Little did I know, when I first rocked out to this song, how true these words would someday become for me. Flar introduced me to the Rolling Stones. I was only 16 when we met, and he was a wiser 19. Shortly after my 17th birthday, we started
"I'm really glad you like having sex."
I inferred from this that we wouldn't stay together without the sex. But it didn't matter: I liked it.
"I've got the clear goggles!"
Skinny dipping in my parents' pool while they were out of town: it wasn't so unusual a choice for a young woman with her boyfriend. But, sharing that swim with just one friend of Flar's? What started out as "innocent" skinny dipping morphed into flirting that ended with a bit more with the two of them in the water.
"Forsaking all others, 'til death do us part."
We promised to love only each other, but years later, Flar saw me come alive sexually in bed with another of his friends. He suggested that we could expand our sexual activities without falling in love with others. That was only the first promise that I bent and snapped in two over the years of our marriage. Over the years, I broke so many promises seeking my own thrills, while Flar kept scrupulously to our ever-mutating agreement.
"Once you're married, anything goes."
My mother spoke this rather vague guideline to me when she was teaching me about God's wonderful gift, sex. In the afterglow of sexual bliss, I took Flar's suggestion as carte blanche. For a time, merely the thrill of a new touch was enough to thrill me. The lure of the commonly forbidden drew me. When simple encounters became ordinary, I discovered the idea of multiple loving relationships. I followed this path from "vanilla" sex to an alphabet soup of alternative pleasures: B&D, S&M and D/s.
From two through 55, the encounters ran from hours long, without bothering with last names or real names, to years long multiple committed loving relationships. But through all of these relationships, there ran a common theme: No matter how much I enjoyed any particular activity - I wanted more.
"Please sir, may I have some more?"
The first time I uttered these words I had to stifle a laugh at the reference. I could laugh out of the confidence of knowing the answer would be yes. But there came a time when I felt the desperation in those words.
I destroyed relationships and critically wounded others, in my search for satisfaction. I became obsessed with one of my lovers to the exclusion of all others. One man, who I thought would willingly satisfy all my desires. This obsession made satisfaction impossible. Physical exhaustion brought but brief respite from the rising need, and more and more rarely was I even granted that.
I came to identify my appetite with Audrey II from Little Shop of Horrors. I understood the hunger. I understood the mechanism of a "small meal" making me hungry for more. But I didn't see the hopelessness of ever finding true Satisfaction until my needs brought my fragile world crashing around me.
"I can't satisfy you .. more is never enough."
As I became convinced that more was essential to me, I got less and less. Until finally, it was over. And even though I was surrounded by people who love me, I felt completely alone. Hopeless.
"Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need."
So I turned to the only one whom I believed would love me no matter what. From my earliest years, I was taught that God love me -- that God IS love. I returned to the church, and I found a community of people who loved me, without even knowing me.
At first, I rested in this love. I was comforted by the unchanging nature of the loving God that I met as a child. I attended services more and more regularly, and I joined a Life Group to become more involved in the community of the church. These ladies were amazing. They shared from deep places in their hearts. I wanted to be more like them, but I thought my "stuff" was too dark, too different to share. As I look back at this time, I also see a great pride still driving my decisions. I looked at them from a more worldly place, I felt superior in my greater experience of the world. I felt they wouldn't understand me, from their smaller worlds.
But, this began to change, and the change was subtle. A woman shared about having an affair. I understood her pain, but I still didn't understand why this should be painful. I was still wrapped up in the idea that multiple loving relationships were The Answer. Even after all the pain that I had wrought in my own life, pursuing this chimera.
"I just want to be known, to be loved."
I journaled these words in a place of self-loathing and loneliness. I felt hidden and different from the women around me. They didn't read my words, but they spoke loving words over me, into my heart. It was as if they knew just what I was missing, as if they had the shape of the hole in my heart in front of them. Jesus was present in this place. I yearned for this love, but I hid my real self behind many masks.
