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When I was first asked to join this project, I hesitated for the fact that this project was called “100 Women Who Waited” and I knew I didn’t wait. I felt convicted and ashamed even after all of these years of healing. I also didn’t like the idea of being vulnerable and sharing intimate details of my life with so many people. Then I was reminded that my life is a testimony. If my testimony can be used to help one woman stay the course, finish the race and receive her prize at the end then I am willing to sacrifice myself, my privacy and my pride.

I am married to the man I refer to as my “Puerto-Rican Prince.” I am so grateful and honored to be married to this man. The journey we embarked on together to reach this point in our lives had many hurdles. My goal in this story is to lay a brief foundation of the events leading up to our first meeting, the decisions that led up to our wedding and marriage and conclude with why I think “waiting” is important.

Growing up I was very structured. I had a mother who constantly prayed for my sisters and I, and regularly spoke to us about sex. She was very transparent sharing all of her mistakes in the hopes that we would make better choices. I vowed to God early on that I would remain a virgin until marriage. I realized as a teenager, that this commitment was going to be a challenge. My friends would glamorize sex and it made me feel like I was missing out. At one time I was the only virgin left in my circle of friends and I felt very alone and separated from the group. Back then I was very much a follower. I wanted to fit in and I wanted to be like everyone else. I wanted to be beautiful and popular so I did my best to blend in. I eventually fell all the way into a life of very low morals where I was drinking, having sex, cursing and going out to clubs. I was living what I thought was freedom at the time but in reality, it was a life of heartbreak, exhaustion and endless tears. Sadly, I allowed this lifestyle to continue for about 5 years. I would make bad decisions, cry a river and then call the Trinity Broadcasting Network’s prayer line for prayer. This cycle went on for the whole 5 year period. During that time, I always felt the Holy Spirit trying to nudge me to come back home. My life was chaotic and confusing. I knew the bible; but at the time my flesh was winning the ongoing battle with my soul. I had opened myself up to a really toxic relationship that was both mentally and eventually physically abusive, and left me feeling un-loveable. In the midst of it all, I lost my dad who had been sick for many years and I was devastated by his death. I felt myself spiraling out of control.

Around the age of 20 I started going back to church. I remember feeling so dirty walking into the church wondering if I even belonged there anymore.

There was an usher at the church named Miguel and I remember thinking he was very attractive. I had previously met him one other time at the bank where he worked (but he doesn’t remember :)). We were finally formally introduced by a mutual friend at a wedding. Miguel and I went out on a date and ended up staying up all night just talking. We talked for about 8 hours straight. It was the most refreshing date I had ever been on! I knew the next day that he was going to be my husband. This information scared me and I pulled back for 2 years out of fear from the fact that I was not completely free from my toxic relationship and I didn’t want to hurt this sweet man. I wasn’t ready. During this two year period I was still trying to find my way through life while going back and forth into my previous toxic relationship. That’s when I learned about "Soul Ties."

The Bible speaks about soul ties; it doesn't use the word, "soul tie," but it speaks of them when it talks about souls being knit together, becoming one flesh, etc. A soul tie can serve many functions, but in its simplest form, it ties two souls together in the spiritual realm. Soul ties between married couples are good and draw them together like magnets. Soul ties between fornicators can draw an abused woman to a man that she would never consider in the natural realm. In the natural realm she would hate him and run from him, instead she runs to him even though he doesn't really love her, and treats her like garbage. When I learned this information I felt very empowered. This condition had a name!! Now I knew how I needed to pray. I remember being alone one night crying out to God to break that soul tie and deliver me from the addiction I had to this toxic relationship. I woke up the next day and was a new woman. I understand that many prayers are not answered this quickly (I have had other ones take longer) but this particular prayer was answered that night. I felt completely free. I knew I had to walk in my freedom and start praying for my future. From that point on, I had no desire to see that man again. He would call me and I would ask him to please stop calling. I eventually changed my phone number and moved. I vowed that day that I would not have sex again until my wedding night. My friends all thought I had completely lost my mind but I knew deep in my soul that I had actually, finally found it.

