By Lisa Teresa Maldonado
Participant of Purity + Peace at the City Wide Church hub
When I look back, I see a young naive 16-year-old taking a vow of purity with no clue as to what those words entailed. It's one thing to say those vows out loud, it's another to truly believe them and walk in the truth of what they represent to the mind and body.
Growing up in the church, I learned that your body is a sanctuary.
This is beautiful yet challenging, especially for a young, insecure girl like myself who had little self confidence. Knowing that I was holding on to this one special thing, my physical purity, for marriage was precious.
Still, I had no idea the many other realms that come along with being and remaining pure; for example: What you put into your body physically and emotionally can effect your purity. Also, how I think about myself.
Learning to love myself as God loves me has been a struggle.
I always see my flaws and failures instead of what God wants me to see; I reflect His image. This is a crucial part of purity in our daily lives.
Are we seeing ourselves the way God views us?
Because I always saw flaws in myself, remaining physically pure was natural to me.
I was dealing with rejection, body image issues and mind games. While I was a hopeless romantic who idolized marriage and sex, my insecurity kept me from being open or physical with someone else. I had also been hurt by men. Men I thought I could trust and almost broke what I treasured, but I also witnessed God's protection. At times I didn't see that as a good thing, but now I can see it as a blessing.
God shielded me from situations where I could have done things I would regret.
I remained desiring love with the end-all of my happiness being marriage while allowing my eyes to see and watch things they shouldn't have just so I could get a taste of things my body couldn't.
I longed for intimacy with a man physically but ran from the spiritual intimacy that the Lord longed from me. It was a battle that I hid. Through my years of ministry, I tried to rebuke this situation and fell, yet God still showed me His love time and time again! Intimacy with Him is something greater than the physical. It is true relationship!
It's crazy how we can hide some of our most deepest aches and sins only to open up when it is divinely time to break free from them. As we grow in Christ, we learn to cope with our past easier; in due time.
Just like Esther: for such a time as this was when God peeled back yet another layer of Lisa Teresa during my Purity + Peace session. He brought to the light the hard truth of scars, hidden fears and hidden sins that I desperately needed to be free from.
The vulnerability and openness that the Lord gave me in a judgement-free space during our classes was freeing and liberating.
I now know the love of God like I've never known it before. Also, I'm not idolizing marriage as if I am a failure for not being married at my age. I know that the Lord has a greater plan than I have for myself.
When I took my purity vows again in June 2018 at the Purity Ceremony with Purity + Peace, I decided to wear white after losing 25 pounds and feeling more confident than I have in many years. I chose to wear white as a symbol of my refined marriage to the Lord because He is the lover of my soul. Even when my husband comes, God will always be my first love. That was a bold and powerful statement for me. My heart needed to proclaim that God is in the waiting and my life doesn't start after marriage because I am already His Bride.