Tagged: love

I’m Pregnant

I could almost feel God laughing when I wrote the following words in my recent post, “Where Have You Been?”:

When or if I get pregnant, it is because of years and years of work tearing down this ego Satan has built inside of me.

Seriously. Hollywood couldn’t have scripted a more hilarious thing to write literally within the days of the conception of my pregnancy.

(And boy – I mean literally. I’ve been charting my cycles with the Creighton method, and literally July 8th is around when ovulation happened.)

So, hey, wow. Let’s get this party started:

Pregnant

Conceiving

That quote was dead on. (TMI Alert!) Thanks to EMDR, I overcame my emotional blocks (one day at a time) and we started making love to completion in late May. We made love that way three times, and then I became pregnant. This is interesting to me on so many levels, because I thought we had physical conception problems for the past three years.

But the story starts a little earlier. In April of this year, I completed a Whole 30 (very strict no sugar, grains, dairy, or “Paleo” desserts). For the first time in 5 years, my thyroid numbers were within range of normal.

So, were we infertile until May, and then would have become pregnant regardless of whether it was to completion or not? Or have we been fertile this whole time, and it’s only since EMDR has been working in my heart that it was going to happen? Literally only God knows.

“Knowing I’m Pregnant” Week 1

Are you ready for this? My first reaction to my pregnancy was terror and panic. I cried. I had panic attacks for the first time in a long time. I shouted at my husband — through gasping sobs — “I don’t think I can do this.” 

Is this any way to react to a miracle? Or, Lord help me, did Mary feel anything like this?

Looking back (er, looking at me now still), I can see there’s three parts to this reaction:

  1. Probably pretty normal: I’m not ready for this. I thought I had more time. This is a lot of change. Why not wait a few more days/weeks/years?
  2. Less normal but still normal:  I’m a sick person. My body can’t possibly support a pregnancy, so this whole thing is doomed from the start. (This is what keeps me up at night the most, when I’m not crying about it).
  3. Even less normal, pretty wicked: I don’t want to do this. I want to be comfortable, and I was just about to achieve it with my dedication to health and fine-tuning my mental performance so I could make money with my business.

I really had shelved a baby. I was always afraid of it (my chronic health issues make me afraid of being sick, and let’s face it, being sick is basically the daily cross of being pregnant). But I also felt misty-eyed when I thought of not having children.

(Side note confession: If I weren’t Catholic and I didn’t understand deeply just how much of an abomination it is, I would totally have thought surrogacy was an option).

I was in this weird, Catholic-but-oddly-secular place where I got to have the satisfaction of “wanting kids” and the freedom of “not being able to have kids.” I was getting away with it. And then… suddenly… I wasn’t.

Pairing that sense of joyful disbelief (I already gave up on a baby, after all) with the sense that I was on this path to utter destruction (it starts with queasiness and exhaustion and ends by ripping your body apart), my brain was on overload. I cried most of the first week and scared my poor husband.

 

“Knowing I’m Pregnant” Week 2

OK, I lied a little bit in the first section. My first reaction to pregnancy was actually very practical: I called all my doctors and determined that I should drive to a city about an hour away to start bioidentical progesterone shots.

It was surreal — telling nurses I was pregnant, getting HCG and progesterone tests, and so on. Turns out I was so newly pregnant that they weren’t sure I was pregnant and it had to be confirmed with another blood test over the weekend. That’s part of my life now, getting stuck in the butt with a big needle on Mondays and Thursdays. So, let’s start that timeline, too.

As for week 2, I was less panicked, but still crying a lot. This is a good time to mention that we also moved. Nothing quite like ripping yourself out of your home for the past 3 years for a new, bigger home, that’s a little more expensive and not quite as nice. I’m sure half my stress comes from getting used to a new place, but wow, it all combines at night to make me feel like this otherworldly, terrorized, crazy lady.

Things got slowly better, though. During week 2, we bought some fun books about parenting and pregnancy. I had a few moments of actually being excited about this, and enjoying the prospect of being pregnant. What if this really could work out?

