Beggar's Daughter http://beggarsdaughter.com Homepage for Jessica Harris Sat, 24 Jun 2017 18:36:38 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8 http://beggarsdaughter.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/cropped-BeggarsDaughter-13-32x32.png Beggar's Daughter http://beggarsdaughter.com 32 32 37518537 Question Girls Ask: What Characteristics Should I Look For in a Future Husband? http://beggarsdaughter.com/characteristics-future-husband/ Fri, 23 Jun 2017 13:00:50 +0000 http://beggarsdaughter.com/?p=5531 Recently, I was speaking in New Zealand and had the opportunity to do a city-wide all women’s Q & A specifically addressing the issues of fantasy, pornography, abstinence and singleness. It was amazing, and I would be thrilled to do more of these. The category that seemed to be hit heavily was singleness and how […]

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Recently, I was speaking in New Zealand and had the opportunity to do a city-wide all women’s Q & A specifically addressing the issues of fantasy, pornography, abstinence and singleness.

It was amazing, and I would be thrilled to do more of these.

The category that seemed to be hit heavily was singleness and how you deal with being single into your 30s, while abstinent, somehow navigating a wasteland between a world that says, “Forget marriage, and just have sex” and a church that says, “Wait?  What!?  Why aren’t you married yet?”  I have written about this before.

One of my favorite questions was this:

What characteristics should I look for in a future husband?

We have to be careful here, because “characteristics” can be a code word.  It can refer to character qualities, but more often than not, it also includes some sort of physical wishes/wants/desires as well.

There’s the classic Christian stuff:

The man who loves Jesus, is a good leader, active in church, doesn’t watch porn, be called to ministry, etc etc

The cultural stuff:

He needs to love his mom, open my car door, pay my bill, etc

And then there’s the other stuff, the secret list that lots of girls have but the only ones who know about it are their best friends.  This is the “real” list-

He needs to work out every other day, have blue eyes, play acoustic guitar, be two inches taller (because I want to wear heels with the wedding dress I have already picked out), sing bass, love Star Wars, have dogs, write poetry, be approximately 2.5 years older than I, definitely cannot be younger, make approximately 60K a year, be OK with me being a stay at home mom, come from a large family, want exactly 5 children, extra points for being bilingual, and double bonus if he has a picture of him cuddling a baby posted on social media.

(And if you think for a moment I am making such a list up, I assure you I am not.  I am a single woman with single friends.)

Trust me: there is a list.

Yes, even I have one of those lists.

This list is commonly referred to as “the desires of the heart.”  But, if we’re not careful, it can read a bit like a job application.

The problem with that list is that it can turn life into a giant, real time game of Where’s Waldo.

Have you ever played that?  You scour a picture of the crowd looking for a little dude in a red and white striped hat and shirt.  One person, out of a million, and Mr. Amazing could walk right by you, but because Mr. Amazing doesn’t sing bass, you ignore him because he’s not the one you’re looking for.  Or you give him voice lessons for Christmas and when it turns out he sings tenor, you take it as a “sign” and dump him.

Yes, this happens.

There’s the obvious characteristics that every Christian young woman should want- a fellow Christian, who loves the Lord, etc- but then there are the desires of the heart, and young women can be led to believe that God is a bit like a genie.  If we love Him enough, and delight ourselves in Him, one day our future husband will show up and he will be absolutely everything on the list.

Thank you, Christian romance novels…

I’m no expert, but that’s not how this works.  Plenty of good men are left behind in the wake of women who are diligently searching out the Prince who is everything on their list.  That’s not to say that physical attraction is not important.  It’s just not most important.

How do I know?

Because anything physical is temporary.  My husband can be ripped to next Tuesday, but in 50 years, he’s going to go the way of old, wrinkled, and lumpy… because that’s what our bodies do.

Maybe he’s allergic to dogs. He may want to have five kids, but what happens when we find out I’m infertile?  He may be athletic and play guitar, but three months after our wedding, he gets in a wreck and is paralyzed from the waist down.  What then?

The answer to those questions defines the kind of characteristics you should be looking for in a husband.  It’s not “does he want five kids?”  It is “is he the kind of man who would stay with me even if we can’t have kids?”  It’s not “does he work out everyday?”  It’s “is this a man who understands the value of his body and wants to steward it the best he can?”

There is nothing wrong with preferences, but it’s important understand that is exactly what they are.  They are your preferences.  That’s not to say that they shouldn’t be important, but you need to determine how important they are.  Are blue eyes really a deal breaker?


Plenty of good men are left behind in the wake of women searching for everything on their list.
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There are things that should be uncompromising (matters of character) and you shouldn’t bend.  The other things might be hopes, and wishes, and I think there is room for those.  If you have a list, maybe rate each “characteristic” by degree of importance (1 being no big deal and 5 being nonnegotiable).

If you really really want to have kids and he absolutely cannot stand children to the point that even adoption or babysitting nieces and nephews is out of the question, then you might need to reconsider the relationship.  But if he’s great except for the fact that you cannot wear heels without towering over him, or if he’s amazing except for the fact that he can’t sing, then maybe there are some smaller things that you need to be willing to let go of?

If this is a hostage negotiation, the only one being held hostage by your demands is you.  

Let the characteristics you demand actually speak to his character and his heart, because that’s what lasts.  That’s what holds a relationship together- not his baby blues, bass voice, or lumberjack beard.

Know that some of your desires are just that- desires- and they will fade, wrinkle, and they themselves will change over time.  I would encourage you to hold them loosely.

Focus less on the “characteristics” and more on finding a true man of character.  Remember, we humans can get caught up in the outside appearances, but God looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7).  Don’t hold onto your preferences so strongly that you miss a man with an amazing heart, simply because he wasn’t 6 feet tall.

 

Photo Credit:Allef Vinicius

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Stop Telling Me God is My Father http://beggarsdaughter.com/god-is-my-father/ Sun, 18 Jun 2017 13:00:35 +0000 http://beggarsdaughter.com/?p=5517 Father’s Day… as the years have gone by, this day has gotten easier, but there was a time in my life when this day brought nothing but pain.  All of the Christian platitudes in the world did nothing but make it worse. I was young when my father left our family.  This daddy’s girl’s world […]

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Father’s Day… as the years have gone by, this day has gotten easier, but there was a time in my life when this day brought nothing but pain.  All of the Christian platitudes in the world did nothing but make it worse.

I was young when my father left our family.  This daddy’s girl’s world came crashing down in a pain I still struggle to put into words.  It’s a rejection so deep, a loss so profound, it took me years- decades even- to grieve its impact on my life.

As news rippled through our Christian community, efforts were made to save my parents’ marriage, but after the divorce, all efforts to save anything stopped.

At my Christian school, I was ostracized and made fun of for being the ‘girl without a dad.’  I would break down crying in the middle of class, much to the frustration of my teachers.  At home, my tears were met with an attempt to erase any hint of my father from my life, which just made it hurt worse.  At church, the response over and over again was, “Don’t worry.  God is your heavenly Father.”

I know they meant well.  I also know this a true Biblical reference to God (not just a worship song).  In the Bible, it is meant to be a comfort- an image of the love of God for us and our relationship with Him.

