Pretend with me, for a moment you are a spy. Who has not imagined what it would be like to be a spy, living a totally made up life, on the verge of being discovered, constantly having to keep secrets, play parts, and pretend? Wait… that sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
While we are not employees of the CIA, many of us are masters of disguise. We play the different parts, live life constantly on the edge of discovery, and in the process, we lose us. Life becomes a constant struggle, a game, a match of wits, a web of lies. We master deception, and call it protection. We think we are protecting ourselves, but really, we are deceiving ourselves.
As women, pornography hands us an identity.
That may vary depending on your level of involvement. The identity given to a woman tied up in erotic fiction would be different than a woman who watches rape porn (yes, women watch rape porn). It hands us a label, an identity, a passport, if you will. We add it to our collection of passports and identities that get us through life.
We have an identity for church. One for school. One for this group of friends. One for the counselor. One for the boyfriend/husband. One for this other group of friends. One for the teachers, and so on.
You are the good Christian girl. The rebel. The straight-A student. The soccer mom. The good wife. The lover. The girlfriend. The worship leader. You are not a person, unable to really be yourself, instead, you are a collection of labels.
It gets tiring, doesn’t it?
When the door shuts, and you’re left with no more masks, no more passports, just you, a mirror, and your ‘demons’ who are you? What are you?
It is that question that frightens so many of us, because, if we were honest, the answer would be “I don’t know” or it would scare us to death. In those moments of loneliness, it is usually our shame that screams the loudest, and when we fall, it screams even louder.
“See? This is all you are. This is all you’re worth.”
And you want to believe differently; you really do. You try and recite the Bible verses, look to your friends for encouragement, go out and try a little harder, but all the while you are believing the lie that your shame is probably right. You probably are just a freak. You probably are stuck forever. God probably does not love you. You probably do not deserve to be married. You probably should stop trying.
So, you go through life wearing the masks and the labels, playing the part, and all the while being crushed under this huge weight. Hypocrite. Freak. Unlovable. Messed up. Ugly. Trapped. Forsaken. Worthless. Sex Object.
“If they really knew,” you think, “they would not love me. God would not love me. I know the truth about me. I know who I really am.”
Actually, you don’t.
That beat up, forsaken, trapped, discouraged woman who feels like she could never be loved is not you. That is the identity your shame has handed you, and it is high time to burn it.
This is not a self-help post. I am not going to type out a list of things to say to yourself to help you feel better about yourself. I am not telling you to craft yet another new identity in order to cope. Lying to yourself, whether for the positive or the negative, is not how you heal. There is no freedom in shame and there is no freedom in delusion. Freedom is found in truth.
You cannot ignore the actions you have done. If you have fallen to pornography or lust, you cannot just close the screen, flip on the lights, open the doors and say, “Oh well, Jesus loves me anyway. I am beautiful. I am strong. I am loved.” You also should not sit there and shame yourself away from Him (“God could never love me!”).
The healthy balance of truth is right in the middle: “What I have done was wrong (guilt), and, God, I ask Your forgiveness for that (receiving His love).” No shame, no lies, just honesty and humility.
I had not planned on this being the last post in this series, but I really feel like it all boils down to this. Your identity is not found outside of Him, so if you want to get to know you, you have to know Him.
The most crucial thing for us, as we walk in freedom, is to figure out who we really are in Christ. When you play the prodigal, play the harlot, and turn your back on the Lover of your soul, the most important thing for you to understand is how much He loves you. Regardless of who you think you are, your identity is found in Christ.
That is who you are. That is your identity. Understanding that helps you get out from under the weight of that shame. It gives you the confidence to ditch your other alter-egos. It gives you the courage to speak the truth, and when you fall from freedom, it gives you the grace to get up and keep walking, because freedom is not about perfection; it is about choices, growth, and grace.
If you have a question about “Falling from Freedom” that I have not answered, feel free to ask it in the comments or shoot me an e-mail!