Purity: Asking All The Wrong Questions (Plus Giveaway!)

[alert style=”info”] Ed. Note: Today’s guest post is from Ally Vesterfelt. She is a writer extraordinaire and the editor-in-chief at Prodigal. You can follow her on Twitter and scroll below for the chance to win a copy of her new book! [/alert]

I used to think that being single was awesome because I didn’t have to worry about anyone but me.

In some ways, I was right.

Then I met Darrell. We started dating. And really quickly I began to realize that it isn’t really fair to say that my single life was all about me. In fact, the decisions I made before I met him affected someone other than me, someone who I didn’t even know existed at the time was was making them.

There are some decisions I made as a single woman that I wish I wouldn’t have made so flippantly. I wish I would have realized that the decisions I was making in my single life were decisions that would one day impact my husband.

I grew up in church and heard the messages about “Waiting for Marriage” from the time I was young. I was part of the “True Love Waits” generation and read books like I Kissed Dating Goodbye and When God Writes Your Love Story.

I even went on a retreat with my youth group where I started writing letters to my future husband. Between the ages of 15 & 18 I wrote a few hundred letters and kept them in a box under my bed.

Cute, right?

 

During late high school and college I decided I didn’t really want anything to do with God anymore. I was sick of all the rules I had to follow and I just wanted to hang out and have fun.

It was a slow change at first. I would kiss guys and make out with them, that sort of thing. What I was doing wasn’t that big of a deal (or so I told myself) It was just kissing. Right?

When I got to college I started drinking and that changed everything. I never made good decisions while I was drinking but at least I got to use alcohol as an excuse. I partied and hooked up with guys.

I acted like I was having fun living the “college life” but it never made me feel as good as I thought it would. Especially after the fact.

Here’s the thing. My story doesn’t get any “worse” from there. No stories of rape or pregnancy or STDs. Pretty typical “college girl” type things as far as the world is concerned, right?

I was just really, really broken and lonely.

I started dating a guy who said he loved me, and pretty soon we were having sex too. I figured it was okay because we were in love; and love was what I had been missing before.

But when that relationship went down in flames, I felt as awful as I did before, the morning after a college party, hungover and used.

“How had I ended up here?” I wondered.

I had grown up in church. I had a box full of letters promising myself to my future husband. And I had been told since I was a little girl that I was “worth waiting for.”

I would read the Bible or hear a pastor talk about “sexual immorality” and cringe a little because I knew I wanted to do things God’s way again but I didn’t know how. I couldn’t even explain why I felt that way. It just felt right.

So I re-committed myself to purity. I wasn’t really sure I deserved it and I wasn’t sure how to do it but I knew I wanted to.

It didn’t come naturally.

 

I would set rules and boundaries for myself, cross them, and get disappointed and depressed. After making mistakes, I would set stricter boundaries to safeguard myself.

Even strict boundaries were no match for the insecurity and loneliness I felt. I would do just about anything I could to get attention. I kept messing up again and again and again.

Finally, I gave up. I isolated myself. I turned down dates when they came my way. I was friends with guys, but rarely more than that, because I knew that if I let it go beyond friendship I was in danger of making the same mistakes again.

I thought I was doing a pretty good job of being faithful to my future husband.

But looking back I realize how much I was just managing my sin.

Here’s the thing. I know I’m not alone. I’m not the only one who wants to honor God with my actions, but can’t figure out how to do it. I know I’m not the only one asking, “Why are we waiting anyway?” “What’s the point?” “Is there hope for me?” and “Is it worth it?”

I’m not the only one who needs the answer to “Why should I wait for marriage to have sex?” to be more than just, “Because the Bible says so.”

That wasn’t enough for me. I needed there to be more.

And instead of fighting silently, I want to start the conversation.

So I wrote a book called Asking All The Wrong Questions: Why Christians Are Waiting for Marriage for Sex. It talks honestly about my journey, my struggle, and the answers I’ve found to the questions I’ve asked. It also admits that there aren’t answers to every question. It highlights the nature of God, and how that helps us fill in the blank spaces.