It might be comforting to people who have lost their fathers in death, but for someone whose father had essentially rejected her, it was far from comforting.  All it did was spark a deep hatred and fear of God in my heart, and not the reverent, respectful kind- more of the “terrified” kind.

If my earthly father can hurt me so much, why on earth do I want a Heavenly Father to do the same?

No, thank you.

So began a life marked by struggle- with anger, with relationships, with men, with pain, with fantasy, with porn, with self-esteem…

I know I am not alone.  Many, but not all, of my readers are girls with “father wounds.”  Rejection.  Abuse.  Loss.  It sends them on a search for love, belonging, meaning, identity.

That’s really what we lose when fathers walk away- identity.  We don’t know who we are anymore.

When that happens, telling me who God is doesn’t help.  Because if “father” is a bad thing, then God being a father is going to be a bad thing.

If my earthly father doesn’t love me, then my Heavenly Father must not either.  If I can’t keep my earthly father happy, then how do I keep a Heavenly Father happy?

If her earthly father abused her, sold her, handed her off to his buddies to be raped, how is God being her Heavenly father supposed to bring her hope?

I understand people mean it as a comforting truth, but do you see the problem?

When women are dealing with father wounds, they aren’t simply “daddy issues” they just need to get over.

Telling them “God is your father now” is equivalent to “Do you want me to kiss it to make it feel better?”  While intended to be genuine and caring, it feels like nothing more than a patronizing brush off.

Yes, it might be true, but not all things that are true are necessarily helpful.  For example, let’s say you find me with a gaping leg wound, struggling to walk, clearly in distress.  I call out to you and you simply reply with, “The hospital is a ten minute walk that way” and walk the opposite direction.  You have given me truth, but you haven’t helped me.

The hospital being a ten minute walk that way is true, but it isn’t helpful if I have a compound femur fracture.  I’m not expecting you to be an orthopaedic surgeon and fix it, but at the very least you could make sure I get to the hospital.     

Sometimes you have to aid someone to an understanding of the truth, before the truth can help them.

Telling someone who has been wounded by a father “God is your father now” is not going to help unless you first help her get to the place where she wants a father again.   Depending on the circumstances, that could be a long road.

She has to come to a place where her identity has been restored and the idea of fatherhood has been redeemed.  Until she’s at that place, you can sing “Good, Good Father” in worship all you would like and it’s not going to help.  If she doesn’t want a father, telling her God is one does nothing.

It took years for me to come to terms with my “father wounds.”

Twenty years, as a matter of fact.  I had to realize that nobody, no man, and actually, not even God could take the place of my earthly father or undo the damage his choices caused.  It was a long and painful road, and there was a very real time of grieving the life lost through no fault of my own.

I will never have that relationship.  Since I was a daddy’s girl, that loss fundamentally changed who I am today.  I have panic attacks in certain situations that can be directly attributed to the trauma of losing him.  I will never have that man who has known me, loved me, and protected me all my life walking me down the aisle, because the man who could have had that walked away from it.  Walked away from me- from all four of us, from my mom.  God being a father doesn’t change that.

While my father is alive and well, I am fatherless.  I have a couple men who are like fathers and grandfathers to me, but none of them can take my father’s place.  No one ever can or will.

There is one day I remember so clearly when it call came crashing down for me.  It’s like all of the tears I had bottled up for twenty years came out at once.  I cried uncontrollably for an hour straight, punching my steering wheel, barely able to breathe, choking out the words, “It’s not fair” over and over.

A man who God used to redeem the idea of “father” wrapped his arms around my sobbing frame, pulled me close, and said, “It isn’t and I’m sorry.”

And it isn’t.  It wasn’t.  And it never will be.

That day was a few years ago now, and I still hesitate to call God “Father,” because “father,” as redeemed as it may be in my life, is still broken.

As I watch my good guy friends become fathers, it heals a little more.  As I watch the fathers in my church, it heals a little more.  Still, I don’t see God as my father.  I talk about this in my book, but I honestly see God more as a Lover, not at all in a sexual way.

I see Him as someone who relentlessly pursued my heart, protects my heart, and desires the best for me.  I see Him as someone who is always wanting me to grow, who gives me my identity, who knows me more than anyone, who I want to be just like.

I think for a lot of people, that’s what a father actually is.  I think that’s what a father is probably supposed to be.  My brother is going to be a father later this year, and that’s the kind of father I hope he will be.  If I ever have kids one day, that’s the kind of father I hope my husband will be, and I will support him in being that.  It’s also the kind of mother and wife I hope to be.

So, in a sense, I understand if God is a father, then He must be a good one.  But, I just don’t call Him my father.  It’s not because I insist on being fatherless.  Fatherhood, for me, does not imply love, and I would rather choose to remember I am loved.

In time, could I view God as a father?  Maybe.  For now, though, it is enough to know that I am loved, and He is good, whether I call Him “father” or not.


Fatherhood, for me, does not imply love, and I would rather choose to remember I am loved.
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Photo Credit: Katie Chase

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A Pregnant Student, A Christian School, and How We Miss Grace http://beggarsdaughter.com/pregnant-student-christian-school-miss-grace/ Wed, 24 May 2017 22:00:19 +0000 http://beggarsdaughter.com/?p=5507 By now, you’ve likely seen or heard the story of Maddi Runkles, a Christian teenager at a Christian school not far from my hometown.  At the moment, she isn’t allowed to walk in this year’s graduation… because she is pregnant. To me, this story is less about sexual purity and more about the practice of […]

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By now, you’ve likely seen or heard the story of Maddi Runkles, a Christian teenager at a Christian school not far from my hometown.  At the moment, she isn’t allowed to walk in this year’s graduation… because she is pregnant.

To me, this story is less about sexual purity and more about the practice of making sure we don’t “flaunt sin” as some conservative Christians may call it.  In other words, it’s about shame.

Wrong choices have consequences, we think, and one of those consequences is you don’t get to have what others have.  It results in this strange exaggeration of consequences typically to make an example and to make sure it looks like we, under no circumstances, support the choices made.

I saw it frequently while growing up, and even as a young adult.  In a case similar to Maddi’s, a woman got pregnant out of marriage and was ostracized from the church until she married the father and had the baby.  Years later, people took issue when that baby, then a child, would be asked to sing on stage.

“She shouldn’t be allowed to do that!” They would say. “That is flaunting sin!”

Yes, there are rules at the school.  I understand that, and I understand that she obviously didn’t obey those rules.  But the only reason she is being punished is because she obviously didn’t obey the rules.

 

This is the danger of shame.

Shame doesn’t make people make good choices, it makes people lie about the bad ones.

The message of her punishment is not “don’t have sex before marriage.”  The message the other students are hearing loud and clear is “don’t tell anyone.”

There are other students in that school who have had premarital sex.  There are other students in that school who are watching porn.  There are other students in that school who are violating that code of conduct and statement of faith.

Five years as a Christian high school teacher and two years as a crisis pregnancy counselor has shown me as much.

The number one reason Christian girls sat across from me on the couch and told me they wanted an abortion?

I don’t want anyone to know I’m having sex.

