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Kia Stephens

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November 10, 2015

How a Woman’s Clothing Impacts a Man Part II

November 10, 2015 | By | 10 Comments

Every man in the room watched her walk past.  She had legs that reached the ceiling, weave that touched the floor, heels about 3 ½  inches high, and a mini dress that hugged her frame like saran wrap.  Something in me cringed because two of the men with their eyes fixated on this women were married.

This is shocking but oh so common, maybe even accepted as manly behavior.  “A man is going to be a man,” some say.  I have even noticed the wandering eye of men out with their wives, who take a second sometimes third and fourth look at another woman.  

Maybe you have seen it too, or been on the receiving end as the woman looked at or the one ignored. In their book Every Man’s Battle, authors Stephen Arterburn, Fred Stoeker, and Mike Yorkey call it “visual foreplay”. In their chapter on “Just By Being Male” they had the following to say about visual stimulation.

Our eyes give men the means to sin broadly and at will.  We don’t need a date or a mistress.  We don’t ever need to wait.  We have our eyes and can draw sexual gratification through them at any time.  We’re turned on by female nudity in any way, shape, or form.

They go on to say, “. . . For males, impurity of the eyes is sexual foreplay. . .  Just like stroking an inner thigh or rubbing a breast.  Because foreplay is any sexual action that naturally takes us down the road to intercourse.

Maybe this is why Jesus himself said, “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Matthew 5: 28 (NIV)

Yet, even with this widely known understanding about men, why is it that sexually provocative clothing is more and more readily accepted and prevalent?  I would argue that there is a symbiotic relationship between the man who looks, and the woman who desires to get attention for her appearance.

She is getting a need met too.  The woman receives affirmation and the man receives visual stimulation.  This is otherwise known as lust.  But lust is never satisfied; it always demands more, leaving the partaker empty.  

As a result the clothes get tighter.  The skirts get shorter.  And more skin is revealed until there is another exchange.

 

A glance

A smile

A catcall

A number

Existing in her heart is a gnawing fear that if she is no longer considered attractive, she will decrease in value.  So she works diligently to maintain her sexy image because every woman is a competitor and every man a conquest.  This occurs all while the gaping wound in her soul widens.

Instead of dealing with the root cause of her actions she masks them by focusing on how she looks.  Appearing seductive on the outside but broken on the inside, she finds herself stuck in a vicious cycle.  Many times her wounds have been created by the physical and emotional absence of her father.  

So what is the solution?  How can a woman who has grown dependent on external validation from men ever change?  The answer is she must make a conscious choice: every second, minute, and hour of the day to be affirmed by God.

One of my absolute favorite stories in the Bible is that of Jesus and the woman at the well.    The Bible does not speak of this woman’s wounded state, but it does mention her history.  She had been married five times and with a man who was not her husband at the time she met Jesus.

I imagine after five marriages with five different men one would have accumulated some wounds.  In fact, she was probably already wounded prior to her first marriage.  Searching for something in the arms of each subsequent man, she was not satisfied and Jesus knew it.

Instead of speaking to her natural thirst He spoke to the thirst in her soul.If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”   John 4: 10 (NIV)

It is this same thirst for validation He seeks to quench in the heart of every woman.  

 

How a Woman's Clothing Impacts a Man Part II Meme 1

Through His word God offers us an endless supply of deep soul satisfying affirmation.  It is not based on anything we wear or don’t wear.  God’s affirmation is given freely because of who we are in Him.  

How a Woman's Clothing Impacts a Man Part 2 Meme 3

 

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Kia Stephens

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August 31, 2015

Pursuing Your Daddy When He Doesn’t Pursue You Back

August 31, 2015 | By | 16 Comments

Recently, a young reader asked me about contacting her father.  She questioned whether it would be a good idea since she had never met him.  Tucked within the subtext of her inquiry was the fear that reaching out to her dad could be more painful than not reaching at all.  

I understood the apprehension in her email.  Every woman with an absentee dad knows any attempt to connect with her father might result in rejection.  No one wants to be ignored or dismissed, especially by her daddy.   

