I was a virgin when I got married 4 years ago and when I started this journey I would have never imagined it would have taken as long as it did to reach the altar. Waiting is an admirable goal, but by the time I reached my late 20s I had to ponder on how I was achieving it. As a dancer it amazed me no one ever tried to push me past my limits. It was not that I was looking for someone to, at all, but I never felt the void of being attractive physically or in personality; so hitting that 30 mark, still a virgin, perplexed me at times. I felt like I was wonder woman disguised in a princess gown. Did they not see my rope or cape? My boots? My hair? It blows in the wind!
I saw my close friends give up on waiting much earlier in the journey. Without knowing who you are waiting for, it sometimes begins to feel like there is no reason to wait. Being the last one standing in many scenarios, I wondered what it was that made it a reality for me. Thank God I can see what it was now:
#1 While you wait, you will have people try to tell you what is on the other side. I had to realize that this is a personal journey designed just for me (and the same is true for others) to experience. One ultimately has to wait believing and knowing their purpose in life and in Christ, regardless of what pictures others try to paint.
#2 What I had to lose was ultimately more than what I had to gain by giving up early and losing sight of the goal.
Starting with STDs, child(ren) out of wedlock and adjusted future. Those 3 alone could have cost my life, someone else's or have completely altered the time it would take me to accomplish career goals and sort through my own self, in my own time. None of that, not even considering Christ or biblical standards, was ever worth giving up on waiting. I saw my friends, time and time again, regret and talk about the fact that many of the "perks" of their sex life did not outweigh the devastation of the "hit it and run" lifestyle or the unaccomplished goal. Many times friends who didn't wait felt defeated by giving up on the goal too soon. As a result of my choices, people I knew chose to separate themselves. I never forced it. Friends have a way of coming and going on their own.
As I grew older, I realized that "waiting" changes. How you engage with others about waiting changes. How you wait changes. Your relationship with God changes. Your focus in being able to wait changes. The reality is, at each stage of life, waiting becomes different. The "rules" change. Your patience in waiting changes. Your body changes. Life, changes. At each change, you need to operate differently. As you grow, so do your finances, your spirituality, your career, self expectations and desires in life. At each shift you have to grow up again and again. Changes are painful. So, to think you can engage with a man about waiting at 30 like you did when you were in college is to cut yourself short of an opportunity to have a mature relationship. You need to expect different things as you grow. God's word and your personal relationship with him is an anchor, but change is unavoidable.
No matter where I was on my journey, the only thing that anchored my journey and meeting my goal was choosing to make small and large daily choices based on my purpose. Do you have a life mission statement that is evolving? Do you know your own value system and why you choose to do the things you do? Do you know what drives you and is it concise to the degree it moves you every day without having to reference it in a notebook? In my middle school years I was taught to pray for my husband. I learned being an artist would never leave me no matter what I did in life. Owning my own businesses, being at home with my children and spending quality family time was what I envisioned for my life at an early age and into adulthood. These aspects of who I am have driven every little choice I've made. They are the core of me.
My values and purpose are what I expect from myself and what I expect out of life in return for following them. They are like a boomerang. These core aspects make me feel a great sense of gratification when they are manifest in my life. Your core is your anchor and there you will discover God's purpose for your life. Your values are your roadmap to accomplishing any goal, and for me, that goal included, but was not limited to, waiting and choosing a mate. The point of knowing your values is not so that you become unstoppable and unbreakable. It is so that when worry, doubt, fear, discouragement, hopelessness finds its way in you have an anchor like a boxer to smelling salts when in your corner ready to pass out from the fight. They arouse your consciousness. Reaching your goal only seems effortless when your values and purpose drive you small and large daily choices.
For me, this goal was driven by my values and my purpose. I set the goal to wait in high school. I was old enough to understand the pros and cons and had been groomed by my mom to understand why waiting was better than not waiting. In the 6th grade I came home excited about a conversation I had with friends at lunchtime saying I wanted to be just like my mom and have a baby when I was 18. I swear my mom saw me standing in front of a freight truck when I told her that. The alarm and level of her "no" was so intense it reached decades into my future. In my 6th grade mind, being like my mom was how life was supposed to be. Thankfully my mom knew her mistakes did not have to be attached to her future and she saw a better future for me than she had once planned for herself. She saved me from choosing a life of bearing a child out of wedlock and effectively showed me her life values by highlighting the fact that having me at 18 was not one of her choices that I should seek to follow.
In high school, choosing to wait made sense. I was outgoing, believed in Jesus, felt attractive and knew it was a good choice. Between high school and college one thing never changed, I was more focused on dance, grades, friends and building my career than on the interest boys or men had in me. I had conditioned myself for so long to focus on self improvement through school I typically shrugged off males like they were just playing most of the time. I knew males as friends and assumed that was all they were interested in, no matter what they said, unless they were very specific and direct with their intentions.
