Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Lynsie's Story

So it would seem I am the last to get around to sharing my testimony and why modesty and chastity are important to me. It is rather difficult for me just as I know it has been for those who shared before I did. But it is time to get it over with and hopefully it will help or inspire or encourage even just one person.

I wasn't raised in a decidedly Christian home. We went to a Catholic church when I was little but I never felt any real connection to God although I did believe a God existed. It didn't help that the services could hardly hold my attention since many times they were in Ukrainian or were just plain ridiculously long and boring. Gradually I stopped going at all by the time I was in my early teens.

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. Romans 1:20

One of the elements that really defined my high school years was my search for religion or spirituality or whatever you want to call it. I was very much into Wicca, astrology, tarot cards, etc. I did spells for beauty and love, I consulted the stars and the planets to describe a person's personality, I read their cards.... it was intriguing and exciting but never fulfilled in me that need we all have for God. Not to mention I opened some spiritual doors that brought negative things into my life and into my bedroom. I often felt a presence in my room and I saw shadows and heard unexplained sounds. Even after I accepted Christ, I hadn't ever attempted to rid my life and my living space of these spirits and I would have literally paralyzing nightmares that terrified me even when I was awake. Noah also witnessed some of the unexplained occurances such as the shadowy outline of a man on my bedroom wall right next to my bed.

But these spirits aren't the only thing I let into my life. A 2008 internet statistic showed that 30% of internet porngraphy consumers are women, and that is a number that is increasing over the years. I was first exposed to pornography before I even knew what sex was. I was at a friend's house and we found a chest filled with pornographic magazines and books. What I would give to go back in time and make sure that never happened. A few years later it was a scrambled tv channel playing pornographic films and a few years after that we got the internet and it was downhill from there. It was something I knew I shouldn't be looking at but it wasn't until after I was saved that I began to know how morally and spiritually wrong it was. By that point I guess you could say I was an addict and so it was an incredible struggle for me to break that habit. I tried so many things to quit including installing a program on my computer that would send weekly lists of my internet activity to an accountability partner, writing a research paper on the negative effects of pornography, trying to limit the time I spent on the computer, etc. I never told a soul about my problem; I think Victoria was the only one who knew. Well, now its out in the open!!! It is incredibly painful and embarassing for me to share but I know it is good to finally really put it out there in the light where it can hopefully shrivel up and die.

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17

I never say that I am completely free of this addiction. As with all addictions, you never stop being an addict; you're always in recovery and you just take it one day at a time. I don't count the number of days since my last viewing, mostly I just try not to think about it at all. But I am proud to say its been a looooooooooooong time and I invite you all to continually ask me how I am doing. Accountability is so very important in helping to free yourself of any sin with which you struggle. One thing I am learning from a book I am currently reading (which I will review for you all once I'm finished) is that chastity involves community. We need each other's help to remain disciplined. If you know someone is going to ask you, "How are you doing with this area where you have been struggling?" you are going to be a lot more likely to succeed in fleeing from that sin, whatever it may be for you.

But going back to my high school years.... again I was searching and searching, trying to find Truth. At one point I came up with my own religion; I don't even remember what it was. But I remember talking to my dad about it and without putting me down he pointed out all the flaws in this belief system of mine. I realized I couldn't just make up something and call it true. By my senior year of high school, I was dating my now-husband. He is the son of a pastor and so it was in those days I began going to church again. Fr. Matt is an excellent pastor and the Lord really used him to speak directly into my heart. I can remember so many services that brought me to tears. It was like God crushed my heart but in a good way, squeezing out all the bad stuff and filling it with Christ's love. I had also gotten back in touch with an old friend of mine who was Christian. She helped answer a lot of questions I had about God and Jesus and Christianity.

Bless the LORD, O my soul;
And all that is within me, bless His holy name! Psalm 103:1

On February 27, 2004, I was "born again." It really was a physical (and spiritual) experience for me. I wrote about it here: To give a short summary, I was sitting in my car listening to a local Christian radio station. A song came on that I really liked at the time and it was during that song that I felt the Lord's presence very powerfully, coursing through me and in the air all around me. That's when Jesus came into my heart. I can remember feeling like I was breathing for the first time. It was the most amazing thing I have ever experienced. Even now my heart is beating excitedly at the memory. Praise the Lord!!!!!!!!!!!

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Proverbs 31:30

Victoria and I met on a Christian discussion board and she is now my best friend. We decided to start Ruby-Eyed Okapi because we have a passion for sharing the importance of modesty and sexual purity in all its forms. They are values by which we have been very affected in our walks and we think they are extremely relevant, albeit often forgotten, in today's culture. A few years ago I did a similar project with one of my other friends, Samantha. You may remember she is the one who created the design for this blog. We ran a ministry called Modesty Is Beauty and our goal was to create modest clothing and share articles about modesty and sexual purity. We also had t-shirts with designs and phrases that encouraged modesty. One of my favorites was the admittedly sardonic "How to Pull Up Your Pants" design. So I was very excited when Victoria suggested her idea for a modesty blog. I haven't been as active lately as far as posting new entries but I do have a lot of things in the works for you all including reviews for books I think you'll really enjoy.

