By Ashley Barnett
As a little girl, I dreamt of being loved and belonging to someone. However, I also dreamed of adventure. I loved discovering treasures in hidden places. Sometimes it worked in my favor, and other times it did not. You see, I was the child that could find the Christmas presents and memorize numbers, pass codes and pins with just one try. Needless to say, my parents became quite clever in their methods to keep things a surprise.
As I grew older, my search for adventure and love was increasing rapidly, especially as I entered middle school, where I saw young girls and boys begin to form interests in each other. Of course, I wanted in on the experience, but no one seemed to like me. As I began to look around, I realized why—I didn’t look like my blonde haired or blue-eyed classmates. I represented something that made some individuals uncomfortable. I represented another side of America. I was African-American. Everything about me was quite the opposite of them.
Several students voiced their discountenance in some of the most detrimental ways. From rape threats over the phone, death threats at school, to being asked to perform sexual acts within the classroom. One friend, during that time, was forbidden to even claim friendship with me by her parents. We kept our friendship a secret from her parents until after high school. As a result, my self-image was skewed. I learned to hide my hurt because it made me feel safe and somewhat in control. I learned to smile when I really wanted to scream.
Fast forward—I am entering my freshman year in high school and everything is super new, especially the guys. They came in all shapes and sizes, but they shared the same race. My hopes were that this time, perhaps someone would like me or find me pretty. It was also during my high school days that I began to get curious about the forbidden word … sex.
Growing up in a small town and a strict home, this was definitely not the topic of conversation at the table. The only person who would address my curiosity was my recently born-again brother. He had been a part of this small Bible study group with some of my cousins, and he was amazing. He taught me the real gift of love, and sex between a husband and wife. He sat and shared with me words that I live by up to this very day. It was as if, the Lord, Himself, spoke through my brother into my heart. My brother shared how God would honor my marriage if I abstained from sexual intercourse, and that my husband would cherish me.
After that day I purposed in my heart to give my husband, myself. One of the main reasons was that I grew up poor and had nothing of monetary value to share with him. I didn’t think of myself as smart, so I wanted him to have the most valuable gift I had … my virginity.
I did not realize the promise I made in my heart that day and the pressures that would soon follow. Thankfully, during high school, I did not face as many temptation as I did in college.
College opened my eyes to a whole new world and built even more curiosity in my mind. The first prayer in my heart was, “Lord, the covenant I made with you at 14—I am not strong enough to keep. You will have to keep it for me.” He did just that.
While a freshman at NC A&T SU, I was exposed to lifestyles and ideals that were different from my own. It was a beautiful experience, but it also pulled on the promise that was in my heart. I started to expose myself to what “college-life” was about or so I thought. I placed myself in some of the most compromising situations, only to have God block and shield me from myself.
He protected me, and during my sophomore year, He introduced me to a young lady named Sophia. She was a neighbor in my dorm. Sophia would constantly explain to me that there was a different life that God had for me, a deeper life with Him. You see, I thought I was okay with God. I had no idea there was more.
For months, Sophia asked me to attend the campus Bible-study, but I would always refuse. Eventually, one night, to get her to stop asking, I agreed to go. I walked in to see so many people, who were also my age, crying out to God in prayer. I had never seen that before and from that moment on I had to keep going.
After a year of attending, the campus leader posed a question, “Who has never been baptized in the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues?” So, my best friend and I walked up to where the leaders were. They prayed, and then the most powerful exchange occurred. God took my weaknesses and gave me His strength. He then introduced me to people who walked with me and prayed for me to stay committed to the promises I had made years ago.
It is HIS Grace and HIS Mercy that kept me. Not ANY goodness of my own, but the Divine assistance of the Holy Spirit. It is for HIM and HIM ALONE that I can say, HE IS WORTHY!!
2 Timothy 2:13 states, “If we are faithless, He remains faithful [true to His word and His righteous character], for He cannot deny Himself.” (AMP)
There is a love that runs so deep, sex can’t even touch it. When you encounter the lover of your soul, all else is meaningless. That’s the love I have grown to learn about and to love. There is a peace that comes in the pursuit of purity.
Song of Solomon 2:4 “He has brought me to his banqueting place, and his banner over me is love [waving overhead to protect and comfort me].
I have experienced the beauty and strength of waiting. Can I tell you it’s worth it? As mentioned in the Song of Solomon 8:4 “I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, do not stir up nor awaken love until it pleases.”
I have learned to surround myself with one or two strong friends who I can confide in, who will always help to lead me back to the Lord, who believe the destiny that God has spoken over my life. You should do the same. Look at them like Aaron and Hur from the Old Testament. These men held up Moses’ arms when he grew tired from the battle. As I mentioned before, there have been many instances where I have placed myself in awkward situations, but by God’s grace He would always provide a way of escape. He will do the same for you—Only ask Him!
Also, I learned the value of staying active in my church or local community and beyond. Learn a new language. Expose yourself to people and cultures that are different from your own—travel and try something new, as often as you can! Trust me, the “sky is NOT the limit.” There’s more—far beyond what your eyes can see. So, dream big and pursue great things!!Like what you've read? Receive free email updates from The Voice Online: Subscribe