Up until the age of 22, I dreamed (and believed) I would spend the rest of my life on stage. I have been acting since I was about four years old, and I always wanted to act for a living and a passion. While things have changed a bit, I still get to spend some time on stage, but NOT in a way I ever imagined. A couple of weeks ago, I stood on a stage and talked about sex in front of about 250 people. Most of these people were complete strangers.
This was terrifying.
I knew I was going to do it. I had months to prepare, and prepare I did. I read and read and listened and conversed and wrote and wrote some more, and then hit delete and read some more and then wrote all over again. I was speaking as part of a five-week series at my church called “You Are Here”, which is a series for men and women who are single (i.e. not married at this moment). I was told the date I would speak, how long I would have (about an hour), and assigned a topic: sex and sexuality.
For a while, I made a lot of jokes about how I must have lost a bet, but then I realized I was doing quite a bit of damage to myself and to the topic itself by mocking it. I was attempting to use humor to make myself feel more comfortable, but this happened at an expense. In denying my own discomfort, I was also denying and possibly even mocking the nerves of the people who really wanted someone to stand up and talk about sex and singleness.
I talk about sex – and everything that comes with it – on a daily basis. It is a huge part of my job both in private counseling practice and in working in the jail. It is a part of everyone’s life and it always involves some sort of brokenness or shame. I am, however, WAY more comfortable sitting in the jail talking about sex and masturbation and abuse and orgasms and love and fidelity than I am standing on a stage in front of strangers.
But I did it. And it came with some VERY awkward moments – mostly just awkward for me. But here is what I have learned since then from the incredible amount of feedback I have received from the most unexpected places:
- We don’t talk about sex enough. At least not in a healthy, loving, respectful way. Most people are craving healthy, judgment-free conversation about their sex life.
- MASTURBATION is not a bad word! Whether you do it all the time or don’t go near it, self stimulation has played a role in each of our lives. Like removing the Wizard from behind the curtain, it is far less intimidating when we demystify it and decriminalize it.
- People need to know that their desires are GOOD. What we do with our desires isn’t always helpful or healthy, but our desires are God given and they are beautiful.
- Most of us just want to know we haven’t ruined our chances at love and life by what we have done, or haven’t done, or what has or has not been done to us.
- It really is all about GRACE – unmerited favor and love regardless of where a person is coming from in his or her story.
I hope I get to do this again. I love speaking and teaching and starting conversations that seem scary but are SO important.
Click here if you want to listen to the Sex and Sexuality talk, or any of the other talks in the series. The speakers have done a great job of bringing important topics into the light.
Let’s keep talking.