They were going to keep having sex, but the “problem” was a baby would blow their cover, and they knew what that meant.  In many cases that could mean lost position, lost standing, lost relationships, possibly even isolation from the church.

In a sense, we Christians have created our own moral crisis.  The graceless way we approach issues has pigeon-holed people into making more bad choices to hide their other bad choices.

This isn’t how Jesus did it.

In fact, it is exactly the opposite of how He did and does it.  It is in direct defiance of grace.

Jesus is the one who allowed a woman of ill-repute to worship Him openly.  When the religious uptight complained, He silenced them, telling them that she understood grace far more than they did.

Jesus is the one who was known to hang out with prostitutes, and defended it by reminding his critics that He came for people just like this.

Jesus is the one who, when a woman caught in the very act of adultery was thrown at His feet to be stoned, called the religious out on their own hypocrisy.  When they walked away, only He was left there alone with her.  He had no lecture, nothing.  Simply said, “I don’t condemn you, now go and sin no more.”*

That is grace.

At no point, under the grace of God, are we ever told to shame those who sin.  Do we celebrate wrong choices?  Of course not. But we do celebrate grace, forgiveness, restoration, and hope.  Our faith is built on this. 

Now, are there consequences for breaking rules in an institution?  Of course.  But I think it is the job of the institution to make sure the rules can be fairly enforced.  It is also the job of Christian institutions to be sure there is a process of reconciliation available to restore someone in grace.  The whole point of grace is restoration- giving you back your life and giving you far more than you deserve.

If you want justice, then pursue justice, but be sure it is fair.  Grace, by its nature, isn’t “fair.”  That’s why it’s so powerful, life-changing, and amazing.  It gives me what I never deserved.

Grace is what makes Paul, a persecutor of Christians, one of the most influential members of the church.  Grace is what makes David, an adulterer and murderer, a man after God’s own heart.

To me, it would be a beautiful picture of grace to see Maddi walk, not as a way to celebrate and say, “Yes, go ahead and get pregnant- no one cares!” But as a way to say, “There is grace here, and one decision doesn’t have to ruin the rest of your life.  You can come to us and we will support you and do our best to restore you.”

Otherwise, I would encourage the school to anonymously poll your graduating seniors to see how many of them are sexually active and/or watching porn.  Not only will it help you enforce your standards fairly, it will likely save your annual budget, because you’d probably be cancelling graduation.


*Edit: The original publication of this post quoted Jesus as saying “I don’t condemn you, now go” omitting the “and sin no more” or “and leave your life of sin” (depending on the version).  This was an editing error not an attempt, as some posed, to change the meaning of the text.  The inclusion or exclusion of the final phrase of Jesus’ command does not change the primary message of this post or the application to Maddi’s story.

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Why love when you can just have sex? Why love is really worth the work http://beggarsdaughter.com/love-worth-work/ Tue, 18 Apr 2017 13:00:16 +0000 http://beggarsdaughter.com/?p=5476 Do you know what makes stuff like pornography, lust, fantasy, and one night stands so enticing?  It’s not necessarily the sexual gratification (though that is for sure part of it).  It is that, on the outset, these things are easy.  Easier, at least, than love.  Love, relationships, real intimacy is hard. Living with people is […]

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Do you know what makes stuff like pornography, lust, fantasy, and one night stands so enticing?  It’s not necessarily the sexual gratification (though that is for sure part of it).  It is that, on the outset, these things are easy.  Easier, at least, than love.  Love, relationships, real intimacy is hard.

Living with people is hard.  Sometimes loving them is even harder. It makes sense that we would search for a big “EASY” button that will save us the drama and the hassle.

Give me bodies on a screen that I can change at will.  Give me Mr. Perfect in my mind so I can win every fight.  Give me Ms. Right in my dreams because a woman is the only being that could ever understand me.  Leave me alone and, as one song puts it, I will “put my body first… and love myself.”

It seems the current attitude is, “Why love when you can just have sex?”

The unfortunate reality in all of this though is that love is, really, hardwired into us.  We see the consequences of love lost in the lives of those with attachment disorders.  We see the consequences of love lost when a predator traffics a child.  We see the consequences of love lost when people are abused, women are raped, sports players are molested.  We see the what happens when love and sex are made synonymous (they are not the same).

We know what happens when we reduce whole people to nothing more than bodies to be used for our own pleasure.

What fixes that?  Well, you could try legislating, but laws do not stop criminals, hence the reason they are criminals.  Laws do not put love, compassion, and empathy back into someone’s heart.  Laws exist for the purpose of justice and order.

Laws cannot make me change, forgive, or heal. Only love does that.

But love is hard.

Did you realize that love comes with pain?  When you love someone, you open yourself up to be hurt.  Whether you lose that person through death or through another means, one day, you will lose them.  Every human love is a love that will be, eventually, lost.

In the words of C.S. Lewis, “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken.”

Then, if you are a Christian, we are called to an even more radical love- a love of our neighbors and our enemies- meaning we are called to love people who may never return that love.

We are called to love people who may actively hate us. In fact, that’s a defining characteristic of the Christian faith.

Which makes you wonder, “What’s the point?  Is love worth it?”

I have been working on my newest book, Love Done Right: Reflections One of the things that has just jumped out to me is that while love is hard, and can be painful, it is worth it.  Love invests in another person like few other things can.

People are not changed when we throw money at them, or when we solve their problems.

They are changed when they are loved as people, created in the image of a loving God.  Not only are they changed, the ones who love them are changed, and, the ones who they grow to love will be changed.

Money runs out.  Time runs out.  The influence of a “pay it forward” eventually stops.

If I give you five dollars, you go and buy yourself a cheeseburger, and it’s over.  The five dollars is done.  Tomorrow, you will be hungry again.  The only thing money has solved is a temporary hunger.  The only thing sex “solves” is a temporary hunger.

But if I love you, I invest in you.  That investment may involve time, money, and other material things, but the foundation is a genuine interest and concern for you, as a person, as a whole person- not just a body to be used, or a problem to be fixed.

If I take the time and do the hard work of loving my neighbor, my friend, my enemy, that love first changes me.  It removes my defenses, makes me approachable, gives me empathy and draws me nearer to God, Love himself.  Then, that love changes those I love in the same ways- by removing their defenses and showing them a picture (albeit very imperfect) of love Himself. Ideally, then, those people, changed by love, go on to love others as well.

My one investment of love has the opportunity to impact more people than I could ever meet or know.  Sex can’t do that.  Money can’t do that.

Sex is “easy.”  Lust is easy.  Fantasy is easy.  Swiping left is easy.  Snapping a nude is “easy.”

They are easy because they don’t change other people.  For the most part, they are self-focused- my wants, my needs, my happiness, my satisfaction.

Relationships (not just the romantic ones) are hard because they involve other people and there is a balance that has to be found (i.e., no, just because he wants to have sex doesn’t mean you have to oblige- even in marriage).  We are imperfect people trying to love and live with other imperfect people.  Of course that isn’t going to be easy.

Love is hard.  It is the only thing that makes a lasting difference and gives our very existence purpose.  There is no hope found in existing solely for sex.  Love, on the other hand, gives us eternal hope, and brings lasting change.