If you want to commit yourself to purity, but you’re not sure how, or you aren’t sure it’s even practical, this book is for you. I hope it helps you in your process.

 

Book Giveaway!

Do you want a free copy of Ally’s new book, Asking All The Wrong Questions: Why Christians Are Waiting for Marriage for Sex? We are giving away one copy of Asking All The Wrong Questions to a random Twitter follower on December 1st!

Make sure you’re following us here and then tell us why purity is important to you for another entry (tweet to @QuarterlifeMan or use the hashtag #QuarterlifeQuestion).

Good luck!

 

Allison Vesterfelt is a writer and thinker who is becoming brave enough to live and tell the truth. She loves her job as the Editor-in-Chief of Prodigal Magazine  where she gets to help people live and tell good stories. She has one foot in Portland, OR, and one in Minneapolis, Minnesota. You can keep up with her by following her on TwitterFacebook and her blog.

(Full Disclosure: The link to Ally’s book is an affiliate link, which means that she/they receive a commission if you choose to purchase her book (or anything) at that link. Quarterlife Corporation does not explicitly endorse this link, so if you really feel horrible about helping their cause–––and we’re not sure why you would–––you can buy the book here.)

When God Has Bigger Things In Mind

It was an unseasonably sunny day in April 2006. Dressed in shorts, I remember pacing around the east end of the deck that wraps around our Michigan home, nervously answering questions posed by a Palm Beach Atlantic University admissions counselor.

I was a Pepperdine rejection, unsure what to do about college. Despite early-action acceptance to Tulane, this was post-Katrina and service work to re-beautify the campus was necessary (God knows I didn’t want to do that). Other schools, like Quinnipiac, Chapman, and Loyola (to name a few) left me longing for other options.

“Why is God important to you?”

[Insert rambling/inane/incoherent response here]

In actuality, I mentioned the book of Revelation. I tied it to some factual, scientific reality–––the best I could do for a well-educated kid riding on his parents’ faith. Apparently, my response was good enough to get me in. All the while, God had bigger motives than I had been expecting because, truth be told, God didn’t want me at Pepperdine or Tulane or Michigan or any other school besides Palm Beach Atlantic University.

 

God’s bigger motives were news to me; I was clueless.

Despite my relative incredulity, God knew how he was transforming my life. He was busy placing strong men of his standard in my life to lead me and show me a better way. He was busy stripping me of all that wasn’t Him. He was preparing me to lead–––my lacrosse team, my fellow students, my coworkers, my future employees, my future wife, my future kids.

[quote]What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ[/quote]

–Philippians 3:8

Everything is a loss. It’s all rubbish–––Rubbish!–––compared to the greatness of knowing Christ. God had a plan. He had bigger things in mind.

///

When you’re new somewhere, people usually ask you how you’ve arrived.

To friends and family back home, it was simply, “Jayson is in Palm Beach.” In Palm Beach though, it wasn’t so easy–––I had to initially decode Palm Beach Atlantic University for most people–––

“Oh, you go to Florida Atlantic University?” “No.”
“Oh, you mean Palm Beach State College?” “No.”

But once we got that out of the way, the question usually returned to how I arrived at this tiny, private, Christian liberal arts university. For me, the answer was blind faith. I had never visited Palm Beach Atlantic; instead, I simply showed up in late August 2006 with a beach on my mind and a solid guy-to-girl ratio in my heart.

 

God wants us to trust him and act in blind faith.

Am I saying that college prospectives should never go on a campus visit do the Schmidt method? Of course not. That would be too smart (kidding).

What I am saying is this: if we allow ourselves to trust God completely and understand that he enables us to make decisions for our good and his glory, we can be fearless in making the right moves.

