Tag Archives: self-worth

The Porn Identity: Being Nothing

ID-10056400We were sitting in my living room on Valentine’s Day. “It’s just not working out anymore.” He was breaking up with me, and I could barely comprehend it. All I could think was…”I need to make him stay. He needs to stay, because if he doesn’t stay, I won’t have anything. And I’ll be nothing.” Over the next few weeks, I bargained with him, I got angry, and I was super vulnerable. I contemplated giving more of myself sexually to him, and even told him that I would do that if it would make him stay. But he didn’t. And when it was finally done, I fell into a deep depression that lasted for weeks as I struggled with another aspect of having a porn identity: being nothing.

My mom taught me to “treat others as you want to be treated.” But after overcoming an addiction to pornography, I realized that while the porn identity tells us how we view others, the most important thing it tells us is how we view ourselves. Here are three things the porn identity has told me about being nothing:

  • The porn identity said that I was nothing without a significant other. In a culture that readily accepts pornography as normal, it should come as no surprise that there is a focus on being with someone else. This is part of the porn identity that I still struggle with; being a single 37-year old woman is difficult in a couple-driven society. Back then, I focused too much on having a boyfriend/husband and not enough on having strong relationships with others, which left me feeling very alone when things didn’t work out as I planned. But God reminds me that He created me for relationships with others—not just one marriage relationship, but relationships that challenge me and sustain me outside of having a significant other. It is not good for man to be alone (Genesis 2:18)—in any capacity. I am to be in a community, not just a coupling.
  • The porn identity said that I was nothing without sex. When my efforts for finding a significant other came up empty, pornography reminded me that having sex was the most important part of the relationship anyway. I remember thinking of ways to please God while still pleasing the growing sexual frustration within me—believe me, folks, this is not possible outside of marriage. It led me down a very dark and hurtful path that I would never recommend, one where I used my body to define my worth instead of using the Word. But God reminds me that sex, while an important part of marriage, is a tool, not a defining factor. That is why sex is meant for the marriage bed (Hebrews 13:4). Outside of marriage, it defines you instead of being a tool to complement a marriage. In order to not become defined by sex, I am to view sex in its proper perspective—God’s perspective.
  • The porn identity said that I was nothing. If not in a relationship, if not an object to be used for someone’s pleasure, then what was I? Pornography answered loud and clear: I was nothing. I wavered between feeling like nothing because I wasn’t in a relationship or getting married like my friends, and then feeling like nothing because I was failing God by struggling with my desires and fantasy/pornographic thought life. But God constantly reminds me that even though I fail Him, I am still His child. And being His child is everything (1 John 2)! That means I have favor, honor, blessings, glory, and most of all—LOVE. Because I have the love of the Creator of the universe,  I am to love and treasure myself, so that I can love and treasure others (Mark 12:31).

These days, I’m actually okay with being nothing—because God has said I truly am no thing. Instead, He says I am an original, amazing, beautiful human being that He has given passion and purpose to be used for His glory. And so are you! So reject the porn identity’s suggestion that you are nothing, and accept that you are everything to God—and watch your quality of life go from nothing to something!

What’s Missing From Sex: Commitment (Part 2)

This blog series is following my church’s series, “What’s Missing From Sex” as my pastor preaches about a topic the church has mostly avoided. This particular post goes with the second sermon in the series and can be found on my church’s website here. I urge you to listen! The sermon begins about 17:00 minutes into the video.

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image courtesy of ponsulak

This is the last blog for my church’s series, “What’s Missing from Sex?” and I have to admit, I’m struggling to write it. Mostly, it’s because my life has changed dramatically over the past few weeks. My uncle—the man who inadvertently introduced me to pornography—had a massive stroke and is unable to care for himself. My family and I have accepted the responsibility of coordinating his care and moving him to live with my family back east. My father—the man who rejected me continuously as a child and adult—has been given 60 days to live and is dying a sad and terrible death. Additionally, I am trying to figure out my feelings about a male friend of mine, which is both confusing and confirming all at the same time. I’m emotionally spent. And to say that I am thinking about commitment recently is an understatement: the word is being redefined in my life on an hourly basis.

