The Sin No One Talks About
These words are for the valiant men who are not afraid to speak of their struggles; your courage inspires us.
These words are for the women who are too afraid to speak out; you are not alone.
Silence is deadly. To let silence speak, is to let our souls fester. And festering souls are no resting place for the Presence of Him who is holy.
As women we oft evade His presence, fleeing the present moment. Our minds are wanderers into the future, intricately creating fantasy after fantasy, convincing ourselves that it is acceptable. We tell ourselves that our thoughts dishonor no man, and a thought is not sinful unless it leaves the confines of our mind and enters into reality.
Even the essence of our thoughts don’t seem to be always sinful, since they are not always sexual.
For hours we can ponder a life with that friend or stranger, how beautiful our babies could be and how good a lover he is bound to be. Within a minute, we are world-heroes, world-travellers and we have dated 5 different men.
In the words of Natasha Bedingfield,
“Trust me it would scare you
if you knew what was goin’ on in my brain
Trust me it would scare you
that I’ve picked out the church all the schools all the names…”
A day in a woman’s brain, would, most definitely, scare you.
St Isaac the Syrian said that it is a “greater miracle that a man can see his true self than the raising of the dead.” There is no light in our silence, there is light only in our truth. Our every attempt of denial, and our refusal to name our fantasies – lust – is to neglect truth. And the truth is, lust does not only take form in sexual fantasy.
As creatures of pleasure, lust is rooted in the thrill, of not only what may be forbidden, but what is not ours. Lust is not to be tamed, negotiated or bargained with; our minds and desires constantly rush ahead, racing to the next thought even as the current one is being consummated – all in pursuit of pleasure’s elusive satisfaction. A thought never remains as a single thought. It is an ever increasing drive for an ever diminishing pleasure. Lust will always keep you longer than you intended, drag you further than you anticipated and take more than you were willing to give. It plays for keeps.
Lust is the hours spent inside our own minds in uncontrollable imagination over any desire.
Lust is the fantasies we create to appease our emotional comfort, whether from the opposite sex or the same sex; even if our fantasies do not involve physical intimacy. Like the fantasy of a man stopping us from boarding a plane at the last minute to declare His undying love with roses, a box of love letters he’s been secretly writing for years and a song he wrote and composed just for us. But to live in a daydream is to live in a spirit of discontentment. As harmless as it may seem, we set ourselves up for unrealistic expectations that no man can measure up to and we waste the chance of taking moments seeking the God of all comforts in this dry, parched land.
Lust is an escape, a mechanism to cope with the realities where we feel stressed, inadequate, undesirable, bored or rejected; we turn to fantasy instead of seeking adventure and relief for our burdens in the only One who can promise pleasures forevermore.
Lust is a lack of trust that God is always good and we are always loved. It is the Isrealties, longing for the food in Egypt where they were slaves instead of having faith that the manna is enough and it could abound in sustaining their every need. It is determining that you know better, and this manna is not the best, so you take matters in to your own hands.
Lust is the time spent thinking of the ways you desire to be sexually intimate with a man; it is intimacy’s empty well, leaving you perpetually hungry for much more. It is the devil’s deceitful whispers that this is the God who deprives, demands impossible things and who takes away everything. Yet we must “consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls” for “unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.” Lust plunders and ravages our life, yet Lust has never forgiven us; it never took nails in its wrists. So while Christ may ask of us our lives, He sacrificed His first. What is surrendered to Him is never lost.
Lust takes the form of gluttony; it is the continual greed for excess and in this world of excess, I am the king. Centered on what I have set my heart on, what I feel I deserve or what I believe I am entitled to; I neglect to cast my anchor down to the faithfulness of my Living Hope and re-center on Him, the true King. Though we exchange ourselves for God, He exchanged Himself for us, for our freedom from death.
Our lustful thoughts come so naturally, that to fight them strikes against our very comfort. The mind is a fierce battle ground and we are besieged. Lustful thoughts are a never-ending attack but in our control is the decision to fight. And this fight cannot be of our own strength, but through the strength and grace of Christ.
