A few years ago I went to a christian women’s conference called Intimate Issues, lead by Linda Dillow and Lorraine Pintus, which focused on sex, from the spiritual and emotional to the physical and practical. It is not a topic discussed candidly in church circles, so I was interested in what was going to be presented. As part of the discussion, the speakers explained that each woman has a garden seeded by what I’ll term sexual exposures that were either positive and God-honoring or negative and sinful. The good seeds blossom into flowers and the bad seeds turn into weeds. What I carried away from this explanation is that if every exposure to something sexual affects the beauty and health of my garden and if my first sexual experiences are negative or sinful, what a challenge it would be to see sex for what it is… good, pure, enjoyable, and without shame. Regardless of whether the negative exposures were outside my control or due to my own sinful choices, if those weeds are never dealt with, good seeds that get planted as a result of a pure and God-honoring sexual experience, may have little chance of changing the landscape of my garden.
I read a book called “Six Ways to Keep the Little in your Girl” by Dannah Gresh where the author talks about guiding our daughters through the pre-teen and teen years with modesty, purity and godliness and how these fundamental elements can affect how they view themselves, affect all of their future relationships and impact their whole life. As I was reading this book, the idea surfaced of how each sexual impression made on our girls will affect their emotional, physical and spiritual development, which then reminded me about this garden analogy. I decided to take an inventory of seeds that were planted in my garden during the developmental years of my life. As embarrassing and shameful as it was, I felt the exercise would better illustrate how early plantings may have influenced my life. My motive was to see if there was any credence to what the author was saying based on my life and if so, this would then become a catalyst for me to be more deliberate in cultivating my daughter’s garden in the hope that her exposure to sexual things are good and positive, especially the first ones. I started by listing my very first sexual exposure that I could remember, which occurred when I was about 5 years old and continued until I listed my last entry as losing my virginity at 15. What a page of awkwardness, disgust, fear, passivity, anger, sadness, loneliness, worthlessness and sin. It is all very ugly in my mind. And what is really sad, I lived a relatively sheltered life!
After making this list, I started to think about how my life may have turned out differently if certain seeds had not been planted, certain events had not taken place, or particular choices had not been made. I am certainly not trying to shirk responsibility for my sinful actions throughout my life, blaming it on past events, but I can certainly see how some events contributed to my perceived value. I liken it to Adam and Eve eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Once Adam and Eve ate from the tree their eyes saw things differently. Previously their nakedness wasn’t an issue, but once sin entered, their nakedness was shame-filled, which then significantly affected their lives going forward. Yes, the different things that happened to me, or that I experienced, or that I chose to do when I was of developing stage affected my view of things. As I moved forward from those experiences, it affected how I interpreted other people’s intentions, how I reacted or didn’t react to situations, it aided in forming ideas on how I thought relationships should function, and most significantly affected how I viewed myself and what I believed God thought of me. Oh to be able to turn time back and pull the younger version of myself aside and share with her what I know now…
Yes, there is much that I wish was different about the seeds that have been sewn in my garden, but to wish is pointless. The things that can change are my views, thoughts and actions going forward, but in order to do this I need to see things differently…cultivate a new landscape in my garden…do some weeding!