Late last year I decided to write an e-book based on a blog series on AllySpotts.com on physical boundaries in dating relationships called Asking All The Wrong Questions: Why Christians Are Waiting For Marriage For Sex. This week I have decided to give away my e-book for free. Below is a sample chapter — where I share my story. Let me know what you think. –Allison Vesterfelt.
I used to think that being single was awesome because I didn’t have to worry about anyone but me.
In some ways, I was right.
Then I met Darrell. We started dating. And really quickly I began to realize that it isn’t really fair to say that my single life was all about me. In fact, the decisions I made before I met him affected someone other than me, someone who I didn’t even know existed at the time was was making them.
There are some decisions I made as a single woman that I wish I wouldn’t have made so flippantly. I wish I would have realized that the decisions I was making in my single life were decisions that would one day impact my husband.
I grew up in church and heard the messages about “Waiting for Marriage” from the time I was young. I was part of the “True Love Waits” generation and read books like I Kissed Dating Goodbye and When God Writes Your Love Story.
I even went on a retreat with my youth group where I started writing letters to my future husband. Between the ages of 15 & 18 I wrote a few hundred letters and kept them in a box under my bed.
During late high school and college I decided I didn’t really want anything to do with God anymore. I was sick of all the rules I had to follow and I just wanted to hang out and have fun.
It was a slow change at first. I would kiss guys and make out with them, that sort of thing. What I was doing wasn’t that big of a deal (or so I told myself) It was just kissing. Right?
When I got to college I started drinking and that changed everything. I never made good decisions while I was drinking but at least I got to use alcohol as an excuse. I partied and hooked up with guys.
I acted like I was having fun living the “college life” but it never made me feel as good as I thought it would.
Especially after the fact.
Here’s the thing. My story doesn’t get any “worse” from there. No stories of rape or pregnancy or STDs. Pretty typical “college girl” type things as far as the world is concerned, right?
I was just really, really broken and lonely.
I started dating a guy who said he loved me, and pretty soon we were having sex too. I figured it was okay because we were in love; and love was what I had been missing before.
But when that relationship went down in flames, I felt as awful as I did before, the morning after a college party, hungover and used.
“How had I ended up here?” I wondered.
I had grown up in church. I had a box full of letters promising myself to my future husband. And I had been told since I was a little girl that I was “worth waiting for.”
- If I couldn’t wait until the wedding day, who could?
- If I had missed the message about sex before marriage was there hope for anyone?
- If waiting for marriage was really a message worth receiving why hadn’t I received it?
- Had I been waiting for the wrong reasons?
- What were the right reasons?
- What was I missing?
I would read the Bible or hear a pastor talk about “sexual immorality” and cringe a little because I knew I wanted to do things God’s way again but I didn’t know how. I couldn’t even explain why I felt that way. It just felt right.
So I re-committed myself to purity. I wasn’t really sure I deserved it and I wasn’t sure how to do it but I knew I wanted to.
It didn’t come naturally.
I would set rules and boundaries for myself, cross them, and get disappointed and depressed. After making mistakes, I would set stricter boundaries to safeguard myself.
Even strict boundaries were no match for the insecurity and loneliness I felt. I would do just about anything I could to get attention. I kept messing up again and again and again.
Finally, I gave up. I isolated myself. I turned down dates when they came my way. I was friends with guys, but rarely more than that, because I knew that if I let it go beyond friendship I was in danger of making the same mistakes again.
I thought I was doing a pretty good job of being faithful to my future husband.
But looking back I realize how much I was just managing my sin.
Here were the real problems with my decision to “wait for marriage for sex.”
1. I didn’t understand what I was waiting for. I knew I wanted to “wait for marriage for sex” but I wasn’t sure exactly why. I had heard about it a lot, and it sounded right to me. It even felt right. But I hadn’t really decided for myself that it was the right thing to do. When it came time to make a decision in the moment, my conviction wasn’t strong enough to keep me from doing what felt good in the moment.
2. I put myself in dumb situations. I let friendships with guys get really murky and it gave room for my insecurities to grow. I dated guys and let their actions toward me dictate my value. I acted in ways that supported the the broken picture of my value.
3. I didn’t believe that real love existed for me. I didn’t see myself as valuable enough to wait for the real, lasting life-giving kind of love. I was desperate to be loved so I would take whatever I could get.
4. Sex was my boundary. Everything up to sex was fair game, which meant I was constantly waking up a desire that couldn’t be satisfied completely. Arousing a powerful desire doesn’t make it easier to keep it at bay for a time. It makes it more difficult. It’s like trying to keep a giant boulder from rolling downhill.
5. I misunderstood the purpose of sex. I thought the purpose of sex was feeling good and being intimate with a person felt good to me, even if I wasn’t married. I didn’t realize what was actually happening – that it was creating a unifying bond between me and another person. Each time I created that bond and broke it, I experienced tons of unnecessary pain.
6. Sex had the opposite effect that I wanted. Part of why I wanted sex was that I was really lonely. But sex outside a healthy boundary just left me feeling more lonely than ever, which sent me looking for sex all over again.