I have shared with you that I am a recovering addict and I didn’t have just one vice, no I was a multiple vice kinda gal: alcohol, drugs, cigarettes and men.
Because of God's redemptive work in me and through His strength I have been clean and sober from all of these vices for years.
Each of these issues was a separate battle to sobriety and I often say that cigarettes was the hardest to break and even though I only have one functioning lung and spend most days so exhausted and out of breathe I can’t leave the house I would have another drag if I really knew I only had a few moments left on earth. The truth is men were the hardest to quit. I never cared for relationships, I have seen my share of love gone wrong; instead I loved the chase, being able to enthral a man through my sharp wit, beautiful face and interesting life experiences. However, I never cared much for the physicality of men, for sex. I was technically a virgin until I was 24 and it was mostly because I liked the control it gave me over men. I would only let things go so far and then would watch them suffer. I never planned or wanted to be married, I never experienced that part of growing up where I obsessed about Mr. Right and nor dreamt about my wedding day. To me love meant failure, abuse, conditions, confusion and pain. I never imagined a man would come along and save me either; it was me against the world.
However, when my marriage fell apart in such a colossal, albeit unique way and even though I had opened myself up to Jesus and started a relationship with Him the first 22 months of my relationship with Jesus I was my most salacious. I went from finding love in a way I never thought possible after spending most of my life punishing my conquests for the failings of the men in my life to losing that love and then letting men use me. I knew exactly what I was doing and why, I knew that I wanted to be chastised for the life I had lived, for failing my husband and baby brother who also finally had a man in his life he loved and trusted. My brother died never knowing what had really happened between Mark and I because I was that desperate to keep my brother from being devastated by yet another man. Because I love to learn I knew what I was doing with my body was devastating to my Lord, I would spend hours, sometimes even overnight in a heap of guilt, shame and tears on my kitchen floor afterwards. My behavior was so over the top my first home church and my small group\Bible Study asked me to leave until I changed my behavior and repented...to them first and then God.
I walked into Heartland Community Church October 2010 with this scarlet letter A on me but I was also desperate to get out of that sin cycle. I wanted a real relationship with Jesus, I wanted what I had read about in His word to be true for me, I wanted to honor and glorify Him with my body and life. I knew that I was being deceived and wanted that liar out of my life. That first Sunday Pastor Roger Pryor’s message was on Luke 15:1-2 and how Jesus hung out with, ate with and ministered to sinners; even tax collectors and prostitutes and I certainly felt like a prostitute at that point in my life. Less than a month later I was in two new small groups\life groups\Bible studies and even though it was not in her character to call someone out in front of others my leader looked at me and said, “I know you are hiding something, God wants you to confess and promises we won’t abandon you because He hasn’t.” I confessed that night and in my other life group found my first ever forever friend and accountability partner and as Heaven and God rejoiced over my confession and with the help of those new friends, a Christian Counselor and a magnificent God who redeems, forgives, love and offers grace and mercy I ended my last sexual relationship. I still struggled with flirting, was confused at the promise of unrequited love - it took another year of dying to myself every second of every day, digging deep into Scripture and accepting God’s forgiveness before I hear God’s calling on my life: celibacy.
The time I have left on earth is more precious to me than to most, while God is capable of healing me completely now I truly feel He has given me this time limit for a reason. I am due home sooner than the world deems acceptable. I don’t always do a great job of utilizing this time I have, I have wasted days “resting” while I let the TV play mindless garbage. I have harbored unforgiveness for my past and toward my family or origin and to others who have hurt me more recently. I still even struggle with doubt even though I know I am chosen, anointed, appointed, equipped, loved and God’s child. Because of the shortened time I have celibacy means more to me than just abstaining from sex or marriage for the rest of my life. Celibacy frees me to truly be married to Jesus, to be free of the worldly desire to find love because I am already more loved than I ever dreamed about as a child. It allows me to be Christ’s bride every day, to wake up each morning and know that my husband protected and renewed me as I slept, is waiting anxiously for me to wake up so we can have glorious time together before I face the world and it has freed me from the social pressures of being a single, 30 something gal.
I do not think celibacy is the answer for every single\divorced\widower out there but my journey to celibacy began as a calling to purity. I set a boundary for myself and commitment to God that I would not actively engage with men for a set period of time and knew my interactions with men would be limited to group settings and that I had to be completely transparent with my accountability partner, and God gave me tough but loving accountability partner! I wore a purity ring during that first year everyday as physical reminder of my commitment that says, “Today, I promise I will wait agreeing to stay pure, because I know God loves me and His blessings is in store.” I had never been with a Godly man, had never experienced a romantic relationship that the Lord had set up and I knew I first had to be pure, in preparation for the possibility of that experience before I ever would be ready for any man the Lord may have for me. Instead of being made right for just any man I was being made right for Jesus.
As I spend time with Jesus and pray over what to write about, knowing that God wants me to share my journey of HOPE with you I realized that my HOPE was most strengthened by my choice and God’s calling of celibacy on my life. That I have never loved myself more (even though i still have my moments of doubt), wake up each morning feeling God’s presence right there in bed with me and love life, which until three years ago had never felt before. I woke up most every morning disgusted with myself, not feeling I should waste the space on this planet and wishing I had never woken up.
Is there something God is calling you to give up that will strengthen your relationship with Jesus but you just can’t imagine living without? Something that even seems crazy? I know when I use the word celibacy in conversation with those who don’t my testimony their eyes go wider and their mouths drop+ a bit. Hear me, it isn’t crazy as the world defines it - it is radical obedience to the one who gave His life to be in relationship with you!
“I’m full of myself—after all, I’ve spent a long time in sin’s prison. What I don’t understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise. So if I can’t be trusted to figure out what is best for myself and then do it, it becomes obvious that God’s command is necessary.
But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.
It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge.
I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question?
The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.” Romans 7:15-24 The Message