To the girl who feels guilty for sleeping with someone.

Preface: I am writing this because during my years as an unmarried woman having sex, I felt that everything written, spoken, or preached to me was solely to persuade me to stop having sex. I desperately wished someone would have abandoned the topic in order to speak to me where I was at, without their desperate attempts to end sex in my life. Even when most had good motives, I needed someone to write a letter to me, Lauren, and not to The Not-A-Virgin-Anymore. This evening, I rallied my past and my present, and wrote the words I craved for years and years.

Hello, lovely.

Before we begin, would you get a little piece of paper? Please?

Write out your full name.

You are this particular woman. You cannot escape it. Do you know this?

You will never be another. You cannot escape it. Do you know this?

Tomorrow, the day after, and all the days: You are this woman.

And thank goodness, because you are the only person who deserves to make the most of everything you have experienced this far. 

And thank goodness, because you have within you a capacity for Love that you would not believe even if you were told.*

* * *

I want to say that I see you. I am you. I was you, a long time ago. I will be you. We are.

Love sees you. Love knows you. Love adores you.

Goodness, hate, closeness, abandonment, purity, brokenness, wholeness, confusion, clarity, trying so hard, and given up. He looks at you and sees nothing but the infant girl that was born into this magnificent world, this middle ground, this holding place. This universe in which we only see in part.

You are three years old. You are five. You are seven. You are standing in the grass, in the backyard, by the impatiens, by the trees. You laugh at the wind, you smile for a camera, because It Is. Because You Are. You know nothing, except how to Be.

Joy, infinite, as it was created to be. Innocence, eternal. Embedded permanently into every cell of your being as your shoulders caved and your back broke as you wept that you needed Something, Someone – and Love promised to be there. Innocence, eternal.

Do you know that this is what you are? Do you know that this is who you are? Do you know that you are white as snow, pure as gold, spotless as your baby teeth in the family videos splashed across your mother’s TV that you will never again sit in front of because she no longer sees you the way that Love does?

Do you know that condemnation, loneliness, hatred, failure, and Innocence Lost are only lies you have thrust upon yourself**, and words that Friends and Church and Family have pelted at the sky in a way that has fractured your heart as they have rained upon you and everyone around you?

Do you know that you are still Joy, infinite; Innocence, eternal; The Name Of Your Heart, written upon His hand?

These are things I forgot. These are things that broke over me in the shower, in my bed, in his bed, in our bed, on my walks, in my mirror, in my pages, in their pews, in my home, in my breathing and numbness and depression and even in my laughter, my happiness, my beauty.

These are things that I put aside as I sang that Love is here and Love still remains, that He is my Father and I am His daughter. These are things that I left at the church door, and clothed myself with again as soon as I left How Great Thou Art. These are things that I remembered and remembered well but only so long as I did not, could not face that which we have named That One Thing.

And so I fall into a thousand pieces alone, and with you, Girl who feels guilty and confused and angry at the hypocrisy and the expectation and the Great Ache.

And so I remember the nights I felt it was wrong, the mornings I felt it was nothing at all; always backwards for me and never anyone else. But grief, it comes with the night, and joy, it comes in the morning. Maybe this is a great truth that the Lover has given us in all things, not just his own.

* * *

I write to you, past-present-and-future Self, and to you, girl-I-do-not-know-by-name-but-can-see-from-here: I write to you because I wish that someone had written to me. 

I wish that someone had just stop, stop, STOPPED for one moment and seen me as a person with a heart, a mind, with intelligence, with thoughts and feelings and with damned good reasons – and not as the statistical young white Evangelical female who was raised right and fell out of virginity, left to sit silent in her bracket until she picked up the Purity Ring once again and joined the ranks of Did It Wrong But Am Back To Right Again.

I wish that someone had let up on me for just once, because I know all of these things they tell me. I fear everything they scare me with. I think about all the revelations-that-keep-you-from-sexual immorality before you preach them to me. I know what you believe, what I believe, but I am Woman and so help me God I am not A Belief.

Maybe we chose It because We Are Now and we are scared that later may never come. Maybe we chose It because we knew the risks and we rolled the dice in favor of passion, love, comfort, and warmth. Maybe we chose It because we were terrified of the dark nights and even darker mornings. Maybe we chose It because They told us not to. Maybe we chose It because It knocked on our door and embraced us and promised to never let us go and It arrived in feelings and waves, and not in conscious decisions like we always thought It would. Maybe we chose It because It was and is everything we want, and do you know, it will be okay even then – even then when we are in that place? Maybe we chose It because we felt there was no better option. Maybe we did not choose It at all; some of us do not have the luxury of choice in a world where Men can thrust our decisions upon us as they pin our hands behind the arch of our back and repeat the words we’d heard from another man so very long ago.

