Life Chronicles · Memories

Opening the Black Book of My Past

I picked up that black journal last night. You know, the one I’ve forever labeled in my brain as “Most Embarrassing Journal Ever,” but which I still felt compelled to re-read last night.

And just as I knew I would, I cringed through every long and overly-detailed entry about that time when I was so caught up in a boy’s attention that I couldn’t see my own stupidity. But this time of reading it, I was literally shocked at how immature and dramatic I was at ages 17 and 18 – how low I let my morals stoop and how easily I rationalized what I knew to be a wrong infatuation.

Looking back, it’s so obvious that it was wrong and stupid and that the only thing about that quasi-relationship was that a boy was giving me so much attention. But did I see it then? Of course not. Hormones were stronger than rationality, and no matter how much I knew in my head I should probably not be flirting with that boy, I did anyway.

Thankfully God spared me, and I had enough sense after so many shallow MySpace messages [yes, back in the “olden days!”] to ask myself, “What is even the point of this ridiculous banter?” – and cut off something that should have never started in the first place.

But as I do with just about every situation I go through in life, I had to ask myself, “What was the purpose of that? What can I learn from it?” And last night as I re-read sickening evidence of my base heart, I saw two lessons from that whole mess [well, three – the most obvious being to never do such a thing again!].

The first was to humble me. To truly show me that yes, even the girl who prided herself on her purity and her “saving her heart” and not dating in high school could lose her common sense over the heady attention of a boy. I still held onto those ideals and I still knew I wanted to follow them – but somehow – in that deceptive way that sin gets a hold of us – I compromised my values, convincing myself that everything was still okay.

Wow. Get a grip, 18-year old Lydia. You were not as holy as you thought. You were not as righteous as you portrayed. Don’t pretend that you didn’t enjoy those tight hugs and the way he favored you and bantered with you. Oh, you did, and while you pretended it was fun and games, there was no denying the deeper significance of where you let your heart wander – exactly where you judged other high school girls for going.

The second lesson I learned was that, after reading just how intense my struggle was against my flesh and my conscience, I can now sympathize more deeply with the high school girls I sometimes decry, thinking, “Why can’t they get it together?? Why can’t they see what stupid choices they’re making?!”

They can’t see it because the emotion of the moment is too much for them. They are blinded by reality and they don’t want to give up the pleasure for some dusty ideal called “waiting.” I know – I can see it written all over the pages of that old journal. And sometimes, much as we would like to avoid all heart trauma like that, we have to learn our lessons the hard way.

It helps me sympathize, but it also helps me to be bolder in my encouragement to them. I can be patient with them, yes, knowing it’s hard. But as an outsider who has been there and is now here, I can also be sincere in encouraging them to stay away from boys like that. How much worse it would be, I think to myself, if I had actually dated that boy and had been talked in to giving more of myself away.

God’s grace is huge, and He put encouraging women of faith in my life to keep me on the right path. His Word is also convicting, and even in the midst of that crazy emotional roller coaster of all of six months or so, I kept reading the Word and praying … and He was faithful to show me the error of my ways.

I’m ashamed of my flirtatiousness, ashamed of the silliness, ashamed of the drama … but I keep that journal for one reason alone – to remind me of how far God has brought me. To remind me that God is still in the business of maturing us as His children, and that even in our foolish choices He can redeem them and allow us to help others who might be struggling with the same thing.

Girls, it’s hard. It’s hard to stay away from that drama sometimes because our hearts were made to be wanted. But worth more than any momentary attention of the next cute guy is a man who treasures you enough to protect you. That man who is centered in the will of God will not be impatient or ask you to do that which goes against your convictions. He will guide your eyes back to your Heavenly Father, and be committed to serving Him first.

That man might take your breath away by how intensely he gazes into your eyes … but far better that he takes your breath away because of his commitment to integrity and truth.

Don’t settle for less. Don’t believe the lie that no one else will come along and give you that attention. They might … and they might not. But that’s not really the point.

If they do or if they don’t, God’s purpose for you still remains to make you more like Him – to satisfy you as the all-consuming treasure of your life. When you allow Him to ravish your heart with His beautiful love, the fleeting pleasures of sin grow increasingly less significant. True, it might be a lonely road, but you are never alone … for God has promised to be the strength of your heart and your portion forever.

How do I know this? Because I’m living it right now … and God’s grace to this single lady tastes sweeter every day.

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