In Pursuit of Purity

Over the past thousands of years, one of the most mysterious wonders of the ancient and modern world is relationships.

Typically, I’m the one reading relationship blog posts—not writing them.  Having said that, it was a relationship related article that inspired me to write one!  Although I am far from being a relationship guru, I’ve learned quite a bit in my nineteen years of life.  At the very least, I’ve gained knowledge through observation and education.  In other words, my perspective of relationships is formed by my upbringing and worldview. 

For starters, let’s talk about the poor choices I made in the realm of relationships:

During my preteen/adolescent years, I sought attention like no other.  Although the attention I sought wasn’t necessarily from guys alone, I simply “dressed to impress” (and let me tell you, it was anything but impressive).  After getting over myself and the drama that followed, I began to mature.  By the time I was sixteen, I thought I could handle the responsibility of a “relationship” [insert the, “who-knows-what” for who-knows-how-long].  Needless to say, my desperation for attention and longing for love reached a boiling point.  To my dismay, a healthy desire for love quickly turned into lust.   Before I knew it, I was consumed with fantasies that surpassed boundaries I wouldn’t dare cross in reality.  Thankfully, by God’s good grace and the power of the Holy Spirit I never acted on my desires.  

To this day, I constantly recite James 1:13-15 as a reminder of the consequences that follow temptation.  The punishment for sin is death, man reaps what he sows, creation worships created things rather than the creator.  Nonetheless, “no temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.  But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it” (1 Corinthians 10:13). 

When I was going through the “who-knows-what” for who-knows-how-long, I found myself wrapped up in a “relationship” that identified who I was.  The strangest part is, since nothing became “official” I didn’t expect things to end in disappointment.  Sadly, an unofficial relationship doesn’t come with an insurance policy against broken hearts. 

Next time you find yourself in a scenario such as mine, ask yourself, “is my identity in Christ?” and “do I trust him with my whole life?”  If the answer to either of those questions is “no” (for you or the person you are interested in), perhaps now isn’t the best time to pursue a relationship.        

Although I made some poor choices in the past, I also made some good ones in the process:

1.     Make Lists.

For many of us girls, it’s a breeze to jot down a bullet point list of characteristics we seek in a husband.  In fact, some began making lists when they were nine and have been updating them ever since!  However, that’s not exactly the kind of list I’m referring to.  Back in my junior high days, I decided to begin a “husband has to” list.  Not long after writing it, I realized I wasn’t making a list of qualities for my future husband—I was making a list of qualities for my future self.  If marrying a humble man will transform me into a humble woman, than pixie dust and happy thoughts will make me fly.  Truth is, people marry as they are—not who they wish to be.  In my opinion, if you want a humble husband, you need to work on humility yourself.  Making a list of husband qualities will open your eyes to the wife qualities you need to work on now.  It’s not your job to hold men to standards you wouldn’t hold yourself to.  If a man wants to marry a virtuous woman, but lives scandalously, he will only attract scandals women.  In the same way, if a woman wishes to marry a godly man, she must seek to become a godly woman.

2.      Keep Accountable.

Listen, I cannot stress this enough: if you want to make it through your teenage and young adult years without giving into sexual temptation, you must include others.  As Christians, we have the opportunity to be a part of a body of believers who build one another up in truth and love.  Since the goal is to be like Christ, we should constantly involve others in our walk with God.  Think about it: Jesus never once carried out his mission alone.  In fact, Jesus had twelve disciples, spoke to multitudes, and ministered alongside people his entire life.  In order to live a life worthy of the calling (Ephesians 4), we can’t face trials and temptations on our own. 

Fortunately, I have a set of loving parents who know me better than anyone else.  One of the best decisions I ever made was to be 100% open and honest to my parents about my relationships with the opposite sex.  As a result, I gained two mentors that teach from their past mistakes and give advice as needed.  Although honesty and conviction sound unromantic now, purity is always worth striving for.  Hopefully, all young Christians have leaders who can keep them accountable—parents or not.

3.     Don’t Settle.

Ladies, I don’t care how much you love that special someone; if a young man is playing games with your heart and keeping you within arm’s reach, he’ll drop you the second someone better comes along.  You’ve heard it all before and if you’re like me, you’ve read plenty of articles about why you shouldn’t settle for less.  In the blog post I mentioned earlier (the one that inspired me), the writer talked about being a “second choice girl.”  Depending on the length of your attention span, I suggest reading When Did You Become a “Second Choice” Girl before continuing.

Throughout the majority of my teenage and young adulthood, I felt burdened with the feeling of being second best.  By frequently over-analyzing relationships, I became familiar with the “second choice girl” mentality.  It wasn’t long after the “who-knows-what” that I realized my self-esteem was low in all areas of my life.  Often times, I felt less valuable than other girls and—as a result—settled for less because I foolishly thought I was unworthy of more.  Reality is, constant comparison is self-demeaning, destructive, and immature.  As Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” 

Although I’m sure I could add more, I’m going to conclude with this final thought: the pursuit of purity isn’t for yourself.  Allow me to explain, if you read this whole post and walk away encouraged, that’s great.  However, the goal of purity is first for God and then for your spouse.  Chances are, you’re going to marry a guy as messed up as you are.  In fact, the chances are 1 in 1.  Thankfully, there is hope: all things are possible through God—including marriage.  Apart from God, marriage is messy and disappointing.  Although, as my mom pointed out, "even with God, marriage can be messy and disappointing at times.  God just gives us the strength and reason to stick with it if we let him."  

If the goal of marriage is happiness, chances are it will end.  As John Mark Comer points out in his book Loveology, half of marriages end in divorce (that’s a coin toss).  However, something beautiful happens when you bring two broken people together who love God and use each other as catalyst for growth. 

So young singles, remain steadfast in pursuit of purity, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, [and] give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).