Most people don’t know my story or how far I have come from who I used to be; in August, I will be celebrating a huge personal accomplishment and I want to share why it is so significant. I grew up in an extremely strict, sheltered household on a small farm in Eastern Washington. At age 14, my dad allowed me to move to a large city on the opposite side of the state to live with my mom who had the complete opposite parenting style—she barely had any rules. As a result, I enjoyed my newfound freedom too much and turned very wild.
At age 14 I drank alcohol for the first time, got drunk, and lost my virginity to a 21-year-old man. I was extremely naive and unable to navigate all the new social situations I was being exposed to at a very fast rate. I pretty much just went with the flow and did whatever. At 15 I became pregnant with my first child and left home and moved in with a 32-year-old man who was very abusive to me. It was a very toxic household with gang members living in the home and others visiting regularly, as well as drug dealers visiting daily because the man I was with was addicted to drugs. 17 months later I escaped that home and moved to a teen parent home in Seattle, then moved into my first apartment at age 17 with my baby.
For the next 8 years, I was drinking every other day and in abusive relationships, and I was promiscuous due to my alcoholism. Being raped, drugged and gang raped and putting myself in other dangerous situations wasn’t a “rock bottom” for me. My nose was even broken by one of my children’s fathers and a hole from his ring cut all the way to my bone which left a scar that I have to this day. One rare sober night, a man who I would sleep with when I was drunk came over to share a concern with me. We were on my back porch smoking a cigarette and his exact words were, “I am really concerned about you…you are too beautiful to be doing what you are doing and I am afraid you are going to catch HIV or AIDS.” Those words hit me to the core. I was so embarrassed and ashamed. I knew I was behaving like a hoe but to hear someone else say it because they saw it was the awakening I needed. Ironically, he tried to have sex with me after but I refused. I decided that night that I would change my life and I did.
I made up my mind that I would stop drinking and I did which resulted in me no longer sleeping around (as much). I decided I didn’t want to have the gangbangers and drug dealers as my boyfriends and sex partners anymore and that I would raise my standards. I definitely struggled over the next 11 years because I never quit having sex outside of marriage but I knew I needed to because of my faith in God and I knew it wasn’t okay. I knew I needed to discipline myself but I couldn’t seem to. I went on to have 6 more children—I had 3 by the time I was 21—I had my last child at age 31. I am 42 now. I remember after I found out I was pregnant with my last child, I would lie in bed at night with tears rolling down my face asking God to forgive me. I thought He was punishing me. One night, as I lay there crying and once again asking for forgiveness, a strong, firm voice interrupted me and said, “If I wanted to punish you, I would have given you death, not life.” Wow! That was so powerful because I knew what He was referring to. He was referring to AIDS. Contracting HIV/AIDS had always been my greatest fear and the Lord was letting me know that if He wanted to punish me, He would have allowed my worst fear to come true but He didn’t. He showed me grace and mercy. He never gave up on me. All feelings of conviction left me. I knew He had forgiven me the first time I asked Him to. I knew He loved me.
While I never went back to drinking (except for the occasional drink here and there) I still couldn’t discipline myself enough to stop having sex completely. I moved to California in 2013 and shortly after, a fairly well known music artist contacted me privately on Facebook and we ended up having a short-lived but intense relationship. It was during that time that I began understanding my self-worth and how many men had used my body for their own sexual gratification and I had enough of it. I knew I was worth far more than that. I had a couple more sexual encounters after that but then I was done.
I wanted to be faithful to God because He has shown me such an abundance of grace throughout my life. He could have easily allowed my worst fear of getting HIV to happen to me but He didn’t. That in itself is a miracle! He could have allowed me to be killed one of the many times I drove drunk out of my mind, or I could have killed someone else and ended up in prison but He didn’t allow that to happen. I could have been seriously hurt or killed by any of the strange men I allowed in my bed but I wasn’t. He has always, always taken care of me and my kids and pulled us through every bad situation and blessed us with even greater than we had before.
In August, I celebrate six years of abstinence, praise God! I have not so much as kissed a man in almost six years and I am so proud of the fact that I have conquered what I believed was unconquerable (for me) but GOD…it is through Him that I found the strength to and I am so grateful beyond words for Him transforming me from an extremely foolish, unwise, reckless young lady into the woman I am today.
I have been blessed in countless ways but most of all, I am grateful for the wisdom He has given me and continues to give me. It takes work to die to ourselves (kill our flesh) but it is worth it. Learning discipline in all areas of our lives is absolutely worth it.
I pray that if God wants me to marry again, I will be able to enter into that marriage free of sexual sin. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” Philippians 4:13.
If you are struggling with sexual sin, please know that you are not beyond help. Know that you absolutely are capable of conquering anything that has a hold on you through deepening your understanding of and relationship with the Lord. He loves you and is patient with you. He understands our struggles because He faced every temptation on Earth. You can do this!