Här finns läsvärda tankar för singlar som två singel kvinnor har skrivit. mvh, Pamela
50 WAYS SINGLES CAN EMBRACE
THEIR SEXUAL SELVES IN A HEALTHY WAY
By Kimberly Williams ([email protected])
and Kristin Martin ([email protected])
Disclaimer: We are NOT experts on this matter…merely two people who have begun a conversation that has been very beneficial to both of our lives. We both believe that God created man and woman as sexual beings – that means from cradle to grave. It is our passion to see more Christians bring their sexuality into the light of God’s goodness.
Note: Although these suggestions may be helpful to a wide range of ages – we ourselves are approaching 30 and single and so it was written with this population in mind. Not to say however that some ideas may be helpful for younger, older, or married people too!
Everyone has needs. Dr.Mark Laaser identifies 7 basic desires of the heart as to feel: heard, affirmed, blessed, safe, touched, chosen, and to belong. For single people, there is a temptation to assume that a relationship is the only way to meet some of those needs. For married people, there is a temptation to assume that your partner is supposed to provide for all of your needs. Both of these assumptions are dangerous. As common as these assumptions are to make, the consequences that can result may be drastic. It may result in a single person marrying the first interested man/woman who happens along. Or the married person resorting to live without love or to go out and seek an affair.
The truth of the matter is this – God created our sexuality and desires that it be a life-giving portion of ourselves. In the Gift of Sex, Clifford and Joyce Penner talk about how we each have a limited amount of sexual energy and that we use it in all sorts of ways other then sex. When God placed Adam in the Garden of Eden, he put everything he needed around him and then stepped back, giving Adam the freedom to order his life. So it is with our sexualities. God has given us everything that we need, along with the space to be individual.
We have a responsibility for our own body and a capableness to take care of our needs. Perhaps as a single person, we have the weight of that personal responsibility most. It is out of a desire to acknowledge a single person’s sexuality and bring it into the light that the following ideas are being suggested. We’ve separated these 50 suggestions to fall into the 5 categories which are recognized as the different dimensions of sexual health. These are Physical, Relational, Personal, Spiritual, and Behavioral.
Of these 50 ideas, some may seem obvious and others might scare the pants off of you! We’re not recommending anyone to run out and try all of them – one of the first things we have learned on this journey is that every person’s sexuality and sexual experiences are different. Some people will find some of the ideas helpful while others will not. By all means do only what seems helpful in building yourself up – we challenge you to recognize the many facets of your sexuality and to see God illuminate all of them. We want life – and hope to be helpful in the process of you experiencing life with sexuality also…we’re sure that somewhere within these 50 suggestions you’ll find a couple of helpful life-giving tips!
1–Go dancing. Take joy in letting your body move and connecting with others. During partner dances – Men, practice being creative and gaining confidence in leading a woman. (I think women can make this quite difficult for guys to do this well.) Women, practice letting someone lead you. Practice responding and discovering the many many different styles guys use to lead with.
2–Listen to what your body tells you. You can practice this through exercise, eating, even knowing when to go to bed. I think our bodies are talking to us all the time, but we’re not always listening. It is a skill to speak this language and learn to respond to your specific and particular needs. Bonus points if you can translate this language to someone else. (i.e. “I’m feeling hungry right now” or “I’m feeling tired, I better go to sleep.”)
3–Get massages. Practice letting someone touch you. Lay there and actually say to yourself, “I’m allowing you to touch my arm, my shoulder, my calf….” Sometimes I pray for God to touch me using the hands of the person who is massaging me. I ask God to show them the parts of my body that need to be touched the most. All this may be a lot harder then you think.
4–Babysit or just hang out with little kids. Kids and babies are often over-touchy-little creatures that drive their mom crazy, but can be just what an older single needs to fulfill their touch quota. Allow little babies to fall asleep in your arms or little kids to hold your hand.
