I’ve been struggling lately… and at first I thought I was only having a tough time with the general idea that my birthday is coming soon. For the first time in my life, I am not excited to celebrate it. You see, I will turn 26 in less than a week and I feel like I have nothing to show for myself. In fact disappointed doesn’t begin to cover it, I’ve just been angry – mostly with God. Everyone around me continues to receive blessings, they’re getting engaged or married, and are having babies; meanwhile I listened to the tiny tug on my heart, left my F/T job to enroll in college full time and moved into a dorm. Yes, moved into an all girls dormitory at age 25. Talk about feelings of regression.
So here I am obeying God and walking the path of life He has called me to and while I am pleased to please God, I’m feeling unsatisfied, unhappy, unfulfilled. Now these feelings have been nothing new for me. My close friends would most likely tell you that I complain often about not having a husband… but recently I realized my pain goes deeper than that. “God have you forgotten about me forever? I desire to have a husband.”
I can distinctly remember being in high school ten years ago at the age of 15 and planning out how my life would look when I turned 25 and 26. How I would be married to this great guy and have 3 or 4 kids. What we would name them and where we would live. And as I’m about to be 26, I’m no closer to seeing that particular dream come into fruition.
When God pursued me for His kingdom 3 years ago, I was thrilled and excited to tread along His path. I thought to myself, God HAS to give me the things I want now that I’m doing things His way. I thought for sure that this year was the year! I was finally mature and ready for that man, whoever he is, to be brought into my life. I’ve dealt with all my stuff right? So, as my birthday creeps in closer and “he” is nowhere in sight I find myself shouting to heaven, “Whoa whoa God, what about all those dreams and plans and desires I have for my life? I’m for sure ready for a husband now. Isn’t he coming soon? When are You going to bring him to me?”
Then God spoke such humbling words. “Laura,” he said. “Your real struggle isn’t with failed dreams, because I never forgot your dreams. I love you and I have someone special for you. But you are struggling with LUST for a husband not desire and you are pretending you are ready for something I clearly have more to teach you about.”
I know what you are thinking, how can I go from simply desiring a husband all the way to lusting after one? For me, I guess I just didn’t realize the very thing I craved after could so easily become a sin. All the things that I was doing, thinking, imagining even… were considered lust. And I’m writing this because I believe more women, single women (maybe married women also, but I‘m not married so I don‘t know), struggle with this sin than care to admit it.
Do not lust in your heart after her beauty or let her captivate you with her eyes. -Proverbs 6:25
I know the previous verse is speaking about a man looking at a prostitute, but I believe it can have some meaning here for women also. If you were to hang around with me long enough you might have noticed a trend. I was always the first person to spot the “good looking” guy in the room or the man without the wedding band or even (unfortunately) the man who might happen to BE married with the excuse that I was only looking and boy is his wife lucky. As I took an inventory of my “swooning and obsession” habits throughout the course of the last year, I came to notice a rather unhealthy pattern that I had adopted and I want to share just a few short examples of my lusts in action.
As recently as July, a few teens from my youth group ‘sort of’ introduced me to their older brother who is my own age. He was a very nice and highly attractive man in my opinion. While I saw him frequently due to seeing them, he and I did not have dialogs. However, in my mind I began to grow the situation out of proportion. I spent hours sitting around my house reliving and fantasizing about the tiny moments where he might have gazed in my direction or smiled at me. I had erotic dreams about him and even imagined detailed scenarios that probably never would or never could happen between us. I briefly prayed to the Lord for the attraction to be removed if it was not from God, but quickly continued in my fleshly pining. The following weeks were pure agony for me as I continued to engage in the yearnings I felt toward this guy. Ultimately, I was sinning but didn’t know it.
