When I was thirteen, I had my first love.
Just kidding. I'm going to stop right there before the rapping starts. (If you're cool enough to be a Belieber, that first line would be funny to you.) But seriously, when I was thirteen, I was given my first purity ring. It's kind of a big deal in our house, to be given a purity ring. The gift is withheld until us girls' thirteenth birthday. My dad gives it to us, but only after we solemnly swear--with our hand on our chest and the other on a Bible and everything--that we will take the ring as a symbol of committing to stay pure until marriage. It's legit. My older sister had been given one two years before, but had lost it after only a few months during a shower. (She set it on the bathroom counter and our younger brother threw it away.) Me being a second born, I always disliked being second and getting things second and and and, so I was really ready for my purity ring and determined that I wouldn't lose it. At the time, the ring itself was more important to me than the symbolism of the gesture; I was thirteen for goodness sakes. I still slapped boys when I was "crushing" on them (which, by the way, is a young, teenage girl term only), it wasn't like the question of "to be pure, or not to be pure?" was on my mind. I couldn't have been "impure" even if I wanted to--not because I was good, but just I didn't know how to be.
I'm fifteen now. I still wear my ring, and have never taken it off, not even during showering for fear that I would lose it. I feel a secret pride in showing it off; not many girls wear purity rings anymore, that was kinda an early 2000's/Barlow Girl thing. Even when my gestures or words are not necessarily that pure (I grew out of slapping boys I liked almost immediately after I turned thirteen), the silver band on my right hand proclaims in bold writing: TRUE LOVE WAITS. I'm ashamed to admit that my purity ring has, at times, defended my character better than my actions have. And that's all the ring has been to me since I was given it, a symbol of a commitment to purity.
Is that all it is, though? Is patient, true love demonstrated by black words around a silver band? Not...really... And how many times have those words been demonstrated in my own life? Not...that...many... What does true, pure love look like anyways? I believe I glimpsed it a few days ago.
There are only thirty-nine days left until I leave for Thailand. Thirty-nine. Thirty-nine. That's three hands and nine fingers worth of time. Yikes. During these past few months, I've had to do a lot of fundraising in preparation for my mission trip; but during the first months after the Lord called me to Thailand, I spent all my time asking Him, "Why me? Why Thailand? Why now? Hey, why Thailand?" I told myself, It's not like Thailand needs you. Thailand will be Thailand today, tomorrow, yesterday, the day after tomorrow, etc. etc. Sure, it will change, but it was already going to change anyways and nothing you can do could possibly be significant enough to affect a country. So why Thailand? Why me? Why now? I'm sure a lot of people would say here that it's not about affecting an entire country, just "one person"; but I was doubting my ability to affect even one person. My whole thought process was all wrong, though. I kept on thinking of how I could benefit Thailand, how I might fulfill its needs when really, I'm the one that is going to be benefited, and I need Thailand.
Asia has never been on my radar before, and yet God knew that a year ago I would run away from Him by choices I made, and then come back to Him devastated and hurt. And He knew that a year later, in March 2011, I would need to simply...get away with Him. "In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps." (Proverbs 16:9) He knew all along, before last year, before I was even born, before anything, and He cared enough to notice and then orchestrate everything so that it was used for my good. I can't believe it's taken me this long to recognize His goodness; but as I did, I saw that those three words on my silver band could be taken in many different ways, some having nothing to do with purity. "True love waits" and God is love, and He has waited for me my entire life, and now He has called me away from everything here because He wants my attention! How crazy is that? Patient, true love is not demonstrated by three words printed on a ring, but through His death so that I might just know Him.
When I was thirteen, my purity symbolized purity to me--for obvious reasons. Now that I'm fifteen, it symbolizes not a commitment I have made, but one that God has made to always love me.