The second testimony in our series is written by “Susan,” who says, “My self-described labels changed…but my identity in Christ is secure and permanent!”
Twenty-one years into my marriage, my husband announced one day, “I’m leaving you for another woman.” I was devastated. I fell into a deep, emotional abyss as my life and my heart broke into a million tiny pieces. My friend, who had been talking to me for several years about Christ, stepped into my pain with gentleness and love. Into my broken world she ministered to me, sitting with me for hours as I poured out my pain and my tears. She read to me from the Bible and continued to share Jesus with me.
Several months later, I did ask Jesus into my heart and accepted him as my Savior. My friend and I continued to meet almost daily. Ours was a completely new level of relationship for me. With her I felt complete and deeply known for the first time in my life. I needed her desperately and soon began to long for her when she was absent. Without noticing it, my life began to revolve around our time together. When we were together, she held me as I cried, rubbed my back, and dried my tears. Her touch was such a comfort to me, and there was an intense feeling of being connected. It was just a matter of time before we moved into sexual touching and then a full sexual relationship. Even as a new Christian, I knew that this was not okay with God, and I struggled to understand how what felt so right could be wrong. After several years, our secret relationship became public, and what then began as a new devastation in my life was actually the first step of a new journey into wholeness.
This new struggle lasted for many years. I have moved from identifying myself as a lesbian, to a woman who struggles with same-sex attraction, to a follower of Jesus who has experienced relational brokenness. I have learned, with the help of godly counsel and Bible study, that the intense, all-consuming, emotional connection I craved from another person was not God’s design for healthy relationships. What I perceived as intimacy was a dysfunctional enmeshment, an entanglement of two relationally broken people looking to each other to fill the space that only God can fill. I had put my relationship with my friend on the throne of my life, occupying the place that belongs only to Jesus. Praise God that he continues to heal me as I seek to worship only him and find the answer to all of my longings in Christ.
Notice how “Susan” describes the change she experienced in her sense of identity: from lesbian to same-sex struggler to a follower of Christ who battles temptation in this area. How is this hopeful for you as a woman or man who is tempted to cross God-designed sexual boundaries in order to feel loved?
Laura, our Harvest USA intern for 2012-2013, has a compelling story about God’s relentless grace that rescued her from sexual brokenness. Like all real stories, it’s still not finished, and there are broken paths along the way.
I’ve been learning the imperative nature of two words in the Bible. Without these two words we are so dead and odorous in our sins, much like Lazarus was when Christ raised him from the dead. In fact, the fate of all humanity hinges on these words: “But God…”
13 Jul 2012
Do you know the experience of guilt? Sometimes it is acute, a stabbing pain in your gut. At other times, it is a dull, gnawing in your soul—a vague feeling of “wrongness” about life, and when you stop to focus on why, the memory of your sin floods back. You long to be free from guilt, but as your failure persists, the pain continues. As a Christian, the guilt you experience over your sin is unavoidable.
You know the truth. You know how God calls you to live. You know the things you should be doing and the things you shouldn’t.
Worse, our experience of guilt is compounded because sexual sin is always clustered together with other sins. Lies and deceit are the constant companions of sexual sin. We squander time and resources, neglecting our calling as husbands, fathers, sons, employees, church members, etc. Sometimes we steal to support our behaviors. All these things deepen the reality of our guilt.
Because we keep our sin hidden, guilt surfaces in other ways and impacts our relationships with others. We are irritable and impatient. We become withdrawn and sullen. Sometimes we rage, even scaring ourselves. Even if you manage to hide your behavior for decades, you need to realize that there is always fallout from sin. Sin always infects our relationships with God and others. Because of the reality of your guilt, spending the evening looking at porn online will impact who you are at work the next day—how well you are able to function, interact with others, and so on. When you stop at the adult bookstore on the way home from work, it affects who you are at the dinner table with your family. When you spent time at work having a sexual chat online, you will be a different man at the home Bible study that night. If you are having suggestive conversations with a co-worker, it will determine how you interact with your wife once the kids are in bed. You may be able to hide your behavior, but there will always be relational consequences.
The hope for you today is that the gospel is true! Listen to the promise from Colossians 2:13-14: “And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross” (ESV). He does not treat us as our sins deserve, but rather, because ”the Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love,” he removes our transgressions from us “as far as the east is from the west” (see Psalm 103, especially v. 8-14). In Christ, God has forever dealt with the problem of our guilt!
How do you tend to respond to others when you feel guilty? Are you angry, impatient, or withdrawn? Who tends to be on the receiving end of these behaviors?
This excerpt is taken from Harvest USA’s workbook for men, Sexual Sanity for Men, Recreating Your Mind in a Crazy Culture, published by New Growth Press. This workbook is excellent for small groups and one-on-one mentoring. Visit the Harvest USA bookstore to check out this resource and others at harvest-usa-store.com.