They Do Exist.

Dating Mistakes: A Two-Faced Faith

Editor’s Note: Today’s post is written by Natalie Soldano. She blogs at This Chickadee and tweets at @this_chickadee. Unfortunately, I have lived through this exact experience that Natalie shares with us. No one changes into another girl overnight. It’s little by little, step by step. And always not-in-the-light. Find someone in your life and ask them to be the woman you go to who knows everything you do in your dating relationships. You should never have to hide your love. And if you catch yourself hiding it, it probably isn’t the love you should be pursuing. – Lauren

When I wasn’t looking, I decided to lead a secret life. Behind my own back, I became someone else.

With my family, my friends, and my church, I was Prohibition Patty. I knew where I stood on drinking, drugs, premarital sex, and everything else in the “just don’t” category. And I was loud about it, judgmental even. Having walked the straight and narrow for most of my life, I thought my morals and values were solid. My convictions and principles were firmly in place. And there was no room for debate. I had chosen to walk with God, had swallowed His truth whole without question, and made it to college without even a stumble.

But only because my will had never truly been tested.

Now, that’s really code for “I hadn’t had a boyfriend before.” Then I met someone who did not believe in the same things I did, but I liked him anyway. I felt a bit behind schedule on the relationship front and figured I would stay strong, that it couldn’t do any harm. After all, I wasn’t going to do anything I didn’t want to do.

Surrender came quickly. And suddenly, at the first serious temptation and threat to the purity I never thought was at risk, I didn’t even think about it. There were no sirens going off in my head, no good angel/bad angel debates being waged on my shoulders.

We had gone too far.

He didn’t care about a higher standard or my identity in Christ. He started to take and, because he wanted it, I gave. His desires and expectations took my hand and led the way. I blindly followed.

“Why are you doing this?” I would wonder.

I was the girl I never thought I would be: willing, permissible, compromising. Moments turned into habits and eventually, I was going through motions and creating a new normal. Time and time again, I pretended not to notice this new person I’d become, turned my thoughts away from who I was behind closed doors.

“What are you thinking?” I would ask myself.

Everything I’d believed, everything I thought I knew and stood by, turned fallible. Though on the outside I remained unchanged- not even my closest friends knew what I was up to – somewhere deep inside I ignored the wails of a girl who knew she was giving up what she would later wish she’d cherished and protected.

“What happened? How did I get here?” I thought.

I wish I could say that I awoke one day to realize the error of my ways and by my own Girl Power cleaned up my dating relationships with one wave of my God’s Word Wand. I have to admit that it took a wonderful man walking into my life, one who held me in higher esteem than I held myself, to stop the viscous cycle. He helped me remember who I wanted to be for a future husband – that I wanted to be a pure, Godly woman for a pure, Godly man.

It was with him, the man who wanted to know me and love me and wait for the joys of intimacy as God intended them within marriage, that I began processing my past. I was not proud of what I had done, was embarrassed to even say it out loud. I felt so disconnected from who I’d been and what I’d been doing. I wanted it all to have never happened so I could be the woman I was supposed to be for my family, my friends, my future husband. But I started to think about what went wrong.

I needed to retrace my steps and figure out where I’d lost myself.

I hadn’t taken God seriously when I read His Word. Though I’d been raised in a Christian home and had been memorizing scripture for as long as I could remember, the God in the Bible wasn’t speaking directly to me. I wasn’t who He was talking about- beautiful in His sight and perfectly created, worthy of the best. It took me a long time to truly believe that His Word was for real, was for me. That I was His bride and was to be treated as such.

I’d left God out of the men I was looking for, of that part of my life. I didn’t work to include Him and the guys didn’t either. I thought I could handle it on my own, how bad could it be? God wasn’t really paying attention to every moment of my life, wasn’t always by my side. I could simply leave Him at home. Or at church. In looking back, I finally understood that honesty with Christ and an intimate relationship with Him would mean He wasn’t going anywhere. And I didn’t want Him to.

I wasn’t being open with my friends and others closest to me. These things were happening, literally and figuratively, in the dark. It’s amazing the permission you can grant yourself in hiding – no one can question you if they are unaware of what is happening. I knew this was a challenging area for me and that I needed the trusted people in my life to speak into my dating relationships with good discernment. And I needed to ask them to provide that for me. It can certainly kill a mood, thinking about your best friend’s face and what you’re going to tell her tomorrow if you start getting carried away.

I wasn’t prepared with my boundaries, knowing my limits and why I wanted them. My perspective narrowed “in the moment,” avoiding any reasons to stop. I finally figured out that if I had to ask myself “is this going too far?” and even “how about now?” then YES, IT WAS. And I had to decide for myself beforehand why I wanted to remain faithful to a Godly standard and honor myself. Because goodness knows that “in the moment,” those reasons never came to mind.

God forgives, heals, and redeems. But He also strengthens us when facing our struggles, and let’s face it – physical relationships are a struggle for us all. We need to arm ourselves with defenses to use in situations where we know we are most vulnerable. We need to let those in who can hold us accountable and remember that God cares about every hair on your head, let alone what you’re doing with a non-believing boy.

