I’d like to say that I’m writing this having reached the goal I made for myself when I was a little girl in Sunday school after first hearing about how chastity pleases God. I wish I had made it to my wedding day a without any prior sexual encounters.
But unfortunately, that’s not my story. And I learned the hard way why God’s intention in creating sex was for it to occur solely between a married man and woman.
You see, I had always understood this in theory—but until I experienced the other side—sex contrary to God’s design—did I really get why He gave sex those seemingly strict boundaries we often wished didn’t exist. It is my hope that in sharing this bit of my story, one I’d much rather blot out of my history, you may be provided with some hope if you’ve had similar experiences, encouragement if you’re trapped in shame from sexual sin, and most importantly—a reminder that God’s promises of renewal and redemption apply to you—even amidst your brokenness.
Guarded, determined, innocent, yet naive: the words to describe me when I met a guy at work a few years ago. He soon became a friend of mine and I felt very safe around him, primarily because he was no threat to my heart. He wasn’t my type and I never gave dating him a serious thought. So because he posed no threat, my guard slowly came down and we learned more about one another, our friendship grew, and soon he began doting over me and telling me I was the type of girl he only dreamed of finding.
I didn’t have romantic feelings for him, but what I did have was an older man who adored me, wanted to take care of me, and was emotionally connected to me—and I liked those things. Blinded then, I didn’t realize he was filling years of voids in my heart caused by my absent father. We began dating. For the first few months it remained a secret, as I knew my family and friends would disapprove of my choices.
I lived in some disillusioned reality that I could make decisions in my dating life that may not be “best” for me, but when it came down to it—I could still say no to sex, and protect what really mattered. But in hindsight, part of “guarding your heart” involves guarding your decisions—even the initial decisions as you enter a relationship.
I never once stopped to check my motivations, the condition of my heart, the broken areas in me that needed healing and attention—those were easier to mask and toss aside under the excitement of being desired.
In the blur of what doesn’t even feel like a relationship as I recall it now, time progressed and I proceeded blindly until one night an experience—a traumatic “wake up call”—changed things. In the comfort of my own room, a prior place of safety to me—I found myself helpless under the weight of this man forcing himself on me. I wondered if my repeated “no’s” were even going into his ears.
I questioned, for the first time, if my sexual purity would remain safe— if I would make it down the aisle on my wedding day chaste and “untarnished.” My stomach knotted and visible tears dripped down my cheeks as I rolled my head to the side and wished for any escape from the man who was about to steal my most coveted treasure. My refutes were unheard, my tears unnoticed, my feelings disregarded. I was not the one in control of my own body.
Two decades of sexual preservation, a gift for my husband, now eroded within seconds. Surely, I remember thinking, this is not what God had in mind when He created sex.
I wish I could say this experience awakened me to the reality of this toxic relationship and ended right then. Unfortunately—I was entangled, and this traumatic experience repeated itself again before I had a friend sit me down and speak some hard truth to me about my situation. He didn’t know what all was going on—but I believe God worked through my friend and within an hour of our lunch conversation, my blinders fell.
I ended the relationship that night and moved on with my life—believing for the next 15 months that I had personally sinned against God by engaging in sex in a way I knew wasn’t right.
The shame was too much, especially for a girl who most people respected as a role model and leader in the church. To cope, I accepted the blame, learned how to manage the shame, and buried the rest in the deep walls of a hardened, untrusting heart.
About six months ago, I was shown just how much God cares about the healing and restoration of His children. This experience resurfaced into my consciousness and I started to question what actually happened those nights, still having told no one. I began therapy and as I retold the details of one of these encounters, my therapist uttered the words that shook me— “What you just described—that’s rape.”
Rape? It took me over a month to even verbalize the word. Rape is what happens in dimly lit alleys in bad parts of town when an unaware girl is attacked by some strange creep of a man. Rape happens to promiscuous girls, girls who dress a certain way, seek certain attention…or at least that’s what culture and society had taught me.
And what relief did I find in being raped, even if that was the case? “Rape victim” isn’t a pretty term to have attached to your name. It was still easier for me to blame myself for my choices and think I must have done something to deserve what happened to me. But— that was not what God desired for me.
God desired to restore me. To show me who He says that I am. To show me more of who He is—and that’s not a “one strike” God, but a God of second chances.
Regardless of my experiences—and yours, by our own choices or not, God cares about setting us free from the lies of shame and condemnation. It should be enough for us to believe God has forgiven us—but often we continue blaming ourselves, as though what we think about our past experiences carries more weight than what God thinks.
God meets us where we are, seeking to heal our broken wounds and restore our hearts. He is the God who makes “all things new.” All things—that includes our own bad choices, our mess ups, our mistakes, or the scars of being violated against our permission. If you’ve had sexual experiences that have deeply hurt your heart, my heart breaks for you. I know your pain, and also the restoration God can provide to you in the middle of the mess.
My prayer for you is that you’ll invite God to show you this for yourself—that you may experience the true freedom from blame and shame Christ died to give us.
Sexual violence is never your fault and if you or somebody you know have experienced sexual violence and you want to seek services please contact RAINN (rape abuse incest national
Network) at 1.800.656.HOPE and they will hook you up with a crisis counsellor in your area.
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