God of X Chances
"I lost my virginity...what now?"
I felt hideous and disgusted as I stared at my reflection, but then, who am I to feel that way? I chose to go this direction, right?
From a young age, I robbed myself of innocence by my curiosity for relationships and sex. In kissing scenes, I would always try to sneak a peak. I thought "what's the big deal in seeing this? It's not like it's going to harm me." Yet, as I fed my curiosity and my ideas got fuller, my innocence has slowly slipped out of my being.
Fast forward to being a first year at university, I wanted to fit in with what the world showed as the relationship package: romance and sex.
And so I did.
What started off as an intimate and romantic gesture has grown into an appetite for lustful behaviour. Since then, I have played a game of tug-of-war with temptation.
Shame became my closest companion. Whenever friends talked about relationships and have kept their virginity, I would always try to be as invisible as possible. It always felt like one uttered word would reveal the shame that I have been trying to hide all these years.
So when I asked myself, "what now?" I was faced with a cross-roads: either I continue life lived in shame or decide to turn things around and surrender it to God. Yes, I was (and am) a Christian then. I prayed, I worshipped, I read my bible, and I knew I shouldn't be in this mess (right? Because I should know better?).
In desperation to be freed from shame, I decided to hand it all to God. I completely gave that battle - all those nitty, gritty secrets - to God with a cry in my heart, "take the malicious weeds from your garden that is me."
As I let God pluck away at my shame one weed at a time, God has shown me His love and grace. He made me pure again.
I know you might be thinking, "that is physically impossible. Once you've lost your virginity, it's gone forever." I thought the same too. It didn't happen all in one go but as you read on, let it be a truth for you that He will and He will do it all over again.
Through the years of weeding out, He has connected my teetering thoughts with His own - his secure "But God," thoughts:
1. I thought it was too late to come back [but God]...
Ashamed of everything I have done, I thought of myself as the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32). I feared that the closer I got to the Father, the more He would psychoanalyse my life. Yet, when He saw me carrying what's left of my broken pieces, He didn't even look at the shame and guilt. He saw a heart that is willing to change.
With open arms, He welcomed me to a gold table setting with my name on it; to my true home. He reminded me that He loves and accepts me wherever I am and whatever state I am in. He makes sure that I won't stay in the state I am in either.
I thought I was too far gone to be appointed and far too dirty to be anointed. Yet, as He slowly washed off the dirt I was covered with, He threw out my old ragged-dirty-ripped identity and clothed me with a new [loved-valued-appointed-and-anointed] dress.
"But the Lord said to Samuel, "Don't judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn't see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."
(1 Samuel 16:7 NLT)
2. I thought I was alone in my struggles [but God]...
"The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure."
(1 Corinthians 10:13 NLT)
It's funny how God orchestrates everything! In the midst of disconnection, God brought people - who are now my trustworthy friends - that have also been through the same thing. He showed me that if He brought them out of shame and despair, He is faithful to me to do the same. He has given me friends to confide in, friends who are available and willing to give their encouragement. It is true what the bible says in James 5:16 (NLT):
"Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.
The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results."
With them in the picture, the walk to purity have been easier compared to when I was doing it all by myself. I will not say that temptations have suddenly disappeared in a *snap* but for every round of temptation presenting itself, the road out has become clearer and clearer.
3. I used my freedom for selfish reasons, I didn't think I deserved that again [but God]...
I thought to myself "I'm at University. That means freedom to do anything." So I did. But for every time I had intercourse, the more lust became a being and love just became an idea. Since then, it has robbed me of the joy of intimacy with my partner beyond sex.
In my journey, God crossed my path with the verse in 1 Corinthians 10:23 (NLT):
"You say, 'I am allowed to do anything'--but not everything is good for you.
You say, 'I am allowed to do anything'--but not everything is beneficial."
He made me realise that my freedom is not a right to do whatever I want, but a privilege to live a life to glorify Him and walk with His purpose. As much as the world puts all the options including the temptations on my plate, I need to choose carefully what I will ingest from the menu. God continues to teach me that sex is not a right, but a privilege to treasure until the time is right.
God redeemed me (over and over again), but I complained "...then why do my thoughts still sabotage me?" Then I was reminded that 'Whatever a man sows, he will reap in return.' I may not have become pregnant at 19, but the haunting lustful desires are the consequences of my actions and decisions (Galatians 5:19-21).
If there is one thing that you should take from my testimony, it's this: the temporary satisfaction of sex outside the marital lines is not worth the lifetime of guilt that you carry around in hiding.
4. If I asked who I am, I would say "shame and guilt" [but God]...
With shame covering every being of me, I compare myself to the woman by the well (John 4). In that season, I avoided every heartfelt "how are you?" I prayed that no one would look beyond my smile in case they saw the pain that had made a home in my heart. I wore guilt as a clothing. But God has reminded me that I am not my shame, my guilt and my past. He reminded me that I am loved and valued.
He reminded me that I am pure. Whenever I doubted that truth with "who said?" God replied with four words, "because I said so." Time and time again, He reminded me that ultimately I am pure in His eyes, not by my works, but by His grace and according to the holy life He called me to. God made me realise that living holy is not about being perfect in every aspect of life. It means I am set apart for a purpose that only through Him and by Him can be manifested.
"For God saved us and called us to live a holy life. He did this, not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan from the beginning of time--to show us his grace through Christ Jesus."
(2 Timothy 1:9 NLT)
5. Every time I fell again, I thought that was the last straw [but God]...
God is willing to walk through your battles with you. He is not a Father who expects you to get everything done in one go. As I walked through the journey from lust to liberation, He held my hands like we were dancing - my right with His, and His left with mine. Like waltzing, all I could do was look down to where I am going so I wouldn't trip, but He slowly taught to look at Him and let Him take the lead. I did trip up a couple of times, yet He still said "Let's do this again. This time look at my face, not your feet."
Time and time again, He has given me chances to get back up, pull myself together and start over. They said that who God is to you is a reflection of the season that you are going through. Well for me, in that season and until now, He is a God not of two, three or ten chances, but a God of X chances.
Even though I have given away my virginity, God is reminding me that the purity He continues to fill me each and every day away from sexual immorality--both in actions and thoughts--is a gift that I need to protect. The change had to start in my heart and my mind. Now, relationships have become less and less of a pursuit for lustful pleasure, but a pursuit of God's love and grace, which creates intimacy without sex.
In all honesty, the battle to overcome your lustful desires (especially when you have fed your lust countless times) is a gruesome one. I learnt that God isn't asking you to go 'cold turkey' and expect you to change in an instant. He is asking you to walk with Him. He is asking you, "how about let's do this together? Take my hand in yours and together, we will get through this." Not just you, but we.
You are never too messed up, never too dirty, never too far or too unlovable for the God who has created you, who loves you, and who is pleased with you.