[Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Hannah Anderson. Today Hannah is sharing her personal modesty story — and I commend her for that. Everyone has different modesty standards today; let’s face it, there’s no cut and dry rules. Hannah felt led to …
Tag: young adults
[Guest post by Kunbi Ayo-Okanlawon: I found Kunbi’s post about the unhealthy fitness trends on social media very timely and extremely important for our readers. Remember, take good care of yourself!] “Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life …
[Guest post by Arleen Spenceley: If you’re an unmarried Diva, this article will give you some pretty hard to argue with advice. Arleen’s writing on chastity is not something you read everyday. Even if you are married like me, this is something we should pass on to our friends, daughters, nieces and granddaughters.]
“There’s something I need to tell you,” I said to a man on his couch in a Tampa apartment. He — then in his late 20’s and interested in me — nodded, and waited for me to say it. I, then in my early 20’s, breathed in before I did: “I’m saving sex for marriage.”
I breathed out while he silently processed what I had said. Then he turned his face toward mine and spoke:
“If you want to wait, I’m willing.”
But waiting had never been part of his world. He agreed to abstain from sex with me because he knew that if he didn’t, I wouldn’t date him. He agreed to behave as if he practiced chastity, but was only bound to nonmarital abstinence by my prohibition of nonmarital sex.
He respected my boundary, until he didn’t — until he mocked my decision to save sex and chalked it up to “immaturity,” in effort to manipulate me into changing my mind. He said “no guy will wait that long,” and begged me to break my promise to practice chastity. Instead, I broke up with him. I learned a lot in that relationship, including this:
I’d never date a guy again who was only “willing” to save sex.
Because I don’t want a man who acts chastely; I want a man who is chaste. We who practice chastity have apprenticeships in self-mastery. We promise to govern our appetites instead of being governed by them. A man who is “willing” to save sex in order to date me isn’t a man who governs his appetites. He’s a man who makes chaste girlfriends do that for him. If I date him, I govern two sets of appetites, which makes me an enabler: he doesn’t have to practice self-mastery if I master him.
Because a man who doesn’t practice chastity doesn’t define sex the same way I do. We who practice chastity believe sex is a sacred, physical sign of the the commitment spouses made to each other on the altar where they were married, ultimately designed to bond them and to make babies. A man who is “willing” to save sex — but would have nonmarital sex if he had my permission — does not by default define sex the way I do. How can we be united by sex in marriage if we can’t agree on the purpose sex serves?
Because a man who would forsake virtue (his or mine) if only I gave him permission is a man whose standards are too low. A man who is “willing” to save sex is a man whose choice to abstain from nonmarital sex likely isn’t underlain by much other than the absence of my consent. He’d be as content — or more — dating a woman who doesn’t practice chastity. But I don’t want to marry a man who settled for a chaste woman. I want a man who wants a chaste woman, who holds a high bar for me because he wants me to become the woman God designed me to be.
Because men are capable of more than the world around them says they are. “No guy will wait that long” is a lie, and boys who are taught that turn into men who believe it. But I hold up a higher bar than that for men because I think my future kids deserve a dad who can reach one, because I believe men can reach one, because I believe God created them able to do it.
Arleen Spenceley is author of forthcoming book Chastity is For Lovers: Single, Happy, and (Still) a Virgin, to be released by Ave Maria Press in Fall 2014. She works as a staff writer for the Tampa Bay Times and blogs at arleenspenceley.com. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in counseling, both from the University of South Florida. Follow @ArleenSpenceley on Twitter and click here to like her on Facebook.
This post originally appeared on arleenspenceley.com and was used with permission.
[Guest Post by Jenee Day: I honestly used to think gossiping was okay, even though I was a Christian. As I got older, I realized, like Jenee, gossip is not a harmless sin. Here’s why.] Today I contributed to the destruction of a relationship. Contributed …
[Guest Post by Jenifer Jernigan – Like all authors meet, we met through social media. I love her vulnerability, her voice, and the desperation behind her story. I am honored for Jenifer to share her story, and if you, like her, have felt like taking your life–you are not alone! I know her story is long but please read the whole thing. You will be blessed!]
The summer months found me serving as a youth intern in a local church, teaching, ministering, and loving on kids who became an important part of my life.
The fall semester ushered in months of studying through the Psalms in my Old Testament class and Paul’s Prison Epistles in New Testament class.
I was happy.
My heart was full.
I was in a good place.
But the heat of the summer months melted away to nothing, and the coolness of the crisp fall air blew through so very quickly. And there I was, in the dead of winter, broken, yet again, into a million pieces, heart cold and calloused, experiencing a death all its own.
We sat there, my friend and I, on the sidewalk outside the coffee shop, he numb from the icy-cold air, me numb from my shattered world. Coffee-shop music played in the background. Bells jingled each time the heavy glass door opened. People hurried in from the cold to warm their bodies with yummy deliciousness. They laughed and shrilled with glee. Some shared secrets and made grand plans. Others came to enjoy time alone away from the busyness of their lives.
It was almost like an out-of-body experience, if such a thing exists. I saw them all, the many who walked past. And I heard the music, the bell jingles, the laughter, and even the ahhs as the warmth of the patrons’ treats made its way into their bellies. Yet, at the exact same time, I saw absolutely nothing and heard not a whisper. I was lost in an ocean of broken dreams; a sea of emptiness enveloped me. And years of innocence lost, wrongs done, and wounds inflicted welled up inside me.
The minutes passed by and turned into hours, how many exactly, I have no idea. My friend was the first one to speak.
“Ya know,” he said, “God has a plan and reason for everything.”
Immediately I felt a fire burn deep within. Slowly I turned my head, looked straight into his eyes, and loudly whispered my rage. “Do not play the Jesus card with me! Do you understand me? Do not tell me everything has a purpose and a plan. Are you f#*&^*$ kidding me?”
I stood to my feet, pacing back and forth, heart beating hard and loud, like a thousand bass drums. “Don’t say that to me!” I screamed. “Don’t!”
People stopped dead in their tracks to gawk at my public display of brokenness and pain.
“I can’t do this!” I went on. “Do you know how bad this hurts? I can’t breathe. I can’t think. I can’t feel. Except . . . I feel everything. And my mind races. It wasn’t supposed to be this way. It wasn’t supposed to end like this. It wasn’t supposed to end at all!”
A madwoman walking is what I was. I mumbled. I screamed obscenities. I cried; no, I wailed in pain. I lashed out at my friend in unimaginable ways. He sat there, silent.
As I paced with fists clenched, the tears poured from my eyes. The pain, the ache, the emptiness inevitably forced me to my knees. My friend came to my side, trying to ease the burden, to lighten the load of pain that weighed me down because years of hurts and heartaches and things that should never happen to anyone had just broken me.
“Don’t touch me!” I shouted. “Don’t touch me! Please don’t touch me!” I cried uncontrollably, hugging my waist, my head lying against the gravel parking lot.
But my friend didn’t listen. He lifted me up from my puddle of pain so I could see into his eyes.
“I will play the Jesus card,” he said, “because it’s the winning card. And the pain you feel right now will one day subside. And you’ll be able to stand, victorious over this emptiness you feel.”
That was 1998. The pain I felt that cold winter night, the ache that left my heart empty, didn’t vanish in a few short days; it took years. Years of God working and me surrendering. Years of God healing and me accepting His healing and realizing there was purpose for my pain.
But I need you to know something; those years found me broken many more times by the weight of pains.
They also found me searching to be accepted. Searching to be loved. Searching to be heard. Searching for the real me. And my search led me from one unhealthy relationship to the next, from one bottle of alcohol to another, and from one shopping spree to the next door-buster sale. During those years I married and had my first child, but I still searched for more. My searching and pain dead-ended in a courtroom, with me uttering a word I never thought I’d utter: “Guilty.”
I then found myself in an extremely dark place for two years.
On a daily basis I contemplated taking my life; I’d attempted it years before, but this time I knew I wouldn’t fail. I emotionally disconnected from my daughter and husband; I felt nothing for them. I was out all hours of the night, driving dark roads, sitting in empty parking lots, hiding from the world because I was so very ashamed of what I’d become.
Driven face to the ground once again, like Paul, I had my own Damascus road experience. And once again my heart screamed out as tears poured from my eyes, God, I’m a mess. I’m a complete and utter failure. I’m stupid. I’m used up. I’m alone. I hate myself. And believe me when I tell You, You want nothing to do with me! I’m sure there are others far less complicated than me. Others who are better suited and much more deserving than me to be Your child.
My insides were jacked up. I’d been deeply wounded by others and myself. And my wounds were bleeding and festering and stunk to high heaven. I had absolutely nothing to offer God. There were no credentials to my name. No great accolades or endorsements to cause heads to turn my way. I was just a confused, shame-filled, broken-down girl.
But God had purpose for my pain.
The day God chose me and turned my insides upside down and right side out, the day He turned my unlikeliness into something extraordinary in His book, I was a hot mess. But today I stand changed from the inside out only because the Word of God has rocked me to the core, healing the wounds that left me empty and lonely. I stand brave, not fearful. I stand whole, not broken. For those of you who are hurting today, weighed down by an oversized load of pain, heartache, hurt, and complete emptiness, may I lay the Jesus card on the table and say to you, “God has a plan and reason for all your pain”?
It’s okay if you can’t see His plan and purpose right now through your pain; and it’s okay if you scream obscenities at me.
And while the perception may be that you’re “the perfect Jesus girl,” the reality may be that you’re standing in a very different, very wounded place this very moment. People may not see that, but Jesus does. It’s okay. You don’t have to be who others think you should be. It’s okay for you to feel your pain. But what’s not okay is for you to stay buried by it, broken down in a puddle of hurt and heartache.
The time will come, and for each of us it’s different, when you’ll have to look your friend Jesus in the face, choose to allow Him to lift you above the pain, and embrace the healing He offers. The day will come when you’ll have to lay it all at His feet and allow Him to carry the load of your heartache. Until that day comes, even if you’re only able to know this in your head, know that God is actively working, there is purpose for your pain, and one day, you’ll stand on the other side of it, sharing your grace story for His honor and glory.
Jenifer is a Bible teacher whose passion is to equip women to d.i.v.e. deeper into God’s Word, teaching them to study Scriptures for themselves. Her book, Dive Deeper, is a part of Thomas Nelson’s new InScribed Studies Collection. Visit with Jenifer at jeniferjernigan.com.
*Excerpt taken from Jenifer Jernigan’s new book, Dive Deeper: Finding Deep Faith Beyond Shallow Religion. (Thomas Nelson, March 2014. Used with permission.)
Leave a comment below to win a copy of Dive Deeper! Winner will be chosen at random on March 22.
[Guest Post by Laura – I appreciate how brave Laura is! This is the second time she has shared her story of rape on DevotionalDiva.com, and I love seeing how far she has come and how her story continues to encourage others. If you struggle with a bruised, broken, or shattered heart — be encouraged today!]
Bruised. I bruise easily.
Bruises seem to appear randomly on my knees or shins, and I can’t remember bumping into anything. To make matters worse, I can be a little klutzy. On the bright side, I’ve never broken a bone. But I’m fairly sure that a broken bone hurts exponentially more than a bruise. And just like bones and knees, our hearts can end up broken and bruised throughout our lives.
Perhaps it was naiveté, but I always thought that meeting someone, falling in love and getting married wouldn’t leave me bruised.
Maybe it was the relationship books that I read in high school and college, the ones that made it seem like if you followed God, everything would end up fairly wonderful, and the process would lack confusion and chaos. It didn’t take too long after college for me to realize that those books weren’t accurate.
But I still wanted it to be my story – a relationship without a bruised heart, no klutzy steps, no confusing words or actions. It would be my fairy tale.
Part of that fairy tale disappeared one night in South Africa when I was raped during a home invasion.
And a piece of my heart broke then as well. Suddenly the fairy tale seemed incredibly distant. Who would want to be in a relationship with me? Who would want to marry me? Eventually I reached a point where I could look in the mirror and tell myself that someone would, that I wasn’t too broken.
I still wanted the rest of my fairy tale to be perfect, however. So I was careful with my heart. Balancing hope and risk with reality and guardedness.
But I think I managed fairly well. It helped that I was living overseas, that there weren’t any guys interested in me.
And then there was a message.
Followed by a flurry of messages and flirting.
A few phone calls.
Then fewer messages.
No phone calls.
Followed by confusion and impatience.
Throughout the entire time there was lots of prayer. I was honest and brave. And while my heart wasn’t broken, it definitely came out bruised.
Once I admitted to myself and to God that I was bruised, that I wasn’t as strong as I thought I was, I felt relief. Relief in knowing that it was okay to be bruised, that it was okay to be hurt, that it was okay to not have a fairy tale ending. And now I focus on being open again, on not putting up walls, on trusting God’s plan.
I never wanted a bruised heart. I wanted the fairy tale. And I’m sure that many women would say the same thing.
But this bruise to my heart, which faded and eventually vanished, taught me a lot. About how sometimes the bruises in my life are more about the lessons learned and less about the bruise. About how I am partly responsible for how deep the bruise becomes and how long it lasts. About how important patience and waiting are when there is the potential for a relationship. About how I still struggle with high expectations. About how God doesn’t always answers my prayers the way I want Him to.
About how trusting God is far more important than seeking my own desires.
Question: What have your bruises taught you about God or about yourself?
God has given Laura a heart for teen and young adult girls, as well as a love for drinking coffee and living overseas, and she loves when all three of these come together. She currently lives in Ireland and writes regularly about life, ministry and healing on her blog http://chattingaboutlife.wordpress.com.
[Guest Post by Arlene Pellicane – I just love the question she asks because so many women ask it before getting married. Now that I AM married, I can honestly say she speaks the truth! Don’t be afraid to wrestling with this question yourself, and be …