Shame. The emotion floods in as strong today as it did over twenty years ago. As if time and life haven’t continued to move, as if I’m the only one to have ever made a mistake, as if I haven’t successfully helped others through similar situations, as if I’ve never done anything “good”, the shame hangs over me like a weight.

Naive. Could I have been any more gullible? I was always a little boy crazy and eager for that first kiss. Always overweight and worried I wasn’t pretty enough for the boys to like me. Always flirting, hoping for attention, and afraid of rejection. So whenever attention came my way, I clung to it like a lifeline unaware of the intentions behind the attentions.

Unrestricted. I had no rules. Always the “goody two-shoes” growing up, I expanded my horizons upon entering college. I had never attended a party where alcohol was accessible. It intrigued me. All of my new “friends” were familiar with this scene. I learned to play the drinking game, quarters. I didn’t care for the taste of beer, but I played along for the fun, and it was fun. Drinking was not always involved. We went dancing until late in the night and just enjoyed hanging out. I pledged a sorority.

Frat brothers. As a member of the band, our sorority was nerdy. It was our new goal in life to turn it into a cool sorority on campus. The fraternity associated with us had some cool guys, who were also members of another frat house on campus. This opened doors to meet even more guys: boy crazy, remember. As a pledge, their wish was my command.

The president. When the president of the fraternity paid special attention to me, I was flattered. He flirted and made a point to always hang out with me. I encountered him multiple times a day in the band hall for rehearsals but also in the student union among his other frat brothers. He asked me to visit with him at his grandmother’s house on a couple of occasions. Coincidentally his grandmother had lived in my hometown and had a historical book in which my relatives were mentioned. He kissed me and would try to touch me in inappropriate places, but I was able to resist him. However, desires were ignited inside me from the new touches.

Temptation. The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 10:13, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” I had a way of escape. I don’t know if I didn’t realize that this night was different than the other nights when I had been able to resist him. But, this night I did not escape. I recall a portrait hanging on the wall in the room where I was waiting to make-out. In the portrait, Jesus is standing at the door knocking, and I realize now that should have been my sign to escape.

Overpowered. Being a child of the 80s, I was not familiar with the term “date rape”. It was not something I had ever considered. Looking back, I know this happened to me. I do not recollect many details from that night. I remember crying. I don’t remember falling asleep, but when I woke up, it was morning. I was nude, in a twin sized bed with “John”, and I was bloody. Later, I discovered bruises on the inside of both thighs. I can only suppose that he had to hold my legs open due to my resistance.

Blame. I did not blame “John”. I blamed myself. I attended the party; I drank alcohol; and, I wanted to make-out. I should not have been drinking. As the years have passed, I have realized that my fault stops there. I know that I did not consent to sex. If only I would have asked for help.

Disappointment. The reason I did not ask for help was because I did not want to see the look of disappointment in the faces of my family. I still don’t. I remember telling my high school friends that I had lost my virginity and the shocked look that filled their faces. I don’t think I ever told them the whole dirty story.

Details. The “walk of shame” accompanying my story cannot be diminished until I stop traveling that path. Revelations 11:12 says, “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.” I believe my release is in my testimony, every ugly detail. My closest friends were not at this particular party. Perhaps if they had been there I would have a different story to tell. We were at a fraternity pledge’s house. His parents were out of town for the weekend. We played quarters, and I may have had a beer. I do not remember drinking too much, and now I know I was drugged. I know we went into one of the bedrooms to make-out. Apparently he had grander plans. Details are fuzzy, and I actually remember very little. I can remember crying. I don’t recall undressing, so I must have passed out. I awoke the next morning, naked, nervous, and confused. I slipped out of the bed and noticed my clothes in a pile on the floor along with a used condom. I dressed quickly and headed straight to the bathroom. I cleaned up as best I could, but I was bleeding and never stopped for an entire week. I supposed the incident must have triggered my monthly cycle. I went back to the bedroom and surveyed the site before me. There on the bottom twin sized bunk lies “John” and a bloody mess. Humiliated as I feel, I am compelled to clean up the mess. I struggle to pull the sheets from around and under him. I search the house to find the laundry room. I just start the load washing and am startled by “Tommy”. This is his house. I imagine he wonders what I am doing, but I know he probably knows. I wish I could have fallen into his arms, cried, and told him I needed rescued.

