Every once in a while I have someone come to me and ask this question:
"Did you have a choice? Ya know, did your parents arrange your marriage? Did they tell you that you weren't allowed to go to a college campus at 18-years-old? Did you have a choice as to what you did with your life?"
That question doesn't make me angry, in fact, I'm glad people ask. I see how it must look. I just want to set the record straight for anyone who has wondered.
As a young teenager my parents looked me in the eye and said, "What we want what is best for you, but in the end, it's your choice what you do with your life and your heart. If you want to have "turn-style" dating relationships, we won't stop you. We just want you to be protected from getting hurt." There, I had my choice. People have always joked that I was sheltered. Someone offered me an energy drink at 13 years old and I turned it down, as I was not entirely sure it wasn't alcoholic. Now I laugh. Better safe than sorry, right? :)
My dad stood in front of the church he pastors for years encouraging young people to live a biblical lifestyle regarding purity. And though it's shocking, I actually wanted to strive for not just what he taught, but more simply... what the Bible teaches. I wasn't perfect, but I decided to try - with God's help - to be pure until marriage. I married someone who my daddy certainly didn't choose for me. Josh was all my idea (God's idea really, but you know what I mean). I married very young because at the time, I knew if I didn't get married I was going to be a very lonely and hurting young woman. I knew without a doubt that Josh was the man for me and to put off marriage for four years until he was out of the military and I was through college just to please the social norms was preposterous. We discussed many times back in 2011 and 2012 whether we should wait to get married in the fall of 2015 when he got out of the Marines. It didn't take long to realize we might easily compromise our standards and boundaries if we waited that long. We were both ready to start our lives together and I'm SO thankful we did in 2012.
I chose this path and I'm glad I did. I don't look down on others who do differently than I did. For some ladies, four years on a college campus (maybe more) is good. Some God allows to stay single till they are in their thirties or older (maybe not marrying at all). Some never have children and others have many. Some make a lot of money at a white collar job, while others make minimum wage. It's all okay. Because God's Word is ultimately what I encourage anyone to follow; it is absolute truth. No one forced me to marry young and be a stay-at-home mom. I realize it is unusual for a teenage daughter to actually agree with her parents on things, but regarding many many things, I did and still do. Just because I married young, had a baby young and chose to take my college education at a slower pace while choosing to teach music and write doesn't mean I was lead around by the nose without any say in the matters. The path I chose is the one God told me to walk. I was faced with very real and scary challenges early on and I am thankful that I had chosen the path myself or I likely would have become very bitter toward my parents. Yet, I knew that challenges come in all areas of life and that it was normal to have hard times even when you follow God's plan.
I'm in no way perfect nor think that I am. The way I did things, while I believe closely followed Scripture, was still flawed. There were things I wish I had done better... differently. Yet, all in all I'm thankful I was guided. Yes, guided not forced to do as I did.
Like I said in my book, there is nothing wrong with having an "unbroken" heart on your wedding day. There is NO shame in being pure. These days young people seem to push that the more scars the better. It shows you're tough and resilient and you know what? Stories like that are amazing and God uses them and He heals their wounds and puts hearts broken back together. However, the story of the person who doesn't have the scars is also a beautiful testimony. It too is of redemption... from what could have been... from what God protected you from.
I encourage you to rejoice in all testimonies. In the end, as long as they end at the feet of Jesus, that's all that matters.