An open letter to the girl addicted to sex

I wonder if I’m a girl you’d think struggles with sex.

Isn’t that what we all wonder? Maybe it’s not sex, pornography, or even masturbation, but you struggle secretly with a dark sin and wonder if others would ever guess. For me though?

It’s sex. Or at least it has been for several years. Sometimes I feel like I’ve finally overcome it, but then I fall short again and my heart sinks and the insecurities come crashing in just to remind me of how disgusting I am.

The first time I watched pornography, I was in 4th grade. I was 9 years old. And it wasn’t even on purpose, it was a total accident that I couldn’t turn away from. I hadn’t even had a period yet, or even knew what the heck it was. And there I was, learning all about what I needed to look like to get boys to like me. I was learning about breasts, the male anatomy, what they liked and how to please them. I was developing the sexual mind I cannot seem to shake, even as an adult.

I grew up with a false sense of purpose, a list of inadequacies I’d gathered all because of the videos I’d become addicted to and the images I would dwell on daily. As a little girl, I was thinking about sex at all times and I felt so much shame for it. I didn’t know how to NOT think about sex and all the sounds just kept playing in my head. During class, at lunch, and when I would get home I’d just sit in my room trying to figure out how to watch it again.

Time went by and the tendencies only grew stronger, I had so much sexual tension as a young girl that I didn’t know what to even do with or what it even was. I just knew I couldn’t get those images out of my head and masturbation was something I discovered because of it. I remember not even realizing it was a thing, as a 10 year old girl I thought my body must’ve been created wrong. I thought there was something defective within me, that I was some freak for needing this to comfort my body. I was so confused, but I was so addicted to the feeling I couldn’t stop.

As time went on and the images and videos became easier to access, I only learned more about sex and as my body was physically developing, I was beginning to realize I wasn’t like those girl I kept seeing on the screen. As a married woman, I still struggle with my physical appearance… the fear of not pleasing him because I don’t look like them. The number of times I’ve said to myself “If only I had bigger boobs, he would love me more..” I have googled how much boob jobs are, asked him about getting the surgery done, and have begged him to let me after we have kids. Because of my history in watching pornography, I wholeheartedly believed (and still sometimes struggle with this) that this would fix what was broken within me. If only my body was different, I would be sexier.

In the church, you always hear about pornography and masturbation being a mans struggle. You rarely hear women confessing, seeking accountability with sexual temptations.. whether that’s masturbation or just struggling mentally with sexual images. As a married woman, you hear things like “Your husband needs sex more than you do, it helps him with temptations.. never forget about his needs..” and many other things along those lines. And the worst one, possibly when you’re in the muddy ditch and the pits of your struggle with pornography, you hear other women say things like this:

“Girls don’t struggle with that stuff.” And that’s a big fat freaking lie. It’s lies like these that prevent confession, cheating women of the freedom they could experience in overcoming this sin. Because when we experience the freedom to confess even the darkest of our darkness, we can fight together. We don’t want to struggle well, we want to QUIT THE STRUGGLE, putting the sin to death and chasing after the redemption story Jesus writes for us daily. And God has designed us to do that TOGETHER.

When I became a christian, I was able to find freedom and redemption in physically watching pornography, but that didn’t mean the images and sounds weren’t still in my head. That doesn’t mean I didn’t have moments where the urge to meet that need would still sneak up, tempting me to open that door just one more time.

It’s been awhile, God will forgive you and no one will even know. Just do it.

Those are the thoughts that would haunt me, pulling me away from the purity I so wanted to claim in Christ. You would think that if I was going to struggle with pornography as a Christian, it would be while I was single and having no sex. But that’s a lie so many believe, that when you get married and get to have sex, porn isn’t a temptation anymore.

Each time I’ve had to confess to my husband of the actions my thoughts led me to or the images I just kept pulling up on my phone in secret, I’ve carried this heavy bucket of sin and shame and so much confusion as to why I would still struggle with such darkness. As a woman who fights to love Jesus with her all, I’ve struggled more with sexual sin in marriage than I ever did in my years of singleness. I’ve experienced more physical insecurities as a married woman than I ever did single.

Growing up addicted to pornography and masturbation doesn’t only corrupt your mind and create a dependency in you, it also created in me this desperation to please men sexually and fulfill the fantasies they had. I wanted to be their very own real life porno. I was no longer a human with feelings that mattered, I became a toy that was only there for the sole purpose of his pleasure. And I was content with that. Of course on the outside, I would never admit this. This wasn’t something I strived to show, it was a persona I hid on the inside. This corruption grew in me in college as I was experiencing new relationships, and trying to gain a mans approval with my physical appearance. My outfit choices revolved around seduction, my motives were to be a woman a man would be proud of and want to show off. I had developed this idea in my head that if I was good enough in these areas of the relationship, he would keep me.

