This was how my mother started the conversation.

“Do you know…”

“Do I know, what?”

“Do you know how women have orgasms?”

(AAaaaaaakward pause…avoiding eye-contact now…)

“Um, yes? …  Yes. I mean, yes. Mom, Seriously!” (laughing erupts)


Have you ever been asked a personal question?

Have you ever been asked a personal question?

How did your parents bring up the sex talk?

But, my mother didn’t stop at this first shocking question. She did not accept my protest that I already knew all I needed at 16 years old.  She knew me deeply despite the fact that it would be 11 more years before I truly understood the depths to which she knew me, when I had my own daughters to love.

(aside: isn’t it funny that as we grow up, we think our parents don’t know us? now that i am a mom myself, i could hardly think of anything i know more intimately than my daughters.)

See, my mother became a teenager in the 60’s and a single mother to two small girls in the 80’s. She is neither large in stature or personality.  Caring, loyal, sensitive, Indigo Girls-singing… this is my mom.

She gave me space to discover my way in the world. She usually held back advice or opinions. But, this conversation, this was just too important to leave to chance, I suppose. Too important to hope my sister and I learned it somewhere someday.

And so, one night at the dinner table, surrounded by flowered wallpaper in our little kitchen nook, my education in sex and/or “feminism” began with a loving, blunt question.

 “Do you know how women have orgasms?
There is a part of your vagina called the clitoris…”

“Wow, Yep. Yes there is… Thinking about it right now, Mom. Thanks.”


Within that awkward, sweet conversation, my mom enunciated one of the most important things I have ever learned about men and women… and it’s not what you think – no anatomy lessons today.

What I learned was:

The importance of giving and receiving.  The importance of knowing how to receive from someone else and understanding that both men and women are made to give and receive.

I hate generalities, but here’s one anyway: sometimes, as a woman, you have a serious inclination to give until you forget who you are and to give until you are bone dry

But this is not the only way to be a good woman. This is not exactly what God meant when he made us “helper/helpmeets” or put that sentence in the Bible.

There’s something even more fundamental than your womanhood and that’s your humanity. My humanity. Humans are made to breathe – to give and take.  You were made to receive gifts not just give them, but sometimes we believe it is more holy to ignore our own needs.

God planned ahead for our confusion. He always does.

Here’s my theory:

So that we could not say to ourselves or each other that we women are only here to improve other people’s lives … God, well, He gave us a special reminder… a piece of ourselves – something designed with no other purpose but receiving pleasure.

Name it what you will, but there is really no other function for a clitoris than selfish fun.

You were specifically formed and created so you could receive joyous pleasure from someone whom you love – if you so choose.


This is not just physical.

Sex is never just physical, anyway.

Sex is a metaphor and a workshop for so many of the important personal/relational issues of life. God didn’t design us – body or soul – just coincidentally. God is not a god of Coincidence but of Providence.

Our bodies represent and experience life on behalf of and in partnership with our souls. This is why sex is “soulish”.

So, when I say, “You were specifically formed and created so you could receive joyous pleasure from someone whom you love…” I DO NOT just mean through your clitoris. As fun as that can be.

The thing behind the thing is that God loves connecting stuff together. This is a sign of this – and this is really always about something deeper. Soulish.

The physical parts of me made only for receiving love are a sign and symbol of the invisible parts of me made only for receiving love.

Made for Love

Made for Love

I think this is what my mom really said that day.  (I mean, other than how women actually do have orgasms.)  What I have taken with me into my midlife is this lesson:

Do I know how to receive GOOD into my life? Because I am made to.

We were made to experience pleasure and joy being given to us as we give in return.  I know, this is an incredibly simplistic view at one tiny angle of sex and our bodies and all the stuff/history/rules we each carry around.

Male and Female relations…  can be so complicated and political and theological. It can get so heated and angry but, for my little family that night and still to this day, it comes down to the issue of giving and receiving within each human.


Women knowing not just how to give but to receive in all areas of life and self:
care, love, hope, access, success, pleasure, pay raises, opportunities to speak or teach or write, promotions, respect and yes, orgasms.

This is what I pray for us. This is the thing behind that first question: Giving and Receiving. The GOOD in life is not just for others but for you too. And for me.

Do you know how women have orgasms?

There is a part of your vagina called the clitoris…


Prayer: God thank you for the way you’ve made me. Thank you for knitting my body and soul together in ways I am just beginning to understand. Please help me to believe you have good in store for me – actually, you have good just waiting for me to receive it even right here and right now.  Thank you for my mom’s courage and honesty and love. Thank you for Your love and design for life. Help me love and appreciate the way you designed me as well.  Amen.

Made for Love

Made for Love


If you are still reading… SIDE NOTE… as I wrote about this topic and repeatedly needed to write the word clitoris, I began craving replacement words. In case you need a nickname or a good laugh, here’s a couple good ones I found. You’re welcome.


Love Button
Pleasure Center
Little woman in the pink canoe
Center Ring At The Three Ring Circus
Clitty Cat