Did I know the ins-and-outs of everything that might unfold in the six years following my move? Again, of course not. But God wants us to be our very best for him, and nothing less. This requires blind faith.

You won’t ever have all of the answers. You’ll be confused, sometimes. You’ll pray for discernment and be confused even more still. You won’t know. You’ll question.

And that’s okay.

When God has bigger things in mind, we need to dive in. It’s our job to pray and walk in obedience–––and we don’t that by standing on the sidelines. If you’re struggling with that, pray to God that he would equip you with a mental blockade. One that pushes out any doubt and frees you to act.

Once there, get off the sidelines and dive head first into the future God has for you.

[alert style=”info”]Sound Off: It’s tough to trust what we can’t see. In what ways have you moved forward in blind faith? How has God worked in the background of your life, without you knowing it? Let us know in the comments below.[/alert]

Who Are You Going to Be?

Photo: Jeremy Jenum

During your freshman year of college, the basic questions that anyone (and everyone) is bound to ask you are: Where are you from? What’s your major? What dorm do you live in?

During your senior year of college, the stakes seemed to be raised just a bit and the questions become: What’s your degree in? Are you going to grad school? What are you going to do? (Aka: Do you have a job? Where is it? How much money will you make?)

It is both humorous and frightening to recognize this difference and face the reality that what the world expects of you looks a lot more like a big paycheck and a lot less like a passionate life.

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I recently talked about this struggle with a dear friend of mine as she was planning her wedding. She shared how frustrated she was that people only seemed interested in knowing where she and her fiancé would live and work after the wedding. “It doesn’t matter what we do,” she lamented, “doesn’t anyone care who we are going to be?!”

Bingo.

You see, what you do is important because it’s how you choose to use the precious time that Jesus has given you on this earth. But I want to probe… who are you going to be? What is going to define your character? How are you going to be transformed into the likeness of Christ?

Deciding who you are going to be may sound a bit ridiculous. “No one really chooses these things, it just happens, right?” I would argue otherwise. For who you choose to be is the most important decision you will make, and it is a decision that you have complete control over. It’s like the cliché statement, “You don’t have control over what happens around you, but you have control over how you react to it.”

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When we not only heed the commands of Scripture that dictate what we do, but we allow the lifestyle of Jesus to shape our decisions and rewrite our habits, our character will begin to follow suit.

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“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everybody.”

Romans 12:9-18

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Imagine how different your life would look if you let this passage characterize your daily life? How would your relationships change? How would it transform your attitude?

Jonathan Edwards was a theologian who lived in the 18th Century. He took it upon himself to write a list of resolutions for his life. These resolutions were set to govern him in everything he did. Here’s an example: “Resolution 56: Resolved, never to give over, nor in the least to slacken, my fight with my corruptions, however unsuccessful I may be.” In layman’s terms: “I resolve to never stop fighting my sin, no matter how often I fail.” Not a bad goal to set, if you ask me.

Making a conscious decision to live for Jesus, walk in obedience, and pursue righteousness is by no means easy. It is far easier, and far more comfortable, to live for yourself and to delight in sin. But fighting for righteousness and following the commands of Jesus will develop character that enables you to “fight the good fight, finish the race, and keep the faith” (2 Timothy 3:7).

I’ll be the first to speak of the importance of finding the thing you were made to do and pursuing it with all your heart – this matters immensely. It is important that you do your very best in school, find a job, and work as the best employee your workplace has ever seen…

But tonight, I want to challenge you to consider it of deeper importance and greater worth to not only know what you want to do, but to discover who you are going to be.

[box_help]Sound Off: What will it take to be who God called you to be? Consider that this might require a tough choice or two.[/box_help]

Monday Rundown: Watches Cyclists Nearly Die

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It’s Monday, and if you’re new to Quarterlife Man (welcome), you’re new to the Monday Rundown. The Monday Rundown is a compendium of  randomness compiled over the course of each week. Enjoy…

[As always, if you’ve seen something crazy or have a suggestion, email us or tell us on Twitter (@QuarterlifeMan).]