And I just wanted to be kept. But the only way I truly knew how to make sure that happened was rooted in my addiction to pornography.

As a woman who has been married for two and a half years, I’ve gone through seasons of hopelessness in not feeling enough for him. Some nights I laid in bed sobbing because I felt I didn’t perform well, that I was inadequate. And all of those insecurities came from my past because I saw sex as a performance rather than something beautiful. When we were dating and engaged, I remember feeling like I couldn’t truly show my appreciation for him until we were married, I felt so limited. But mostly I felt worthless, pathetic, and I struggled with more spiritual warfare than I ever have before. Sex was the only way I really new how to please a man, my worth and every ounce of my purpose was built on meeting his physical needs. Waiting until you’re married to have sex made that impossible.

I struggled. I was depressed. I fought waiting and could not physically bare the burden my heart and body carried. I would sit and think to myself, “once we get married, he’ll know how much I care about him..” because I had been fed this lie that my purpose was built on pleasing him physically. Pornography had shoved it’s beliefs down my throat and I couldn’t handle it.. I remember crying into my bible night after night, writing over and over again “I am not worthless, I am not worthless, I am NOT worthless!”

A few weeks before the wedding, I finally told him how I felt. I just broke down in tears right in front of him. I apologized for not being able to show my love for him this entire time and explained how I felt worthless, telling him everything. He just looked at me with confusion, grabbed my hand and says

“Catie, I’m not marrying you for your body… I’m marrying you for your heart.”

And those words held more power than you could even imagine.

The conversation went on, the crying went on, and the Holy Spirit moved in me like never before, revealing to me this heavy weight I’d been carrying my entire adult life. This was not from God, this was not truth, and I had the hardest time trying to move forward. The baggage was so embedded into me that it took Ryan repeating these lines to me each day up until we were married, and even hundreds of times in our marriage. I literally have to RUN TO JESUS when these tendencies begin to rise up and consume me, telling me to perform and prove myself worthy of love.. I have to let HIM be my strength when temptations arise and those images begin to play in my head like a pornography highlight reel..

“You have been redeemed, you’re a daughter of Christ. You have been made new.” 

And these are truths I have to LIVE IN to prevent those lies from sneaking back up.

I’ve got a long way to go in overcoming this sin and the baggage that comes with it, and sometimes the guilt is too much. But heres the truth.

Jesus did not die on that cross to be put back up there every time I fall short. His death and resurrection means that I can have life in Him, and His grace is sufficient for me. His MERCY is my power to fight back the temptation, and He has already won the battle. He is a gracious father that does not turn away from our sin, He redeems it.

If you struggle with sexual sin, or have in the past and still experience shame, here is what I have to say to you.

God is not disappointed in you.

You are not alone, you are a daughter of the King. You are not disgusting, you are loved. You are not rejected, you are wanted. You are not a freak, you are redeemed. You are not worthless, you are made new. You have not been thrown away, you have been forgiven.

When we confess, we find freedom. It’s the only way we can overcome this stronghold in our lives. I encourage you to find someone you can confide in, asking them to hold you accountable, pray for you and to walk with you through this. The shame that comes with pornography and masturbation is heavy, this is why we need community to step in and carry this burden with us.

We must be a church that fights back sin with the sword of truth, and claims victory in repentance. We must quit struggling, and start fighting. When you fall, you better believe His mercies are new every morning. We CAN do this together. We CAN crush this sin, but we have to do it hand in hand cheering each other on.

He is worth it, and so are you.

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Why did we even get married

“Why did we even get married…”

I’m standing in the kitchen and he’s glaring back at me from the living room. Our little 600 square foot apartment had just become a battlefield and it was like I’d just thrown a grenade his way called regret. Those words rolled off my tongue like butter, but the second they were out there I wanted to pull them back in and rewind time. That thought had been fumbling through my mind for awhile, but I guess the longer you let a thought like that linger it makes its way to the heart and attaches itself. I’d never intended to say those words out loud… and so waiting for his response was the longest few seconds of my life.

For some reason, he looks away before he mumbles his response. “Yea, why did we…” Defeated, he slowly picked up the remote and turned on the TV.

My eyes were covered in mascara, all wet and puffy from crying.. his were full of anger as we screamed back and forth for what seemed like an hour. This was one of our scariest fights, a fight that left me feeling hopeless.. and I can promise you he did too. That Sunday afternoon, it seemed as if we destroyed every sense of safety either of us had ever gained throughout our relationship, there wasn’t an ounce of grace or compassion left in the room. The second I said those words, it’s like the marriage was drained of any future it might’ve had. I didn’t have any fight left so I went to my car and sat there because I didn’t know what else to do. I told him I was going to the book store… but I really just needed to walk away. I felt pathetic.

