“Once upon a time…” no — wait, this is 2014…
It all started with something I saw on Facebook:
There in my News Feed, was one of those inspirational quote-graphics. Now, not only do I like social-media content that combines inspirational sayings (in general), but I have fun making them, too. So it’s not that I’m just being a social-media scrooge.
This particular quote, though, went a little something like this: bad things happen to us for good reasons. Now, let me preface here, that this is not me questioning the things that are beyond our control that God allows. Sometimes bad things really do happen for “no” reason (or so it seems at the time). And sometimes we just make a mistake.
This is also not a commentary from some “uppity,” Christian girl who’s never messed up, and just wants to point the finger at everyone else. In fact, quite the opposite. By the end of my 20s:
- I had been the Christian who got involved with a man she knew was married.
- I had been the Christian who moved in and lived with a boyfriend/prospective fiance.
- I had been the Christian girl who also began having sex with said-boyfriend.
- I had been the Christian girl who felt pressured to perform sexually in other ways.
- I had been the Christian girl who was great at keeping guys at arm’s length — until I’d let them into my heart.
And — I’ll say it (the thing we’re not supposed to say):
Sometimes I really wish I had made different choices.
But Rebecca, you may be thinking, God brings beauty from our ashes — you better than anyone knows that He redeems us, and writes incredible conclusions despite the “bad” chapters of our lives! How could you say you would do things differently, if you could?
Easy: because temptation is fun, but sin sucks. And it doesn’t just politely leave after you’re done sinning. It doesn’t leave you completely unscathed. And because you don’t LIVE redeemed without pushing through opposition. People sometimes envy where I am now, but chances are they wouldn’t be jealous of my journey.
I also easily say this, because God doesn’t desire for me to sin. Does a good parent desire for their children to harm themselves? Neither does God. And I think we’ve confused Romans 8:28 (God works all things for the good of those who love Him) for a “carte blanche” to be reckless. But please remember this:
There is a HUGE difference between trials and testing that God allows — beyond our control — and sin we choose with our free will. And it seems like every week, there’s a new example of a professing Christian forging ahead with a choice they admit is risky.
Here’s the really tragic part, and the point I’m speaking to with this post: there’s a “trend,” in Christian culture — especially Christian youth culture — to treat grace like one of those Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. But as someone still recovering from the wounds of self-inflicted sin, I can attest: these aren’t scuffs on a wall that we’re talking about.
These are wounds, or at least bruises.
We are romanticizing high-risk sexual and relationship decisions, and then acting like all we did was say, “Jesus take the wheel,” and he steered us right into someone’s bed. We survey the buffet, and skip the wisdom because it seems too bland. We say it’s okay to proceed with a consciously poor choice, as long as the testimony justifies the means.
We’re confusing self-inflicted drama for genuine suffering. We gamble to see if we can “win” the jackpot: the “coolest” testimony. But you want to know what else we can “win”? Soul-ties that spiritually strap us to some gnarly bondage, like shame. We can also “win” sexually transmitted diseases.
(You didn’t think that being a Christian means you’re above responsible STD testing, did you?)
One of the most heartbreaking parts: we can miss out on God’s best. Please do not assume that everything God wants to have happen in your life is going to magically happen! Oh, goodness, please don’t assume that. Is there grace? YES! But is there wisdom, too? YES!
And sadly, even Christian youth and grown-ass adult singles are purposely rejecting wisdom — again, that is whom I’m talking to here. Christian Mingle reported new statistics that really broke my heart, about the numbers of Christian adults who would have sex outside of marriage: SIXTY-THREE percent.
You mean the same sex-outside-of-marriage that left me feeling like a whore (exactly the word I used then, too)? Oh, don’t get me wrong: I only felt that way afterwards. Well, in most cases. (Remember: I’m not talking to you as someone who is just some prude, who just did everything against her will.)
Finally, before you say I’m being hypocritical (my personal ministry is, after all, based on my testimony), let’s get a couple things straight:
- Not for a second am I proud of MY choices, even to this day. As honored as I am to encourage others by sharing my mistakes — and my Redeemer — please don’t think this is an easy or glamorous mantle to carry.
- Sexual and emotional impurity often stems from low self-worth, or a loss of identity, and there is nothing “cool,” about thinking you deserve scrapple when God meant for you to enjoy steak. (Yes, scrapple’s a real thing.)
You know, I don’t cry for myself. You should know that that’s how real redemption is: I don’t walk around with my head down in shame; I don’t think I deserve “less than,” because I majorly screwed up seven years ago. But I weep over people younger than me, who have the chance to make the better choices that I didn’t.
And immediacy over real intimacy isn’t the better choice. Foolishness — sinfulness — no matter how much we photoshop it with inspirational sayings — or passively play it down like our friend just struck out in a harmless game of tee-ball — is not the better choice.
There has to be that balance — of grace & truth — of love in truth. Not romance in risk.
Because there is infinitely (and eternally) more at stake than we even realize, and Christ died for.
You May Also Like:
“Sexual Atheism: Christian Dating Data Reveals a Deeper Spiritual Malaise” by Kenny Luck
Share in the comments something that stood out to you about this post, or a word of wisdom you would offer Christian young adults today?
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