I grew up Catholic but never truly knew Jesus until high school, when I began attending youth group and Bible study. Jesus became my everything, which is exactly how it should be. I stumbled often, but realized that even though we mess up sometimes, He always forgives. He loves us with a love that knows no bounds. This was one of the many messages I came to know through youth group, but as I soon learned, the real learning comes outside of the “safe spaces”—those spaces where you’re surrounded by people who believe what you do.
College was tough, especially because I was now on my own and my decisions were truly my decisions. I transferred back home after three semesters and that’s when the true learning began. I became a youth minister with the same youth group I had been involved in when I was in high school. It was easy to connect with the teenagers because I knew several teens who had been in youth group when I was, and I was close in age to all the teens.
I soon reconnected with this guy I had met when I was a senior in high school. We became best friends, and it wasn’t long before people were asking if we were dating. After some prayer together, we decided to begin a relationship. We were two of the “good ones,” the ones who were involved in the faith and were on the right track. We weren’t just going through the motions. But when emotions aren’t controlled, anything can happen. We broke one of the “no no’s” of the faith: we had premarital sex.
At the time, I felt guilty, but not guilty enough to stop. I felt that my boyfriend loved me, and so I didn’t feel that bad. I “knew” that we were going to end up together, so that made it okay. Still, I felt too ashamed and afraid to tell anyone, because I felt as if I’d be judged. I went to confession, but the guilt never subsided. The things that sex made me feel were the things that I didn’t feel otherwise. For example, sex made me feel desired and beautiful. But at the same time, I felt unworthy of being loved and accepted at Mass because I knew I had committed a mortal sin.
He and I broke up after seven months, and I broke down. The part that most affected me about the breakup was realizing that I wouldn’t be able to give my virginity to my husband. Another thing that hurt was knowing that he doesn’t—and possibly never did—love me, despite the fact that he said he did countless times. Even though Christ had forgiven me in Confession, I couldn’t forgive myself. I wanted to tell someone else. Telling my closest friends was the hardest part, but thankfully they were understanding and loving as well. They helped me to heal and grow, and I am forever grateful for that.
I would be lying through my teeth if I said that I now feel okay because God forgives. He definitely does, but the guilt still weighs upon me. The emotions and thoughts run through my head constantly—did he ever love me? Will I ever love again? Was I not enough? What is this “love” thing I’m always hearing about it? Does it exist? I’m always learning and healing, but I have to trust that God has a plan for me. While I don’t know what that is right now, I have to have faith and know that this experience happened for a reason. He has a plan that is sure to be beautiful, and I am learning to slowly trust it because He is the Ultimate Love.