I Survived My 20s – Consequences
[Guest Post by Tish] – As a young girl, I dreamed of the day that my very own Prince Charming would sweep me off my feet.
I never once imagined that at age 29, I would still be single and dealing with the consequences of Herpes.
I grew up in a Christian home, memorizing verses from the Bible, practicing hymns on the piano, and dressing up in my Sunday best for Church every week. I believed in God, even felt His calling once in a while, but I was soon to learn how shallow my faith and understanding of His power was.
The chinks in my armor started to show when I left home for college.
I was thrown into this world of fun and abandonment, of apparent freedom and a myriad of choices. Suddenly, all the don’t-do-this and don’t-do-that’s of Christianity didn’t seem so appealing and rational anymore.
Why should I stop myself when everyone else was having fun, right?
So I walked away from the Church and into bars where men would pay me outrageous compliments just to get me into their beds.
I stifled my beliefs and started adopting my friends’ and the world’s philosophies. It did take a while for me to shake off my virgin sensibilities. After all, I had for the longest time promised to save myself for marriage.
In an effort to live like Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte, Miranda–and every other modern woman in TV sitcoms or romantic comedies–I allowed myself to be a one-night stand, an all-around fun yet mean-time girl, getting emotionally attached to men who are detached and distant. Doesn’t being empowered mean that we as women take what we want from men, screw and get screwed, then gripe about the terrors of new-age dating to our girlfriends in the most spectacular shoes?
I thought I was invincible but I was wrong.
Last year after hooking up with a friend, I got very sick.
Lying down on the doctor’s examination bed and seeing her shake her head, I felt a sense of impending doom. Something was really wrong. When she gave me the diagnosis, Herpes Simplex Virus (**HSV), I tried so hard to just keep breathing and maintain my composure but eventually broke down in tears once she said,
“For the rest of your life.”
The next few days brought pain, both physical and emotional, that I’ve never felt before.
The pain was so overwhelming that I couldn’t urinate without crying. Sleeping was hard as well because of the pain and the oh-so-many questions that were racing through my head.
How could this have happened to me?
How could I have been so stupid?
The physical pain and emotional struggle brought me to my knees in prayer to God.
I felt like God was punishing me for my mistakes and so I started going back to Sunday service and reading the Bible. Eventually, my first outbreak cleared and life started getting back to normal. While for the most part I felt that I was on the right path, there was still a sense of something missing.
It wasn’t until I confessed everything to a missionary friend that things started to become clearer.
I had been corresponding with this guy for more than a year after meeting him at a mutual friend’s party. I liked him because he was different from the men I usually hung out with and was very responsive to all the questions I had about Christianity.
I was developing feelings for him and despite secretly hoping that we could be more than just friends, I thought that my struggle with faith was too big a hurdle to cross. I didn’t plan it but as I was sharing with him what happened to me, I ended up completely breaking down in front of him.
I, who until that point kept my emotions in check when telling a friend my story, became this babbling, incoherent mess of a girl, totally open and vulnerable to him; even vocalizing my greatest fear out loud, that no one could love me anymore because of this.
He responded by telling me, “I forgive you. We’ve all made mistakes and it’s in the past now. This doesn’t change the way I feel about you, in fact, I think I like you even more now.”
Then he kissed me.
Instead of ending up all giddy and happy about what happened, I was confused and even more shattered than I felt before. Why?
Because I didn’t believe that anyone could know that ugly side of me and still like me. But this guy seemed to. So why was it so hard to accept?
A word started reverberating a lot throughout the sermons during Sunday service as well as the sermons I was listening to on my iPod… Grace.
And something in me just clicked.
I finally understood in my heart what Christ’s death on the cross and His resurrection meant for me as a sinner. Suddenly, even just thinking about God’s love for me made me tear up even in public.
I was clearly, a mess.
But I was a happy mess because despite all the confusion, I felt God’s overflowing love for me and His peace taking over my life.
God doesn’t wait for us to be worthy of love. He doesn’t wait for us to clean up our mess or get our act together.
No, His love comes first. It’s not the kind of love that waits for us to get better. It’s a love that takes the form of forgiveness. Forgiveness that comes to the real you and says,
“I know you and I love you.”
If you’re wondering if things worked out with the guy, it didn’t.
But I will be forever grateful to him because by showing me his grace, it allowed me to understand and accept the greatest love I would’ve otherwise missed out on.
I think it’s normal for people not to stop and think first about the consequences of what they’re about to do before doing it.
I didn’t and look what happened.
But let’s never forget that we serve a Sovereign God. One who knows us and has a plan for each and every one of us no matter how broken we are or how ugly our choices may have been.
I don’t know what God has in store for me in my 30s given how eventful my 20s have been but I rest calmly in His most gracious love.
So much so that when a friend assures me that someone would still love me despite my disease, I smile, look up to the heavens and think,
“Someone already does.”
Tish is from the Philippines. She enjoys reading, singing out loud to Broadway songs, taking pictures with vintage film cameras and hanging out with friends.
**Some facts on HSV
1) There are two types of HSV – HSV type 1 which is predominantly oral (the common cold sore) and HSV type 2 which is predominantly genital. However, they can actually interchange. There are an increasing number of people getting GHSV1 from oral sex. I am one.
2) Worldwide rates of HSV infection are between 65% and 90% with more people infected with HSV1.
3)People may not know they are infected because it is possible to have the virus but never have an outbreak with visible sores.
4)HSV is spread by direct contact (skin-to-skin) and cannot be passed by touching objects or through the air.
5)Test for HSV is not included in the standard STD panel. It’s a separate test.
6)Currently, there is no cure for HSV but the best way to prevent an outbreak is to lead a healthy lifestyle.