Fantasy VS Reality: Part III

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“Ye Olde Lock and Chain” by Fraida Gutovich

If you’ve been keeping up with the series (Part I, Part II) then you know it’s been getting increasingly more intense. This one is no different.

Needless to say, it becomes harder and harder for me to continue this so I earnestly ask that you pray with me for courage to face the things I’ve been avoiding. To remember that this is all bigger than me. When people need a word, I don’t have time to waste on waiting until I feel ready to go forward. That’s not right and we shouldn’t do that.

I wrote a poem today, and in a way it sums up how I feel right about now, but I’ll share it later.

Remember what I said last time about still born children?

Eventually we all have a day when the fantasy comes to an end. It begins to crumble piece by piece, and while the high you’re on is amazing, once it comes crashing down it’s the worst experience of your life. No matter how great those fluttery, passionate waves of desire felt, they were unimaginable to the blows I received when the mirage vanished.

 

So what happens when you come down from the high?

Pain is right there with its arms outstretched to greet you. They are metal, sharp and pointy blades that slice you up into several pieces. Sometimes you’re chopped, other days you’re minced, and on rare occasions you get sliced so fine you almost like like a whole person from a distance…

Almost.

Before the pain catches you, however, your thoughts begin to drift in the fall. I have constantly and consistently wonder every time: Why do I always do this to myself? Why do I always have to make myself feel like this?

And for a split second, reason comes to mind. The Holy Spirit speaks to me through this reason and helps to rationalize things, “Jacqueline, this was never real anyway. It wasn’t meant to turn out the way you hoped for because this was not meant for you. It was never meant for you. There is someone else better in store for you—just wait,” but once I hit those blades at full speed all those dark thoughts come creeping back, “You’re going to always be alone. Did you really think this time was going to be any different? You’re so pathetic. There’s no one out there for you.”

Shattered Heart

Since there’s no solid foundation I accept all that nonsense. Truthfully I am impatient and impatience leads to disobedience. Disobedience lands me in a world of trouble and I end up hurting myself. When Jesus is not what you’re standing on, and you are tormented by the agony you feel, you go right back to what got you there in the first place.

“Oh well—he has a girlfriend. Time to find a new guy to pine over.”
“Dag, that didn’t work out the way I planned. Back to my celebrity crushes.”
“Hmm…maybe I’ll stick to thinking about my dream guy then…”

As I’ve stated before, romanticism is a pacifier. It’s used to distract you from the fact that you’re slowly dying inside, that you need healing and Jesus Christ is the only one who can give it to you. All you know is that the pain is unbearable and you want it to stop. All those sweet thoughts and fantasies become idols—it all causes you to ignore what’s going on inside. You ignore the fact that you are hurt, angry, confused, shattered.

I’ve come to the conclusion that I haven’t fully received the report. I’ve heard for a long time now that Jesus is better than any arousal I get from lustful thoughts, what I sought after when I masturbated. He’s better than what they sell on TV and in film about sex, better than any man will ever be to me. Jesus is better—I’ve heard this more times than I can count, but I don’t believe it because I have yet to fully experience that for myself. I experienced His goodness in the midst of depression, in the midst of my fits of rage that skirted on the edge of violence. I know how good He is when I’m sad, when I’m dealing with the loss of a loved one. What I have failed to experience is His goodness and how infinitely great He is in the parts of my love life, in my singleness.

Though even now I think I’m beginning to catch a glimpse of it. While I have fallen off into those blades again, the Lord reminds me of His grace.

I fell down earlier this week, and I told myself today what I said then, “Not again…not again…not again.”

But for the first time in a long time I’m finally embracing my wounds. I’m acknowledging the hurt. I still wrestle with confronting the issue and going back to pretending like everything’s fine, but still I’m learning to embrace it.

Slowly, but surely, I am finally positioning myself to let Jesus heal me.

Surgical Tools

Photo source: Google Images

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Fantasy VS Reality: Part II

FANTASY VS REALITY: PART II—FACING DRAGONS

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Painting done by: BelleDeese

Approaching this topic makes me brings a certain image to mind: I’m walking on a dirt trail. It’s a bright and sunny day with fluffy, white clouds in the brilliant blue sky. Then suddenly the trail dead-ends into a cave that is pitch black and looks ominous.

