Updated: Feb 25, 2019
By Rachel Cooper
Purity + Peace Participant at the Cornerstone Christian Center hub
I grew up in a good Christian home.
You know, the one that watched Veggie Tales and could sing every lyric to them, blasted Kirk Franklin on road trips, went to VBS every summer and then volunteered when I got too old, helped clean the church as a family together (I really only went for the free pizza though), and prayed together before dinner every night.
Right before my 15th birthday I realized I really didn’t have the relationship with Christ that He desired to have with me. Up until then, I had done all of the good-and-right-things that I could, I lived my life staying away from bad choices because of what I was told was “right and wrong.” Yet in that moment when I accepted Christ at the altar, every image that I had of myself being a good person shattered.
In that moment, Christ had given me a glimpse of the weight of my sin and why I desperately needed a savior.
It was life changing.
It literally had destroyed a lie that I had believed all of my life. I'm good. I'm good.
...Or so I thought.
I’m at the altar again,
... but this time saying “I do” to the man that I was about to spend the rest of my life with.
And... we really did it!
We did what so many others hadn’t accomplished.
We stayed pure before God and before each other, and now it was time to give ourselves to each other in the way God intended.
Fast forward again...
We just celebrated two years of marriage.
What a celebration!
Except it didn’t feel that way.
In fact, we had just made it out of the hardest year of both our lives.
I never would have thought celebrating just TWO years of marriage would feel like such a victory — And yet, we still felt so defeated.
Along with many other things, being intimate had been such a hard and treacherous struggle for us.
We waited like we were supposed to.
We did it the “RIGHT” way.
We couldn’t wrap our minds around the fact that THIS was a struggle for us. Intimacy.
It put a huge weight on both of us that we never planned for.
Nine months later:
I signed up to take the Purity + Peace course with a friend, mostly just because I wanted to get more involved in church, but again starting with that same old mindset:
“Peace? Well I don’t suffer from depression or severe anxiety so, I’m good! And I’m married, what do I need to learn how to be pure for?”
So I start the classes.
The girls seem cool, the leader seems like she’s got a lot of good stuff to share, but I’m also all set. So I’ll just kind of sit back and listen.
How wrong was I?
Let’s just say, I was hit HEAVY with the stories some of the girls were sharing.
It was revealed early on in the classes that this was not some cute, feel-good, stand-by-and-just-cruise-through class.
This was deep ... life altering ... WORK. This was where chains would be broken, where freedom would be found, and where healing would finally happen.
I remember our last class.
We were all sitting around in a way where we could all see each other. I remember there was one girl...
She had been sharing every week of her honest, day-to-day struggles and reality with a cycle she had been in. She was brutally honest with her feelings and with her questions as to why she should even stop what she was doing. I sat there at a loss for words some moments, not even knowing what could be said. But class after class, our leader Vikki, along with the girls and their testimonies, were able to share straight TRUTH with her, and with all of us for that matter.
It was the truth that you wait your whole life for someone to come around and care enough to tell you, no matter how much it hurts to hear.
So in that last class, I remember her sharing again for the last time with so much more security in herself and God and thinking — wow. Is this the same girl we started the class with?
This was real.
And this was for me too.
It was for all of us.
My husband had just gotten back the month before from a six-month-long deployment.
Our intimacy issues were not resolved before he had left, but the time apart had really changed and softened our hearts toward each other and our situation. So much of our relationship before marriage was focused on staying pure, on keeping that promise to God and to each other because that’s all that mattered.
Just don’t have sex before marriage and we’d be be all good. Right? That’s how it goes?
There was so much I had yet to learn.
Once the focus of keeping those boundaries between us weren’t there anymore, we were smacked in the face with the lack of direction we had for our marriage. In reality, I wasn't "good" or all set. I started seeing the areas in my life that I so easily let peace escape from me simply because of my circumstances. I vowed to set my mind right and take captive the thoughts that tried to keep me trapped.
That meant looking at situations that I had been hopeless about for years, and letting God bring light to the damage that I brought upon myself through my negative thought patterns and unbelief. It meant adopting a mentality to endure rather than just giving up, even in the moments that felt were breaking me. It meant trusting God at His word and believing Him for the hope that He so desired to give me.
And do you know what started to change?
The hurtful wounds that were left open began to slowly heal.
We watched what seemed like a miracle happen between us.
I set my mind on being at peace in all situations and to think on “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable.” Philippians 4:8
I became fueled with the peace that I needed to trust God to do His work, and believe me when I say — He came through.
If you have any places in your life that your peace has been stolen from you, I urge you to join a Purity + Peace class. Get out there and be willing to see miracles happen. God has healing specifically for YOU, and He will so lovingly show you that your pain is not a waste.