It is not easy, but it is worth it.

 

“So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love”

– 1 Corinthians 13:3

 


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Your Daughters Deserve Better http://beggarsdaughter.com/your-daughters-deserve-better/ Wed, 29 Mar 2017 13:00:22 +0000 http://beggarsdaughter.com/?p=5452 Trigger Warning: I have noticed a disturbing trend in the search terms that lead people to my site.  Creeping ever so slowly up the list are searches having to do with “daughter sex” or “daughter porn.”  And it makes my blood boil.  My top search term in Arabic is “daughter porn.” It stands it stark […]

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Trigger Warning: I have noticed a disturbing trend in the search terms that lead people to my site.  Creeping ever so slowly up the list are searches having to do with “daughter sex” or “daughter porn.”  And it makes my blood boil.  My top search term in Arabic is “daughter porn.”

It stands it stark contrast to one of the other trending searches, “What to do when a man asks me for pictures.

Right there, predator and prey, both stumbling on my site.

I was hoping that it was only because of my blog name, but then a friend published this blog post sharing that daddy daughter porn searches are one of the leading searches taking people to their site as well.  And “daughter” is nowhere in their name.

You know what’s even more disturbing?  I know my site and their site are not on the first page of those search results.  In fact, I would guess they are not in the top 100 search results.

That means that somewhere out there, someone searching for this stuff is so bored by the content of the first 100 results (which were likely pornographic) that they skipped over all of them and came to two anti-porn sites, hoping to find something new.

It keeps in step with data from major porn sites (which I’m not going to link here, for obvious reasons) that shows incest of various forms and searches for teen girls rank at the top of the most-searched form of pornography.

The big sister, the “aunt”, the former high school teacher in me all want to simultaneously throw up and scream,

“Leave the girls alone.”

I have a hard time having any kind of compassion or respect for a man who would type something like “daughter sex” into a search engine.  In fact, my initial reaction is to lock him in a room with some of my male friends who are fathers and grant them immunity for whatever happens.

There’s also the reality that some of the people searching for this may actually be the victims of incest themselves, seeking to normalize what happened to them.  I have seen the other side of this.  I have sat with the girls who have been molested, raped, sold by their fathers.  It destroys something in the very fiber of their being.  It corrupts one of the most sacred bonds of love we know.

It’s bad enough when parents leave or are emotionally absent, but to have a parent objectify their own flesh and blood?  It’s a deep, dark, level of wrong and I hate that it’s a trending search term.

Nearly every event I do, I have a father come up to me afterward asking for help with his daughter.  Some know their daughters are caught up in pornography and sexting, others are unsure how to go about broaching the subject.  These fathers come for help out of love, the love of a father, wanting the world for his little girl, wanting to help her grow into a secure, healthy, vibrant woman.

And now, it seems there are others.  Others who, instead of the love of a father, have an insatiable lust as a father.  A lust that would chase after and prey on their own children, objectifying their own flesh and blood, or at the very least, fantasize about doing so and get off on content depicting others doing so.

How broken does a heart have to be?

I don’t know what leads people to search for things like this.  It doesn’t have to be a father.  It could be a daughter who was victimized herself.  It could be a father, a mother, a brother, a sister… whoever it is and however it is happening, the fact that there is an increasing demand for this terrifies me.

It may reflect a brokenness in male consumers or a brokenness in female victims seeking to normalize what has happened to them.

My fear, above all else, is that this trend will grow and breed a generation of fathers who view their children sexually.  In turn, they will breed a generation of children who don’t have a healthy understanding of families, sex, or relationships.  The corrupt will beget the broken.  It will be a nasty downward spiral.

It’s yet another representation of how pornography destroys our relationships, even the ones we are supposed to trust the most.  The cycle won’t break until the people involved get help and take a stand for real love and healthy relationships.

I don’t hate pornography because I have a problem with sex.  I hate pornography because it leads people down roads like this.  I hate pornography because I believe men, especially fathers, can do better and women, especially daughters, deserve better.

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I Don’t Pray for my Future Husband http://beggarsdaughter.com/dont-pray-future-husband/ Mon, 13 Feb 2017 13:00:05 +0000 http://beggarsdaughter.com/?p=5379 When I speak at college or high school events, sometimes I’ll get asked about the practice of praying for my future husband.  More and more I see it addressed on other blogs and by other speakers on the issue. I used to do this, (and write him as well!) but I don’t anymore, nor do […]

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When I speak at college or high school events, sometimes I’ll get asked about the practice of praying for my future husband.  More and more I see it addressed on other blogs and by other speakers on the issue. I used to do this, (and write him as well!) but I don’t anymore, nor do I encourage young women to.

I came of age during the True Love Waits Movement.  Signing purity pledges, writing love letters to your husband, and praying for your future husband were all standard ‘assignments’ for young Christians who wanted to honor God with their sexuality and their future marriages.   I did them all for several years.

As I came up on my 21st birthday, I even bought a “purity” ring and promised myself not to date any guys.  It was no huge sacrifice.  I didn’t even get asked out on a date until I was 27, so it’s not like I had a line of suitors.

As a young Christian who struggled in the area of sexual integrity and desperately wanted to get married, I was all about doing “waiting for marriage” the right way.  Honoring your future husband and “doing him good all the days of your life” was a worthy calling.

I would faithfully pray for him every day- that God would lead him, guide him, and form him into a man after His own heart.  I prayed that He would keep working in his heart and keep him from temptation, help him stay strong.  I prayed that God would surround him with solid friends, and give him great mentors who could speak into his life.

I prayed that, even if he were in a relationship, he would treat her well, and respect her boundaries.  I prayed that he would become a Godly man and leader, that he would be wise with money, a gentle communicator and growing in the knowledge of God.

And, of course, I prayed that God would hurry up and bring him already.

Then, as I began to date men, work with men at church, and deal with my own biological brothers, I realized something:

All of my prayers for my future husband should be prayers for every man in my life.

They are not exclusively for my husband.  They are prayers that I should have for every man  know.  I want that for my brothers, the men in my small group, my pastors.  I pray it for my friends’ husbands, for my friends who are husbands, even the guys I date… even after I’m done dating them.  Some of the men I used to date are now newly married.  Of course I want them to be great husbands and fathers!  Just because someone isn’t my husband doesn’t mean I somehow wish he would be a horrible loser.

No, I only want my husband to be a strong Godly man.  The rest of them can be wimps for all I care. -prayed no Christian woman ever.

So, I made it a practice to pray the above things for every man I know, which will one day, hopefully, include my future husband.

I also realized that the best way to stay discontent is to pray for someone who might not even exist.

Understand this.  You are not promised a husband.  You are promised many things.  A husband is not among them.  When you pray for your future husband- not “dear God please can I have one?” but “dear God please be with my future husband today as he’s at work…”- you’re making an assumption that isn’t grounded in truth.  In my experience, it’s a surefire way to keep you discontent and frustrated.

It goes the other way too.

Why would I pray for God to make me a Godly wife when I am, in fact, not a wife?

The only difference between a Godly wife and a Godly woman is that one is married and the other isn’t. So, praying that God would make me a Godly wife is a frustratingly futile prayer.  I can’t do anything about it because I’m not a wife.

