I was not a virgin when I got married.

Somewhere in the middle of excessive drinking, two tattoos, and the fear of being rejected, I lost my virginity. I grew up learning that sex was bad and shameful and that you weren’t to do it until you got married. For 19 years, I stayed a virgin. And then…college.

I didn’t want to be rejected from my friends because I was the only virgin I knew. I didn’t want to be rejected by boys because I wouldn’t let them go “all the way.” So, not out of love, or marriage, or a lifetime commitment to my husband, not out of sharing a beautiful thing that God created to unite a man and his wife, not out of anything wonderful and pure like I had always imagined when I was a little girl. It was only out of the fear of rejection that I gave up something that I could never get back. In a blink of an eye, it was gone. 

It wasn’t beautiful or special or anything that I had hoped it would be. I immediately felt guilty and full of shame, and along with all the other mistakes I had chosen to make, I thought, “Well, that’s it. God really doesn’t love me anymore now.” And the boys, well, it didn’t make them like me any more either. Nothing was better. It was all worse, and I had to live with it for the rest of my life!

Oh how I wish I would have waited. Oh how I wish I would have made better choices for myself. Oh how I wish I would have protected my virginity. Oh how I wish I didn’t have to feel these feelings of shame and guilt ALL THE TIME!

But it was over. I was damaged goods. There was nothing I could do about it now. I felt doomed to hell forever. I felt that there was no way to change it. I thought that God didn’t love me and never would. I felt rejected. So what did I do? I fell into a pattern of making these bad choices over and over.

Through a 17 year span, I did ask God to forgive me several times. I always felt peace afterwards, but then those feelings of shame and guilt and rejection would come again. Those feelings wouldn’t leave, therefore, I thought that I wasn’t really forgiven. It was so destructive to my self-worth, to my confidence, to my relationship with God, and even to my marriage. 

After I got re-baptized in 2011, I remembered thinking, “OK, God, now surely this has washed away my sins, and you won’t reject me anymore.” 

I Shouldn't Have Worn White On My Wedding Day

He said, “What sin?” 

I reminded Him. 

He smiled and said, “I’ve already forgotten about that, My Child, because I had already forgiven you the first time you asked. I never rejected You. You are always accepted by me. I’ve always been with you and I always will.”

Finally, I had peace. I knew I was loved. I knew that even though God hated sin, He loved me then, He loves me now, and He will always love me. I knew I was forgiven. I knew I could FINALLY let it all go! 

But I didn’t. I still struggled and I couldn’t figure out why. Even though, I was happily married, had three kids, and had been re-baptized. Even though God had forgiven me, I still hadn’t forgiven myself!

I still felt full of shame and guilt especially when I was around women who did wait, who did save themselves, who were virgins when they got married. I always got  a sick feeling in my stomach because I thought if they really knew what I used to be like once-upon-a-college-time, I would be judged. I would be looked down upon. I would be thought less of. I would be rejected.

I’ve learned that I can’t worry about being rejected by others when I’ve already been accepted as a daughter of Christ. No one is perfect. We all make mistakes. We all have done something that we regret. But it’s what we do with those mistakes and regrets that count. Do we seek forgiveness from the One who died for us? Yes. Do we allow Him to use our stories to shape and mold us into a vessel that He can use to bring light into this dark world? Yes. And then what? We forgive ourselves!

We must walk forward in the freedom that God has given us to be forgiven. We must silence the enemy’s lies that we are still in the prison of our mistakes. We must release ourselves from the sins of our past, forgive ourselves, and move on—loving God, loving others, and loving ourselves.

God is light. In Him, there is no darkness. 1 John 1:5

Christine Leeb

Christine Leeb--Speaker and Christian Family Coach specializing in Parenting and Child Discipline.  Founder of Real Life Families--a non-profit organization building better families through free classes and resources.  Mother to three awesome (and exhausting) children from whom she shamefully hides brownies.  Wife to one patient (and polar-opposite) husband with whom she constantly quotes "Friends".  www.RealLifeFamilies.org