I remember standing in the rain outside his building, my tears mixing with the rain as it fell hard all around me. I only remember that night in blips of memories and blacked-out moments, despite not having a drop of alcohol to drink. I walked in the rain, simply wandering around campus aimlessly with nowhere to go.
I had first met John months ago at a campus ministry retreat. John and one other guy had both started talking to me and expressed interest in going on dates when we returned to campus. It had been only a few months since I had broken up with a long-term boyfriend and I wasn’t even sure I was ready to start dating again. But, since I was on a Christian-centered retreat surrounded by these faith-filled men, I took that as a sign from above that I needed to start moving on. I had no idea how to know which of these two guys I should start talking to, so I decided to just let things play out and whatever is meant to be happen. This was my way of having faith at the time, just letting life happen to me.
I didn’t actually end up dating John. I ended up dating the other guy, Sam, for a few months. Things inevitably didn’t work out because my heart wasn’t ready for another relationship and simply sharing a Christian faith didn’t make him the right man for me. The school year was coming to an end and I was about to embark on a summer mission project. I was content on entering this new adventure single and open to what my faith had in store for me. During one of my final days on campus, before leaving for the summer, my heart was drastically changed and shaken in a way that I’ll never forget.
The library was packed with students studying for finals and I had spent hours in a classroom with friends writing thesis papers and whizzing through flashcards. Out of the blue, John started messaging me. I didn’t think much of it at the time, assuming he simply needed a break from the boredom of studying. We were flirting via text message all evening long. Eventually, my study room got overrun with more students needing a place to be and I decided to relocate. John convinced me to come to his place to study, saying there was no use even trying the library at this point. I thought about all of his flirting and passes at me months earlier and knew it probably wasn’t a good idea. In my delicate, self-conscious and newly single state, I went over to his place.
I remember sitting on the floor of his room trying to focus on typing my paper on my computer. He kept sitting behind me, rubbing my neck and attempting to distract me from the task at hand. I tried to play it off and giggle and say things like “Don’t you have studying you should do?” Before I knew it he was on top of me, pushing his lips into mine. I didn’t mind kissing guys, but I really didn’t want to be kissing him. I should stop here to say that he did not try to have sex with me and for that I am forever grateful. He did hold me down though, as he continued to kiss and touch me. I remember saying “I want to go” and he didn’t stop. I closed my eyes, waiting for when it would be over. The moment he released his grip on my arms, I stood up and gathered my things. He looked confused and a little bit hurt. I held my breath to hold in the tears as I walked out of his building. I didn’t take a breath until I burst through the doors into the rain and finally let it all out.
I stood alone in the rain until I sent a text to Sam, my now ex-boyfriend that I needed help. So much had happened between Sam and I, but in that moment I didn’t know who else to call. I’m not sure how he was able to decipher anything I said between my sobs, but eventually he found me standing alone in the rain in the middle of campus. He took me inside one of the campus buildings and sat down with me as I continued to cry. Through muffled tears and pain, I told him what had happened but didn’t tell him with whom it had happened. I honestly don’t remember much from that night, but I remember Sam looking at me with sad eyes and saying, “No one should ever touch you for themselves.”
Since that day, those simple words have forever been in my heart, along with the pain of that night. Throughout my years of dating, I had too often fallen victim to letting down my guard physically to only be hurt emotionally. That night, Sam reminded me that being intimate should be an expression of love and commitment, rather than a pursuit to simply find physical satisfaction.
Since that night, I’ve done a lot of healing and a lot of growing to where I am now, but those words have forever stayed with me. As I continue to learn more about myself as well as love, I think of intimacy through the lens that Sam showed me. In the process of healing, I am learning how to guard not only my heart but also my body. I don’t blame myself for what happened, but I am learning how to avoid situations where my body and my heart may become vulnerable. Mostly, I’m learning that I’m worthy of being pursued with care and love.
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