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––From the Not-Too-Distant Future

David Edwards, a biomedical engineer at Harvard, might have possibly changed the way we store food forever. It’s called WikiCells:

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Each WikiCell has a nutritional skin held together by healthy ions like calcium. Think about the skin of a grape and how it protects the grape itself. This is how a WikiCell works. This soft skin may be comprised primarily of small particles of chocolate, dried fruit, nuts, seeds, or many other natural substances with delicious taste and often useful nutrients. Inside the skin may be liquid fruit juice, or thick pudding.[/box_dark]

All of the sudden, the estimated 12% of our waste from plastics doesn’t seem so necessary after all. This takes sustainability and injects it with steroids. It also reminds me of those sorbet-in-fruit desserts that are served on Palm Beach:

Island Way Sorbet

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––A neat concept, SkillCloud:

During the recent Reinvent Business hackathon, Design Icon (a team in the hackathon) came up with a tool they call Skillcloud: a social network-like platform that provides an avenue for employees to lay out all of their interests, abilities, and hobbies outside of the office to their workplace.

From Co.EXIST: “Once companies know that there is a passionate group of musicians or artists in their midst, they could build teams that generate fresh ideas.”

We’ve all been in positions where we’ve felt underutilized and I think this is a great solution to that problem. Your boss won’t likely have time to learn that you love photography outside of Skillcloud, but once they do, it opens up the possibility to work more creatively or on other projects. #genius

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––College Classes That Would Actually Prepare You For Real Life

From Thought Catalog. Our favorites:

[fancylist]

  • LF101A Having a Lawyer Friend
  • >:( 101 Arguing with Spouses and Other Termagants
  • Brng101 How to Influence People Without Boring Them to Death
  • AAA101  Triple A
  • CL412  How to Use Craigslist Without Getting Ripped Off, Raped or Murdered
  • $Ka-ching$502  How to Write a Best-Selling Expert How-To Book

[/fancylist]

[divider]

––Practice Safe Cycling…

This is the trailer for a film called Line of Sight. It’s crazy/nuts/awesome:

[box_light]Line Of Sight is a rare view into underground bicycle messenger racing which has become a global phenomenon. For over a decade Lucas Brunelle has been riding with the fastest, most skilled urban cyclists around the world while capturing all the action with his customized helmet cameras to bring you along for the ride.

DVD available at: lucasbrunelle.com

“Lucas Brunelle goes for it. If you want to see what it’s like to play a live game of ‘frogger’, on a bike, with only one life, check out Line Of Sight.” – Mat Hoffman[/box_light]

LINE OF SIGHT – Official Trailer from Zenga Bros on Vimeo.

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––Finally: A Tentpole Solution

YES. For those of us that hate those dreaded tentpoles, I present… ‘The Cave’ (from Heimplanet). It’s a tent with no poles. Instead, this shelter deploys an inflatable diamond grid–a geodesic dome–to support the structure:

The Cave – Setup from heimplanet on Vimeo.

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[box_success]Thanks for reading. Check back next Monday for more of the Rundown and, as always, tweet us (@QuarterlifeMan) if you have any suggestions![/box_success]

The Circle of Friends

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Did we go to the beach and take Christmas photos my freshman year? Maybe.

(Photo via the personal collection.)

The circle of friends.

This is an article I began writing in last August, but was lost to the depths of time–––kind of like how are friendships are: here one moment and gone the next. Like any good thing, this deserves resurrection.

It was 2006. My college roommate and I were discussing how transient our friendships were, although I am certain we weren’t saying ‘transient’ at the time. Our perception was that friendships, as in life, are truly fleeting. We would meet people, hang out with them for weeks, and then move on. This happened over and over again in a cyclical nature; we called it “the circle of friends.”

The people who entered our lives as friends for a season exited just as quickly. In fact, even my relationship with that college roommate later waned, bearing proof to the idea that our relationships are short lived.

