Updated: Apr 27, 2018
"God's way is perfect. All the LORD's promises prove true. He is a shield to those who look to him for protection. For who is God except the LORD? Wh out our God is a solid rock?"
It's the pit some of us can't seem to dodge quickly enough. It's the deceptively sweet, romantic vision that sits just far enough away to keep us two steps behind as we chase it. The "oh-won't-it-be-great-when"'s and the "as-soon-as-I-get-there"'s of life that sit on our feet like cement shoes as we slip underneath the surface of reality.
At the beginning of this journey, I found my soul broken against the rocks of unmet expectations. Shattered into a thousand pieces that left me wondering how I had ever held so many hopes and dreams in just one heart. When those expectations, beautiful and good though they were, failed to come to life, I had nothing to fall back on.
See, I have a problem with expectations. Anyone will tell you. I dream big. I amp myself up and expect the most beautiful, grandiose scenario to come out of what I'm looking forward to. But too often my expectations go unmet, and when I crash, I crash hard.
It goes without saying, then, that I had high hopes when it came to my marriage. I'd never dated anyone before my husband. I'd saved my first kiss. I'd remained a virgin until my wedding day. I'd “done everything right”. So I expected to be rewarded. I expected a breathtaking, "now the two shall become one" first night with my husband that would make all those years of waiting and watching and hoping worth it.
Realizing on the evening of our first day as a husband and wife that attempting sex caused me an immeasurable amount of pain dragged me from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows. I was overcome with panic, thinking that I'd done something wrong or not prepared in the way that I should. I cried. I couldn't even verbalize to my sweet husband, who was trying his best to reassure me that everything was fine, the pain I felt or the reason why. So we gave up, and tried to turn our minds to other things. It was a wonderful few days, even so. We went and saw a concert and walked around the Riverwalk and enjoyed just being together. But in the back of my mind, brewing like a storm, was the simple fact that my expectations for joyful physical intimacy in my marriage were quickly crumbling before my eyes.
So, I grew desperate. Every failed attempt left me in tears. Anxiety began to build up, and then depression. I listened to recently married friends or other couples I knew talk about sex. It was so casual for them. So fun. I listened and bit my lip and cried on the way back home, buried underneath the feeling that I had been let down by a God who claimed He was good. I didn't fall back on Him. I didn't lean into His heart and seek comfort for the pain inside me. I drew further away from Him, hurt and angry and feeling let down in the most intimate of ways.
Looking back, I can see that even though desiring physical intimacy with my husband was never an outrageous thing to expect, I still clung to a sense of entitlement. After all, why wouldn't God reward me with the joy and pleasure of intimacy when I'd waited and saved myself exactly like He'd said I should? I'd worked, hadn't I? I'd sacrificed. I'd done the hard things and said no when I should and sought purity in my single years.
But through the scriptures, and the gentle love and compassionate correction of the people I allowed into my life, I began to see that I felt God owed me a healthy sex life because I'd "done everything right" during my time of singleness. The realization that He didn’t hurt—and I struggle daily even still with the question of "Why, Lord?". But slowly, slowly, I am learning to trust. Trust that although God has said "no" to the joy of pain-free sex and intimacy—for now, at least—that He is still good, and He desires me to draw nearer to Him and bring glory to His name in the midst of my struggles and triumphs. He has given me life, and life everlasting through His Son, and He will provide the strength of mind, bod
y and soul that I need to overcome my struggles with vaginismus and intimacy.
If you, like me, held high hopes for your sex life within marriage, chances are that you have walked through (or—also like me—are still walking through) a dark valley of unmet expectations and shattered hopes. You wonder why it comes so easily to everyone else. Why it’s enjoyed by so many in ways outside of God’s intended plan. Why you’re able to feel so much love and desire for your spouse and still be unable to love him in such a beautiful and intimate way.
It hurts. Believe me, I know. I have cried and cried until there are no tears left while trudging through that exact valley. Perhaps you’ve had other people tell you, “It could be worse.” or “Can’t you just be happy doing other things?” and those comments cut and sting like nothing else. Know that you are not alone in those feelings. You’re not alone in the feeling of being let down or cheated. You are not alone in the struggle of feeling like a gap has been created between you and your husband.
I can’t offer you answers. I don’t know why the Lord has given you or me a gentle “no.” even though He knows how badly we desire intimacy. But I can assure you of this: we are not created to be abandoned in our pain.
If you know Jesus as your savior, and you have sought to build your life on the teachings of the Father, cry out to Him.
A dear, dear friend and mentor of mine has a wonderful practice of asking us to physically get down on our knees when we pray together. I didn’t understand why the first time she asked, but after it happened, I realized that there is something raw and humble and beautifully tender about kneeling on the ground as we seek the Lord’s presence.
So as you kneel in prayer, ask God to take the expectations. Ask Him to scoop them up and put them out of sight so they aren’t hovering over you like a scattering of storm clouds. Tell Him why it hurts so much to look at the future that might have been. Be honest with Him.
The first time I talked to God about all the unmet expectations I’d been holding onto, I didn’t even have words. My throat was dry and my eyes already hurting and swollen from the tears I’d cried earlier that day. So I silently pleaded with God to see my heart, and to know my pain even when it hurt to much to verbalize. I asked Him to forgive me for the anger I’d held towards Him because He’d said “no”. I told him that I was confused and bitter and couldn’t even grasp the logic behind why this was happening.
And then I sat, both knees on the ground, a wad of dirty tissues scattered around me, and I let myself mourn in the presence of my Heavenly Father.
There is something beautiful in the release of unmet expectations. Of learning how to let go and grieve and do it all within the arms of the Lord. I’m still in the process of discovering it. But I can tell you that I’ve not been disappointed. And neither will you.
As a close to this post, centered around a topic that I still struggle with, I’d like to share some scriptures that have brought me peace in this trial. I hope and pray that they will encourage you as well:
“Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.” 2 Corinthians 1:7
“I will be glad and rejoice in your love, for you saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul.” Psalm 31:7
“Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous be shaken.” Psalm 55:22
“But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.” Psalm 86:15
“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us” Romans 5:3-5
“And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.” Colossians 2:6-7
I hope that you find peace in the arms of the Father this week, and that unmet expectations are a weight you and I can slowly start to release into His hands.
You are seen, and known and loved!