Although we went to church and my parents were basically good people with solid values, they somehow never got around to encouraging me to think about sexual values. And I never decided what I wanted for myself in terms of sex, either. I gave my virginity away to my first boyfriend at 18. I remember thinking, “Oh, wow. I can’t take that back. I’ve ruined my life.” And for a few years, it really seemed like I did. I made a series of bad choices and got a point where I couldn’t even look myself in the mirror.

One day, I went to my friend’s church for  a youth event. I sat in the back while her pastor preached about sexual purity, and all I could think was that no good man would ever want me and Jesus probably didn’t really love me, either. It was years before I could sit in a church without thinking about my sexual sin and feeling like I was contaminating all the good people in the sanctuary with me.

I will always regret that I came to my husband with sexual experience. I did not feel I deserved a good relationship with a good man. My husband and I had premarital sex, and part of that was because I’d never developed the skills and strength needed to resist sexual temptation.

Sometimes I wonder if my sexual background contributed to my years of refusing. After several years of feeling safe and loved in my marriage, was I finally feeling a sense of the ability to control my sexual life after having felt out of control for years before? I will never know. And looking back, I wonder if I resented my husband for not cherishing me enough to wait. My sexual sin before marriage planted doubt in my mind that took decades to root out.

The fact that we are still married is a testament to a good man and a good God. Getting used to living with another person and learning to cleave to each other rather than my parents were hard enough. Instead of just being able to focus on the work at hand, I was busy dragging all my baggage along with me for years.

At 19, I thought the consequences of my sins would all be spiritual. I thought God might not love me enough to take me into heaven after all. As I settled into a life as a wife and mother and we became part of first one church community and then another, I finally realized that I was truly forgiven. And I learned to forgive myself for my past.

Despite forgiveness, sin has consequences. I had experiences that shamed me and hurt me. I didn’t know how to develop a good relationship with a decent young man.  I contracted HPV, which led to a couple cancer scares in my 40’s. I will always have my shameful memories. I will always know that I was not strong enough to do something important.

Part of God’s wonderful gift to me is that He has found ways to use my experiences for His greater good as I talk with young women and support them through confronting their own mistakes. More important, He has used this as an object lesson to me that no one is beyond redemption and value.

We are all greater than our deepest sins. We are children of God.

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9 Thoughts on “Once Upon a Time

  1. I am a firm believer in chastity before marriage, that being said, in my religious community I am afraid that the message we send to young people to be chaste before marriage is often confusing and ends up ruining healthy sexual relationships afterwards. We need to due tell our youth to value chastity because the gift of sexuality is a beautiful thing between husband and wife.

  2. I absolutely agree. The message shouldn’t be, “Don’t.” It should be, “Don’t, yet, because it’s so awesome and powerful and wonderful that it belongs within marriage between two people in a covenant with each other and God.”

    • ElovesC on December 13, 2013 at 4:28 pm said:

      “Don’t, yet, because it’s so awesome and powerful and wonderful that it belongs within marriage between two people in a covenant with each other and God.” Amen to this !

  3. ngamarju satumari on January 9, 2014 at 4:11 pm said:

    Still shedding tears, so I’m not alone in my feelings of guilt? So i do deserve a good man and God has forgiven me?

    • Yes, God has forgiven you. You deserve a good man. We all sin, and the fact that your sin has been sexual doesn’t make you any less deserving of a good man than a woman who has stayed sexually pure but has sinned in other ways.

  4. Recovering Husband on January 2, 2015 at 11:58 am said:

    I know I’m commenting on a pretty old post, but I thought I would give my perspective because this really spoke to me. I had premarital sex from the time I was barely 16 years old. I wondered how I couldn’t have the self control to keep from sinning, and I was consumed with shame and regret. One of my huge regrets was having premarital sex with my wife. She was a virgin before dating me, and taking that from her before getting married is something I will always hate.

    When our married sex life turned out to be very unfulfilling to me, I became bitter and angry, but my thoughts would usually circle back to to my sexual past sins. In my mind, I deserved this and my sin demanded consequences. It’s still something I struggle with. I’m starting to see now that I shouldn’t let my past continue to hurt my marriage, and that I can continue to hold out hope that my marriage will be the kind I always dreamed it could be. Thank you for having the courage to bare your soul.

  5. Have you apologized to your wife and asked for her forgiveness? Perhaps it could be healing for both of you.

  6. I SO much regret not waiting for my first time (which was a horribly painful experience: rough uncaring selfish partner who didnt think foreplay was necessary, who called me fat afterwards and dumped me a week later). My husband had no experience before being with me which makes me regret that awful first time even more. After years of struggling (months on end without sex) I’m trying to change things now, started this last saturday which went well – still a long way to go.

    I’m baptised but not an active believer anymore, in spite of this I find much comfort and wisdom in your texts.

    • I’m sorry your first sexual experience left you with so much regret. It is so wonderful that you are trying to make some changes now. We all have to start wherever we are and trust that our efforts will make a positive difference.

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