Knowing eventually I’d have to go back inside, I instantly felt ashamed and afraid of what I’d just said to my husband.. the love of my life, the man God gave to me to love and honor and cherish.

Months before this, we celebrated our first anniversary. And everyone says the first year is the hardest, but for us, I felt like the past few months had been harder than the first twelve combined. It’s funny how a year of resentment and bitterness can do that to a marriage.. How did we even get here? It seemed like he was always angry, and I was always hurt… and no one had any idea how badly we were struggling. That was the hardest part, feeling alone in it all. Like no one else is struggling like us and no one else is feeling as hopeless in their marriage and no. one. else. is going through what we’re going through. It all felt so embarrassing and I hated it. Eventually, it drove me to a place of deep insecurity because of all the shame I carried in our marriage.

I began to hate my body, and thought maybe if I was skinnier he would love me more. Maybe if I was prettier we wouldn’t fight as much. Maybe if I was smarter or if I made more money or had a better job… things would be better.

It seemed like God wrote our story wrong.

About 30 minutes later, I got out of my car and walked up stairs. I was numb after all of the emotions I’d been putting myself through all morning, but I wanted so badly to feel hopeful. I wanted to walk into our home and pull him close and beg for forgiveness… to shower me with grace, to love me through my brokenness. But instead I walked in and closed the bedroom door behind me, leaving him in the living room. 

Why didn’t I try harder…

My faith in reconciliation was hanging by a thread. But God doesn’t work based on our faith in Him, He is steadfast anyways. And I had to remind myself of those truths because I wasn’t sure what else to do at that point. God is the merciful father who will never forsake us even through our denial of His faithfulness. And so I forced myself to just open the bedroom door, standing in the middle of the doorway with my eyes still smothered in mascara. Tears start rolling down my cheeks because the longer I look at him I can feel the stubborn pride begin to fade, as if God is moving through me in that very moment.. and for the first time in what seemed like forever… I saw Him as a child of God rather than a scoreboard full of his sins and failures.

Then suddenly, he gets up and begins to walk towards me. Taking a deep breath, he wraps his arms around me and holds me close.  We were both unsure of what to say, and just stood there in silence for awhile. And somehow I’m sorry’s fumbled out of our mouths and grace rushes through my veins and I felt God say, “I am with you..” When I lift my head to look up at him, his eyes are teary and I’d never seen him show this kind of sadness after a fight. And it finally hit me that we were slowly tearing each other apart by holding every wrong doing up to the others face, like giving each other crowns of disappointment and regret.

And I knew I wanted to fulfill what God has for marriage, but I no longer wanted the happily ever after.. I wanted something greater than that. I wanted more of Him.

Because God doesn’t write happily ever afters, He writes redemption stories. 

And redemption stories are beautiful masterpieces that shape us and force us to bring our heavy broken hearts to the cross. Even full of confusion and anger and pain, we can bring our hopelessness to God so that He can redeem it.

“Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.” Hebrews 10:23

We are children of the redeemer, the one true king, the faithful provider of all things beautiful. But sometimes beauty is wrapped in heartache and confusion and doesn’t always make sense because He is God and we are not. There’s no way we’ll ever be able to see what He is doing, even when it seems like the pain outweighs the joy of His goodness. Even when we beg to know why, God is always good and has you by the hand walking you through the plans He has for you.

And that’s what He’s been doing for us, taking us by the hand and leading us closer to Him through every hardship we face.

God brought us together in marriage to reveal our depravity and ultimate need for Him because we are two ugly sinners who need a savior. Marriage is a tool through which God uses to bring us closer to Him, to cleanse us making us holy and blameless. We are His workmanship. He is constantly restoring us back to Him, giving us a redemption story that leads back to the gospel and what He gave us through the cross.

My heart with writing this is that you won’t feel alone in the mess of what you may be walking through. Maybe if I share the darkness in my own heart, my marriage, my past… you’ll feel encouraged to cling to Him tighter because of His sweet and mighty love for us. And maybe even let Him use the redemption story He is writing for you to reach someone else, letting them know they aren’t alone. Because we’re all in this together, having the hard conversations together because that’s where healing begins.

He is the writer of our redemption stories, let’s use them to shine light in the darkness.

-Catie

I’ve got something fun to tell you

I have a fun little surprise. I’m diving into something new, stepping into a hobby I’ve had a passion for over the past several years. It’s something I’m a little nervous about, but also SO excited about. So here we go.