Maybe we still do not know, and now we see the ghosted image of who we were, reflected back at us as we sit in ice cream parlor window seats and write in hopes of finally understanding.

Maybe the mothers and fathers and preachers and friends and everyone around us want to love us, protect us, but their words sound like things much more dangerous than the hand on your leg and the kiss on your chest. Darling, I know. I know.

* * *

I write the words I wish had appeared long ago, on a piece of paper on my kitchen table:

You are still you. I swear to you, you are.

Your future has not been ruined.

Your value remains.

Opportunity has not been lost.

These things sink deeper than your skin, yes, but God has sealed your heart in His Name and the great mystery is that we are made Untouchable by Grace.

You are not damaged.

Your wholeness comes not in Right-ness but in Love given to you by your Maker, and learning how to see yourself as He does.

You are capable of making any decision you wish to make today, or tomorrow.

It is okay if you cannot make the change you wish you could today.

It is okay to not be strong.

It is okay that you are confused.

There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ***, and this more than includes That One Thing.

You will give birth to a resiliency that shines brighter than the sun.

The heart is a muscle and it operates like one; these things strengthen you. You have not given your heart away and lost your ability to take it back. Women have survived and risen up despite brutality, gang rape, famines, the Holocaust, assault, torture, barrenness, and divorce: You will not be destroyed or permanently handicapped by a severed romance or loss of virginity.

You will marry a man that turns your past into a shadow, and your old self into a whisper that sings praises of redemption. Your bad decisions, your good-decisions-gone-wrong, your I’m-not-sure decisions will all swell into a wave of Peace as you realize that the man who truly Loves you has just taken an oath before God to see you as a new creation and he rejoices in the strength you have derived from Every Day You Have Ever Lived.

You are still you. Put it on a post-it and stare it down daily.

Forgiveness and understanding do not come only after you gather the healing and courage and strength to leave; they arrived and attached themselves to you the day you first asked them to. And they will stay with you every waking moment. You will find more strength in that fact alone than you ever will find within yourself.

God has not forsaken you and refused to return until you forsake That One Thing.**** It is in the deepest moments of questioning that you will hear Him, again and again, and get to know Him more than any other time in your life. Do not miss out on them simply because you think He has nothing to say until you can Heal Yourself or Change Your Ways. It is in our weakness that his strength is perfected.

* * *

And so, here is everything I wish had been said to me. Here we are. With our decisions to sleep with him, or to not sleep with him. With our desires to change, or our desires to stay the same.

For me, I wanted both.

But I only had the strength for him. For them. The one who asked nothing from me or of me, and who gave love and comfort and pleasure and rest. The one who held me when I cried and kept my body alive when I could not do it myself. The one who did not ask me to change, to become someone I was not, nor to face my weakness.

I understand. I believe that for some of us, this is necessary to our story. Sometimes it feels as though others chose the things that have become our story, and that is okay. Weakness, whether it be physical, emotional, or mental – it is something to be taken seriously, and speaks of our Great Need for one another.

I will tell you that one day, in a moment of extreme pain, I heard a whisper that flamed into a burning sensation in my chest. I heard it say, “I require nothing but weakness. We are still here, and we are still here together. I have written your name on the palm of my hand and I have called you in the darkness so that you would know it was I.”

I gave my weakness a chance. I gave his strength a chance. I fell, and fell often, as we all do. It was new for me, and I found a new Love.

I pray for you, as I do for myself, that we would continue to learn how to allow ourselves to be weak in order that we may find a Love that transcends everything we do know and everything we don’t.

But remember: no matter your weakness, or your strength, you are alive. And you are Joy, infinite; Innocence, eternal.

Do not leave their sides. They have not left yours.


* Look and watch– and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told. Habakkuk 1:5
** I will remember their sins no more. Hebrews 8:12
*** Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. Romans 8:12
**** Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Deuteronomy 31:6, Hebrews 13:5

- Comments addressing or attempting to derive my position on “is sex a sin or not” will be moderated. Thank you for understanding. - 

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  1. Lauren says:

    This is so beautiful and speaks to my heart and where I find myself some days. Thank you for sharing your heart and the Father’s heart because although I know these things, I often forget. Again, thank you.

