by Delimar Freire
First of all, I don’t see myself as a representative of women's thoughts in general, and I understand that my own experiences and struggles might be very foreign to other women. But as a woman, I do want to share my limited insight into something that's usually not associated with our gender as frequently as it is with men. The issue of lust—sexual lust in particular—is commonly considered a big struggle for men because, as many of us have heard, men are generally more prone to be visually stimulated. But this is certainly a sin that women struggle with, too. Maybe we are just more complicated, or shall I say, "complex" about it.
As women, oftentimes our emotions manifest themselves physically.
For example, when feeling low, some women might seek comfort in food. When we’re depressed, we might attempt to just sleep it off. When we’re angry, we might be quick to retract and shut down. And when we’re happy or excited, we might become chatty. In the same way, the feeling that we lack either physical or emotional affection, combined with the desire for more of it, or perhaps just a longing for something different, can all manifest themselves as physical lust over things, people, and relationships that we don't possess.
The issue of lust for women may be more complex, or nuanced, than the sexual struggle men go through, so it’s possible for a woman to be struggling with lust and not even be aware of it.
We not only lust over relationships with the opposite sex, but also over affections, attention, embraces, kind words—basically anything that will fill a perceived void. We will look at relationships that others have, and wonder if there is more intimacy and closeness between them than what we're experiencing in ours, and then we are tempted to become dissatisfied with what God has given us and where He has placed us. The ideas of “love at first sight,” “a knight in shining armor,” and “the perfect lover,” although all false, creep into our hearts and minds and make us fancy a world not unlike a soap opera, where we’re the protagonist, and the beau is coming to rescue us from our current state of misery.
For me, lust goes beyond wanting to see an image or watch something that I shouldn't watch. It’s not so much about what my eyes take in, and it's more about what my heart, not my body, experiences as I do so. I find myself wondering what it would feel like to be in someone else’s shoes, what it would be like to live another’s life. I’m tempted to think of not a few “if only’s…” The lies of Satan are so enticing in those moments, and yet I know from experience that the bitterness that ensues is much greater than the immediate pleasure.
As I experience all this, I think it’s safe to say that there are most likely women out there that lust over what I have, in some form or another. I enjoy a family life that is full of love and stability, and I have a wonderfully caring husband, who loves me unconditionally, and who is a great inspiration to me to love others sacrificially. Furthermore, I have a Perfect Husband in Christ, and it’s when I forget that He is more than what I could ever need or desire that I’m most tempted to run to lesser pleasures. So, my dissatisfaction with my present circumstances is often not rooted in the circumstances themselves. It is instead a result of my looking for my completeness in someone or something other than Christ.
In the middle of my struggle, my only recourse is to tell myself that my all is in Christ, and that it's not in my marriage, in my children, not in the ministries I'm involved in at church. You would think that the thought of betraying my First Love, the One that gave it all for me, should in itself be enough to cause me to turn away from any and all temptation. But I confess that it isn’t always so. I am so spiritually weak, and almost become physically so as I fight against temptation, knowing that I will most certainly not come out victorious if I fight against sin on my own. In my weakness, I find that I have to repeat to myself that God's Word is true, and that filling my eyes and my heart with ideas of what could be will not truly satisfy. I run to Philippians 4:8:
“…whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
As many a wise Christian has said, I must talk to myself instead of listening to myself. I must preach the Gospel to myself, instead of allowing my heart to dictate my next course of action.
I HAVE TO REMIND MYSELF THAT I AM NOT MY OWN, AND THAT MY BODY, MY THOUGHTS, MY ALL BELONGS TO CHRIST. I AM ANOTHER’S.
When He is pleased to grant me victory over sin, the reward is ever so sweet. And then in retrospect I see how much stronger Christ is than sin—how what seemed insurmountable at the time was a small victory compared to what He accomplished on the cross for me. And so I humbly thank him for proving himself faithful yet again in my weakness.
Are your struggles similar to mine? Are they different? How do you face them? What truths help you? Feel free to share in the comments.