Saturday, June 16, 2007

Returning to purity

Here is a part of a not very friendly anonymous comment I got to my post about dressing modestly during the summer:

"Just because you were sexually impure (Anna's note: I replaced the original expression with a milder one) a couple of years ago doesn't mean you have to go to the other extreme of only swimming when other people can't see you. Do you really think you can erase the past and become a pure and modest woman again?!"

First, I must say I'm grateful for two things: comment moderation and developing thicker skin. But I won't waste precious time complaining about rudeness. Instead, let us touch the issue that was brought up here.

I know many lovely, modest, pure, godly ladies (and gentlemen) who weren't always what they are today. The society we were raised in, foolish decisions we made in our youth… I mean, really – show me one person who has never made a mistake in his or her life, and I will stand up and applaud. Because this just doesn't happen, folks. We all have moments in our past we are not very proud of.

Those of you who have read my post, "Reclaiming the Gift of Chastity", know my story. I'm exactly one of those people who made grave mistakes in the past. I was ignorant, worldly, immodest and threw away the beautiful gift God gave me – my purity. When I realized how wrong I've been, I went through the following process:

1. I acknowledged my mistakes and admitted there are no excuses to my behavior. I prayed.
2. I resolved I'm never going to make the same mistake again. I prayed.
3. I started working on myself in hope to become the woman I want to be: godly, wise, modest, chaste. I prayed. I'm praying until this day.

Do I think I can change the past? Of course not. Do I want to change the past? I used to think along those lines some time ago, but it didn't help me. I'd much rather focus on the positive – that my life has changed, and that God in His grace taught me so much through my mistakes. I grew. I'm past the self-flagellation stage, and I feel I have gained something truly valuable.

I've heard something very wise – that when we do something wrong, the devil tries to lure us twice: before and after we do it. When we're tempted, he whispers to us about how nice and cool everything is going to be and how it's not bad at all and we should follow him. When we realize we've made a mistake and we regret it, he says, "once a sinner, always a sinner. There's no way you can repair what you did, so you might as well continue".

To those of you who might be struggling at this very moment, please understand that thinking along these lines is destructive. Wallowing in misery and hating ourselves only leads us to sin more. God doesn't want that. He wants us to regret, but not to be miserable. Someone who used to be a thief or a liar cannot undo what he did, but he can become a different person – someone who isn't capable of stealing or lying anymore. A woman who once rejected the precious treasure of chastity cannot turn back time either, but she can regain her dignity and yes, she can become pure, chaste and modest again. Our God is good and kind. He wants to heal. He wants to forgive. Let Him do the work on your heart.

24 comments:

Kyla said...

I am not sure why somebody would be so harsh and out of line. I just wanted to commend you on your response. Guilt and shame are two of Satan's strongest weapons. How liberating it is to know that we are new in Christ and His Grace is sufficent. His love is not dependent on our actions because he knows our past, present and future!

Anna S said...

Kyla,

When LAF linked to a post I wrote, I received lots of wonderful responses from lovely ladies, but also an anonymous troll (or trolls?) who says something unpleasant about pretty much anything I write. I don't want to block anonymous comments because some of them are truly wonderful, so I just use comment moderation and sometimes, when something genuinely interesting is brought up (even in a rude way), it gives me ideas for new posts.

Anonymous said...

Thank goodness for comment moderation, eh?

Sometimes, it seems to me, people who will speak out the most harshly about your proper behavior (and your improper behavior years ago) do so because of the glaring contrast to their own, here & now. It frightens them, maybe it convicts them, but all they know is that they have to push back, & that can take the form of ugly words.

Brenda

Mrs. Brigham said...

I like what you brought up about the devil luring us twice. How true is that! I used to struggle with wanting to change the past until I finally realized that as terrible as my past is, what happened allows me to appreciate the goodness of God and all He has blessed with me even more than if I had never experienced the other side of things. I have no idea why God had me go through each and every life experience that I have, but I do know He had His reasons and I need to trust & know that He always knows what He is doing. Even if it does not make sense to my clueless human mind.

Tracy said...

