Lead Us Now Into Temptation

This is the latest in my series of blog entries taking a fresh look at a variety of topics over the next year. I’ve set up a page on the blog explaining the project and linking to my entries. This week’s topic is “Temptation.”

Divorce does weird stuff to you.

I’m totally using that as an excuse, but it’s true. So I’m not proud of the following anecdote, but it, also, is true.

There’s a deep sense of loneliness following a divorce. At least, assuming you’ve done it right. That’s kind of a given. And, again, assuming you’ve done it right, there’s going to be a sense of rejection. Generally, even if you’re the one who filed, that sense of rejection is there — if the other person had loved me enough, we wouldn’t be in this situation. And, of course, there’s a whole catalog of other hurts and damages, but those are the important ones at the moment.

And that’s where I was when I started the DivorceCare class. And where, really, I still was when we reached Week 10 of the DivorceCare curriculum — “Single Sexuality.”

Now, the curriculum for that week, as for the program as a whole, is meant to be encouraging. It’s very positive, focused on promoting the idea that you will heal from this, that things will get better, that life will go on. That particular week, of course, was focused on being encouraging in doing the right thing, in not allowing the hurt to cause you to do something you’d regret later or that would make things worse. Being a church-based religious curriculum, it takes the position that sex is something that should be saved for (another) marriage.

All of which is well and good, to be sure. And in encouraging that, it addresses the issue of temptation. How you’re going to be faced with temptation, and it’s important that you not give in. How as a single person again, you’re going to have to deal with sexual pressure.

And, you know, my thought at the time — really, not so much. I’m going into this dealing with loneliness, I’m dealing with rejection, and this church video is telling me that I should be having to fend off sexual advances. And, trust me, at that point, I totally wasn’t.

I had really barely dated before my wife, and had real self-esteem issues in the relationships area from that period. And nothing had happened in the time since the collapse of my marriage to disabuse me of those notions. Heck, even before the divorce was official, the first volley of my new singleness came in the form of a preemptive rejection. “Just in case you’ve thought about asking me out, don’t.” In my mind at the time, it might as well have been signed, “Every woman on Earth.” Heck, given my line of work, you might as well tack on, “And any not on the Earth at the moment.” I didn’t even have a chance to ask someone out before I was rejected.

That’s where I was. And here’s this church video telling me that a normal divorced person is going to have to be refusing advances, turning down temptation. Wow.

My thought at the time was, literally, this — “Where’s my temptation?”

To be sure, I was still hurting. I was still damaged. At that point, I had just seen my ex-wife, I think, the day before. I hadn’t completely given up an trying to work things out, and certainly hadn’t really moved on. I wasn’t ready for a new relationship, sexual or otherwise. And I knew that. That’s not what I wanted.

But I wanted the temptation. Specifically, I wanted the affirmation. I wanted to be wanted. I wanted to be found attractive. I wanted to be found desirable. It was far less about wanting to act on the temptation, or wanting what the temptation was for, as it was just wanting there to be temptation.

To be honest, that’s been a constant struggle ever since. Not just the sexual aspect from DivorceCare; I want assurance of my worth, emotionally, intellectually, etc. I want affirmation. I want confirmation. I want to be wanted. I want to be loved, to be sure, but in the meantime, I want assurance that I’m lovable. “Peace in the struggle / To find peace / Comfort on the way / To comfort.”

And it’s insiduous. Those things are no longer driving. I’m not remotely who I was at the time of the divorce. I’m no longer hungry for that affirmation. Partially because of external circumstances, partially because I’m more rooted in who I am. I don’t need it anymore.

But, every once and a while, it comes around. Somebody affirms me in a way that was completely unexpected, and it feeds something within me that still isn’t completely gone —

The temptation to be tempted.

3 Responses

  1. OMG, David……that is a really great insight!! I totally understand it and have felt it, and have wanted to put it into words before. Thank you!

  2. Well said.

  3. I came across this quote shortly after posting this entry: “The only trouble with resisting temptation is that you may not get another chance.”

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