Nov 6, 2014

: my new home

The time has come. The seasons have changed.
I have a pretty website, and it isn't here.

The link to my new blog is here!
Check it out! 


Nov 3, 2014

: why Lena Dunham's sexual abuse accusation matters

I found myself in tears while reading this article about Lena Dunham today. This isn't just child's play. It is a twisted, abusive form of sexuality, and a sober reminder that all of us have sinful tendencies that lead towards harmful behavior. In order to satisfy her own curiosity, Lena manipulated her sister with things like TV shows and candy. At its core, it is abusive because sexuality was never intended to be traded for things. It is a misuse of intimacy.

For whatever reason-- sin, her own story of abuse, her family of origin-- Lena believed (and still seems to believe) it was normal to use her sister's body to explore and satisfy her sexual curiosity. I cannot speak for her sister, but as someone who was abused in a very similar fashion when I was eleven (read my story here), I need to say that this story matters. Being abused in exchange for a Gameboy severely distorted my view of intimacy, sexuality, love, God and relationships. For months I believed I was only valuable to him as long as I did what he wanted. I equated my worth with a Gameboy that cost eighty dollars. This thought process bled into every area of my life. I believed that in order to be accepted by God and my friends and family, I needed to do things for them. To be myself was not enough. It was never enough.

I am not demonizing Lena, either. I understand that all of us are broken and have distorted views of sex and ways of dealing with it. Still, what she did was wrong. For it to be celebrated or normalized or laughed at undermines the seriousness of abuse and could cause people to believe they are making "too big a deal" out of childhood abuse instances.

For years I hid in the dark, believing what happened to me wasn't a "big deal" because he didn't technically rape me. But abuse, in any severity, is a big deal. It devalues human worth and distorts sexual intimacy. 

I am a living testament to the healing and transforming power of Christ in the midst of abuse. He has changed me and freed me from the chains of shame, guilt, and fear. If you've been abused, please know that it MATTERS, you are not alone and can tell someone about it.

This matters. It matters, it matters, it matters.

Oct 15, 2014

: on comparison (but also why is God invisible)

I’ve spent a lot of time comparing myself to other Christians, figuring out if I match up or fall short of their spiritual prowess. It’s often said that comparison is the thief of joy, and while some part of me understands that to be true, my heart is drawn towards the poisonous habit of measuring myself up against everyone around me. Am I as joyful as him? Does she ever doubt, or is it just me? Do I love Scripture as much as he does? Am I as childlike as her? Do I love Jesus like they do?

Comparison always ends with discontentment. If I come to the conclusion that my relationship with God is in some way better than another person’s, I’ve fed into a pride that leads to unfulfilling self-worship. If I come to the conclusion that my relationship with God is worse than someone else’s, I’ve fed into an inferiority complex that leads to unfulfilling self-loathing. Comparison is centered on self, but self cannot ultimately satisfy self.

What a difficult realization to come to.
I am not my own answer. I am not the solution to my own problem. 

Satisfaction is not just a little deeper in my heart. True intimacy cannot be found through vulnerability alone. Peace is not a result of clearing my mind and opening space in my schedule. I can’t generate a real, unchanging hope with positive thinking. None of these are bad things, but none of them ultimately satisfy. Only Jesus satisfies.

But this makes me angry.
Annoyed, even.

I don’t want to depend on someone else for my joy. I don’t want to ask Jesus for help. It’s not easy to stake myself on the promises of a God I can’t even see. I can’t even see him! Isn’t the invisibility thing strange? I know he’s technically everywhere and in everything like tress and flowers and whatnot, but don’t you ever wish you could touch his hands like Thomas and know that you know that you know he’s alive and kicking? But I am not Thomas, a man living in first century Israel who walked and laughed and learned from Jesus in the flesh. I am Savannah, a twenty-three year old girl writing from her apartment in Hillsboro Village almost two thousand years later. (And I am almost certain that Jesus isn’t coming over for dinner tonight.)

Difficult as it may be, this is what God asks of me: To trust that he knows and loves me. To trust that I can love him back. To believe that his affection and acceptance is more than enough to satisfy me for eternity. To believe that I am blessed for believing without seeing. And he promises satisfaction in return—a deep wellspring of joy in knowing and being known by him. He promises a secure identity that nullifies the need for comparison. He promises love. He promises that He can be trusted.

Oh, for grace to trust him more.

