It’s an embarrassment of riches, around here, Friends! It’s time for another guest to join us in the Love and Making It series – the Holiday edition. 

Everyone’s story is different and yet from your comments and the posts themselves, I see universal struggles and universal hopes for our sexuality. We are in this together – It’s awkward in the best possible way.  I have words to offer, words that are forming in my heart for you all – and for me – about what to do next. What do we do after we have grappled with the hard stuff, invited God into our sex-lives, reclaimed our wildness, accepted that we are loved, and tried to be brave – even with our boobs?  

For now, we confess. We confess our struggles and our hopes. We flash a little more brave with a twinkle in our eyes. 

My next guest, Candice Jones, a woman of shocking beauty who is pursuing freedom and courage with everything she’s got, has quite a spark to her.  Enjoy her words on Love and Making it.

Let her confessions inspire you to admit your own. 

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I’m Candice Mae. I am happily married, and I rarely enjoy sex.
These are my confessions:

I wore a purity ring through my teen years to ward off unwanted suitors, meaning ALL suitors.

I am still trying to find the little girl in me who decided to hide and never be seen.

I sheltered myself, attempting to be an angel vs. a human being (thank you, Rob Bell, for making that distinction).

I judged and condemned other girls for their promiscuity, while secretly envying their ability to let someone in so close.

I was taught to fear– specifically to fear the regret I would feel as an adult because of the decisions I made as a young person.

I believed being vulnerable equaled the loss of my control and power, so I decided not to be vulnerable. (damn you, twisted truth)

I didn’t kiss a man until I was 22 years old, and it is one the most awkward experiences I have survived. (Right up there with my bathing suit popping off at the top of a waterslide, which resulted in me flashing several young children. Unlike Abby’s previous post, people have seen my boobs.)

I unintentionally absorbed the belief that life is not messy. I can remember painting murals on the inner walls of one of the churches I attended as a child. We painted precise pictures of white people with clear skin and smiles in different settings and stories described throughout the Bible. Even the crucifixion scene had minimal drops of red. Being raised in what is considered a conservative church, and by a strong, single mother, my early days were somewhat void of what I now know are real, messy, and good life experiences. Simple things were unknown to me, like crying in front of someone in complete vulnerability. What was modeled to me instead was going silent and running away from heartache and anger rather than opening up and letting people sit in it with me. As you can imagine, these learned practices did not set me up well for a relationship. I still have a lot of pain stored in my soul. I am unlearning, and some days it feels like I must unlearn everything.

I tend to giggle like a junior high kid when it comes to penis jokes, because I never understood them growing up. I was terrified of them. Penises, that is. It was a word never explained to me. I think I even blocked out what I learned in my Human Anatomy class because it made me so uncomfortable. I blushed a fiery red in those days. The only reference I do remember was during a video, while explaining semen, a pirate flashed on the screen and said, “ARRGG!” … oh right, I get it. Like sea-men. Ha. The semen thing stuck with me, and totally grossed me out. I was convinced that I would never be able to do that, ANY of that. Hollywood did not help either. The way sex was (and is) portrayed is completely ridiculous to me. Really? People make THAT much noise?! I didn’t get it, and in my walled-up heart, I rejected it. However, I am also a realist who has always loved children. I knew I couldn’t keep my eyes shut and hands to myself forever, though I never anticipated how much work the undoing (and undressing) would actually be. It took a lot more than my man’s good looks to get me into bed. After an enormous amount of prayer & soul-searching, married friends sharing their hearts & newfound knowledge, and an intense Christian therapist, I am in a much better place. But as I confessed in the beginning, sex is a rare thing for me to relish in.

My husband and I are opposites. From food, to hobbies, to energy levels, we usually seem to interrupt the other’s rhythm more than encourage our differences. It is the same with our physicality and sexuality – he is all in, all over, building up, while I am slowing down, breathing, and letting go. I tend to emphasize the X in sex, wanting to cross it out, move on, or get it over with quickly. As I dive deeper into myself and into my story, I know for a fact that my X-ing tendencies are directly impacted by two words: beauty and belonging.

Why do I strive for beauty in this space? Shouldn’t I be convinced by now that he loves what he sees, feels, knows? Why am I still working to make every inch of my skin soft and smooth and clear, keeping my make-up on instead of washing it off, going for the lacey cover-ups instead of letting him see me completely natural and bare?

As I process these questions, Light pours into my heart. Bare – I equate this word with “empty.” I compare nakedness to having nothing, not like admirable humility but more like disgusting poverty. I feel awkward. I am raw. Even in my youth, I am a bit saggy and dimpled in places. I fear the effects of age, because I still believe that beauty is formed on the outside and fades away over time.

Belonging. I can count when I have felt this, truly and deeply, on my two hands. Insecurity is my consistent friend, found in the dark days after my dad left. Thankfully, a village of brilliant, loving people raised me, and my need for and delight in authentic community has also been constant throughout my years. In these spaces of friends’ hearts, in living rooms and around tables, I belong. In my shared bedroom, nestled beside the man I am learning to trust with everything I am and have, I belong. Pursuing this truth in these places and among these people is my saving grace.

 

I have this belief about life:

Wherever we are in our stories is exactly is where we are meant to be.

 

& I am here —

where beauty is freely growing as well as striving,

where love is longing and awakening, failing and fighting,

where sex is becoming a mystical and God-breathed miracle between two beings who choose to show up, to enter in, to stay, and to heal.

I am unlearning my shame. The shame that tells me I am empty. The shame that perverts my nakedness, causing me to see poverty instead of purity and divine creativity. Shame focuses on the broken, rather than the being made whole. Shame hides my breasts under the blanket. Shame keeps me in the lie that I am what I feel. To all of this, I am saying no more. I am waking up, rubbing the false and easy out of my eyes, and opening my heart to truth. Messy truth. Trusting that I am loved more than I know, that I belong here, and that I am beautiful beyond words and beyond my youth.

I am growing away from Shame and growing into Shalom.

And reminding myself that relishing is a good thing.

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Candice Jones

Candice resides in Minneapolis with her fellow adventurer & husband, Kip. Living it up as newlyweds, they are avid dog-sitters and baby-holders, since neither of these gifts is in the plan yet. She’s a Southern Belle turned City Dweller who currently hopes to make it through another long winter. She enjoys traveling at every opportunity and continually exploring all of the unique places and faces of the Twin Cities. A proud thrift addict, she hopes to soon find a creative career that supports both her passions for the world and her coffee appreciation. You can find her words (for now) at http://candiceloves.blogspot.com. 

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Candice, Abby, Esther, Jennifer, Sarah – they are all Story Sessions Sisters. If you need a group of friends who are wildly creative, brave, funny, loving, and accepting. Come check out Story Sessions. We are pursuing writing, story telling, artistry and God without forgetting that sometimes it’s good to make a full on career out of what you love.  Come check it out. And let Elora know I sent you, if you decide to join us!