Course in Miracles: happiness lies within

I mentioned in a previous post that I’m doing A Course in Miracles online and the principle I’m working on now is based around the fact that nothing outside yourself can make you happy. Our ego wants us to believe that if only this would change or that person would do this or it would stop raining or whatever, that we would be happy. Anyone who’s chased a goal and then felt deflated when they achieved it (as I have over and over), or felt like a new boyfriend would make them feel better until he didn’t, or depended on any external circumstance to determine their happiness, has been sorely misled.

The only chance for happiness is in ourselves, our surrender to God’s will for us, and our acceptance that everything is exactly as it should be. We don’t need to do anything to be happy. That doesn’t mean we sit around and meditate all day; it does mean we quit feeling as though things around us have to be different than they are right now in order for us to be happy.

I’ve begun a practice of radical gratitude. Every time I turn on the tap I am grateful for the water that comes out. I am grateful for the clouds in the sky whenever I look up. I am grateful that I can walk safely down my street without the threat of violence. I am grateful for this breath. And that one, too. How arrogant of me to wish I had anything other than what I have right now! Who do I think I am? Do I know better than God what is good for me?

My guinea pig eats more fresh fruits and vegetables than many children around the world. I’m not just grateful; I’m filthy stinking rich and it’s kind of disgusting that I ever thought otherwise. But I have, and I probably will again, and it’s got more to do with comparing myself to all the materially rich people around me than it does with any reality.

Dealing with sexual assault

sex, marriage, relationship, intimacy, boyfriend

I finally decided to deal with a sexual assualt that happened to me when I was in high school. I had never acknowledged the event even to the perpetrator (my boyfriend at the time) and did my best to minimize the event.  I told myself it was no big deal and I couldn’t muster up any feelings around it, especially not anger toward the rapist.

Coincidentally, I was talking to a woman who had been abused by a trusted family friend and she told me that minimizing the event is common among victims of sexual abuse. We will see another’s abuse as hugely important but give our own no value at all. She also said it doesn’t matter what form the abuse takes, it is all equally devastating to the victim.

What I discovered in doing some counseling around the event is that I didn’t actually blame the guy for what he did to me: I thought I deserved it. The event has affected me more deeply than I ever imagined and has had a huge impact on my self-esteem. I believed that I couldn’t possibly be worthy or else that would never have happened to me. I felt dirty and ashamed which were feelings I carried around with me my whole adult life but never acknowledged.

The rape also contributed to my fear of men and my often not being able to discern whether I was attracted to a man or scared of him. Both feelings seemed to occupy the same space in my mind. For my friend, her experience resulted in her denying her sexuality and for me it showed up in my using sex to gain power over men. My friend waited until she was married before she had sex – because of her faith but also, she confesses, because of her fear.

The realization of how one act of sexual violation can ruin a woman in almost every aspect of her life gives me more evidence that we should be waiting until we are in the safety of a marriage before we engage in sex. How many women do I know who have had sex forced on them or even given it up less than willingly? Who can count the devastating effects that we deny as we attempt to get on with our lives?

The woman above has now been married for several years and recently got through a very rough patch in her partnership and came out stronger on the other side as they dealt with their problems head on. She asked me what I want in a future partner and used her own example that she knew her future husband had to have faith in God. I was thinking about all kinds of qualities that didn’t really matter until finally it occurred to me as I fell asleep that night: “I want a man who treats me nicely.” I’m not sure I’ve ever had a partner who treated me as a person of value, because I didn’t value myself.

God and the clouds in the sky

It’s amazing how waiting until marriage for sex has become counter-culture. Not so long ago, premarital sex was frowned upon: remember those stories about young women who got pregnant “out of wedlock” and were sent away to have the baby because their parents would have suffered so much public shaming had they stayed? Obviously, we don’t want to go back to those days, but how did we go so far the other way? Does it have anything to do with God becoming a bad word?

I was taking in the perfect white fluffy clouds against the clear blue sky today and thinking how magnificent they looked. I wondered how anyone who witnessed such a sight could believe there’s no God. Who else could have created that beauty? Isn’t the contrast between God-made beauty (sky, trees, animals) and man-made “beauty” (buildings, houses, roads) evidence enough? I just wonder why the world is moving away from God and why it believes there is freedom in not believing in anything. Atheists cry “logic” but my logic tells me the evidence of God is everywhere, starting with the clear blue sky.

Waiting for Mr. Right…maybe

Now that I’ve fulfilled my year of celibacy (which included no dating of any kind) I wonder if it’s time to meet some new people. I know so many women who get asked out on dates all the time. How does that happen? I know other women who do the asking, but as I wrote before…that’s just not my style. I know other women who go the online route, but that’s not for me, either, because I suspect the motives of men who go on those sites are pretty shady. My friends’ experiences with those guys they met online would support my opinion: they don’t like to pay; they expect sex very quickly; and are uninterested in the idea of courtship.

