Three Things to Do With Your Messy Sexual Story

Young woman in thought, addressing a messy sexual story

Every single day, no exceptions, I hear from people struggling. Men and women, married and unmarried, young and old, from right next door and from the other side of the world. These people are struggling with issues around relationships, sexuality, and intimacy. How do you deal with your messy story, especially when it’s a messy sexual story?

A couple days ago I was at an event where a few people shared their messy stories with several dozen others. The room was silent as the speakers vulnerably and courageously let us see into their souls. I was reminded again of the transformative power of story – of sharing your own story and of hearing others’ stories.

Such stories remind us that we are not alone in the struggle we face even though it’s easy to believe you are “terminally unique.” And we are also reminded that there is a next page of the story. As messy as it is, God can, and does, have something to say about your story. The next page may not look like you expect, and it may not be easy. But it is possible!

So now about you; how do you deal with your messy sexual story? How do you find the next page when everything seems too messed up? There are no three easy steps! But these three steps, while not necessarily easy, will make the next page of your story a good one.

  1. Look at Your Story with Honesty and Compassion

This is not easy. It’s much more natural for us to look at our story with self-contempt. I should have . .  . I shouldn’t have . . . Why didn’t I . . .? How could they . . .? The tapes playing in your head – you’d never say those kinds of things to your friend. It’s not helpful to say them to yourself either. Don’t beat yourself up more when you hear these tapes in your head; just recognize them and decide to play a different tape.

Or you might be tempted to try to ignore your story. How’s that working for you? Some people wait years, decades, to deal with the messy parts of their sexual story in particular. If you’re reading this now, it may be that you’re finally at a stage of life where you have the mental/emotional guts to do the work. That’s OK; it’s not too late.

But remember to look at your story with both honesty and compassion, the way Jesus does. You can’t do this all in one moment; that’s too overwhelming for your brain. There are no medals for speed in this transformation journey. The important thing is that you keep showing up and keep saying Yes.

  1. Share Your Story. All of It.

You don’t share all of your messy story with everyone, or all at once. But the parts of your story that remain hidden will continue to wield their power over you. Sharing your story is one of the most powerful ways to experience healing – both for you and for others.

James writes, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed” (James 5:16). Yes, the original Greek word there is sins. God is the One who forgives. But in His heavenly economy He has designed that healing comes through sharing, “confessing,” to one another.

In talking with hundreds, probably thousands, of people who struggle with different varieties of sexual “stuff,” this is usually the hardest step for them. It takes courage. You might have tried sharing your story in the past and had a bad result.

So choose carefully, but DO keep pursuing until you find a place to share your story. That might be with a wise friend in the body of Christ, a support or recovery group, or a truly knowledgeable and trained pastor or Christian counselor. Sharing your story means you’re no longer carrying it alone. Others can share the load with you, provide perspective and support, and help point you to Jesus.

  1. Invite Jesus Into Your Story

Things never stayed the same when Jesus showed up when He was here on earth. When He entered the scene blind eyes could see, lame things began to walk, dead things came to life, and broken hearts became mended.

And things won’t stay the same for you when you invite Jesus into your story either.

This is not simply praying; “Jesus, I’m sorry for . . .” This is a process of letting Him see you and be with you. It includes letting Jesus into the moments in your past that were hurtful or shameful, moments you know He knows already but that you’ve tried to keep hidden.

Inviting Jesus to be that close might feel uncomfortable. Intellectually you may know He knows and loves you anyway, but it doesn’t always feel that way. You may worry He’ll condemn you or hurt you more in some way if He gets that close.

But God doesn’t work by telehealth, doing robotic surgery on your heart from afar. It’s only when He is allowed in that He can work the transformation in your story that you need and that He has wanted to do all along.

We’ll continue to talk about how to do that in the coming weeks. For right now, two suggestions:

  1. Write a letter to Jesus, as if you could see Him there in the room with you. No holds barred; it’s OK to say anything. Make it real.
  2. Tell Him that you want Him to come close. Pray something like, Jesus, I’m nervous. I’m not even sure You hear me. But I want You to come into my story and do Your work. I need You! And I invite You to come in. Amen.

There can be a next page of your story too!

Your Turn: Are there some parts of your messy sexual story that are unfinished, that you need to deal with? Which of these 3 steps do you need to address next? Leave a comment below.

Want more? This week on the podcast John Fort talks about his very messy sexual story, and the amazing way God has transformed his story. You won’t want to miss this episode!

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