. Until today, until right this moment I hadn’t realized that that Saturday 30 years ago takes a three-way tie for the worst day of my life.

Pregnancy termination with only local anesthesia costs much less expensive than with a general anesthetic. As my frugal self lay there on the table I could not stifle my reaction to the terrible pain. Responding to my screams the nurse (?) attendant kept saying, Charlene, Charlene, calm down Charlene. Amid my loud cries my mouth was unable to whimper what my heart and mind strained hard to declare, “My name is Sharmayn... My name is Sharmayn.”

I say all the time that there is a reason we are a world with a billion dollar pharmaceutical habit. Our lives are broken. Our souls have fallen and they can’t get up… Without Jesus.

I want to have to raise the bar of sexual understanding. I just have to. The only safe sex (the only REAL SEX) is covenant (MARRIED) sex. No “protection” is needed.  Hear me one more time-- Everything else is a counterfeit, a fake, an imitation.

I’m gonna go ahead and say it so that I can get free. This is a part of my story I have not previously shared publicly. Abortion is not a choice. Well, it is. It is a choice to murder. Everything we do as humans in these physical bodies has a spiritual implication. Some deceased philosopher has said, “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”  Truth.

I did this. I am just now — 30 years out — investigating some of the many agencies and ministries dedicated to healing the post-abortive woman. I wrote before  about how so many of us Christians are forgiven, but not healed, because we simply won’t/don’t confess. When we confess we agree with God. Confession is the doorway to healing.

So here is my public confession, three decades after I took the like of my child.

Dear Lord God,

i know that You forgave ALL of my sins in Jesus Christ, Your Son, long before i was even born. i confess (and repent) that i acted in complete ignorance and rebellion to You in the fall of 1982 when i ended the life of my child. i agree with You that it was wrong. Evil. A grievous sin against You, my child, her father, the man i eventually married and my other children. i am so sorry for what i did. my child had a right to be born, just as i did, just as anyone does. Thank You for forgiving me God.

Now please heal and deliver me, Lord. Free me from the sabotage that i allowed into my life when i made the *choice* to disobey Your command against murder. i understand that we cannot break Your laws, we only break ourselves against them. i understand that Your commands are good. That we are not punished for our sins are much as we are punished by them. i agree with You that it was murder. Abortion is murder.

Now God, please use my story to free those who believe abortion is ok from their complicity and blindness. And free those women (and men) like me who chose this life altering path from their grief, regret, pain and suffering. Give them healing and deliverance Lord.

Lord God, i further ask that You would give me a bold and strong voice to continue sharing the Good News of Your precious plan for Covenant Marriage and the sexual relationship. Enable me to help others to not make the foolish choices i did. Sex was Your idea and invention. Thank You for it. Thank You for how You have redeemed Travis and me and how You are making us one. You have given us a beautiful Promise in Your covenant with us and our covenant with one another. You have given us Yourself. i do love You Lord God because You first loved me. You are great. You do miracles so great. And there’s no one else like You. No one else.

Thank you for cleansing me with Your hyssop and washing me clean. i am Yours. Fully Yours.

In Jesus’ Sweet and Perfect Name I pray.

"There is therefore now no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit."  Romans 8:1

to be continued...

Friday, June 8, 2012

On Overcoming and Some New Friends...

I have a question. I like questions.  Do (end of the) Baby-Booming, African-American, stay-at-home moms blog?  I suppose I ask this question because I spent several days this week becoming cyber BFFs with Tonya Ferguson and Jami Nato. I'm not sure why I am wondering but here I am with my at-home, blogging, brown skinned, four kids aged 23-7, closing-in-on 50 self, really connecting with some young women who look nothing like me. Does any of that even matter?

Please meet my new *friends*...

Tonya is beautiful. Her story is beautiful. She is the kind of girl that I wish I had been growing up. Tonya has known, truly known and loved, God from childhood. And she took following Him seriously. Tonya made a conscious decision to live her life listening to and following the Lord. She had a happy, fun young life. Her parents (obviously) modeled a genuine Christian life and Tonya followed their lead. She wasn't after perfection but her direction was (is) consistently God-ward. Her parents allowed her to date at 16, but she chose not to date. Wowza! Tonya waited to give her heart ( and her body!) to her husband.  [That is so B.I.G. It has become the message of my life to young people.] She eventually met the young man who would sweep her off her feet. He was a Believer and madly in love with Tonya. They had a sweet courtship and she married the man of her dreams at 20 years old. There are some twists and turns in their story. I was teary reading how God brought them together. Tonya and her husband now have four of the most adorable little Fergusons.

Jami is a lovely woman also. She is a witty and intelligent story teller, magnificently sketching her life with powerful prose and amazing pictures. (Both Tonya and Jami are excellent photographers.) Jami is the kind of woman that I would like to be like today. She has a profound grasp of the Gospel and the ability to communicate it so well in writing.... I love the (quirky) way she shares her story. Jami will give you laughs! Like Tonya (and me), Jami wants to live this Christian life authentically. She says frequently on her blog, "We are all jacked up!!" She is definitely my true soul sister! Jami is a married, stay home mom as well. She and her handsome husband have three darling little Natos.