So, what do I do? I know many women who waited years before meeting the right person. Will that be me? Part of me thinks I’m still not ready and maybe that’s the reason I’m on my own. Another part, the practical side, knows it’s my own doing that I’m on my own because I’ve done everything I can to repel men so I wouldn’t be tempted to break my vow. Maybe I need a little more time.

Jumping the Broom

love, marriage, wedding, custom, black, african, american, husband, vow, wife, film
Jumping the broom is a marriage custom among Black Americans that has it roots in slavery: slaves weren’t allowed to get married so they demonstrated their love and commitment by jumping over a broom together to signify their union. I learned this from watching the film of the same name starring Paula Patton as a woman who gives up a life of casual sex and makes a vow to God to stop having sex until she is married.

The character Sabrina’s story mirrored mine because I was also leading a life of sleeping with nearly every handsome man I met until I realized that was not the path to a fulfilling relationship. Like Sabrina, I knew that if I were to ever have a healthy relationship I would have to take sex out of the equation and put God in its place. Sabrina asked God to send her a man and give her a definite sign that he was the one. Almost immediately, she ploughed into a pedestrian with her car. He turned out to be the one, of course, and she stayed true to her vow even while they were engaged.

Much ado was made about the fact that the man had to wait six months (!) for sex as though only men find it challenging to wait. I can tell you from experience and you know if you’ve read this blog that women find it hard to wait, too! I still doubt whether I’ll be able to wait for marriage to have sex with my future partner. That is a lot of temptation and the world accepts and encourages sex before marriage which makes it even more difficult to stay pure. I think the trick is to surround yourself with people who understand and support your commitment to save sex for your wedding day. Since I’ve put that intention out there more and more people are entering my life who “get it” and I’m grateful for that.

The Confident (Christian) Woman

sex, christianity, marriage, wife, husband

I picked up a book yesterday called The Confident Woman by Joyce Meyer which encourages self-esteem in women who are too often broken both by personal trials and the general mistreatment of women in our society. The book is based on Christian principles and one passage stood out to me as it reminded me of my last post on the strength of a woman. The author writes: “The Bible states that the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church. The woman is to submit to her husband as is fitting in the Lord.

So, once again God shows Himself to me. One day after I write a post on submission being a strength, He directs me to a book about being a confident woman that includes the idea of submitting to your husband. Coincidence? I think not.

Submissive: strength of a woman

I’ve written before on this blog that I don’t believe in equality between the sexes. That doesn’t mean I think men are better than women or vice versa, just that we were designed for different functions. I believe men and women complement each other perfectly like yin and yang and that they each bring to the relationship something that the other lacks.

Trouble happens in marriages because of the lie of equality in relationships which leads husband and wife to vie for the power position. Men are often emasculated by the fact that they no longer have a leadership role: two income families are the norm and it’s not uncommon for women to out-earn their husbands (nothing wrong with that). Not only are women now providers and leaders in their families, they are also the disciplinarians of children.

I’ve always felt like a submissive woman and desired a man I could look up to and who would make the decisions (after consulting me, of course) but I was ashamed to admit that. Unfortunately, if you say you are submissive people only think about kinky sex–such is the direction our society has gone. I always wanted a man to take care of me and protect me but if I admitted that I would be admonished as a weakling!

I am finally embracing my intuition and understanding that the strength of a women is different from the strength of a man. When you hear a woman described as “strong” it’s often because she demonstrates characteristics of a man: bold, brash, outspoken…but what if the strength of a woman is something quieter and softer, more feminine? I don’t want to compete with men. I want to be a woman and have that be enough.

Courtship vs. Friends with Benefits

sex, abstinence, celibacy, relationship, marriage, courtship, single woman

“Friends with benefits” is an expression describing a friendship between a man and a woman in which sex is a casual component. If you’ve been reading this blog you know my views on casual sex: I don’t believe it’s possible, mainly because women become attached to the men with whom they have sex–whether they like it or not.

My friend told me about a “friends with benefits” situation in which she began to feel taken for granted. He wouldn’t call her when he said he would, or arrange ahead to meet, but would instead text her in the late evening and ask if he could come over. She was outraged by the behaviour but I have to ask, what other outcome could there possibly be?

When you give your body to a man without requiring a commitment from him, why would he feel obligated to call ahead to arrange a date? He knows sex is there whenever he wants it and he acts accordingly. It’s a case of teaching people how to treat you. How can you expect a man to respect you when you don’t respect yourself? Whether it’s spoken or not, a man must lose respect for a woman who gives away sex so easily. Their behaviour in cases like these is enough to prove my point.