5–Take a risk with your body. Do something that feels uncomfortable: rock climbing, surfing, rollerblading, ice skating, etc. See what it feels like to feel the adrenaline rush and to work new muscles that you don’t normally use. Be willing to fail and look silly.
6–Allow yourself to be sexual. Instead of just “turning it off,” learn some of your specific switches to “turn it on.” Explore healthy ways to express that energy. For example, creating something is a terrific way – whether that’s through painting, a garden, music, or a delicious meal. Everyone is so unique both in what makes them feel sexual and how they express it. You can get ideas from watching others, but really everyone is so different in this area.
7–Embrace nakedness. Sleep naked, stand in front of a mirror naked, take naked pictures of yourself (you can delete them right away if you want). If you are uncomfortable with yourself naked alone, I would imagine it may be difficult to be naked in front of someone else. It’s hard to offer our bodies to someone else, when we aren’t comfortable with them ourselves…even with their bulges, dimples, lack of tone, and stretch marks.
8–Keep a sex journal. No, this is not a place to record one’s sexual escapades! Rather it’s a reserved area welcoming you to explore your thoughts and experiences pertaining to your sexuality. Take the freedom to record things that heighten your feelings of being sexual, your fears, your desires, your struggles. I’ve found this is also a good bookmarker of whether I’m giving this area of my life any room or focus.
9–Explore self-touch. Without getting into the masturbation controversy, we suggest it is possible to explore touch without touching your genitals. Let your hands explore the different parts of your body, your elbow, your belly button, the bottom of your foot. What do you learn? This may be difficult at first but in the long run will help you to be more comfortable in your own skin and perhaps the knowledge gained will be helpful to offer a marriage partner later.
10–Celebrate yourself and your senses. Learn how to create space to pamper yourself. Eat some really good food. Buy a new piece of clothing that you feel great in. Teach yourself a new skill. Take a bubble bath, light some candles while you’re at it. Do an art project.
11–Exert yourself physically. This is a good way to release energy as well as an opportunity to see what your body can do. Activities could include anything from a good hard day of labor to daily jogs.
12–Learn to live with your hormones. We all have hormones that affect us in a variety of ways. Take heed of what is taking place in your body and how it may affect how you deal with others and/or your emotional state.
13–Be a wise steward of your body. God blessed us with an amazing creation…our bodies! He says our bodies are his temple, so start treating yours this way. This may involve eating more green vegetables. It could also involve considering how you use your body in relation to others – Do you use it to gain power or influence over another? What are you communicating with your body?
14–Learn to feel sexy . It’s okay to feel sexy – in fact, it’s pretty darn fun! Feeling sexy doesn’t mean you’re dirty or lusting. Recognize and enjoy sexiness and find a healthy way to express it! If it’s important to feel sexy when you’re married…don’t expect a magic switch to just turn on after the wedding…learn to cultivate and channel those feelings now.
15–Practice Intentional Self Disclosure. Share with a trusted person your fears, your weaknesses, your insecurities. This can be great for you now and this is not something that happens naturally or easily in a romantic relationship.
16–Develop a discernment team. Practice letting other people speak into your life. When making major life decisions actually gather people together and create a space for them to talk to each other and ask questions to see if, as a group, you can see a path that seems best for you at this time in your life.
17–Develop your “people”. My “people” consist of: My best friend (who I share everything with), my best friend of the opposite sex (who is charged with “taking care of me until I get married”), my mentor (who I check in with on a weekly basis), an older person of the opposite sex (one who has really good boundaries), my mom. These are the folks that on a regular basis know what is going on with me and I trust they care about me enough that I actually invite them to challenge me and check me at times. When I started getting into a dating relationship these were the folks that I could trust to check out who I was with.
18–Live with other people. We can’t help from developing habits from our family. How to clean bathrooms, how to do dishes, how to go grocery shopping, how to make breakfast…how to do life. The more you see other people doing the same things the more you learn that things can be done in different ways. It’s so important to learn how to be a part of a household system. Again these are helpful skills to have in marriage.