Anna,
I'm so sorry that you are being persecuted for your beliefs. I have been as well from time to time on here. I'm praying that the Lord will give you a peace. I KNOW that you find comfort in him.

Perennial Pioneer said...

Anna,
I know what you mean by those trolls. I have had them in my life too. We are the ones who are to have the soft answer to turn away wrath. They are the ones who are immature, and selfish, because they are not thinking of the mind and the eyes of the men, regardless of whether they are christians or no. I have a cousin who feels this way, and it is hard to convince her otherwise. She is a Mommy now, but she still dresses, like she shouldn't. I feel sad for her. I try not to dress like a boy, or underdress, like a low woman. I like to dress feminine,as you know.
Just thought I would say, you have incredible tough skin, to answer back, without getting your feathers ruffled, so to speak. I get them ruffled so easily, that I loose my temper, more often then not. I am working on that though. It is part of being human, I suppose.:) God have truly blessed you, and I am blessed to know you!

In Christ alone!
Perennial Pioneer

Lindsy said...

I would add that none of us are truly pure. I've never so much as kissed someone, yet I'm not pure. Why do I say this? "28But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman [or man] lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart." Surely actions have some consequences thoughts don't, but the actions aren't the primary problem. If the heart were pure, the body would be as well. And nobody is pure (cf. Romans 3:10) w/o Christ. In Him there is a Christian's power to grow in purity through out life. (More importantyly through Him is the imputation of _perfect righteousness_!!! So although Christians sin until death, they aren't counted sinners by God!!) And He uses means to sanctify us on this earth, including modest dressing, which helps guard the heart of the one dressed modestly and (something the comment person didn't seem to catch the importance of) those who see Anna. He changes hearts, gives believers a privilege in allowing them to see their joy in glorifying Him (like through modest dressing), and He uses our pasts to show us the depths of His forgiveness, His righteousness, His love. . .Himself!! Blessed be He!

Certainly there are things I wouldn't want someone to broach with me--like, "Lindsy, you once. . .?!" But hopefully I would be able to say, "Yes, I did do that. . . Yes, I know I'm wretched and vile. . . _But_ I don't depend on me for goodness. I don't depend on me for worth. What a futile game that would be! I depend on One who is Wholly Good, Perfect, and Wise!"

magda said...

i love your comment about how the devil tempts us twice- i never thought of it that way, and it is so valuable! thank you so much for this post. it is really wonderful how you take horrible hateful comments and turn them into insightful posts.

Anna S said...

Thanks for the support, everyone!

Laura,

I have a very quick temper myself, but as I have time to ponder answers for REAL questions (and not simply defend myself from insults), I can think calmly and phrase my response.

Anonymous said...

Hi Anna,
You have wonderful strength spiritually for someone so 'young' (I'm in my mid-40's). Your anonymous commentor obviously has not experienced God's salvation and grace of forgiveness. I can also ponder that this person doesn't know the grace/forgiveness of many examples shown in the bible and how many (in the bible and beyond) have done great works for Christ, based on the NEWNESS of being from His healing (instantaneously received upon salvation). As christians we still make sinful choices, at times. The flesh struggle is real. However, the bible cautions, through the Apostle Paul's writings, that although now saved, and although now heirs to FORGIVENESS with a contrite heart, we do not take that liberty to continue to sin! Paul once had christians killed. Once saved, HE DID NOT CONTINUE in that, nor was he branded a MURDERER by God or His people. In God, we have hope. Without God, we have no hope. Your anonymous has no hope. So, that person can't see any for you. This is a wonderful post about being renewed in Christ! Thank you. Mrs. K

Buffy said...

Well this is what happens when you set yourself against modern trends and thinking!

Jesus's mission was clearly directed towards helping people who were living a 'sinful' life change (repent)and live a life that brought them closer to God. He obviously believed that your past did not dictate who you were but what you did in the present.

Emily said...

What a great response Anna. It is so true - we can change, by the grace and aid of God. He makes us new creations in Christ, hallelujah! We have been given a hope and a future, and can indeed to return to purity and chasity once again, no matter what mistakes we have made in the past. This is the beautiful truth of the Gospel.