“Friends with benefits” is another modern lie that hurts and confuses women and creates animosity between the sexes. Casual sex in all its forms simply does not work, except for the initial and short lived sexual pleasure which is fleeting and quickly turns to heartache. My intuition always told me certain truths: you don’t call men; you don’t ask men out; and you let men plan the date. There is a necessary pattern to courtship which has the man wooing and winning the woman. If she is so easy to catch, what’s the point? Something sacred is being lost.

Guest Post: 6 years celibate and finally happy

abstinence, sex, men, women, relationship, single woman, dating, one night standToday’s post comes courtesy of Madi, a reader who has been celibate for over 5 years now. I can relate to the experience of having casual sex with men and then becoming afraid of them when you stop. I can also relate to feelings of inadequacy and people pleasing. Here is her story:

My celibacy journey started with a break-up six years ago.  Back then, I thought I was in love with the man but now I know I wasn’t. Now, I know something I didn’t:  Love mustn’t hurt. I only loved the fact that he took care of me. I thought he did, but I wasn’t good enough for him to take me out. He destroyed my self-esteem which wasn’t very strong and made me think I was good for nothing except being his sex-toy.

I let him use me as a tool and for almost 5 years of my celibacy journey, I still acted like one: never saying no, always smiling, forgetting what I love, what I don’t.  The worst of it is I wasn’t aware I was erasing myself.
I was with another man that I thought would take care of me, but I didn’t love him: I only held the hope that he could make me happy and love me.
After that I remained alone; in fact, I was lonely because at that time I lost myself. I slept with a friend who only wanted a one-night stand. I was crying but he didn’t notice.  I felt very bad. I don’t like that.

At that time, instead of treasuring myself, I wore a suit of armor.  I built it and polished it:  nobody would find the real me. I was smiling here and there, saying exactly what people wanted to hear. I survived three years like that. Then, I discovered “The Secret” and things slightly changed. It was the year before. I started to go out with friends again but I was still in my “love me” role. And I was thinking the more I go out the more chance I would have to meet my soul mate. So with “The Secret”, I was only imaging the future and still being haunted by my past.

I started salsa. I always wanted to dance but I always needed someone do things with for everything. I wouldn’t do things by myself.  I discovered that I fear men; I didn’t want them to touch me. It’s quite annoying when you are dancing!!
But, God sent me last month all the answers I wanted to destroy this armor. I have freed myself and I can dance now.
These are the rules that I apply:

1.       I must treasure myself and take good care of me.
2.       I must love myself as I’m a part of God.
3.       I must live now and enjoy every moment: appreciate food, books, and flowers; there’s nothing extraordinary but it’s life.
4.       I don’t have to pretend to be perfect
5.       I don’t care if people don’t love me as long as I do.
6.       I don’t need to change
7.       I stop with the “when I‘ll have that, I’ll be happy”
I know I’m not ready to be this someone although I’m nearly 30 and everybody puts pressure on me. But it doesn’t affect me. I’m well with myself. I take my time to appreciate all the things I do in life and I can say: I’m truly happy.

Sex and marriage

relationship, God, spirituality, men, women, husband, wife, christianity

Since I completed my celibate year (I still can’t believe it!) I’ve become increasingly convinced that the sex-before-marriage crowd has a good point. For me to even consider waiting until I’m married to have sex again is a miracle, but over the course of the past year, my faith has become so much stronger that I see miracles happening every day, big and small. I can truly say that I believe anything is possible. So, a girl like me who has had sex with virtual strangers can become a person who wants to save herself for just one man: her husband.

Women especially are protected when we enjoy sex only within the marriage union. Think about the way a woman can obsess about one man with whom she’s had sex and he won’t even call! Men and women are different: even biologically, oxytocin is released in women when we have sex which has the very real effect of bringing us closer to the man. It is referred to in the medical community as the “bonding” hormone. Men release no such chemical.

When a woman has sex with a man, he is “hers” whether he knows it or not. We cannot control the way we feel and when women engage in casual sex it feels bad, it’s unnatural for us, and can never make us happy. For me, casual sex was more about the ego boost, about the pleasure I was giving him rather than what I received. The ego is not our friend or our soul, it is our saboteur. It wants us to destroy ourselves so it can survive and thrive.

Basically, I’m seeing that having sex with a man is such a powerful act for a woman that it makes us feel like the man is our husband even when he’s not, nor does he wish to be. That puts us in a very vulnerable position. If I’m going to be that vulnerable again I’d like it to be with someone who has committed himself to me and that I can trust completely.

What do you think?