I don’t want to go inside, but in order to get to my destination I HAVE to pass through.

Facing yourself and dealing with your inner demons can be one of the scariest things for you to do, but it is necessary in order for you to move forward.

And so, the adventure begins…

I’ve tossed this around in my head, you know, “When exactly did this all start? Was it when I was exposed to sex too young from watching R rated movies? Was it the music I used to listen to growing up? Where there certain kids that just rubbed off?” What, when, where, how, why—those are things I could spend my whole life trying to figure out. Going back to Part I of this series, romanticism is a subset of loneliness. It’s a device that Satan uses as a pacifier to temporarily distract you from how lonely you feel while simultaneously tainting you: your thoughts, the way you view things, your values and morality. It distorts truth until the lie (romanticism) becomes a truth for you. The devil even lets us customize it so that it suits what we think true romance, love, passion and intimacy are.

My loneliness…my loneliness was birthed from Satan himself. It is something I don’t want to touch because truthfully even now it hurts. I have never had a child, but I would equate loneliness to carrying a child inside of you for nine months. All the screenings come back clear, doctor visits are giving a great outlook—seems like you’re going to have a health, beautiful baby—only to give birth to a baby that had been stillborn the entire pregnancy.

And somewhere, deep down inside, you wonder, “What went wrong? What did I do? I don’t understand how this could happen—everything was FINE!” It leaves you with a bitter sting; tears seem to permanently stain your face even when you’re smiling because people can see you’re not okay, regardless of how much you say you are.

From my father who wasn’t present in my life as much as I wanted him to be, to so-called friends who used me and deserted me, to boys that overlooked me because I didn’t look as pretty nor was willing to sleep around…I always felt discarded somehow. I recall always feeling like an outsider even around family members. I can remember those times I felt like a ghost, especially during my time in college, “No one hears me, no sees me, no cares.” All these things cemented what the enemy had been whispering in my ear for a very long time: You’re nothing. You’re worthless. No one loves you. No one wants you. You’re trash, you’re ugly and you’ll always be alone.

Certain things are catalysts; they set the stage for what becomes a stronghold in your life. Something led you to do what you do; something led you to go where you are now. No one just wakes up one day and says, “You know what? I think from now on I’m just going to feel lonely so much that it makes me hate everything about me. I’m not going to trust people when they befriend me or say they care about me because I’ll feel so worthless and irrelevant that I’ll think they’re all lying. I will let loneliness consume and completely destroy my life.”

No, that’s not how it works.

Lucifer is very crafty; he searches for weaknesses and openings until he can find the tiniest sliver of cracks. He carefully and steadily works his way in, and finally, you wake up holding death wrapped in a blanket. One after another, after another, after another…

What I didn’t know then was that it was me, but it wasn’t me.

I made the choice to masturbate. I chose to indulge in lust. I entertained thoughts of perversion. I’ve never watched pornography, but I watched sexually explicit films and shows with graphic sexual content. I made the decision to read books with vulgar depictions in them. I even recall searching for pornographic images once when I was in my teens—I didn’t anything out of it though; the images I created in my mind were way more exhilarating.

So yes, it was me but the reason for why the loneliness was there wasn’t because of me. It wasn’t that I was a mistake, or that I was undesirable or unlovable. It was because the enemy has a job to do and his goal is to kill us. I sought out those things because I thought they were what I needed to fix the problem. I thank God that it didn’t get as far as having multiple sexual partners (looking back, I think I was in danger of heading down that road.) I’m still a virgin, but my purity has been damaged. Spiritually I have damaged myself because I failed to realize then what I haven’t quite grasped still today:

God is all I need.

I have a relationship with Christ, but it hasn’t become personal to me, not yet. It’s what makes the difference between an acquaintance and a very close friend. I have many acquaintances, some of whom I call friend, but I don’t have very many close friends. A close friend is someone you has seen parts of your ugliness. They’ve seen what a horrid mess you can be at times and still love you despite it.

Jesus wants to be even closer than that to me.