My husband, Jason, however came along well after college and he got to me with some "dates" to McDonald's. Right. McDonald's. I met Jason at an awkward and transitional time. Neither of us had a car. I was a year removed from a 2nd marriage proposal disaster, we were both living in transition, working at a dead end job at a boiler room telemarketing gig to which I traveled 3 hours to get to. It just was not the time and space to think God would show up with my mate. It was an uneasy time, awkward to say the least. No glitz, no glamour, just life. Both of us were managing last stitch efforts to keep hope in the future.
The men I dated before my husband were definitely different than dating Jason. Having been through two bad engagements I was past the point of looking for "the one." But, he was someone I instantly bonded with because we had similar personalities, backgrounds in the arts, college life as well as values for the future. I kept looking at him saying 'you're just like me.' Our attraction was effortlessly immediate, and when we acknowledged it, I knew I had an obligation to let him know my plans for the immediate and long term future about sex. When he chose to continue to pursue me the "temptation" for sex lead us to marriage. We had a goal that was driving us. A purpose and a plan for our future that kept our relationship alive and infused with vision. The "temptation" as many would put it was simply passion that drove us closer to our purpose. Waiting was a mutual decision to pursue because of our individual goals to please God.
Starting a relationship with Jason was not easy at first because I had significant broken promises before, but he challenged every thought of whether I truly knew love and that concept was enough for me to give him my attention.
My first fiance was 10 years my senior, previously married, led the church band, music producer with no kids. Many things about him seemed he was mature enough to know that if he asked someone to marry him-he knew what he was doing. He did not. When he first decided to pursue me it was because when he first saw me it was 'as if time stood still’ and ‘I walked in slow motion like a dream sequence.' Uh, ok. The bottom line is God is real. The goal of the enemy is to take you away from all things that ground you and keep you from dealing with the reality of your life. To distract you from that purpose that pulls on you. If he can effectively get you to believe God is way out there, beyond real, he can introduce heartache, pain and ultimate lack of feeling loved.
The second finace found me within weeks after the first finance ran off. He was a business owner, recent divorcee, homeowner, educator with two children. Although I turned him down to date him several times, he was persistent. But, once we got involved, I was involved. The unsettled fragments of his life from his divorce became part of what I had to deal with if I was to be with him. Here were the big red flags: his initiative to be in his children's life, despite the obstacles, came at the expense of me pushing it to happen. Although I believed him being in his children's life was an admirable and necessary obligation, he did not believe as strongly. I was the fresh, new, escape to start over again. My family could see this loud and clear and openly showed disapproval. When you are working to build a family, both of you have worlds that existed before the other came into the picture. If both of those worlds are not embraced and included in merging, disaster is bound to occur. It was not that I ignored these flags, I just did not know how serious to take them. I did not know my family were God given resources to help me navigate choosing my mate. If I understood that I would have valued their perspectives differently.
Even after postponing the wedding, I stayed with him, but it was long after that, he bailed. I felt robbed, burned. The last thing on my mind was the sex I never had. I felt although I had invested so much for so many years with uncommitted, but seemingly committed men, God still protected and spared my life. I cannot imagine having actually married a man like either these two. If they would bail as early as they did what would a marriage to either of them have been like? God spared me, and I cannot help but think that I was able to see clearly past them because my mind was not clouded by sex.
When it came to relationships, sex was a secondary issue. A lifelong relationship with someone who loved me and I loved them was always my focus. Sex simply protects the bond shared. Outside of marriage, sex cannot bond your relationship. Commitment is what binds a relationship. When there is no commitment in place there is no bond there for sex to increase the protected bond. There are physiological realities in sex that surely disguise sex as an act that bonds because by design sex is intended to do that but it doesn't accomplish it outside of marriage. After these two disasters I was plum confused. Here I was having prayed since middle school for some guy who still had yet to show up? I had been so invested, and so patient, for so long. I had followed my values and convictions yet had nothing to show for it. Despite the things I could have left these men for (the red flags) I treated them as children of God because it was what God called me to. If I ever thought I was seeing a red flag I felt I had to get out of the relationship God's way and not my own way. He could handle it. My life was being lived for his glory, I was doing everything God asked me to do. With that being the case, the most difficult part was how could I avoid another disaster, if I was already doing life the right way? Nothing of what I had been through made sense but there was one scripture God gave me after all of this that I clung to because if I knew anything at all, I knew God's word never returned to Him void (Isaiah 55:11). Along with this scripture I was able to lean on family who was much more confident than I was that my "Jason" would arrive. Hebrews 6:10: For God is not unjust. He will not forget how hard you have worked for him and how you have shown your love to him by caring for other believers, as you still do.
