i remember the day i found out i could lust.
i’d had a very sensitive conscience growing up. one day, as a fastidious seven-year-old, trembling with fear, i’d confessed to my very amused mother that i’d been “crossing” myself like the Catholic nun I’d seen in Food City a few days before. i had no trouble chastising myself for the tiniest shortcomings and supposed sins.
But lust? Lust was masculine.
Lust was predatory.
Lust was rape and abuse and pornography and everything I was not.
(“Masculine” became a byword for a new level of sin that I could not reach, simply because of my inherent innocent femininity.)
Then suddenly I was 17 – and upon my not-s0-broad shoulders I felt the weight of five years of sexual sin flooding in all at once, previously hidden from my numbed conscience. Numbed by nurture, perhaps, but numbed nonetheless.
I’d been through the purity ringer too. I had no excuse to be so naive. As a tender 13-year-old, whose most recent discoveries included eyeshadow (one bright orange sparkly bottle of it) and conversations with boys, I was shipped off for a weekend for my first experience with a “Passport to Purity”. Two memories of that three-day long awkward conversation remain engraved on my memory.
The first was the long-awaited break I got to take and watch Russell Crowe rule the seas in Master & Commander. (Even as a nubile preteen I had good taste in actors.)
The second was the moment in our passport booklet when we got to a tiny sub-section entitled “Masturbation”. It was more of a footnote, really, and instead of reading it, we broke for lunch and never returned to the subject again. It was the only word in the whole book that I’d never read before. As a nerdy 7th grade spelling bee champion, my curiosity was piqued – even for just a moment. But the weekend was over and I went back to my 9th grade spelling lists and never worried about it again.
Until I was 17, of course.
Five years later, I’ve come a long ways towards learning what I can do to protect myself against the onslaught of lust that is very real for me. I like to think that doesn’t make me any less female or any less holy.
This Sunday, as we drove through the desert, I listened shell-shocked as a man friend of mine – home-grown in the local suburban church & a worship leader himself – told me that he’d had his suspicions, but he’d never quite known that women could lust too.
“They tell you how to dress, how to act, how to protect us,” he sighed, shaking his head. “But we have no IDEA how to help you guys.”
Immediately I saw a thousand moments in my mind.
Bookshelves in deserted libraries.
Twilight corners of my college campus.
Careless words from text messages engrained on my mind.
I may have never looked at “pornography” in my life, but I still have one hell of a photographic memory.