Resolved to stand firm, we must not numb the pain for “we have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin”(Hebrews12:4). Paul instructs us to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17), for a mind that ruminates and fixates on its own desires and pleasures in fantasy, is a mind that ceases to pray.
“Why do demons wish to excite in us gluttony, fornication, greed, anger, rancour and other passions? So that the mind, under their weight, should be unable to pray as it ought; for when the passions of our irrational part begin to act, they prevent the mind from acting rationally.”
– St. Nilus of Sinai
Paul exhorts us to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5), so however captivating the fantasy let us capture it in the net of His grace and “whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things”(Philippians 4:8).
So I must test my thoughts, assess each one, to find that which is true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, of virtue and praiseworthy. But I know those thoughts are often few, and the reality is, pleasure drives my mind. As the disciples slept in Gethsemane, Jesus spoke to them,
“Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
Our spirits are willing, but our fleshy selves are weak, insatiable beggars. If a mind is not in prayer, it can reach anywhere, jump half-way across the world in pursuit of its favourite damp and musky prison cell of sin. “Watch,” He says; to be vigilant over the workings of our minds and the thoughts that walk through them. Watch, here and now because Christ’s presence is in the present. How will we respond to the knowledge of soul-festering thoughts? Will we let lust take home in our inner crevices? Will we expose those thoughts to the light and let prayer be our saving fortress?
Thoughts creep in more swiftly than they creep out. It is not with gentleness that they can be eradicated “for the kingdom of heaven suffers violence and the violent take it by force,” but with consistent vigilance and prayer. We need hearts ready for the fight, confessing a festering-soul state and a need for One who is merciful. Many who have gone before us prayed incessantly,
“Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy upon me a sinner.”
Humility is a realisation that we need to call upon the name of Jesus as often as we breath. Prayer builds the walls of Jerusalem in our hearts and minds and cements them until the stones cry out for our Saviour. Our minds cannot run empty, there is no moment where we are completely thoughtless, so this prayer recited habitually becomes grafted in our minds, replacing our lustful thoughts. We do not deprive but substitute. Because, every moment I live, I live bowed to something. And if I do not bow to God, I’ll bow down before something else. A prayer of the heart ushers us into reality. A reality where I must meet and accept who I am at this present moment. In a place where we can say with St Paul, “by the grace of God I am what I am.” A reality that has the stillness of heart to listen to His fantasies for me, and not my own. “As for God, his way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him.” Psalm 18:30
To pray unceasingly is to be in Christ. It is a sign of death of the flesh, a death to my will and a release of His Spirit in me.
In Him, I am white as snow, even if I stumble 7 times a day (or every minute.) If I cling to remember God’s mercy and this truth, that I am clean then I will be ever more cautious. For the clean can not tolerate a blemish. But if I let the accuser tell me I am the sum of my unrestrained thoughts, then I will become lazy, apathetic and slacken my efforts, for what is one more speck of dirt smeared on a canvas of black? Yet, you and I, we are canvases of lily white, washed in the blood of the Lamb, for He has “swept away your transgressions like a cloud, and your sins like a mist. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you” (Isaiah 44:22).
“Return,” He pleads. Must He wait much longer? Must I leave Him pleading? I thirst for lust, yet He thirsts for me.
There is hope. We are not alone, for He has not left us alone. Our eternal Rock; He is our motivation to be pure as He is, and our grace when we fall. So when my hand slips out of His, a thought wastes in me hours and I depart from prayer; I will take the hand of grace and rise again. I will take His hand though my hands are dirty, my wounds still bleed, my heart still fears and the shackles lying on the ground do not look as bad as they once were.
We cannot lie to ourselves and the world any longer; lust is not just every man’s battle, it is also every woman’s battle.
I will choose truth over silence.
May His love that is better than life satisfy our deep hearts.
May it purge away all lesser loves as fire to the dross.
May His presence be our joy, treasure and delight.
May you face the truth of your own darkness and call sin out for what it is.
May we fight for our purity together as we learn to be seized by a greater Affection,
In the Light…
Co-written with Sandra and Monica.