As women, we live with an innate longing to be cherished by our fathers.  We are wired to flourish in his praise.  Even if the relationship is muddied with abandonment and painful memories, the desire to know and connect with our dad persists.

So we weigh the pros with the cons and evaluate whether to pursue a dad who isn’t   pursuing us. Despite the potential to be brushed-off, I recommended she connect with her dad, but only after processing her pain first. Eighteen years ago I needed this same advice.  

I was in college when a friend shared how she wrote a letter to her father.  She penned all the major events he missed and invited him back into her life. “This is doable,” I thought.   

So one day I sat at the computer and typed a two page letter giving the chronological rundown on everything from Elementary to High School.  When I came home on holiday breaks I stole pictures from my mom’s photo albums and gave them to my father.  I called him and initiated outings.  I invited him over to the house.  I visited, sent cards, prayed and believed.  I did everything I could do.

The expectation was that my efforts would produce a made-for-TV father daughter relationship.  With a little effort I could snap my fingers and poof, instant bonding; it didn’t work like that.  We did begin a relationship but it was like meeting with a stranger over and over again.

I underestimated the barriers between my dad and I: time, culture, pain, fear, beliefs, mistrust, distance, expectations, and lifestyle choices, to name a few.  Like swimming against the current, forging a relationship with my dad was difficult.   I never anticipated that it would be.

I thought hard work would manifest the ideal father daughter relationship I longed for; it did not.  What I failed to realize was my perspective needed to change.  The impetus for pursuing my father had been centered around me.

My Needs

My Wants

My Expectations

My Ideals

My Hurt

Although the initial pursuit of my daddy seemed noble, I was motivated by selfish gain.  And some might argue that I was justified in my all-about-me-state.  After all, didn’t I  deserve to be fathered, loved, and cherished?  

The truth I had to embrace was, initiating a relationship with my daddy in hopes of receiving his love and affirmation was a risky and sometimes futile attempt.  

 When we obligate another person to fill our emotional bucket we set ourselves up for disappointment.  

Pursuing a relationship with our fathers requires a commitment to love him whether he reciprocates our efforts or not.  This is a mindshift, but I believe it is one we must have when initiating a relationship with our fathers.  If you are considering this journey I have extracted 4 take aways from my own personal pursuit that may be helpful to you.

Start with God

Without Jesus Christ I would be tempted to slip back into a you-owe-me-mentality.  When viewing my father daughter relationship through the lens of the cross I realize my father owes me nothing.  The selfless sacrifice of Christ paid the debt for me and my dad.  

  Only He can empower us to love unconditionally. This is difficult but achievable.  

  Love looks, sounds and feels like God.

7 Reasons Why a Sex Act Won't Soothe A Love Ache

7 Reasons Why a Sex Act Won’t Soothe A Love Ache

Forgive Your Father

If you are fantasizing about the day you can unload all of your painful baggage on your father’s doorstep you are probably harboring unforgiveness.  That bitter root in you is like grease in a fire. It will spread covering everything in its path; your relationships, your vision, and your future. You must rid yourself of unforgiveness before pursuing your daddy.  Unforgiveness lays a faulty foundation for any relationship.

Expect the Best, Prepare for the Worst

When a daughter walks into her father’s life for the first time she doesn’t know what to expect.  For this reason I would recommend mentally walking yourself through several different scenarios.

What if my dad has another family?

What if he was there for his other children?

What if he is dead?

What if he is incarcerated?

What if he is on drugs?

What if he has a questionable past?

What if he isn’t’ interested in getting to know me?

What if he is embarrassed?

What if he doesn’t accept me?

These questions are tough to read and none of them may be true in your situation.  However, I believe it is better to consider all possible outcomes.

Develop a Support System

Don’t do this alone.  Ask your closest friends to pray for you (and me too).  You may need a shoulder to cry on, or a hand to hold.  Be vulnerable and allow your trusted friends to provide support for you.

I want to leave you with an encouragement if you feel like pursuing your daddy means no one is pursuing you.  The truth is God has pursued you since your birth.  He is wooing you through the people you meet, the blessings in life, the words of this blog post and in more ways than we know or or can imagine.  He loves you infinitely and He is more than capable of loving you as you endeavor to love your dad.