Miguel and I officially started dating a few months later. I fell in love with him very quickly but I wanted to take my time and get to know him because I was no longer frivolously dating. I was dating for the purpose of marriage. Miguel would open my car doors, bring me meals, buy me gifts, take me on trips, and above all he showed me the utmost respect and he would pray for me. He was the first man to show me how much God loved me. A couple of years went by and I learned I still had some healing to do from the past wounds I had suffered and the doors I had opened. I discovered that even though I was free from that past relationship, I still had to walk through a healing process. Since I did not allow time to properly heal, I carried baggage and insecurities into my new relationship and we had some problems. In addition to that, it was becoming harder and harder to abstain and keep my vow to God. We eventually caved in and started having sex. We both felt it was wrong for us but we did it anyway. This went on for months until one day God intervened. My stepfather was laid off from his job which changed the living arrangements for my family; my youngest sister moved in with me and I became her legal guardian so she could finish high school. At the exact same time, Miguel’s brother was having trouble and needed to stay with him for a while. This meant now we were both “instant parents” in a sense and had no privacy. The turning point for us came a few months later when I received a 6 page letter from my mom. Here is an excerpt from the letter:

“I’ve always known your heart Tara, and noticed how hard you have tried to please me. I have known every effort you have ever made to do the right thing therefore it is very important to me that you understand some things. It will save you years of unnecessary stress and frustration. People like us have very sensitive hearts and a sensitive conscience. Forget your plans and seek to know the Lord’s plans for you. Please get off of this roller coaster of trying to please everyone and perform good deeds. Once you relax you can get in touch with your true heart and you will see what is wrong and what you need to do about it. You cannot trace the root of a problem as long as you stay on that roller coaster. Stop the roller coaster, get off and find a quiet place where you can listen to your heart. God will help you in your honest, real prayer. God doesn’t condemn, he convicts you in love. The bible says, “My people perish for lack of knowledge. (Hosea 4:6)” Tara, I need you to get some knowledge and get some understanding. Your flesh will never stop demanding more and will never be satisfied. God’s order is God’s protection over us. There is a reason God has sent Miguel and you, your younger siblings to live with you. He is trying to prevent further damage to the gift he has given you both in each other. I have learned from my own life that this is the best way to avoid trauma of demonic attacks against God’s people who don’t follow the plan. You and Miguel are destined for a purpose in Christ. Please repent and realize the seriousness of God’s call on your life. You must be in His order to receive His blessings. Your younger siblings were sent as blockers to sin. (this is the part that hit me the hardest) To both of you I say, I too have been guilty of the same sin and do not judge or condemn. I adore you both but not what you are doing. This is now in your hands and none of my business. I have only obeyed the Lord because I love him, I love you and I love Miguel and I want God’s best for you. “

By the end of the 6 page letter I was in tears. The words popped out at me and my heart knew them all to be the truth. I called Miguel over and I let him read the letter. Miguel was in immediate agreement and admitted he too had been feeling convicted; we respected one another so much we decided that day to stop having sex. This is something that is very difficult to do once you start. Your mind is telling you, what’s the point? We have already had sex. But your heart knows that if you want to walk in complete surrender to God, and receive all of his promises, you must be willing to walk in the spirit and not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. (Galatians 5:16) Your flesh must die completely so that your spirit can secure a firm foundation in God’s plan. This can be accomplished by setting up boundaries. Discuss with your partner where you need to draw the line in the sand and then do not cross the line. If late night cuddle time on the couch watching movies leads to other things, then you need to reevaluate your quality time and maybe go out to the movies instead. Everyone’s boundaries will be different. Where you draw the line is between you and God.

Several months later, our relationship took on this strange new dimension, and we hit a plateau. We were not connecting the way we once did and we started to question whether we belonged together. We eventually decided to break up. I was devastated, but I was at peace knowing that God had a great future for me. I was going to live with purpose and leave the details up to God. I let go of Miguel and gave him to God. I told God I would love God and follow his plan even if it meant Miguel ended up with someone else. At the time we were both living in Tucson, Arizona. After the break up Miguel moved back to Florida to be closer to his family and I moved to Phoenix, Arizona. We both briefly dated other people. Our separation period was 18 long months in total but lots of great things happened during that time. I was in a new city with very few friends there so I had a lot of time to self-reflect. I read a lot of books, and watched a lot of sermons and I grew leaps and bounds in my spiritual walk with God. At the same time many of my friends were experiencing their own miracles and turning their lives over to God and his plans. It was such a time of growth for all of us. I spent that time fasting and praying and healing from the past decade of my life. I know now that the separation period was necessary for both of us to allow that old relationship to completely die so that we could rebuild a fresh new one.

