16 May Power and Promotion
When I started coming to Grace Church a few years ago, I had no idea what the Lord had in store for me and the lessons He would teach me. One of the most incredible blessings was the opportunity to work through the Redeeming Sexuality study with the amazing group of women I served alongside at Cultor House.
I had no idea when I started that study that the Lord would rock me with some pretty huge truths and help me work through deep shame I didn’t know was there.
I realized for the first time that as a woman created in the image of an all-powerful God, I have power. The book reads, “Feminine sexuality is powerful. It has the potential to bring life and strength to others; it also has the power to manipulate, control, and destroy. Therefore, it is important that we gain an awareness of who we are as sexual beings and that we learn how to steward our sexuality in a way that honors God and serves others in love” (p. 20). Our femininity should not be repressed, but instead appropriately expressed.
All of my life, I have struggled with my self-image. I have always had a few things I was confident in—mainly academics and music—and I have doubted myself in other aspects of my life. Especially with appearance. I never thought I was a fit for what the culture would call “beautiful.” I was a dreadfully unathletic, chubby kid with a gap-toothed smile. When that was confirmed by voices that seemed to matter, and guys didn’t pay me much attention, I found ways to hide. The ways I hid over time changed from being shy and quiet to being funny and using humor as a shield, but regardless of the ways I hid, I was hiding.
“I realized for the first time that as a woman created in the image of an all-powerful God, I have power.”
When I got to college, things began to change. Someone liked me, and I liked him, and that meant that I got to know what it felt like to be someone’s girlfriend. I liked the way it made me feel to make someone happy. Knowing the things he wanted to do and taking interest in his interests made me feel better about myself. I still didn’t have the best self-image, but he loved me, and that made me like myself a little bit more. My identity rested solely in his opinion of me. As a result, I began using my femininity and my sexuality to serve myself and affirm that identity.
If I wore certain clothes, if I spoke in specific ways, if I acted in specific ways, I could make him give me what I wanted. I could get affirmation that I craved. I could manipulate him. I was completely irresponsible in the ways I stewarded (or failed to steward) my sexuality because I used power to take me from a place of hiding and self-protection to a place where I was only promoting myself.
The Lord has brought tremendous healing in this area for me. I have repented, and He has been so kind and generous to release me from the prison of shame that was incarcerating me for so long. But the challenge of stewarding my sexuality in such a way that people are blessed is ongoing, and it is a hard battle to fight. It is, however, a necessary battle because “… the way a woman wields her power has communal implications. While the areas of sex and sexuality—how you carry yourself, how you dress, how you engage someone else—may be personal, they are in no way a private matter. Everything we do impacts the world around us” (Redeeming Sexuality, 90).
“I was completely irresponsible in the ways I stewarded (or failed to steward) my sexuality because I used power to take me from a place of hiding and self-protection to a place where I was only promoting myself.”
While this is what the Scriptures teach us (1 Peter 3:3-4, Galatians 5:13), it is not what the world teaches us. Our culture and our world are always pushing us to do whatever we want with our sexuality and to use it as a tool to self-promote or to get what we want. Even some well-meaning friends might encourage us to act in a way that is contrary to God’s desires for us to win over a man’s attention and affection. We are encouraged to manipulate or seduce men to get what we want when we want it.
The struggle I face now is denying these temptations but from the right posture of my heart. The problem is that I see positive and healthy ways I could probably attract the attention of men I’m attracted to, but I don’t act on those ways because I am proud, not because I’m trying to follow Jesus.
“Jesus lays down His rights to Himself, so that as members of His kingdom, we might prosper and flourish and find life” (Redeeming Sexuality, 96). Part of taking up our cross and following Jesus is saying “no” to the things we want for ourselves (Luke 9:23; Matthew 10:39). When choosing Jesus, when choosing to follow Him, denying yourself is the main idea.
So, yes, sisters, you have strength, and you have power, whether you believe you do or not. The choice we must make is whether or not we will use our strength and ability to serve ourselves or if we will steward it in a way that blesses others and honors Jesus.
Hannah loves going for a drive, being by the water, and learning about anything at all. Getting a new stamp in her passport is her favorite feeling and she loves to sit on the porch on warm summer nights. She loves to make people laugh and cook them some supper. Hannah attends our Powdersville campus.