I still need healing

I was very much reminded today about how much I still need healing. The sermon series that my church is speaking on is about doing love and sex God’s way and today’s message was about how to have great sex (no, I’m not kidding, that was seriously the topic). So before the pastor began they had a special music solo—a love song. It was a great song but as I started listening to the words I just wanted it to hurry up and be over. The soloist was singing about what love is like—what it’s supposed to be like but wasn’t for me. The chorus said something about give your all to me and I will give my all to you. I’m grateful the lights were low so I wasn’t quite so noticeable as I dug out whatever tissue I could find from my purse. Just hurry up and finish this song I kept thinking, trying to shift my thoughts to any distraction I could find.

And then there was the sermon message. I guess I should’ve known, I should’ve expected that a message about great sex would be difficult for me to hear. The pastor did a good job and shared important principles, but it just made me sad. It reminded me of the hurt, it reminded of how far from that ideal my marriage had been, and it reminded me of how broken I still am. I think the principle that hit home most was how great sex is secure. It is safe—there is no judgment or condemnation—you can be completely vulnerable. That is certainly a big piece of the healing puzzle for me. I never truly felt secure in our sexual relationship.

In the past few weeks God has been giving me glimpses of how He is doing His work to heal me in this area. I have begun to realize how I never feel secure enough in my I still need healing - when sex hurts there is hoperelationships with men to be vulnerable. Obviously the true place for full vulnerability is in a marriage relationship, but even in friendships I have a difficulty being truly authentic in a way that opens me up to vulnerability. I am still afraid, perhaps because I am still putting too much emphasis on how others view me. But, maybe it’s just that I’ve been hurt—I’ve been made to feel less than desirable, like I’m not worth it—and that has made me afraid and left me broken.

Here is an excerpt from my prayer journal earlier this month which describes this need for healing in more detail… Continue reading

Clouds make life more beautiful

Have you noticed that we often use the analogy of weather to describe our lives? We talk about rainy days, weathering storms, and the sun shining down on us. Most often we describe clear skies as the best weather to have in our lives, wishing to avoid the clouds altogether. After weathering some storms in my own life, and living with some clouds that won’t seem to go away, I have come to realize that the clouds actually make life more beautiful.

clouds make life more beautiful - when sex hurts there is hope

Think about a sunrise or a sunset that you may have seen recently. Have you ever noticed that clouds are what make a sunset so much more beautiful? The sun setting on a clear horizon is nothing compared to when the streaks of clouds transform its light into so many beautiful shades. I don’t think I have ever taken a picture of a sunset in a cloudless sky. Yet I have gone to great lengths to capture images of sunsets made beautiful by the array of colors reflecting off of all kinds of cloud formations. Even the first image you see on this website is that of a disappearing sun in a cloud-filled sky.

You could describe this analogy of a sunset in a lot of different ways. The sun might represent the source of light and life, or perhaps your soul or source of being. And if the sky is the canvas of your life story, don’t we need some clouds in there to better reflect the light? As much as we hate to encounter those clouds—trials and painful experiences—isn’t it precisely those difficulties which reveal the truer colors of ourselves, developing who we are as individuals? Continue reading

A year of gratitude

a year of gratitude - when sex hurts there is hopeI should probably begin by explaining what 2014 was for me. When everyone was preparing to ring in the New Year at the end of 2013, I was reflecting on all that had happened and what a shift in my life had occurred in just one short year. I think the 13 in 2013 was rather appropriate considering it held some of the worst moments of my life. And with the end of my marriage also came an end to my life’s plans and expectations as I had once held them. No more did I see a future centered around a marriage and kids. So what did I now see? Instead of making a list of resolutions for the New Year I knelt down beside my bed at the stroke of midnight and prayed that 2014 would be a year full of new beginnings.

1 John 5:14 says “…if we ask anything in His name He hears us.” Well God certainly heard me and filled my year with a multitude of new beginnings. Continue reading

Being comfortable with your doctor

I have learned just how important it is to be comfortable with your doctor. I think we all want to have a doctor that we are comfortable with, but we often don’t put it high enough on our requirements list. We focus on their knowledge and experience, maybe the convenience of their office location and whether or not they accept our health insurance. While all of those are important considerations, I believe that being able to connect personally with your doctor is just as important. I’m not saying you need to be best friends or go out for coffee after your appointment. What I am saying is your doctor needs to listen to you, and you need to feel heard when you speak to him or her. Your doctor needs to be able to empathize with you and not discount your feelings or jump to a diagnosis without fully exploring your experiences. Your doctor should never make you feel stupid, ashamed, or uncomfortable in any way.

comfortable with your doctor - when sex hurts there is hopeBeing comfortable with your doctor is especially important when dealing with something as personal as sexual pain. I may be worse than most, but I think all of us have some degree of discomfort in discussing intimate topics. We keep them guarded and typically discuss only with those we trust—that is precisely why they are called intimate! Thus you need to feel comfortable to be able to explain all of the details of your pain, including exactly where it hurts and when Continue reading

All things, even the bad things

We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 (NRSV)

We have all heard it, we’ve probably all said it (I know I have)—everything happens for a reason. And while I do believe that many things in our lives happen for a reason, this statement in its entirety is not actually true. Bad things happen, sometimes for no reason at all. I suffer from pelvic pain and painful sex, and I am still healing from the emotional devastation of a divorce, but it doesn’t mean there was a reason that these bad things happened to me.

all things work together for good - when sex hurts there is hope

Everything may not happen for a reason, but God does make all things work together for good. Even the bad things.

Pelvic and sexual pain definitely fall into my “bad things” category. Living with any type of pain, especially chronic pain, can be debilitating. But pelvic pain has the ability to go beyond any other kind in its effects on your life. It is a pain that you hide, that others can’t understand. The emotional pain goes deep and the psychological damage is not easily repaired. Painful sex not only causes broken relationships, but broken individuals—broken to the core of who we are. I have been broken, I have felt the pain of hopelessness and emptiness. In all honesty it was the emotional pain that came at the end of my marriage—loaded down with years of carrying the burden of my sexual pain—that hurt the worst. Continue reading

God at the center

God at the center - when sex hurts there is hope

I truly believe that the number one factor in a successful marriage is keeping God at the center of it. I have met some amazing couples who have been through their share of life’s struggles and yet have the strongest connection to each other, a passionate love that you can see in every interaction. And they will tell you how it hasn’t always been easy, how they never could have done it on their own. They will tell you of times that they wanted to give up and times that it was just too difficult for them. Then they will tell you how God at the center is what made all the difference, giving them the courage and strength they needed to overcome. Continue reading

Share your struggles (part 2)

I described in an earlier post about how important it is to share your struggles. I made the mistake of not sharing my struggles at the beginning of my pain journey and instead kept the physical and emotional brokenness inside. This resulted in me carrying a weight that was too much to bear, and left me disconnected from those around me. Fortunately, I learned from this mistake by the time I was faced with something even bigger than painful sex. I was able to share my struggles with friends and family who supported me through the most difficult time in my life.share your struggles - when sex hurts there is hope

When my marriage started crumbling around me I made a decision to reach out in honesty and authenticity to those closest to me. I didn’t hold anything back—I didn’t try to hide the full extent of the pain or downplay the effects it was having on me. I was blessed to have people who cared enough about me to listen and share in my suffering. Continue reading