Pursuing Your Daddy When He Doesn't Pursue You Back Meme 9

 

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Kia Stephens

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July 20, 2015

Diary of a Dysfunctional Diva

July 20, 2015 | By | 10 Comments

Hair?

 Check.

Shoes?

Check.

Dress?

Check.

My look was complete, but there was one problem.

You would think a small, seemingly insignificant item of clothing would not have a huge impact on my ensemble, but it did.  The lining of my high heeled slides required the grip of a bare foot to keep them from slipping off.  However, since I had on hosiery  my feet struggled to stay in my shoes.  As a result, I had to focus  – with great  intentionality  – on walking.

It wasn’t pretty.   Instead of a sophisticated “Top Model” walk I had more of an awkward step-pause-slide-your-foot- back-in-place maneuver I hoped no one noticed.  And I could have made it through the graduation without incident but for some reason I had to walk down the stadium stairs just before the ceremony.

The stands were filling up with family members and friends.  Teachers were taking their place on the gymnasium floor, and my entire graduating class was seated in the  bleachers waiting for our festivities to start.   Then it happened.

I carefully did the awkward step-pause-slide down the stairs but somehow I missed a step.    What ensued should have cemented my position as “The Girl Most Likely to Publicly Humiliate Herself” in the high school yearbook.  I slid down that long flight of stairs until I reached the bottom, on my bottom.

Initially, my lack of shoe grip went undetected, but it was later exposed in grand fashion.  What had previously been concealed became difficult to hide once the circumstances changed.   I was cute and a hot mess all at the same time. Consequently I’ve seen other mismatched combinations in my life.  At one time or another, I have been:

  • Courageous and Fearful.

  • Genuine and Fake.

  • Strong and Weak.

  • Kind and Harsh.

  • Secure and Insecure.

Mastering the art of covering the less flattering attributes and publicly displaying the better ones became like brushing my teeth: routine.  However, I began to grow weary of bearing the constant pressure to keep the “I got this persona”.  I found it impossible and exhausting to maintain.

Like a boxing tournament those pairs began to duke it out in the ring of my life:attempting to dominate the other.  As a result, I decided to seek some help.

Diary of a Dysfunctional Diva Meme 1

 

The natural reaction is to come up with a quick fix. I can read this book, recite this meditation, take two pills and call the doctor in the morning. Rather than look for a bandaid, I purposed to unearth the root cause of those unwanted behaviors.

I traced many of them to my formative years and a need for affirmation.  Dr. James Dobson, author of Bringing Up Girls says ,  “a primary reason for this inner ache is because a daughter’s sense of self-worth and confidence is linked directly to her relationship with her dad.  What he thinks about her and how he expresses his affection is a central source of her perceived value as a human being.”

This is not to say all daughters with a daddy aches have affirmation issues, but many do and I was one of them.  As I gained more information about the role a father plays in his daughter’s life I wanted to know how it specifically impacted my development so I could heal.

I was curious to know what I missed and how God could fill those voids in me.  A mentoring program at my church guided me in the process of:

  1. Examining my formative years.
  2. Identifying beliefs I formed as a result of my early experiences.
  3. Countering false beliefs with specific scriptures from the Bible.

During this process a few of the detrimental beliefs I believed were:

  • I must please others to be loved.
  • I must performance in order to be accepted.
  • I must be beautiful (by the world’s standard)  to have value.

Although many of these beliefs are sustained and supported by our culture, they are not upheld by the word of God.

 

Belief:  I must please others to be loved.

Scriptural Truth:  “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.”

1 John 3:1 NIV

Love is freely given by God.

Belief:  I must maintain perfect performance in order to be acceptance.

Scriptural Truth:  “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.” 

Ephesians 2:8 – 9

I am accepted by God.

Belief:  I must be beautiful (by the world’s standard)  to have value.

Scriptural Truth:
“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

Psalms 139: 14

God thinks I am wonderfully made.

