is purity even worth it?

This might be melodramatic. But this is the story of when protecting my purity no longer seemed worth it to me.

When I was in high school, I liked this guy…

I grew up pretty sheltered, so my experience with guys was zippo, nada, zilch. It also didn’t help that I am a complete hopeless romantic, so sometimes its hard to differentiate between what is real and what isn’t.

I hate to admit this, but when I like someone I get slightly creepy. I blame it on all the books I’ve read where the heroine stares longingly across the room at the man who is the recipient or desired recipient of her affections. It takes a bit of shaking to wake me up to the reality that life is not a fairytale (seriously, it is so dang hard). I had this one guy friend who would text me using “thee”s and “thou”s and wow that just sent me on a whirl!

So you probably get the idea by now, I am a romantic (I omitted the ‘hopeless’ part this time, because I have decided I don’t want to keep speaking that over myself. And there’s nothing wrong with being a romantic, right??).

Now, back to this guy. We both went to the same school and church youth group, so I saw him pretty often. I was pretty hard on myself a moment ago for staring at guys I like, but this guy, he started it first. He really did! I promise! I would look up and see him staring at me from across the classroom or the youth room at church, and man, oh man, I was sunk.

I was sure this guy liked me. I mean, he was staring longingly at me. It must be love or at least a SUPER like!

He would often suddenly come stand next to me, and look straight into my eyes with his piercing blue ones and tell me how absolutely stunning my eyes are and how completely beautiful I am. Each word, was filling a desire within me to be loved. Oh, how I wanted to be loved! To be seen! Cherished! Desired!

In my wisdom of sixteen years, I knew, I just knew this was a budding romance. I imagined what it would be like to go to our school dances together, for him to hold me close, swaying to the music (I blame “Back to the Future” for my unrealistic expectation of school dances. There is no swaying to ke$ha). My heart skipped a beat at the thought of holding his hand in the hallways, and being the person he thought about and cared for. I am sure I had probably already imagined what it would be like to be maybe be married someday (woah, that’s a little too far, Jess!).

So imagine, my shock when he started dating another girl in our youth group.

anger. confusion. sadness. rejection. resentment. bitterness.

Those were the feelings that were all mixed up inside of me. The feelings that brought up a whirlwind of thoughts that I didn’t have the strength to stop.

This led me to make several conclusions about myself.

1. I wasn’t _______ enough. Good enough, pretty enough, courageous enough, kind enough, assertive enough, Christian enough… and the list went on.

The bottom line was that I wasn’t enough.

2. I was tired of protecting my purity and being alone.

Being pure wasn’t worth it if even the Christian guys didn’t want me. My naïve little teenage heart was crushed. As I laid on the floor in my room, these thoughts and feelings consumed me. I had had enough. I unlocked my phone and downloaded an app. Honestly, I don’t remember what app it was. Could have been tinder or something of that sort. All I know is that I had one goal. I wanted to see how far I could get.

To be blunt– I wanted to know that if I wanted to have sex, I could. Simple as that. I started conversations with several guys, but the main one I remember is a conversation with a guy who was twenty-two years old, making him six years older than me. He lived about an hour away and he invited me to come to his house and spend the night. I knew what he was asking.

And get this… I seriously considered it. At first I had been doing this just for the sheer pleasure of having the knowledge that I had the power to give into desire if I wanted to. It was just a game. But now it was different and I felt like I was at a crossroads. My whole life I had treasured my purity. My mom had always told me to guard my heart, and to not just give my kisses to anyone, that my virginity was a gift meant for the man I would marry. Yet, here I was ready to give everything to some stranger, when I had never even held a guys hand. What even?! How did I get here?

It’s that moment of temptation, when you’ve held on to something precious for so long, but then begin to question why you’re being so “good”. As you wrestle with whether to stick to what you know is right, the question “why the heck not?” shines like a bright answer in your head, leading you into a spiraling, last minute decision of recklessness, ending with giving into temptation.

This is what I was fighting. This was the question in my head — “why the heck not?” What had purity ever gotten me? Because what has being “good” ever got me? No attention from any good guys. No love. Ultimately no boyfriend. So what was the point? As this decision, this crossroads stared me in the face, I quickly did the only thing I could do to get rid of the temptation. I deleted the app, threw my phone across the room, and cried sad, gut-wrenching tears, allowing the pain inside to come out and stream down my face.

There, in that place, in that loneliness I felt the presence of God. I felt so ashamed, but God being the sweet, merciful Father that He is, only brought comfort to me. He did not rebuke me. He did not condemn me. His presence wrapped around me like a hug, sheltering me and protecting me from my own thoughts that were trying to wage war upon me. He knew how much it hurt to be rejected. He knew how much it hurt to be led on. He knew how much it hurt to feel alone. He knew. That was all that mattered.

He understood me. God himself, as Jesus Christ had felt rejection, sorrow, and loneliness. He had been lied to many times, even by those He should have been able to trust. If anyone could have the ability to look inside of my heart and feel what I feel, it was Him. The comfort of my heavenly father was like a breath of life into my weary soul. He told me what he thought of me. In his eyes, I was enough, and in that moment I realized that God was more than enough for me. I knew that my soul should long first for God above all else. That my desire for affirmation, love, and even my motivation for being pure, should be founded in my love for God. None of those things should be contingent upon an earthly man.

As far as my purity goes, what I feel on that now can be captured well in the wise words of Elisabeth Elliot:

“There is dullness,  monotony, sheer boredom in all of life when virginity and purity are not longer protected and prized. By trying to grab fulfillment everywhere, we find it nowhere” -Elisabeth Elliot

Sex is meant to be sacred. But when it is freely given, to many people, or even just one person outside of the covenant of marriage it loses its sacredness. I know that what I’m sharing here is a belief that is decreasing rapidly. It is common to have casual sex, or to live with your significant other. Ultimately though, it is not fulfilling because it is not being shared within the confines it was created for. It is no longer special because it is an intimacy too easily given. This goes beyond even just the act of sex, because your purity can be easily taken from you in other ways, some of which are not even physical. Trust me— I speak from experience–but that is a story for another time.

I share this to encourage you to protect and prize your virginity and purity. But please hear me, that if you have gone too far in some ways and have had your purity marred, I want you to know that you can be redeemed. This message still applies to you, dear friend. God says that when we repent to Him for the ways we have sinned, He wipes us clean. We are made new. Several friends of mine have given their virginity away outside of marriage, and this is what they believe about themselves. They believe that God forgave them and restored to them their purity. So, believe that truth for yourself.

Sometimes, many times even, it won’t feel worth it. You will feel lonely and ache to be held. You will feel stupid even, for holding on to something that so many people have given away. But don’t give up. Hold tight onto the sacredness of your purity, allowing no one to bring you to the point of desiring compromise.

It’s hard, but my golly, with the strength of God you can do it. And dear friend, it is so worth it. Guarding your heart and all that comes with it draws you nearer to God in ways you never could have anticipated.

I post this now, prayerfully, hoping that in some way you have been encouraged by my story. I might not know you, but if you’re reading this, I am praying for you.

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