I’m now doing PHOTOGRAPHY!
Photography has always been something I’ve enjoyed, but I’ve never actually thought about making it more than just a hobby or really just an interest. I indulge in it through my my phone, but heck, I’ve never even owned a real camera! You know, those super fancy ones real photographers have? Until Deb, my awesome MIL said I could borrow hers. So that’s when everything changed. Once I got my hands on that thing my heart started to race and my mind was going crazy with all the things I could do with it! SO then I was able to test it out and play around at a sweet friends wedding and be her very unofficial “pre wedding time” photographer (which was so cool) and make sure this was something I wanted to actually pursue.

And it is!

Even though this is just a sweet little side gig, it’s still so exciting and I can’t wait to see what God does with it. He’s started something new in my life that sort of freaks me out, but also puts like a thousand butterflies in my stomach on the daily. 

The few sessions I’ve had recently have been SO MUCH FUN (seriously, so much fun) and it makes me wonder why I hadn’t started this earlier! Speaking of work, I wanted to show you a few things I’ve done so far… is that okay?!

 

God has been so kind in giving me the opportunities He has already, and so my prayer is that He brings me even more! 

So if you need a photographer and you’re not afraid to hire a very excited and eager newbie, holla atcha girl. 

LOVE YOU!

What we need to stop saying to the single girl

I used to hate going home.

My years being single, and yes I said years, I hated going home. Because I knew I was heading towards a lonely bed and a smelly chihuahua to feed.

With people, with friends and family, singleness didn’t feel like a burden. I loved being around friends. I thrived around people who lifted me up and held me accountable, whether they were married or not. I adored my people. And most of my people, most of the closest friendships I had while single, were sweet girls who went home to a husband.

Most of the people in my life that I chose to spend my time with and be encouraged by, were married. And I loved it. They threw gasoline on my fire for Jesus, they encouraged me to live whole heartedly for the gospel, and they rallied around me in times of true heartache or joyful victories.

But when I left those exciting gatherings, I hated going home. Because I wanted to be like them, getting to go home and snuggle with a husband.

And I know for a fact I’m not the only girl who hated that drive home to a lonely bed and a meal for one. (Even though now I love my home alone meal for one kinda nights) I know I’m not the only girl who hated all the cliche lines people would tell you, like “His timing is perfect, just be patient” Like, okay since you seem to know my future can you tell me approximately WHEN I can expect His timing to show up? #peoplesometimes

Or the worst one I heard…

“You’re pretty, so you’ll obviously get married eventually.”

Uh… what does that even mean? At first, it was fun to believe, but after awhile… it felt empty and dishonest. So, everyone who’s physically attractive is entitled to a husband? Let’s not be shallow women who rely on what will fade. Or assume our looks will seduce a man into marriage. That is by far, the dumbest thing anyone ever told me while I was single.

There were definitely times where I loved singleness, and I rocked my life stage like a badge of honor and good times coming. I truly believed I was in a good place and my friends were enough for me. I had dreams of what I wanted to do in life, and none of them really involved a guy. I had friends who loved me and a God who adored me, so why did I need a husband? Who said marriage was the ultimate victory? But like I said, there were definitely times I laid in bed teary eyed like I was the star of Taylor Swifts “Tear drops on my guitar”video.

So, I know where you are. I’ve been lonely before. And to be quite honest, the married girl still experiences times of loneliness too. So please don’t think your period of loneliness expires the day you say “I do…” because if I gave you that kind of false hope, I wouldn’t be telling you the truth.

If I’m being honest, the reason we still experience periods of loneliness in marriage is because a husband will not patch up your wounds and send you on your merry way to the lonely free club where skies are blue and the cupcakes are always free.

The deliciously good looking, kind hearted, Jesus loving man you’ve been dreaming about your entire adult life will never be enough for your precious heart. He just won’t. He is terribly incapable of doing so.

Because your husband is not Christ.

I pray you don’t anticipate this concept of a marriage where you never feel lonely again, because there will be a night where you’ll fall asleep disappointed in what you pictured this whole marriage thing to be. And you may even ruin your pillowcases with mascara stains from crying. Because this is coming from a girl who adores her husband with everything she has, but knows the darkness that can sinfully reside in a Christ centered beautiful and Holy Matrimony. And you need to understand that truth, that there isn’t an expiration date on your loneliness labeled with “your wedding day”. Heartache will still come because this world is not meant to satisfy our hearts. Your husband will fail tenfold with those kinds of assumptions and expectations, that his job is to be the knight in shining armor.

I’m not here to tell you to look to Jesus and wrap things up feeling successful, giving myself a pat on the back. Because I refuse to give you the Sunday school answer to what you feel is the hardest season of your life. But I do want you to know something important that will sting before it heals.