Lost. I want to get away from here as fast as I can, but I have no idea where I am. I drove my car, but I just followed directions and really paid no attention to where I was going, so I’m stuck waiting on “John”. As I wait to remake the bed, “John” wakes up, and we talk a little. I do not remember what we spoke to each other, but I can remember being disgusted. I could see dried blood around his fingernails. I wanted to scream, “Go wash your hands!” We tried to clean the mattress before remaking the bed. The blood stains were stubborn, so we flipped the mattress and made it up. I cannot count the number of times I have imagined that family discovering the stained mattress.

Damaged. How can one night change everything? Lesson learned, I suppose. I gave up boys. Saying no was not a problem for me after losing my virginity. I realized that the boys really were only interested in sex and not me. “John” continued to plague me even though he never asked me out again. He would come up behind me at band functions and make noises in my ear. Noises he said I made during that night. This damaged me, for years after being married, I tried very hard not to make noises during sex. My husband thought he was doing something wrong because he wanted to hear the sounds of my pleasure. My personal hang ups took patience and years of love to overcome. I still have moments I struggle.
Found. With my decision made to forget boys, I was invited by friends to a Christian fraternity party. Soon after, I ran into a boy I met from the party, and he asked me for my phone number. So much for forgetting guys! We hit it off! Everything seemed to click. I was smitten.

Confessions. Our relationship escalated quickly. My new love interest is a preacher, a man of God, and from a preacher’s family. I love Jesus, and my entire life I could picture myself in full time ministry. I am falling fast in love. But, I’m faced with a great fear: “Will he still want me when he finds out I’m not a virgin?” I remember the day: we were sitting in the front circle drive, and before I could go any further in our relationship, I had to tell him the truth. It was one of the most difficult conversations of my life. Just saying the words tortured my soul. My heart broke telling this man, who I hoped would be my future husband, that I was used. I felt remorse, humiliation, fear, and sadness.

Redemption. He never blamed me, and he desperately encouraged me not to blame myself. His love for me was greater than any confession I might have. He loved me anyway. In spite of my circumstances, he showed me mercy. Instead of throwing out the pieces of my broken heart, he began the diligent process of putting the pieces back together again. I am loved.

Husbands. Ephesians 5:25-28 says, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.” Jesus loves us so much that He gave the ultimate gift of His life. He died that we might live. It’s unconditional love personified. We deserve death, but if we accept His free gift, we are granted life and life more abundantly. My husband loves me with that unconditional love. I live an abundant life with no fear. In the eyes of my husband, I am blameless. His love is greater than my sin.

Nothing. Romans 8:38-39: “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Nothing can separate us from the love of God. God would not have any to perish and that’s why He sent Jesus to offer hope. (John 3:16) However, we have the choice. We must choose Christ, believe He is God’s son, and live for Him. His love is there for the taking. Only we have to accept it. It is easy to live with regret and unworthiness.

Everything. Matthew 11:28: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” There is an old song that says, “Take your burdens to the Lord and leave them there.” We carry our sins like a heavy weight, as if they define who we are. We can be so much more! “…let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”(Hebrews 12:1-2) Lay your past and present burdens at the feet of Jesus. He will restore everything you feel you have lost.

Shameless. Merriam-Webster puts it simply: “having no shame”. Romans 8:1 puts it: “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus….” You ask God for forgiveness, He forgives and forgets, and that is important for your eternal life in Heaven. Now, you need to forgive yourself because that is important for the rest of your life on earth. Past mistakes and circumstances certainly have a hand in molding us to the people we become, but they don’t need to define the people we are today. Who you are today is determined by what you choose to do today. “Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.” (Romans 10:11) I encourage you to let go of the past and begin to live a shameless life today!