  2. Anonymous says:

    You have just changed my life. Thank you. So much. God bless you, Lauren!

  3. anon says:

    I just don’t see the point of saving sex for marriage if i don’t intend to get married for any purpose other than sex. I believe in Jesus andlove doing life with him in it, but he has nothing to do with the social, cultural institution of the registration of a marriage certificate. I don’t need that to be in a committed relationship and it seems like a lot of money and effort to go to just to get laid.

  4. Kelly Sauer says:

    Your heart here, poured out… I don’t understand – can’t understand – it to the level you know it. But there is truth here, and grace, and life where death wants to own the night. I needed this today, the day after my 31st birthday, because 31 was hard this year, and I have regrets and I have felt so *behind* on cleaning up my messes, the obligatory “life” obligations from people who love me and mean so very well. Shame reaches so very much farther than The One Thing. Condemnation infuses our every day. We are always weak. This… HE is necessary.

    So thank you. For your heart. For your life, spilling out here. For believing that the necessary darkness was His way of revealing His light to you, and now to others. I made it to my wedding a virgin – it wasn’t hard for me. Because I didn’t understand those things. But I also didn’t understand how to judge others who experienced those things. I still don’t, not after years of shame for not “being enough” of those things in my marriage. We are not our sexuality. We are His or we are not, and we are always loved, no matter which.

  5. Anonymous says:

    This was literally the perfect time for me to read this. Just yesterday I had a talk with my (virgin) boyfriend about how I’m not a virgin and he’s not taking it very well. I know I made mistakes but that’s where I got where I am today and I can’t just believe everyone when they say I’m a bad person now. So thank you, this was beautiful.

  6. Aletheia says:

    Lauren–

    Wow. Thanks so much for sharing. And thanks for believing this–for yourself–for so many others–for us all.

    A

  7. anonymous says:

    as a woman who just made this mistake. not sleeping with someone, but messing around and letting things go much further than I ever imagined I would let them. thank you. your timing; impeccable. your words; right to the center of my heart. thank you thank you thank you

    • Delilah says:

      I’m in a similar situation, friend. I want to hold on to the truths in this post more than I hold on to the shame or guilt that so often finds me.

  8. anon says:

    Thank you Lauren….. just thank you is all I can say. I’ve never slept with anyone but I’ve been harboring feelings of guilt for over a year now. I knew I wasn’t being treated right in a past relationship. I was manipulated and the pain I experienced was something indescribable. I fell beyond the reaches of my values. I turned into something I was not. But by Grace He pulled me back again, and I know he will never leave me.

  9. Adrian says:

    Thank you so much. I only wish someone had written that to me years ago. But maybe now I can make peace with the guilt…

  10. Brittany says:

    thank you for this. I lost my virginity before I came to understand the amazing love and grace of God. People write those experiences off easily. It’s the sex I’ve had with boyfriends (and eventually my husband before we were married) after learning the extent of His love that people are unwilling to forgive. It kills me. I am the same person then and now. I know the love of God, but I also know that when at a certain point in a relationship I feel comfortable taking that next step with a guy. I did it safely, I did it from a place of love, and yet still my decision is shamed. why the double standard?

  11. Katie says:

    Lauren, thank you for such a beautiful and encouraging message.

  12. Kelly says:

    Lauren,

    Thank you for this. It is beautiful. It’s amazing to me how often condemnation is poured upon those who love Christ by those who represent him (the church) and how much damage it can do to a soul. Newly married, I am still struggling with guilt that comes with sex…. not necessarily because of my past, as I know I am forgiven but more so reconciling that suddenly what has been so sinful for all these years, such a root of guilt and condemnation – suddenly is acceptable, is sacred and is holy. When it’s drilled into you that something is “wrong” it isn’t like your white dress and a walk down the aisle has magical powers… you still think in the back of your mind and the enemy so careful whispers that it is still wrong. So here I am reading your letter and being blessed to know – then, now and forever in the future “no matter your weakness, or your strength, you are alive. And you are Joy, infinite; Innocence, eternal.”

    Thank you

  13. Kayla says:

    Thank you so much for posting this. I’ve been struggling with the exact same issues–both having slept with past boyfriends and deciding where and how to draw the line with my current boyfriend. This is exactly what I wish someone would have said to me, although I didn’t know that until now.

    Again, thank you so much for sharing your heart.