You may never get married.

Bare with me.

Before you click the back button and roll your eyes at that statement, know this.

I understand how hard of a truth that is. I’ve been exactly where some of you are. And I know how heavy your heart is. And this truth, as harsh as it may sound, gave me so much freedom in my singleness.

And wrapping your mind around this concept won’t happen in a day, but the second you let yourself believe this truth? The burden will begin to soften… and the bitterness will begin to fade… trust me. I had to stop believing all the advice that just gave me a huge bucket of false truths I carried around when I got sad. Because that’s what they are, they’re false truths that just sugar coat the actual truth. The truth that marriage isn’t for everyone, so let’s just tell girls that “it will come” because that’s easier and less awkward.

By believing this truth, that marriage might not be in the cards for you, isn’t giving up on love. It’s not throwing in the towel and holding up that white flag of surrender.

It’s freeing yourself of the chains of waiting, and opening your eyes to the endless possibilities that the true gift of singleness brings. 

It’s frustrating when the happily marrieds try to give advice to the singles. And all they’re doing is setting you up for potential disappointment and implying that if you just wait for His timing, it will happen. When that’s the biggest lie that anyone could ever tell you. Because they are not God, and they did not breath your life into existence.

He is faithful to fulfill our every desire, and He has promised to rid us of our loneliness. But some of us have confused “God will give us the desires of our heart” with “if I desire it, God will give it to me..”

God definitely will give us the desires of our hearts when we delight in Him, Psalm 37:4, but when we are delighting ourselves in Him and His goodness, our desires will begin to shift in wanting more of Him, and He will freely give that to us because He knows what true joy will look like in our lives.

You’ve heard it too many times, “If you have the desire to get married, then you’re probably getting married” or “God wouldn’t give you that desire if He wasn’t going to fulfill it.”

And that my friends, is why so many girls are burdened with waiting. And waiting. And waiting.

And waiting.

But what if it never comes? Have we prepared them for that? Or have we just filled them with buckets of false hope when they’re sad? We must stop sugar coating their pain and encouraging just a little more patience in Gods timing… we are not helping her.

Our deepest desire, beyond anything else, is to be deeply known, and deeply loved. And Christ has already offered that to us on a silver platter.

And it’s called the gospel. Where Jesus, being perfect and without blemish, died a death that we deserved on a dirty cross and took the weight of our sin on his shoulders… and then rose from the grave three days later, so that by believing, we would have a chance at eternity with Him. He is enough for us. With or without a husband.

I don’t want to encourage your tender heart to be patient in waiting for a husband. That’s the last thing I want you to do. I want to encourage you in living a full life, content with His plan and putting your hope in Christ alone rather than a life that includes wedding bells. Because even if He does have a husband waiting for you at an altar someday, that’s the last thing you should be dwelling on. Because you have people to love and lives to change with the big heart He’s given you and the working hands He’s put on your beautiful body. You are worth more than waiting for a white dress.

You were made for more than a husband. Never forget that.

So go out there and rock this single life! Live boldly and wildly and beautifully for Christ. There is so much to be done in this world, and you could be who He uses to do that. Make His name known to the nations, wrap your arms around friends who adore you and cherish your heart. Love people crazy hard, chase after truth, and cling to the gospel. Because that’s where your heart will find joy, not in waiting for your prince charming to arrive on a white horse to sweep you off your feet. Because the truth is…

He already has. And His name is Jesus. And you can rest assured that He will love you better than any husband ever will.

-Catie

Photo cred: Bianca Osornio Photography  Model: Lydia Loftis

I was the girl who thought she knew Jesus

I was that girl.

The girl who thought she knew Jesus. The girl who supported abstinence in high school, without understanding how hard that actually is. The girl who vowed to save herself until marriage because that’s what good Christian girls do. I was the girl who wanted to follow the rules and go to church and hangout with the youth kids and never get in trouble. Except for the few parties I went to senior year because I was dying to see what I’d been missing… I went to every church event, even if my shorts were too short and I didn’t really care what the messages were about. I didn’t “do things” with boys in highschool, and my purity ring sat proudly on my finger as a way to show people I was trying to be a good Christian girl who went to church and did all the things that girl is supposed to do. I was trying to do what any girl would if she knew Jesus.

But I really didn’t know what I was doing. Or why I was even doing it. Or what I even believed. I just knew that’s what all the youth leaders and older girls at the church wanted you to do, and honestly as an inexperienced 17 year old, it sounded like a great plan. I mean, all the D-nows and church camps were so fun and easy, so that meant it would always be fun and easy, right? But when I got to college where boys were older and cuter and drinking became way more fun and all the doors of freedom fling open at once, that purity ring fell off my not so innocent little finger. And I felt like I was becoming myself. I was on my own, and my parents would never find out that I was actually spending the night in boys beds and taking way too many shots of coconut rum and fruity vodka.

I was the girl who thought she knew Jesus in high school, but soon after I was on my own, that all went down the drain. Jesus fell to the backburner because I really just wanted to have fun downtown without feeling bad the next day. And I wanted to have sex without feeling guilty. So I just ignored that silly little purity vow I made when I was a teenager. But even then, even when I thought I had it all figured out…

I still didn’t know what I was doing, or why I was even doing it. Or what I even believed.

And I think a lot of you may feel that way too. I don’t think the path I went down is all that rare. And I don’t think it’s an easy path, but for some reason so many of us fall into it. The “typical college party scene” looks glamorous on social media and movies, but if we’re all being honest, its not all it’s cracked up to be.

I want to tell you about a love that has consumed me since the day I experienced it. A love that has made me new.

This love will meet you on the bathroom floor with a hug and a tissue box full of hope and redemption. This love will hold your hand and let you cry on His shoulder because you are His beloved daughter, and He’s known you all along. He has always cherished you, even when you were wasted on a sidewalk outside of a bar and having sex with your boyfriend. He has always seen you, and He has always loved you, and He will never stop choosing you.

This love is Jesus.

And now, I get to be the girl that knows Him. Wanna know something kinda cool?

You can be that girl too.

You’re not alone in your mess

When I was a freshman in College, I really really liked this boy. He was a freshman too, and I’d find any and every excuse to talk to him. Even if it was just awkwardly walking by like, “I like your shirt…” #smooth

He’d talk to me from time to time, and I started to think… what if he likes me too? A friend of his told me once, “yea, he thinks you’re pretty hot.” And to me, that set off some major fireworks.

He thinks I’m hot? Woah… okay. This must mean that I’m in, right? Does this mean he wants to ask me out? So much anticipation welled up in me, but I obviously didn’t understand boys enough to figure out what that meant for me…  So the funny and awkward attempts to keep him interested continued.

I started wearing cuter outfits and started doing my hair more. I started to put more makeup on. I started to seem more… available. I wanted his attention so badly I was willing to do anything to get it. And then one night we were at the same party…

I strategically picked out my outfit that night because I was told he’d be there. My shorts were way too short, so just in case my personality was too awkward… enough of my skin was freely showing. My hair was done and my makeup was on point. At least I thought it was. Makeup has never been my thing. But that night, I needed it to be.

So at this party, I filled my red solo cup with coconut rum and sprite. Heavy on the rum. Because boys like fun girls, right? And the fun girls drink rum and rock at beer pong. They laugh at everything the boys say and giggle a lot while sipping on their sweet drink. At least that’s what I’d seen other girls do…

So I tried playing that card. I didn’t really know how, but I wanted him to notice me. I wanted him to see that I was fun and cool and into him, that I could “hang” with the cool kids that went to parties. We even took a picture together. We even played beer pong together. He even hugged me at one point. And so I fell asleep that night feeling successful and hopeful and completely confident that something special would happen.

The next morning… I heard he’d hooked up with another girl at the party.

And I was so crushed. What happenned? What did I do wrong? If I’m being honest, the first thing that came to mind was, “but why didn’t he wanna hook up with ME?” I should’ve been filled with disgust, with a sense of relief because I wouldn’t want a man like that anyways. But it wasn’t, and that’s how confused and naive and twisted my mind was.

I was also still a virgin at this point, and had never really done anything with a boy before… maybe he knew? Maybe he could tell I was completely inexperienced? And I really didn’t understand what that meant for me, other than the girl he hooked up with must have done something better and been more fun. And I remember feeling so inadequate… But even though I probably would’ve been scared out of my mind and completely clueless as to how a “casual hookup” is supposed to go, I still found myself wondering… how come he wanted her and not me?

I didn’t feel good enough. I didn’t feel “sexy” enough. I didn’t feel confident in my own skin all of a sudden. Because he picked her, and not me.

It made me feel awkward and unwanted because this purity I’m carrying around must be holding me back from really enjoying college.

So then it started. I decided that guys must not want the innocent girl, and being the virgin wasn’t attractive. I decided I needed to offer more. I needed to be more “adventurous” and open to try new things. So I decided to become that girl the guys would choose. Because I wasn’t sure what else to do…

But I really wish someone would’ve told me not to.

Because that mentality led me down a road of regret and heartache. That mentality allowed me to give myself away like candy at a parade. That mentality led me to choosing men over God, and their approval over self worth.

But God redeems all and gave me a new identity in His name. He gives a purity that no one can take away from me.

