Vulnerability… It’s easy to talk about, however few of us have the guts to actually do it. Letting someone else have a glimpse into some of the rickety parts of my being has never been something I look forward to. My wife and I were attending a marriage workshop where we were part of a core group of couples for the course of the workshop that lasted several months. By joining this workshop, we were all metaphorically pushed off the cliff of vulnerability. Sharing things we perhaps never shared with anyone in our lives, including our spouses. You just fall. And you keep falling. And there’s nothing to grab onto. All you can do is hope. Hope that your spouse, and the people in your group will catch you graciously. After a while getting together with the same group, I can’t say it was easy for me to open up even though that was a huge part of the workshop. What happened next perhaps pushed me along in this process, but… I pray this never happens to you.
It was typical for our group to use group texting for communication about our gatherings. At one point the wife of our table facilitator couple added our group to a list of people she sent out a prayer request for to pray for someone going through surgery for cancer. I don’t know how many people were in the group text, but it was a lot. Later I found out that even one of the pastors of the mega church we were attending was on the list. Well, being a man, thanks to God, equipped with a God-given sex drive, I found myself experiencing strong feelings for my wife, and felt like it would be a good idea to let her know about it. After all, we were in vulnerability training boot camp, “so why not let it all out?” I thought. So I grab my not-so-smart phone and as I browse through the lists of texting conversations, I open the one with my wife’s name by it, and I jot down this exact message: “hey babe. I really really really really really want you.”
O.k. so fortunately the report sent wasn’t quite as explicit as it could be between a married couple. Here’s the problem, however. Seconds pass after I send the text, and I realize this wasn’t our personal texting conversation between the two of us, as I mistakenly thought. This was actually the group text prayer-request-list, we were added to. But for some stupid reason that Google will have to be held accountable for before God, the only contact in the LARGE list of people displayed on my phone was my wife. I dropped the bomb, and it was too late to close the hatch. I probably blurted out some words perfectly appropriate to the level of panic at hand. I started frantically looking for this awesome feature called “undo sending message” that doesn’t exist in the world of texting (at least on Android). Then slowly the frustration turned into an eerie hysteric laughter with a little whiff of insanity.
Then came the reaction… The text messages started rolling in. The reaction was mixed, as should be expected from such a controversial dispatch. Some members of our core group, perhaps not realizing the magnitude of the group-text list, started giving me pats on the back with little animated messages with flames, commending our passion for each other. Others, such as our table facilitator’s mother, who was also on the list, had more of an unsympathetic perspective, and made sure she let her daughter know about it. Interestingly, her father, also on the list, got a kick out of it, and said it made his day. Others, who I don’t even know, started letting us know what they thought. “Hey, group message here! What are you guys doing?” This went on for a while, as I kept shooting out texts trying to explain and apologize.
Vulnerability is key to intimacy. Intimacy is the whole point of marriage. And anyone who’s married knows that there are different levels of intimacy, whether you’re having sex or not. If all you think your marrying someone for is because you share the same vision for saving children in Africa, then what’s the point? You could do that with any good guy-friend and use the ring money for the mission trip. Marriage is all about intimacy.
Sexuality. I could tell you about my sexuality but I’d have to kill you. That’s what most of us probably feel like when it comes to opening up about sexual temptations, desires etc. It’s worse than pulling a tooth. However, vulnerability and accountability leads to true freedom.
It’s hard to win on your own. Vulnerability leads to true freedom.
Going through the vulnerability exercise (my texting blooper), I never signed up for, perhaps helped pave the way for what I’m about to tell you. I was working a part time job from home, while attending school of ministry. The research project I was working on had to do with researching websites, social pages etc that had to do with physical fitness and weight loss. After a few days of this, I slowly but surely realized I was starting to experience quite a bit of sexual temptation after viewing these types of sites for several hours in a row. Fitness is all about having a good body, so I was seeing a lot of skin. I didn’t fall into sin, but I was close. I realized something at that point that was a bit revolutionary for me. I realized that “this is the real defining moment, that determines whether we win or lose.” I realized that in a strange way, letting someone know that you’re currently going through some sexual temptation, and you need help, is perhaps much more difficult than confessing something once it’s happened. Once you’ve fallen, it’s in the past, and the past is easier to talk about, than admitting that right in this moment you are weak, and you need a hand. Thanks to the new levels of intimacy we had achieved through some other things the Lord did in our marriage during the marriage workshop, for perhaps the first time, I was able to just honestly open up with my wife about what I was experiencing. Once again, being able to be that transparent with her in this area, opened up a whole new level of intimacy, and strength in resisting and avoiding temptation. And once again, I was amazed how dramatically everything changed once I let her into what I was experiencing.
Just that experience alone, led to deeper levels of intimacy and transparency in our relationship. If you’re married and you’re experiencing sexual temptation, your wife should be the first one to know about it. Her and the Holy Spirit are likely the ones who will be of the most help. I can only imagine how much less problems us men would have with sexual temptation if we could learn to be honest with one another and with our spouses, and not make a big deal out of it, but just get help before it’s too late. If you can ask someone to pray for you, because you’re experiencing a lot of sexual temptation, then you’ve likely already won the battle.
And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken. Ecclesiastes 4:12
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image courtesy of me, so don’t use it without permission. :)