Friday, June 24, 2011

Sex, Faith & Men: What I Never Knew About Dating.

"Why don't you date him? He's a good guy."

"Just give him a chance. You never know unless you take the risk."

"Go on a few dates. Just because he isn't a Christian doesn't mean he will be a bad boyfriend."

"God can change people. Maybe he's the one. You can make it work.”

"We're just hanging out, it's not serious. It won't go anywhere."

"You're not deciding to marry him right this second. Just see how it goes."

I remember being a freshman in high school and believing heart and soul that I would never date a "non-believer," much less ever have sex with one. Fast-forward five or six years, and I've dated a couple. Fast-forward another year or two, and I'm sleeping with one that I'm not even dating.

No girl wakes up and says to herself, "I'm gonna fall head over heels in love with a man I'd never marry today" or decides over lunch that sex is just sex is just sex, and none of it is a big deal anyway. I didn't. And you probably didn't, but both of those things happen to us.

“Your first perfect Christian boyfriend broke your heart. You weren't supposed to mess around with him, but you did anyway. Now you might as well mess around with the next one. You've been perfect your whole life. You deserve to have some innocent fun. It's just going out for a drink - that isn't committing to a relationship. Cuddling as 'friends' isn't wrong. Marriage is like, a decade away. What are you supposed to do for ten years - be bored? Everyone has sex before marriage. And everyone ends up with a husband and happy in the end. You need to experience everything before you settle down and only have sex with one man for the freaking rest of your whole entire life.”

I don't know how it happened to you, but that's a glimpse of what happened to me. And I was the girl with the best intentions, the highest standards, and the most reasonable head on my shoulders. Maybe you got there a little differently, but it ended us both in the same place.

Why did it happen? Because we're human. Because life happens. Because we get hurt. Because we're built for relationships, but we're born broken.

And because too often as Christian girls, we are given the rules with no explanations. We're told the No's without the Yes's. We're given the worst-case scenarios without a picture of the amazing fun-filled, purpose-filled, hot sex & crazy love filled marriage that we were created for.

As Christian girls, we're told that sex gets us pregnant, ruins sex with our future husband & is SIN SIN SIN. The church has steered us away from sex by way of guilt, shame & fear. The problem with motivating by guilt & fear (instead of truth & life) is that the moment another area of our life collapses (which it will), we give up on everything. Because sin is sin is sin, right?

We say, "What the hell." And we give up a little, settle a little, stop caring a little.

This is what I didn't know about relationships. About men. About myself. About sex. About dating. About marriage. About life.

This is what I didn't know, that had I known, I might not have become addicted to things that slowly began to destroy me.

This is what I half-knew, that I pushed to the back of my mind and heart, believing that I couldn't have or couldn't find.

This is why you can't date a man who doesn't love Jesus, if you have given your life to the God who created, treasures and adores you.

- Because Love isn't enough to get you through anything. You have to respect him, too. There is something in the heart of a woman who loves Jesus that knows she can't fully respect a man who doesn't have God as his number one priority. If you don't respect him as a man, get out. If you question it now, you can expect it to be wholly sabotaged when things get rough. A man knows when you don't respect him, and there are few things more dangerous, problem-causing & explosive than a man without respect.

- When we evaluate relationships, we forget to set the stage at its worst - we just set it for now. Last week, my man hit rock bottom. As the woman who is promising to love & support him (and invest my entire life in him) no matter what, I HAVE to know that God loves, protects, will provide for, and will strengthen this man in my arms. If a man doesn't love God with his whole heart, I can't be assured that what I'm comforting him with is going to be delivered. I can't have faith in a man who doesn't have faith. I can't strengthen the faith of a man who doesn't have any to begin with.

- If you are a woman who loves Jesus, a man who doesn't love Jesus doesn't know who you truly are.
Your identity is defined by God. You're lying to yourself if you think that your relationship with Jesus can remain in a box, outside of your romantic relationship. For a while, I told myself that if he understood every part of me except for the God part - that was okay. When you are created a new creation in Christ, ALL of you is "the God part." No part of you is untouched by your love for Jesus. And your man does not see that you - he sees a different woman.

