Could have been a look, could have been a come-hither smile, could have been desperation, but before I knew it, he and his friend were spending the night in the dorm room with my roommate and me.
Nothing happened. That night.
I'd been living the frat party lifestyle for nearly a year. Growing up in a strict, but genuinely Christian home, I knew better, but chose worse. In hindsight, the days run together from my freshman year through the first semester of my second year of college. My roommate's drinking often rewarded her with men. Mine usually rewarded me with nausea and loud, obnoxious, regretful behavior.
But the night I met Andrew was magical. He was a football player, and it seemed my girlish, romantic dreams were coming true.
The relationship moved at breakneck speed. In the first week, we exceeded the physical boundaries I'd set while dating my last boyfriend. In six weeks, I'd given away almost every physical experience possible between a guy and girl. It was fun and pleasurable, but I'd expected to wait and enjoy these feelings with my husband.
Andrew seemed to love every cell of my body, and for the first time in my life, I passed mirrors and smiled. Sexy was a new feeling for me. Cute, yes. Pretty, even, at times. But sexy, rarely…if ever.
Maybe that was why I gave so much of myself to him. Or maybe it was because I felt he deserved what I gave.
We spent most of our time with four other couples. We were the only pair not sleeping together, albeit only technically. On Saturday nights, everyone would head off to bed together — except Andrew and me. I could sense his frustration. In passionate moments, he'd whisper, "Come on, baby. I love you." I found that hard to believe since we'd been dating only a few weeks; but in those moments, it was hard to hold back and remember that I meant to give my virginity only to my future husband. The condom that often lay beside the bed added its own degree of pressure.
It wasn't until college that I met girls who'd actually had sex. Until I was 16, I didn't even know that there was anything between kissing and sex. Keeping my virginity until marriage was the only option. It was what my parents taught, my preacher preached and my childhood friends believed. My freshman year, however, I was introduced to new terms by girls who were apparently experts in the field. Graphic descriptions of sexual acts and anatomical parts found their way into conversations. I thought it was good to be educated.
Andrew was educated in a very different way. He was not a virgin, and though he started the relationship claiming that he didn't want to "take" my virginity, as the weeks progressed, his claims changed. Soon he began telling me, "If you want to give it to me, I would love you for it."
As November approached, I decided on Andrew's Christmas present. I would give him my precious gift of virginity. Little did I know a friend was praying for me. God was about to throw a kink into my plan.
Darla came into my room Monday morning as I frantically searched for my chemistry homework.
"Wanna go to worship tonight?" she asked hopefully.
I'd gone my entire freshman year. Even as I began to drink and party, I still tried to keep pieces of my old life, serving and loving Jesus. Now the pain of living a lie was too intense. Andrew didn't know or love God, and our relationship was certainly not pleasing God. I was tired of playing games. I had traded worship for physical pleasure.
"Umm…not sure. I may have plans," I lied. Andrew had a football gathering with his buddies, and I had almost no homework.
"If you change your mind, let me know," Darla said.
With a quick "Sure," I dashed out the door.
Something made me change my mind. My roommate, who'd been living a similar lifestyle, felt compelled to go that night, too.
As the service drew to a close, my roommate leaned over, and with conviction in her voice said, "Something's got to change."
I knew she was right, but the weight of giving up the life I'd come to enjoy was a heavy load. She hung around after the service to talk to the pastor. Tears of repentance and regret ran down her face. I sat 10 yards away, stoically considering my options. Part of me felt full. I thought I loved Andrew. I thought he was wonderful. Yet there was a deep part of me that was empty and aching.
The pastor walked over to me after talking to my roommate. "Are you doing ok?" he asked. Such a simple question. Such a loaded answer.
"I'm fine," I tried to lie.
He stood there.
"Ok, I'm not," I confessed. "There's something missing. I feel like my life is worthless. I have everything to live for. I should be happy."
"Did you give away God for all this happiness?" he asked.
And that was the issue. I'd traded the complete contentment and fulfillment I'd had in my relationship with God for the temporary pleasure of a relationship with Andrew.
And God was immeasurably better to me — and for me — than Andrew had been.
I knew at that moment that the hollowness in my soul was an aching need for God.
That night, instead of feeling guilty and dirty before a holy God, I felt whole and forgiven. All along He had been waiting for me to find happiness in Him, rather than wasting my days drunk and unfulfilled. At the same time I realized I was forgiven, I felt the extreme need for my life to change — dramatically.
The next morning I skipped class. As I broke up with Andrew, I quoted a verse from the New Testament. It wasn't a pious way of telling him off; it was the most truthful way to explain why I could no longer be with him. Matthew 6:24 says, "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other." The words go on to talk about choosing between serving God and money, but for me the principle applied to trying to serve both God and Andrew. Aside from the issue of whom I was really serving, I knew Andrew would not be willing to back away from our physical relationship — and if I were honest with myself, I didn't think that I would be able to either.
My life drastically changed. I distanced myself from alcohol, my party-lifestyle friends and especially Andrew, and tried desperately to build an intimate relationship with God. I spent hours reading the Bible, praying and listening to uplifting music. It wasn't an effort to become a better person; it was an insatiable hunger inside me to change. I felt fulfilled, free, loved … but I still felt so guilty.
I'd awakened desires inside myself that were only to be awakened in the context of marriage, where sex satisfies and even enhances a relationship. I'd had some of that connection with Andrew, and now that he was gone, I faced temptations and longings that seemed more than I could handle.
So, I took some practical measures to keep myself from running back to Andrew for satisfaction — or turning elsewhere. Mainstream music went out the door. I began to realize that much of what was on the radio and my CDs was causing me to dwell on my past life. The music either promoted pleasure or created feelings of depression. I discovered that listening to music with lyrics about loving God caused a different chain reaction, leaving me feeling worthy, loved and celebratory. Other times, I faced simply missing Andrew — his laugh, his arms, conversation and connection. At those times, I'd pray for him, asking God to offer him the same fulfillment that I was now experiencing through my life in Christ.
A new solemnity replaced my partying, crazy lifestyle of pleasure. From the outside, it might have appeared boring. On the inside, I glowed.
Conversations with Andrew were rare, but on one occasion, he called me. Several months had passed since our breakup, but he just wanted to talk. During the conversation, he revealed that he didn't consider me a virgin. Though I'd given a lot away, I was still clinging to this qualification. Though minor, it gave me the feeling that I'd still kept the one thing that I meant to give to my husband.
We hung up that night, and I sobbed heavy, painful tears. I asked God to forgive me, and knew that He already had. However, in my turmoil, God chose to fill me with a peace and love I had never experienced. I felt whole and clean. Suddenly the term "virgin" meant so much less to me than being forgiven by God. The technicalities disappeared in the light of God's love and mercy.
To this day, in deep conversation, it comes out that I've had a very physical past. I don't claim physical virginity. However, I honestly don't see that as the biggest issue anymore. I'm clean in God's eyes. He has offered me a life that beats any physical relationship I could have. I'm not living for the moment anymore. I'm focused on the future, a future that includes God … and maybe a husband.
I'm a different person. I know desire: true desire that comes in knowing and feeling God. And nothing — no relationship, no sexual act, no person — can match that.