Go watch and interact. I’m telling you, these women make me look like a genius for having them on this Roundtable! These ladies are L.E.G.I.T.
A little over a year ago, I took my purity ring off. Not because I was swearing off the idea of ever getting married… I just didn’t want it on anymore.
For one, I’m tired of the awkward conversations. I was tired of people asking me questions about it, because what was I supposed to say?
“I’m waiting until marriage to have sex.” Great, a post-graduate virgin that no one wants to have sex with.
“I’m giving my heart to Jesus until he brings me a man.” Great, yet another young woman “waiting” for a man.
“I’m waiting for God to finish working on a man that will be perfect for me.” Yeah, because I obviously have no work to be done.
So here, a year later, I still have it off. Why?
Waiting assumes that one’s coming…and God may be calling me to singleness. And I mean, I have to be okay with that. Additionally, I have to minister to teen girls and show them that I’m okay with that, because God may be calling any one of them as well. To constantly preach the message to young girls that they need to “wait?” And to celebrate in that waiting? What? Have you every seen a teenager like to wait for anything?
I used to love the song by Superchick called “Average Girl.” The chorus goes “No more dating, I’m just waiting. Like Sleeping Beauty, my prince will come for me, he’ll come for me. No more dating, I’m just waiting. ‘Cause God is writing my love story, my love story.” I used to love that song as a teenager, because I would think “God is preparing someone for me. My prince is going to come. It’s going to happen.”
I feel like teaching our young ladies to “wait” is setting them up for disaster. Have you talked to a young woman about relationships lately? She will tell you how ticked she is, because she has been waiting like she was told to do, yet no one is coming. And don’t dare tell her that she needs to trust God more, or that she needs to clean some sin from her life. Because although in some cases that may be true, that’s not true for every case. Some women aren’t supposed to wait…we need to teach that as a reality and not as an alternative lifestyle.
I stocked up on True Love Waits material ever since I signed that pink card and put it on the bulletin board at church at age of 13. I requested a personalized purity ring for my 16th birthday. I even made my own students at church sign that card as well.
So when I started working with at-risk teens, many of whom are teen mothers, and began learning about the way the church has handled their “promiscuity,” “debauchery,” and “fornication” (crazy how they know these words and can’t even read past the 5th grade) I began changing my view of how we teach about sex.
Dr. Kara Powell said at SYMC conference in March 2013: “We have made sexual purity the litmus test for Christianity.” We have taught this to our teens: Once you have sex, it’s over. You’re done. When a teenager comes to us and says they have had sex, we put them at arm’s length and pray for their sweet lost soul.
We teach that if a teenager has sex, they are like a piece of gum that has been chewed. Once chewed, it will never be the same again. We tell them that they’ve given away a piece of their self away that they can never retrieve. We tell them that if they have any sexual contact outside of marriage, they are cheating on their future spouse, and that spouse may not want them if the hear of that person’s sin.
We need to change how we talk about sex: Not treating it as the unforgivable sin. Sure we talk about a “second virginity” and being a “born-again virgin.” But that doesn’t do anything for the morale; because although we say they are redeemed, we say in the exact same Sunday School lesson that they are that chewed-up piece of gum.
Especially since many of our young ladies may become victims of sexual abuse. Pushing this message actually tells them that they aren’t worthy of ever being loved. That they will never be able to have a marriage with good, Godly sex because a piece of them was given away, whether they wanted it to or not. So why pursue Godliness? Why wait for this perfect man when they aren’t worthy of him? Might as well continue a life of “fornication.”
I have a close friend who believes she is damaged goods: She made a mistake and had sex. And she can’t stop. She, too, was a fan of True Love Waits and advocated it. She had the purity ring, she read “Lady in Waiting.” But she can’t stop. She started because she had low self-esteem, but now she believes she has no value at all, because she gave what was meant for her husband to other men. I have other friends who have left the church because they were told they were whores; they weren’t told to their faces, but they were taught through the way we teach about sex.
Andy Mineo raps in “You Will” : “You’re never too far to be made new. They said you damaged goods? That ain’t true.”
Dang. How much do women need to hear this?
You are not damaged goods.
This is a shoutout to all my friends over at YouthPastorDiet.Com, and all youth pastors everywhere who are struggling with their goals for weight…and their ministry.
I have struggled with my weight all my life: I’m pretty sure I came out of the womb with a pear shape. In January, I decided that I wanted to begin running. Now, understand how ridiculous and hilarious this is: I have never been able to run. Like, ever. Even when I played softball for 6 years, I was terrible at running. Terrible! My mom used to make fun of me and tell me that I looked like I was running with a piano on my back.