These two beautiful young women are women after my own heart! Tonya and Jami are more than a decade younger than I and they are both in the first decade of marriage but I feel such a kindred spirit to them. Perhaps a better term for what they have become to me (instead of cyber BFFs :p) is an online support group. As young and beautiful as both of these women are, as much as their marriages were built on the Christian faith, both Tonya and Jami's husband's have been unfaithful. These two girls and their families are on the same redemption journey as I and my family.

I've been pondering their stories this week. And opening my heart so that the Lord can teach me a new thing or two. Every infidelity story is unique but the PAIN is universal. Doesn't matter if you are a believer, non believer, make believer or fake believer, a one-flesh union has been ripped apart. It is a living death. A living hell. The realization and discovery of such is EARTH SHAKING and LIFE ALTERING. All the details, how it comes out (confessed or caught?), how the offending spouse initially handles the revelation ( remorseful, repentant and truthful ? Or proud, blameshifting and continuing to deceive?) makes a critical difference in whether there will be reconciliation and to the healing of both the spouses and the relationship. Jami's discovery day was just a few months before mine. The Nato's story mirrors ours very closely. Like Travis and me, they married within 6 months of dating one another. There were actually two affairs, a 6 week separation, and the aw-ful dreaded trickle-truth (when the truth isn't confessed all at once but comes out in stages. This is a terrible hindrance to healing and rebuilding trust). Jami shared how one night their 2 year old son said that he "didn't have a Daddy anymore." Similarly, during the first week of our separation our 4 year son woke up one night screaming, "Where is Daddy?! Where is Daddy?!"  Reading Jami's words is like reading my own journals.

Both Tonya and Jami are really blessing me. I'm about old enough to be their mother but these girls are teaching me some things. I thank God for them. I don't know if there are any other Baby Boomer bloggers out there; I just know I'm grateful to be here. I will write about what I'm learning soon.  #Overcoming

"The one who finds his life will lose it, and the one who loses his life because of Me will find it." Matthew 10:39 (ISV)

"They overcame him because of the Lamb's blood, and because of the word of their testimony. They didn't love their life, even to death." Revelation 12:11 (WEB)

Friday, May 4, 2012

Deconstructing the Scandal

Like many of our contemporaries Travis and I have been following the new TV series Scandal. It is now our standing Thursday in-house date night. The dinner dishes are done. Travis has prayed with the kids and gotten them tucked safely and snugly into their beds. Then the two of us cozy up on the sofa and tune in to what is an intriguing contrivance of twists and turns. We are fascinated…

What is up with her team? The seemingly tormented Huck? Harrison, a former inside trader who seems to also have a audio-genic mind? The mousey Quinn who had no identity before 2008? Stephen? And Abby who brings just the right amount of *off* to complete the crew? Interesting indeed.

And the preview for next week’s show. Oh. My. Goodness. It was titillating (pun intended), complete with a parental advisory warning. Quite provocative stuff…

Now you must know that I am tracking hard with this *romance* between Olivia and the president (small p on purpose). I mean that is the way this thing is being played. We have been led to believe that she and the president have been gettin' it on. I think it was in episode 2 that the president actually told Liv that he loved her. Even tho he had a “fling” with Amanda Tanner, and (not to mention) he is MARRIED. It is Olivia that he really loves. The flotus (his wife) even seems to KNOW that the president has been involved with Olivia but is otherwise disinterested and/or unbothered by this. Wow.

I have had this theory for many years now that everything we do and believe has its roots in some basic, fundamental need of our heart. There is always a “need behind the deed.” Just as our bodies need and crave food and drink, there is a hunger and thirst within every heart, every soul, every life. If I take a physical drink, I was most likely thirsty, although perhaps WHAT I drank was not actually what I was thirsting for or even what my body really needed. This, I think, is one of the biggest challenges of this life, knowing what it is we are really after, what it is we really desire, what our hearts are calling for.

Who’s got the Power? and The reality – and recognition-- of the Counterfeit

A big draw I see in Scandal is the power play between Olivia and others. Liv is larger than life. She is the FIXER. She can make all things right. I mean she has direct access to the president for goodness sake. One time last year when Travis and I were at the movies a line in a trailer tattooed itself onto my psyche. A female character said, “Women get to say if there will be sex. But men get to say if there will be a relationship.” I have thought about the truth of that statement so often. The woman holds the final say on physical intimacy but the man holds the final say over the companionship. I call this the balance of power. Generally speaking men want sex and women want relationship. “He’s got what she wants, she’s got what he wants…” (In the words of the O'Jays, “They were made for each other…”) A man and a woman fit together like parts of a two piece puzzle. It is the essence of our being. An intelligent design. Altho the story is still unfolding, Liv and the president (who is MARRIED- to someone else) seem to make the perfect power team. Their onscreen chemistry is as potent as their positions. Powerful stuff indeed.