“Knowing I’m Pregnant” Week 3

This just about brings us up to date. We’ve told a few close friends (basically the support network I would want if we miscarry) and my anonymous Internet community (that’s you guys). Everyone else is going to wait until October 1st.

I get very, very sad sometimes, and I am struggling with depression. But that seems to be my main “pregnancy” symptom.

I am relieved to say that I was so afraid of throwing up, and I haven’t yet! I get queasy easily, and the most appealing things to eat are mostly off-limits to me (carbs and sugar mostly, and I’m at risk for gestational diabetes so I started tracking that carefully).

I’m also exhausted a lot easier than ever before (and that’s saying something — I was already working 10-15 hour weeks to accommodate my lowered energy!). Making food for my husband and I is so far off my radar. We’ve been eating more to-go food and prepared food than ever before, and my counselor gave me the green light to not feel bad about it. We still eat very clean foods (we eat a Paleo/Whole 30 template), but cheese and gluten-free packaged treats have been sneaking into it.

Your Gift to Me: Fear Venting

I hate to bog you guys down with my fears, which are less real to you, but WOW if that’s not what I need to do!

I’ve been pulling away from friends and activities because I hate to cry in front of people without a solution in hand. Then there’s trying to think of something to say to people who don’t know I’m pregnant yet. I’ll work on this, but in the mean time I hope you’ll forgive me for walking through the deepest, darkest part of my heart right now:

  • What if we miscarry? This is a real risk for everyone who gets pregnant. The rates vary, but it could be as high as 25%. I felt a lot better once I learned that in many cases it’s simply unavoidable: it’s because the baby isn’t viable for some chromosomal reason, and it has to go. But I still fear this greatly, not just the loss but also the physical pain of uterine contractions. I’ve had very  bad period pains before — to the point of getting hot/cold sweats, shaking, and thinking I was going to pass out — and I’m afraid I won’t be able to handle the pain of a miscarriage.
  • What if we miscarry and I have to do this again? The idea of starting over at O with a pregnancy makes me cold to my bones. Honestly, part of my thoughts (that I can’t control) is that this is it, this is my shot, and if something goes wrong I’ll find a way to not have to do it again, like not having sex every again. I can’t explain this thought process, but it’s all based in fear, which means it’s not from God. I need to work on this.
  • What if I can’t work? I work for myself as a freelance writer. My income depends on me 1) finding clients, 2) writing for clients. Pregnancy craziness affects concentration and energy, which affects both those things. I am terrified I won’t be able to focus and then I won’t be able to make enough money to 1) cover the next few months of bills, 2) cover a maternity leave, 3) cover our taxes for last year and this year. I pray for a financial miracle every night (if that’s God’s will for us… otherwise I pray to be brave through all of this).
  • How do I maintain my friendships? My friends are almost all split between single women who crave a husband and a home life, and married women who are struggling to conceive. They have all been so gracious to me. But inside my head all I can think is that they want me to hush up and be grateful for the wonderful things I have in my life. And hey, I can’t argue with that, I should be grateful! But how do you deny your fears and discomforts to embrace only the positive? At my core I feel fear and discomfort with my new home and my pregnancy. I’ll pray to God to let me release them.

Well, there you go. Thank you so much for reading. I don’t want to dwell on my fears — my hope is that by sharing them with you, I can release them and focus on being excited to be a mother, grateful for the ability to be pregnant and the pregnancy itself, and closer to God by being closer to the miracle of life.

I don’t think it will feel real until I see a heartbeat at 12 weeks, but getting up 4 times a night to pee feels real enough for now!

Time to turn the mic to you: If you’ve been pregnant, what were the first few weeks like? If you’re struggling with infertility, do you forgive me for being terrified?

Where Have You Been?

When I look back on the changes in my life in the past two months, it feels like it’s a different person writing. That’s only a testament to the amazing change that can be wrought in your heart when God, the Holy Spirit, and counseling work together.