  14. Anon says:

    I love that so often your words are relevant for everyone. Even though I’m still a virgin, this is SO good for me to read. I was DEFINITELY raised with the “sex-is-bad” mindset and have come so. very. far. from it.
    I’m pseudo-mentoring a teenage girl who is dealing with some of these very issues. It’s tempting to try to ‘fix’ her problems with rules, sometimes. But it isn’t up to us to fix. All we can do is point the way to Love, through Love.
    Thanks for your heart, Lauren, and for laying yourself bare and laying down yourself for others.

  15. Whitney says:

    This is exactly what I needed to read today. Thanks, Lauren.

  16. so, so true. we are not our sexuality–we are who we are through God and his Love. i think this is my favorite line: “Your wholeness comes not in Right-ness but in Love given to you by your Maker.” exactly. God’ Grace and Love redeems us, no matter where we are–struggling, recovering; He truly never leaves us. And we need to start accepting that we will have weaknesses, make mistakes, be confused and question things in this life–and that doesn’t make us bad people. because God’s Love and Light shines brighter than it all, reflecting in the bits and pieces of our selves.

    thank you for this!

    grace & love,
    kristyn

  17. Maria says:

    Wow, what a message to wake up to; my mind was particularly guilt-ridden and heavy and this is food for thought. I appreciate your thoughts and powerful words.

  18. Bethany says:

    I was a foster child, cast out into adulthood at 18 with no safety net. I moved in with my college boyfriend at 19.

    I found God at 20, but did not gather the courage to move out until 22. The breakup devastated me. My boyfriend was my only family.

    And even after that, I slept with others. How ashamed I was of my weakness! How awful it was for spiritual leaders to praise my conversion to Christ but condemn my sexual behavior.

    I look back now, from my perch at age 32, as a mom of a daughter and as a cherished wife, and I thank God for His provision. I gave sex in return for the love and protection I so desperately craved. And that ex boyfriend was a gift – I could have fallen into much worse than cohabitation at age 19.

    And the men after? Experiments, dances with passion. The sex was good. I wish I could give my husband my virginity…it is beautiful the women who do. But that was never gonna be the outcome for curious passionate extroverted big hearted me. I couldn’t say no. God knows that, he made me and he protected me and he redeemed me in my brokeness.

    I got an std. Hateful thing! But all of a sudden, I had a vest of armor, a filter, a test!

    Even in this std, God was good. His ways are not our ways. If a man said he loved me, couldn’t resist me, adored me? Well, warning, I have an std. Amazing how that worked.

    My husband was no virgin himself. He loves God and me. The std was no match for his determination to sleep with and marry me, in that order.

    Eight years later? No trace of any stds. My blood tests are negative. So thank you God, for loving me through my weakness. Thank you for your hard lessons and your gentle ones. I’m sorry so so sorry I chose to learn and trust you the hard way. But then you know me, don’t you.

    Thank you for my family, for Lauren Nicole and for holding us! Thank you for working all things for good.

  19. Beautiful, Lauren. Reading your blog is like reading the familiar words of an old friend… someone strong, beautiful, full to the brim in the joy of Christ, and gifted with stunning, moving penmanship. Thank you.

  20. Tiffany S. Carey says:

    Thank you. This helped me in ways more than you know.

  21. LMK says:

    Thank you.

  22. KLM says:

    Lauren –

    Your words inspire me to continue to go back to scripture – to rely less on what society, the church, or my family has raised me to believe about sexuality – but to let the words of the Lord shape how I know and love myself.

    Keep writing!

  23. Mandy says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this! It spoke right to some hurt, regret, guilt, and shame that I’ve been battling with! There are so many who have fallen this way and it is so easy to forget that others are sharing our same struggles and we need to help one another through what we have learned! Blessings!

  24. Someone older says:

    I am much older than you but so similar in many ways. I was introduced to your blog as your article on “My Hair Tutorial”. My hair is exactly likes yours. I started reading other articles and stumbled upon this paritcular one. I can’t wait for you to turn 50 and go back and read your thoughts about your life when you were young. Life is not easy and those who say it is are LYING! You have an AMAZING heart and an amazing love for the LORD. That is something that no one can ever take away from you (REMEMBER THAT). I think that woman should build each other up instead of tearing each other down. Except each other for the good and bad and learn from the older woman in your life, especially your mother and grandmother. They actually know something! Enjoy your life and don’t worry about the little things. Enjoy your husband and let him know daily how much you love him. Life is about God, Family and Friends anything else is frosting on the cake.
    1John 4:10 “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins”. WOW!

