When I was fourteen years old, I met my First Love. No, I’m not talking about the young man for whom I harbored a three-year crush; I’m talking about the encounter I had with Love Himself. God appeared to me in the bedroom of a beach house, took my hand, and swept me into the dance of a lifetime. And I knew, in that moment, that I would never be the same.
For awhile, I lived in a dream state—the beginning stages of love. I was on top of the world with my head in the clouds, but ever so slowly, that flame in my heart began to fade. I forgot what it was like to dance unashamed in the arms of One who loved me beyond imagining. Then Revelation 2:4 hit me like a ton of bricks. “Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love.”
See, the thing is… I hadn’t meant to stray. Hadn’t even realized I was straying. But suddenly I was faced with the reality of how far gone I actually was. And I realized just how easy it is to wander off in search of other things.
I believe that’s the day my journey truly began, for that is the day I determined in my mind to make my First Love my only love until the day I knew I could keep Him and still make room for another. My commitment to singleness and purity and a life lived beyond waiting was never my commitment to a man, but a God. And I believe that’s the only reason it has survived for so long. That’s the simple reason I’m twenty-one years single.
I feel like that may be disappointing to the people who know I’ve written a book on singleness seem to expect me to offer a wealth of wisdom on waiting and dating and purity. But you see, my story was never about those little relationship details; it’s about a God who invites us into a bigger story than we dare to imagine for ourselves.
The only thing I know about purity in dating relationships is that it will never work as long as your focus is on the physical aspect of a relationship; it only works when you set your mind on God and what He desires for you.
Purity defined is, “freedom from anything that debases, contaminates, pollutes, etc.” Another definition phrases it, “Purity is the quality of being unmixed, uncontaminated or wholesome.”
There is no way anything based in the world is going to meet that criteria. There’s no way we can attain purity on our own.
This journey is far from easy. I find myself slipping into old habits and forsaking my First Love time and time again. But I find that God never gives up on me, and when I am at my lowest points, He sweeps in and whispers the words from Jeremiah 3: “But you have lived as a prostitute with many lovers—would you now return to me?”
And when I finally manage to respond, “Yes, God, I’m coming home,” I take my first step toward freedom from the things that debase, contaminate and pollute. Purity, to me, is not a list of “do’s” and “don’ts”; it’s a journey into the heart of the One who makes all things new and broken things whole.
Rebekah Snyder is first and foremost the beloved of her Maker. Her other roles as daughter, sister, friend, caretaker and author of Beyond Waiting fall into place somewhere behind that. She blogs the ups and downs of her journey at www.beyondwaiting.com.