Category Archives: Relationship

Sexual Tension

I remember a well-known youth leader and speaker at a big Christian conference I attended as a young person comparing sexual temptation to wanting to eat a ‘big chocolate cake’.

“You go into the kitchen. There’s the cake, oozing chocolatey goodness. You know you aren’t supposed to eat the cake. But it looks so good….what if I just dipped my finger into the icing? No-one would even know, right? What if I just sliced a tiny bit off the back where no-one would see…”

The story ended with the cake gone, your fingers and mouth covered in chocolate and an overwhelming sense of regret and shame.

You can never get that cake back now. It’s gone forever.

You get the picture. It’s the good old slippery slope argument.

No, you can't have it AND eat it!

No, you can’t have it AND eat it!

Without perhaps fully realising it, this youth leader had bought into the idea of sex – of bodies, especially female ones – as consumable goods. I heard another story in which a white rose was passed around the youth group. As it went from hand to hand, it inevitably got  broken. The speaker held it up at the end: ‘who would want this now?’ he asked. The rose had been passed around and lost its value. It was now worthless, crumpled, dirty. The warning was there, I think, probably more for the girls than the boys.

Sex makes you dirty. It makes you unloveable. It makes you unmarriageable. It makes you irredeemable.

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Our Story: Just Friends (2)

Something I have been wanting to do for a while is write down our story. This will not be in the ‘right’ order, but should make sense both as a series and as individual posts.  I might ask her to write some too, so that you get it from both perspectives. Telling stories is important.

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Just Friends Part 1


We matter.

Love, we matter. I don’t know how else I can say it. Who we are, what we do, together. We matter.

A friend of yours is coming to visit.

We have been together what seems like a long time, our lives intertwining; sometimes beautifully, sometimes painfully. We have a little house which we pay for together by scraping together my student loan and your minimum wage salary. We save up and go away together – the Yorkshire Moors, Northumberland or the Lake District. You make me go hiking and I make you rest afterwards. We have ended up with a little, spiky, scared kitten that turned into a big soft lump of a cat. You are growing cucumbers in our living room, which block out most of the window so that the light that filters through all summer is green. I remember this detail in particular.

We sleep in the same bed, comfortably. We are done with being anxious about this. You and I know how to curl up around each other. You bring me coffee in the mornings and sometimes in the evenings we read out loud to each other; somehow such an intimate sharing. We have made a home, finally.

But a friend of yours is coming to visit. A Christian friend.  A friend from the past. Yours, not mine. She knows about us, and I can’t help feeling she has judged us accordingly.

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How this Grace thing works (2)

Guitar Study 1

(Photo credit: fmerenda)

There is a new worship service at church. It kinda hurts and feels good at the same time because it looks a bit (and feels a lot) like the kind of worship I used to go to before. The formula is familiar: worship songs, fast fast fast, LOUD, slowing… slow, slow building up to fast again. There are a lot of words about love: I could sing of your love forever, More love, more power, You’re rich in love and you’re slow to anger/Your name is great and your heart is kind. The band are good (my partner is there, I can see how she is reading the room, connected with the Spirit, her fingers are fast on the fretboard). But I am anxious, vulnerable, my heart in my throat. I want to run away. My stomach twists.

What if, what if, what if God really does search you out, and know you? Run, run, run, flee from that Presence. Who can stand in front of God and live? Especially me.

I escape to the kitchen at the back, for water. I find another fugitive in there. We sip, we pause, not saying much. When she goes back to the room I find the corner of the dark kitchen, blindly. I actually open one of the cupboard doors to make the space even smaller, a hiding place. And I cry between the cupboard door and the bin from the bottom of my gut, silently. I don’t even know where it has come from but I know enough to recognise shame when I see it. And I know while I am here, unseen, unknown, I cannot defeat it. I know I must walk back out. I must be seen, known. I must choose not to be safe, alone, detached.

When I fling myself out of the door I have missed the reflection although I caught snatches of it from the hiding place: God’s love is bigger, stronger, it lasts forever. The music has started again. I find my seat. Is it too much to ask for the love to have skin on? Perhaps I should try to picture some mystical blue light, entering my soul…

As the tears threaten again, I am embraced by the friend sitting next to me. God’s love has skin on. God’s Spirit breathes as she prays for me. It is safe.

When I kneel down, Brother Jesus’s presence is in the hand of my Pastor who holds my shoulders, His voice is in hers: I’m here, it’s ok.

When I get up again to sing another sister holds my hand and we stretch our arms up together and God’s presence isn’t in aloneness, it is in togetherness.

Afterwards, I am sitting on the floor which is scattered with cushions and I begin pulling  some around me. My sisters help, building a wall of cushions around me until I am surrounded and I can lean my head on the top one and peep out. Giggling, they come one by one and fall onto my nest of cushions until we are all lying around, talking about how we should all go out together to eat sometime.

In the end, love isn’t a mystical blue light, it is the solid arms of a friend. Grace is not an untouchable concept, it is the sisters who build you a nest out of cushions, higher and higher until you feel enclosed and safe and warm.

This song, all of it:

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How this Grace Thing works (1)