To me, it makes far more sense to pray to be a Godly woman and work on that.  That’s something I can do now.  Being a wife is completely out of my control.

We’re praying God would make us Godly wives, and assuming an identity we don’t actually have.  

But I think some of us single girls get trapped there in that place.  We’re praying that God would make us Godly wives, so we’re assuming an identity we don’t actually have.  In order to cope with that, we imagine a husband.  That way we can pray with a purpose: “God make me a Godly wife fit for this imaginary husband I just invented.”  And we pray like that.

Instead of praying for a husband in the sense of “God, please bring one, please, please, puleeeze!” (which I pray from time to time) we pray for him, the person, the individual man, as if we already know him.  In reality, it’s fantasy, shrouded in prayer so it looks holy.  At the core of it all, though, you’re imagining this person exists.

You’re forming a spiritual and emotional intimacy with a figment of your imagination.

When you imagine a husband, you imagine all of those things that come with having a husband (ie sex), and now you’ve got sexual frustration in the mix.  So you’re not only discontent, even desperate, but you’re sexually frustrated.

You’ve concocted this world in which you are a wife.  You’re creating one-sided emotional intimacy with him and awakening desires that cannot be satisfied.  It’s a recipe for struggle.

You would think that praying for your future husband would help keep you pure.

It’s a good motivation, right?  But I have found the opposite to be true.  When I first started my one-on-one counseling for porn addiction, I thought about what could be making my struggle worse.  One of the things on the list was my journals to my future husband.  Every time I wrote to him I would get so frustrated that he wasn’t here yet.

If you think about the reasons the Bible gives for celebrating singleness, what’s the most prominent one?  Single people have time to focus on the things of the Lord and not be concerned about their husband/wife.  If I’m spending my single time concerned about my future husband- devoting time and emotional energy to him- I’m off focus.

Don’t get me wrong, I want to be married.  One day truly hope to be, but for now, I’m not.  The best way for me to keep focused, stay pure, and not get frustrated, is to choose not to “interact” with him.

I don’t pray for my future husband.  I don’t single him out of the pack.  Every hope and dream I have for him is the hope and dream I have for every man I know.  It makes me a better friend and a better sister.  Some day, maybe, it will make me a better wife.

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Questions Girls Ask: How do I Tell Someone About My Porn Problem? http://beggarsdaughter.com/girls-tell-someone-porn-problem/ Fri, 20 Jan 2017 13:00:16 +0000 http://beggarsdaughter.com/?p=5322 Whenever a woman who struggles with porn writes in asking me what her first step should be, I tell her she needs to tell somebody.  The next question is almost always, “How?” How do I tell my parents I watch porn? How do I tell my husband I have to slip into the bathroom with my smart phone […]

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Whenever a woman who struggles with porn writes in asking me what her first step should be, I tell her she needs to tell somebody.  The next question is almost always, “How?”

How do I tell my parents I watch porn?

How do I tell my husband I have to slip into the bathroom with my smart phone in order to pretend to enjoy having sex with him?

How do I find any kind of support and help while I’m away at college?

How do I approach friend, pastor, or counselor and open up about this?

The stigma is real.

I receive e-mails from women every week, and there is a common theme throughout them.  I would say 99% of the women who e-mail me to tell me they are struggling with pornography (or lust, or masturbation) feel they are the only woman in the world who does.

Statistically, that’s not anywhere close to being true, but I remember that feeling very well.  Since I felt alone, I felt like there was no way anyone could even know how to help me.  It didn’t feel like there was even a point to telling someone.

Why would I tell somebody?  Just so they could judge me?

Confession felt like code for “shame yourself into stopping this.”

So, if I can get out of this on my own, then I won’t have to tell anybody, right?

The culture around us is overwhelming slanted male when it comes to anything sexual.  So, for women, especially conservative Christian women, it can be uncomfortable talking about it.  I’m not talking about “sinful” sexuality, but sexuality in general.  There is such an unfortunate stigma and inherent shame associated with it for women.

Women are expected to be pure, chaste, and have a major problem with romance novels and no more.  Stepping forward to ask for help with something like pornography or masturbation can feel like a death sentence, like you’ll be forever branded as perverse, unable to be married, damaged goods, a freak.  You can’t imagine telling your parents, husband, boyfriend, pastor, youth leader, because you’re afraid you will feel like you’ve let them down.

Tell some-one, not every-one.

There is no case anywhere for the idea of  a public confession.  If you want to go that route, you’re welcome to, but understand that when you tell “everyone” either in a church meeting or in a camp setting or something similar, you run the risk of actually becoming even more isolated.

It’s a strange twist in the plot, but if everyone knows, then you’re likely to witness a sort of “bystander phenomenon.”  Everyone will think that everyone else is doing something about it and no one will be comfortable talking about it.  While they’re all squirming in their discomfort, you’ll be sitting with your untrusting self saying, “See?!  I knew nobody would help me.”  Then you’ll write off the whole group as unable to help you.

I’ll tell you what they taught me in my first responder class:  Don’t just yell out “Call 9-1-1!”  Look at a specific person, point to them, and give them an order to call 9-1-1.  “You there, in the red shirt.  Call 9-1-1.”

You need to be intentional and purposefully choose specific people to tell.

Set aside a time to talk

Don’t just grab this person on your way by one day.  Instead, be intentional (this is going to be a theme) and ask them to set aside time for you- a half hour to an hour because you need to allot for the minutes of stalling that are bound to happen.

This is important, even if it’s your parents or husband.  Don’t bring up things like this when you’re frantically scrambling around trying to get ready for the next event.  Don’t bring it up when things can interrupt and distract.

I think it’s the nature of women who are living in shame to constantly find a way to get out of getting help.  So carving out time is useful for you and for the person you are talking to.

Express a purpose

“Hey!  Do you want to get together for coffee?” is not a fair way to make your request.  By all means, meet for coffee, but be sure to set the groundwork for the conversation.  Let them know that the content matter might be serious, and that you need them.  This isn’t just a “how’s life” chat.  You might say things like:

“Hey, can we set up a time to meet next week?  I have something I’m dealing with and I could really use your help.”

“Honey, can we set aside some time later tonight?  I have something really personal that I’m struggling with and need to talk to you about it.”

“Pastor, do you have any appointments later this week?  I really need to tell somebody about some things going on in my life.”

What are you doing?  You’re setting the stage so that they aren’t blindsided.  You’re letting them know that this is going to be a more serious get together and you’re already starting the accountability process.  If you preface the meeting by saying you need to talk to them about something, then they will be constantly curious as to what that is, and it will be harder for you to wiggle your way out.

Don’t just write it out

If you’re more comfortable writing it out than saying it, that’s fine.  When I first told someone about my struggle it was because I wrote it down and handed it to them.  Some of us struggle to speak the words.  I see it all the time, and I completely understand.

However, even written ‘confessions’ should be followed by in person conversations.

I wholeheartedly believe this, and this is why I won’t counsel or be an accountability partner for women who write me asking me to help them through the entire process.  It’s too easy for us to hide behind our computer screens.  That’s where our problem is.  We know how to be fake there.