During those 18 months, Miguel and I began talking on the phone and became best friends again. He came to Phoenix to visit and again, we stayed up most of the night just talking and rebuilding all over again. By the next morning we had a plan to get married and I would move to Florida. I was on cloud 9. The man I wanted was back in my life. This time we would stick to the plan and pursue our relationship God's way; it helped that we were living more than 2000 miles away from each other so the physical temptation was easier to resist. I was on a Government Contract and could not leave my job before the end of September without paying a lot of money to break my contract so this meant I had to stay in Phoenix for 10 months before I could move to Florida. This was great for us. We spent a lot of time on the phone discussing our future, our values and our goals. We also started pre-marital counseling together, over the phone, using a workbook called “Before You Say I Do” that was very helpful and forced us to ask the hard questions. We were both confident in the fact that we were soul mates and now the timing was right. This time we followed God's plan and the great part was that we knew that God had given us a brand new relationship, because we did it his way. We knew that God had given us a brand new relationship.

A couple of months later on Valentine’s Day, Miguel invited me to Florida. He surprised me with a trip to Discovery Cove where we swam with Dolphins and sting rays and snorkeled and had the perfect day. The Dolphin trainer said that Capricorn (our dolphin) needed a new toy and they asked me to come out and help him with his new toy. Capricorn dove deep into the water and came up right in front of me and spit his buoy (his toy) into my hands. I thought to myself, what a smart dolphin! Then I paused and saw it…MY PROPOSAL WAS WRITTEN ON THE BUOY!!! I burst into tears and hugged him and cried.

The trainers guided me to the shore where Miguel had a huge treasure box. Inside the treasure box was pink and white sand, sea shells, pearls and right in the middle was my Princess Cut diamond engagement ring. I was numb, savoring every moment, trying to stop crying. He took the box and got down on one knee. He took my hand and asked me to marry him. I said "yes" (of course)!! By this moment, the entire park had stopped what they were doing to watch us and they were all cheering!! I was so honored to say yes to my best friend. The rest of the day was surreal. I kept pinching myself to make sure I was awake.

To know that I was getting married to the man that God had hand-picked for me all those years earlier was such a sacred sign to me. I was so ready to marry him! God had completely restored our relationship and we were now able to build a life together on a fresh new anointing of God’s power and promises and most importantly, a solid foundation. To know that our relationship survived and was now thriving was God's greatest gift to me. We were married 8 months later on the beautiful Island of St John’s, Antigua in the Caribbean. We will celebrate 12 years of marriage this October 2017 and we have a beautiful daughter who is almost 5 years old and she is such a precious gift to us. Her name is Victoria which means Victory, and she represents Victory in so many ways.

Waiting doesn’t mean you will have a perfect marriage without any hardships. As long as we live in this world, there will be hardships. Waiting is an act of obedience to God and lets Him know that you believe in Him and His plan. It is an act of surrender. It tells God that you have faith in the fact that He has something better for you and you are willing to forgo instant gratification. In order to be successful, you must refrain from putting yourself in compromising situations. Just because you’ve chosen to take on the challenging task of “locking down the goods” doesn’t mean you’re superwoman. You are still human. With that in mind, try to avoid putting yourself in situations that might tempt you to give in to your desires. We’re sexual beings and to think that because you’ve decided to be celibate you are somehow exempt from getting “turned on” is foolish.

I don't know what changes God wants to make in the lives of the women reading these stories. We're all different. None of us are perfect. We all stumble (James 3:2). If you daily submit to His process, even in the pain, He will change you and He will shower you with blessings. God is looking for a commitment from you.

Miguel and I do not have a perfect marriage. There is no such thing as a perfect marriage. We still have challenges like every couple, but we are committed to getting through the challenges together as a team. As you wait on God, make a commitment today that you will follow His plan. If you fall, then get back up again and get back on course. Don’t take any detours. There are no shortcuts with God. The good news is, if you fail, you get to take the test again. The bad news is you get to take the test over and over again until you pass. The thought of retaking the same test over and over again is not appealing. I would rather pass the first time and move one. This is why it is so important to wait. Waiting also promotes good communication in dating. The communication is good because it is not pleasure focused. It’s focused on the joy of sharing views, experiences, goals and dreams. Waiting can also grow your friendship. Some people are driven by passion, and when they get to know each other more deeply, they end up dissatisfied. The problem was they did not get to know each other well enough first and were not able to build a strong friendship; instead, they were "friends with benefits." I encourage all women to love your selves and love God and live a life of integrity, honor and respect. Your body is the Lord’s temple and defiling it opens the doors for years of unnecessary pressure, anxiety and trauma and can even delay God bringing your husband. God’s ways are higher than our ways so I encourage you to move out of God’s way so he can work the miracles in your life.

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