I used to loooove reading romance novels. Yup, romance novels. They’re those books you see on the shelf with the gorgeous woman on the cover. She’s got her hair flowing every which way and she’s looking passionately into the eye of a tall, dark, and handsome man who has her wrapped in his arms. I got into reading these romance novels in sixth grade. SIXTH GRADE! I mean, c’mon, I didn’t even know what half the novel even meant! But I knew that the words were forbidden and that emboldened me to keep reading…until I knew exactly what those words meant.
After my conversion in high school however, these books became a burden for me. They became something I wanted to overcome but I couldn’t let go of. I would go extremely long periods of time without reading them, and then all at once read five of them in one sitting. And for those who haven’t picked up a romance novel – there’s a lot of sex that goes on in between the pages. Over the years I read hundreds of romance novels and grew incredibly desensitized to the words on the page. It seemed to be the same story; plot line, over and over again: The girl is a feisty young woman who catches the eye of a dark, brooding, handsome man and they have sex. Again. And again. And again. Oh, and they both have family problems and abandonment insecurities that keep them from becoming completely intimate with each other which is why they don’t say “I love you” to the other until the very end of the novel. You’re welcome, I just surmised for you at least the entire collection of romance novels at your local library.
Even though I knew the outcome, I kept on reading them. Each time I would read one, I’d get a thrill, which wasn’t a good feeling. I knew that these words conjured up pictures in my head that made me feel a certain way – but when I was done reading, the thrill had come and gone so quickly that I felt the need to read more. This feeling was given to me so easily, so willingly, so quickly. And I gratified my need for this instant pleasure through hundreds of these books – books that led me, ultimately, to porn.
Thankfully, I am not addicted to porn. However, for brief, sporadic periods of time I would indulge in pornography. It was so easy! All I had to do was type a couple keys into the search bar, and voila! Right at my fingertips. If I felt a need to watch porn, I’d do it. Or, at the soonest time I could be alone. And the quick flash of dark thrills and good feelings would come and go in a heartbeat, leading to a desire for more stolen moments just so I could feel that same buzz for all of three seconds, “just one more time.”
This tendency to satisfy our sexual desires through instant gratification plagues our entire culture. It’s extremely apparent in our college campuses, the “dating” scene, and most importantly – our bedrooms.
As a society, we’ve lost the art of waiting. We’ve become so focused on our own needs and desires that we fall into trysts with strangers at parties, or we become addicts looking for a quick fix through images on our cellphone. I’ve had people tell me that they hook up with random people every week and then others who can’t seem to stop their attachment to pornography and masturbation. They don’t want to stop because in the moment it feels amazing.
But that one moment is never enough. So they want more. And more. Until it becomes a need, not a mere desire. And then, this need is taken care of throughout the week, then daily, then hourly. Constantly looking for a fix. Constantly falling over their feet, trying to find a way to get that thrill again. Constantly putting these needs at the top of their priorities – unable to recognize that it’s enslaving them to a fate and perpetual cycle of the type of fulfillment that leaves you empty.
This is enough.
We are not slaves to our desires. We are not animals unbridled from a longing for pure and genuine intimacy, because that’s what we deserve! We deserve authentic intimacy.
We don’t deserve the kind of intimacy that leaves us lonely or unsatisfied.
We were made for more than that.
We were made for pure, unadulterated love.
We were made to love, and to be loved by God.
This love that I’m referring to does not leave you lonely. It does not leave you with the feelings of anxiousness that come from hiding behind closed doors. It does not leave you to go back to its own bedroom at 3 am. It does not make you wonder if you are enough. It does not make you feel unworthy or disgusting. It does not make you feel like you are being chained to the ground. It does not make you feel like an addict, nor a slave.
I don’t humor myself with cheap thrills. I used to. But not anymore. I no longer feel the aches of instant gratification; constantly wanting, needing fulfillment right then and there, only to watch it leave when the sun rises. Initially it was difficult to practice mastering my own passions. But by the grace of God, I no longer struggle with these issues as I did before. It came to a point that I had grown tired of the contradictory lifestyle I was leading. I no longer wanted to live my life with one foot following the world and the other following Jesus. It was too exhausting and I needed rest. So – I found rest in Jesus. And I gave myself completely to Him. I found myself at His feet, promising Him that I would strive my hardest to live a virtuous life. Because I said those words, “I promise you,” every action I now take makes me think, “Am I keeping my word to God? Am I fulfilling my promise to Him?” The fact that those words had come from my own mouth motivated me to combat these temptations. I wanted to prove to myself, and to God, that my word; my promise meant something. They were not mere utterances that served no purpose. My word meant something.
God wants each and every one of us to overcome our desires; to master them. He has given us power to shake off our chains if we so choose. To master my desires is my life-long dream. I will never be able to fully and completely master myself – but I sure can try. And though it’s a difficult task, I know that with Christ, anything is possible.