The thought of this frightens me so terribly, that even at this instant, I can feel the anxiety rising. I know that He already knows everything about me—He created me. I’m aware that Jesus loves me anyway and He accepts me, yet it’s still overwhelming. I know can’t hid anything from the One who knows all, hears all and sees all but I still find myself trying to do so. Makes you wonder why, doesn’t it? Why do we do that?

Truthfully, I think we aren’t ready to see ourselves for who we truly are.

Broken Mirror

Photo source: Google Images

That’s why when every time the moment comes for us to walk through that cave full of monsters inside it we turn back down the trail. When the season approaches for us to actually walk through our own “valley of the shadow of death” we come to a halt, reconsider and back away.

I’m beginning to see that God is literally right there. I don’t even have to go far to meet Him because He’ll come to me. All I have to walk towards Jesus and He’ll be right there to swoop in and embrace me. I just don’t like having to deal with those hideous truths I’ll have to walk past while they stare me down. I don’t enjoy the thought of having to fight the same fire breathing horntail I’ve been feeding all these years because I’m not sure if I can beat it…

…or if I even want to.

So, like many of us have done, I choose to run. I neglect to consider however that every time I do that, the trail doesn’t recalculate itself to a more comfortable route for us to get to Jesus. It remains the same. We drift further and further from Christ and head straight to Satan, gladly accepting those chains and shackles.

Because we’d rather allow the devil to be our master and wither in bondage than to accept the truth for what it really it is.

Fantasy VS Reality: Part I

FANTASY VS REALITY: PART I — THE DANGERS OF ROMANTICISM

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Photo source: Google Images

Who knows why I chose to keep pushing this off for an insanely long time. Perhaps because I still wrestle with this a lot, even being as old as I am.

And I also suppose it’s because most of the time I like writing pieces about things I’ve overcome rather than things that are current stumbling blocks.

Although, isn’t that the point of being an effective witness?

It shouldn’t always be about looking picture perfect or being spot on, but helping those struggling to know that you have your shortcomings too. It’s a necessary reminder that even the best of us need Jesus.

Frankly, If we’re being honest here, even among the best of us, no one is truly the best. We’re all broken people being rebuilt by the Savior and each of us is doing the best we can to get better.

So I shouldn’t be ashamed of that. I’m just simply doing my best and that’s what counts.

And truthfully I haven’t been myself lately…mostly because of this thing I’m going to talk about:

Romanticism.

What does it stem from? Where does it come from? What does it evolve itself out of?

The simple answer is loneliness, but for some of us it isn’t quite that simple is it.

There’s nothing like going through life thinking you’re the most content you’ve ever been until certain things come and tamper with that belief. I blamed being around people complaining of being single and desperately wanting to be in a relationship as the cause. I pointed the finger at my recent obsession with K-Pop music (both of which did play a small part, but ultimately were not the true factors for what I am about to share with you.)

You see, it’s easy to make romance songs, movies and books the scapegoats. “Man, I need to stop (reading/listening to/watching) this stuff! I was fine until I started entertaining all that!” Perhaps you are right. All the things mentioned, including those things listed above, can be triggers for loneliness.

But were you actually fine? Were you really okay or did it take those things to expose what was already there?

magnifying-glass

Photo source: Google Images

These are things I’ve had to ask myself recently.

Romanticism in of itself seems straightforward, but in actuality, it’s more complex than you think. As it is defined, romanticism is described as something that borders on imagination. An idea that is impractical or unrealistic, and eventually, becomes belief. In a way this is true, but I think it’s even more than that. Romanticism not only can cause you to lose touch with reality, but it can also cause you to objectify people. It has you lust over traits and characteristics that you either attach or associate with that person while simultaneously stereotyping them. Romanticism can be quite disrespectful when you think about it because once the thrill gets cold it moves on to the next well of desire. Then once that well dries up, it moves on again, and again, and it never takes the person into consideration.

In some ways, I think there are some of us who have not only been victims but have created a body count of our own through romanticism…

Still, we have something like romance right? Romance between two people—scratch that—two MARRIED people isn’t a bad thing, is it?

