Most of my single days are a tragic testimony of a young woman striving to gain some sense of power through inappropriate relationships with men. Rather than use what beauty God had given me to bring glory to Him, I used it as bait to lure men into feeding my ego. Rather than inspiring men to worship God, I subconsciously wanted them to worship me, and if I was successful in hooking a man with my charms, I secretly felt powerful.
I never realized these tragic truths until I went through counseling after I was married. I was seeking to understand why I still felt tempted outside of my marriage, so my therapist asked me to spend a week making a list of every man I had ever been with sexually or had pursued emotionally. I was shocked and saddened to see how long my list had grown through the years.
At the next visit, she asked me to spend a week praying and asking myself, “What do each of these men have in common?” God showed me that each relationship had been with someone who was older than I and in some form of authority over me⎯my professor, my boss, my lawyer.
As I searched my soul to discern why such a common thread existed in my relational pursuits, the root of the issue became evident: my hunger for power over a man. Due to my feelings of powerlessness in my relationship with an authoritarian father, I had subconsciously been re-creating authoritative relationships in order to “win this time.” Each time I managed to get the upper hand in a relationship, subconsciously seducing my prey into feeding my ego and catering to my needs and desires, it was really as if I were saying, “See Dad! Someone really does love me! I am worthy of attention and affection!”
In my attempts to fill the father-shaped hole in my heart and establish some semblance of self-worth through these dysfunctional relationships, I was creating a long list of shameful liaisons and a trunk load of emotional baggage. I was overlooking the only true source of satisfaction and self-worth: an intimate relationship with my heavenly Father. Through pursuing this relationship first and foremost, not only has Jesus become my first love and given me a sense of worth beyond what any man could give, He has also restored my relationship with my earthly father and helped me remain faithful to my husband.
I believe that many women who struggle with sexual and/or emotional integrity are still little girls trapped in a grown woman’s body, desperately seeking a father figure to give them the love they craved as a child. This pursuit of “love” takes the form of searching for intimacy and closeness, and unfortunately the world we live in teaches that this intimacy and closeness can be found only through sexual relationships. However, as many women have painfully discovered, relationships can be built entirely on sex and still be devoid of any intimacy or closeness at all, which leaves us feeling even more powerless to have our needs met.