By Glamazon Tyomi
Celibacy: it's a process often met with opposition and resistance. And I know this all too well. After years of sexual exploration (which served as a double-edged sword: becoming sexually self-aware while masking my issue of coping with death and loss), celibacy found its way onto my doorstep time and time again. Suggestions of taking celibacy seriously began to pour in from my mother, twin sister, life coach and even former lovers, as it became more evident that I wasn't happy with my personal life. But this still wasn't enough for me to give up what I thought was the only way of living.
Enter Karrine Steffans: a woman I admire for her tenacity to take whatever life throws her way and make the best out of it. When we spoke in a candid conversation for Playboy Radio last April, she shared with me her year-long period of celibacy. It helped her reach where she is today, finding the man she truly feels God has custom-made for her as her soulmate. (She recently revealed the love of her life to the world: actor/musician Columbus Short.) Never had I seen her so happy, glowing and even giddy about this new found relationship and awareness she had of herself.
I shared my attempts at celibacy with her, confiding about my struggles to take the process seriously, and she encouraged me to go the distance. "Just do it," Karrine said. "You will be amazed at how much you find out about yourself through the process, and you will be thankful for what you gain after experiencing what you perceive as loss."
I was convicted. After the last straw with my most recent relationship turned sour, I made the commitment to be dedicated to "the Wait," but this time not just as an "off period" where sex wasn't in the picture. I made the decision to abstain from sex to serve as a period of self-development and personal growth.
Sex had taken over my personal life and created illusions of what appeared to be healthy relationships. But in reality, these connections were empty and one-sided, often leaving me used up and turned out looking for the next high. Sex had become an addiction I wanted to break.
In the process of looking for ways to support my time of healing and transition, I turned to another Hollywood couple blazing the media circuit. The duo has been filling churches and lecture halls to the brim with eager listeners ready to hear how practicing what they've coined "the Wait" led them into each other's arms, and ultimately into greater success within their professional lives.
Pastor, Hollywood exec and motivational speaker DeVon Franklin and actress Meagan Good are co-authors of The Wait: A Powerful Practice for Finding the Love of Your Life and the Life You Love. The book is essentially a love story depicting how their walk in celibacy (with God as their copilot) helped them draw closer and become more confident within their relationship.
Their story has been met with much skepticism, as cynics have questioned the ability for a couple to abstain from sexual activity during a time when the world is so sexually charged. But I met their story with optimism, hoping to gain a fresh perspective on what celibacy is all about. And so I turned the first page and made some major discoveries about what it truly means to practice the Wait.
This is not a "sex bashing book" or a "sex shaming" process
Many who've been skeptical about celibacy have painted a bleak picture of what it's like to go through a process that asks us to go against the very essence of who we are: sexual beings. However, DeVon and Meagan make it very clear within the first chapter that celibacy doesn't condemn sex. It simply asks to take sex out of the equation for a moment to reach a new solution of a better life.
"The two of us are not anti-sex," the couple states. "To be anti-sex would pretty much be the same as being anti-God. God created sex and we fully advocate the joy of experiencing it the way He intended."
The couple admits that sex is an enjoyable, important part of the lives of humans. But delaying instant gratification is the only way to truly reap the benefits of knowing thyself and drawing closer to the best life God has intended for us. Whether you're a strong Christian, spiritually inclined, or lead by the way of the universe, The Wait makes it clear that sex is a part of the human experience.
But there's a higher power that wants more for our lives than just satisfying our fleshly desires in moments of lustful passion. "Delaying gratification and getting greater control over your behavior--so that you can break the patterns that keep sabotaging you--is the key to finally finding the life and the peace that you hunger for," the couple admits. "It's the key to becoming who you've always aspired to be... But it all starts with giving up sex."
Celibacy is abstaining with purpose, and the Wait only works when it's purpose driven
When it comes to abstinence, Meagan and DeVon admit that many are often forced into the commitment after running into damaging situations or relationships that've held them to their wits end. (I've been there myself.) But celibacy isn't just a time when sex isn't happening. It's not just waiting around and being miserable while not having sex. It's a time to reflect on your goals, set new standards for your life, and become the best version of yourself.
The Wait is a process the Franklins have used to reach their goal of marital bliss. But for many, the end goal may not be marriage at all. The core of The Wait is all about self-improvement and living out the best life the Creator has designed for you.
"We call this 'strategic patience,' " they say. "While you wait, you're not putting your life on hold or wasting time waiting for something to happen. Instead, you're taking all the time and attention that you've been projecting outward and turning it inward. That's one of the most positive, life-affirming choices a person can make.
"From this perspective, you can finally see that hurling yourself into the path of potentially romantic relationships hasn't brought you any closer to what you want. It's time to try a different approach: letting love and purpose manifest in your life as a result of you working on becoming the best version of yourself."
It's important to set goals during this process of waiting, whether it's weight loss, earning a new degree, meeting new friends, reconnecting with your emotional self, seeking counseling for unresolved issues, pursuing a lifelong dream gone unfulfilled, or deepening your spiritual walk. Whatever your goal is, it's impassive to set those goals and use the energy of celibacy to fuel your desire to make it happen.
The Wait is a reflective moment that will show you yourself (& sometimes it's an ugly truth)
Celibacy brings with it a time of solitude and self-reflection. Refraining from sexual activity means cutting off people who lead you down a path of temptation, removing yourself from the dating pool, and spending copious amounts of time alone to reflect on how past behaviors have affected your happiness and overall success.
Our relationships are mirrors, always reflecting back to us what we haven't addressed within ourselves. And when sex is present, we are blinded from truly being able to see what life is trying to reveal to us as areas that need improvement.
"When you're beginning The Wait, it's a good idea to seek some counseling, either from a relationship or spiritual counselor," the couple suggests. "Talk with someone who can help you figure out what baggage you're clinging to, where it comes from, and how to let it go. This can happen quickly, but the length of time doesn't really matter. What matters is getting a spring cleaning of your spirit that lets you go into the world clear-eyed and ready to approach dating and relationships in a new, healthy way."
You may not like what you see during self-reflective moments, but breaking down past perceptions of self and reforming the way you think about yourself, reestablishing boundaries and setting new standards for yourself, will help you move into the improvement you seek. Your journey through celibacy is yours to walk, but you don't have to suffer through challenging moments alone.
The Wait is an easy read, filled with powerful gems for someone ready to begin living a life free of addictive behaviors that drain away self-awareness. The Franklins admit the book isn't a master plan for everyone's life, simply the way they reached their goals with each other and themselves as individuals. In sharing their journey through celibacy, DeVon and Meagan hope to encourage others to see the benefit of removing sex for a moment to receive blessings of awareness for a lifetime.
For me, practicing celibacy is less about finding my soulmate and more about rediscovering my authentic self. And the advice from The Wait was reaffirming of the things that had been revealed to my spirit even before opening its pages. Does The Wait work? The answer is yes. But only when one is ready.
It's a big commitment to make to yourself and to God when you decide to be led by faith and not by sight. As a life coaching professional in the field of sexuality, I highly recommend The Wait for any woman or man going through a life transition towards upward mobility. The Wait is worth adding to your collection of self-help books, and celibacy is worth the sacrifice.
Glamazon Tyomi is a freelance writer, model and sex educator with a deeply rooted passion for spreading the message of sex positivity and encouraging the masses to embrace their sexuality. Her website, www.glamerotica101.com, reaches internationally as a source for advice and information for the sexually active/curious. Follow her on Twitter at @glamazontyomi.