“It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control you own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister.” 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5
Okay so you might be screaming at the computer screen right now, something along the lines of “Laura, how could you not know what you were doing was a sin?!” But truthfully, I didn’t. I thought it was natural to desire a husband and think about men. Call me foolish, considering I know that men lust and it is a sin. I figured because I was able to move on and the feelings went away that no harm was done. I had no control over my own thoughts and desires to the point of causing myself grief. I wanted so badly for him to be the one, that I forgot what is honorable and pleasing in God’s sight.
As the fall semester started and I walked onto a campus of attractive godly men and professors, I immediately began a perusal of the available possibilities. There were so many to choose from, I wondered if this year would be my year. I walked into my 9:30am Intro to Philosophy class and the first thing I noticed was my extremely attractive professor. In fact, I joked with my friends that even though I don’t consider myself ‘a morning person’, he was totally worth waking up for. He was so witty and funny, how could you not be smitten with him? He couldn’t be more than just a few years older than me. Yet on several occasions, my friends rebuked my talk saying, “Laura come on! The man is married. He has 3 kids for goodness sake.” I shrugged them off because I wasn’t doing anything wrong; it was just fun to think about.
“As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do – living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry.” 1 Peter 4:2-3
Here Peter is saying if you are a new creation in Christ, you need to show it in how you live for Him. Put away the evil human desires and choose God’s will. You had plenty of time before you were saved to mess around with the sins of the unsaved, now it’s time to live a righteous life. The ironic thing is that a few weeks ago, had you asked me, I would have proudly proclaimed that I was living a righteous life.
The culmination of these events took place due to a guy in one of my classes. He’s a rather tall, good looking, baseball player guy with an accent. I would blush each time he looked my way and get excited that he whispered to me while the professor was giving a lecture. Soon these seemingly innocent moments turned into something ugly inside of me. He started to consume my every thought and the anticipation of the next time I would bump into him around campus made my heart race. I began to imagine inappropriate scenes of us together and the casual encounters we might have behind the soda machines. I even dreamt about him. I struggled with the desire to be the pursuer, as I had been in all of my past relationships, thinking that if I made the move first the situation between us would change. At this point, if anyone could have see the shameful deeds inside my mind and how I allowed them to play out like a movie, I’d probably hide my face in shame.
Yet conviction was slowing creeping in my direction. An excerpt from my personal journal on September 22 says this: “My attention has been focused way too much on the new guys attending school here instead of on You. This became apparent when I couldn’t even worship with them standing in front of me; I only looked at them & felt distracted.”
Ephesians 5:8-11 says “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.”
I decided that I needed to know that I wasn’t the only one struggling with this problem. I quietly asked my friends the embarrassing question and our conversation went something like this: “Hey, do you ever look at a guy and then imagine things that might possibly happen with him?” And they looked at me with blank stares for a moment until my friend I’ll call her Amy replied, “You mean like the two of you getting married? I’ve done that, see a guy and immediately picture us at the altar together.” My other friend, who I’ll call Sara said, “No, I don’t imagine us at the altar, but I’ll imagine us maybe dating or something.” I then proceeded to say, “No, no what I meant was imagine other things, you know like sexual things…” Again, silence at the table.
Ladies, we need to fess up if we are struggling. Being single into our late twenties is becoming increasingly more difficult when the secular world tells us it’s okay embrace, yet the Christian world says hurry up and get married. There is nothing wrong with wanting a husband, but there is something wrong with lusting after every man you see.
It might sound cliché to say this, but God hasn’t forgotten about your dreams and desires, just like I know he hasn’t forgotten mine. He wants to give you everything and more. We just need to make sure our desires are aligned with God’s desires. I learned this past week while I was mourning the loss of my own plans for my life and crying over who knows how many more years of singleness I have, and repenting sins I didn’t even realize I was committing, that I will be better in the end because of this. God is preparing the path before me.
If you are struggling with lust please seek out God and repent and maybe find someone trust worthy to keep you accountable. Sometimes when we are in sin we tend to immediately want to run from God, but He is merciful and loving and wants to set you back on track. I know I have a rough road ahead of me, but I will now take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ.