Thursday, May 19, 2011

purity vs. abstinence, part 2 (the mistake)

I broke up with Casey in the end of June 2010. We talked about a possible reconciliation, but i just couldn't bring myself to want it. I wanted to want it, because i wanted to be right about him. I wanted to believe that i had been right to trust him and to keep holding on to the relationship for so long, despite everything that should have made me run. But i was done.

Then i went to the wedding of the couple i mentioned in the last post. At the wedding, i talked to "Theo". Theo and i had a lot of mutual friends, and we had had a few classes together. He was bright and attractive and musically talented, and had a great sense of humor. I didn't have a crush on him or anything, and i had never even been attracted to him. I just acknowledged the fact that he was good looking. But i had always felt that if we ever spent any time together, we would be good friends. We had a lot in common, but we had never really hung out.

At the wedding, we hung out and really hit it off. At the reception, we hung out some more, and it was awesome. We were the only two people not dancing, and we sat together at my table and chatted about dancing, and school, and past relationships. At one point, i said, "It's funny. Being single at a wedding is supposed to make you feel melancholy, but i really don't. I mean, it would be nice to have someone, but i'm SO relieved to be out of my last relationship that i'm actually really happy to be single."

Theo laughed and gave me a significant look and said, "Oh, believe me, I know EXACTLY what you mean." I knew enough about Theo's last relationship to interpret this remark. He and "Ruth" had been off-and-on for two years. They would date for a few months, break up for a few days or weeks, and get back together. Everyone knew that their relationship was toxic and that they made each other miserable, but somehow they couldn't seem to figure out how to stay broken up. However, this last breakup had lasted for a month or so, and it really looked like they were done. And now, Theo was saying (or at least strongly implying) that he was glad and relieved to be done.

That night, i went to Theo's apartment with a bunch of our friends. We watched movies until the wee hours, and slowly, everyone else went to bed until it was just me and Theo. And then we had sex.

It really was a very sudden and unexpected thing. We were watching movies, and then we were secretly holding hands, and then we were groping each other under the covers, and then he popped my cherry. It was brief and awkward and uncomfortable and not the least bit romantic or hot or enjoyable. At least not for me. He did at least finish (unlike me), and then he cleaned me up and went to sleep on the floor, allowing me to keep the bed.

I didn't sleep at all that night. I lay awake, staring at the ceiling, trying to figure out what had happened and how. I was even more confused about sexual morality than i had been before, and had no idea what this would mean for my future.

I spent the next several months dealing with the consequences of my actions. This included taking Plan B. I had to buy it myself, because Theo never asked if i was on birth control, or checked up on me in any way, except for one conversation after Ruth found out, where we talked in very broad terms about how we felt emotionally. The consequences also included confessing my sin to a few different people, because while i was certain that i had sinned, i didn't know which part of what had happened was the sinful part. Was it because i wasn't in love with him? Was it because we weren't dating? Was it because it was impulsive and we didn't use protection or pray about it beforehand?

One of the hardest consequences to face was the fact that Theo decided to get back together with Ruth. And he didn't tell her about the multiple girls (that's right, it wasn't just me) that he had slept with while they were broken up. And before you start quoting Ross Geller and debating about the wisdom and morality of Theo's decision, you have to at least agree that he should tell her that he slept around while they were broken up/on a break/whatever, rather than giving her the impression that he had been totally faithful and Christlike (which is what he did). So i had to be the one to break the news to Ruth. I have never seen that look in someone's eyes before, and i never want to again. (For those wondering, Theo and Ruth are engaged to be married this summer.)

This ruined my budding friendship with Ruth and complicated some of my other friendships. Even now, nine months after the fact, i keep finding people who know about what happened and have changed their opinion of me because of it. And i know that there are still some people who don't know. My parents don't know. One of my sisters doesn't know. John knows, but if he's not T.O.M., that means that there is still at least one boyfriend to tell. And even when i find those wonderful people (happily, this is most of my friends) who do not judge me, but rather accept my mistake with love and understanding, it still signals a change in their view of me. I am not the person they thought i was.

But during all of this confusion, pain, and doubt, God was there. He protected me, and kept His hands upon me, allowing me to deal with the many consequences and layers of what had happened one at a time. I had to deal with changed friendships, i had to deal with buying Plan B, i had to deal with ostracism and awkwardness, but i was able to take it one step at a time.

The last thing i dealt with was the question of morality. One day, i was walking to work, and i was praying. And all of a sudden, i was overwhelmed with a sense of sadness and shame. God was walking beside me, and He nodded sadly and said, "Yes. You have sinned."

I apologized, and asked Him to forgive me. I didn't want Him to be angry with me. And this is where God displayed His true awesomeness and the depth of His love and forgiveness: He put His arms around me and said, "I'm not mad. I'm just sad. I wanted you to have something better."

He then explained it to me in terms that i could understand. Imagine that i wanted to give you a present. I wanted to give you a chair. I had your friends help me take secret measurements. I took copious notes on the way that you sit, on what you look for in a chair, on your weight and height and design preferences. I chopped down a tree and started cutting and carving, custom-making the perfect chair for you. I wanted you to have something that would last you a lifetime, something that would be both beautiful and useful, something that would fit your body and desires perfectly. (Now the sexual metaphor is starting to make sense, right?) At last, it was done. I gave it a final polish and brought it to your house. And you said, "Oh, this is perfect! We are having a bonfire tonight and I was afraid we would run out of wood." And then you threw it on the fire.

Now, i'm not God. So chances are i'd be pretty pissed initially. But ultimately, i would be disappointed, because what i wanted was for you to have this perfect chair. I wanted you to have something that would last you a lifetime, that would be useful, that would give you pleasure, and that would fulfill your needs.

It's not like you just threw it away or stuck it in the attic, right? You got use out of my gift. It gave you pleasure. It fulfilled your needs. But you did not get as much use out of it as you would have if you had used it the way i intended you to use it. You did not get as much pleasure out of it as i had intended. And it did not fulfill as many of your needs as deeply as it would have. And i am sad, because i wanted you to have something more. I gave you something beautiful, but you didn't see it for what it was. You took my incredible gift and you ignored it, and because of that, you missed out on the wonderful thing i intended for you to have.

Moving away from the chair metaphor, God is amazing. So after we cried and hugged it out, He gave me a second gift: the rest of my life. He reminded me that i still get to have amazing sex in the future. I'll never get my first time back again, but i can still have the sex that God wanted me to have. My sin was in ignoring the gift i should have had, but i was able to redeem myself by recommitting to that gift.

I bought myself a new purity ring. Not an abstinence ring, but a purity ring. I committed myself to purity, to sex as God intended it, to love and fidelity and lifelong pleasure and joy.

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