"Jerri, can I ask you something? How 'bad' is it when the only thing stopping me from giving in to similar temptations is the fear of someone else finding out? There's such a long, complicated story behind the temptation, but it's there nonetheless. Am I just plain rebellious or does it count that it's coming from a place of hurt and abandonment?" --question posted in response to "Tempting, Very Tempting Indeed"
That is a fabulous question!
In fact, I have asked myself that question...what feels like a few million times. I wish I had an answer for you...for us...but I don't...but, maybe I do.
I would love to tell you I was motivated to decline the invite for righteous, holy, and humble reasons, but I think today I shall refrain from adding to my hypocrisy resume and just tell you the truth.
The truth is I was afraid of getting caught and the HUGE ramifications of that.
I was afraid of my children finding out.
I was afraid of pissing God off.
I was afraid of the spiritual consequences.
I was afraid of the damage to my reputation as a Christian writer if anyone found out.
I was afraid of the effects on the promises God has made me (ie., "Jerri, you're too much of a failure for the stuff I promised, and my offer is now null and void.")
All of those things were elements that played into my final decision, but none of them was the deciding factor.
The real reason I didn't go away with him was because I didn't want to hate myself when it was over, and I would have.
I wasn't as worried about facing God as I was facing the mirror.
Since Rob left, it has been a huge struggle to overcome the feelings of rejection and all the stuff that goes with that. As you said "hurt and abandonment." I'm so familiar with those feelings.
Then there is this man who is handsome and funny and...inviting me to be with him. I wasn't delusional. He wasn't asking for forever or even coffee next week. I saw it for what it was, but still, it felt good to be attractive and desirable...even for a few days.
However, we were not in the same place mentally or emotionally. For him, it really was nothing more than a fun romp. I totally understood that. Could I actually do that? I know the right answer is, "No, I could never do that because it is a sin, and I would run the other direction." Sorry to disappoint. The truth is yeah. I'm an adult woman with a sex drive, and as such, yes, I think I could have a nameless weekend fling. However, that wasn't what I wanted.
What I wanted was to be wanted...really wanted...for me.
This was not going to be that, and I am all too familiar with the feeling of simply being "convenient" and how cheap that feels. I didn't want to be just convenient or cheap.
I didn't want to feel like I meant nothing. I didn't want to reinforce the feelings of rejection or agandonment. I didn't want to know I had failed in my spiritual convictions. I didn't want...to lie in bed with memories of how I had embraced a lie just because it felt good at that moment.
I didn't want to hate myself . And I would have hated myself.
My real motivation for saying no wasn't God. My motivation was not wanting to look in the mirror and being disgusted by what I saw.
Is it bad that my motivation wasn't "because God says so"? If I am a real Christian with real devotion to God, why did I even entertain conversation that could lead to the invitation? Obviously this was not a spur of the moment thing, so why did I allow myself to wander in this inappropriate thought life and relationship? Why was I ever tempted? Was it rebellion? I knew the right thing, but I didn't choose it. For a long time, I chose what felt good at the moment. Does that make me a hardhearted sinner...or incredibly human?
The black and white religious me says (in a low military bark), "It's horrible! Your motivation for holiness should be fear of God, humility before Him, and deep gratitude for the sacrifices He made for you! Anything less is a pathetic representation of supposed Christianity, and you need to search your heart and get right before He gets tired of your lukewarm commitment!"
Trust me. I know that is what it says because I hear it scream at me daily.
BUT when I asked God about it, I felt like He said, "I look at the heart."
When I asked what kind of heart does what she knows is wrong anyway, He reminded me of my drinking problem and addiction to prescription pills.
When I was seventeen, I was raped. I "coped" with alcohol and pills. I knew the alcohol was wrong, and I knew the pills and lying to get them were wrong, BUT I really liked feeling better. When I did put those things down, God started healing me, and after awhile, I didn't want those things because I didn't need them to feel better.
When my dad died, I couldn't sleep. Insomnia is a common thing with grief, and I went to my doctor to ask what to do. She suggested a beer or glass of wine before bed, and I nearly hyperventilated. When I told her I thought that was a bad idea because of my past addictions, she said, "I don't think there is a problem. The reasons you drank then are settled, and you're not an alcoholic. You'll be fine."
In a huge step of faith, I trusted her wisdom, and she was right. I didn't crawl back in a bottle. Last fall I had a few drinking times, but I haven't even felt the desire since Rob died. I'm not an alcoholic. I was just a hurting person who wanted to feel better.
Is that what I am now? Am I a rebellious sinner that looks good on the internet, or am I hurting person who wants the pain to stop...even for a little while? Does God know the difference, and if so, does it matter to Him?
I don't know.
I know I confessed to God from the time Rob left that I knew I was vulnerable and could make stupid choices, and I asked Him to protect me. He has been faithful to do that. I know this is not the first invitation I've received, and I said no then, too. I know I'm not sorry I didn't go.
I also know whatever this is, this is not where God wants me to stay.
Oh, temptation will be there. I'm a human being, and temptation is just part of the reality. Annoying fact, but true. However, I don't have to be an easy target. Instead of saying, I am tempted to do this because of the feelings of rejection and abandonment, I'm asking God to address those feelings and heal the wounds that causes them. God doesn't want me to be wounded. Jesus said it's not the healthy that needs a doctor but the sick. Well, my sick heart needs a Doctor. I can hold on to being sick as an excuse from now on, but that only becomes my prison. I don't want to be in prison. Jesus came to set the captives free. I want to be free, and I ask Him for that.
Jesus never called me "just convenient", and if He is willing to die for me, He doesn't consider me "cheap". Why would I believe a mere human who says those things about me?
Is saying no for "the wrong reason" or not saying no for "the right reason" rebellion? My motivation for being healed isn't all about God or His glory either. My motivation is a lot about my wanting to feel better. Is that rebellion...or is that incredibly human?
I don't know.
However, I do know God has offered me healing for the things that make me an easy target, and it is rebellion to refuse that healing. It is rebellion to refuse His grace because of my pride.
As for everything else, as a parent, if my children are offered drugs, I hope they say no. I don't care why they say no as long as they do. God is the perfect Dad. Maybe He thinks the same way. And maybe He thinks if I just let Him heal me, all of this will be moot anyway.
Praying for your healing...for your peace...for you to be the woman of God you want to be...