I’ve worked a lot, traveled a bit, and been in counseling almost every week. Here are some themes that are playing out in my life and bringing me closer to God:

landscape-nature-sunset-trees

“You are more than what you do”

I have a tendency toward false idols (I think we all do). Work is a big one. Because I’m good at it and it rewards me with money, I tend to pour all of my time, thought, and energy into it in order to avoid harder things like being present to my husband, putting myself out there for my friends (new and old), and being available to God.

Right now, my business is in a slow growth state, which gives me a lot of time to reflect and feel fear. More than ever before, though, I’ve been trying to stick with mantras like, “It’s all in God’s hands,” and “What happens will happen.” I’m still very afraid, but I also feel a bit of anesthesia from a fear that would usually be wringing my guts out. I’ve prayed for peace from God (and the ability to stop seeing money as security) and I can feel God working in me.

Sex as mutual self-giving

At the time of this writing, the past two times we’ve made love has been to completion. It feels so weird and amazing (and TMI) to write that, but it’s an important part of my story. It’s also one that I want people to know about. When or if I get pregnant, it is because of years and years of work tearing down this ego Satan has built inside of me.

I want to be clear it’s all by the grace of God and that the only way forward was to get out of my own way and give everything to Him. Which, ironically, sounds a lot like what I was afraid of in the first place (giving everything up). So it’s all an amazingly intertwined spiritual pretzel.

I still worry I’m not having sex enough or that I won’t be able to have it to completion enough (or each time), but part of the work I’m doing has been to turn off my brain. I am enough. What I’m doing is enough. And I should never dwell on not being enough, just as I should never stop trying to improve myself and my spiritual condition… the beauty of the Both/And Catholicism!

I still wonder if other women go through this. It’s not something people bring up in polite company too often, so it’s hard to get a sense of how normal this is, but if I keep chugging away with my story I hope I can find others or help someone dealing with the same thing.

What does “OK” mean?

So many things affect how I think I’m doing. My health, my bank account, my mood, how much I’ve accomplished in a given day. But God tells us only one thing matters: I’ve had to keep reminding myself that I will be the best-version-of-myself no matter how the future finds me based on my spiritual health, not my physical health, possessions, or mind.

What does OK mean to you? Getting into a certain college? Getting a certain salary? Dating a certain person? Imagine how much stress would fall away from us if we focused on the only thing that matters: how quickly and easily we express our love for God. When that’s all that matters to us, we stop fighting those great things because they don’t look the way they think they should, and we leave room for God to do great things in our lives.

There’s so much more, but that’s enough of a check-in for now (and I hope to be back more regularly starting now). I’d love to hear how you all are doing and what you’re reading!

Even High School Love Should Be God’s Love

“I don’t know if I love you, but if I don’t, I know I want to.”

After more than a year of dating, that’s the closest I’d come to having the boyfriend I’d been sleeping with say he loved me. It was a hot summer night, and he was dropping me off at my house after we spent the day together.

woman-notebook-working-girl

You’d think this — in addition to his serious addiction to pornography — would have been enough of a “Get the heck outta there!” warning to back away, but for some reason it didn’t register.

Instead, I wandered inside my house in a daze, wondering what it meant that my boyfriend really wanted to love me. He wanted to (he was good), which meant he couldn’t (because I was bad?), which meant I was unlovable (really bad, then?).

I’m not here to relive sad memories. I’m hoping that hearing this story might show you what could be going on in the life of someone you know. Picture your daughter, or your niece, or your best female friend as a 16-year-old and replay this scene in your head (and believe me, it’s possible. Kids are having sex as early as fifth grade now, and if they aren’t having sex they know someone who is or they’re talking about it). Looking at it now, it’s despicable. It’s ludicrous.

I wish I had a clear answer about what would have turned my path back then. M parents raised me in a Catholic church and I was half-involved with youth activities. But some perfect storm of emotional vulnerability and insecurity left me wide open for the influence of a cute boy who wanted to hang out with me.