I would say (going off of what I’ve heard from married folks in healthy, strong marriages) that romance without God in the picture is nothing more than lust. It’s fickle. If the romance is birthed from false pretenses and/or does not have Jesus Christ as the foundation then it’s an infatuation and a relationship that will soon be short-lived. Romance is nice, it lights the fire, but it takes Jesus, work and love to keep it going (and to get it going again when it’s burned out.)

We all know where lust leads us…but back to my point.

I remember all those times I fell into a whirlwind of, “Oh my goodness…(sigh)…If I could have a guy just like that…” every time I saw my celebrity crush in some film, saw his music video, etc. I recall watching Stomp the Yard and desiring a man who was a mixture of Brian White and Columbus Short. He’d be black, in a BGLO (Black Greek Letter Organization), and attending an HBCU.

Do you know how many Black men fit into that category?

LOTS people, LOTS.

And when I ran into a guy who happened to fit into this makeshift, spellbound wishlist, red flags were sure to follow. Here’s how it would usually go down:

Holy Spirit: He doesn’t believe in Jesus. He doesn’t believe in commitment. He’s got a different girl almost everyday of the week
ME: “…eh—I think I can make it work. He just seems like such a CATCH you know?”

To be clear, there are PLENTY of Black men who DO believe in Jesus, commitment and aren’t playing the field. I kept missing them though because that what Satan does. Through romanticism, he leads you to what you EXACTLY wanted for yourself. You miss out on the good ones with flaws but are great and decent men because they don’t fit into the stereotype of what you think he’s supposed to be.

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Photo source: Google Images

Yeah…I could go on about that for days…

Flash forward to today.

Somewhere down the road, I started doing the same thing with Asian men. I’ve done it with every man in every race, each having their own separate category of unrealistic expectations and—as I’ve said before—”romantic” stereotypes, but Asian men specifically have become the new well. The more I think about it though, junior high is possibly the earliest time this fantasy began. Where I live we didn’t have a lot of Asian guys around, so to come across one was like witnessing an amazing sight (for me, at least.) “Oh my goodness—he’s Asian! And he LIVES here?! He kinda cute too…” I think the only reason my first crush was Asian (still to this day we don’t know his exact ethnicity because he didn’t either) was simply because he was something different from the usual. “What would it be like to date an Asian guy? Oh the possible possibilities!”

And now that I take all that into consideration, I think it’s partially been my motivation for learning Japanese…

GEEZE—I can see why I didn’t want to talk about this now! It’s humiliating to admit this kind of stuff…!

I thought it was rude for someone to say they “loved” Asian guys but didn’t know anything about the culture or had any real respect for it. They just were basing it solely off of dramas and music songs from that culture. Taking a hard look at myself I’m really no different. If it weren’t for studying the Japanese language and learning about the culture, and reading my issues of the Inheritance magazine (which talks about Christ and Asian/Asian Americans and their testimonies, experiences) I still wouldn’t know much about Asian culture.

It’s contradictory, because as an African American woman, I hate when we are objectified. I hate the idea of a man solely approaching me because of my race—not my personality, not because of my character, not even because we share similar interests—but ONLY because I’m Black. He sees me as an opportunity to go exploring and see “what all the fuss is about.” I hate when that when it comes to romance and dating, there are all these superficial, stereotypical and degrading things associated with women like me. In fact I’m angered by it because I’m not a person anymore; I’m a conquest and he became interested because he was bored, I guess…

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Photo source: 68.media.tumblr.com

However that is the same level of disrespect I have shown to my ALL my brothers, not just Asian. Regardless of what race he is or what he looks like, he’s still a person. At the end of the day, he’s a man and a human being like me. I need to recognize that; to treat him or view him as anything less is a disservice and a slap in the face of all men.

What I’m beginning to realize is that my issue was never with watching too many YouTube videos, or listening to too many K-Pop songs, or entertaining too many “someday my prince will come” conversations.

The real problem is, and has always been, that I became entranced by a warped idea of what I think love looks like and what it’s supposed to be.

And rather than addressing the problem, I chose to bury it instead.

Well, I can’t bury it anymore.

It’s grown too big and I’ve run out of dirt.

To be continued…