"Brief moments of significance..."

This is my second blog on Pursued, a book by Jud Wilhite. (You can read my intro to this book here)

Pursued is based on the Biblical book of Hosea, in which a prophet (Hosea himself) was told by God to pursue and marry a prostitute (Gomer), even after she continuously rejected Hosea's love and repeatedly left him to return to her old life of infidelity. Hosea and Gomer's story serves as a powerful metaphor of God's relentless pursuit of us, despite our constant relapses into sin and brokenness.
As I mentioned in my first blog, before I began reading this book I prayed that God would reveal to me aspects of myself through Jud's words. And He did...just not quite in the ways I had previously imagined.

See, when I asked God to reveal myself to me within the pages of this book, I naively assumed I would relate more to the prophet Hosea. You know, trying so hard to follow God's will, loving others even when it hurts, yadda yadda (apparently I was thinking pretty highly of myself at the time)...I guess I never realized what a freaking GOMER I am.

While I may never have gone to the extremes of selling myself for sex, I have certainly subjected my body (and my soul) to a wealth of other sins - sex being among them. So really, I'm no better than she is. And chances are, you probably aren't either. But I'm not here to point any fingers (other than, perhaps, at myself); I'm just writing in hopes that perhaps my personal revelations might somehow also speak to your heart as well.

"Maybe you know what it feels like to be running away from something or someone, always looking over your shoulder and wondering when you'll be caught." - Pursued*

I was only a few pages into the book when these words transported me back to a time not so very long ago where I found myself desperately trying to maintain a double life. 

  • On the one side, I was actively sinning: sleeping with my boyfriend, drinking way too much to mask the pain and confusion I felt over my apparent inability to stop sleeping with my boyfriend, and lying about it to just about everyone.
  • On the other side, I was overcompensating: regularly attending and volunteering in church, actively taking notes every single Sunday, and leading Bible studies with my friends. 

Somehow I managed to keep up this "good little Christian" facade for several months before I finally broke down and confessed my "dirty little secret," but the process of running from God was completely and utterly debilitating.

So why did I do it?

Obviously there was a part of me that deeply feared His "wrath." Having grown up in a Christian home, I was fully aware of my sin. Perhaps my many extra-curricular activities within the church were some bizarre attempt at evening the score a little bit (just to clarify: it doesn't really work like that). And sure, I was deeply terrified of the judgement I assumed I would receive from others once the truth was revealed, so I exhausted myself in my attempt to keep my "secret life" a secret.

But ultimately what it came down to was the fact that I, like Gomer, found a twisted sense of pleasure and worth in what Jud refers to as "brief moments of significance." As much as I knew it was wrong, I liked what it felt like to be wanted.

"Maybe it was to enjoy the thrill of the chase or to feel desirable, to be pursued and wanted, the sense of false intimacy that seemed to be within her control."-Pursued

Really, it all started innocently enough. Ever since I was a very young girl, my heart has dreamed of marriage. Not my wedding day, as is the cliche, but marriage. So, even in my innocence, I sought out ways to make my dreams a reality. I remember quite vividly the first time I learned that a boy had a crush on me. My response seemed almost intrinsic. I had never once before considered that boy as anything other than a classmate, but upon hearing the news, my perception of him shifted completely. And I was only six years old.

Rinse and repeat this story an embarrassing number of times throughout the rest of elementary school, multiply it exponentially and add in an extra dose of awkwardness in middle school, up the stakes a little bit in high school (when flirtation turned into action, and all of the sudden kisses and handholds were no longer enough), and then watch it all implode in college. That's my dating life, in a nutshell.

Deep down, I knew something about this whole process was very wrong. But I just kept telling myself that it was okay. Normal, even. I mean, how many times did I read in Captivating that these desires were placed in my heart for a reason? That they indicated precious parts of my heart uniquely designed by my Creator God?** 

"Naturally, we desire things to bring us joy, happiness, and significance. We are driven to search for these things and God has placed these desires in our hearts...Too often we expect more from romance, sex, money, comfort food, or hobbies than they were created to give.  When we set our hearts ultimately on other things than God, we find they don't return what we were hoping they would. They actually return the opposite - emptiness, regret, bitterness, and disappointment." -Pursued

"The desire to be pursued is one God hard-wired into women, but God is ultimately the one who can fulfill this desire."-Pursued

So...there you have it. While it is true that my longing to feel special and wanted and pursued is from God and was placed in my heart for a purpose; I screwed it all up when I tried to make that purpose all about me. Rather than allowing myself to be vulnerable and satisfied by the endless love of my Creator, I attempted to take matters into my own hands and satiate this deep heart hunger with quick fixes. Brief moments of significance.

For the first time in my life, I'm finally in a place where I am completely okay with being single. And I have to wonder if perhaps it's because I'm also finally okay with who I am in Christ. Don't get me wrong: my desire for marriage hasn't decreased in the slightest. But I'm no longer desperately seeking it as a means to some end, like I did for far too long.

Several months ago, a young woman contacted me through this blog seeking connection and comfort during an extremely heartbreaking season. She questioned whether or not she was "crazy" for wanting to get back together with an ex of hers, even after she made a prayerful decision to end their relationship (Sound like anyone else you know?). I was quick to normalize her doubts, but then I also encouraged her to examine their roots. This is a classic case of Spirit vs. Flesh. I challenged her to try to discern what it is she was longing for most, and then present those requests to God and let Him show her how He longs to fill those voids.

Now, I repeat this challenge to you:
Is your Flesh crying out for a comfort that you are somehow denying God to fulfill in your Spirit? Are you selling yourself out for brief moments of significance, even though you were created for everlasting love? 
*because my copy of this book is technically an advanced, uncorrected proof; I am unable to provide page numbers, nor can I necessary guarantee the quotes I use will even be found in the final published version. This is yet another example of my poor book-promotion etiquette, but also probably a major reason why it's a good thing I'm definitely not getting paid to write this.

**for the record, I see now that I missed the point John and Stasi Eldredge were trying to make, completely.