A few weekends ago, I got to spend time with the sweetest 17 and 18  year old girls you’ve ever met at a little mini retreat. A few of them shared their hard stories and got teary eyed because they’ve already walked that path. And I got to tell them about the sweet redemption story God wrote for me, and that the same redemption story is for them too. I got to tell them about the grace and forgiveness thats waiting for them, and all they have to do is grab His hand and say,

“Okay Father, I choose you. Lead me where you want me to go…”

And late that night, I got to challenge them to write themselves a letter to put things into perspective.

“What would you say to the girl who is hurting because she fell short and messed up? What would you say to the girl who has forgotten who she is, and who is on the edge of turning away because heart breaks suck… what would you say to the girl who is drowning in fear of never being good enough or sexy enough or pretty enough or skinny or smart enough… what would you say to the girl who has given herself away, and feels lost and confused and hopeless… what would you tell her? What would you remind her of? Because this girl is you…”

And we got to share our hearts and the words we would say, because we’ve all been there or may eventually be there. And we’ll need a sweet sister to pick us up and tell us we’re forgiven and loved when our hearts and legs are too weak to stand.

There were girls that opened up and discovered that they weren’t the only ones who had fallen short… they could look around the room now and for once feel like they weren’t alone in their mess, like they have someone to pull them out of the mud and help wash them off now. And satan wants us to believe we’re in this ALONE. Because he hates it when we stand together and cheer each other on. He hates when we truly LOVE and encourage each other, because the women who step up together are the women who kick the devil back where he belongs.

And I think the reason I shared this story is because I want girls to know we’re in this together. I want girls, young and old, to know that we’re fighting this fight hand in hand and I’m not letting you go.. Because Jesus is the giver of all good things, and He has given us one another to walk through this life TOGETHER.

Let’s be a community of women we can fall into, and cry on the shoulders of and lay all our burdens down with…

Because when I was a naive and confused 18 year old, I needed that. And I want other naive and confused 18 year olds to have that. Because maybe… just MAYBE, lives would be changed.

So lay down your hurts. Lay down you fears. And lay down your brokenness.

Right at the cross. Right at the feet of Jesus.

Because we’re in this together. Hand in hand. Carrying each others burdens.

Let’s live as if we’ll be caught when we fall.

-Catie Sas

 

 

 

My heart for modesty in the church

Before I was a Christian, I had a pair of blue jean cut off’s that I’d wear with everything. They were my ol’ faithfuls. Does anyone else have a pair of ol’ faithful cut offs? Mine emphasized the “cut off” with even more emphasis on my butt cheeks that would proudly hang out of the bottom. I’d wear them with the expectation that I better be catching a man’s eye. One time, I wore a not so large basketball jersey with some 6 inch stilettos downtown and I definitely caught some nice stares in that outfit. For Halloween one year I was daisy duke, so I pulled out the ol’ faithful booty shorts, cut to pieces an old flannel that probably covered 15% of my top half, and wore some over the knee high heel boots.

If you haven’t noticed, I’ve been the girl who didn’t give a crap about modesty. There were times when I would get dressed with hopes that men would want me sexually. I never had any intentions with following through with the message I was sending, but it was a major thrill getting them to look. My body wasn’t sacred, or holy, or precious. I flaunted my body like a toy, as if the more that men would stare, the more desirable I was. Back then, when I was with a guy, I’d think of the most scandalous outfit I could wear so that other men would be envious of him. I viewed my body as a trophy, and I was so happy to know he wanted to show me off, that he was proud to have me. And to be honest, that mentality started at a young age.

Before I dive into the nitty gritty, I want you to know I’ve been on both extremes. I’ve been the girl who threw up in her mouth when she heard the word modesty, and I’ve also been the girl (well still am) who has a love hate relationships with bikini’s. And in this blog, I am writing to women. I am not giving men an “out” in the sin department, I am simply addressing how we, as women of God, are called to react to the topic of modesty in the church. Because I get it, modesty is weird and awkward and obnoxious if you don’t truly understand the freedom it brings. But what I want to do is share my heart and how God has transformed the way I view modesty, because once you understand the beauty in modesty, it’s life giving.

So to make things easy for everyone, I made a list of all things I’ve deemed immodest so that everyone will know how to dress and we will no longer have these problems. Aren’t you glad you have me to guide you through this process?

Only kidding. I’d be eaten alive on social media and never be able to leave the house without being stoned by a flock of angry modesty hating women in blue jean cut off shorts.

