I remember the first time I learned about sex–what it was and how it worked–at the very end of 7th grade via a pop-up book read to me by my father.
Somehow that wasn’t scarring enough, and now I talk about sex for a living.
Quite a turn-around, for sure. It’s been years since I put the pieces together and realized the incredible adventure I’ve been called to, and it still thrills and amazes me every time I think about it. I suppose it amazes me because, really, my vocation shouldn’t be.
I grew up sheltered, to say the least. Part-homeschooled, part-private schooled, and thoroughly Sunday-schooled, I was the kid who couldn’t name a single *NSYNC song, but I could list every book of the Bible–Old and New Testament–in order in 16.91 seconds flat (I timed it). Other kids played with Barbies and Nerf guns, and my siblings did that, too…after celebrating play Mass in our basement, complete with a Tinker Toy cross and Nilla wafers as the Eucharist.
My point: The most innocent of upbringings to prepare me for a life-long dive into one of the least innocent of subjects? Under-qualified is generous.
Besides the fact that this career really shouldn’t be for me, I really shouldn’t want it to be for me. Sex is one of the most controversial topics of today–the centerpiece of the abortion, same-sex union, and birth control debates that have been ravaging and splintering our nation for decades.
Growing up, I admittedly loved debates and naively dreamed of life as a lawyer. It wasn’t long, however, before the overdose of unmoderated arguments in college (especially on the Internet) conditioned me with a fierce repulsion to the mess that is today’s “logic.” (Emotional appeals and charged rhetoric don’t count as logic, sorry.)
Besides, inherent in embracing the beauty of sex is exposure to the darker side of human love, sex, and relationships–especially the darker side embodied on the Internet. Evil is always fascinating, but I’ve never been too keen to dive into topics that are both dark and sexual–too much bad news, bears.
So what on earth is bright, naive, innocent Forest doing intentionally dedicating the rest of her life to a path winding deep into some of the darkest places of fallen humanity?!
I believe that I’m doing exactly what I’m built for: bringing hope.
Really, God had it figured out all along. My upbringing couldn’t have been anything but pure and sheltered and silly and loving. Knowing the light and being raised firmly rooted in it is the best possible foundation to prepare me as I spread and reach branches, veins, of hope deep into the darkness.
Experience of contention balanced by a healthy frustration with it puts me exactly in the right position to engage it without unnecessarily prolonging it. (Although my pride can sometimes get ahead of me–something I admittedly need to work on.)
Finally and perhaps most importantly, my overwhelming and sometimes miraculously innocent past drives me to bring that same innocence and light into the future.
Sex is NOT something dark, violent, selfish and painful–at least, in the beginning it was not so. Sex was intended to be and should be incredibly innocent: an expression of utter love, sacrifice, and gentleness.
We simply need the freedom to believe it.
But the idea of total love for another fallen human–to be the object of such self-emptying love–is a desire so deeply rooted in us, so tightly bound with the very fiber of our being, that it petrifies us to believe it might be a reality.
To realize that not only are we built for such power, but that we have and would be incomplete without it is so terrifying. It’s terrifying because this desire is so strong that if we believe it exists and then find out we’re wrong, that realization would devastate us.
To protect ourselves from such a terrible possibility, we try to lesson the goodness of the gift. We try to make it more digestible. More pliable. Easier to brush off. We distort it, we joke about it, we even straight up abuse it.
But all the while, we’re haunted by the reality that we know lies hidden under our many facades. We catch ourselves longing for it and aching for it. We become frustrated with the shell of “sex” we’re left with, now totally void of its inner makings: authentic relationship. In an effort to make the fruit easier to swallow, we’ve pitted the commitment out of sex, not realizing that the very part we’ve thrown away is not only the structure but the seed.
Now we’re left with a mess–juicy, perhaps, but quickly browning–that seems to be impossible for us to figure out alone. But hope, the forerunner of all that is good, burns brightly.
And this is the torch I have been passed, a torch blazing with hope, before which cultural lies and perversion will vanish. Before the raw Truth, human sexuality will be brought once more into the light, revealed for what it truly is: an intricate yet mere reflection of the greatest sacrificial love ever concieved. I, trembling with awe yet exhilarated at the reality, bear the Unquenchable Light (the light that is there when all others go out, if you will), and it is with this light that I wish to ignite the world.
God, in his infinite, unpredictable wisdom has whittled me out to be exactly the tool for this purpose. He has whispered into my heart a passion for this adventure, and despite what an unlikely candidate I may be, I am crazy in love with every part of the future that lies before me.
As I set out on an adventure from comfort into danger–the most unlikely little warrior lead not by my own accord, but following a mission into some of the darkest places by the Unquenchable Light to attack evils I’d rather be ignorant of–I have a message of encouragement for you:
There is reason for the hope within you. Your deepest, most authentic desires point you to your purpose. Take courage, dare to believe in something you cannot fathom, and follow.
His adventure for you will sweep you clean off your feet and leave you crazy in love.