Don’t Open Your Presents Before Christmas
In 1994, there was no choice but to wait. I remember how the world was rocked when a new technology began to shorten the distance between people, making communication easier and more instant. Three words changed everything: Dial-Up Internet. Oh yeah, I have vivid memories of waiting just a few short minutes to connect to the World Wide Web. The shrieking sounds that blared from a machine that weighed twice as much as me were hardly annoying… they were exhilarating. Information, electronic mail, frogger, and finally another development: mp3 downloads. Mind.Blown. Gone were the days of waiting for your favorite song to come on the radio so you could hit “record” on your tape deck. We could download any tune just by waiting a mere 30 minutes per song. God bless the person who picked up the phone in the middle of a Napster binge.
For all of history, waiting has been a part of life. However, in our modern era waiting seems to be less inevitable than ever. We once waited a week just for photos to be developed; now they are on all our friend’s devices within moments of our snap. E-mail, text, video-on-demand, Google and more ensure that every whim, desire and question is answered within moments of our asking.
We have become a vending machine culture. We ask; we receive. We expect it of our wifi, cable and cell-phone carriers. We expect it of God. We even expect it of our human relationships. We have forgotten how to wait. We have forgotten how to long for, how to desire and how to anticipate… well, anything.
So what happens when we encourage a generation who has everything at their fingertips to wait for marriage to engage in sexual activity? Well, honestly, it doesn’t make much sense. At first glance, saving sex for marriage isn’t entirely attractive; it’s just sort-of, well, hard. The truth is that in my years of speaking on the chastity message, I have had hundreds tell me that they wish that they would’ve waited… but never once have I had someone tell me that they wished they wouldn’t have.
There is something sacred about waiting. In fact, the anticipation of something doesn’t just make the event more special, it changes you. In my relationship with my husband, we found that as we got closer to our wedding day, chastity seemed to grow more and more difficult. We were determined to save ourselves for our wedding, and as the day approached the anticipation sometimes felt like it would kill us. Thankfully, we survived virginity just fine, and what we found was that we were strengthened invaluably through our dedication to the chaste life. Our communication with one another, mutual respect, hunger for each other’s holiness and self-control has translated enormously into every aspect of our marriage. For that, I wouldn’t trade a moment of the wait.
Because the Church is so smart, there is a whole season dedicated to learning to wait- and that season is upon us right now. We don’t open our presents before Christmas and it’s the anticipation that increases the meaning of the gift. So it is with sex, but also with every aspect of our life. This is true throughout human history. Advent reminds us of the people who came before Christ, who knew that after death, there was only imprisonment awaiting them. They knew those who died weren’t “in a better place,” because the Savior hadn’t come to set them free. They were waiting- for thousands of years, for God to come through on His promise to save His people. They were starving for a Savior. We remember, for the four weeks of Advent, that we too are nothing, dead, without Christ. As all of Creation held their breath when the Christ-child came into the world, we too should feel like we are finally truly alive when we recognize what Jesus’ birth means this Christmas. Jesus is inviting you this Advent, to draw near to Him, and let Him transform you. He will always keep His promise, and your gift of chastity this Christmas is one that He wants to reward in ways you could never imagine. Wait. Let Christ exceed your wildest expectations as Love Himself, is born in your heart.
Katie Hartfiel is an author and speaker dedicated to sharing the intense love of God. She graduated Franciscan University of Steubenville, where she received a degree in Theology. She served as a youth minister for seven years in Houston, where she now resides with her husband, Mark, and two daughters. In 2012, Katie released her first book, Woman in Love (available at womaninlove.org).