What I want to talk about instead? Our hearts and our intentions with the way we present ourselves, not only to the world, but to God. What I hear the most is that it isn’t our fault as beautiful women, that men have impure thoughts. And I would definitely say it’s NOT our fault. We are not in control of their mental process or lack of self control. If we are simply wearing a dress, whether it’s two inches above or below the knee, skin tight or flowy, high neck or v neck, if a man “stumbles” (some of you don’t like this word…) because of our dress, we are not at fault. We did not tell them to have impure thoughts simply because of our dress. Would you agree?

I will say though, we have the power to encourage purity OR impurity based on how we present ourselves.

We are definitely NOT responsible for a man stumbling… however, are we completely innocent if we’re aware of our immodesty, and our lack of self control inspires an impure thought in a mans head? And I get it, what some think is modest is another girls immodest and one girls immodest is another girls modest. But that’s not the point because we could go all day on everyones standard of modesty and get NO TO THE FREAKIN WHERE. So the point is…

You know in your own heart what your intentions are, and if we’re being real, we all struggle with where the bar is on “what’s deemed appropriate.” And so there’s grace for us, and we will constantly be figuring it out because our culture is just hard and yoga pants just really are that comfortable. So this is why we must study our own hearts, and invest like crazy in our relationship with Him because he wants to give us guidance in this awkward journey through modesty.

But here’s the question I want us to think about, because this could change your entire perspective: As women who know and love the Lord and His children, do you think we are responsible for encouraging our men to think purely based on the way we are presenting our bodies and selves? Shouldn’t we interact and dress in a way that makes it harder for them to lust? Shouldn’t  we care for the mental health and purity of their minds and hearts, especially those we may be dating or engaged to?

“So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.” -Romans 14:19

“Therefore, let us not pass judgement on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.” -Romans 14:13

Based on scripture, I want to examine what we, as women of God who seek Godliness, are called to be:

  • adorning themselves in respectable apparel with modesty and self control – 1 Timothy 2:9
  • reverent in behavior, not slaves to much wine, pure, kind, and submissive to their husbands – Titus 2:3 (it also says working at home, which can be taken out of context easily, but so can submit… thats an entirely different blog topic)
  • presented holy and blameless, above reproach – Colossians 1:22
  • strong and dignified – Proverbs 31:25
  • far more precious than jewels – Proverbs 31:10
  • she does good to her husband rather than harm – Proverbs 31:12
  • she fears the Lord and is to be praised – Proverbs 31:30
  • unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, tender heart, and a humble mind – 1 Peter 3:8
  • gracious, the crown of her husband – Proverbs 12:4 & 11:16
  • she walks by the spirit and not by the flesh – Galatians 5:16
  • servant hearted – 1 Samuel 12:24

“Only fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you.” -1 Samuel 12:24

What’s so important, and can be missed entirely, is that modesty is not solely about the clothes you wear or the way you interact with others. Modesty is a matter of the heart, and it all comes down to how we view our bodies and the importance behind our actions and intentions. I’m also not saying I’m an expert in this department, because my outfit at church Sunday was probably questionable to some. #iloveleggings

I need God to show me what true Godliness looks like in todays culture and in women like us, who truly just desire to honor God in our day to day lives. I need God to hold my hand and convict me when I’m wearing something in vain simply because I want attention. I need the Holy Spirit to help me discern my outfits because I genuinely want my attire to honor Him, and honor the men around me, especially my husband.

My heart for this one very specific aspect of modesty is this: As women who love and know the Lord, we must encourage purity in a mans heart in everything we do. Because no matter who you think is to blame, we are responsible for building one another up in righteousness.  This includes protecting their minds from darkness with the way we present ourselves through dress, our intentions, and our actions.

“That together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” -Romans 15:6

“Therefore, encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11

A strong woman of God is loving, kind, and tenderhearted in her walk, and cares deeply for the body of Christ. Her mission in life is to strive for purity, for Christ-likeness, and protecting the body of Christ from any defilement. She seeks humility and holiness in her dress and actions, and never takes it lightly when a brother or sister is struggling with darkness or impurity. A strong Godly woman strives to build up strong Godly men who seek righteousness and who fight the good fight. Are we doing that?

By ceasing to take responsibility for the health and purity of the body of Christ, we are falling away entirely from the JOY God has called us to live in as ONE family.

“Complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.” Philippians 2:2

And so here’s the nugget I want to end with.

He is so loving towards us, for no apparent reason, so why can’t we love one another in the way we dress and present ourselves? By caring for the purity of our brothers and sisters in Christ, we are striving to encourage unity and harmony among the body of Christ. We must strive for unity, being of the same mind, the same body, and surrendering to the same love that called us out of darkness and into light.

“May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

I’m aware that this is just one aspect of modesty, and that there are thousands of opinions. I definitely want to pray about writing a second blog if more opinions and concerns come up! Thank you so much for reading!

 

Sincerely,

Catie Sas