What can you do for that person in your life now? I don’t know. Anything I wish my brothers had done (find this guy and beat him up, demand that we stop seeing each other, reveal everything to my parents) would have been very painful and awkward at the time. But I wonder how much it would have helped to have a strong relationship with someone who would have given me the tough feedback I needed to hear.

Here’s a small selection of things I didn’t know then that I know now:

Your body and your soul are connected; what you do with your body, you do to your soul. (C/o Sr. Helena Burns, FSP’s foreword to Chastity is for Lovers!)

If someone doesn’t love you enough to want you to have a beautiful life and a strong marriage, why do you think they love you enough to be worthy of sleeping with them?

If you have to “do things” in order to keep a friendship or a relationship, you’re better off without that relationship.

As I learned in reflecting on Strange Gods, I don’t pretend it was up to someone else to “save me” from these bad decisions. I moved forward in this relationship because I had no relationship with God. At the time, it felt like it was John or bust. And then a sort of Nightingale Effect settled in and I began to deeply love the one-sided relationship I was having.

So that’s where I’d start. If you’re concerned about a loved one or you want to be a part of the team that prevents these kinds of things from happening, start with God. Start with relationship. And start right now.

Your turn: Where do you think bad decisions come from in the teenage years? 

PS Wrote this post to the Casting Crowns channel. My husband loves them! What do you think?

Things To Remember When You Find Out Your 15-Year Old Niece Is Having Sex

My husband is on the phone with his sister right now, trying to convince her that she has the right to tell her two daughters “No.”

In this case, it’s about the mother finding prescription drugs and a pipe in 17-year-old Kid A’s purse (“No, you cannot work at that bar anymore.”) and finding out that 15-year-old Kid B is having sex with her older boyfriend (“No, you cannot see that boy anymore”).

I want to give my sister-in-law some credit; she is an alcoholic and we suspect that she was sexually molested as a child. She is also married to an alcoholic who is dying of liver failure, but who won’t stop drinking. She has a household full of challenges, and I am sure it is easier to feel powerless than it is to feel powerful when she faces what she faces every day.

This time, my husband’s weird family dynamics hit me right where it hurts.

If you’re following along with my own drama, you know that I engaged in a sexual relationship with an older guy at 15 and it’s lead to countless problems in my current (married and Catholic) love life.

Because of the growing drama over the last few years, we haven’t seen the nieces much. The last I really remember hanging out with them we played a care-free game of basketball. And now we’re watching — what feels like helplessly — as they both grow up in all the wrong ways.

I know it’s not all about me, but learning that my 15-year-old niece in law is having sex with her older boyfriend (and that her older sister was given condoms by her mother) activates a lot of anxiety for me.

It’s hard to describe the feelings that come up from this perspective, watching the cycle repeat itself with someone we watched grow up.

This struggle is only unfolding now, but here are some things to keep in mind to lower your blood pressure if you ever find yourself in a situation like this one:

1. You could say everything right, and this still might be meant to be.

My husband and I both want to be life-changers. But even if we gave a 100 percent, primo, amazing speech about Catholicism and premarital sex and anti-drug use…. it still might be out of our hands. You have to do everything you reasonably can, but then you HAVE to let go and let God.

2. Stress is thinking you’re in control; peace is knowing God’s in control.

Thanks to Scott Hahn’s Facebook feed for this one:

Screenshot 2016-01-29 at 8.47.17 PM

But honestly, I really struggle with this because I know what the consequences of my niece’s sexual activity could be. I want to save her from all of this pain and what’s to come, but I have to accept that it’s not my right to do that. God will find a lesson in here for her, and he will make this right because that’s what he does. The rest is up to her and God.

3. Boundaries protect you from yourself.

The impulse to help is powerful, and sometimes we can’t control it when it comes to our families. Thankfully, my husband and I are well-versed in the Boundaries book and we know to evaluate our behavior from a biblical perspective.

