Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Everything that I did-don't do that: A guest article about sex

Who am I and what qualifies me to talk to you about premarital sex? Nothing qualifies me. Except that I had it—premarital sex that is. That doesn't designate me for anything really, except a good Adventist judging, which is why I'll be writing this anonymously. I'm not afraid of talking about my story, but usually do so with people that know me at least a little. And I'm not exactly qualified to give advice. Except this: Everything that I did—don't do that. Well, almost everything.

I am, however, qualified to tell my story, and that's what I plan to do. It's long. Maybe unnecessarily so. If you want the short Richard-fied version, here's what it might be: This girl had sex before she was married. That's whack. She got pregnant, got married, and somehow things worked out for her. God's grace is dope.

(Did I use “whack” and “dope” correctly?)

Now for anyone that wants the real story. Here it goes.

I held the Clear Blue stick with the word “Pregnant” in the tiny digital screen, because that's the only legit way to tell someone you're pregnant. Especially your college boyfriend that you woke up before the sun. First note of things to do differently than me: Let the poor guy sleep. The news will still be there later when he's a little more coherent and ready to process such heavy information.

“Are we big enough?” His response to my announcement seemed as if it came from a child trying to process calculus. He was obviously dazed from the sleep I just jolted him out of.

Sure we were big enough. We were adults in every sense of the term. But, in many ways, we still had a lot of growing up to do. I mean, we had unprotected premarital sex and got pregnant afterall—that's not a very adult thing to do.

Our first adult decision: deciding to keep the baby. Just “taking care of it” wasn't a consideration for either of us. Especially because we weren't teenagers. Especially because we loved each other. Especially because sleeping together was a conscious choice we both made.

Our second adult decision: deciding to get married. Doing this apart wasn't a consideration either. Did I mention we loved each other? Here's the thing: This doesn't work out for everyone. What seems like a loving committed relationship one day, might be something completely different another. So we also saw a Christian counselor together to get an outside perspective on the decisions we were making.

This is essential. I don't believe pregnancy, by itself, is a good enough reason to get married. Lives get too messy that way. Yes, even messier than a pregnancy without a marriage. And I stand by that. In Richard's post about sex, he mentioned that sex is a terrible reason to stay in a relationship, but it happens. Even worse, is “making it work” because a girl gets pregnant. Just like sex can't fix a bad relationship, pregnancy and having a baby won't fix it either.

Because, you see, marriage didn't (and doesn't) magically fix everything. Even before the wedding, we still had a pregnancy to “cope” with. That last statement about “coping”--that's against human nature. Announcing your pregnancy to the world, sharing baby bump photos, status updates about cravings, joyful congratulations from family and friends—that's what's to be expected when you're expecting. But it's all off limits with pregnancy before marriage. A supposed miracle that should be welcomed with joy was instead dealt with somberly and quietly. While wearing loose clothing. And missing finals while I lost my lunch or took a crazy long nap.

Another clear sign marriage wasn't going to magically fix everything: Wedding dress shopping. Most girls dream of shopping for their wedding dress with mom, sister and best friend, who all tear up seeing them in “the” perfect dress. Not so for me. I swallowed pride just to step into the store, hiding signs of embarrassment or obvious immaturity as I tell them I'll be 4 months pregnant on the big day and need help finding a dress that will subtly hide the bump. Glamorous, I tell ya. They hold their judgment and bring a small round pillow to strap around my waste as I try on my favorite dresses. Of course, “the” dress doesn't work with a baby bump, so I settle for something a little different. Then, I take a moment in the changing room to grieve at the realization that from here on out this whole wedding thing will not go down how I always dreamed it would. And this would be just the beginning of my life not going down how I always dreamed it would.

In fact, any ideas I had about marriage would also need to be ditched. You know that time when a newly married couple is adjusting to each other, going on vacations, spending money on frivolous things, and having lots of sex? Neither do I. I will never know what the beginning of a marriage is meant to be. Because the beginning of our marriage was spent making ends meet and going to doctor's appointments, then staying up with a newborn while juggling work and school.

These are the little things 16 and Pregnant couldn't prepare me for.

Premarital sex and an unplanned pregnancy may have altered our life plans, made us grow up a little faster, and took away the “honeymoon” of our marriage. But a more serious life change for me was with something--Someone--bigger. Someone that matters more than a confused young couple, a growing fetus or disappointed family and friends.

I've written this next part at least twenty different times. It keeps coming out too poetic for this “conversation-style” telling of my story I am writing here. Take for instance this prayer I wrote to God shortly after having sex and before getting knocked up...

Today, I come to You, hurting—in every way. Today I miss You. Today, I long to be Your little girl, climbing upon Your knee—hearing Your words, feeling Your breath of life. Today, I realize the choices I've made. Today, I messed up and hope that today did not hinder the connection I've built with You. Today, I feel Your grace. Today, I am a sinner. And today I realize what it is to need a Savior. Lord, I love you. May that not be an awful sound in Your ear. May my “not one” be a humble response and may Your very presence be enough for me today and always. Amen.

For some reason I keep finding myself using that sort of poetic language to tell this part of my story. Then, I realize why. It's because this part of my story is poetic. The part about being a sinner in need of a Savior. The part where the Savior says “Is no one left to accuse you?” and I (with the adulteress from John 8:1-11) respond “Not one.” And, get this, He says, “Neither do I. Get up and sin no more.” The part where God promises to return to me when I leave sin behind and return to Him (Zechariah 1:3, Malachi 3:7)--that is poetic.

I do not justify my decision to have sex before I was married. In fact, I'm still trying to process how to have this conversation with my child because our choices have already paved the way for any children we have to follow in our footsteps. And I would love for my advice to actually be followed: Everything that we did—don't do that.

Except for this one thing: Always return to God. Even if you've had sex outside of marriage, or are currently sexually active without the marriage commitment. Even if you've had an abortion, or are currently pregnant with an unplanned baby. Always return to God. We are sinners in need of a Savior. Somehow, our story turned out pretty good considering our bad choices. All I can say to that is: God's grace is dope.

Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” -- John 8:12, NKJV

May 23