19–Be willing to be checked. When you are starting a relationship, share with a trusted friend the things you’re saying and doing. I had a friend review emails that I would send to guys that I had crushes on. I have an amazing ability to maneuver and manipulate when I’m left to my own devices.
20–Build multi-generational friendships. Sometimes singles end up only interacting with people in their own walk of life. Just as the family unit brings together generational stages – go out and gather some people to be in your life who are at different walks of life then you.
21—Express your masculinity or femininity in opposite sex friendships. Just because you’re not dating or romantically involved doesn’t mean you don’t need the opposite sex. Personally speaking – I’m a woman and I love it. I’m forever grateful for those guy friends in my life who can give me bear hugs and walk me home at night and I think they’re grateful for my listening ear and sporadic batches of cookies!
22–Create honesty and prioritize open communication. It’s much easier for singles to pick and choose what they reveal and what others get to see or know about them. Having close relationships where you prioritize being honest and openly communicating your feelings, etc. will not only benefit you in the here and now but will also better prepare you for the closeness of a marriage relationship.
23–Date Investigation. Take yourself to the movies, go to a restaurant by yourself, find a great beach, figure out what you like to do on dates. Be creative. Plan dates for a friend. If you get into a relationship you will not become an automatic expert on the matter. A significant other may ask, “What do you want to do?” “What do you like to do?” “Where should we go?”– learn how to answer these question now.
24–Share the skeletons in your closet. Not with everyone, not all the time. But with someone. It’s important to learn how to reveal those things which scare you about yourself…not to mention freeing.
25–Learn how to play. This is so easy to cut out of our lives and essential to know how to do in a relationship. Practice now.
26–Wear lingerie…well, ladies at least! Not that lace and ruffles are for everyone – when I found myself jealous of the Victoria’s Secret bags in my married friends bedrooms, I realized that I could wear sexy things for myself sometimes too.
27–Acknowledge your own emotional wounds. Relationships have a way of bringing these things up – not to mention that emotional wounds can have a large impact on our everyday dealings with others – so why wait until you’re forced to deal with it and get a head start on it now!
28–Learn to express your heart. One part is knowing what your feeling are and another part is finding an outlet to express it. Maybe this means verbally telling your deep thoughts and feelings to another, maybe it means journaling, maybe it means creating art. God moves us through our hearts, he may have something to say to you through yours.
29–Distribute your energies. Maybe you are using this single stage of you life to jump-start your career. That may be so, but it’s a healthy thing to balance your life at this stage as well. We will always feel the pull of different commitments and wants. Cultivate your ability to balance now and invest your energy into a varied list of things whether that’s taking time out to build friendships, study, enjoy a hobby, or take care of family.
30–Learn to recognize your needs, wants, and desires. Some of us rarely ask ourselves these questions or are aware of them. In relation to ourselves and others – being aware of your needs, wants, and desires (and being able to articulate them) keeps us more fulfilled and less bitter.
31–Learn to be quiet and listen! Think of your time spent with God as a 2-way conversation.
32–Pray your hearts desires. Use the 7 desires of the heart (to be heard, affirmed, blessed, safe, touched, chosen, and to belong) to pray specifically for God to fill (and send people to fill) your own needs. You can also pray for opportunities in which you can fill those same needs in others. (As cliché as the “as a single, you’re free to love many” statement may seem – it’s true!)
33–Intentionally self-disclose to God. Give your whole self over to be known. Bring things into prayer, in honesty, that you may never have talked to God about (i.e; actually enjoying some sexual situation that you felt was a sin.) Let your prayer be a conversation rather then only a confession. Only when we can honestly bare ourselves in front of God do we give him the permission to begin healing, making us whole, and revealing to us what is true heart and intention is.
34–Learn how to make space for this relationship. Just like any human relationships we have, it only deepens when we carve out a segment of our life to give the relationship priority. Set aside Sabbath days, daily prayer/devotion times, learn a new spiritual discipline. And don’t think these things can’t be fun…some of my free-est and most playful days have been those I’ve spent alone during Sabbaths.
