OUR ORCHESTRA WAS SLOTTED to play at a concert hall in New York City when I was a high school freshman. At the time, I knew nothing about the world of pornography and masturbation.
The air backstage was a mix of musical nerves and giddy excitement. Some silently fingered the night's more difficult runs on air instruments. Others challenged one another to covering popular -songs from Britney Spears and Coldplay.
My friends and I were on the side, chatting and cracking jokes, when the attention suddenly turned to me.
"Daniel, you must masturbate a lot, huh?"
I didn't know what that word meant.
"It's the only logical explanation for how you're able to handle all your extracurricular activities without being so stressed all the time."
There are moments in our lives we wish we could take back. Times when we had a sudden epiphany that we've made a huge mistake. Things that burn into our memories forever as soon as they are pointed out to us.
There are moments in our lives we wish we could take back.
I have often looked back and wondered — what would have happened if I hadn't found myself typing "What is masturbation?" into the Internet Explorer search bar after returning home from that trip? How has it shaped and distorted my understanding of sex as a beautiful gift? Will I always look at sexual intimacy through the lens of self-satisfaction?
I imagine similar questions running through the minds of Bible characters, as they saw the juice dripping from their hands after tasting a forbidden fruit. As they woke up in bed next to a person who was not their spouse. As they realized that they had just denied their mentor and close friend, not just once, but three times.
These moments of great realization and clarity can be great sources of shame and lifelong burden.
But the Bible tells us that though these moments are inevitably part of our lives — as was my choice that one evening — the story doesn't end there. God indeed loves us and is somehow, some way, still using those moments for a purpose we may never fully understand until the kingdom comes to full fruition.
We invite you to read these stories — not with a judgmental eye but with a sober empathy, appreciating the vulnerability and bravery of our contributors as they share their lives. Mourn with them in their losses. Resonate with them in the instances you recognize yourself.
We invite you to read these stories — not with a judgmental eye but with a sober empathy.
May we taste and see the bitterness that is in our past but also the hope that is still to come.