I met the man who would eventually become my husband in the Spring of 2012. We became friends and were extremely attracted to each other, but I was leaving the country for a six month mission trip. I did not know where I was going to live post-mission trip, and he didn't want to be the reason I came back to Tallahassee so early on in a relationship, so we decided not to date. This is where our "wait" begins. Months later in July 2013, I moved back to Tallahassee and we began dating. While asking me to be his girlfriend, he said he was not going to kiss me because we decided we were going to pursue purity. I felt so loved by his comment - because he initiated it, and no one had ever said that to me before.
That lasted abouuuuut one month, before we shared our first kiss making out while watching a movie on his living room couch. Shame, regret and repentance followed. We were both sad and ashamed that the story of our first kiss was a tainted story. But.....God.
As our relationship continued, it was a constant cycle of repentance and "messing up," which was defined by any level of kissing or sexual activity EXCEPT intercourse itself. Our goal was not just to avoid sex before marriage; we wanted to abstain from any form of sexual activity. We knew that partaking in this was selfish and that any form of sexual activity before marriage would come with consequences. Although we had a lot of wins, unfortunately, it was difficult to say no every time we were tempted. We were definitely toeing the line very closely.
Eventually, God told me to break up with him. I was devastated. I didn't hear the audible voice of God, nor did I see a huge sign in the sky; but over the course of about a week, I knew in the pit of my stomach exactly what God wanted me to do. I was hurt, lost and confused. I hated that breaking up with him was obedience to God, and staying with him wasn't. Because in the end, I will always choose obedience to Christ over my own feelings or desires. As Isaiah 55 tells us, His thoughts and ways are higher and better than ours. Even if I can't always see it, I know He always has my best interest at heart. So we broke up and that was that. Or so we thought.
Over the next ten months we grew a lot, separately. I grew in knowing my worth, and he grew in discipline, among other things. In January 2015, God called us back together! This time for good. He asked me out, we began dating, were engaged six months later, and married six months after that. And you know what? We didn't kiss the entire time - not even once. We saw our boundaries not as cages we were locked in, but as ways to love each other well. We chose not to be alone in each other's houses. We chose not to spend too much time in cars after we parked. We made wise decisions. We weren't perfect; we bent the boundaries on occasion, but far less than we had the first time we dated, and with much quicker repentance.
God graciously chose to define our story as one of redemption. He redeemed everything, right down to our first kiss. On January 22, 2016, we shared our redeemed first kiss at the altar, after being together again for a full year. Moral of the story? Pursuing purity is a choice. Our first time around, we tried everything - we had strict boundaries, curfews, etc; we spent time having dates outside our homes instead of inside them. But we found ways to mess up. At the end of the day, we simply didn't want purity enough. God graciously broke us up just in time, and graciously brought us back together. There was a shift in our hearts. The second time around, we didn't just want God to be the center of our relationship sometimes - we wanted lordship in its fullness.
Now we have a truly amazing marriage. We work hard at loving each other, and we love each other well. Sex is just another way we get to love each other. It is good and holy and it is no longer sin. If nothing else, that is why it's worth waiting; because the moment you're married, its no longer sin, and that changes everything. Now we are in the business of helping other couples pursue purity. We firmly believe that you don't have to learn from personal experience - instead you can learn from the Word of God and the experiences of others. We want to help people do relationship right the first time, so they don't have to experience some of the consequences we experienced. Yes, pursuing purity is difficult, and it is worth it. You know what's not worth it? Messing up in the moment only to repent for it and face the consequences later. God redeems, but that doesn't mean we need go to looking for things for Him to redeem. Fight the good fight, all the while knowing God knows what's best for you, and He is always, always faithful.