A young woman shares how her rationalizations caused her to enter the deepest, darkest valley she'd ever known...but also allowed her to cry out to God for help.
"We planned to be together forever. I was sure that made sex okay."
I started dating John in high school. It was the first serious relationship either of us had ever had, and we were absolutely crazy about one another. We decided pretty early on that we were made for each other, and everyone in our small town agreed. They all thought we'd end up getting married and living happily ever after. I thought so too.
John and I had our lives planned out. After high school we'd go to the same college; then, as soon as we graduated we'd get married. We knew what kind of house we'd live in and the cars we'd drive. We even decided how many kids we'd have and what we'd name them. Both of us were convinced that nothing could ever come between us.
That's how we justified our physical relationship. When we started having sex, we figured it was okay since we knew we would marry each other eventually. When we went away to college, we used the same reasoning to justify our living together.
Deep down I knew what we were doing was wrong. I could see how far we'd drifted from the habits we'd practiced in the beginning. When we first started dating, we made a big deal about making sure God was the center of our relationship. We went to church together and encouraged one another to read the Bible and pray daily. But by the time we got to college, we had pretty much stopped going to church. We never opened the Bible, and we only prayed when there was a crisis. I told myself everything would change as soon as we got married.
Then came Jessica. I had met her before and knew John studied with her occasionally, but I never thought much about it. I could hardly believe it when he told me there was more than studying going on between them. He said his love for me had "faded" and that we had no future. Period. No discussion. Just like that, it was over.
All the dreams we had shared were shattered. He expected me to just forget about him, about the plans we'd made and the six years we'd spent together. I was shocked. I felt numb and confused. I walked through the next few weeks in a zombie state, trying to make sense of what had happened. I thought I knew John. I thought I could trust him.
That time in my life was the deepest and darkest valley I have ever known. It was also, strangely enough, a time of great hope. I say that because in the midst of my despair, Jesus found me. Until then, I had never known what it meant to need him. I had never felt so empty and broken, so hurt and alone. When I cried out to God, he came and wrapped his arms around me.
I'm forever grateful for God's unbelievable grace. Through it, he continues to heal me. But even so, I still bear the scar of a deep wound. I heard someone compare premarital sex to pieces of paper being glued together and pulled apart. I can't think of a better way to describe it. John and I were joined together like that. When the relationship ended, we were ripped apart, and I left part of myself with him that I can never get back. I'm talking about more than my virginity. I was joined to him emotionally and spiritually, too.
I'm still struggling with guilt for all I gave away. I don't even really want to date. I'm partly afraid of the rejection I might experience when I tell a guy about my past, but more than that I feel like it wouldn't be fair to him, especially if he's saved himself for marriage. It breaks my heart to know I can't undo the past.
I tell my story because I want to keep others from making the same mistake. I'm a living testimony of how unexpected nightmares can come true. Please believe me: the pain is real, and it's not worth it.
* As told to Amber Penny. All names have been changed.