This year, the biggest change in the Awaken-Love class has been asking women to share their baggage and it has been AMAZING! Our stories are a testimony of how God works. We need to share our stories – even stories of how God has healed or forgiven us in our sex lives.
In class I used to be afraid to ask women to share their baggage, but I have decided the Awaken-Love study is not just about the women in the class. It is about every friend, relative or co-worker that their lives intersect with. Awaken-Love is one step in changing the whole culture of Christians and how they interact with others about sex. Christians ought to speak truth about sex everywhere they go – with their husband, with their kids, with their friends – even with non-believers. Sharing their stories of brokenness, how God healed and redeemed them and the freedom that they now enjoy gives others hope that God is indeed a good, good God.
So during Week 3 of class, when we talk about Lies, Baggage and Body Image Issues, I ask everyone to bring at least one piece of baggage that they can share with the class. It can be a small carry on or a giant suitcase. We don’t share specific details, but in respectful general ways, we communicate our experiences, how they affected our marriage bed, and the steps to gain freedom.
I have been astounded by the response and humbled by the trust and support that these women show each other. Every class has responded by fully entering into the process of reflecting on what their past baggage is and sharing openly. I have heard everything from…
- innocent child play or body discovery that lead to years of shame
- not knowing how to say no
- non-consensual acts that led to promiscuity spinning out of control
- not holding the lines of purity before marriage
- struggles with porn or erotica
- strong church messages of purity that led to inhibition
- messages of sex being about fulfilling a husband’s needs
Every woman seems to have something and what might seem like nothing to one women can be a huge deal to another. Sometimes it is not even what happened, but it is the over reaction of a loved one that leaves a huge impact.
As teachers, we try to discern if there are next steps that need to happen. Sometimes we ask if we can lay hands on a woman and pray for her. Sometimes we sense that she needs to claim this for herself by asking God right there and then for exactly what she wants as we gather around her in agreement. Sometimes we discern that a wife needs to share with a husband and pray with him or ask a husband to pray over her.
I have seen women return to class the next week with smiles on their face and burdens lifted. Women have shared that they went home that night to have amazing conversations with loving husbands. Women have released things that they were not supposed to carry and they have found a taste of the freedom that God desires for them.
You know, I used to say that God can heal in an instant or it can be a process. But recently I have realized that God may not always heal. Sometimes we are left with a thorn in our side like Paul and we may struggle our entire life. That thorn does not have to define us, or control us, but it can lead to a greater dependence on Christ as we live out surrender on a daily basis. We don’t have to hide our thorn from our loved ones, but we bear it with the one that fully knows us. And so, there are some intentional choices that we make as we step into living the life that God wants us to live – even when it is not easy.
My hope and desire is that the freedom these women experience as they throw away the code of silence, doesn’t just exist for them, but that it becomes a part of their testimony of God’s goodness. There are so many women that have experienced pain in their sexuality and it is time to start talking. Healing happens when you speak it out loud with another and you take it to the foot of the cross and you surrender it. God wants women to be whole.
Have you broken the code of silence about sexual baggage and what difference has it made for you?