I could talk about commitment and the various awesome quotes my pastor threw out about Christians, sex, and commitment, but instead, here are the two things I’m learning about commitment as I’ve struggled through the past few weeks:

Commitment plays a big part in our self-worth. What was it about me that made my father not want to be a part of my life? I don’t know if I ever asked myself this question or considered it as I was growing up. But even so, I lived as if the answer to the question was simply that I wasn’t enough. I conducted my life as a woman who had little self-worth, who asked for zero commitment from anyone before engaging them sexually, who allowed herself to be treated as an object. I was saying to others that I was independent and confident, but my actions showed that I didn’t feel worthy of a commitment from anyone—and that I expected that as well. Thankfully, I know now that this is a lie! I am worthy of that commitment—and so are you. Everyone is. I see it play out through the situation with my uncle: I see the happiness on his face upon being reassured that we are committed to caring for him. He not only feels loved but secure in having others who care for him. Though his situation isn’t ideal, his self-worth can be. It’s that kind of security and self-worth that God wanted us to know when He committed to sending Jesus to save us. He wanted to set us free and ground our identity in Him (1 John 3:1-2).

Commitment is risky. This is my current struggle. I know how difficult it is for me to open up to others. With my male friend, I have felt like he is gently pursuing me, likely somewhat cautious of rejection himself and of my penchant for being a pushy prophet girl who puts up walls and holds him at bay. I struggle with being vulnerable, knowing that rejection has played such a serious role in my past. I’ve been trying to purposely embrace the risk of commitment—to friendship and beyond, if that’s what God wants—in order to truly experience life and love as God intended. I take risks everywhere else—but in relationships, I tend to be a cautious study. We all do. But what a risk God took for us in sending Jesus! The risk is that we would all-out reject him—and in one way or another, we all have rejected Him. But He still did it. Knowing that we would reject Him, He still gave us that choice. The question is, am I willing to take that risk with others? With God? Are you?

The reward of risking honor, intimacy, understanding, and commitment in marriage is a healthy, loving sex life where God defines your worth (and He has said you are worthy!). As I wrap up this series, I want to point out something my pastor said: if God is not the God of your sexuality, then He’s not the God of anything in your life. So I urge you to let God be the God of your sexuality and your sex life—and watch the rewards and blessings pour out on you!

What’s Missing From Sex: Honor (Part 2)

This blog series is following my church’s series, “What’s Missing From Sex” as my pastor preaches about a topic the church has mostly avoided. This particular post goes with the first sermon in the series and can be found on my church’s website here. I urge you to listen! The sermon begins about 16:00 minutes into the video.

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image courtesy of ponsulak / freedigitalphotos.net

I was years removed from my addiction to pornography, but there was still something missing. When I began to search for community outside of the church, I found it in a man who in the midst of separating from his wife but looking for some “companionship” in the meantime. What he really meant was that he wanted sexual satisfaction without any kind of true relationship. Because of the deep longing inside my heart to be in community and to be known, I answered that desire for him. I allowed him to use me, even though I knew that was exactly what he was doing—and I was doing it to him as well. We both said we had a “healthy agreement,” because we thought our needs were getting met, but deep in my heart, I knew that everything about our “agreement” was unhealthy and ungodly. We were not honoring each other.

Honor and sex don’t seem to exist together in a world where pornography, rape, and sex trafficking are so prominent. After all, when women and men are treated like commodities and objects instead of God’s children, it is difficult to see any pieces of integrity among the mess. However, even honor in sex can be redeemed by God if we follow these two steps:

We must first value ourselves. “Treat others the way you want to be treated” (Matthew 7:12). It’s something have all heard, probably passed on to us in our childhood. However, many of us forgot that once we graduated from childhood. If this saying applied to my actions and attitude in the “agreement,” then what I wanted was to be treated like an object, used and thrown away when I was no longer worthy. However, I knew better. When I returned to my Christian community, I remembered the following things:

  • I was bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6).
  • I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139).
  • I am one of God’s chosen, holy and beloved (Colossians 3).
  • I am saved, not because of what I’ve done, but because of His mercy (Titus 3).
  • The hairs of my head are all numbered, and I am more valuable than the sparrows (Luke 12).
  • God will never leave me nor forsake me (Hebrews 12).
  • I’ve been raised with Christ and am seated at the right hand of God (Colossians 1).