- You need an anchor. One day you're going to fall apart. And you're going to need him to come to your rescue by way of God, not by himself. God is our rock, and our foundation. Max cannot be my savior. I cannot be his. And both of us need one. If you date a man who doesn't know his Savior, you are forced to fulfill that role, which as a human being, you cannot. And he will try to be your savior. And he can not. Everything will be okay because you believe in God, not because your boyfriend “believes in you.”

- When you've made the decision to follow Jesus, your perception of everything becomes wildly changed. Lifelong friendships are built not on similar interests, but on similar views of the world. Marriages are no different. It is said that marriages do not fail for lack of love, but lack of friendship. You're choosing a partner to take on the world with together for the rest of your life. You can't make it through the battle if he's seeing differently than you are. And you can't live with someone you wouldn't be friends with in the first place.

- He can't love you to the best of his ability if he doesn't love Jesus. I'm talking about the kind of love you need to survive a marriage. The love that lasts a lifetime. The lay-down-your-life-for-someone-kind-of-love. The world's definition is but a pale imitation of love. If you want to truly be loved by a man, you need to find one who has experienced unconditional, sacrificial love as is defined by God, the author of it. God created marriage as an image of Jesus' relationship with the church, and Jesus laid down his life out of love for his bride.

- You can't marry them, so why date them? Let's say you've already decided you won't marry a non-Christian - but what's wrong with "just" dating them? Your body is designed to bond utterly & completely with someone, through the release of dopamine & oxytocin. Dopamine is the chemical that drives you back to pleasurable things. In its most innocent form, it teaches a small child that puppies are awesome. In its most powerful form, it creates a natural addiction to the person you are physically involved with. You were created to be addicted to someone for the rest of your life. The addiction starts the moment dopamine is triggered and begins to flood your brain. The question is: are you created an addiction to something healthy, or unhealthy? (When Oxytocin is triggered, it teaches your mind to trust, and reduces fear. Consider the repercussions of programming your body to trust someone you know you shouldn't, and to be safe around someone you plan to break up with.)

It hurts. It's hard. You love him.

I'm not telling you to leave him because you're sinning, I'm telling you to go get addicted to a man you want in your life forever.

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Want to talk about it? Email me. laurennicolelove [at] I've been there.

Want to read more about what sex does to you? Read my post "I Was A Prostitute."

Want some lighter talk on dating? Read my post "I Met My Man on Twitter & I'm Writing You A How To Guide On Dating"

And lastly, check out my Good Woman's Guide To The 21st Century over on MakeItMad.

Friday, June 17, 2011

A Letter To The Girl Without A Father & Etc.

I have a confession.

I cannot function without a father.

I have a second confession.

I used to love God because it was the right thing to do. Now I love Him because I am desperate for a Dad.

I have a third confession. A confession that mocks the Devil.

I believe that Daddy Issues are a gift.

I am not too proud to say that I am a woman who now knows she would not have sought God any other way.

I am not too proud to say that it took the world shattering pain of my father’s absence to bring me to an empty parking lot in the middle of the night at age 19, 14 years after I was saved, where I began to Love my God.

Love him like I loved my father. Needed him like I needed my father. Wanted him like I wanted my father.

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My previous posts for Deeper Story: Love Was The Plan, The Most Important Thing, & Losing Everything.

I was also honored to write for POTSC (People Of The Second Chance) this week: I Was A Prostitute.

We are wrapping up the month on Body Image & Beauty at Good Women Project. Yesterday was Part One of An Eating Disorder, & today's post is Part Two. July's topic will be Let's Talk About Sex. If you want to share your story, please email me at goodwomenproject [at] <3

Join me on Facebook: LaurenNicoleLove & Good Women Project

Follow me on Twitter: @laurenlankford & @goodwomenproj

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Rest: Conversations with God.

I'm learning that black and white often isn't sufficient for me. I love words. But I love the sky. And colors. And air. And space.

This was my conversation with God this morning. And how it felt.

Did you read my last post? I Was A Prostitute: The Truth About Sex. Also, I love this: Bodies & Beauty: My Almost-Eating Disorder.