Instead of just confessing your sin, share your struggle.

When the time finally comes to have this meeting, to sit down and take off the mask and shatter the image you’ve been keeping up so long, don’t feel you have to stay confined to, “Hi.  So, I struggle with porn.”

First, that’s not a lot for them to go on, and they might feel uncomfortable asking questions.  Then you’ll both just sit there in awkward silence, wondering what to say next.

Second, it’s not enough for you, either.  If that were the only problem, this wouldn’t be a problem.  You may struggle with porn, but you might also be struggling with things like shame, and fear, and feeling like God’s abandoned you.  They’re all interlaced.

If you walk in saying, “I struggle with porn.”  The response is essentially going to be, “Well, stop” and that will be the end of the conversation.

Share your story.  Go back to wherever you feel it started for you.  You’re not making excuses; you’re explaining your life.  Yes, you might think you’re on a therapist’s couch for a moment (and maybe you are), and they might be looking at you thinking, “Where is this going?” but the story is important because healing and freedom speak into that story.

I encourage parents and youth leaders to do this all the time- to sit down with their daughters or girls in their care and to say, “Tell me your story.”  

Confessing a struggle with porn doesn’t have to be a simple and ‘shocking’ as “Help. I struggle with porn.”  Put it in the context of your life.  Explain the struggle.  Share ways you’ve tried to stop.  Share any ways that you might be trying to cope- self-harm, acting out, etc.  Give this person as much of the story as you can.  That’s why you’re setting aside time and setting the expectation that this is something a little more serious.

I’m going to follow this up with some “next steps” but, for now, remember:

You’re not just “getting it off your chest,” you’re asking someone to join you in the fight.

Tell them with that motivation in mind.  You need their help.  The more you tell them, the more they can help.

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Highlights of 2016 and a Giveaway http://beggarsdaughter.com/highlights-2016-giveaway/ Fri, 30 Dec 2016 13:00:48 +0000 http://beggarsdaughter.com/?p=5337 Can I just tell you that this year went nothing as expected.  Nothing. Not. Even. Close. This might be a little more personal than your typical “Top posts of 2016” but this blog is nothing if not intensely personal.  If personal bothers you and you just want a chance at free stuff, that’s at the […]

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Can I just tell you that this year went nothing as expected.  Nothing.

Not. Even. Close.

This might be a little more personal than your typical “Top posts of 2016” but this blog is nothing if not intensely personal.  If personal bothers you and you just want a chance at free stuff, that’s at the bottom.

Last year, at this time, I was getting ready to head up to New York City with friends for my first New Year’s Eve in the Big Apple.  I was in a long-distance relationship, making plans to go visit him this past summer.

Here’s how I figured 2016 was going to go:

I was going to publish my book, speak at a conference in April, get engaged, and get ready to move to the West coast while planning for a wedding in September 2017.  (We had not discussed this date- I’m just ever an INTJ female.  I have timelines for my timelines.)  I was going to happily begin to transition into a ‘normal’ life.

That’s how this year was supposed to go.

That is not how this year went.

Instead, 2016 brought with it an onslaught of growth and change.  The first thing I had to do, though, was let go of my dreams. Since I didn’t feel like letting go, they were taken away.

In March, the relationship I thought was headed for marriage ended in a way more emotionally traumatic than I ever imagined possible.  It was brutal, and I was left blindsided, picking up the pieces.  I was physically ill from it and was so close to giving up everything- the blog, the book, any hopes of marriage.  Heartbreak hurts and no matter how careful you are, there is still grief when love is lost.

In those weeks I realized how much I was not ok with being single.  Since day 1 of starting Beggar’s Daughter, I felt “If I do this, no man will ever want a woman like me.”  That fear (or shame) always held me back in a sense.

The man I was with had been fully supportive of Beggar’s Daughter.  He had asked permission before reading through the posts because he wanted to respect me and give me the chance to have the conversation with him myself.  He constantly encouraged my writing and celebrated as I hit milestones while writing my book.  One of the last things he said, choking back tears, as my world was crumbling around me was, “You finish that book, you hear me?  Don’t stop on account of me.”

Looking back, it almost feels like a scene from a movie where someone is breathing their last and begging onlookers to promise them they’ll finish the job.

Because he was there, I was brave enough to own my story in a way I never had before.  I thought I was going to get it all.  But he was gone, and it was too late to turn back.  It was like I had finally mustered up the courage to climb over the edge and then the rope snapped.  Free-falling.

You know what they say:

God will either catch you or He’ll give you wings to fly.  (That’s not in the Bible, by the way.)

Really, 2016 as I know it now, started in April.

I finished my memoir, Beggar's Daughter‘s and then spoke at the Set Free Summit.  There, I had the opportunity to challenge a room of nearly 800 pastors and ministry leaders not to forget the women in their midst.

And the floodgates opened.

I spoke several more times in 2016 including at the CESE Summit in September.  While there, I interviewed with Noah Church from Your Brain on Porn.  It was the most disarming interview I have ever done.

Shortly after that Summit, I traveled to Canada to meet with the men of Strength to Fight.  While there, I got to share my story at a small church and meet with a group of women for tea and coffee on a Sunday afternoon.

Discussing the depths of grace over tea and coffee is now my new favorite normal.

This is what should go on in the tea parties we have at churches.  We have to start talking about real issues that real women face instead of assuming they all have their stuff together.

This year started off with me not wanting to share my story much at all to me sharing my story… a lot.


Interviews/Presentations in 2016

“The Double Wound: Hope for Women Facing Pornography Addiction” with the Brushfires Foundation

“Girls Watch Porn, too: An Essential Conversation” with Jonathon Van Maren

60 Minute Seminars: Female Pornography Addiction with Summit Church, Orlando


Top Read Posts in 2016

  1. The Pictures Never Go Away: What I Wish I Had Understood About Sexting
  2. 3 Things Parents Can Do to Help Keep Your Kids from Sexting
  3. Cries in the Dark: Calls for Help from Women Who Struggle with Porn
  4. Sexting: What to Do if a Man Asks You for Pictures
  5. Should I Masturbate Before Marriage?

Those last two are from years ago- see a theme?


As you can see, this year, the hot topic is sexting.

Near the end of this year, I shared an article on sexting that received thousands of views and was reposted on a couple different sites.  The reality of this issue struck me again.  Somewhere out there is a 17 year old girl just like I was.  If I can keep her from making the same mistakes, I want to help her.  For 2017, I’m really taking the focus of developing resources geared toward young women- high school and college age.

Pornography will always be constantly evolving.  It’s like the mythical Hydra- chop off one head, two more grow back. VR headsets were huge this year at Christmas, so brace yourselves for the onslaught of virtual porn.  That will be the next new thing- an immersive porn experience and we still haven’t wrapped our brains around the Porn 2.0 Phenomenon.

All of the experts and articles in the world will never be able to stop the runaway train that is pornography.  Even if it were illegal, people would still make it and find it (case in point: child porn is illegal and disgustingly prolific).  What we can do, though, is pull people off the train and get people out of its path.

