Are you getting ready for your first date with the most handsome guy you’ve met, your forever crush?

I can only imagine the excitement, nervousness, and enthusiasm flooding your body and heart! You can’t wait to get ready. You pick out a cute outfit and do your hair and makeup; you want to look more beautiful than ever.

As you prepare for the special night, a thought crosses your mind, “What if he kisses me?” Then another, “What if he leads me outside so we can be alone?” The thoughts keep rolling through your mind: “What if he whispers in my ear that he wants to make out? What if tonight is my ‘first time’? What if tonight is the night I lose my virginity?” The thoughts are nonstop, but it’s time for your date, so you push them to the back of your mind and head out the door.

I recognize those feelings. I have been there. I was only 17.

One Summer Night

It was a hot, dry summer in Kansas. I was the curious girl in love, going on a date with my forever crush. He took me around a gorgeous lake near a highway. We sat on a bench and looked at the stars while we talked about anything and everything.

My parents didn’t know I was on a date with him. He had a past and they didn’t trust him. If only I had listened to my mom — how many of us have had that same thought?!

When it was time to go home, he pulled me close and asked if he could kiss me. I accepted. Attentively, he held my hand and walked me to my car. I hugged him goodbye, and he proceeded to open the car door and kiss me again. Next thing I knew, we were in the backseat of my car.

I could have said, “I’m not ready, if you love me you’ll to wait.” I could have chosen to leave. Instead, I decided to stay.

That was it; I gave up my purity in the back seat of a car.

The Unexpected

I arrived home later that night feeling restless, eager, and impatient. An emptiness, along with doubt and regret, took over my heart. I had betrayed my parents’ trust. I had failed myself and failed what I imagine was God’s dream for me when He created and formed me in my mother’s womb.

Six weeks later, I found out I was pregnant.

I was terrified. I had fallen prey to temptation and sin, to the desires of “human” love, love of the flesh. I rejected the virtue of purity for what I thought was love. I was naive about love but now that I was going to be a mom, I had to learn what it meant to love unconditionally, a love modeled perfectly by our heavenly Father. a love I really only experienced when I heard my baby’s heartbeat for the first time.

Years later, the guy from that hot, summer night became my husband. Our son is now ten years old. Today, we share a happy and blessed marriage and family, a reality made possible by embracing God’s love and a life devoted to the sacraments.

But it wasn’t always like that.

That fact that I got a “happy ending” does not mean that it is always the case. Much less does it mean that it was OK for me to have sex before marriage, to express my “love” because I couldn’t wait.

Making Room for Grace

We live in a world that promotes sex, that glorifies lust and impurity. Sex is a mystery, kind of like a sacrament, which is why we have a desire to feel and experience the “invisible.” Most of the time, we are unprepared for this profound mystery though, because we don’t have a strong relationship with God.

Though I am forever grateful for the gift of my son, I still reflect upon how beautiful it would have been if I had kept my love pure, as in the words of St. Mother Teresa: “So that on the day of your marriage you can give something beautiful to each other… the joy of a pure love.”

I also thank God for my parents, as they are our biggest supporters. Without their kindness, generosity, love, and understanding, my husband and I would not be where we are today. Similarly, I relied a lot on my small faith community at my parish, who offered me plenty of encouragement, as well as my priest, who was there when I needed him most — when the thought of having an abortion crossed my mind. His charity and gentleness helped me realize that my deepest longing was to use my experience as a witness to God.

It was a long and arduous process of forgiveness, self-denial, and sacrifice — a quest to find happiness and fill the hole in my heart, a hole only God can fill.

Bear witness in everything

God alone is the reason I can share my story with you. Pope Francis tells us, “We are all called to be holy by living our lives with love and by bearing witness in everything we do, wherever we find ourselves” (Gaudete et Exsultate, 14). So, where do you find yourself?

If you are the girl struggling to remain pure in your relationship, remember that your body is God’s temple. The way you live and conduct yourself speak louder than words. Remember that others look up to you, so strive to be the woman you wish to see in the future. Waiting will be worth it!

If you are the girl like me, who is unexpectedly expecting, you may feel abandoned. But, know you are not alone. Even though it may seem like the end of the world, it is actually a new beginning. Your witness will bear fruit! Simply turn to God and ask Him to lead you to the people who will support and lift you up.

If you know a young girl in this situation, be a comforting haven. She needs to know you are there for her. Pray for her, check in on her, and encourage her. Be a reminder of God’s infinite love for her.

Above all else, remember: You are relentlessly loved by God, a true love that is pure and priceless.

About the Author

Veronica Lopez Salgado

Vero loves life. She is a Catholic on fire and is all about traveling, volleyball, baseball, reading, and morning coffee. Most importantly, her daily drive and foundation is her family. She finds great encouragement in Pope Francis’ homilies. She is a pro-life warrior and an animal rights advocate in addition to being a full-time graduate student at the School of Theology and Ministry in Boston College, full-time employee in the Diocese of Jackson, and full-time mom and wife. You can find her on social media sharing the most significant moments of her life.

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