Oct 9, 2014

: pornography and sex and learning to be a white rose, part 2

I fell in love with Jesus when I was a senior in high school. I had an insatiable hunger for his Word and I remember thinking, I can’t believe I get to talk to him all the time. This is still one of my favorite seasons to look back on— I had the purest, uncomplicated affection for him. He saved me from the religious, good-girl games I had been playing my entire life. He rescued me with a kind of love I cannot begin to understand.

Jesus loved me and I loved him with my entire heart.
I was completely and utterly addicted to pornography and masturbation. 
I was self-obsessed.
I had an eating disorder that drove me to lose over thirty pounds in three months.
I lied about almost everything in order to cover up the truth of who I was.
I was wrapped up in toxic shame.
And in it all, he called me redeemed.

If I could go back and talk to myself at this point, I would say two things:

1. None of these truths negated the other. Meaning, I truly loved the Lord, he truly loved me, and I was truly addicted to porn. I was seriously self-obsessed, and Jesus seriously called me redeemed and sought after. My sexual sin did not (and does not) negate the affection God had for me. I had deep shame in my early years as a Christian because I was convinced that if I really loved God I would not struggle with sin. That is not reality, though, as we are commanded to continually put to death what is earthly in us: sexual immorality, impurity, anger, slander, covetousness (Colossians 3). To battle with sin is a part of being human in a fallen world. To lose in this battle is to rely on your own strength. To win is to depend upon the Spirit and grace of God.

2. I was not alone in my temptations, sexual abuse, and shame. It still makes me sad to think about how isolated I felt for those years, even though many people around me had similar stories. It never crossed my mind that another woman could be addicted to porn. I thought I was the only person who had been sexually abused. I was certain nobody else had masturbated. This thought pattern was a tactic the Enemy used to silence me, though, keeping the truths of my addiction and even parts of my redemption in the dark. The real truth is that I was not alone, I am not alone, and you are not alone. It does not matter what your temptation is, you are not the only one.

If you are currently addicted to pornography, masturbation, lust, self-obsession, food, or shame, hear this message: Jesus saves and you are not alone. Do not buy into the lie that you are isolated in your sin. This is a way that Satan is trying to keep you from walking in wholeness and redemption. I am in tears as I write this, because I so desperately want you to understand that you can be free. You can have a voice. You can tell somebody the real, honest-to-goodness, ugly truth. You do not have to live in the dark. You do not have to be covered by shame. You can be free, you can be free, you can be free.

Be strong and courageous.
Ask the Lord to reveal a safe person to share your story with.
(I promise it isn’t as scary as it seems).

Sep 24, 2014

: pornography and sex and learning to be a white rose, part 1

Part of the curriculum for my eighth grade religion class was watching a movie called Sex Has a Price Tag. The boys watched it in one room and the girls in another, because words like sex and porn and masturbation made our little faces turn red and pink and white all over. I don’t remember much of the movie, except it confirmed what I heard my whole life—sex is bad. After the movie, a female teacher talked to the girls about loving their bodies and a male teacher talked to the boys about being addicted to porn (since women weren’t supposed to struggle with porn and men weren’t supposed to struggle with their bodies). 

Porn was a man’s issue. Body image was a women’s issue. And sex was bad.

When I was in high school, a woman spoke to us in an assembly about how she and her husband were both virgins when they got married. She compared their relationship to a white rose and then talked about a soldier who died in battle protecting a handwritten letter from his wife. I’m not totally sure how it all made sense together, but it was a compelling speech and I remember thinking, I want to be a white rose when I get married. I want to be sexually acceptable to my husband. I want to protect the handwritten letter God gave me.

As I listened to her speak, flashbacks from a past of sexual abuse began to surface and I realized I was not a white rose—not because of something I did, but because of something that was done to me. I was tainted. I was ashamed. 

Everyone deals with shame and sexual temptation differently, but I turned to pornography. I didn’t trust any real human being, but I deeply desired intimacy and acceptance. Pornography was a cheap and temporary fix, and I bought into the lie that it was satisfying for over three years.

I felt trapped. Nobody could know.
Porn was a man’s issue. 
No man would want me.
I was used goods.
God wouldn’t want me.
I ruined the gift he gave me.

I carried the weight of these lies and a distorted view of sex with me throughout high school and into college. I was confused and lonely and trapped in shame. This is where Jesus met me, and while I did not know it at the time, meeting him meant being healed by him. Meeting him meant being crucified with him. Meeting him meant being raised to life by him. Meeting him meant my past would not drive my future. Meeting him meant I mattered to someone. Meeting him meant I was a white rose, after all.