If young women are met back at the beginning, back where it all starts.  If the shame and stigma is torn down.  If they are encouraged to embrace the totality of who they are as women, including being sexual beings, and if they are taught healthy sexuality and to pursue genuine love, then I firmly believe that not only will it cut the chains of porn addition, but it will also help prevent their exploitation, among a litany of other possible struggles.

My biggest concern right now is that pornography is grooming the next generation of victims and they will victimize themselves.

Plans for 2017

There is a lot on the plate for this coming year, then.  There are already several tour dates, including:

The There{4} Teen Gathering in Texas in February.

Chains Be Broken, an event with Dr. Bill Struthers taking place in April.

Also in April, Sexual Sanity for Women, an event with Ellen Dykas, author of the workbook I always recommend to small groups.

You can see more events and find more details on the speaker page.

My biggest prayer for 2017 is more hope.  More hope for freedom.  More hope for victory.  More hope for lives restored.  

Which brings me to this….

the Hope for Freedom Giveaway.

This year, I wrote Beggar’s Daughter.  Next year, I am planning a re-release journal version of “Love Done Right” (the e-book I published back in 2012) as well as a full-length reading version of the same.  I also have two other books in the works that are not specific to Beggar’s Daughter content.  Barring any unforeseen events, the first two should be finished during the first half of the year and the second two during the second half.

Two people will win a free copy of all five as they are released..

plus a surprise bonus book from the list of books on my reading list this year.

Check it out, enter, and share it with a friend It’s my way of saying ‘Thank you.’ Let’s share the message of hope in 2017.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Making it Through the Holidays with Hope for Freedom http://beggarsdaughter.com/porn-holidays-hope-freedom/ Tue, 20 Dec 2016 19:00:15 +0000 http://beggarsdaughter.com/?p=5289 If you’re a woman who struggles with porn, this time of year can be especially hard for you. You’re not alone, actually.  Research has shown that porn use spikes around Christmas time.  Coincidentally (or perhaps not) so do dating and relationship searches. Maybe you’re a high school student on winter break.  You have all kinds […]

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If you’re a woman who struggles with porn, this time of year can be especially hard for you. You’re not alone, actually.  Research has shown that porn use spikes around Christmas time.  Coincidentally (or perhaps not) so do dating and relationship searches.

Maybe you’re a high school student on winter break.  You have all kinds of unsupervised downtime and no real way to connect with friends.  You’ll spend way too much time online, just because you’re bored.  It’ll start with harmless YouTube videos. Before you know it, you’ll be back in the porn.

Perhaps you’re a college student.  You’ve just finished exams and endured all the stress that comes with it.  Now, you’re back home with your family (and all the stress that comes with that).  After catching up on much-needed sleep and eating way too many helpings of home cooking, you’ll find yourself in that same place.

Bored. Alone. Online.

It’s a wretched combination, honestly.  To make matters worse, you might be exhausted from school, family functions, or way too many parties.  You might be frustrated because you’re not in a relationship, or moody just because it gets dark earlier.  You may be mourning what you don’t have this Christmas- relationships lost, loved ones who have passed away.

Your friends will show up with their significant others.  Your family will ask you where yours .  Everyday, you get perfectly scripted Christmas letters that somehow boil down 365 days into six perfect paragraphs.  Everyone else’s life seems like a Hallmark Christmas movie.

As you gear up for New Years, you might reflect on a year of failed attempts at freedom. You lost count of the number of times you said “never again.”

So, you’ll use porn to medicate and escape, to try to feel better. You’ll use it to feel some sort of satisfaction or to ease some of the tension of singleness. When it’s over, you’ll end up feeling worse than when you started.

You may wonder, “Can I ever be free?”

The last year may seem like a waste, and the holiday season may feel empty.  You question if it’s even worth trying anymore.  Why do you even bother?

In a way, celebrating Christmas can seem… messed up.  Here you are celebrating a Savior’s birth and singing “Joy to the World” but it feels fake.  You feel you’re never going to get out of this.  How do you have hope, never mind celebrate it, when you feel hopeless?

If you think about it, the tension between hope and despair is really the story of Christmas.

We sometimes lose sight of that in the middle of the silent nights.  We tell ourselves that God is waiting for us to have our acts together before He’ll help us.  The opposite is true- He comes into our brokenness to help us get our acts together.

It may seem scandalous, but Christmas exists for the moment you get home from church and watch another porn video.

That captivity, that feeling of hopelessness and despair is exactly the reason for God becoming Emmanuel (God with us).  Yet, it is our tendency to push away in that moment.  We get swallowed up in shame, crushed by a burden of hypocrisy.

“God wouldn’t want to be with me.”

But He would, He did, and He does.  He longs to forgive and see you walk in the freedom He has already granted you. That is  the Christmas story.  He willingly comes into our broken, messed up, captive, dark world to identify with us.

Christmas should be filled with hope for you.  Not hope that you’ll finally get the man, kids, toys, or dream that you’ve always wanted, but a hope firmly rooted in the fact that God is with you as you fight the battle you’re in.

He’s with you as you feel crushed by stress.  He is with you as you feel weighed down by expectations.  He is with you as you feel trapped in the depths of pornography or tangled up in lust and fantasy.

There is hope because He’s already given you freedom.  He is freedom.

Instead of spending time reflecting on how far you haven’t gotten or on how much you have failed, take a moment to bask in that truth. Christmas is a celebration of freedom, hope, and healing.

Practically, this season, there are some steps you can take to make it through without falling.

Limit your screen time. Phone, computer, tablet- whatever it is, find another way to fill your downtime that doesn’t involve mindlessly searching the web, even if you start out with funny cat videos.  Leave your smartphone off or at home.

Make it a point to connect with family and friends.  This is the perfect time of year to make time for other people.  Write cards, go out for coffee, or give your great Gramma Sue a Merry Christmas call.  Relationships are what you invest in them.

Get accountability.  Even if you haven’t struggled in a while, if this season is hard for you, let someone know.  Check in with them periodically.  Consider installing a filter like Covenant Eyes, just so you know someone is keeping an eye on you.

Stay close to the manger.  Christmas is on a Sunday and it could be tempting to let fatigue, holiday craziness, or feelings of failure keep you from church and anything related to God.  That begins an ugly spiral that could ultimately end in falling headlong into porn.

Christmas is when we celebrating God coming near us – as imperfect, broken and messed up as we are.  He is with us. Freedom is here, and there is hope in that.

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Life is More than Sex and Marriage: Thoughts from a 31-Year-Old Virgin http://beggarsdaughter.com/life-more-than-sex-31-year-old-virgin/ Fri, 09 Dec 2016 20:00:42 +0000 http://beggarsdaughter.com/?p=5274 I get asked all kinds of questions about sex, singleness, marriage, shame, hope, dating… you name it. Do I think I’m still single because I watched porn? Do I think I’ll never be able to get married because I watched porn? How do I acknowledge my sex drive without letting it ruin my life? Do […]

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I get asked all kinds of questions about sex, singleness, marriage, shame, hope, dating… you name it.

Do I think I’m still single because I watched porn?

Do I think I’ll never be able to get married because I watched porn?

How do I acknowledge my sex drive without letting it ruin my life?

Do I have hope for a future as a wife and mom?

What are my thoughts on dating and courtship?