Justifiably so, when Jason showed up, before we started dating, he told me, "there's no pain in love." He compared the love of a right relationship with Christ to the relationship we should have romantically with each other. If there is no pain in your relationship with Christ, if we are living as Christ wants us to live, where would a relationship with pain come in with others? I honestly could not identify with being in a painful relationship with Christ and there is no greater relationship that helps me understand love, than my relationship with the Lord. Jason was right! He was willing to put in the work to get to know me, my family and be a part of my world. His theory was, my family shows him how much I am loved. We dated 3 years before he proposed; plenty of time for us to get to know each other's family and close friends. We were engaged 8 months; just enough time to plan a wedding.
I am confident Jason did not approach me with the intention to wait until marriage. Nothing in his background said he was the kind of guy with that as most important in a dating relationship. However, because of his experiences, by the time we met he was already praying for God to deliver him from the cycle he experienced in relationships. When he was faced with having to evaluate what it would take to be with me, and how much strength it would require him to wait for me, God simply reminded him of his prayers. Jason had a personal relationship with Christ and was actively making decisions that put him on a path to meet me so when it came to waiting he was already in line to be the man God called him to be and knew the value in waiting. Our physical attraction to each other had limitations because being physical was not a focus. Waiting is less about staying strong than it is about choosing to focus on purpose everyday. I have never set expectations for men to follow. I set obvious and stated expectations for myself to live up to. If I do not meet those goals, I am disappointed. Anyone interested in me has always seen those expectations and as long as I live by them, no one can violate them.
If I were to have set expectations on Jason, I could take the credit but waiting is a God thing. I cannot take credit for the kind of patience it takes to wait until marriage, neither can Jason. Through God, I watch Jason live up to what he told me in the beginning about pain.
We got married and planned for our first born a year after we got married. Waiting before marriage has benefits after. Because we waited, I have watched God remind and ease my fears to understand what he did in our lives by waiting was not completely for us. Through what God has already accomplished in our lives I am given gentle reminders that the future of my children will always have a roadmap because of Jason and I's choice in obedience. Obedience to God is never intended for immediate blessings only, but for generations, countless people, the development of his kingdom and the glorification of His name. There are countless ways God has blessed me through waiting and he continues to reveal more.
Waiting is a universal principle unrelated to the object seeking to be obtained. We have learned it from an early age and practice it in every aspect of life in order to be successful. Just today you are more than likely going to wait at a red light, wait for your food, wait for water to get hot, wait for another person, wait for time to pass, wait for an email reply. Not to mention you have probably waited to get an education before you pursue a goal, waited for money to arrive, waited before you have purchased an item. I can keep going, but trust me, you and your future spouse know how to wait. It is part of life. It is normal. Allowing the enemy to get you thinking it is not normal, you cannot do it, it is going to be hard, I am going to have to be really strong are all tricks to rob you of an amazing future. The lies have to stack up in order for you to be convinced of anything not true so expect the enemy to put the work in. The principle of waiting never stops. It continues in marriage so improve your skill now.
You are not doing anyone a favor by living right. You certainly are not making yourself deserving of marriage by waiting. Marriage is not something you earn or deserve. It is something you choose to do like going to the store. Getting married is not the challenge. Trust me, you can get married. If you have invited God to make permanent fixes in your life expect there to be delays. How you get married and who you marry, helps in a good marriage experience but neither getting married or how you choose to marry are rewards or something owed to you. Waiting until marriage to have sex serves the greatest reward in protecting your future. A choice today can blemish or make your future glow. Most times you do not realize the outcome until the future arrives. What better way to improve you and your family's end game than to start out right?
You have no idea what is really going to happen in your future or how it is going to happen. Only God can do this journey through you. The more you open your heart to the process of a different lifestyle, one that does not lean on what you understand, the more likely you are to achieve your goal. The problems headed your way, you cannot see. God knows your present, past and future. When you give him your life you are trusting he is able to see it through to completion. His interest is in your short and long term goals but you have to be convinced he knows better than you do. Leaning on his knowledge will keep you safe and have multiplied residual benefits for yourself, your future husband and your children for generations. Since you cannot see the things God can, waiting is a tool you can use to confidently know you are solving problems only God knows are in your path down the road. There is no way I could have guessed I would have had so many unfulfilled marriage proposals. Waiting to ever have sex kept me from lifelong pain and true disaster. It was strength in weakness. Following his word solves problems you have no idea are headed your way.