Call it human naiveté, but we always think our relationships will last forever.

Just yesterday (and consider this the driving force for completing the article), I had a conversation with a friend about some ghosts from the echoes of our past–––our freshman year of college. We threw out names each other hadn’t spoken in literal years; names we’d thought had been lost to the depths of time. Even places, like The Monkey Club. It was all surreal.


With a big, old thank you to Facebook, I glanced at my timeline today.

(shudder)

It is highly ridiculous that there is written record of our collegiate misgivings. There were so many mistakes. So many wasted moments. So many excellent memories. I cringe at some of it… but for most of it I smile with a fondness of memory and a recollection of some of the greatest times of our lives.

And that’s it.

We’ve all moved on, now.

God has led many of these people to their future husband or wife. They’re having families, starting new careers, and canvassing the globe in an effort to make the biggest impact on this world. There is no way to stay in contact with everybody; it’s just not feasible. What can you do?

Maximize Your Moments.

If you hear nothing else, realize that our relationships are merely a momentary stop on this great journey God has for us. There will be people in your life for a season and others for a lifetime.

Consider who God has placed in your life now: write it down. Barring some family and close friends, that list will be different in six months, twelve months, ten years. These people are one moment away from a new job, a new relationship, or a new calling. You can’t stop them, but you can most definitely love them for who they are while they’re here.

Monday Rundown: Calling All Shrinks

It’s Monday, and if you’re new to Quarterlife Man, you’re new to the Monday Rundown. The Monday Rundown is a compendium of  randomness compiled over the course of each week. Enjoy…

[As always, if you’ve seen something crazy or have a suggestion, email us or tell us on Twitter (@QuarterlifeMan).]

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––Calling All Shrinks: The perfect leadoff story. Moments ago (and you can decide how long ago “moments” was), I saw a segment on NBC’s TODAY about marriage relationships. I’ll save you the trouble… but it was misguided. If you are a college-aged person, consider going to psychology school. It’s clear we need Christian psychologists giving solid marriage advice.

––Collegiate STDs Are Through The Roof: This article, from the Sun Sentinel, states that the number of college-age students getting sexually transmitted diseases are up dramatically. The reason? It’s just today’s college romance, where hooking up is common, but shame and stigma are not. Here are some excerpts:

[box_light]But alcohol isn’t always a factor in casual relationships. Students often hook up “to get what they need without being emotionally involved,” Weaver said.[/box_light]

[box_light]But in many cases, the shame isn’t there anymore, students say.

“You have these shows on TV, like ‘Jersey Shore,’ that emphasize the constant sexual thing, and they show hooking up as perfectly normal,” said Daniel Garrido, 22, a graduate student at Florida International University.[/box_light]

[box_light]”If you’re going to experiment, this is the age to do it,” she said.[/box_light]

This is the proliferating thought process through most college students. We have so much work to do.

––What A CEO Looks For: Always bombing job interviews? Never fear! Matthew Swyers, CEO for The Trademark Company, released this article on INC called, “5 Things I Look For in a Great Job Interview.” There are a load of great tips in this article, including:

[box_light]So if a candidate’s e-mail address is “bigsexy@gmail.com” or “hunkaburninlove@yahoo.com,” think twice about hiring him. Gmail, Yahoo and other companies have a great price point for new e-mail addresses: free. There’s no excuse for not having a professional-looking e-mail address.[/box_light]

––Startup Rates Surge in U.S.: Early stage entrepreneurial activity jumped nearly 60% in 2011, according to a survey released this week by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor. Quarterlife Man would like to say, you’re welcome. Entrepreneuship is the economic engine that will revive the international economy. Here’s a link to the Business Week article.

––Happy Trails, Joe Paterno: Joe Paterno, the legendary Penn State football coach who’s legacy will forever be tainted by the Jerry Sandusky sex scandal, has passed away. He was 85.