Marie said...

In biblical times the self righteous threw stones, seems these days the same self righteous throw words.

Would this person say the same of Saint Mary Magdalene(even though she was NOT a prostitute) or St. Margaret of Cortona?

It would benefit this 'lady' to LEARN some humility and understand the Sacrament of Confession..for if God has forgiven the sinner who is anyone to REMEMBER another's past sins?

As a Saint once said, 'when the devil reminds you of your past, remind him of his future'!

Peace and blessings to you Anna:) Forgive this person of their ignorance.

Marie

Paula said...

Well Anna,
I very much agree with you. The one who commented should read what JPII has written about women dignity.

Anna S said...

Thank you. ALL of you. I really appreciate this.

Coffee Wife said...

Hmmm. Obviously your rude commenter misses the ENTIRE point about the forgiveness of Christ! We die in Christ and are raised again into new life. Our sins are GONE. Finished. Wiped out. No matter what we did in the past, we are pure and clean. As Christians we live NOW with our eyes focused on eternity. We do not live in the past.

MInTheGap said...

Anna, the whole point of the Gospel (Good News) is that our sin, though it be as scarlet, can be white as snow. It's something that's hard to grasp, and hard to forget, but it is truly liberating. Christ is pleading His blood before the throne for you!

The thing that you also have is the ability to say "I've been there, I've done that, and I know it's not fulfilling-- and you can move forward."

Anna S said...

Oh yes. This got me rid of temptation FOR GOOD.

Dawn Marie said...

I don't think I have had anyone say something like that to me, but someone did see my MySpace page and tell me that I am a hypocrite and judegmental. I found out the next day that this person is a flaming left wing liberal and not a Christian so, I thought to myself, "okay..this is normal coming from people like that" LOL.

We all did regretable stuff before we got saved. We can't change the past, can't go back and fix our mistakes, but thank God that when we came to Him and accepted Him as Saviour, all of our past was washed under the cleasing power of Jesus Christ! Hallelujah!

Of course that doesn't mean we never sin again. I have fallen since I have been saved and satan, that rascal does his best to keep be down and beaten but I am stronger that him, I am the King's Daughter! I ask for forgiveness of what I have done, dust myself off and get back on the narrow path. :)

Bless you! Enjoy your day!

Anna S said...

Dawn Marie,

Thankfully, I get so many more wonderful, supportive responses here. And I hope the occassional trolls will get tired eventually, seeing that I don't publish their comments or get defensive.

Kristi W said...

My thought as I was reading this was that we have a promise in 1 John 1:7-9: "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

God's Word is the plumbline by which our lives should be aligned. It gives us hope, which is an anchor for our souls. We can believe that if the Word says we are cleansed from ALL unrighteousness (sin), it is absolutely true, and even though there might be regret for things in our past, God says he will never despise a broken and contrite heart. He is the God who gives beauty for (instead of) ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. (Ref. Isaiah 61:3)
Yes, He gives us a new beginning!

Anna S said...

Kristi,

Without a new beginning, we would all be lost, as we are ALL sinners!

singlemomforgod said...

Anna,

Continue your stand!! You are such a voice for prodical daughters!!! I get the same comments from people who don't understand, and I have two children out of wedlock that exposed my "secret sins". You are very brave because so many of us across the world would never know of your past if you had not used it as a testimony. I am thankful that I came across your blogsite because We have put on the garment of the new man we are just as pure as the person who is natually pure. I appreciate my mistakes only because the pain I endured keeps me from returning back to that road I traveled.(Ephesians 4:24
And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.)

MarkyMark said...

Anna,

The Christian faith teaches us that God can & does renew our hearts; though we can no longer have our physical purity, it is possible to have our mental, emotional, and spiritual purity with His help.

Secondly, once one makes this step to reclaim their purity, steps have to be taken to make sure we don't repeat our past mistakes. For example, if a person cries out to God over losing her purity, then she shouldn't be alone with a man, so as to not succumb to temptation; another example would be a guy not being alone in a car with a girl. We have to take steps to PRESERVE our purity of heart once we get it back. Those are my thoughts...

MarkyMark