Category Archives: Empowerment

The Struggle Is Real: Being Belle Knox

I was visiting my friend the other day and lamenting to her about how my heart was breaking for women these days, especially their struggles with sexual purity and pornography. She shared with me that she had watched The View and had seen one of their “Real People” interviews about a pornography star who is also a Duke University freshman—she is 18 years old and has done 25–30 porn films in the last year to pay for her $60,000 college tuition. Here’s the interview with “Belle Knox”:

This video filled me with such sorrow and literally broke my heart. Belle said a few things, though, that should be addressed, because they are sad truths about pornography:

  • “I, like most other people, have been watching porn since I was 12 years old.” The folks on The View were bewildered by this, but I was not. In fact, Belle was about two years OLDER than I was when I first experienced pornography. Today’s generation was exposed to pornography as early as age 8! Most every person you know has seen pornography in some form. Of 700 Christian women surveyed, most were exposed to porn between the ages of 10 and 12. It’s a harrowing statistic about our children today.
  • “Your parents support this?” “Yes, absolutely.” I truly could not fathom this statement. I want so desperately to believe that no parents in the world would support their children becoming porn stars simply to pay for college, but I know that’s not the truth. I know that we live in a fallen world where pornography is the norm—where people who aren’t watching it are more common than those who are. And I know that sometimes, people believe that making easy money is more important than working hard, and that attending a prestigious university is more important than cultivating true self-worth. But I have to ask: what will Belle benefit if she gains the whole world (a Duke degree, a porn career) but loses her soul? (Mark 8:36) And who in her life cares about that for her if not her parents?
  • “…there is a stigma about females watching pornography, so I was not open about it.” Among the ashes and death, there is still truth. And the truth is, she’s right: there is a stigma for women. Christian women especially tend to feel intense shame about their secret struggle with sexual purity and pornography. Christian women, however, tend to internalize the unbearable guilt and shame, becoming depressed while searching for accountability. On the contrary, Belle acts out to feel “empowered” about her body and her sexuality. Empowerment, however, does mean that we can do anything with our bodies; as Paul noted, everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial (1 Corinthians 10:23).

It’s a shame that they cut the video off before finishing Sherri Shepherd’s statement of how her heart was breaking for Belle. Like Sherri, I feel such sorrow for Belle. This story haunts me because, you see, I could have easily made the same choices that Belle Knox did. But I didn’t—because I had a mother and a Christian community who prayed for me. And because of those desperate prayers, I instead chose a Savior who gives me hope, love, and a bold identity in Him. The only difference between me and Belle Knox is Jesus Christ. And I am praying desperately that she comes to know Him as I do—as the Author of my hope, security, freedom, and true empowerment.

Enforcing Boundaries

DO NOT CROSS by artur84

image courtesty of artur84 / freedigitalphotos.net

Jennie’s mom calls her seven or eight times a day. One time while dining with Jennie’s mom, she made a point to call Jennie just to say, “We just finished dinner, and now we’re going to eat dessert. It went well and they liked my shrimp.” Because Jennie is one of my dearest friends, I knew she was frustrated. (Even I was annoyed by it!) Jennie often vents about how her mother’s life revolves around her and her family and how she wishes her mother had a life outside of her. I listen, knowing what the problem is: Jennie has not set clear, firm boundaries with her mother.

Boundaries are limitations that we place in our lives to help us meet our own needs, maximize our strengths, and minimize our weaknesses. Boundaries can help protect us emotionally, physically, spiritually, and mentally by regulating any circumstances that would not support our personal growth. For example, Jennie’s mother has not grown emotionally or mentally because Jennie has allowed her mother to depend on her too much. In addition, Jennie has not grown emotionally, either, because she is too afraid of hurting her mother’s feelings by being firm.

Boundaries are a healthy human behavior trait, and the following are some things you can do to have them, set them, and enforce them:

  1. To have boundaries, you must be self-aware. You cannot set limits for yourself if you are unaware of your personal needs, likes, and desires. Before I was self-aware, I would lash out at everyone when I didn’t receive enough “Michelle time”—much to the chagrin of my family and friends. Once I realized that I needed time alone to recharge, I began to plan it into my schedule on vacations, short weekend trips, and busy weeks. This helped me to maximize my strengths and minimize my weaknesses by meeting my need for silence, relaxation, and reflection. Ask yourself the difficult questions: What do I need? What do I like? When ____ happens, how do I feel?
  2. To set boundaries, you must communicate them. Once I figured myself out, I could not expect that my friends and family suddenly just “knew” that I needed alone time—I had to tell them, and I often have to remind them! Please do not expect people to read your mind. Communicate clearly and communicate often—there is no need to defend or debate, but you must say it. Most importantly, communicate your boundaries to others with grace and kindness. You don’t need to explain yourself, justify your boundaries, or defend your choices: but you DO need to communicate them to others.
  3. To enforce boundaries, you must be firm—but flexible. A lot of people have no boundaries or soft boundaries because they do not know how to firmly but lovingly enforce them. Being firm with boundaries takes discipline and practice! You may have to repeat yourself a number of times and have consequences for when your boundaries are violated constantly. However, being firm does not mean being rigid with your boundaries. If your bedtime is set firmly at 11:00 p.m. on weekdays, but a once-in-a-lifetime event is taking place that will run until midnight, you can give yourself permission to say yes! Remain flexible but firm.

You have a right to care for yourself, and you have a right to be healthy! Boundaries are a great path to self-respect and emotional intelligence and health.

What are some boundaries that you have set in your life?