My story isn’t that different from many others. I was firm in the fact that I was going to remain a virgin until I was married. At 18, I was raped during my freshman year of college, so I was no longer a physical virgin (statistically, that is the case for 1 in 3 or 1 in 4 girls – depending on the source). That really caused a mountain to work over, but remaining steadfast in my vow to consensually remain a virgin until marriage wasn’t hindered.

I transferred to a different college as the result of a plea to God to get me out of the small town I was in, seeing the face of that guy who violated me everywhere – literally. I was becoming self-destructive. I was ironically (or more like divinely) led to a college named Hope International University. I definitely had hope that in this place and time my healing could take place without the scab being scratched off every time I went to put gas in my car or buy groceries or even go to the mall.

My road to healing was well under way. I was growing confident again in who and Whose I was.  I was also ministering in a healthy and wonderful children’s ministry, making some pretty stellar grades, and all that comes with that. Along the way, I met someone who became the one I was going to marry. He said so. I said so. (Yes, I know…it’s blaring. There’s no “and God said so.”) He was beautiful. His words were beautiful. We were beautiful. I was confident in that. Because I felt so confident in the future we promised one another, I was confident in our choice to have sex. Yes, I knew *technically* we weren’t married and therefore my school, church, and God frowned on it. But we were going to get married. He said so. I said so. My friends said so. Wasn’t that the same thing? (Update: he’s married, but not to me.) Those good intentions and pretty words didn’t get me where I wanted or thought I’d end up.

Those who know me know I really like to bake. One thing I’ve learned through my experiences in the kitchen is that there’s a reason for the ingredients and order they are combined. You cook/bake in a sequence that gives the desired result. If you rush or do it out of order, the results can be catastrophic. I’ve had it happen to me a few times. I’ve left out an ingredient or two, added in a different order, or tried to tweak a recipe to create something else by adding in my own preferences. Sure, sometimes it turned out pretty good, but more often than not – more commonly with baking – it lead to fallen cakes/breads, odd tastes, and the sort. In the case of this story, my rushing into activities reserved for those who are married left me with more than a fallen cake. I was left with a broken heart, broken promises, and I removed myself from my place in ministry because of the guilt I felt. I constantly felt like a fraud and a hypocrite.

Had I really taken the time and care to prepare that relationship in the way it should have been and deserved to be prepared, then the results would have been far different. The emotional scarring wouldn’t be there. It wouldn’t have taken years to get over the bitterness of a failed relationship and broken promises. I wouldn’t be cautious of the motives of any guy that shows an interest. I would have realized we were not well suited for one another. I wouldn’t have had to hear the words I never wanted to hear: “I don’t feel that way about you anymore. You deserve better.”

I spent years blaming him and being hurt by what he said. Though, on this side of healing, I’m thankful that he saw that the same things he appreciated and loved about me were the things I was throwing away to be with him. I can honestly say “thank you” for saying “no” when I wasn’t strong enough. Even though it came late.