A meme has been going around Facebook that has stuck in my mind:
“Whenever you feel overwhelmed, remember whose daughter you are and straighten your crown.”*
We, my friends, are daughters of the King. He created us to experience pleasure. He created us to experience joy. He created us to experience connection and unity with our husbands through sexual intimacy.
Yet sometimes we believe that we won’t—or can’t—ever enjoy sex with our husbands.
This belief does not grow from healthy soil. It grows out of negative views of sex, feelings that we are inadequate or undeserving, or from difficult or traumatic experiences.
Our sexuality gets so tangled up in other aspects of our life and our identity. For many of us, working through our feelings about sex requires us to work through painful memories. We may think that if it were only about sex, we could do it—but we know that sex isn’t only about sex. We know that the real problem is something deeper and more difficult, whether it is difficult memories, negative teaching, or deep insecurities.
It is hard to believe that there might be another way to feel, another way to view sex.
It is hard to know that something else might be possible.
The prospect of working on sex—and dealing with our deeper struggles—may be overwhelming. It was for me, anyway.
I spent many years convinced that I would never enjoy sex with my husband. I was terrified of doing the deeper work for fear I would learn that I was even more screwed up than I already believed.
It was easier to avoid sex, I would tell myself, than to deal with the deeper stuff.
My avoidance habits were exhausting, guilt-inducing, and downright confusing. But they also were predictable. I had some control over my life and emotions. Avoiding sex and dealing with an unhappy husband were hard, but they weren’t as hard as working on sex surely would be.
Like some of you, I preferred to face the struggles I knew (a husband who complained about the lack of sex) than to invite the struggles I didn’t know.
It is easy to forget whose daughter we are. It is easy to forget that God’s presence means that we don’t have to face any of this alone.
When we choose the known struggles, we are losing out on much of the gift God has designed us to enjoy.
When we believe that we won’t, or can’t, ever enjoy sex, we are giving up on so much.
I could point out that it is giving up on our marriages or on our husbands, and those things would be true.
But here is another truth I want you to place in your heart:
When we choose not to deal with the unknown pain,
we are giving up on ourselves.
God has designed us—body, heart, and mind—to enjoy sexual intimacy in our marriages. And when we choose not to pursue that, we miss out on so much that God has given to us.
Oh, my friend, please don’t give up on yourself. Please remember whose daughter you are.
I’ve often said that working on sex was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, largely because it ended up not being only about sex, but about the deeper issues.
In working on sex, I discovered unpleasant things about myself. I came face-to-face with my selfishness, my fear-based decision-making, my pride issues, and my inner control freak. I learned that I had blocked off my sexuality, viewing it as somehow separate from me.
I learned a lot that has nothing to do with my marriage or even, really, about sex.
I dug into feelings and thoughts that unveiled my innermost wounds.
My efforts exposed difficult memories—the kind that left me sobbing in a heap on the floor, barely able to groan, “Oh, God, please” in prayer. I confronted vague memories that had shaped the core of my identity. I had to forgive people who will never ask for my forgiveness. I had to repent and forgive myself.
Working on sex wasn’t really working on sex. It was working on me at the deepest levels of my heart.
I understand how frightening that sounds. I really do.
But don’t give up on pursuing sexual intimacy. Don’t give up on yourself.
Keep your eyes on the horizon. Look at what is on the other side of all the effort.
As I was doing all this work that started off as being about sex but ended up being about so much more, an amazing thing happened:
I began to heal.
Every time I re-experienced a difficult memory, I also experienced God’s presence as a soothing and healing balm on my heart. When I finished grappling with a difficult truth about myself, I emerged as a more beautiful version of me. I grew in contentment and joy—and the further I went, the easier it got to do the work.
I began to claim my place as God’s beloved daughter.
The sexuality that I had kept shut away, separate from myself, began to weave itself throughout my life and my marriage just as God had intended.
For the first time in my life I started to feel whole.
If you have put off working on sex because it will involve digging into real, deeper problems, hold close onto these truths:
You are a bearer of God’s image, and He will be with you.
You are worthy of the wholeness that comes from healing.
Remember whose daughter you are and straighten your crown.
You are God’s daughter, just as I am, my sister.
You, too, are worthy of all the gifts God has created you to enjoy.
*Please, if you know who should get credit for that quotation/meme, let me know!