And in case you need the reminder like I did: yes, in the Bible – He means you.


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18 Responses

  1. Katie

    Simply stated and soo true! Being raised in a Christian home I always applied many of the things said to the "really broken" or "less fortunate" and never let His love really sink in until I was much older..only THEN can He truly change your heart. Thank you for sharing!

    October 10, 2011 at 7:57 am

    • thischickadee

      Well said! Sometimes it takes us awhile (and too often, mistakes) to come around, doesn't it? :)

      October 10, 2011 at 4:02 pm

      • Katie

        Amen :) Thank goodness for Grace!

        October 11, 2011 at 8:05 am

  2. Such a good reminder! As one of those "I haven't had a boyfriend before" girls, I know I often slide into the trap of thinking I've got it all handled. I don't. So thank you for writing this warning and encouragement!

    October 10, 2011 at 10:33 am

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  4. kelsey6791

    YES! I was exactly like this last year, thinking I would never fall into some boy's trap, but lo and behold, I fell. I can say now I have dropped the guilt and shame and disappointment with Jesus. It has taken me almost a year to let go of the past. But honestly, now I feel that I have something more firm to stand on. It made me lean on God more. I know what I want and what I don't want. I am still learning to stand firm in my convictions. It's harder than you think, especially when you aren't being tested. I still have never had a boyfriend and that is OKAY. Great, even. Because I am spiritually growing like wildfire over here, and I know when that my future husband is too. A strong Christian man is SO crucial to a successful marriage, I can't emphasize it enough. But like my pastor says, "Come prepared to fight a battle because war has been waged." As women we have to pull on the full armor of God so that He shines through us. (A little cheesy, but it terrifies our enemy) I can't wait to meet the man who can challenge me in my faith and I in his. Awesome post!

    October 10, 2011 at 1:54 pm

    • thischickadee

      Amen! Such great thoughts and it sounds like you have your own testimony to share and encourage others with! I am excited for your "wildfire" journey and the new ways God is revealing Himself to you.

      October 10, 2011 at 4:07 pm

  5. Emma

    I thought I was reading my own story when I read this. It is so true! I was so staunchly pro-purity, and so un-tested.
    Going into my situation, I tried to switch off my "other life" but the "what are you doing?!?" that pounded in my head was eventually too hard to ignore. I also never thought that the healing would take so long or be so painful. God is healing, but it has taken some fair time.

    Thanks for writing such a great post!

    October 10, 2011 at 7:38 pm

    • thischickadee

      Ah, sounds like we are all too similar. :) Yes, working through mistakes does take its sweet time. But you're on the right track and God has a great plan for your story. Thanks for sharing- you've encouraged me today.

      October 10, 2011 at 11:41 pm

  6. terri

    Great post…it happened to me as well only not at 20 or 25 but at 52…and the only reason it stopped was because he was a cheat and liar and a scoundrel and lead me and countless others on but he was in love with someone else…open relationship he called it. Well, I got the gift that keeps on giving…a little thing called HPV…high risk for cancer….but it couldn't happen to me but it did…too old to get the vaccination, not too old to be foolish and take a big risk. Oh yeah, and a major depressive episode that put me in counseling for over 2 years. And no other great man came into my life and now I don't even want to date because i have to admit that I have a sexually transmitted infection. I am still working it out with God…

    October 10, 2011 at 10:26 pm

    • Robyn

      God is listening and He has your hand and life in His, a hand we can ALWAYS hold. All God asks of any of us is to recognize the error of our ways so that He can fulfill His promise to us of redemption. The greatest man in your life and mine is our precious Jesus. He will see you through this, not because He has to but because He wants to. He still finds you beautiful and as a sister/follower in Christ , I do too. The enemy is defeated, rest assured!!

      October 13, 2011 at 6:38 pm

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  8. Gwen

    Hey! I love this post! I'm one of the 'never had a boyfriend before' girls too, and to this day, no one has crossed my path…yet. But I'm glad that you were so open and honest about your experiences. It has made me realise how much I need Christ, especially in the area of sex and relationships.
    It also has made me resolve to continue keeping to God's standards, and to rely on Him during temptation.

    What an encouragement! Great post!

    October 11, 2011 at 4:49 pm

    • thischickadee

      Praise God, Gwen! We are so human and can only fight temptation (which we are promised will come into our lives) with God's help, yes? He won't let us down or disappoint if we seek Him and His will. Blessings to you!

      October 12, 2011 at 11:55 am

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  10. Carinna

    This is amazing! I am just going through this right now. I know what's right and what we are doing is wrong, but it seems like new personality emerges when I'm alone with him. Thank you for posting this. I thought I was the only one who had to deal with pushing boundaries.

    October 18, 2011 at 2:56 am

    • thischickadee

      You are NOT alone in this struggle, Carinna. Physical temptation is brutal, but I promise that it is SO WORTH waiting for. Keeping the future in perspective, the REASON we're supposed to wait to enjoy that intimacy, helps with the present. Stay strong! :)

      October 19, 2011 at 3:56 pm

  11. Pingback: Dating Mistakes: A Two-Faced Faith | You are the only thing that's beautiful in me

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