Then came the weekend that I attended my last BDSM party. There was a presentation about 'dults and li'ls (age play). As I listened to them describe this caring relationship, I realized how much I had wanted another to care for me, to be responsible for me. I thought about God's promises to do just this.
I went from a party where I teased subs and tortured bottoms and enjoyed pain myself, home to a task I had left to the last email deadline. Our church was collecting "100 word" stories to decorate the wall of the new building before the seventh anniversary celebration. I sat down to write and realized that I didn't have that personal relationship with Jesus. I believed in Him, but I hadn't given my life to Him. I finished my story with the realization that I was "still a seeker." Then I emailed this to the story collector as well as my Life Group leader, asking to meet.
Sunday morning, a woman gave her story, about the chains of her addiction, and how Jesus had helped her to break them. She spoke of sexual addiction, of becoming deeply involved in the sex industry, to the point of running a brothel in Mexico City. She showed me that I could take off all of my masks, share my secret self and people would still love me.
Sunday afternoon, I told my Life Group leader and two other women all that I had been hiding. My past, my present, my uncertainties. They didn't run away in shock, they loved on me. They didn't need to talk about the sin, they wanted to talk about my heart. They led me to a place where I could give up my life and ask Jesus to take over.
"You can't always get what you want. But if you try, sometimes, you get what you need."
When I prayed as a child, I gave my death to Jesus. I asked Him to let me into Heaven. Then I proceeded to live my life as I chose, freely following or ignoring any "advice" from the Gospels.
On April 30, 2006, I gave my life to Jesus. I submitted my own will to his, to be led by Him, cared for by Him, in life, before anything that is to come.
If you loved me, you would already know why I'm upset." You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord. ...
"If you loved me, you would always be thinking about me." How precious are your thought about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! ...
"Don't ever leave me" And when I wake up, you are still with me! [Ps 139:4, 17-18]
"Love me." But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. [Rom 5:8]
I came to place where I thought I could never by truly satisfied. I found lasting satisfaction in Jesus.
"Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see."
While I received hope, and a willingness and desire to follow Christ, I still had old patterns of thinking and behaving. It's as if my mind were a set of programs, and I still had old subroutines in place. It was later in that summer that I welcomed a lover for a visit. He didn't expect that we would sleep together, but it was what I wanted. I was shown a gift that night, even in my disobedience. Audrey II was gone. Oh, the sex was good, no mistake about that. And loving, all that I could ask for. But the need for more? It just wasn't there. And I found out that there was no "need" at all, just a subroutine of desire and self-will.
I'm in a class now at our church called No Stones. I started it once before and dropped out. But I'm back, and I'm learning how much of my past is still present for me as behavioral subroutines that I could easily pick up again. I'm starting to examine the programming. God healed my need; He took away Audrey II. I still have my self-will and so many other subroutines to rewrite.
Last week, our homework examined patterns of lying. When I gave my life to Christ, it gave me the freedom to be real, to be open with people. And yet I still have long habits of lying to Flar. Obfuscations about how I spend my time, omissions about how Jesus is working in my heart. One writing exercise asked for names of people we've recently deceived. I could only write down Flar's name, as tears welled up in my eyes. I share this with my class, then we broke out in shared laughter when Flar called me to pick me up. His ringtone is Billy Joel's Honesty.
But Flar's isn't the only name that belongs on that list. It has been almost four years since Flar and I last had sex together. It wasn't until I started really working at being honest in No Stone class, that I changed a critical statement in this subroutine. From "Flar doesn't want to have sex with me" to "I assume Flar doesn't want to have sex with me" was a major programming revision.
This week's homework is the 90-days of Abstinence material. The idea behind this is to withdraw from all the sexualizing triggers, to reset the body's natural stimulus levels. There is a marital agreement included, which I actually discussed with Flar yesterday. I asked him if he wanted our relationship to be non-sexual, and he told me, "no, not really." We talked about the 90-days (brief, compared to the past years), and the concurrent encouragement to seek daily intimacy in non-sexual ways. I'm starting to rewrite some pretty core subroutines of silence, isolation and self-lying.
"For I know the plans I have for you," says the Lord. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope."