Every time a new year rolls around, I pick a word for the year. Some years I think about it a lot more throughout the year than others. Two years ago (2015), it was PURSUE, and I pursued God so much more than I ever had in my life that year. It really was the theme of my year. This year (2016), my word was LISTEN. Honestly, I kinda forgot that I even chose a word because I didn’t dwell on it much. Even though I wasn’t thinking about it, God was still teaching me about it, especially on my Guatemala trip. I learned how to actually listen to God and have been refining my listening ear toward Him ever since. Then in November, the theme of listening reappeared again when I realized that I’m not the best at listening to other people… mostly because I like to talk. But that’s still a work in progress.
Nevertheless, towards the beginning of December, I started thinking about what my word for 2017 should be, and immediately God gave me the word PURE. I was going to make a list of all the words I thought would be good, but over and over, that was the only word I heard.
It was no surprise that pure was the word God wanted me to focus on. I learned a lot about purity in my Psychology of Relationships class, I bought a book called “Passion and Purity” right after, and then for Christmas I asked for a purity ring.
Now it’s time for a backstory on why.
So, throughout all of middle and high school, I heard over and over, “Don’t have sex before marriage.” That sounded easy enough to me, so I promised myself and God that I wasn’t going to. However, no one ever talked about how far you can go before marriage without going “too far.” All I ever heard about was keeping your virginity not about keeping your purity. So even though I didn’t lose my virginity, I lost my purity multiple times. I have come to the understanding that losing your purity can be doing anything that you feel is wrong in the eyes of God. Whenever the relationship with the boy ended, I was left feeling dirty, impure, and broken. I might not have given any guy all of me, but I gave them too much of me with no commitment for a lifetime of marriage. Every time I left a relationship with a boy, I would tell God that I wasn’t going to do any of that again, but Satan held that sin over me because he knew he could, so I messed up. Again and then again.
The sad thing was, I could get away with it. Most churches and even youth groups stay far away from addressing the topic of purity these days. And a lot of teenage Christians believe that anything but sex before marriage is okay, mostly because that’s what they are taught, and some even believe that sex is fine too.
Anyway, during training camp for my Guatemala mission trip this summer, we had an all girls’ night, where we let go of anything sinful we had been holding onto and shared it with all the other girls on our team in total confidence. I told them about the shame that was in me from past relationships. That night, I experienced true freedom from all of that sin for the first time in my life. And that freedom felt better than anything I could ever do with a boy.
That night at training camp and multiple times throughout the month, we sang the song “Ever Be,” and every time we sang these words, it felt like God was speaking them directly to me:
“Now you’re making me like you
Clothing me in white
Bringing beauty from ashes
For You will have Your bride
Free of all her guilt and rid of all her shame
And known by her true name and it’s why I sing
Your praise will ever be on my lips, ever be on my lips…”
Since that night, God’s been slowly refining what purity means for me and he’s been washing me white. No matter how many times the devil puts impure thoughts in my head and tells me that I’ve “gone too far” or tells me I’ll mess up again, Jesus reminds me that he came for those of us who have “gone too far,” and He alone will give me the strength I need to not make the same mistakes again.
Jesus sure did bring beauty from ashes in my life.
And I hope that he can bring beauty from the ashes in yours too. I’m sharing this because I learned that when you bring sin to light, Satan can’t hold it over you any more. You’ve confessed and brought it out of the darkness he loves for it to dwell in. The impurity that I felt was coming from sin that so many Christians get away with undercover. But I don’t want other teenage girls to go through the pain that I had to go through to learn all this. That’s why I’m sharing it.
We are living in a world that idolizes sexuality when we as Christians are called to praise purity.
If you’re unmarried, or if you’ve never even been in a relationship, and in a place of wondering “how far is too far,” whatever you’re thinking about doing is probably too far. Everyone has different standards of where they feel impure in a relationship, so I can’t give you an answer to that question, but I can tell you that the more of yourself you keep pure until marriage, the more beautiful and rewarding your marriage will be.
And if you’ve already given your whole self or parts of yourself away like I have, know that it’s not too late. Don’t listen to Satan’s voice saying, “You’ve already gone too far, you might as well not try to change now,” because he is a liar and he wants you to be stuck in sin. Jesus Christ has the power to wash you clean and make you completely pure all over again. Ask him for his help. Reach out to me. I would love to walk that journey with you because I’ve been there, and I know it’s not easy.
I’ll be honest, it’s still uncomfortable for me to type these words and make public the biggest sin I’ve struggled with for the past few years, but I’m scared that if I don’t say it, no one will, and it sure does need to be said.
I just want to end with one of my favorite verses on this subject:
1 Thessalonians 4:3-5 says, “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God.”
P.S. I’ll be spending the next year digging deeper into what it means and looks like to be pure in every area of my life, and hopefully I’ll be sharing some tidbits of information with you all along the way, but please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions about relationships, purity, or your walk with God. I am here and ready to listen, pray, and offer advice.
My email is: firstname.lastname@example.org