Whenever I begin a relationship with a new coaching client I ask, “How did we get here? What’s your story?” You have a story too. It’s a complicated story, more complicated for some than for others. And your story around sex, intimacy, relationships – and God – has especially large implications for your wellbeing and your future.
You didn’t wake up one day and decide to have issues. But as Bob poignantly said, “Now my issues have issues!” Your issues came from somewhere. Where did yours come from?
Looking at your story, especially those parts of your story around sexuality, intimacy, and relationships, feels uncomfortable. On one hand you may feel, That’s all in the past. I’ve just got to be stronger and get over it. It doesn’t really matter now. But how’s that working for you? If you had really put those things in the past they wouldn’t still have a hold on you. But they do.
On the other hand you may feel, My story is too dark, too hard. If I go there I’ll end up in an emotional quagmire and the quicksand will take me out. I’ll never get past it. So you patch up your masks and try even harder to make life work. Again, how’s that working for you? You may be learning that you can’t go over or around or under; you’ve got to go through if you want to get to the other side.
I hope your story has lost its sting. It can! But if it hasn’t yet, here’s what to do next.
Jesus and Your Story
How do you imagine Jesus looks at your story? I’ve asked many people that question and some of the answers are:
- I don’t think He could really understand me. I’m just a mistake.
- He’s disappointed in me. I’ve got to try harder.
- I know He forgives me. But how long can He keep forgiving me if I keep messing up?
- I feel like He’s angry with me, even though I’m told He loves me.
- He’s helped others, but He’s not helping me. I’ve got to figure this out on my own.
Here we’re talking about your internal picture of God. It’s super important to know the intellectual truth about Him. But more facts and words do only a little to impact your internal world. At least as important as knowing facts about Him are the nonverbal emotional memories, experiences, and feelings you have about God. It’s only when those parts of your brain are included in the process too that your brain pathways begin to change.
Perhaps you intellectually agree that inviting Jesus into your story would be a good thing. (It would be!) But how do you feel about that idea? What role is shame, guilt, fear, anger, or pain playing? Have you put up internal walls around your heart that keep even Jesus from getting close?
Jesus, Honesty, and Compassion
Jesus sits down to rest by a community well during the heat of the day. While His closest friends are off looking for food a women approaches, and as is His custom Jesus engages her in conversation. He surprises her by asking for a drink. And after some back-and-forth He turns the tables on her.
“If you would ask Me for a drink, I’d give you living water. And you’ll never be thirsty again.”
“Oh please, give me this water! I don’t want to have to come here anymore.”
“First, go call your husband.”
“I don’t have a husband.”
“Right. You’ve had five. And the man you’re with now is not your husband.”
And just a few minutes later the woman goes running back into town telling everyone, “Come see the Man who told me everything I ever did!” (Paraphrase of John 4:7-29)
Jesus did not instantly make her life flash before her eyes. But Jesus had put His finger on the problem, the main thing keeping her stuck, the key point in her story that would open the door to all the other parts of her story.
Jesus wasn’t looking at her with condemnation. He was saying, “This right here; this is the issue. Let’s deal with this. I’m a safe place for you to deal with this.”
Jesus was looking at her and her story with both honesty and compassion. And that’s how He looks at you and your story too.
Honesty and Compassion
Both those two things – honesty and compassion – are challenging. Honesty; how did you come to be where you are now? What happened to you? How were you harmed – in relationships, around sex, intimacy gone wrong? And what did you do in response? How did you sin? How did that affect your soul? And what impact did that have on others? Honesty about all of it. Honesty with yourself. And honesty with Jesus.
You know Jesus knows it all anyway. Why not let down the walls and deal with the truth? Remember, it’s both the truth of what happened to you and of what you’ve done, how you’ve been sinned against and how you’ve sinned.
And then compassion. In some ways that’s even harder. Intellectually you may believe Jesus sees you with compassion, but it may be harder to let compassion permeate your soul deep enough to disinfect the self-contempt. Choose to embrace compassion for the younger parts of you that didn’t know any better. Compassion for the you that was desperately seeking something that only caused you and/or others pain. Compassion for the you that has put all kinds of effort into changing, yet remained stuck. And compassion for the you that feels confused or overwhelmed or hopeless still today.
Honesty and compassion. I invite you to hear Jesus saying to you now, “This right here; let’s deal with this. I’m the safe and good place where you can deal with this. Let’s deal with this together.”
And watch your story around sex and intimacy lose its sting.
Want more? On the podcast this week with Katie Griggs and Amanda Aanestad we talk about how they addressed their stories around intimacy gone wrong. You’ll find it encouraging.
Your Turn: How do you tend to look at your story around sex and intimacy? Do you ignore or dismiss it? See yourself with self-contempt? Focus more on how you were sinned against or more on how you sinned? What would it look like to look at your story with both honesty and compassion? I’d love to hear from you; leave a comment below.
Tweetables: why not share this post?
- Your issues came from somewhere. What’s your story around sex and intimacy? Can you look at your story as Jesus does – with both honesty and compassion? Tweet that.
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