They Do Exist.

Sex: A Story About Being Chosen.

Editor’s Note: Sometimes stories need to be told. And sometimes they’re a little long. This is a story worth sharing, worth reading, worth hearing. This is Rachel’s story. And at least a little part of it is your own. Rachel blogs Learning To Whistle and tweets at @r_moneyduh. – Lauren

I don’t remember the exact moment when I decided to “save myself for marriage,” but I do remember it being a constant theme in my upbringing. Though my parents failed to ever sit me down and give me the scoop on the birds and the bees, I was surrounded by people in my high school youth group who helped me establish this idea in my mind. “Save myself” was my mantra. And I stuck to it. Because losing myself? That would be the worst.

I became an abstinence advocate within my friend group, and largely underestimated how hard it is for some girls not to have sex. My naivety made me arrogant, with tendencies toward invincible.

I got a great boyfriend who picked me flowers, told me he loved me and held my hand as we skipped off into the Hills of Innocence Lost. He was admirable, honest, strong, kind. Years later, he broke my heart, with special attention to Infidelity and A Web of Lies. I could spend an entire post on the hardships of being betrayed, but frankly, no good comes from re-living the past over and over. I’m practicing that whole “write injuries in the dust” thing.

But, you need to know that I trusted him when he told me he loved me. I believed him when he said I was beautiful, perfect, and going to be his wife eventually. And I gave him the deepest level of intimacy possible. The aforementioned “myself” that I was supposedly “saving.”

And every time I felt him pulling away emotionally, I gave more physically.

And each time, that kept him around a little bit longer.

I became a trained expert on the art of seduction. Every time I convinced him, I felt like I had won. I felt victorious.

I felt like I was in control.

Perhaps now you see the problem with this particular phrasing. All of “myself” had been poured into this one act, this one thing. Imagine my dismay when I gave that up. “Myself” was gone, in a moment. And the point isn’t really that in that moment, I felt empty and different. The point is that after that first time, I stopped letting myself feel empty and different; I convinced myself that those emotions were not happening. 

After that first boy, I stopped feeling really anything during sex. It was most definitely fun, and gave me a rush of adrenaline and excitement, pleasure and empowerment. But after the Boy Who Loved Me became the Boy Who Betrayed Me, I stopped understanding sex in the way it was created to be understood.

The biggest lie I took away from the entire thing was that I would not be chosen. Sure, I was funny enough and charming enough and sometimes even pretty enough. I said enough, did enough, laughed enough, and eventually even gave enough. But once compared to Someone Better, I would not be chosen.

I wandered off into the arms – and beds – of more boys, none of whom loved me. None even professed to love me; that was no longer required by my standards. All I needed was to be chosen, even in this small act. Because even though there was the First Boy who didn’t choose me, I was able to find a few who would.

While I think what happened over the course of that next year is technically referred to as “sexual addiction”, I can honestly say that it’s not the sex I was addicted to. It was the before, and the after.

The moment before, when there is hesitation mixed with urgency, splashed with fear and unknown. I was addicted to being in control of my body and another’s. I knew what to do to cause him to lose control, which made me feel successful.

And then there’s the moment after. When the sheets settle and the breathing slows and the eyes slowly open and man plus woman lay in their perfect nakedness, feeling all the safety in the world. Before anyone speaks, or nervously shuffles back to their clothing, the serenity of that moment is deafening. And as soon as someone spoke, as soon as I was ushered to leave, I felt even dirtier, even emptier than before. And it caused me to want sex all over again.

Truth be told, I can’t quite recall a time when I actually enjoyed sex. It has never been tender, it has never been sweet, it has never been pleasurable. I have never made love to anyone. Every time I have ever had sex, I have eagerly anticipated the end, so that I could stop. I think I actually hated it.

I knew I was creating a huge hole in my being. I knew it deep inside of myself, but I refused to acknowledge that. Instead I pushed that voice down to a place where I could not hear it, and I would be back in the arms of another lover soon enough. I’d be back at my place of control.