 For every lie we believe there is a corresponding truth in the Bible.  Let’s choose truth over the lies we tell ourselves, hear from others, and get from the world.

Diary of a Dysfunctional Diva Meme 2

(The process mentioned above was  adapted from Re:New Mentoring Materials © Northpoint Church. )

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Kia Stephens

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June 29, 2015

4 Lessons Learned From Jesus and the Prostitute

June 29, 2015 | By | 12 Comments

As much as I hate to admit it, I’ve been judgmental. I have formed opinions about women based on their clothes, amount of skin revealed,  number of tattoos, you name it; I’ve judged it.  It sounds bad coming from a professed Christian, but the subject matter compels me to be painfully honest.

My periodic perceived superiority over “women like that” has kept me filled with pride, unable to get the catastrophic plank out of my own eye.  I spent my life drawing the line of demarcation between them and me.  This all changed one Monday morning in February as I sat stuck in rush hour traffic.

This article is featured at Gentlemenhood.  Click here to read the rest of this post.

 

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Kia Stephens

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June 28, 2015

Why You Shouldn’t Give Him A Piece of Your Mind

June 28, 2015 | By | 16 Comments

As a woman obsessed  with happy endings, I held onto a fantasy father I was never destined to have.  He was an imaginary mix of TV dads from the 80s I wanted to magically manifest into my earthly father. It was foolish to expect my dad to be someone else, but I did for much of our relationship.

After years of distance, I thought reconnecting with him would be like making instant tea: just add water and voila. If I call, write, and pursue, eventually we will have the father daughter relationship I’ve longed for.  I was wrong.

It took many years and some counseling to process my unrealistic expectations.  As a part of that process, I had to learn to distinguish between a lie and the truth.

Lie:  If my dad does not meet my expectations he does not love me.
Truth:  Placing expectations on how my dad should love me can lead to disappointment.  I must look to God to meet my need to be loved.   

“And my God will meet all of your needs according to his riches in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 4:19 (NIV)

A few years ago my expectations became the root cause of an emotional meltdown experienced after calling my dad when he couldn’t talk.  “I’ll call you back.” is what he said, but “I won’t call at all,” is what I heard.   I felt rejected.  I had been here before.

Rage and hurt birthed a child named insanity in a matter of minutes.   And without countering my emotions with truth, I uttered those infamous words.  “I’m going to give him a piece of my mind.”

“Are you sure this is what you want to do?”, a friend asked.  Her words should have been the red-flashing-lights I needed to press the breaks and re-evaluate my decision – but I charged ahead.  Irrate and overly delusional, I called my dad.  I said several words I wish I could take back.

“You did not call me yesterday because I checked my caller ID and there were no missed calls!”  “I did,” he calmly replied.  But my words dominated the conversation and left no room for his.  And I culminated my masterful soliloquy with a bold declaration, “ I will not be calling you anymore.”

Seriously, Kia?

In his strong thick accent, full of grace and humility, he responded,  “Ok, goodbye and I love you.”  We hung up the phone and I was smothered by silence.  “Wait, don’t go! I really didn’t mean it,”  I wanted to say – but didn’t.

And there I sat, miserable and crushed by the weight of the dial tone.  Then – by divine inspiration – I got the bright idea to check my voicemail messages.  There, sitting in my inbox was a missed call from my father the day before, “I called, but you weren’t there, I love you, dad”.

He had in fact called me the night before.  I had no grounds for using what seemed to be an appropriate use of the phrase “I’m going to give him a piece of my mind.”  The frustration unleashed on my dad was undeserved .

“Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.”

Proverbs 16:18 (NIV)

He could have responded in anger but he chose mercy.  Lovingly and with complete forgiveness my dad accepted the apology I gave  him – just minutes after I released the floodgates of unbridled emotions through his cell phone. “Oh, it’s okay, everyone gets upset. Just remember we are blood and I will always love you.” I was speechless.  (That’s saying a lot.) I gained a great deal of respect for my dad that day and  I laid my fantasy father to rest.

Why You Shouldn't Give Him a Piece of Your Mind Meme 3

These are the  tough lessons learned.

