Tried "Purity"--and Failed--and Still Found Purpose in Faith and Recovery

When I was about twenty-seven, I bought myself a purity ring. It was quaint and had tiny words etched in cursive like “I am pure” and “I’m waiting on God” or something like that. It is the kind of ring that fresh-faced twelve-year-olds get in Christian households for Christmas.


I had such pride in this ring and in my firm resolve to make sure that I was gonna save "it" for marriage (this time). That’s what good Christian girls do. And I was a part of the “in” crowd now. You know, the cool Christian girl crowd. The one who totes her highlighted Bible to Christian book club, and small group, and women's ministry events with tea and other stuff I never knew existed like Lauren Daigle music and trendy head scarf wraps paired with dangling earrings.


Finally – I felt like I was fitting in.


Then I met Beau and everything went downhill fast.


He was a farm-lover, wrangler-wearing, Harley rider who loved to drink beer and smoke Marlboros (casually). Beau decided that an overnight camping trip in northern Wisconsin off the coast of Door County in the luminescent-orange of Midwestern fall was a good idea.


Of course, I agreed.


His Harley swerved along the autumn-lined roads. The air smelled like apple crisp and his black leather jacket. At night, there were so many stars. It was like a summer night of fireflies in a corn field had fallen on its head. The twinkling captured me. I felt so close to God—yet, at the same time, so far away. I could feel Him in the trees and in the starry night, but as Beau and I rode back to the campsite after having some beers at a restaurant on the first night of the trip—and then me encouraging we pick up a bottle for the fire—what I felt of God disappeared in an instant.


It would be okay if I just checked back in with Him in the morning, right?


Right?


Needless to say, I left my ring at home that weekend. Even now it sits tarnished-green and in an old jewelry box.


So, there I was again, back to asking God to forgive me and not quite knowing what I was doing and not quite doing what I wanted to do—again.


In the Bible, I'd read about the Apostle Paul and his struggle, too:

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. [i]

Now, if you want an in-depth look at this passage from the Bible, I can’t help you today, although maybe someone like Beth Moore can. What I can tell you is that Beau was that something that I didn’t want to do, but did anyways. Relapsing, or having a recurrence of use with alcohol after three years in recovery, might have had something to do with it, too. But I’m not blaming the booze. I take full responsibility for my weakness for men in Wranglers.


Either way, the little silver promise I tried to hold too tight was gone. I wrecked it. Again. My past, my brokenness, (some would say) my sin, kept coming back again and again and again, no matter how hard I tried to escape it. And the shame I felt because of it all was overwhelming. Any purpose that I felt smoldering, the notion that God had a plan for me, and that there was a place for me in the faith community, also extinguished. Again.


What was it about my past and my experience that kept me in this cycle, especially around sex and men? Why did any sense of purpose for my life always get confused with someone I was dating and trying not to sleep with—because really, I didn’t want to?


It's Time to Get Uncomfortable so We Can Uncover Our Purpose


If you are uncomfortable right now, I’m sorry.


Well, actually I’m not.


I think it's time for the recovery community and the Christian community to get uncomfortable.


Now, I’m not going to get all Francis Chan on you or encourage you to sell your house in the suburbs or go barefoot (although this is all awesome), what I am going to say is that I think it’s time to start having difficult conversations.


For many of us, especially women, we feel alone and isolated in our experience of struggling with sex. Having it, not having it, or having too much. Being traumatized by it. Being swallowed up in objectification. Being confused by the sexuality portrayed in our culture. Not being able to buy shorts that don’t show our booties (even at four-years-old). Not being able to follow a musical artist on Instagram without wondering if the pics and videos are considered porn. Lord, have mercy.


There are lots of struggles around sex—and trauma—that don’t get talked about. In the recovery community, in the faith community, and in all communities.


You might be shifting in your seat. Your palms might be sweating. You might have the urge to put these words down and grab your cell phone (if you aren’t already reading this on your cell phone)—but I urge you: let’s sit together for a moment in your--in our--uncomfortableness.

God has not called us to have comfortable conversations.


God has called us to life change.


To shocking vulnerability.


To radical service.


I hope that I can help be a guide to walk with you through this place of being uncomfortable. I’ve been able to heal from parts of my story like this one because I’ve walked through it with other women, too.

Sharing this today is not comfortable, but I know and can rest in the fact that it is a part of my purpose.


This month, let’s continue talking about this concept of purpose. What does it take to find our purpose in recovery and in life? How can having some difficult conversations help in this process?


Join me as we walk this road together and hear from some cool guest writers, too. Let's get uncomfortable and see what happens.


Much love,

Caroline

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[i] Romans 7:15-20