“While we’re young and beautiful” became my new mantra, and I felt entitled to the lifestyle I led. I felt like I needed it. Like I had been missing out during all those years of “saving.” I placed my identity in the attention I could get and I felt sexy for the first time in my life. I knew that every boy I was with was simply attracted to my appearance, and I ignored the ache that it left within my heart. I had spent my time with a boy who loved my soul, and he screwed everything up. So I might as well get my kicks. Doesn’t matter if their heart is in it, it just matters I have fun before it all goes up in flames.

Nothing noteworthy triggered my turnaround point, but my world finally came crashing down. I am equally ashamed and grateful for the moment I woke up, and realized that I could not, should not, be living this way.

My healing has come from several different sources, but one in particular was in the moment when I confessed my past lifestyle to my current boyfriend. He knew pieces, but not the whole thing; we were waiting for an appropriate time to talk about it. Talk about “fears: realized.”

We sat on the ground next to lake and I guided him through those few years of my life. I realized something vital as I spoke that day; I had felt guilty for my mistakes. I had repented. I had felt forgiveness. But I don’t think I had ever felt sorry before. And while I told my boyfriend everything, I felt sorry, truly remorseful for the first time in my life. Because I painfully realized that my previous lifestyle did not only affect me, it affected him.

The look on his face is hard to forget – pain and surprise and anger and hurt, all in one pair of bright blue eyes. As I wept uncontrollably, I felt sorry in every nerve on my body. My hair felt sorry, my arms felt sorry, my body was heavy with sorry. It made me understand sin in a deeper way: what I did was selfish in more ways than I knew. I was repeatedly hurting someone who, though I didn’t know him then, I now love very deeply. And then he held me and rocked me as I sobbed away my fear and sorrow.

And as my breathing slowed, and my eyes opened, I felt the safest I have ever felt. No amount of safety I ever felt in the after-moments of sex before could ever compare to the heights and depths of safety I felt in those arms by the lake that day. And that’s when I understood forgiveness on a deeper level. I know that I am forgiven. But this is one of the consequences of not guarding my heart. My sweet, tender, strong boyfriend has to suffer my consequences. He chooses to.

I didn’t give “myself” away. My identity was not lost in the arms of a boy, it was not given up in the heat of a moment. Something sacred was given up, absolutely. But “myself” is still intact. I am chosen by the King of Kings, just as I am.  My identity is partially found in the crevices of my story, but it is fundamentally founded on who I am in Christ. My beauty enthralls Him; He has crafted me together from day one. He is nowhere near through with me, and rejoices over me with or without my mistakes.

I did not lose myself by giving up sex. But I am finding myself every single day in the arms of safety, forgiveness, and love. My whole life, my every day is better than any “after-moment” I could ever experience, because I get to dance around in the freedom of grace – getting that which I do not deserve. Thank God..


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26 Responses

  1. I have chills and tears and a brand new perspective. As woman, mom and a sister in Christ, I "feel" the depth of your desire for forgiveness and the sweetness of forgiveness itself! Thank you for such a powerful message to other women – it must be shared!! You are so incredibly brave!!!

    July 19, 2011 at 12:58 am

  2. Bahiehk

    This is beautiful. I love the ending of the story… which is actually more like a new beginning.
    Thank you for sharing so honestly what you have been through.
    I love the notion that no matter what has happened to us in the past or will happen to us in the future, on some level we are 'whole' and will always be. No matter what.
    I am happy for you that you have found a Faith that gives you this stronghold. :)
    Many blessings.

    July 19, 2011 at 1:49 am

  3. Aren't you thankful that there are men out there who want more than just our flesh? Who want us as we are, imperfection after imperfection? Who choose us, no matter the past? Who are willing to see past the mistakes and love us? Me too.

    Thank you for being brave enough to share your story.

    July 19, 2011 at 11:41 am

  4. ohmigoodness. this is sacred, sacred ground and these words are achingly beautiful.

    thank you, rachel, for sharing your story.

