Love One Another! 3/2004 → True Love Waits - Pure Hearts
We owe all good things to Jesus. He lifts us up. He wipes away our sins by the hand of His priest. More than this: He draws us to Himself. He gives us strength. In a word, He loves us. He is our Best Friend, never disappointing us, always having time for us, never leaving us in the lurch.
I first fell into the sin of impurity when I met my husband-to-be. To this day, I find it hard to forgive myself for placing the boy I loved above God. If only I had said a categorical “no” then! But I did not. I fell, picked myself up, resolved to make amends, then fell again.
A year later, we got married. A year after that, I gave birth to our first child. Another year — another child. After six years, we had three children. I worked outside the home and kept house. It was not easy. Suddenly, in our ninth year of marriage, my husband died. The shock! Being left alone with three children!
Now, from the perspective of a lifetime, I can see how God walked me through the years that followed. In my grief, I turned to Him immediately. There were times I could actually feel His guiding hand over my life. It is not easy to describe. I felt filled with a sense of security. The thought of my weakness did not even enter my head. I did my best to reassure my children — to protect them as a hen shelters her chicks. With God’s help I felt I would manage somehow. My husband was no longer with me, but I could feel God beside me. I don’t think I could ever express in words what I owed Him in those years.
Six months after the death of my husband, I began experiencing intense erotic desires. I yearned for the intimacy of a man’s touch. I would rush to the cemetery and sob my heart out. Fortunately, I had my children, work, house, school, and daycare — a regular treadmill of duties — to keep me on track.
But there were days when these desires became unbearably strong. They would hit me even at work, during breaks. An intimate moment with my husband would flash through my mind. Instantly, this would trigger the desires. Sometimes I couldn’t work or concentrate. I would actually break out into fits of trembling. I called on God for help. A moment’s respite — then the desires returned. And so I’d sit it out until 4 p.m. At home it was the usual round, taking care of the children, but on days like these my housework didn’t go well.
Sometimes the kids would go out into the yard and I’d have a moment to myself. Sitting alone on one such occasion, I said to myself, “What is this? I’ve never had temptations as strong as this.” Immediately, the Devil began putting thoughts into my head. I had no husband, he whispered. I could always have a relationship. But, in the meantime, why wait for a relationship? Why not “relieve” these tensions on my own. God, who was always my authority and strength, suddenly seemed so distant from me. It was as though He were shrouded in a fog. Again Satan whispered to me: “What’s the big deal? So you commit a sin!” But then another thought came into my mind: “But I’d be hurting my Best Friend.” At that moment, I recalled all the things that bound me in a spirit of gratitude to God. All those difficult times when I’d actually felt His presence beside me. His help. His kindness. I saw Christ’s sorrowful face, His eyes filled with tears… I jumped to my feet. “No!” I said, “How could I allow such a thought to enter my head!” The temptation passed, and I was filled with an inner peace.
The years passed. The children grew up and started having families of their own. In the Jubilee Year I attended a retreat where I made a general confession. After a sincere examination of conscience, I felt assured that, after the death of my husband, I had never consciously sinned against the Sixth Commandment. But by this point, I thought, life was free of these problems. Mature women like me no longer suffered from erotic temptations. How wrong I was!
A year later, just as I thought I had long licked the problem, the temptations returned with a vengeance. Not during the day this time, but at night. Powerful erotic feelings woke me out of my sleep. Night after night, they hit me with increasing intensity.
I went to confession. I felt terribly ashamed. Imagine a grandmother confessing such things! Fortunately, the priest proved to be understanding. He assured me I had not sinned and that the temptations would pass. I believed him and, indeed, after a while, they did pass. For this I thank You, Jesus!
My purpose in writing this letter is to suggest that those who suffer from temptations against the Sixth Commandment consider the line of thinking that proved to be so helpful to me. When facing such temptations, rather than thinking of sin as an offense against God, as something deserving of punishment, think of it in terms of hurting a Friend — Someone Who is always at your side, Who is there to help you, Who wipes away your every tear, and never writes you off.
The other point I want to stress is that Satan is always prowling about and never passes up an occasion to lead us astray. Age has no importance here. Whether we are young or 70 years old, we must always hold on to God’s hand if we are not to fall prey to the wiles of the Evil One, for our strength lies in God alone.