Labels are great for some things, like moving boxes and folders in file cabinets; labels are not great for other things.
Obviously I take things a bit more slowly than a lot of people (I mean, I didn’t even have my first kiss until I was 27), but I can’t help but feel like sometimes things just move way too fast in relationships—and perhaps faster than some individuals want them to. As a high school teacher, I see it far too often in the lives of teenage girls. They want attention from the guys so badly, and they tend to rush things. I can’t tell you how many girls I’ve seen cry or have looks of pain on their faces simply for giving their first kisses away to guys who ended up casting them to the side the next week.
And it breaks my heart every single time.
I was watching a rerun of “FRIENDS” the other day—and, let’s be real, this is a show I have loved and watched religiously since its first season—and I couldn’t help but be a little upset with what I heard. Now, I know this show is pretty well known for having people sleep around quite often, but I guess I didn’t really fully grasp that concept when I was younger. I thought it was more just part of the show and not something that actually happened in real life. (Obviously I learned the truth later.) It was the episode in which we see what the characters’ lives would have been like if they had all taken different paths. Rachel is talking to Monica and exclaims, “Oh my God, you’re a 30-year-old virgin!”
Wait, what’s wrong with that?
Monica gets uncomfortable with admitting it and also afraid that other people around them heard. (By the way, it’s still so weird for me to think that their characters were the age I am now. Watching the show back then, they always seemed so grown up. I guess that makes me a grown-up now? So.strange.) And Monica suddenly really wants to get rid of the label of still being a virgin at that age.
And I still wonder why we worry about the pressures from others for decisions that should be completely our own.
I see nothing wrong with a person being a virgin at 30. Or 40. Or whatever age. I hate that both women and men feel like they have to have sex or do a number of other things in life simply to validate themselves. (I’m not saying that’s why people have sex. I’m saying that’s why some people have sex before they truly want to.)
Honestly, I don’t think I was ready to give my kiss away, but I did. You know why? I got wrapped up in the moment and thought that if I pulled away and didn’t let him kiss me that he wouldn’t care for me anymore. Well, it turns out he actually didn’t care for me as much as I’d hoped, anyway. And don’t tell me, “It’s just a kiss.” To me, it was more.
I’m definitely not judging anyone. I am looking at this more from a broken heart standpoint—I truly hurt for the girls I know who have given themselves away before they really wanted to. And I hurt even more when I know the emotional pain they went through when those guys didn’t turn out to be the forever loves they might have thought they would be.
You are valued. You are loved. And you matter. I will continue to keep this as my mantra and share it with people, because I want everyone to know that it’s true. It’s true of you. Your worth isn’t found in another person or anything you do with that person. Your worth isn’t found in accolades or titles or awards. Your worth isn’t found in how much money you make. Your worth isn’t found in what you’ve done and by what age.
I’m not perfect. I never will be. I mess up so much that it’s ridiculous. I’ve tried to find my worth in other things in the past, but I always come up short. People have let me down; jobs have let me down; my accomplishments have let me down when I realized they didn’t mean as much as I thought they did; running has let me down; ESPN has let me down (I hate admitting that); cities have let me down.
But Jesus has never let me down. I don’t know why He continues to care so much after all I do wrong, but for some reason He still loves me.
And that’s why I don’t want to concern myself with so many of the various labels I could allow myself to be given by others. I’ve got some more meaningful labels that overshadow those, anyway.
Valued. Loved. Matter.
And so do you.