I know that I’m not the only woman who occasionally reflects back to her former days and ask, “What was I thinking?” My former single days weren’t terribly over-the-top. I would say that they were rather typical but looking back, I do wish that I had made wiser choices. I suppose life is really about embracing the journey. Some of us learn earlier than others but what matters is that we learn the lessons. If I could go back in time, here are three things that I wish I had known.
I didn’t know Jesus then as I know Him now. Sometimes, I wonder what it would’ve been like if I had a relationship with Jesus much earlier in my life. I’ve always attended church but there is a difference between being in church and having a relationship with Jesus – a HUGE difference! I knew of Him but didn’t know Him. To know Him feels close or intimate; but to know of Him feels distant and impersonal. It’s the difference between a best friend and an acquaintance. I knew that God existed but I didn’t understand that He desired to be an inclusive part of my life as a young single woman. Well, I lived by my rules and found myself in the middle of some absolutely crazy, dangerous situations. I was in the wrong places, with the wrong people, doing the wrong things. Yet, there were times when I would walk away unharmed. Sometimes, it was purely innocence on my part, but now I realize that God had a veil of protection over me. I had some major mess-ups because I was blind to God and his best for me. Today, when I meet young women who are so in love with Jesus, it blesses me because they KNOW HIM earlier than I did. However, I’m grateful that although I didn’t know Him then, as I know Him now; He knew me before conception and I always belonged to Him.
I didn’t know about cookies. “Why buy the cow when you can get the milk free?” This was a statement made by my pastor during a “heart to heart” talk before I went off to my first year of college. Of course, he had to notice the very perplexed expression on my face. “How does cows and milk relate to premarital sex?’ I suppose I was curious about the sex thing. I heard everyone was doing it, but growing up in the church taught me to wait until marriage. Reflecting back, I probably hoped to ask that someone who would give me enough justification to go for it. And certainly, I did. From that point, I spent most of my college years making many mistakes in the open world of sexual freedom. At first, it seemed right, natural and what you’re supposed to do with whoever you’re dating. But then reality set in. You believe that your first boyfriend will be your future husband, so it’s okay until you break up or discover that he has other female playmates. Then, it’s on to the next relationship and the next and the next. Each time, giving away your cookies in hopes of securing Mr. Right – right? And yes, for some, it was strictly recreational but the cost was equally the same. Sex cannot bring you complete happiness and fulfillment, especially outside of the purpose for which it was created. Like money, sex isn’t evil. It’s when you love it so much that you’re willing to give or gain access to it for the wrong reasons. God’s plan is perfect and when we fall short of His plan (and many of us do), we experience the consequences – brokenness, heartache, and more. God created sex for marriage and I’ll tell you why in another post. (It’s deep, so be prepared!) It was many years later and while married that I had that moment when it all made sense. I understood the analogy of the cow and free milk. With experience, maturity and wisdom, I now know that it is best to keep your cookies to yourself. Keep the lid tightly sealed for your husband only. And if you’ve already indulged, God allows fresh starts for us to try it His way. Besides, we’ve progressed from the days of buying cows and free milk. Cookies seem to bring a little more sophistication to the subject.
I didn’t know my value. Relationship DRAMA! If I knew then what I’ve learned and know now, I would’ve saved myself from plenty of it. I would say that once you bring sex into the equation of a relationship without marriage, you open yourself up to the possibility of additional issues. Years ago, I came across a book that explained it this way… “Men use love to get sex and women use sex to get love.” (I believe it was Pigs in the Parlor) Sound familiar? It can become a somewhat illusive game to those involved. Often, individuals don’t realize that they’ve been in the game until it’s over and someone loses. Like me back then, so many young women attempt to find love & identity in male companionship without realizing it. Perhaps to fill a void from the absence of a father or maybe there wasn’t a positive marriage model as a child. So, you try to figure it out as you go along –risking self-value in the process. Then, one day you look back and realize that you left behind a trail of unnecessary relationship drama that probably could’ve been avoided had you known your value in Christ. My bad relationships were a reflection of what I allowed to happen. No one can do anything unless you give them permission. Admittedly, I found myself in a pattern of unhealthy relationships. But as I matured, I learned how to identify crazy and walk the other way. My value in the Lord increased and the foolishness decreased.
Sure, there are few things that I wish that I had known earlier in life but guess what? It’s okay because I know them now and those past mistakes have worked together for my good today. So now, I can take what I wish I knew when I was single and share it with someone else. We learn from our own mistakes but we should also learn from the mistakes of others.