    July 19, 2011 at 12:00 pm

  5. meganleiann

    I can't thank you enough for your bravery in sharing. It's amazing that you know yourself so well to see that time clearly. What a beautiful testimony of forgiveness- both by the Lord and your boyfriend.
    It's a good reminder to me to never judge harshly, but love other struggling women.
    Incidentally, "choose" has been a powerful word in my marriage. We decided that marriage is a constant "choosing" to surrender our needs for each other. My husband's needs are more important than my work, my dreams for the house, my private time, my desire to be right. He does the same for me and it's made for a beautiful 8.5 years.

    July 19, 2011 at 2:49 pm

  6. kks

    "And every time I felt him pulling away emotionally, I gave more physically.
    And each time, that kept him around a little bit longer.
    I became a trained expert on the art of seduction. Every time I convinced him, I felt like I had won. I felt victorious.
    I felt like I was in control."

    These words echoed in my heart and soul so powerfully that it rattled me to my core having done the exact. same. thing.
    Your story of healing and redemption gives me great courage to continue moving in that direction, as it's often been tempting to give up as I delve into so much pain from wounds that happened 5+ years ago yet still feel fresh. I was programmed by my ex that the only acceptable and appealing part of me was my body, so I made certain not only to keep it in perfect form, but to seduce him with it the second I felt him moving away from me emotionally. And that's going to take some time and pain to un-do. It's overwhelming but Jesus didn't come all this way – the path of thorns and scorn – for me to marinate in those defeating, cruel, harsh thoughts.

    Jesus wants all of me. And I'm learning what that means.

    July 20, 2011 at 11:56 am

  7. powerful story … thanks for having the courage to share it.

    July 22, 2011 at 12:44 pm

  8. Lauren Jean

    Such a good story. I've been saving myself, but at times it gets quite discouraging at times, thinking that what is the point of waiting, when there doesn't seem to be any guys saving themselves who are worth waiting, so why should I? This was a great reminder of why I've been waiting, so thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    July 25, 2011 at 2:15 pm

  9. Amelie

    Thank you so much for having the courage to share your story. I have gone through something similar, and as I choose to wait now, it of course, can be difficult. I have learned to rely upon my faith, and you, you are a perfect reminder of such. Thank you.

    August 10, 2011 at 2:30 am

  10. Jackie

    Rachel, reading this, I felt that you wrote MY story. To see it laid bare before me on the screen, my heart thumped, I wanted to fall into a heap of tears. Your beautiful insights put words to feelings I have never been able to pinpoint, and now, for having seen them for what they really were, I think I can finally find the courage to ask God to help me move past that time of my life.

    September 29, 2011 at 1:24 am

  11. A deeply moving, sobering account–thanks for sharing it all from your heart! Please know that there are still some guys at there who are still waiting, striving to be pure both mentally and sexually, and who genuinely want to love, honor, and respect our future spouse. Yes, it's very difficult to wait, but I know it will be worth every bit of it.

    October 14, 2011 at 3:18 pm

  12. This story of redemption brought tears to my eyes! Sitting at work and tearing up at my desk isn't exactly proper, but oh well…God's stories are so powerful, they deserve a few tears!

    November 7, 2011 at 3:03 pm

  13. Tiffany

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. I 100% relate to what you spoke about. I am a woman who is finally coming out of the fog of lies that I've been lost in for far too long. Your thoughts helped me be able to process my own choices and hang ups and helped me figure out why I feel the way I do sometimes. Thanks :)

    February 19, 2012 at 8:18 pm

  14. You are right about finding your identity in Christ–so important! I like how you say "I get to dance around in the freedom of grace – getting that which I do not deserve."

    Redemption is beautiful, I'm so glad you can walk in this. Thanks for the encouragement!

    March 9, 2012 at 1:24 pm

  15. evelyn

    wow……that is astoundingly beautiful….have fun..enjoy being you…

    March 28, 2012 at 8:18 am

  16. Thank you for sharing! You’re so incredibly brave to share your story, which is certainly a part of my own story. Thank you!