In this situation, we’ve tried to reach out to our nieces several times and they don’t respond or engage (to the extent that one of them blocked me on Twitter several years ago).

We can try to stay in touch and let them know we’re here for them if they ever want to talk about things, but we can’t drive over to their house, pick them up, and take them to a convent. It’s out of our hands, and God made it that way so that we all would have free will to choose him. My husband and I need to find peace with that.

pexels-photo-14303.jpeg

I’m sure there’s more to learn from this situation, but I’m exhausted and stressed out about the whole thing (especially considering I was in counseling for my own sexual relationship as a 15-year-old this afternoon!!).

What would you do in this situation? Have you dealt with a similar experience?

An Open Letter to My Friends Living Together Before Marriage: Don’t Do It!

Are you ready for some Catholic hypocrisy?

I had sex with boyfriends before marriage (unfortunately). I also lived with my husband before we got married (before we converted).

And… it’s something I deeply regret.

Living together before marriage didn’t ruin our lives. In fact, it made some things easier.

We put off “the big day,” which was expensive, embarassing (for me), and stressful.

We put off questions about kids, because no one asks about that until after you’re married.

We also had a free pass to focus on our education and our careers. After all, you don’t have to “work on your marriage” if you don’t have one, right? You just get to spend time with the person you love. You’re two people who choose to be together every day you wake up, and there’s no pressure other than that. You’ve got all the benefits of marriage without the politics and statistics of broken homes or social stereotypes.

What’s not to love?

As it turns out, plenty of things.

Here’s my case against living together before you’re married, and if anyone has a time machine, let me know so I can go back to my 15-year-old self and read this aloud to her:

What’s the Big Problem?

Contrary to what my parents implied while I was growing up, living together before marriage wasn’t a guild-ridden and shameful experience. It felt really liberating and modern. It didn’t cause us to be shunned by everyone we knew because everyone we knew would give us the slow, understanding nod about how old fashioned it was to NOT live together.

But do you know what it did do? It caused major delays.

Looking back, I can see how damaging it was to go through the relationship steps without the grace of the sacrament of marriage.

As an unmarried couple living together before marraige, we were broken individuals trying to love each other how we had learned to love. For me, that meant relying on sexual behavior as a barometer of our relationship (which lead to a lot of miscommunication), and for my husband that meant doing his best and hoping it would work out (and being bewildered when it got uncomfortable).

We also kept secrets from each other, thought and acted selfishly, and experienced incredible stress anytime something went wrong in our relationship or in our lives (AKA “Things aren’t perfect right now but we have a right to things being perfect — ACK!”.

Unlike our marriage now, there was no third person, no Holy Spirit, no sense of grace to carry us through the inevitable tough times.

When you live together before marriage, you aren’t getting away with something; you’re missing out on something.

You aren’t avoiding a bad decision; you’re delaying the best decision you’ll ever make.

You’re also depriving yourself and your partner of an infinite source of love and support.

The sacrament of marriage is a gift straight from Jesus. That means that A) it’s important, so hey, maybe you need it even if you think you don’t? and B) Why would you pass up the opportunity to have that player on your team?

Why Is This Happening?

The heart of the epidemic of people living together is not:

  • The old fashioned institution of marriage
  • The sexual revolution, modern feminism, or social justice
  • Religious hypocrites

The heart of the epidemic of people living together is due to each of our individual experiences of brokenness, shame, abuse, and selfishness.

When I considered living together with my husband, I was escaping a traditional patriarchal view of marriage in which I was to be saddled down with kids and used and abused as a mother for the rest of my life. I was taking love and sex (what society told me were “the best parts”) and leaving behind all the baggage.

When my friends live with their partners (and buy houses with them and go on vacations and join finances), they are taking as much good as they can and avoiding as much of the perceived downside as they can. They are leaving the baby and taking the bathwater, with no idea what joy that (poopy, smelly, screaming) baby can bring into their lives.

