I Took Off My Purity Ring.

I am always grateful for the many voices that walk through the doors of Project Six19. Talented, respected, deep-thinking, and articulate are the words that capture these individuals. One of those people is Julia Feeser, our new social media coordinator. She is all of these things and I think you will understand why when you read a recent blog she posted at HelloSoul. Take a moment to read her story…

7603029afcc47e5d1a7656ba62e4f216

When I was a sophomore in college, I took off my purity ring.

I had worn it on my right hand (it didn’t fit my left) for almost four years, a small trinket I had acquired at an abstinence conference because everyone else was getting one and I felt like I should too.

It wasn’t a particularly fashionable ring. It had a Bible verse inscribed on it (I can’t even remember which one) in juvenile font and no discernible qualities other than that once in a while someone would ask me about it. It had no significance to me other than I knew that by wearing it I was somehow on this holy level that people who were having sex weren’t.

Wearing a purity ring made me feel proud. I felt level-headed, innocent, able to practice self-control. I didn’t particularly care if others saw me as prude, because I knew that I was making smart life choices. Their experimentation with sex would end in sadness and broken relationships; mine would end in a blissful and committed marriage. I could feel worth and have self-love because I was Waiting.

Unlike high school, I found myself surrounded by girls wearing purity rings at my small, private Christian university. There were even girls who didn’t want to kiss until marriage (something I was slightly horrified by because I wasn’t about to wait for that). I realized I felt slightly less set apart in this environment, suddenly not in the noble minority as someone who had made the courageous decision to Wait.

A few months into my freshman year I began dating someone. I had dated a little in high school, but this time was different. No longer were there curfews or watchful parents, and I distinctly remember feeling that my transition from girl to woman was completed now that I was in college. I could handle an “adult” relationship and whatever that entailed.

My new boyfriend was not a Christian (something I would eventually realize was a deal-breaker), and while we tried to be on the same page about physical boundaries it proved to be very difficult for both of us. Waiting, it turned out, was virtually impossible when you really liked someone and could stay in his room well past midnight.

And eventually there came a night (which turned into many nights) where we went too far. And while we never actually had sex, we did just about everything but.

I was crushed.

As I sat in class next to girls proudly displaying their purity, I felt like I could no longer count myself amongst them. I was both angry and disgusted with myself, heartbroken that I was letting go of my convictions night after night. And while I still wore my purity ring, I felt like a fake. I couldn’t believe that I, a girl who was clearly so capable of Waiting, could compromise herself and her aspirations for sex within marriage. I mercilessly beat myself up.

b20b23c0b69b72b70fdb9f05b5c0ac9d

It wasn’t until several months later that I actually took my ring off, after my boyfriend and I finally broke up. At that point, I had come to terms with the fact that I had gone too far and had stopped feeling so angry with myself. So when I did finally take it off, it wasn’t because I did not feel worthy to wear it.

It was because my purity had become my identity.

Who I was as a person and a Christian had become wrapped up in whether I was having sex or not, and there was something distinctly wrong with that.

The reason it affected my self-worth so deeply was because Waiting had become such a part of how I saw myself: I had used abstinence as a means to feel good about who I was rather than because I really understood what it meant to me. I thought that “being pure” affected everything else about me: how others saw me, how God saw me, and my own worth as a person.

It also gave me a false sense of entitlement.

I had begun to perceive abstinence as a means to an end, as though a husband was a reward for my dutiful Waiting. When I wasn’t going too far physically, that meant I deserved a happy marriage I wouldn’t have to wait too long for. When I was going too far, I felt like I didn’t deserve that anymore, which only added to my sense of loss.

I took off my purity ring because I was done with what Waiting had become to me: a badge of honor, a method to get what I wanted, a way to feel good about myself.

I am still waiting to have sex. And while there are many reasons for this, my hope is I do not rest my identity on that one aspect about myself.

Sexuality, specifically for Christians, should be about so much more than just the act of waiting, and sometimes I feel like we tend to focus solely on that. Waiting to have sex should not be a scheme to make ourselves beautiful or worthy or a “good Christian,” but should instead be used to demonstrate the beauty of God and thus the perfection of his design for intimacy.

My hand doesn’t look like it’s missing anything at all.

© Julia Feeser and HelloSoul, 2014.

Porn – Not Just a Male Issue

The-porn-industry-is-a-multi-billion-dollar-moneymaker-that-will-soon-Pornography is an epidemic in our culture. Even the most progressive of voices are realizing the negative impact it is having on relationships, both platonic and romantic. What began as small murmurs have become loud cries for help. For the longest time those that struggled with porn were left to either figure it out or feel embarrassed for sharing their struggle.

Statistics only reinforce this truth. You can view some of the specifics by clicking here and here. I’ve also written briefly on it here. One thing that is not often discussed is the growing number of women who have or are struggling with pornography. It is the silent world that few are willing to talk about. That is why I am thankful for women like Project Six19’s intern, Katelyn.

I asked her to briefly share her testimony. Hopefully they move you as much as they moved me…

“I am a woman who has recently chosen a new lifestyle; one of health, beauty, and strength. I have chosen to embrace me. To become the woman I am meant to be. Each day, I wake up and know that it is MY day. Today, I feel beautiful. Today, I am going to do something great. Each day is a new adventure, a different journey; each more exciting than the last. Tomorrow will bring more joy than today, if at all I thought possible. Each day is full of precious moments, filled with beauty, joy, and reflection; reflections of who I am and who I used to be; the progress that I have made. Today, I am a beautiful woman of God, one who has a bright future and has been washed clean of her struggle with pornography. It all started when I was about 12 years old.

It could be anything; a scene in a movie, that pop up on the internet…anything can trigger the curiosity. Pornography played a large role in my life for about three years, until God called me out of the pit. The journey I went on was difficult not only because pornography is like a fish hook that won’t let go, but because I went on it alone.

According to our society, pornography is a male issue. Not only is it somewhat of a taboo to talk about for males, but it is an issue that is simply not addressed for women; especially in the church. I went through this struggle in my own little world, thinking that I was the only female to have ever struggled with this. There was shame tied to what I was doing, and then there was more shame built on top of the loneliness. Pornography is NOT just a male issue. More women than you would think are struggling with pornography and someone has got to stand up and be a voice. Women need help.

I am one woman, but I have a voice; a voice that I will use to encourage healing and restoration in the lives of women struggling with pornography. I want to talk about it. I want women to know they are not alone. I have been there, and let me tell you, the feeling of being alone in such a place of struggle is unbearable.

We, as a generation of beautiful women need to stand up for the broken. We need to have the courage to talk about the things that aren’t talked about; to deal with the areas that women ‘are not supposed to struggle with.’ Women are carrying these buried burdens alone. Something needs to change. We need to be women clothed in strength and dignity; women who stand for those who can’t stand themselves.”