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).