In February of 2010, I was at a crossroads in my life.  I was 28, reaffirming my faith and relationship with God and coming to terms with my past.  I had decided to put dating on the shelf, get my life in order, and wait on God to do the rest…and He did.  Bryan was everything I never thought I deserved.  He was kind, loving, protective, understanding, and most importantly, real.  We met for what I thought was supposed to be a friendly dinner on a Monday and by that Wednesday night we were discussing marriage.  Babies, childhood, dreams—no topic too taboo, we discussed EVERYTHING.  It was the first time ever that I felt this open with anyone and knew for sure I was with “the One”.  
There was, however, one topic that was EXTREMELY sensitive to me… the number of sexual partners I’d had.  I never actually told anyone my real number; I’d always sanitized it to fit my expectations as well as those of the person I was with at the moment.  My number represented a period in my life where I was most lost.  I’d have these epic soap opera-esque relationships with men that I believed I loved and wanted so desperately to love me.   Sometimes I’d make them wait and other times I’d just go with the moment because it “felt right”.  As a result, I held on with a white-knuckle grip to some of the most ridiculous men in the history of life.  Liars, womanizers, cheaters, you name it, I dated it. I believed that if I could make them love me by any means, I would prove myself worthy.
When sex for the sake of love wasn’t working, I’d do it for the name of fun.  It’s amazing what you can convince yourself of when you are desperate for a connection.  I told myself that because it was my body, I could do with it what I pleased to whomever.  I can admit now that my “free” thinking was really to mask the disappointment and frustration caused by my lack of real intimacy with anyone, especially God and myself.  Every situation ended the same: “we” dissolved into just me, left confused, hurt and alone.
It was at the end of one such “relationship” in 2009 that I was at my lowest and knew that something had to give.  God, through a good friend, helped me see things for what they were…off.  I embarked on an intense six-month journey to refine and redefine my walk. The new Rissi was confidently celibate and waiting for marriage.  I prayed for forgiveness for my past and while I felt that God had forgiven me, I was still so ashamed and embarrassed of myself.  So when the conversation came up with Bryan, I lied and for the first time, it hurt.
When I hung up the phone that night, I knew that something had changed in me.  Normally I would have told that lie and moved forward like nothing.  This was different.  He was different.  I was different.  I had to come clean. About everything.  If he was disgusted and never spoke to me again, at least I was one-hundred percent.  It wasn’t good enough to be in a surface relationship, I deserved more.
The next night during our nightly phone call, I said the dreaded, “I need to tell you something…” and proceeded to tell him my truth.  I waited with much trepidation for his response. He simply said, “OK.  Why did you lie about that?”  Bryan now knew all there was to know about me, and he accepted me anyway, flaws and all; he loved me unconditionally.  I refer to this night as when I lost my virginity because it was definitely a first for me.
Almost exactly five months later we were married.  Today, we have a year and 6 months of marriage under our belts… as well as a seven-month-old daughter.  Every day is not perfect, we have our stuff, but I rest comfortably in the fact that I am transparent with him and happy to be so.  That, my friends, is real freedom…