So there it is, my very long and at times shameful testimony with a joyful victory at the end and some hope for the future. May God bless you all and I thank you for reading!!

Distractions from Magazine Racks

A couple of weeks ago, Laura (fellow Innovator here at R-EO) was telling me about a magazine that is out everywhere you go. I read the article she sent to me about this particular magazine. Lately I've been heavily burdened for various reasons for the culture we're raising our youth in. This added more of a burden.

It is very hard to not be distracted by magazines when you are shopping around. They stick magazines out in the open for all to see and stare at when you are paying for groceries and convenience stores. How are we able to get away from such things? It is almost impossible to not look at what is right in front of your face.

I went to a store last week to pick up breakfast sandwiches for my family as we were on our way to drop my husband off to his job. As I stood in line to pay, I noticed the other people in like were all looking directly at the magazine rack, which was 30 feet away making it hard to not be easily distracted. I turned my head to see not only the magazine Laura told me about, but at least 7-15 other covers varying from girls in lingerie, people naked and covering just certain parts of their bodies, and very immodestly dressed models on covers. I came out of the store feeling so sad. I even said to my husband immediately, "Please, don't ever go into [store] again. It's awful!" I was so upset that those magazines are so out in the open for kids to see and for men who are sexual addicts or recovering sexual addicts like my own husband is; to have that right there for their eyes to linger towards. I admit it was a bit of a quick reaction of mine, but my husband said, "okay." without a problem after I just explained a little of what I saw (which a few days before he told me he was in there and saw one particular magazine's content for a split second while in line and looked away immediately), which I am sure most men would complain, "But I have to have my jolt of coffee in the morning." or something.  Perhaps most men would consider this over reacting. Even knowing my husband is one who turns his head away, I guess with dealing with the pain and anguish of the idea that his attention would have in the past just stared at such things and enjoyed what he saw, I might have reacted poorly and just don't want him to have to even see that when he himself doesn't want to. We are two joined together as one and have God's best interests in mind for one another. He believes that it is good for me to watch out for him so that temptation won't even come in trying to lure him into his past sinful lifestyle of lust. Our love and marriage is very important to us and worth protecting.

Growing up, my mom used to constantly turn magazines around quickly so I wouldn't see them and so that others wouldn't be negatively effected by them. People gave her weird looks for doing it, but my mom was harmed by the sexual addiction of her own husband and didn't want it to get to my brothers or me. Sadly we were exposed too much to it in our own home, but I liked that my mom did this. It actually probably is partly to why I rarely ever bought magazines as a teen. I never complained about my mom's reaction.  I think she didn't want to feel lowly about her own body as well because she had felt neglected or not good enough to her own husband. Now I find myself doing the same thing. People don't realize how dangerous those things can be until it tends to hit your own life and family.  Seeing these images in stores so often from childhood are probably why people shrug it off in their adulthood. It's always been a part of life for them and they probably feel they can't do anything to change it or feel they need to buy the magazines so they can look like the people on the covers because they want to live up to the standards of the world.

I went to the bookstore the other day trying to look for a modest magazine called Eliza, in which I'd posted about months ago. Of course the man who worked there stated they hadn't carried it. Right next to the fashion magazines and teen magazines are the "men's interests" magazines. It was very hard for me to deal with the fact that as soon as you walked into the magazine area, they have the fashion and men's interests magazines in the dead center of the racks. They really should put the men's interests in a more hidden closed off area, but they don't. Even my husband's skateboard magazine that he bought, I looked through first and ripped out a couple of pages including a two page spread close up of a woman's bottom wearing a thong. I am sure I sound strict for reviewing magazines before my husband looks at them, but he actually tells me to do so because of how bad his lust issue had been in the past in which he hates passionately because it destroyed so much of the man that God intended him to truly be. It is annoying to him that you can't even enjoy reading or looking at skateboards without a sexual distraction involved. We didn't think there would be anything like that in there, but just in case I flipped through every page, good thing too.

My question to you is that if you don't feel it is a big deal to see these magazine covers or content, why isn't it? What has desensitized us to allow for sinful nature to be acceptable rather than something to overcome or fight it? Doesn't it say in the Bible to "flee from sexual immorality"? Then why do wives let their husbands look at or buy porn? Why do we brush it aside when a man stares at an immodestly dressed woman saying, "it isn't as if he'll sleep with her. At the end of the day he has me and I'm real."

Jesus clearly stated in Matthew 5:28 that a man already commits adultery in his heart when looking at a woman lustfully! Yet we shrug it off like it's no big deal. It is a big deal. It is harming our world. Exposing it as a sin rather than making it seem like it is "just a part of what men do" is what should be happening. Stand up against the darkness in the world that is overtaking so many people and clouding our/their/your vision that should be growing more deeply with Christ.