So why did I decide to run? Stink if I know. I think it’s because I knew that I wanted to exercise more and get fit. I also have issues with migraines, and at my January doctor’s appointment I was told I’m healthy as a clam, yet my BMI is bad, like really bad. I think it’s because I was too poor for a gym membership, and I can’t fit an exercise machine in my little car. Running is free. Well, after you drop $150 on a good pair of shoes, some running shorts, a good sports bra (not just for women), and a running shirt. Cool running sunglasses optional. They’re on my list.
A few months later, my miles are 3 minutes shorter; in fact, just this morning I beat my records. I’m achieving goals, setting records, yet I’m discontent because I’m not seeing it on the scale. I thought I’d be skinnier? I mean, let’s be honest: Wasn’t that really my goal all along?
But I’m forgetting all the little goals: That my migraines aren’t every day anymore. That before, I couldn’t exercise 2 days in a row…this week I did FIVE days in a row. FIVE!!! Yes, it hurts like you-know-what… but I’ve had worse. I’m faster, stronger, I feel better. And my confidence is great. Those are all goals to be celebrated.
I think back to ministry (because I always ministry-juke myself):
We set goals for ministry, typically growth: And even though our existing students may be getting stronger, may be getting over bumps of junk in their life, may be becoming just brave enough to invite people… we are only focused on the quantitative growth. And what a shame that is!
Shouldn’t we be celebrating all the little victories! Who cares if I’m not losing inches where I want to–it’s happening! Who cares if teens’ friends aren’t coming–at least they have the guts to ask them now!
AND–maybe we need to reevaluate our methodology. So I’m running…what about that Chinese food I ate the other day?
But we use excuses for those things: Well, we always do Taco Tuesdays (order a Taco Salad, brosky). I have to go support their bake sale. Well, we’re at the baseball game, so beer and frank it is. And ladies: It’s “that time.” Yeah, well a few times I’ve beat my time on “my time” if you get my drift.
That sounds like that one excuse every youth worker loathes: “This is the way we have always done it.”
Did I make you feel bad yet?
I think I might have to go for another jog.
I have never written something that I am more proud of and that is so important to me. Read, comment, discuss, love.
This morning I heard what I needed to hear. Like, so bad.
Acts 18. So, here’s Paul: Paul was asked personally by Jesus to be His witness and to go make disciples. Paul goes and has some luck and visits 25 cities in 5 years, but is tired and burnt out. And out of all the places to get led to, God takes him to Corinth. Corinth is like our modern-day Vegas; full of idols, prostitutes, and sin. So Paul, who more than anything probably thinks he needs somewhere calm where he can just relax, has to go probably his hardest place yet.
And what happens? Well, he’s broke. So he begins building tents again for money. He’s ministering “part-time” because he has to live. And slowly, God begins to meet his needs. He brings Priscilla and Aquila to help him make money, and he ends up making friends and disciples. As he makes new friends, old ones come about: Timothy and Silas come and bring financial support. And Paul, throughout this process, never ceases to proclaim Christ. It looked different at times, but he knew his calling and stuck with it through all the changes. God affirms him and then blesses him by having Paul stay there for a year and a half, building some of the strongest churches yet.
Paul, this saint, this man whose writings I read more than anybody else who has ever lived, whose words have shaped my theology and my understanding of Christ–he was burnt out at one point. He was “part time” at one point. He was in a place that didn’t appear to meet his needs. He was stuck doing a job that he wasn’t passionate about in order to be able to live (or even in order to minister!). He had hardships. But he stuck through it all, and no matter if he was able to minister “full-time,” “part-time,” or in prison, he just did it.
This is so encouraging to me…and it reminds me how important it is for me to not hold off “ministering” just because I’m not in my ideal position to minister. This may be where God wants me for years to come (how scary is that?), and instead of “sucking it up” I need to embrace it and do what He has called me to do.
The calling sticks…even when in Corinth.
My newest post is over at YouthMin.Org! I plan on blogging HERE more often, but you know… I strive for perfection and I am certainly a fan of this post.
My latest article is on what I would redo in my first year of ministry if given the chance….. and truthfully, what I struggle with each and every day of my life. I see a lot of youth workers within the YouthMin.Org Facebook Community struggling with this, and it has caused me to get vocal about calling out youth workers and getting them to be more secure with their selves and their ministries.
So here is my post over at SmarterYM.Com! Read, share, and comment on it! And show Aaron some love…he’s a Cubs fan