To The Girl Who Wishes She'd Stayed Pure...

When I was 29 years old, I gave my life to Jesus. In the years leading up, I would describe myself as religious, thinking that I knew Him, but never really consulting what I thought I knew with what He says in His Holy Word. But, Jesus gently pursued me. Last year, He led me to a church so palpable with His presence + joy that I couldn’t resist His love. I wanted to experience that glowing joy + confidence that was so genuine, authentic, and practically pouring out of the people at this church. Week after week, He revealed to me, through His word, why I needed Him desperately. I couldn’t believe that I had always thought I knew Him, but I never understood exactly why I needed Him. I quickly came to realize that all of my wandering, all of my searching, all of my restlessness was all in pursuit of His heart -- His relentless, unconditional, grace-filled love and salvation that I only had to ask to receive, and it was mine. He was there all along, I just had to turn the light on :)

To the girl who wishes she'd stayed pure: it's not too late!

When I was a teenager, I made a promise to God that I would stay pure until my wedding night. I held the promise like a secret treasure, not wanting anyone to steal it away. Somehow, I believed that He’d be proud of me if I stayed pure, I’d earn points in His book, or be more valuable if I could control myself. Looking back, it was all about my own strength. I was a slave to the fear that I would mess up, or let God down.

So when I was date raped at the age of 17, my heart broke into a million little pieces. Not only for the obvious reasons, but also because I truly believed that I had failed God. For the following 10 + years, even though I tried so hard and wanted so badly to be pure, I constantly slipped up.

I spent my twenties jumping from one serious relationship to another because of my insecurities.

I measured my worth by how much attention and praise I received for my looks or my body.

I felt obligated to be someone who I never wanted to be.

I was deeply uncomfortable by myself and allowed myself to be used, just for a moment of relief from my loneliness. To be honest, I don’t think I ever admitted this to myself. I was doing what the rest of the world was doing, so I had to be fine … right?

The crazy part is that I considered myself to be a fairly confident and secure person, and so did the people closest to me. It’s amazing what we settle for as normal when we don’t know our true identity.

When I gave my life to Jesus, I felt like 10 + years of weight came falling off of my shoulders…I had been going about this completely wrong. Jesus didn’t want my purity, He didn’t want my good deeds, He didn’t want my perfection … He just wanted my heart.

I fell to my knees and laid it all down at His feet. I began to sob, which led to a total ugly cry (c’mon, we’ve all been there!). I can’t even begin to explain to you the emotions or the relief that washed over my body. I kept hearing this verse in my heart, for weeks afterward: “If anyone is in Christ, He is a new creation. Old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” 2 Cor. 5:17

The old me believed that I was regretful, dirty, shameful, weak, totally undeserving of a godly man’s love or commitment. Anything but pure.

But the old things passed away that day, and I was overcome with freedom.

Complete and utter freedom.

Freedom from seeking attention for my body.

Freedom from measuring my worth by my ability to be good.

Freedom from not allowing myself to be who I wanted to be.

Freedom from trying and failing to find fulfillment in a man’s affections.

When I surrendered everything to Him - my unbelief, my fear, my loneliness, my filth - I knew something was about to change. And it did. Gently and fiercely, He changed my heart. He filled me with new desires. He made me feel that the shame and pain from my past was no longer part of my present, it was detached from who I am now.

From that day forward, I walked in that Truth. I no longer was controlled by my desperation to find a man, but all of my thoughts and desires were spent in adoration of Him. I became secure, confident, and more joyful than I had ever been. I knew that God’s plan for my life was far better than anything I could have planned. With my eyes on Him, I almost didn’t notice when He brought a very special man into my life.

I almost can’t believe I get to say this, but in one week, I get to marry the man of my dreams. A man who is so much more than I could have ever wished for. He loves the Lord and He cherishes and adores me. Not for how good I am, or for how pretty I am, or for how much I will do for him physically … but simply because of Who I Am -- a precious daughter of the King.

Tanner and I met almost a year ago, and although both of us had difficult pasts and struggles with purity, we committed to starting fresh and waiting for each other. For the past year, we have fought so hard to remain pure until we are married. And let me tell you, it has been so worth it. We know that God created intimacy for marriage and His design always yields the most life-giving fruit.

To the girl who wishes she'd stayed pure: it's not too late!

As we prepare to exchange our vows and say ‘I do,’ I remain in awe. I see how Jesus used this precious, kind, strong and secure man to help heal my heart. Over the past year, Tanner has kept his promise to me. With his actions, He has shown me that I’m worth it. I’m more than my past. I’m more than my body. I’m more than what I can do or what I can give. He showed me that I’m worth the wait.

Instead of being swept up into the physicality of our relationship, our closeness became unmatched because we spent our time getting to know one another, not depending on intimacy to fake real intimacy, to make us feel known and loved.

In just a week, we will make a new set of promises and exchange rings. And soon thereafter, the whole story will come together. My story is no longer a story of shame, but rather of redemption.

I am his and he is mine. I don’t have to fear him breaking my heart or deciding to leave. We will be one. I can give him every part of me, because he is my protector, my safe haven. My forever.

Just like Jesus :)

Have you struggled with sexual purity in your past? If you have, please know that I wish I could give you a huge hug and hold your hands as I tell you that you can start over. You can give that shame + regret to Him. He doesn’t want you to hold it any longer, He wants to take the weight in exchange for freedom through Him. I pray that your true identity will become clear and you will know who you are, who you are made to be, and that you will allow His strength and protection to cover all of your past mistakes. You are so loved.