  1.  
  2.  Unrealistic expectations damage relationships.
  3. Always distinguish between a lie and the truth of God’s word.
  4. No matter what, honor thy father!

(Ask God what that looks like for your father daughter relationship.)

  1. Trust God to meet my needs.
  2. Apologize when I am wrong.
  3. Practice applying 1 Corinthians 13: 4 – 8.
Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. . .
  1. Be slow to speak.
  2. Check my visual voicemail messages and missed calls.
  3. Never use the phrase “I’m going to give him a piece of my mind” again.

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Kia Stephens

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February 15, 2015

7 Reasons Why a Sex Act Won’t Soothe a Love Ache: Part III

February 15, 2015 | By | 3 Comments

7 Reasons Why a Sex Act Won’t Soothe a Love Ache:  Part: I

7 Reasons Why a Sex Act Won’t Soothe a Love Ache:  Part: II

Like many, I learned about sex from friends, TV, movies, and Saturday night slow jams.  To say my perspective was skewed is an understatement.  I knew about the physical but it took me years to understand God’s original design for sex.

Reason 4:  Sex Was Not Intended To Soothe a Love Ache

The purpose for sex has never been a non-committal band aid for undealt with wounds. If this were true, it would require sex to become an entity unto itself, rather than a component of the much larger institution of marriage.  God’s aim for sex was to create something new: a union, a child, a family.  “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” Genesis 2:24 (NIV)

Why a Sex Act Won't Soothe A Love Ache Part III (1)

And though it seems like God’s intent is some irrelevant and archaic after thought, truth cannot be ignored.  Sex is not designed to mend the broken, end loneliness, or vindicate the victimized. Although, this can be a temptation whether single or married.

“I’ll hurt him the way he hurt me!”
“I don’t want to be alone.”
“Men do it all the time.”
“I just want to be loved.”

These activating thoughts originate with an ache and, if allowed, can lay the foundation for devastating behaviors. But attempting to soothe an ache with an act will only widen the wound.  If you are sensing you have an undealt with ache, masked by a sex act, I have a few suggestions.

Give God your wounds and yourself some time to heal.  Resist the temptation to anesthetize your ache with an act.  It won’t work; it was never designed to.

Reason 5:  Sex is Not Just Physical

We are triune beings consisting of a body, soul and a spirit.  When we have sex, the common misconception is that it is merely physical, but the truth is that with each sexual encounter our spirit and soul are intertwined as well.

If sex is just physical, memories, names, people, and scenarios, would not linger in our minds.  We would easily be able to move beyond the act; but we are not.  To use sex as healing balm for our wounded souls is to create further damage that can take a lifetime to repair.

I think that is what the apostle Paul was saying when he said, “Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body.” 1 Corinthians 6:18 (NIV).  He stood at the sexual gate of temptation and said, ‘Ruuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuun! Don’t do it!”  And it wasn’t because he was trying to confine us to a dull bland pleasureless life.

He was attempting to save us from a potential lifetime of regret.  He was aiding us in laying a foundation for a family.  He, like God, wanted us to build a relational infrastructure that was rooted in the love of God.

Love desires to give and not get, wait and not rush, and sacrifice rather than indulge.  

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Kia Stephens

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February 1, 2015

7 Reasons Why a Sex Act Won’t Soothe a Love Ache: Part I

February 1, 2015 | By | 16 Comments

“I’m not going to stop having sex,” a friend said confidently.  She, being a sexually active female with a don’t-challenge-me-on-this-issue-attitude.  And in that moment, I realized the much needed pedicure and estrogen connection had taken a detour we would not easily rebound from.

Our relationship had been birthed in confrontation. Honestly, I prefer to avoid difficult conversations like a bad stink, however, I tend to speak first, think later, and then deal with the consequences.  That is exactly what happened the day we became friends.

“Are you shacking?” I questioned about a year earlier.  To which she replied, “Yes,” and before I knew it,we began to engage in a discussion about her lifestyle choices. Surprisingly, the bridge between us wasn’t severed and a friendship was born.

