Although I’ve written about my family before, the dynamic in which I was raised was so strange, it’s worth explaining again. My parents came to the United States from a Muslim country. They were nominally Muslim, never participated in any kind of religion, and sent me to a non-denominational Christian school.

I was taught that there was a God, but was mainly encouraged by my parents to pursue the world – to put money and success above all. They pressed and stressed the importance of education, and so I grew up quite the bookworm, dedicated to my education and using it as a way to avoid my family. My dad, unfortunately, was nothing less than mentally abusive, spending hours on one-sided life lectures, driving me to tears with abusive words and unkind actions, the same way he belittled my mother. They weren’t exactly the best role models in love or life, wealthy but yet always fretting about money and never living victoriously.  The world was my escape and I was so eager to enter the work force upon my graduation from college. At last, with a source of income apart from my parents, I was free and eager to know the ways of the world.

Always discouraged by my family from getting married and having kids, I was rightfully confused about what I was supposed to do with my lonesome self. Finding a man to be my lover and partner, I decided, was the answer. Being a sheltered child wasn’t exactly conducive to learning how to socialize with members of the opposite sex, and I wasn’t exactly pursued by boys in school. However, I attended the Sex and the City and Cosmopolitan magazine school of man catching.  I craved attention, I desired affection, and my hormones demanded physical intimacy. The majority of my friends were pursuing a life of good times, with sex being the driving force and common goal of their actions.  Love had nothing to do with it.

A few years into my worldly adventures, pursuing what I thought was love, but was actually just sexual intoxication, I married a man who was the exact copy of my father, but even a little more mean. It was an unhappy union that eventually ended when I’d had enough of walking on eggshells to avoid inevitable physical and verbal violence. I was still worldly at the time, but somewhere deep inside, my inner wisdom knew that my value was more than nothing.

While my ex-husband was abusive, I can’t claim to have been a total saint in my marriage, either. I would often provoke my husband, yelling at him, calling him names and cursing in frustration. In anger, I would say things that I knew would trigger hurt in his heart. Ours was a give and take of negative energy and hate. Proverbs 31 had nothing to do with any of my wifely ways.

Towards the end of my marriage, when I was hanging on to my sanity by a loose thread, I remember feeling disgusted by physical intimacy with my husband. Even though our relationship had started off with a foundation of sex, I had nothing but hatred for this man who had failed to live up to my beliefs of what marriage was, and giving him access to my body was a repulsive act. Completely unsatisfied emotionally, there were several times I would think, “This is why people cheat in their marriages.” Although I was never unfaithful and looked down upon people who were, I could see with clear eyes that emotional and physical affairs that are actually demands for attention could so easily happen in relationships built on sand.

In this world, the definition of marriage has been trampled through the ground, spat upon, and made a laughingstock. In God’s Word, we are given clear instructions as to what a true marriage entails. Women are meant to be man’s helper. Men are told specifically to cherish their wives. A true godly marriage brings GLORY to God. All good stuff, right? The problem is that we just don’t understand love.

Why is it such a wild and crazy idea to think that we can’t have real love here on earth? That we should be denied the experience of love? That a healthy, mutually fulfilling sexual relationship is the by-product of a healthy marriage built on the solid foundation of God?

If I could go back in time and see my ungodly, worldly self who was so ready to meet a man that I manifested the wrong one, I would tell her that chasing sex isn’t the gateway to love or fulfillment. Love is worth waiting for. Love is worth fighting for. Let us understand the meaning of love a little more, and let go of our preconceived notions of how to build a relationship.

A few months into my discipleship I told Jesus that I wanted to see Him, to really understand Him. And I did, in a brief moment. We looked at each other and smiled. And in His beautiful smile was LOVE. It was the most amazing, pure feeling that filled my heart, and finally I understood that love has everything to do with it.