By Becky Patton
My friend Becky is the Director of Truessence. She blogs here. She is one of my heroes because she invites women & men to face each other and find healing in the area of sexuality and spirituality. Also, my three year old son Ben wants to marry her. Enjoy!
A couple of years ago I attended a conference called The Theology of Eroticism (a catchy title, I know). For four days and three nights we explored, questioned and debated what desire means, how desire is used in Scripture and what desire teaches us about God.
Each night I would leave mentally exhausted and spiritually invigorated. Walking back to where I was staying, I would look up into the sky and wonder about the complexity and simplicity of God and desire. Somewhere in the midst of my religious upbringing, “…deny the flesh…” had become “ignore the body’s desire because it is evil.”
Did I plan on this being my interpretation?
Did I really believe that this body was merely something I had to forever fight against?
As I surrendered to sleep each night, I would dream of words and perceived images of the “evils of desire.” But then, on the third night, something strange happened right in the middle of my dream…
I suddenly began to dance.
Dance? Weird, I know, but right there in the middle of my “evils of desire” dream I returned to a ballroom dancing class I had taken with my husband, years before. Our instructor would continually demand that we use our arms to hold our own place. If our arms weakened or went limp, he would shout reminders for us to “hold the tension.” He would say, “the tension will teach you to anticipate and trust the other’s movements.”
There we were, dancing, and we were being asked move together in a tension filled space that held us both.
In the years that have passed since the eroticism conference, I have been doing a tension filled dance with God and desire. I am learning and unlearning how to be in relationship with this thing we call desire.
- Letting go of quick definitions that satisfy a spiritual itch…
- Remembering to breathe in at tension-filled moments where I want to demand to be right…
- Discovering that my journey intentionally fits in the bigger picture of God’s story…
- Having permission to question religious interpretations of my desires…
This class challenged my view of the roots of desire, but it’s been the dance that has taught me that desire creates a natural tension that needs to be acknowledged in order to be transformative.
I am engaging physically to notice and name desire that is within this body. To honor this body that God designed, I must be engaged with the physical, spiritual and emotional elements of being alive. And this is awakening some things spiritually that I never imagined.
Instead of “…deny the flesh…” and “ignore the body’s desire”, I am now learning what it means to hold the tension of, “the more physically aware I am, the more spiritually alive I am becoming!”
And daily, as I go about living my actual life, it’s a test to believe this. Will I choose today to hold the “tensions” that desire reveal? Will I allow my Creator to teach me about the risks and rewards I will encounter?
I believe that God designed us for an abundant life, and too often I quickly puncture tension and settle for a mundane existence that I can define and manage.
This class challenged my view of the roots of desire and reminded me that I was created to dance with desire… and hopefully when I hold my portion of the tension with God, in my everyday actual life, we will keep from running people over on the dance floor of life.