So on the day of her what-you-gonna-do-about-it declaration it wasn’t like we had never talked about sex before. We both knew where the other stood on the issue.  She was simply daring me to step across the line towards combative communication.

I tried to respond gingerly but then she pulled out some surprise ammunition.  The basic tenor was that since I had not been sexually active prior to marriage I did not have grounds to speak.  My passion for purity did not resonate with her because it was not validated by a promiscuous past.

In the midst of thinking, “I know she didn’t just say that!,” I had a thought and I said it.  “Jesus didn’t have to have sex in order to speak to women who did,” I responded as an awkward silence followed.  Needless to say, there were no warm fuzzies when we said goodbye.  In fact, our parting gifts were battle scars from the heated verbal swap meet.  After that day I thought often about the words she said and the ones I didn’t.

I wish I had said it is not the act that qualifies me to speak but the ache – for I know it well.  The ache to be: loved, touched, held, affirmed, cherished, and valued.  I get it.  And though I did not cross the threshold of virginity prior to marriage, I had a string of regrets and bad decisions regarding male relationships, that stem (in part) from a longing I had for my father.  She had it too, but at that time she failed to make the connection between the act and the ache for her father’s affection.

So this series of blog posts is my best shoulda, woulda, coulda reply three years later.  I want you to know this response is not a harsh “thou shalt not fornicate” message with a pointed finger.  It is my attempt to counter (what I believe is) a potential root cause of unwanted pregnancies, STDs, a generation of fatherless men and women, and overwhelming heartache.  A sex act won’t soothe a love ache because:

  • Reason 1:  Multiple Sexual Partners is a Symptom Not a Cure
  • Reason 2:  Feelings Often Camouflage as Truth
  • Reason 3:  Sex is Not Love
  • Reason 4:  Sex Was Never Intended To Soothe A Love Ache
  • Reason 5:  Sex is Not Just Physical
  • Reason 6: Temporary Pleasure in the present Can Yield Negative Consequences in the Future
  • Reason 7: Premarital Sex Creates Barriers to Commitment

Reason 1:  Multiple Sexual Partners is a Symptom Not a Cure

In the March 2014 edition of Ebony Magazine, Annie Daly published an article about female sexual addiction.  The findings in this article were numbing.  Daly said,

“. . . the thrill that surrounds sex, not the act itself, which may not even be pleasurable, serves as a short-term fix that masks the bigger problem: an inability to connect, both with themselves and with others.”

The article went on to highlight African American women specifically because there are many absentee mothers and fathers and a lack of healthy relationship role models.

This is not always the case but for my friend it was true.  Her father had neglected and abandoned her and their relationship was severely damaged as a result.   Bill Gillham describes this behavior in his book Lifetime Guarantee.   

If overt affection from her dad is missing, she has a good chance of developing into an adult who has hang-ups about relating to males in a physical love relationship, either being sexually promiscuous or perhaps finding it difficult to relate easily to a husband, sons, or male friends.”

Again, I want to reiterate that this is not always the case but I have seen it played out in my own life.  Especially in my adolescent years.  I found myself in and out of relationships, often compromising who I was to gain (what I thought was) love from males who were incapable of giving it.  In an effort to break this detrimental cycle in my own life I had to begin to identify the lie backing my behavior.

  • I must be in a relationship to be satisfied, secure, significant and loved.

Embedded in this lie I found commonality with my friend.  The root cause of our actions was a desire to be loved.  Both of us had compromised physically to garner the love of a man; but it wasn’t love at all.  Love desires to give and not get, wait and not rush, and sacrifice rather than indulge.  Love looks, sounds, and feels like God.

His love alone is enough.

 Though it is sometimes difficult to grasp, God’s love can soothe our ache if we choose to continually abide in Him. When talking with the woman at the well, who had been married 5 times and in a relationship with a man who was not her husband, Jesus zeroed in on the ache in her soul.  He said,

“but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”  John 4: 14 (NIV)

 His words compel us to choose a love solution and not a sex fix to satisfy the ache in our soul.

Why a Sex Act Won't Soothe A Love Ache Quote

 

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