Thursday, October 1, 2009

Purity, and The Tale of Two Amandas

Purity. American's today demand pure water, pure air, pure food, yet when it comes to our spirits, our bodies, our very being.... purity seems to mean very little.

Most television shows and movies, even the ones rated G, send messages that completely contradict or even mock the message chastity the bible so clearly defines.

I believe Sarah Mally hit the nail on the head in her book "Before You Meet Prince Charming".

Being reserved for one includes not only physical purity but emotional purity as well. This requires guarding our hearts, our minds, our thoughts, our words, our emotions, and our eyes. It means saving that close, intimate friendship for one man only, avoiding premature emotional attachments, and staying free from the intimate bonds that can form so easily, but are then painful to dissolve. Emotional purity includes guarding our eyes from those “fun” romantic glances and stares, keeping our hearts from being poured out until the right time, and taking captive thoughts that want to run wild with fantasies and dreams.

Let me share with you the tale of two Amandas. The first Amanda, is myself. The second Amanda is a dear friend of mine. Last Friday, we gathered together to have a nice time of fellowship while our children played together. Amanda was telling me about the book, The Princess and the Kiss, she is using as a tool to help teach her daughter about purity.

This lead into a conversation about our time as single youths.

I grew up knowing sex should be saved for marriage. I knew I needed to "keep pure", but my definition of sex and purity was quite skewed and undefined. I believe this to be the case for many Christians, young and old.

I had my first boyfriend when I was in 6th grade. We held hands. He came over to "hang out" at my house (we played basketball together, that was pretty much it), and we talked on the phone. That was our relationship, and, at the time, it seems innocent enough, but he was the first boyfriend I said, "I love you," to.... and there would be many more to come.

My first "real" kiss came when I was a freshman and highschool. This very same boy tried to pressure me into spending time at his place. "My parents aren't home," the highschool senior grinned. A warning bell went off in my head, and I asked him to drive me home. He dumped me the next day. My heart was broken. Here was what I had considered my first "grown-up" relationship, and it hadn't even lasted a month.

I didn't realize that this was a major thing I would be dealing with in high school. I actually thought most people waited until marriage, or at least until adulthood, but high school definitely opened my eyes to reality.

My high school "career" was also my dating career. I wasn't exactly picky, and I didn't have high standards (or high self-confidence) either. I wouldn't call my teenage-self "boy crazy"- I wasn't constantly scoping out fellas, but if someone asked me out, chances are, I probably accepted.

I can't even count the number of guys I "fell in love with". I was constantly dating someone. My relationships usually lasted anywhere from two weeks to two months.

And, over time, I gave away bits of myself to each of these boys, bits and pieces I can never have back, and regret letting go of.

I've heard so many people say that "dating is necessary", that it's the time when we are to find our "type", explore, get to know people. These are the same people who would tell me, "Your heart will be broken many times, but don't you stop!"

And yes, my heart was broken many, many times. Even though I usually broke off the relationship, I felt my heart was falling to pieces. At fifteen, I was dating to find "the one". I had taken hold of the like that dating is how you find a husband.

Dating nearly ruined my marriage. I had given emotional and physical parts of myself to these guys I had dated before finally finding my spouse. I found myself comparing everything my spouse did- how he rubbed my back, how he spoke when he was angry, how he reacted to certain situations, how romantic he was or wasn't- to my previous boyfriends. I often found myself thinking, "Well, if I would have married so-n-so, life would be so much better. He wouldn't DARE do this or treat me like that!"

[Back then, I didn't know how good I had it!]

My heart and mind were so unfaithful, and because I had shared so many intimate moments with someone(s) other than my husband, these moments were no longer as powerful and amazing and fresh as they should have been.

When I finally realized and understood God's plan in purity, I cried. I felt so filthy and dirty, and was thankful that my husband had stuck by me and loved me, even though my impurity had brought so many issues and problems to our marriage.

I think more than the physical impurity was the emotional impurity. I dare say it was the emotional impurity of my dating life that caused the most chaos in those early years of my marriage. (But of course, emotional impurity does lead to physical impurity!)

So often, I look back and ache over my past- even though I know it is covered by the blood, blotted out and forgiven.

I wish I would have had a better definition of purity and "saving oneself for marriage". I realize this is such a sensitive subject to talk about, and we may feel like it's a conversation to be saved for when our children are teens, but I believe it's something to be discussed while our children are young, when they are in their prime "listening" years- when their heart is truly open and their minds are still moldable. If we haven't planted this seed when they are young, it may, and will probably be, too late when they are preteens or teens.

I wish I would have had a sibling who helped protect my purity. I have heard many stories of brothers who protected their sisters from boys, and I feel most envious! This is something we must teach our sons- not only to be pure, but to protect the purity of their sisters, and of other girls as well.

On the other hand, my friend Amanda had been taught all about purity. Her story is much more simple. She wasn't allowed to date, and any fellow who desired to date her had to ask her father first. The first and only boy she dated, she also married. He is also the first boy she kissed, and the only man (besides her father and grandfather, I'm sure) that she ever told, "I love you."

I love to look to my friend and glean her parenting advice, because I know it is taken from a source that is quite reliable. Her parents raised her well (home schooling her all the way through), watched over her, and expected much of her. They held to their convictions and stood firm, even when she was a teenager.

Now, I don't want you to think that my parents did a horrible job. I know my mom is probably reading this thinking I don't appreciate or understand or remember all their efforts- but I do. There is so much I gather from my own raising.

It's interesting though, because as a child, I thought they were much too strict, and now I feel like they were a little too lenient. Funny how preceptions change as you age! My parents were (and are) very loving. I know they did the best, and really tried to help us understand what it was to live a godly lifestyle. It's actually good that I am able to see what areas I really need to work on with my children to make sure they fully comprehend, knowing that these were things I am sure my parents taught me but that just didn't sink in.

Once I understood what it meant to be pure before God's eyes, my life changed. I stopped comparing my husband to my past boyfriends. I stopped looking outside my marriage for emotional comfort. I began focusing on my husband, loving him, serving him, and relying on him. We began to nourish that intimate bond together, creating a strong marriage and a great friendship.

It's hard not to look back and feel so broken and upset with myself, but God often reminds me that my story is useful and relevant to many today.

I really have more to say on the subject, and hopefully I will get the opportunity. I realize I haven't exactly been diving into the deeper subjects like I use to on this blog.

I think my testimony is certainly one that glorifies God, especially when you look at how filthy, dirty, and hopeless I was. It reminds me that if God can transform me and save me, then He can transform and save anyone!

Excuse any typos- I don't feel like proof reading!


Saminda said...

Thanks Mandy, this has really blessed me as it's an area I have struggled with too. :) I appreciate your honesty! Oh, and I really enjoy reading your blog. :)
Saminda xo

Stacie, A Firefighter's Wife said...

I could have written that post. My teen years were exactly the same and my "dating" effected my marriage as well.

I am using "The Squire and the Scroll" and "The Princess and the Kiss" to teach purity to my sons and daughters. They are powerful stories and my children even use the phrases in them like, "saving my kiss" for my wife. Very special. I don't want my children to have the same problems I had. I want more for them. I want them to be pure and give the best gift to their spouses, themselves without bits and pieces already used.

pourprey said...
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Victoria, Dan & Evan said...

I think it's sort of a "to each his own" thing. I don't think there is anything wrong with dating and I will never discourage Evan from dating, I think expecting to spend your life with someone when you have no knowledge of how you fit together physically/sexually is quite naive and but then again we also hold vastly different views than your family does :)