We walk different paths on the way to and from sexual gate-keeping and refusing. While I’ve shared much of my own story here, my story is only one way this journey might look.
Today is the first of three posts from Janna Allen (a pseudonym) in which she opens her life to us to share how the journey has looked in her life. I am thrilled to be able to share Janna’s story with you.
In this post, Janna introduces us to both her journey away from refusal and to her marriage. We see two beginnings here—the beginning of her time as a wife who no longer refuses and the beginning of her marriage. In the second post, she tells us about the dark years of gate-keeping and refusing in her marriage. In her final post, she shows us how much has changed—in her and in her marriage—in the past year.
I know you will be inspired by her testimony.
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“Never make a principle out of your experience,
let God be as original with other people as he is with you.”
– Oswald Chambers (My Utmost for His Highest)
I ran across these words in the past couple of months and I have to remind myself of them. I realize that I really don’t know much, and as much as I am a “rules” girl, and I would love to make “principles” and come up with a formula that I could share with anyone and a change would be guaranteed; I can’t. All I can share is what God did in my life and give Him praise for all that glorifies Him. May He personally speak to you as you read my story.
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If I were to describe this past year with one word it would be “change.” I would have never imagined (and I KNOW my husband, Jay, definitely never imagined) what drastic changes were in store for us. Just over a year ago, in April 2013, God orchestrated, in His perfect timing, for me to see just the right link, to just the right blog, to just the right posts so that the Spirit would convict me of the sin I had been doing for years but was unaware of.
The Forgiven Wife was just three weeks old when I saw the link to one of her posts via The Generous Wife. Because of her short time blogging it was very easy to catch up on all that she had posted so far. When I was asked to share here, I went back to see if I could pin-point which post “changed” me. I realized that there were several posts in those first few weeks that would have played into the Spirit speaking to me: Crawling Out of the Pit, Sin and Sacrifice, Just One Step, What If It Really Is Me?, Do You Say No?, and Beyond Redemption.
“Gate-keeper” and “refuser” were terms I had never heard in reference to a marriage or in the bedroom. Though I had never heard those terms, when I read about what it was, I knew it was me! I have referred to my experience like Apostle Paul and his Damascus experience. There was no doubt that the Spirit was revealing my sin to me and scales fell off of my eyes. I don’t remember the exact timeline of it all, but I know I decided immediately that I would no longer say “no” to my husband. I apologized to him soon after for my refusing him throughout our marriage and asked his forgiveness.
I did not tell him about my decision to not say “no” because I didn’t want pressure and I think I had some doubt in my mind if I could really follow through with this decision. Since I had that doubt, yet knew I needed to change, I decided to email my friend and accountability partner who happened to be very sex-positive. I let her know of my decision so that she could help keep me accountable. I do believe it was within a couple of weeks that I finally shared it all, about what I read on the blog and my decision to say “yes”, with my husband. That was the beginning of a change… our change.
My marriage has changed, my husband has changed and by far I have changed way beyond the bedroom. There are still changes to be made, lessons to be learned, and a journey ahead. When I decided not to say “no” any longer and say “yes,” I knew there would be some obvious changes, like more sex—but there were some unexpected changes that I never even imagined.
I just want to give a little background to how we started out and what things were like. There is no way to go into a whole lot of detail, but I hope to give enough of a picture that you can see a drastic change in our marriage.
Jay and I both grew up in what we considered Christian homes, even though both of our fathers were NOT spiritual leaders and we even question if they were even really Christians through much of our childhoods. His father went to church to make his mom happy, and my father would go to church on the rare occasions he wasn’t working. Both of our mothers were the strong, committed Christians, and were therefore the spiritual leaders in the homes. The difference between his parents and mine were his dad was very passive and his mother was outgoing and the controller of the family. With my parents, my mother was very passive and “submitted” in all things and I considered my father a domineering controller.
Jay and I met at a Christian college. I went to college figuring I would meet my future husband, and because it was a Christian college I figured it would be someone who had plans to go into the ministry. From the time we met to the time we got married was one year. We were young when we married, I being 19 and he being 20.
We both loved Jesus! We had both committed our lives to Christ and we were willing to do whatever he called us to do or go where he wanted us to go. Yet, the sin still so apparent in both of us is staggering to look back on and think about. It can take me to my knees in humility of how unworthy we are to be used by Him and called His children and in gratefulness and praise for His mercy and grace. The closer we get to the Light, the more apparent the darkness is. I praise Him for His redemptive plan that is a process in each of us. Really, we were both children of God who needed refined, and through the Refiner’s Fire, God has used the sin in my husband to bring out the sin in me so that it could and can be dealt with, and vice versa, and all of this so that we can be conformed into the image of Christ.
How could we, both from homes where our parents were still married, being young, trying to love Jesus, and trying to love each other, end up so far away from what marriage should be?
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Who is Janna? “We will be celebrating our 20th anniversary at the end of summer. I love being a mother and we are raising our kids to love Jesus and love others, and hopefully they now have a model of what a Godly marriage is like as they witness what a man and woman look like when they are in love! We have devoted our lives to sharing the transforming and redeeming love of Jesus Christ to the broken lives (which is everyone) around us.”
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net