I’m 44 years old, and I’m celibate… When I say this, I don’t mean that I’ve taken a vow like a nun or a monk, I mean that I’m abstaining from all sexual contact with another man until I fall in love and marry. Before you roll your eyes and think...here we go...another Christian telling me to give up something that we can all agree is quite wonderful; that’s not what this is… Think about something in your life that you gave up, and then think about the rewards, the blessings that you have received. Maybe you quit smoking, and now you can breathe. Maybe you quit drinking or drugs, and people actually want to be around you again… Often times, we think of giving up as a negative thing, but shift your perspective and think about the peace and freedom that we get when we surrender.
"..shift your perspective and think about the peace and freedom that we get when we surrender."
Galatians 5:16-25 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are lead by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I have warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things, there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
To understand the peace and freedom that I have, I must lead with some painful truths...men and sex have always been the underlying issues that lead me down a dangerous path of self-destruction. I was that stereotypical girl with daddy issues. As a little girl, I did not receive the love and guidance that I deserved and needed from my father. So I literally looked for what I thought was love in all the wrong places. I was fooling around with boys way too young, and I gave my virginity away at the ripe old age of 14.
"my self-worth was so minuscule, my value as a woman so diminished, I actually thought SEX=LOVE."
College was basically a blur of sleeping around and self-destruction. You see, my self-worth was so minuscule, my value as a woman so diminished, I actually thought SEX=LOVE. I wound up with no self-respect and a string of awful heartbreaks that took a toll. That being said, in my early 20s, I began a 20-year love affair with heroin. All that did was numb all the shame, guilt, and years of self-hatred that came from giving myself away to anyone who was interested and MANY that were not. In June of 2016, when I was finally able to break my dependence on drugs, I thought I was healed… I thought I was healed from the validation I needed from men, and if someone would just love me, I would finally BE ENOUGH… I was wrong… Up until last summer, I was living my life in Christianity on the fence. I was faithfully going to church, getting involved, staying clean, working hard. I thought I was doing everything I had to live my best life - except the sex, I was still doing it - and I was miserable and suffering on the inside. I was dating someone who I knew had no real interest in me, except for what I could provide. I was breaking my own heart; I knew I needed to stop. One Sunday, I went to church, and Pastor Jason was talking about what would change in my life if I really went all in for JESUS and gave up something I knew I needed to? I sat there with tears streaming down my face and I knew it… If I could give it all up, my life would change.
Soooo… flash forward a few days, and I was fooling around in my car with said gentleman… because how easy is it to hear a great message on Sunday, but not apply it to our lives?? So as the night progressed, I felt something sticking to my arm… I kid you not, it was a GOD LOVES YOU CARD that we give away at church!!!! I remember completely freezing and looking up and smiling and saying “ok GOD...I hear you.” That was the last time…It’s been almost a year since that moment in my life, and I can’t believe the transformation… Let me be clear, it's not always easy. I’m lonely sometimes, and I crave physical touch. Poor Michal, a great friend of mine, has witnessed me hug her brother for way too long on a few occasions…or sweet, sweet Alphonse, everyone’s favorite downtown barista… I’ve fake married and divorced him in my head a dozen times. But seriously, I’m finally taking the time to learn who I am.
"Most of all, I’ve learned that HE loves me, and this love is far greater than anything I’ve ever known."
I work every day to try and understand I am worthy of real, true, everlasting love… Most of all, I’ve learned that HE loves me, and this love is far greater than anything I’ve ever known. Because I’ve shifted my focus to myself, I’ve quit smoking, I’m finishing school, I've become a leader at church, and I’m working on writing, my real passion… We all have a past; we can’t change it, but because of Jesus and His sacrifice, my sins are washed clean, I’m a new creation, and I have WORTH… So now I sit, sometimes patiently, sometimes not, and wait for the man that GOD is going to send me, because I know that He is preparing him, just as He is preparing me to bless someone wonderful. And while I wait, I’m surrounded by so many amazing men, the men of Wellspring, who show me regularly how a woman should be treated, by the ways in which I see them love their wives….
Written by Lori Barbosa
Life Group Leader at Wellspring Church