Once I was back in Christian community, I realized how much God values me—AND you. And if God has said He values us in these ways (and more!), then we can and should believe what He says. Because when we begin to believe what God says, we can value ourselves and honor God with our bodies.

Once we value ourselves, we can begin to honor others. Honoring others in sex is important because, as my pastor noted, sex—as God created it—is “others-focused.” We live in a “me first” culture, though, and sex has not escaped this attitude. My friend was focused on HIS needs when he approached me; I, too, was thinking about my own selfish desires. However, honoring others in sex is not simply putting your spouse’s sexual needs before your own—it is honoring your spouse even outside the act of sex. It is not treating others like an object to be used for our satisfaction. It is declaring what God has said about us (above) is also true of our spouse or significant other. It is setting appropriate, God-honoring boundaries in dating relationships. It is developing a deep sense of trust in relationships. It is not objectifying those who have made sexual mistakes by calling them “dirty, used, or unclean.” It is offering forgiveness, grace, and love to our spouses and significant others when they make mistakes. It is not withholding love or sex when we are hurt. Honoring others means valuing others as much as or more than we value ourselves. And when we do this, we honor God through our sex lives.

Knowing your identity in Christ—your value and worth as shown in Scripture—is the key to honoring others in your sex life. You are more than an object; you are God’s beloved and chosen, and He has plans to prosper you and not to harm you (Jeremiah 29:11). Know your own worth so that you can begin to value and honor others as God’s children.

What is one thing you can choose to believe that God says about you today?

Becoming Fearlessly Fulfilled: Worth Finding

woman by anankkml

image courtesy of anankkml / freedigitalphotos.net

I wasn’t more than four years old. My dad was coming over to pick us up to spend time with him. I was waiting anxiously in the living room when he arrived—except he didn’t want me to go along with him. So he took only my sister and left me behind feeling things that I now can describe as rejection and worthlessness—deep threads woven into my life at such an early age. It’s not the only memory I have, but it’s one of the strongest. 

Far too many people struggle with these types of feelings and memories: we walk around trying to fill the void, manage the pain, and/or move ahead in life by ignoring it. I filled mine with everything I could possibly find: pornography, musical talents, lust, bad relationships, false confidence, and even church work through a career in ministry. The problem is, like many people, I was not properly dealing with the real issue: a lack of self-worth.

Many women have asked me how they can find their self-worth. I wish that I could give a three-step process to finding your personal worth, but I can only make suggestions based on how I eventually found mine. So here are a few things I’ve learned in my continual journey towards self-worth:

  1. Seek healing for your wounds. As I’ve noted, I completed the Celebrate Recovery step study process and that was the bulk of my healing process. CR may not work for everyone, but it provided for me what I needed to work through my pain. I’m not talking about managing your pain; I’m talking about working through your pain, finding Jesus amidst your pain, and allowing Him to lead you out of your pain. “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18). We must surrender to the difficult pressing to be truly delivered—whether through CR, counseling, coaching, or whatever means works best for us.
  2. Believe what God says about you in His Word. My woundedness inhibited me from truly experiencing the joy of being a child of God. Even though I was a youth pastor, working full-time in ministry, I still did not believe what God said about me in His Word. I knew what God said about me—that I was chosen, royal, holy, a princess, his daughter, a co-heir with Christ, beloved, worthy, His workmanship, a citizen of heaven, His friend—but I did not live like it. Once I moved out of my pain, I was free to accept and begin living as who God says I am, not who the world says I am. Now, I don’t just know it, I believe it!
  3. Submit to the lifelong process. Notice that I said I learned these things in my “continual journey” towards self-worth. I am not done. In fact, the Bible says that we are still works in progress that will not be finished until we meet Jesus (Galatians 5:5). While we are “eagerly awaiting” our completion, we should be constantly challenging ourselves to grow in Christ. There are still parts of me that need full submission to God and tons of work. But the more I give these areas and myself to Him, the more my worth becomes grounded in who Christ is and who He says I am. 

To become fearlessly fulfilled, you must find your worth in the Person of Jesus Christ, the One who created you and loves you—the One who knows you are worth finding.

How have you begun your journey towards self-worth? Share in the comments or Contact Me to start your journey today!