MoveInTogether

The List Goes On

My basic thoughts laid out, here’s a list of the common arguments I hear from cohabitating couples paired with what I’d like to say to them:

  • “I don’t want someone to be forced to stay with me if they want to leave.” Will your partner leaving you now hurt any less 30 years from now? If anything I think it will hurt more. You can’t escape pain or betrayal by hiding your feelings. If anything, marriage is a way to clearly communicate the expectations you have for your relationship, thus establishing the boundaries that will help it succeed. You have to re-learn that it’s okay to trust someone and to expect things from someone. You have to learn to forgive and be forgiven within your relationships.
  • “We’re already married in our life, so why get married just for the piece of paper?” Clearly if it was just a piece of paper, it wouldn’t be a big deal to you. In this case, it seems like people who don’t get married don’t do so “because they don’t think it’s important,” but because it’s important beyond belief and they don’t think they deserve it.
  • “I just want to have fun.” Then you’re too immature to be a functioning member of society, let alone have sex with another human being. Go play laser tag.
  • “Sex is about pleasure.” Look at your partner deep in the eyes. Is the purpose of their existence to give you physical pleasure? If someone else was dating your partner and they whispered that phrase to you in a bar, would you stand for it? Or would it sound like they were using your partner as a selfish tool for their own gain. Beyond that, do you ignore or otherwise not care for your partner when you’re not having sex? If you’re trying to make this argument, it’s more likely that you have some commitment and  honesty issues than that you don’t think marriage is worthwhile.
  • “We’re not ready for it.” You’re a wuss. You’re putting something off. You’re afraid of something in your future, and you don’t want to get started. Here’s a thought: whatever’s coming, wouldn’t you want to face it with this person legally, socially, and spiritually committed to you? And vice versa?
  • “We want to make sure we’re compatible.” Ah, the most practical answer of all. How much sense this made to me 10 years ago! But all I can say to this is that if you love someone, if you want to sacrifice the rest of your life to their best health, if you would sleep in the hospital bed with them to tend them when they’re ill, and if you want to help them get into heaven… does it matter if it takes you a year to figure out who takes out the trash? Does it matter if you aren’t “good at sex” and you have to learn about it together? And would it really change everything to learn that they have a weird habit or preference that they need to go to counseling for? Looking back on my excuse, this is the same as “We’re not ready for it.” You’re just a wimp and there’s something you’re hiding from. Embrace it, grow, and make the plunge to either separate or get married!

I say these things as lovingly as possible (though I’m sure I’ll get some sass in the comments about being rigid or encouraging people to marry willy-nilly). I say these things as I wish someone had said to me when I signed my first lease with my now-husband and snuck around the adults in our lives. I say this with love and compassion for how much people are suffering (acknowledged or not) when they choose to live together before they get married.

Attention: Major Delays Ahead

As my husband is fond of saying, if we could go back in time we would never stop slapping ourselves for things we said, did, and thought during college and shortly after. Maturity has a way of replaying events in your life back to you and it’s frustrating to think of how right it felt to you at the time.

To all couples who are living together, I have to ask: if you aren’t ready to make this commitment… then why are you letting your body, finances, brain, and emotions make a commitment?

You’re setting yourself up for a lowercase-d “divorce” by not getting married, because eventually you will separate the family unit you have made and you never even gave it the support it deserved through the sacrament of marriage. Or, you’ll stay together in a perpetual twilight state of “two individuals who decide to have sex every now and then,” and that’s kind of like trying to behave like a toddler through your tweens.

While our culture (including myself at age 24 and many many of my friends now) are content to stop with “What feels right,” I think we all need to take a look at anything that comes to us easily. Today, it’s all too likely it comes straight from Screwtape under the label “modernity” and “getting with the times,” and it leads straight to a personal hell of your own making.

#HowToBeSingle Is the Height of “Sexual Revolution” Crap

I’m rereading CS Lewis’s Screwtape Letters and then this forehead-slap-worthy “Trend” came across the screen of my Twitter account:

MakeYourOwnRules

And I just…. can’t even.

canteven.gif

This is such obvious secular nonsense.

