Tucked in my wallet, behind my driver’s license, is a card I signed when I was 15 years old, pledging to practice the virtue of chastity and to save sex for marriage. I had attended a Real Love & Real Life program from Family Honor and signed my chastity pledge card then. I felt that if this is what God wanted for my life then I was on-board! This wasn’t always an easy commitment to stick to, but it was the best decision I made as a teenager. There are a few lessons that I’ve learned about family, friends, and love since then.
First of all, my parents know more about life and love than I gave them credit for. When I was younger, I thought they were narrow-minded when they told me that some my friends were bad influences. I thought they were over-protective when they gave me a curfew and insisted on always knowing where I was going. However, much to my surprise, they were often right. It was embarrassing to cancel plans or leave a party when trouble showed up, however that embarrassment was quickly replaced by relief to leave a bad situation and be back in the safety of my family. At first, it can be hard to find friends who share your beliefs, but don’t settle for anyone except those who recognize your true worth and bring out the best in you. Now, as an adult, I actually try to introduce my friends to my parents. I want to know what my parents think!
Don’t worry so much about whom you will date—worry about who you are becoming. Pursue your relationship with God, study what you love, travel, volunteer your time, share your gifts with the world, and develop your SPICE (the Spiritual, Physical, Intellectual, Creative and Emotional components that make you the unique person you are). In the process, you will learn more about yourself and what God is calling you to do and who He is calling you to be. If you feel called to religious life, learn more about different communities; write to various religious orders and visit them. If you feel God is calling you to marriage, be confident that He will send you the right person. To paraphrase the advice of Curtis Martin (founder of FOCUS), “Follow God—then see who’s walking next to you.” This is the source of the greatest friendships and relationships.
I believe that God is calling me to marriage and I have gone on many dates since I signed that commitment card in 1997. Some of them have been fun; some of them have been disastrous. I’ve met some great guys that I’ve remained friends with and some guys that I never want to see again. However, what I’m grateful for is that I could walk away from all of these encounters with my dignity intact—knowing that I didn’t lose myself in the process of getting to know someone else. I have a few regrets from the past fifteen years, but they involve bad hairstyles and heinous floral prints – not guys.
Since attending Family Honor’s programs and making a commitment to chastity, I’ve learned that my parents really do want what’s best for me. I’ve learned that the relationships I’ve found among those seeking to follow God have been the best. Most importantly, I’ve found that real love is doing what’s best for others—even when it’s difficult—and living life free of regret.
Family Honor’s parent-empowering, family-centered approach helps parents to feel more competent and confident in discussing God’s gift of sexuality with their children and teens. Alison Griswold is a Youth Minister in Hilton Head, South Carolina, a Family Honor presenter, and a regular contributor to Parent and Teen Tips. She shares her thoughts about the impact Family Honor programs have had on her family here.