**DISCLAIMER: The content talked about in this post is of a mature and sexual nature. If you are uncomfortable with this type of material, a young reader, or my grandma, please consider not reading. Thanks.**
Her name was Mindy. She lived up the street from me and we were in the same fourth grade class together. Her mom was a single parent so Mindy was home alone a lot. Often when I’d go over to play with her we’d be left alone in the house, no one to supervise what kind of trouble we might have been getting into.
Sometimes secrets come to you in obvious ways. Other times, they sneak in the back door.
It was a typical afternoon at Mindy’s house. We had been playing with some Barbies when she told me she had something to show me.
In her room she had a daybed but not the pull out trundle bed that typically lived underneath. We’d often crawl in there and imagine we were hiding away on some kind of mysterious adventure. You know, kid stuff. However, this day, it became a place where secrets were born.
She began to tell me me she wanted to show me something that feels really good. What followed is a bit foggy still in my memory simply because, at the time, I didn’t have a name for what she showed me. Now I know it to be masturbation. I was nine.
For the next decade I would occasionally engage in masturbation, knowing somewhere in my heart that it was wrong, feeling confused as to why it felt good, and still not understanding exactly what I was doing. It was a tornado of fear, shame, embarrassment and pleasure.
These kind of things weren’t talked about in the circles I operated in. My youth group would have never thrown around the word masturbation, and if they did, it was behind closed doors in hushed conversations. As I grew, I learned the word and what it meant, but only that it was a foul and horrific act that only the grossest of men ever struggled with. Women don’t lust and we most certainly NEVER ever touched ourselves.
I’m really not sure when all the pieces finally started to fit together and I had my big “ah-ha” moment that what I had been doing all those years was masturbation. Maybe I had known all along but was finally able to actually admit it. I don’t know. I just remember feeling like crap and thinking I had become one of those disgusting people my youth group leaders talked about.
I wish I could tell you the moment that the “ah-ha” came, my desire to masturbate left. But it didn’t. It took time. Lots of false starts and set backs. It was in the tiny everyday choices to desire something better for myself, and changing my thoughts to actually believe I was worth that something better, that finally made me stop altogether. But it was a long road.
The shame, well that one took a bit longer to go away. Honestly, I’m not sure it’s really left me yet. There are still moments I still feel like that scared little girl, hiding under that bed, wondering what just happened to my innocence. I get afraid that people (aka my friends and family) will find out and hate me and think I’m gross. I still struggle to believe that God has even forgiven me for it.
Maybe you’re in the thick of sexual sin right now. Maybe, like me, you’re caught between shame and freedom; longing for one but stuck in the other. Hear me when I say this: YOU ARE NOT TOO BROKEN OR IMPURE OR VILE TO GAIN FREEDOM. These places? This is where grace is born. These battles? Well, they are the catalysts for growth and joy, and yes, even life.
I’ve been struggling to find a way to end this post well. How to wrap this messy topic up in a bow that will make it all nice and pretty and wonderful. But I got nothing. Because life isn’t like a tv show and things don’t just magically work out in forty five minutes.
So, instead, I am choosing pray a prayer for you. May it meet us both where we need it.
I pray that you will know that you ARE loved and are WORTHY of love.
I pray you know that even in your sin you are treasured and valued.
I pray that you would see that in these dark places, light is shining through, you just have to look for it.
I pray you would seek out the light.
I pray that you would see that there is an army of women, me included, who have walked the path before you and are ready to link arms and go to war for the freedom of your heart.
I pray you’d be brave.
I pray you’d find the courage to tell your secrets and let yourself be known.
I pray that those you tell would receive you with grace and love.
I pray you’d choose more for yourself than immediate and fleeting pleasure.
I pray that you would feel God’s grace, love and mercy, even in the middle of your sin.
I pray for you to give yourself grace. That you’d believe that it’s more about the journey rather than the destination. That you’d know freedom doesn’t come overnight, but that it will come.
And lastly, I pray that you and I would know that these secrets, well they may speak into our past, but they don’t dictate our future.
Lived loved sweet friend. Embracing hope with you. -H