…and the list goes on.

Growing up, I admired single women. I remember looking up to Heather Payne, from Point of Grace, and Rebecca St. James. I would write them and ask, “How do you do it?”  It felt like it had to be some sort of super power.

I was a teenager completely obsessed with porn and sex.  Any time a couple in church got married, my first thought was, “Now they get to have sex.”  I wrote letters to my future husband (like good Christian girls do) but they were all about how I couldn’t wait to sleep with him.

I wasn’t sexually active, but life revolved around sex.  Obviously, I needed to get married… now.

When I was 18, a friend looked at me and said, “I can see you being single forever.” It made me angry.  The idea of being single for any extended length of time was laughable, really.  I was one of the most sexual women I knew.  There was no way.

I was wrong.

Grant you, I’m not single “forever” at this point.  But to some, I’m sure 31 looks like “forever.”  I used to think it looked like “forever” but I’ve decided to bump that up to 70.  So, now I’m not even half way there.

Here’s the thing, since starting Beggar’s Daughter (at the age of 23), I’ve found my life taking an interesting little twist.

Now I’m the person getting the e-mails from sex-crazed teenagers asking how I do it.

For all those women, young and old(er), asking questions just like these, here is my letter to you.


I get it.  I understand the near panic that sets in when you even think about the idea of not getting married any time soon.  I know the feelings of inadequacy and even shame when you still haven’t been asked on a date but all your friends are getting engaged/married/having babies. I have been in that place of saying, “Um, excuse me, God?  Have you forgotten about me over here?  Because I feel pretty forgotten right now.”

When I graduated high school, my five year plan included getting married by 21.  As much as I had told people that it wasn’t “set it stone and I wouldn’t be running to Vegas to get married”, I still panicked when I turned 21 and realized it wasn’t going to happen.

Here we are ten years later…

Now, I’m 31, still single, writing this blog, and… still a virgin.

I’ll tell you it isn’t easy and some days are far worse than others.  Weddings can be hard.  Watching all my friends stop having kids has been hard.  Coming home to no one can be hard.

But you know what?  Age has taught me that life can be hard for anyone- married or not, sexually active or not, single or not, struggling with porn or not.  It’s not like marriage or kids would make my life easier.  What makes single life so hard is the cultural expectations, the desire for that intimacy, cooking for one, and frankly, the desire for sex.

There’s one thing, though.  One truth that makes it all work.  When I grasped this, it made life easier.

Life isn’t about sex.

Perhaps that seems like a given, but we’re surrounded by sex.  The culture we live in gorges on it.  It’s in our advertising, our TV shows, our music, our entertainment.  Our culture, in essence, worships sex… and, more often than not, so do we.

Christians can run the risk of being equally as obsessed with sex.  When we talk about modesty, it’s about sex.  When we talk about courting, it’s about sex.  Being a good Christian becomes all about the sex you shouldn’t be having.  We can develop a sex-obsessed approach to faith.

And you know what?

Idolizing sex messes everything up.

It cripples your ability to have healthy friendships, to function in community, and, ultimately, to love others well.

Sex is a desire.  Regardless of how strong that desire is, it is never a need.  You need air and food; you don’t need sex.  You desire sex.  You want it and that want is hardwired into your body.  There’s nothing wrong with the fact that you desire sex, even as a woman.

Some of us want it more than others. In my experience, there are times the desire is more intense, but it has been and always will be only a desire.

As long as you can understand it is a desire, you can treat it like one of many desires you will have in your life.  You can control it, not in a repressive way, but in a healthy way.

Think of it like traveling.  Who wouldn’t love to travel?  It’s fun!  Lots of people do it and highly recommend it.  Your newsfeed and advertisements are filled with it.  You may want to travel and there’s nothing wrong with that.

If you make it your life goal to travel, when you aren’t traveling, you will be jealous, frustrated, and miserable.  But you can’t always travel.  You might need to save up more money.  You might need to finish school, or wait to accrue more vacation time at work.  You might get in a wreck and break your leg, so you can’t go.  Is your life over?

If you recognize travel as a desire, it stays in its appropriate place on your priority list.

Then, when the desire to travel creeps into your mind, you can control it.  You don’t repress it and say, “No, that’s bad! Travel is evil!”  You say, “Well, I’d love to visit Hawaii, but now is not the best time, so I’m going to wait.”

That’s how you deal with a sex drive as a woman waiting for marriage.

It’s not about repressing it, labeling it as dirty and pretending like it doesn’t exist.  That’s not healthy.  It’s simply about acknowledging that now is not the right time, place, or situation.  As a Christian, I believe that right time and place happens within the confines of a marriage. So, someday, I hope I get married, and, in turn, get to have sex, but if I don’t, it’s not going to be the death of me.  Just like that trip to Hawaii.  My life doesn’t revolve around sex and neither does my identity.

You are more than your sexual or marital status.

A byproduct of our culture is that we craft sex into our identities.  I am not “Jessica, the virgin.”  I don’t idolize that part of my life, and it’s not because of my past with pornography.  It’s because sex and marriage do not form my identity.  My identity is found in Christ completely apart from any relationship, romantic or otherwise.

This is an immensely healing truth for my own past when it comes to romantic relationships.

I didn’t start dating until I was 27.  My first date ever I tried to look like Kim Kardashian.  As much as I spoke out about the sexualized culture even then, I didn’t realize how much I was still influenced by it.

I thought that’s what men were expecting.  Men wanted sexual women- so I needed to learn how to express the fact that I was one.  I spent way too long on my hair and makeup, strategically picked out my clothes to be flattering but not revealing. Then we sat in a coffee shop in Old Town Alexandria for two hours talking about the chemical composition of plastic wrap.

My first date ever I tried to look like Kim Kardashian.  As much as I spoke out about the sexualized culture even then, I didn’t realize how much I was still influenced by it.

I’m not kidding.

Oh, I have stories.

It took a few first dates and some crazy second ones, but I learned the importance of just being me, having good communication, and not worrying about my ‘sex appeal.’  The men who had good character were the men who knew all about my past and decided to see past that to our potential as friends.  Marriage isn’t all about sex. It’s a relationship of which sex is a part. If you don’t know how to do relationships well, marriage will be challenging.

I know this might all seem cliche.  I’ve been there before, reading books on singleness… written by people who were married at 21.  You know nothing.  But I hope you’ll hear my heart in this.  Just because you’re single doesn’t mean you are less than or forgotten. You can still know people and be known.  You can still love people and be loved by them.  Instead of spending your time fantasizing about sex, focus on building strong relationships.  Learn to love God and people well.

Love and sex are not synonymous.

You can live without sex.  You can love without it too.  Love fully, deeply and unafraid.  You will find a fulfillment that doesn’t kill desire but far surpasses it.  Above sex, make it a priority to love well.  When all is said and done, that’s the greatest that remains:

But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.

(1 Corinthians 13:13)

~ Jessica


In 2017, I’ll be traveling giving presentations on abstinence and singleness- check out the speaking page. 

My next book, “Love Done Right: Reflections” is due out in February 2017. It will be specifically designed for high school and college women.  Subscribe to stay up to date!  In the meantime, check out the recommended reads below.



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