Yes, it’s this verse again. :] You’ll see why in a minute.
I’m participating today in the Purity Challenge that Lexi is hosting this month. This week’s theme is why you committed to purity, and as a result, what has God been doing in your life since then?
I underwent heartbreak at the age of fifteen. In some ways, I’m still working from that. Yes, I know it’s been nearly four years. But I had fallen hard, and so I crashed harder.
My friend Rachel knew much more detailed particulars about the story, and in a possibly related but also possibly unrelated conversation, told me about a book she had read and loved. It’s called Authentic Beauty and written by Leslie Ludy. I’m delighted to say it has a spot on my bookshelf. (Rachel bought it for me for my sixteenth birthday.)
I read the book and really liked it, although at the time I’d have much rather read more about tips to having a wonderful love story than drawing closer to Jesus. (My current feelings on that are coming later.) I also read And the Bride Wore White by Dannah Gresh, and liked that as well.
I found a lot of what Leslie and Dannah wrote to be very helpful to forming my approach to handling guys and relationships. I don’t have any exact or really even approximate dates to when I decided to take my stand for purity. But I do know I became more conservative in my approach to dating (as though I hadn’t been already). In fact, I even decided not to date during high school.
Hold the phone.
Girl, you did what?!
Yeah, I did. And it’s one of the best, most rational decisions I’ve ever made in my entire life. I’ve already told you here that the waiting wasn’t–and still isn’t–easy. But it saved me a lot of ridiculous drama. Not to say I didn’t have any, because I did, but I don’t even want to imagine how much more there might have been had I not always been sure of the fact that my first date wasn’t going to come before I walked across the stage to get my high school diploma.
And, if you’ve been reading here a while, you already know I still haven’t had that first date, even though it’s been almost nine months since graduation.
And I’m okay with that.
I wrote here that I am convinced there’s something beautiful unfolding in this period of waiting, and this is because God has shown Himself to be faithful and good to me while I’ve had only Him to rely upon. Particularly so these past few months. I’m reminded of a line in a Bethany Dillon song: “Jesus, You are more than I was ready for.” It is so true. He has crashed with me in several beautiful ways; the resultant feelings of which I don’t think I have words to describe. (Yes, I know I’m a writer, that writers are supposed to have the words to describe, and therefore I should be able to tell you all about that. But I think this is an instance of God confounding the wise, so to speak.) I will, however, attempt to share this story with you.
The same Rachel I mentioned earlier also introduced me to the wonderfulness that is Lynn Austin’s fiction, and to one series of hers in particular. The series is called Refiner’s Fire and comprises three books that take place during the Civil War: the northern perspective (Fire by Night), the southern perspective (Candle in the Darkness), and the slave perspective (A Light to My Path).
They’re not written in any particular order, so you can read them in whichever order you can get your hands on them (like I did, which for a bibliophile is highly unusual, but I digress as usual). I read Candle in the Darkness last, and since the stories are somewhat intertwined, I was eagerly waiting to see how everything tied together.
Well, I read the book.
I suppose you want some sort of review.
Well, I cried.
Remember when I went to go see Dear John? I didn’t cry. I didn’t even tear. I didn’t during the book either. Nicholas Sparks simply does not have that, well, spark. (Apologies. I sort of had to, which slightly embarrasses me, because I rarely give in to the urge to make a corny pun. And before everyone starts an angry mob, while it wasn’t my favorite, I liked the story.)
So did you catch that earlier? Never. Well, hardly ever. But no movie has ever made me cry, and no book has either (not before or since Candle in the Darkness).
I cried because Candle in the Darkness painted the picture of a love so intense, so selfless, and so noble that I could hardly stand it. It was the picture of God’s love toward us. I knew it when I saw it, and coming so fresh after my heartbreak it was as though my heart shattered again. Which it did. You know how a doctor has to break a bone that’s healed improperly? God had to do that with my heart.
And He still is.
It is this, this beautiful unfolding of a heart seeking only His will, that He is building as I wait on Him. My sole contribution is to give Him that heart, to let Him mold it, and to promise Him that my heart is His alone until He directs me to give it to another. I would not, after that heartbreak, and after the lessons learned, take my heart back from Him. It is part of my commitment to purity that my heart remain in His hands. Purity is so much more than physical. It is emotional. It is spiritual. It encompasses all three parts of us: body, soul, and spirit. Spiritual purity is giving Jesus your heart and leaving it in His tender and perfect care.
This has been long, and I could go on longer, but I will let you go. I pray that as you go from here, you will be thinking about your own purity. If you have it, I pray you will keep it. If you don’t, there is forgiveness, redemption, and a second (or third, or fourth, or five hundredth) chance. Jesus’s blood covers all our imperfections, impurity included. I can say to you with confidence that despite a long period of emotional impurity, I am now pure in the face of God, as His grace has covered me.
If you have a blog and would like to participate in Lexi’s Purity Challenge, visit her blog here. There are prizes available each week, but in my opinion, the real prize lies with reading about each other’s commitments as a way of encouragement. You can find other stories at Lexi’s blog as well.
God bless you as you go on your way from here.