by Shelbie Davis
Editor’s note: The following letter, which accompanied the author’s submission, is reprinted below with her permission.
My name is Shelbie Davis, a 21 year old and lifelong, imperfect Christian.
In the last year of my life, my family and the church I attended for 8 years has chosen not to speak to me. This happened right after I left the man who abused me, and yet no one believes me. So I had to move on.
I attend a wonderful, healthy church now, and the last year has given me a lot of time to reflect on what went wrong. What even HAPPENED, honestly. And this concept keeps coming into my head over and over again…almost like God is knocking on the door of my heart and giving me a message to myself at 16, and a million other teenagers as well.
My biggest regret is never turning in my abuser to the police, and God knows that. I’ve always asked him if there was a way to spread my message, and I feel this is what he has in mind.
Thank you for your time, and I hope you see this letter below fit enough to be used in your publications. If not, I still graciously thank you for your time and feedback.
To My 16 Year Old Self –
What I’m about to tell you goes against everything you’ve been taught in the church, and everything you will be taught at the same place, for the next four years until you figure things out for yourself.
God doesn’t hate sex.
You heard me right. God doesn’t hate sex.
I know between the two to three days a week you spend in church, it’s brought up at least twice how much God hates sexual immorality. (Whatever that means, right?) It’s dirty. It’s the elephant in the room. You and everyone your age has it on their minds, but good luck finding someone to explain that to you. You even admitting you think about it is gonna get you in the doghouse with God. Because it’s a bad thing, right?
So, naturally, you should save this dirty-oh no-hush hush-bad thing for your soulmate, your spouse, your other half.
I know right now you’re on your way to dating a guy who will spend the bulk of your following two years hammering into you that sex and everything associated with it is a really bad thing, and we shouldn’t do it, or even discuss why we’re not going to do it.The church will back him up — sorry, no time alone. You might have sex. Don’t have adult discussions about the future, you might say the S-word. It will be assumed that YOURE the risky one here, since you’re not white and pristine like he is. You’ll start to focus on this value set so hard, your tunnel vision will prevent you from seeing what’s lacking.
Above all, friendship.
You’ll hear about those five things above about 50 percent less than you’ll hear about sex, and all the ways to avoid it or anything relatively close.
And then later, when that boy you thought you had to spend your life with starts hitting you, and shoving you, and dragging you around by your ponytail, you’ll stick around and think you’re doing alright because, well, “at least we’re not having sex. God and all our friends would be SO mad about that.”
Oh, sweetie. How you will be mislead.
At the end, you’ll leave him. Thanks be to Jesus, your Father, you will leave him. And at the end, a huge chunk of you will be gone. I’m so sorry to tell you that.
Don’t get me wrong, you’ll always be relieved that you two never physically connected in that way (even though right towards the end, he comes close to taking it anyway). But was it the most important thing? Was focusing on abstinence and pretty much only abstinence for two years really worth sacrificing those actual foundations of a healthy relationship?
The answer is no.
And God would back me up on that.
Sweet girl, I want to remind you that your God is a God of pleasure. Of happiness. Of sanctuary. Of health. Four words that will later apply to your sex life as an adult in a fully committed and forever relationship.
And by the way, he’s okay with being associated with sex. Because he created it.
Re-read Song of Solomon. It got skipped over in church, but it’s so important.
Read it as a love note from your future spouse to you, and be excited.
Read the part where God tells the new couple to “drink their fill of love.”
You’ll be 21 years old one day and be so frustrated that no one ever sat you down and had “the talk.” And not the talk that a thousand Christian parents have with their daughters at 12 or 13, and hand them a pretty silver ring to wear until their wedding night. But the talk that says:
“Wait for the man who loves you. Respects you. Adores you. Treats you like a daughter of the King. Is your very best friend. Then, if God sees fit, marry him and do the things that married people do. God will LOVE that.”
Because it’s true, and most parents, pastors, and leaders dance around it.
Save yourself for that man. And don’t be so worried about sex that you forget about the thousand other things you deserve.
By the way, 2014 shapes up to be one of the best years of your life. Just wait, and trust in Him.
About the author
My name is Shelbie, and my world consists of working at Starbucks, my cat, the love of my life, and being Loved unconditionally. I am the big sister of two sisters and four brothers. Also, I’m a crazy good cook.
Thanks to Amanda for publishing this and to Shelbie for writing. Very brave, true, and soulful.
Shelbie, when I first read your submission a few months ago, I was overcome by the raw emotion here. It is brave to write about this experience and we are so honored you shared it with us.
Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to share my story. I pray that the people who need to see it will and that I can spread the message I’ve always wanted to spread. Thank you so much, and feel free to share!
Beautiful. Profound. Thank you.