I have recently been doing a book study with a group of women about “Pulling Back the Shades” by Dr. Juli Slattery & Dannah Gresh. (Good book, by the way). Our purpose for meeting and really the purpose of the book is to dive deeper into understanding intimacy and the longings of our hearts as women. Erotica, pornography, and our over sexualize culture have greatly shifted us away from God’s true design for sexuality and intimacy. Dr. Juli Slattery’s whole ministry is really about understanding that being sexual and being spiritual aren’t two different and unrelated experiences in life. (Check it out www.authenticintimacy.com for more info!)
Someone brought up this question in our previous group – How do I deal with the sexual disappointments in marriage? How do I acknowledge and experience the longings I have as a woman, knowing they will never be fulfilled on this earth? It feels so disappointing, she said, to hope for something that I don’t think my husband is capable of.
It’s important at this point to look at hope. Because what we hope for is ultimately what we are putting our faith in. My hope is then attached with expectations that aren’t guaranteed to be met. Expectations that can leave us feeling so dissatisfied that it seems as if we can’t move forward until that need is met in the way we want. Un-satisfaction, therefore, keeps our eyes on what we do not have, rather than what we do have.
There’s an important distinction I’d like to point out – and that’s the difference between hope and desire. Our desires are for things we want, long for even, but aren’t guaranteed. Hope is meant to be placed in the eternal, what is actually guaranteed. You can desire for relational satisfaction in marriage, a fulfilling sex life, a partner who understands and meets your needs. But you aren’t guaranteed those things in this life. Even good things – Things God wants for you aren’t guaranteed. So my hope, in this situation, is if those needs go unmet for the rest of my life then I can put my hope in a God who will use those circumstances to create me more in his likeness. I can trust that He is and will meet all of my needs. I have the faith that God is bigger than my desires and has an endless supply of love that is 100% and fully satisfying.
I can desire for a cancer diagnosis to go away but I can hope that if it doesn’t I’ll meet my Savior. I desire for my baby to be born healthy but I can hope that if it isn’t then my God is still in control and still has a perfect plan for my little one’s life. You may desire to find your spouse, get pregnant, find a new job, heal from a physical ailment, or maybe gain financial success but what hope do we really have if all these things became true?
The beautiful thing is we serve a God that is good and kind. He enjoys who you are and it brings him delight to bless you. But when I start wanting his provision more than I want him, I’ve got messed up priorities. We need to stop spending our life running from any little thing that makes us uncomfortable and start running to our Savior.
So often people know who they are NOT but they have no idea who they ARE. I'll hear things all the time like.. I'm not smart enough, pretty or skinny enough, I'm not good enough, I'm not like her, I'm not worthwhile.. and the list goes on and on. If our understanding of who we are is formed in what we are not then we never truly form an identity. Darlin' - today I want you to know who you are! So tell yourself a few of these simple but powerful truths:
I am chosen by God and precious to Him. 1 Peter 2:4
I am precious, honored and love. Is. 43:4
I am beautiful and darling to God. Song of Sol. 1:15
I am received by the Lord. Ps. 27:10
I am Gods masterpiece. Eph. 2:10
Nothing about who we are comes from what we are not, but from who Christ is and who he says that we are.
You are His delight and the center of His affections! He calls you His beloved and the apple of His eye. I challenge you to walk in these truths today. Maybe on an intellectual level you know this is true but it doesn't feel true. Well, you're not alone. I would argue most Christians don't rest in this unshakable truth. I've found that sometimes I have walk forward as if something is true about me even when I don't feel it. The feelings eventually catch up, although that often requires patience and continued faith to keep on walkin'.
There are two types of stress, acute and chronic. Acute stress is short-term and is typically in response to a specific event. For example, giving a presentation, taking a test, dodging a car accident, asking for a raise, etc. They are temporary and the stress response is decreased to neutral once the event is over. On the other hand, chronic stress is long-term and is caused by repeated stressors. This could be from a negative marriage or home life, overly demanding job, prolonged financial struggles, etc.
This is important to understand because the way our brain responds to chronic stress can be damaging to the body over time if we do not take care of ourselves. Did you know, “43% of adults in the U.S. suffer adverse health effects caused by stress, 75% to 90% of all doctor visits involve stress-related disorders and complains, and the effects of chronic stress increase heart disease by 40%, heart attack by 25% and stroke by 50%” (haaswellnesscenters). Stress is known as the “silent killer” because the effects are so damaging, if unattended to it can literally kill you.
It’s imperative to understand the significance self-care has on your overall health and wellbeing. It is estimated that 20% of the U.S. population does not engaged in any stress-relieving activities. Personally, I’ve found it important to actually schedule time in my planner for self-care. Whether that is scheduling lunch with a friend, going on a walk, reading for pleasure, talking to a counselor or journaling (and much more). Whatever it is for you, it must be a priority in life or your stress could become chronic and overwhelming!
Shame. It is one of the most basic, yet deep-rooted emotions in the human heart. To have a working understanding of shame, I'll say this. Guilt is a negative feeling and/or belief directed at something you've done while shame is a negative feeling and/or belief directed at who you are.
Let's look at a biblical example of shame.
Adam and Eve are a classic example. As the story unfolds in Genesis three, we see in verse 10 that they were naked and felt shame. Now I want to propose an idea to you. I believe that shame brings the following:
We can see an example of this in the way Adam & Eve respond. What's the first thing they do once they have eaten the forbidden fruit? Isolate.
The part of this story that I find most intriguing is when shame shows up. Did you know shame was the first human experience after sin entered the world? If you read verses 9 - 11 we see that God asks, "Where are you?” and “How did you know you were naked?" This shows the gentleness of God's heart. He wanted to give Adam and Eve a chance to overcome their insecurity while also communicating to them that shame does NOT come from Him.
Not only this, but he created clothing for them to cover the shame of being naked. To create this covering, God had to kill something. I think this was foreshadowing the cross. Blood was shed to cover their shame, just as blood was shed on the cross to cover our shame. Listen friend, Christ died the most shame filled death to take away your shame.
If you're feeling defeated by shame, you're carrying a burden you were never meant to carry. Let's leave our shame at the cross where it's already been overcome.
I'm a Christian counselor who loves to help people get to the root of their current problems so they can live from a place of authenticity and freedom!