This story has never been shared before, but I hope that someday others may learn from my trials and mistakes.
In my junior year of high school, despite my better judgment, I began dating a boy who I knew had lower standards than what I had been taught and practiced as a member of the Church. I was just excited that someone had finally taken interest in me and made me feel special, comfortable and loved.
Although I did not realize it at the time, I was slowly being led down a slippery slope, and before I knew it, I had allowed what is considered most precious and sacred to be taken from me. I felt numb and overwhelmed, and my mind flashed back to stories I had heard in Young Women regarding young ladies who lost their virtue and were seemingly no longer wanted or of good worth.
I convinced myself that this was the man that I was meant to be with. I knew that if we could be married that in some way it would make what had happened all right. The relationship wasn’t perfect, but he had me, and he knew it. He grew to become emotionally abusive. I was kept under close watch and not allowed to do things on my own or with friends. After some time I had no friends left and it was just the two of us.
I convinced myself that we were in love and our relationship was normal. In my mind, because of sins that were committed, leaving him was not an option. I began to lose myself and do other things that I knew weren't right, since in my mind I had already committed a sin “second only to murder.” I began to distance myself from the Church and anything that reminded me that I was doing things I was not supposed to. I had no idea how wrong the way I was living was.
Almost two years went by when the thing I had been dreading the most happened. He left me. I was alone and friendless. I sunk into the deepest despair. I became physically ill and lost an unhealthy amount of weight. A few months passed and my bishop, who was concerned, called me to his office one evening. I explained everything that had happened and what I was going through. He expressed his love and sorrow for me. I told him I wanted to change, and we began the long journey of repentance, which included meetings every Sunday night and weekly assignments.
Repentance was a struggle, and as I read my scriptures the realization of what I had done made me even more depressed, so I turned back to bad habits. I wanted to change, but without good friends I was struggling to stand on my own. I felt impressed that I needed someone of good worth in my life to help me have the strength to combat the problems I was experiencing.
After weeks of asking, my prayers were answered, and the most amazing man entered into my life. He inspired me to be a better version of myself.I prayed continuously to the Lord that He would send me a man with high standards, worthy of the priesthood, to help me and be my friend. After weeks of asking, my prayers were answered, and the most amazing man entered into my life. He was so different from any men I had dated before. He inspired me to be a better version of myself, and I was starting to fall in love with him. Because of this I knew I had to tell him of my past history. I was terrified! I was worried that he would leave me after learning of my impure actions. I did not feel worthy of him and was ashamed that he had been able to save himself and I had not.
As I tearfully explained my history to him, fearing the worst, he lovingly took my face in his hands and told me that I was worth then just as much as when I was born. It does not matter what I have done in the past; my sins do not make me. In that moment I knew that he was the man I would marry. I became more motivated than ever and put everything I had into living the gospel, and two years later we were married and sealed together for time and all eternity in the Salt Lake Temple.
I cannot stress enough the importance of maintaining high standards through your dating experiences. You will be so thankful and happier in the future if you do. I understand at times it is hard to imagine ourselves with anyone else than who we are with at the moment, which can make keeping our standards more difficult and listening to holy promptings painful.
I testify that our Father in Heaven has a plan for each of us. We do not know all things and ends. If we will remain virtuous, chaste, and open-minded through our dating and everyday lives, the Lord will take care of the rest.
I would advise others to continuously converse with God about their desires and relationships. Listen to His promptings. He has our ultimate happiness in mind. My mistake could have been easily avoided. No one should ever have to bear the heartache of having to explain to your potential spouse that you were not able to maintain your chastity along your journey to each other.
The road back to being a virtuous and chaste woman is long and very difficult. But I testify that it is possible! There are good men who will see your true worth as a daughter of God and love you for it. Stay close to your Father in Heaven, and He will lead you in all things that you should do.
I am thankful for the plan of repentance, for the loving forgiveness of our Heavenly Father. I am grateful for the kind, virtuous and honorable husband He has sent me. The gospel is “the good news”--it is a Light and a blessing in my life. I know that if we endure to the end and stay on His path we will find our way home to ultimate happiness. I write these things in the name of our loving Savior and friend, Jesus Christ. Amen.