The real life problem we face is that since the beginning of time humanity has had to contend with counterfeits. Fake power brokers--- substitutes, imitations, stand-ins, knock offs. All because of a little transaction between a snake (the spoiler) and the first man and woman. You know the story. We had REAL fellowship with our Creator. Intimate, face to face, naked and unashamed, enthralling connection. But we gave it up for a little knowledge (of good and evil). For the chance at becoming imitation gods (Genesis 3:5). We traded our true image bearing lives in for a parody.

Thousands of years later people are still battling to choose between fact and fiction. Truth and lie. Right and wrong. Accuracy and error. We never get a break from this. Every transaction in life has to be assessed and weighed for its truth capacity. Years ago when Travis worked for the Federal Reserve Bank, in order to identify counterfeits he would study REAL bills. You have to know what’s real in order to detect the fake.

Life is so not about having all the answers. It is more about asking the RIGHT questions. Why did Olivia get involved with the president? What is an adulteress/adulterer really after? What is the need behind the deed? Would a president actually risk his own life and the safety of his country for a few minutes with his *forbidden* love? That is the lure (and lie) of adultery. That a person would throw all caution to the wind for a few stolen moments -- that someone would risk everything important to them for a chance to be with you. It is the ULTIMATE counterfeit. Did you catch the look on Liv’s face as she opened the door and found the president of the united states standing at her door? She had to be thinking, “Certainly I must matter if you would do something so extreme. Surely I am important. He really loves me…”

The most profound deception.

We love a love story, especially these kinds of forbidden love stories because deep down we know that love is costly. And that is the point at which we have to be able to discern the hoax. The cost and sacrifice of true love takes the form of honor, integrity, a genuine concern for the welfare of the other, truth, a self-less-ness that brings good. Forbidden (read: counterfeit) love is costly in that it is only concerned for itself-- producing much destruction, devastation and even death. Amanda Tanner is dead. Liv may try to tell herself that Amanda was only the president’s fling, but if he would so easily *do* his Aide, what does that make Liv? She has to ask herself that question. (A friend of a friend on Facebook asked, “Why does Olivia always look like she is ready to throw up?” She does, doesn’t she?) Perhaps she already has. And then she needs to realize that the president loves only himself. The whole purpose of marriage and the true love within it is to establish a relationship that includes the TWO spouses and EXCLUDES everyone else. It’s not love that sustains the commitment; it’s commitment that sustains the love. The president has proven that he is incapable of the pure, sacrificial love that says, “I am committed to only you. I only have eyes for you.” He could change but it is highly unlikely.

The adulterer’s motive – the need behind the deed – is ALWAYS selfish. But here’s the deal: When a woman goes for (or after) another woman’s husband what she is really desiring is her own Husband. (Isaiah 54:5) [Stop. Read the verse and let that last sentence set. ] She may pretend to be a progressive woman, she may even profess to *want* to be the ‘sideline event’ in a married man’s life but I submit to you that she is self-deceived. She has accepted substitute as real. Her heart and soul are crying out for a Man who will give up everything for her. The hu(man) she is using (and being used by) is an imitation. A fake. A phony. A counterfeit. A fantasy.

I think that is one reason we, men and women, are loving Scandal. It is a tale of the desperate heart within each of us. The heart that desires to be loved, cared for and connected to something powerful. It is a testimony to the call of our souls for something (Someone) bigger than this life.

There is a real and true SCANDALOUS Love out there. One Who did give up EVERYTHING to be with us (Philippians 2), One Who has all the Power, a FIXER who makes all things right. Unlike the beautiful, powerful, onscreen lovers Olivia and Fitzpatrick, we had (have) NOTHING to offer Him. And He loved us anyway. He loves us just because. His self-sacrificing love is pure, pleasing, abundant, life-giving, Un-adulterated. There is no fallout of pain and destruction, no need for schemes and deception, when He loves you.

Our minds enjoy the stuff of fairy tales but our hearts are calling for true love. I’m going to keep watching Scandal, unless and until the Lord tells me to stop. I just say, don’t ever settle for the substitutes. Don't get it twisted. May we not be fooled.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Sense and Sensibilities

That is a topic that has been on my mind these days. Hearing. Seeing. Feeling... What to do with these senses of ours? What to do? What to do?

I started another blog last year... I'm not sure exactly why. It felt like the *sensible* thing to do at the time. But I have come to believe that I'm not finished here.
Today is May 1, 2012. One third of the year has been spent. It's been more than a year since I penned anything here. Where does the time go? Anyhow I know I needed to write today. To begin writing again today. There are so many thoughts roaming around in this head of mine. I'll be back.