35–Learn about the Jewish Wedding Ceremony. I know, it sounds weird – but the meanings of the customs that have been integrated into this ceremony are such a beautiful picture of The Kingdom Story and our (the Church’s) relationship to God. Allow yourself to learn and be awed by the unique ways in which God interacts with us.
36–Don’t be a lone ranger. Find ways to put spiritual truths and what you’ve been gleaning from your relationship with God into real-life practice…that means including real-life people!
37–Pray naked. :) This may be a far reach for many. We heard this from a nun expressing how she embraced her sexuality. God created us naked. God sees us naked. Our bodies are his creation and we have no need to be ashamed of them in front of him…so why not!?
38–Learn what it means to offer your heart to someone. Giving your heart up is a very risky thing to do. Along with the risk are many benefits. Begin now to learn what it means to truly love others and practice in small ways what’s involved in offering your heart. Maybe it’s a calling you feel God is leading your towards or something else you are really invested in.
39–Practice confession. YES, the ‘C’-word! We all mess up with God and with others. Come clean and honest by putting yourself on the line via confession.
40–Define your own definition of what a holy sexuality is. All of us have some skewed ideas of sexuality from the world or the church (or both!) Take some effort and recognize what lies you may be unconsciously accepting. Once you define what it really is you are aspiring to, you’re much more likely to stay on track!
41–Become an expert at something, find a hobby. Go out and learn (or practice) something that you’d love to do. This can create a great space for a different part of your brain to be engaged and other parts to rest. Practice being passionate about something. Find out what your creative energy looks like.
42–Learn how to think on behalf of others. This can look many different ways. Maybe it’s translating something you’re learning/studying to someone who wouldn’t otherwise understand it (like possibly your grandmother, friends of a different culture, a child…etc.) Or maybe it’s acting selflessly with another’s needs above your own.
43–Listen to your own conversations going on in your head. What do you say to yourself inside there? How do you view other people? How do you act/react to things?
44–Read books out loud with someone else. Perhaps you already enjoy getting together with friends to watch a common TV show. Reading a book together might just provide a greater connection, use of imagination, and relaxation.
45–Share your ideas. Whether that’s with people you know it’s safe with or going out on a limb and forging deeper into other friendships. This is one way to learn how to communicate the goings-on in your head (spouses aren’t mind readers either!)
46–Get to know your own sexual history (even if you don’t know you have one!) Where did you learn about sex? How do you interact with others? What ideas about sex, gender roles, sexuality do you have? How do these affect your interactions with others? Think about how your sexual history can affect even your relationship with God.
47–Be able to use words to tell your story. Practice telling someone about yourself. Use caution to reveal who you really are – not just things you’ve done or the good parts, but the bad parts too. Practicing revealing yourself in this way can be scary but helps us communicate more truthfully and will result in having others know us more deeply.
48–Define the meaning of integrity. What does it look like to have integrity in your friendships, in flirting, in dating, in a forming relationship, etc. When we consciously define this we may be surprised at what we had been unconsciously guiding ourselves by previously.
49 -Write letters. To me there’s just a certain aspect of romance in sending off a real snail-mail letter to someone (and you all know you love receiving one!) Whether it’s a great aunt, an old friend, or a lover – a hand-written letter is a neat way to express yourself and connect.
50–See yourself as loveable and affirm that others are also. This suggestion isn’t just to make you more attractive…but using the space of singleness to really embrace who God made you to be and to do the same for others is an awesome gift!
These are just some ideas, things to get your mind turning. It’s exciting to think about how all these things would benefit a future relationship, but the point is that we can get benefits and needs met right now. We don’t have to wait for later. Some of us will never get married, some of us aren’t ready to be in a relationship— ALL of us (single and coupled) need to learn how to embrace who we were created to be. God bless you!