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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