    April 9, 2012 at 3:47 pm

  17. This is my story too. Thank you for writing it and Praise God that he gave you the gift of being able to write so beautifully.

    April 9, 2012 at 4:12 pm

  18. Tracy

    this brought tears to my eyes. I love that you shared that, so grateful for grace.

    April 9, 2012 at 4:24 pm

  19. flygirljc

    THIS ARTICLE IS SO TRUE TO LIFE – ESPECIALLY NOW & NOT MANY MEN OR WOMEN HAVE NOT EXPERIENCED EVERYTHING YOU HAVE WRITTEN ABOUT – IT IS TRUTH & WHEN FINDING THE TRUTH & LIVING THE TRUTH WE REALLY DO GET SET FREE BY JESUS…

    April 9, 2012 at 7:29 pm

  20. This line killed me, "My identity is partially found in the crevices of my story, but it is fundamentally founded on who I am in Christ."

    Amazing story.

    July 30, 2012 at 7:21 pm

  21. kay

    this is beautiful. please never apologize for the length of a piece so beautiful again!

    July 30, 2012 at 7:33 pm

  22. Kaitlyn

    This is almost exactly my story, except I havent found the one yet… I am, however, finding the only One who will fully accept me and love me like no man ever can. Thank you for sharing :)

    July 31, 2012 at 12:22 am

  23. katharine

    so incredibly relevant to my own struggles and thoughts recently. this is amazing. this girl knows what's up – thank God!

    August 16, 2012 at 5:28 pm

  24. gwp

    "I wandered off into the arms – and beds – of more boys, none of whom loved me. None even professed to love me; that was no longer required by my standards. All I needed was to be chosen, even in this small act. Because even though there was the First Boy who didn’t choose me, I was able to find a few who would."

    "The moment before, when there is hesitation mixed with urgency, splashed with fear and unknown. I was addicted to being in control of my body and another’s. I knew what to do to cause him to lose control, which made me feel successful."

    "I knew I was creating a huge hole in my being. I knew it deep inside of myself, but I refused to acknowledge that. Instead I pushed that voice down to a place where I could not hear it, and I would be back in the arms of another lover soon enough. I’d be back at my place of control."

    "So I might as well get my kicks. Doesn’t matter if their heart is in it, it just matters I have fun before it all goes up in flames."

    "Because I painfully realized that my previous lifestyle did not only affect me, it affected him."

    "I was repeatedly hurting someone who, though I didn’t know him then, I now love very deeply."

    I'm, glad she found forgiveness, but all her selfish controlling was hurting each of those men she was with previously (and probably their girlfriends too), not just the one guy with the pretty blue eyes and forgiving arms, who she happens to care about now. Each of those men are going to have to deal with this hurt and sin in their own lives. They all need to have their own lakeside conversations. If she was honest enough to admit that she had selfish intent, and only wanted to have her fun, she should have also been honest enough to admit she didn't care if she hurt them, not simply bypass that with, if "their hearts weren't in it", then she didn't have to feel as bad. She excused herself and dumped all her responsibility on to each of those men instead of owning her own issues and protecting those men. I'm not saying the men weren't also guilty, but their guilt does not give her a free pass to do whatever she wishes.

    I'm not saying this to judge, but to wake people up that we can't find love through control or manipulation.
    If you are in a relationship (sexual or not), and you are more interested in taking or receiving affections from another than giving affections to them, perhaps you should not be in any relationship at all. Otherwise, you are just killing them slowly.

    Sin sucks. It hurts us, and it multiplies that hurt to countless others. It is never an isolated controllable event.
    Our sin steals, kills, and destroys so many people that we will never meet.

    September 15, 2012 at 6:12 pm

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    October 18, 2013 at 2:12 pm

  26. Olivia

    This brought me to tears because it reminded me of myself and my journey. I’ve been now sober from sexual sin for a couple months after giving my life to Jesus all over again after coming to a realization that how I turned my life was not who God meant me to be. Since, my life has been completely changed. I am thankful to have come across this article. Thank you for writing about this.

    December 11, 2013 at 9:34 pm

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