The tires of my car slid just a bit as I pulled into the driveway. The day had been long and I was later getting home than I had wanted. Gathering up my stuff I felt that part of me that likes to get everything in one trip working to figure out how to make it happen. Purse first onto my left forearm, bag of groceries next on the same arm, apple store bag next slung over my right shoulder, now to pick up the LARGE vase of flowers that had arrived at work for my birthday, finally I grabbed my computer bag with my right hand. With a solid bump from my hip the back car door was closed and I was feeling pretty accomplished.

I managed to open the back door and step up into the laundry room, the dark gray slate floor making up the base for the maze to be navigated. Mark’s tool bag, Elly’s laundry basket, snow boots, the dog…I don’t know for sure what I tripped over but it was happening, I was falling, nothing to hold onto because I was carrying too much.

I went down hard, and couldn’t stop myself, the large vase of flowers was bound to shatter, it felt inevitable.

This….this feels like a perfect representation of what the word “Sex?” does as it rolls around inside of me.

Sexy?

Well, that feels awkward, a bit like juggling too many things while hoping to just get into the house in one trip.

So much baggage to hold with there.

I have no memories of the word or the concept of sexy being encouraged, nurtured or blessed in my growing up years. If anything the message being sent LOUD and CLEAR was that all good Christian girls must avoid this word. No spaghetti straps, nothing strapless, no halters. Skirts much be appropriate, not too tight, not too short, not “too” anything. Breasts…well, keep them covered, appropriately garmented, and really let’s not talk about them and maybe they will go away.

Even today, the word sexy is hard to wear.

It takes a fair amount of effort to keep the voice of my critic quieted inside of me; she seems to be on high alert! Noticing the anxious ten-year-old part of me that feels foolish and the nineteen-year-old part of me that feels dirty, the critic notices and her voice speaks words from the past about being appropriate and where I’m over the edge. Reminding her that all is well and all shall be well even if we are playing with the fiery word “sexy” is a very real thing for me.

“Sex?”

Yep, that’s got a lot of baggage with it also. I mean really the word sexy and the word “sex?” are all part of the same thing inside of me.

This is a place where I really like it best when Mark hears my car in the driveway and is waiting for me in the garage. He gathers up all the bags effortlessly and all I have to worry about is carrying my relatively small purse into the house. He’s cleared the way in the laundry room, and it’s a smooth transition from the garage into the kitchen where a lovely glass of cold chardonnay is poured and waiting for me.

You get what I am saying here, right?!

When Mark is willing to do it all just the way I like it, anticipating what I need without me asking for anything or taking any responsibility for all my baggage I don’t have to really be present in my body. I don’t have to risk falling and I don’t have to face my fear of the vase shattering on the slate floor.

We lived like that for a lot of years.

“Sex?”

That question mark is the perfect punctuation for the word.

It honors that for me, at 51 years old I have still have questions about sex. I am still discovering what it means for me to be sexy in a way that feels comfortable, playful, and at rest inside of me. I am still growing in my willingness to bring all of myself to my husband, my body, my desires, my fears, my anxiety, my heart.

Every time I wade into the word “sex?” I have questions and I feel the unsure-ness that lingers in me. I fear that I will surely fall with all I am carrying and inevitably the vase will shatter.

“Sex?” is all about faith inside of me. It’s a place where the damage of abuse collides with the aching of my design as a woman. The damage is felt in my fear, my hyper-vigilance, where I am frozen inside, where the betrayals of the past feel current and palpable.

The aching is deepened by the moments of goodness, anchoring places inside of me where arousal has led to sweet moments of passionate surrender with Mark, and where I have worn sexy and felt like myself in ways that brought a smile to my face and joy and delight from friends who were with me. In that collision risk is present and I am left to choose, shutting down and quitting or taking the risk of remembering and believing that God is present and that deep joy is possible.

That even if I fall the vase doesn’t have to shatter. Because in fact the vase did not shatter, I was bruised and sore from the fall that day but the flowers and the vase stayed intact, it was a bit miraculous. It was a bit like “sex?”.


DSC_0512Tracy Johnson is a lover of stories and a reluctant dreamer, living by faith that “Hope deferred makes the heart sick but when dreams come true there is a life and joy” (Pro. 13:12).  She is the Founder of Red Tent Living.  Married for 28 years, she is mother to five kids.  After a half century of life, she’s feeling like she may know who she is.
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