The emptiness enveloped me, and it was hard to breathe. It was over…In the depths of my soul I knew that I had to let go and close the door on the one who had my heart after almost 4 years. I had shared everything with him and when it was over there was nothing left. I was shell of myself and the pain was so intense that the next moment was a struggle.
Dramatic…maybe. But that was my experience. Anyone that says that sex is no big deal either never gave their heart away or they have felt the brokenness so many times numbness has set in. I tried to pick up the pieces of my life and function as a newly graduated professional. Yet the pain was at times unbearable. In the midst of this dark place in my life a beacon of light emerged. Actually, it had always been there, but I had shut the door a long time ago.
I had moved down the street from a beautiful Catholic Cathedral shortly before the breakup, and it called my name. After years of hostile indifference towards the Church and its teachings I opened a little part of my broken heart. I started going to Sunday Mass and there I felt peace in the midst of the chaos. Yet I struggled with, “what now?” I was still just trying to hold it together and there was a gaping hole inside of me. I felt like the walking wounded.
My friends and the world around me screamed that they had the answer to happiness. I desperately wanted to not feel the pain anymore and believe that I could find love. I felt hopelessness. As I went out to bars and clubs the story went something like this:
1) I have to get out. I can’t sit at home and mope.
2) Get dressed and put on the “I’m having fun mask”. It’s all about having a good time. Push down the hurt & emptiness.
3) Meet up with friends. The place is loud and sometimes what’s going on is downright obnoxious. I have to be on guard for myself and my friends especially from “the users” (the guys who look at you as a thing to be assessed & devoured).
4) Have a couple of laughs and then drag myself home exhausted, feeling emptier than when I went.
I was becoming controlled by this desire to be wanted and to prove to myself and my ex that I was ok. I was tough and moving on. Yet, it was all an act. In the midst of all this I would roll out of bed just in time for 12 o’clock mass steps away from my apartment on Sunday. I was trying to live in 2 worlds searching for something that would lift the shroud of pain and disappointment that had become my daily reality.
Then it happened…I got into another relationship looking to fill the void in my heart. I was still going to Mass, my Christian roommate was praying for me, and showing me the love of God in all of my confusion. At the same time, I followed the world’s script…
1) Meet guy
2) Hang out/date
3) We’ve been going out for x amount of time…the next step is sex.
Crash!! The level of emptiness reached a new low. I had now succumb to something that I knew wasn’t right in my soul. Yet, what was the alternative? There wasn’t one I thought. One day as I wandered in my favorite book store I found the Christian section. I believe it was a divine appointment. The perfect title “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” by Joshua Harris. The book was a revelation to me: about God’s plan for salvation, the concept of seeking God’s plan for my life, and the idea of courtship (looking to get to know a guy in a pure relationship to discern marriage). It blew my mind!! What was this and where had I been?? The Lord was working in my life and pouring out his mercy on me. Around the same time, I started attending a 7-week seminar called the Life in the Spirit. God was calling loud & clear. He was lovingly shining a spotlight on the fact that the way I was living my life was not honoring him.
Then the gift happened. What was the gift? The dawning realization that my body had the ability to create new life. In a terrifying moment of grace, I believed that I was pregnant. I thought what was I doing with my life? Is this what I wanted for my child? I wasn’t married and didn’t even feel that this was where the relationship was going. I realized for the first time how selfish I had been. Never once did I give a thought to the child we might be bringing into the world. It had always been about me-me being happy, me feeling loved-there wasn’t an outside purpose. Broken and desperate, I poured out my heart to my roommate. I said, “How could God want me after the mess I have made of my life and all I have done.” I felt completely unworthy of His love. Then God reached into my heart through her words. “Enza you don’t have to be perfect to come to God. He loves you right where you are.” I gave my life to Christ that day. Finally, there was hope of something more. A transformation began through the power of the Holy Spirit.
That was the line in the sand. I found out I wasn’t pregnant, but I knew that I would never be the same. I couldn’t live on the fence anymore. I decided that sex could no longer be part of the relationship, it was too costly. The relationship started falling apart. I wanted my boyfriend to understand, I tried to explain that now I saw it all differently. That our lives were so much more than “here and now”. I wanted so much for him to believe that we had an eternal destiny and the incredible gift of salvation we have through Christ. The Lord continued to convict my heart, that this relationship was not his will for me. In a few weeks I found the courage through God’s grace to end the relationship. This time it was different I immersed myself in the Lord. I sought him in my brokenness and found peace.
I asked the man I had been dating to forgive me for breaking his heart. It was a startling realization that I had taken from him as much as he had taken from me. Then I went to confession and Jesus met me there. He allowed me to lay down the heavy burden of my sin and my shame. He loved me in his mercy and I walked out knowing I was a new creation. I knew that I had dignity, I had worth, and that God had a plan for me. I wanted to shout it from the rooftops. It was as if God allowed me to uncover a brilliant treasure that had always been in my midst, but so many lies had covered it up. Now I opened the box and I couldn’t wait to share it with everyone who like me, was searching for what was right in front of them.
“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” Matthew 13:44
Enza Cerami is a mother of 2. She has a BA in psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University and a master’s degree in clinical social work from Columbia University. She has presented the chastity message to youth in NJ for over 10 years. Enza is the founder and executive director for Living Stones Inc. Living Stones is a non-profit dedicated to sharing the message of chastity and the beauty of God’s plan for sex & marriage with youth and young adults.