I know that I promised this post a few days ago, I have just really been working hard to make sure I communicate my mission properly, without adding or taking away from it. So without further ado:
In my last post, “The Ugly Cry” I wrote about the first reason why I write in the style that I do, with the Father playing one of the lead roles, engaging characters in natural conversation and being ever-present in the midst of their struggles. If you missed it, click here!
Today I’m moving on to my #2 reason for writing like I do. As stated in the previous post, the way my generation and the ones that came before it were taught about our physical bodies and about sex was lacking, and somewhat misguided.
I touched on this briefly in my post “It’s How We Were Made” back in September. Here is a quote: “There is so much shame wrapped up in sex these days, especially in the church. Everything is taboo and you better stay away from the all-powerful ‘heat of the moment’ lest it swallow you whole (It would have been awesome if someone had actually explained what that phrase meant. I knew it was bad, but I had no idea what it felt like or how I should get myself out of it when it hit.). But the truth is that we were created as sexual beings because the Father loves us and wants to experience His goodness.”
My first experience with the infamous ‘heat of the moment’ happened when I was sixteen and dating a guy who was way too old and experienced for me. I had just had my birthday which meant my parents had finally allowed us to go on real dates alone together. I don’t remember anything about that particular ‘date’ except for how it ended. We pulled into a parking lot (so ridiculously cliche) of a park and, you guessed it, parked. When I first met this guy, my judgement was severely impaired by the fact that the first time he touched my hand, butterflies exploded in my stomach, and being so young and poorly educated, I thought that meant I was in love. I had no context for physical attraction like that. So in spite of the fact that I knew this guy was trouble, I started dating him because of those stupid butterflies. I had boundaries, strict ones that he pushed against at every possible moment. In this particular moment, in the parking lot, he was crossing a line that, to others might not have been a big deal, but to me, because of how it made me feel, was a huge deal. My physical response that afternoon was so intense that I burst into uncontrollable sobs. I was terrified by what my body was communicating to me. I had no concept for what was going on, and I was suddenly struck with the realization of how easily things could get out of hand. My boyfriend pulled away from me in shock and then started to laugh at me (that’s a whole different blog post.). I had no one to talk to about how I had felt that afternoon, I didn’t understand it, I hadn’t been prepared for it and I felt all alone as I tried to process through what had happened inside of my body.
I experienced a lot of shame over the years when those feelings would rise up again in response to romantic and physical affection. I always felt guilty that I’d disappointed the Father for allowing kisses to run so deep that they seemed to cause my body to ignite. I didn’t recognize that the physical reactions I was experiencing were completely in line with the way God created me. It’s just unfortunate that I had to figure these things out the hard way, in the heat of the moment — the absolute worst place to be faced with these kind of feelings, when everything depends on your next move, and you either live or die (proverbially) based on what you decide.
I wish that I had been exposed to some realistic Christian romance before I’d gotten involved in it myself. I wish that I had known what to expect from certain types of affection. I wish I’d known that a fireball would explode inside me when my neck was kissed and that I had been better prepared to experience those things. Taking the shame of my physical feelings into my marriage created it’s own set of struggles, and it took years before the Father was able to speak to me about the beauty of how He’d created me, and that there was no shame in the way my body reacted to those feelings. Sure, there were moments where judgement was lacking and where I definitely failed to live up to my own standards, but my body was simply reacting as programmed to those moments.
I desire to create a safe place, for women, young and old, to explore the way that God created their bodies, and how beautiful it is to glorify Him with the gifts He’s given us. That safe place does not exist in a sex-ed class, or on a Sunday morning in an auditorium full of people from all walks of life. For me, that safe place exists within the pages of a book where the Father plays a starring role and the struggle that happens in every dating relationship involves Him as much as it does the man and woman. At this point, I believe there will always be a level of sexual tension in my books, because it’s realistic, and anything that’s not realistic in this genre makes characters unrelatable and boring in my opinion. I’ve talked to so many women over the past four years who experienced many of the same things I did as it relates to the heat of the moment, and we all agree that there needs to be this place of safety for girls and women to enter in to. I hope that I have done a worthy job of creating that space, and that the Father continues to be glorified in the pages of my novels.
I would love to discuss your thoughts on this post. How do you feel about the way you were taught as a teenager about sex and relationships? Do you think that times have changed enough that we do a better job of educating our youth about sex today? Did you have a safe place to process these topics as a teenager?
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