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On Turning 37

37 will be the best year yet

I’m 37 years old. I’ve been telling people I’m almost 37 for a couple of months now, but today I can say it officially.

For some reason, it seems significant to me. Maybe it’s because 37 is within spitting distance of 40. Maybe it’s because I never once thought “Hey, one day I’ll be 37. Wonder what that will be like?” Maybe it’s because 37 is a prime number. (No, probably not that. I’m a geek, but I’m not that geeky. I don’t think.)

Last year was a really good year. And that is saying something, considering how much we’ve been through in the past 13 years. Thirteen years next Tuesday, in fact. It’s hard to believe that my oldest daughter would be thirteen years old next week. That makes 37 sound a bit older, doesn’t it?

Me in black and white

 

What made last year so good?

Here are just a few things:

  1. We left a toxic church, finally. 
  2. I didn’t descend into my usual winter depression.
  3. I had another opportunity to travel with World Vision, this time to Sri Lanka. I met and made some new friends on that trip. And those friends affirmed some things in me that I have needed affirmed for such a very long time. Some day soon I will tell that story.
  4. My writing and editing business has continued to grow.
  5. I’ve found two new circles of friends who have become incredibly close. We encourage each other, help each other, challenge each other, and come to each other’s defense when things get rough. You guys know who you are, and you are a huge and dear gift to me.
  6.  We’ve made some significant progress financially.

aqua hair, sunglasses, and a red coat

This year, Scott and I will celebrate 15 years of marriage. They have been hard years. We are different people today than we were fifteen years ago. But the thing I keep marveling at is how much we love each other anyway. We know so much about each other’s flaws and weaknesses, and we know how difficult it is to keep moving in the same direction when you become different people. I know that we don’t get a free pass once we reach a certain milestone. But while many things have been difficult, we are closer today than ever before. And there’s something about me getting more comfortable in my own skin that has freed me from some of my inhibitions around him. And I have to say that being uninhibited with one’s spouse is a good thing. I’ll just leave it at that.

Scott and I on valentines day

All of these things? They fill me with hope and anticipation for the future. I’ve entered some years filled with dread, knowing that some really hard road lay ahead. This year will be hard, I am sure. Every year is. But for the first time in recent memory, I feel healthy. Y’all, I think 37 is going to be the best year yet.

 

What’s Wrong with Virginity? Nothing, Unless You’re Obsessed with It

Today’s post on sex (I’m writing a bit of a series on sex this month.) is featured on The Guardian’s US op-ed page, Comment Is Free. Here’s a sneak peek:

I could be the poster child for the merits of abstinence before marriage: I am a member of the US evangelical Christian community and remained a virgin until my wedding.

I’ve been happily married to the same man for almost 15 years. We’ve seen a lot in our marriage: conceived four children, cared for two with severe medical conditions, buried one of them, started and quit jobs, moved houses, changed churches, grieved, and battled depression. We have hurt, misunderstood, under-estimated, and annoyed each other. We’re still learning to become good lovers.

On more than a few days, we have barely held it together. So what’s our secret? It’s that we love each other no matter what.

To give my dearth of sexual partners credit for our marriage’s success is a ludicrous oversimplification. Unfortunately, this kind of thinking characterizes a significant portion of the US evangelical church’s approach to sex and marriage today.

Read the entire post here.

News Flash: You Probably Won’t Marry a Virgin

purity

We need to talk about sex. That much is clear from the response to recent posts on the damage done to individuals and couples by the purity culture. People have shared story after story of heartache, guilt, shame, and unmet expectations (or in many cases, flat-out unrealistic ones). Setting the merits of abstinence aside for a moment, this outpouring tells me that our inability to speak clearly and honestly about sex is hurting us and our relationships.

As with most challenges we face, it all boils down to unmet expectations about sex and intimacy. Many of our sexual problems stem from the purity culture’s flat, one-dimensional portrayal of human sexuality. This culture teaches an idealized and one-dimensional view of sexuality with three major flaws:

  1. Their obsession with modesty and boundaries borders on a call for asexuality.
  2. Their idealism glosses over the reality that most people (statistics say that only 4% are still virgins at age 25) have sex before marriage.
  3. They promise couples that if they follow the rules, sex within marriage will be phenomenal without any effort.

Read the rest on A Deeper Story.