  25. Christie says:

    Thank you. It is the enemy’s greatest pride to make us feel alone, isolated. It’s a blessing to be reminded that he breathes the greatest of lies and that I am not in fact alone.

  26. Bex Rohn says:

    This was {beautiful}. Thank you so much for sharing and putting into words what so many of us can only dream of expressing. A gift of God!
    I am going to share the link to the post over on my blog.

  27. Anon says:

    Thank you for this. This is the first time I have even confessed to no longer being a virgin for fear of being excluded and judged by those around me. But the fact is life happens and I am ok with that, it is just so good to know someone somewhere understands and can somehow speak to my heart and how I am feeling. So thank you.

  28. C says:

    Lauren, I’m not a regular reader, but I was perusing GWP today and idly clicked over here to your personal blog. I’m consistently impressed and inspired and appreciative of all your work, but this has affected me like none other. It”s as if you’ve articulated the shame and heartache that I couldn’t even let myself feel. I’m a little teary right now, and will keep this comment short because there are just no words. But this piece has struck a tender nerve in me — “you are still you.” I just want to thank you for writing this. It speaks to my heart. It’s painful and beautiful and healing.

  29. Kari Ann says:

    I was searching for something, and I found this.

    I can’t tell you how much I needed to hear this today — I used to be the girl that swore sex would mean something. Now, I’m someone I hardly recognize, recently sleeping with someone new after merely three days of spending time together. And then I wonder why it hurts to know there is no commitment but so much on the line. I want it to matter again, but feel so numb and far away from the place where it did.

    Thank you for saying all of this so beautifully. For encouraging. For believing. For sharing. It was the hope I was looking for. The reminder that, no matter what, God still loves me because I am His. I am who I am.

    I don’t know where to go from here, but it’s nice to know I’m not the first to feel the way I feel.

  30. Becca says:

    This is so beautiful, exactly what I needed to hear. I was raised with the belief that sex before marriage is a sin, and always thought I would uphold that. But when i met my current boyfriend, that started to change. He is everything I’ve ever wanted, and I believe that he is the one God meant for me. I believe he will be my husband. I’m still a virgin, but for the past couple of months I’ve been struggling with the decision to do it. I feel guilty and revile myself just for considering it. I’m stuck in the ‘sex is evil’ and ‘doing it makes me a bad person mentality.’ But The need to have the closeness with my boyfriend is tearing my up, and its a strain on us to be constantly fighting ourselves. Utter confusion. I love God with everything, and i want to please Him so much, but I don’t think I can hold out. I need to know that I am not condemned, evil or sinful if I do it, and that God will love me the same and I can still be close with him. Is sex really so bad as my mindset is telling me? Or is it the evil one trying to use self hate to take me from the Father, while God just wants me to do the best I an and he’ll bless me and lead me in His direction whatever path i take?

  31. Marya says:

    Thank you for your message of grace. I’m a blogger too but just can’t go *there*. I didn’t grow up in an evangelical culture for the most part but as a mom bringing my kids up in this world at times I wanted to jump out the window with what I was hearing.

  32. anonymous says:

    I just lost my virginity two days ago. It was with my boyfriend who I am very much in love with. We used protection and everything. But ever since it happened I have felt nothing but guilt and shame even though it felt right in the moment. He didn’t pressure me. He let me make the call. And for the past two days I’ve been wishing I could take it back and never go through with it. I planned on waiting for marriage. I can’t believe I was so stupid to go against personal beliefs that I’ve had for most of my life. I feel like I’ve betrayed myself and that I’ve cheated my future husband, assuming he’s not my current boyfriend. I’ve been upset that I gave away something that I can never get back. Granted, I love the guy, but I think we made a mistake. I think he shares my opinion. Either way, reading this post gave me peace when I didn’t think I could find any. Thank you for telling me that it’s okay, that I’m still me, that I didn’t ruin any part of my future, and that my virginity doesn’t define who I am as a person. Thank you so much.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] “To the girl who feels guilty for sleeping with someone” by Lauren Dubinsky “Forgiveness and understanding do not come only after you gather the healing and courage and strength to leave; they arrived and attached themselves to you the day you first asked them to. And they will stay with you every waking moment. You will find more strength in that fact alone than you ever will find within yourself. [...]

  2. [...] Dubinsky poured out her heart and shared another piece of beauty with this letter To the Girl Who Feels Guilty for Sleeping With Someone.  Whether you have or haven’t slept with someone,this is a must read.  I cannot get over her [...]

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