How in the world does it being 2016 mean that emotionally broken and damaged people should make up rules about how they treat other people and their own bodies?

badidea.gif

Yeah, this is going to be a great year. For treating your body like it’s separate from your mind or your emotions? For pretending sex doesn’t mean anything and it’s fine to get off on other people? For getting drunk and ignoring all the warning signs in your life? ( & this is just according to the trailer I couldn’t look away from during the previews of another movie.)

Please tell me there is going to be a cultural whiplash against this movie… please tell me this is not the height of comedy, entertainment, or “women’s rights.” Please tell me that those who see this movie will be so turned off by it that it changes their life for the better!

I could cut it off here and leave this as a rant, but I’d rather make a tiny push toward making the world a better place. I’d like to take your “It’s 2016 — Make your own rules!” and replace it with these amazing lessons about sex from Simcha Fisher in her NC Register Post, “So What SHOULD We Tell Our Kids About Sex?”:

  1. Love is a gift of self.
  2. We speak with our bodies.
  3. Sex is about babies, among other things.
  4. The world lies to you.
  5. Sex forms bonds.
  6. Chastity is a positive.
  7. It’s possible to ruin sex for yourself.
  8. Sex is beautiful and mysterious.
  9. Premarital sex hurts you both, even if you marry the person you had it with.
  10. But all is never lost if you’ve gone too far.

I strongly encourage you to click over and read the full article. Like Fisher’s book, “The Sinner’s Guide to NFP” (which is about WAY MORE than NFP), it’s worth reading twice and sharing with everyone you know who has kids!

 

The Real Reason Everyone’s Sex Crazy

“If the body and sex were mean to proclaim our union with God, and if there is an enemy who wants to separate us from God, what do you think he is going to attack? If we want to know what is most sacred in this world, all we need do is look for what is most violently profaned.”

Introduction to Theology of the Body, Christopher West

Growing up in the 1990s, my first memory of “The Talk” was when my mom sat me down and told me that men give love to get sex and women give sex to get love.

Looking back, my mom was clearly trying to protect me from the way the world looks at sex.

But, as you can imagine, my pre-teen self was like:

conf-7.gif

 

Unfortunately, talk about sexuality pretty much ended there. I was prepped on the physical side of things (what goes where, and when) and my mom wanted my brothers and I to be open with our questions, but I didn’t get a Catholic perspective on sex except that when you’re Catholic you don’t have sex until you’re married.

Even more unfortunately, that’s pretty much how the rest of society (including myself until age 31) summarizes the Catholic approach to sex: don’t do it until you’re married. And then, silence.

I can’t count the ways in which this is a shame. Not only does the silence create a perfect breeding ground for Screwtape to jump in there and wreak havoc (AKA pornography, premarital sex, friends with benefits, R-rated movies, “explore your sexuality,” “try out homosexuality,” and everything else), but it leaves a huge, sinking whole in the place that should contain the vision of what sexuality is meant to be.

It’s just like our buddy Langston Hughes said so long ago:

Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.
Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.

Langston Hughes

Looking out into the world today, it’s clear that the dream of Catholic sexuality died somewhere. Our idea of love, sex, and marriage in the secular world is barren and lifeless. It’s not a safe place, it’s a battle trench.  It’s not empowering, it’s a weighted anchor. And it’s all because Screwtape knows how important sex is to living a full life in tune with God’s plan.

The solution? Let’s start talking about how awesome married Catholic sex is! Not in a prurient, secular way. But in a way that affirms that it’s something worth waiting for. That it’s something special, something to be desired, and something that isn’t “bad until you’re married and then suddenly good, but only for babies.”

God made sex, and God made the body. God loves both. But both are meant for the sacrament of marriage. Outside that sacrament, it’s not that sex becomes bad; it’s that it becomes disordered. It’s no longer a sacred gift from God. It no longer is for your good, nor does it have your best interests in mind. Inside of marriage, sex brings you closer to God. Outside of marriage, sex brings you further away.