We all have tempting situations. The temptation location and object may be different, but the heart of temptation is the same.
For you, it may be the refrigerator late at night, a Bible study where you are the smartest one in the room, a place serving alcohol, that man or woman at work who seems to notice you, or a person you hang out with frequently whose favorite form of communication is gossip.
We all have tempting situations. For some reason, one of mine (I have several, you probably do, too) is not talked about very much.
I like fighting that stigma.
“It could be hard,” I said to my husband, Matt, about being in a situation with a woman toward whom I was attracted. I battled the desire to hide from Matt even though I know him so well. It is always difficult to be vulnerable.
It is always a challenge, but it is always worth it.
“Why? What are you missing? What feels like it is empty inside? What does it seem like she will meet in you?” Matt is comfortable with these conversations. We have them about his own wrestling with lust toward women, and we have them about my journey.
Christian Sexuality: Conversations About Jesus, Sex & Gender
I thought through the areas of my life: friendship, church, work, marriage, parenting, my perception of myself, and my spiritual connection to God. Friendship came up lacking. “I feel left out by some of my friends,” I said. I felt unseen. Undesirable.
These are good needs (to be seen, to be desired), going to a place (women) where they won’t be satisfied, and won’t glorify God if I try to fill these needs with what I want (a romantic—not friendship relationship with women).
But this is what I felt. It was my reality. I felt left out, unseen, and undesirable. What do I do with that?
I dig into the place of lack.
Okay, this temptation is women. My unfulfilled needs are to be seen and desired, and the place I felt unseen and desired is in my friendships.
Now, does it mean my friends were leaving me out? No, but it is how I felt about the situation. We often do not live out of what it true; we live out of how we perceive that truth. I perceived I was being left out.
This is my default: Feeling like an outcast. Since I was very young, I have wrestled with feeling like an outsider. Like the one not chosen. I felt like the sister who couldn’t be a brother to the brothers I admired, or the sister who wasn’t old enough or young enough to hang with the sisters I adored. I felt like the extra, reject sibling.
Oh, they loved me. If they read this they will ache I ever felt that. But my perception perhaps superseded truth, and Satan loves it when that happens.
Satan’s desire is for all of God’s beloveds to feel like a nobody.
When it came to making friends growing up, I never felt like the best friend or the favorite to anyone. Even when I finally got a coveted title of “best friend,” something would happen to inevitably break it apart. I was paranoid. They were mean. I was mean. They moved away. We moved away. Or another girl moved into town and usurped what I felt like should be my position.
I felt this happening again. I am 32, and I can wrestle with insecurity in my friendships. Instead of fighting for my friendships as I see them naturally grow closer together, I back off. Quite content (quite honestly) to be alone—with my family or with just me and Jesus.
In my worst moments of my worst days, I don’t see what I can add to the group. I don’t see that staying in the friendship—no matter my role (closer friend or not)—is a valuable one. I can learn from them and they can learn from me. So, even though I remain bodily in a friendship, I withhold emotionally, and the needs inside of me to be seen and desired go unmet.
But the needs are still there. Looking. Looking. Searching. “Who sees me? Who wants me? Who loves me?” they ask.
I work so hard with my job. I give endlessly to tiny toddlers and another growing inside of me. I serve until it feels as if I might break. I spend time with Jesus. I feel His seeing of me . . . but something holds out for more. Something better. Someone better. A person. I don’t open myself up to Him fully.
I don’t allow the hole in my heart to really receive, because a part of me doesn’t believe either He is truly capable, and a part of me is hiding from Him the same way I hide from people.
So, the well of need in me goes unfulfilled. Then I am put into a situation where a woman likes me. Sees me. Seemingly adores me. And my heart and mind can run wild.
I told Matt before I was in put into this situation. I did not tell him because he is “the man.” I did not tell him because he is the husband/law-doler-outer. I told him because a part of me—the realest, most alive part of me: The Spirit of the Living God inside of me—wants to avoid lusting, to avoid idolatry, and to follow God’s best way of flourishing. God’s Spirit wants me to live best. So, even though I may only want what God wants at 1% of me, that 1% is really 100% of the new me. That 1% is 100% of not-flesh-living Laurie. That part of me wants what God wants. And so I opened my mouth and spoke.
The very act of speaking out both my wrestling and my empty places popped the bubble of secrecy around it. The enemy thrives in secrecy, and so he lost some of his power over me. I felt seen by Matt. When he sees me, I don’t want to worship him. I want to worship God, because Matt most often sees me in my mess, loves me, and then promotes the flourishing God promotes. Matt speaks to new-Laurie, to Spirit-inside-of-Laurie, and that part of me literally cannot worship Matt. It can only stand in awe of God.
This process can and does happen in friendships. I feel seen by them in my mess, they love me as I am, and they push me toward more God-fullness. I then want to worship God—not them—because they are reflecting His love and promoting what He promotes. They are speaking to the Spirit in me who cannot worship or idolize them. The Spirit in me only wants to stand in awe of God.
This should make our good-friendships-not-best friendships good enough.
After the conversation with Matt, my heart-eyes looked to God, and I felt a desire to move toward Him again. If these humans can see me in my mess and love me—even want to be with me, how much more does He? The one who made me? Those needs to be seen and desired felt a trickle of Living Water pour in.
As a result, my temptation level decreased from a 7 out of 10 to about a 5 or a 4. This is a manageable number and about my usual baseline.
I considered how I would hang out soon with this tempting person, and I felt a love from God for her—not a lust from Laurie for her.
I thought about my perhaps good-not-best friends, and I was again grateful for them. Grateful, and wanted to stop hiding from them.We all have tempting situations. The temptation location and object may be different, but the heart of temptation is the same.
- Pray. Do you like reading some of this inner look both at real life and even marriage? I am taking a writing sabbatical for the month of January to focus on writing a proposal for a book on mixed-orientation marriages. Prayers and any encouragement are welcome as Matt and I both tackle this task. (He will still be working normally, but I will be quite off-the-grid.) Lord willing, we are excited to lean into a big need in the Christian world.
- Reflect. What do you think about this? Does this reflect some of your own process with temptation?
- Listen. This podcast with Jay Stringer was SO GOOD. He helped us get into the heart, mind, and history of temptation. Check it out or just get his book. (Seriously! Several people have reached out to us and told us they are walking through it as a small group or as couples, and it has really blessed them.)
- Read. Check out more on Core Needs here. We also do a training based around this concept, and you can find that here.
Laurie Krieg is a speaker, author, and Hole in My Heart Podcast host whose mission is to equip Jesus-followers with a gospel-centered approach to sexuality. Laurie speaks and trains extensively about the gospel, sexuality, and marriage–often alongside licensed therapist and her husband, Matt Krieg.