Hello, my name is Vicki Joy. I am a newbie here at Agape First. My story deviates a bit from the norm around here because unlike many of those in (or drawn to) this ministry, I have never had a struggle with same-sex attraction. I do, however, have something in common with many who do–misplaced sexual identity and childhood trauma.

Being born with a birth defect that deformed my face meant getting teased or bullied wherever I went. I couldn’t even go to the grocery store or a movie without being stared at, pointed at, laughed at, or called names. (Probably didn’t help that my name conveniently rhymes with “icky” either!) But even those who approached me with compassion, asking me what happened to my face—honestly, it’s violating when strangers demand answers from you that come from the deepest core of the most-wounded parts of your heart.

Long story short, after 18 years of school, dealing with peers, being bullied, beat up, name called, and never being asked out on a date…by the time I graduated from high school, I was emotionally drained and completely detached. I also felt left behind. My friends were all going on to do adult things like driving cars, going to college, getting jobs, or getting married…while I sat at home terrified over the thought of growing up. If I went to college, I could buy four more years, but then what? I’d been in survival mode my entire life…but after college, could I survive…on my own?!

I didn’t realize how deeply this fear was eating away at me until my sophomore year in college. I had an emotional breakdown and sought the counsel of a friend. He led me to Jeremiah 29:11. Even though I had been raised in the Church and knew Jesus, I remember being in awe of this young man who was able to so easily locate some obscure verse in the book of Jeremiah. (This was long before the days of cell phones and Siri, kids!)

As he read the verse out loud to me, that little room FILLED with the presence of God and it was as if the words were being spoken directly from His holy lips to my quivering, anxiety-ridden, broken heart.

For I know the plans I have for you, Vicki Joy. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you a hope and a future.”

I underlined that verse and wrote the date in the margin: January 11, 1991.

The entire course of my life changed that day. Overnight? No way! I’m still in process. But that was the day I realized I wasn’t a victim. God wasn’t a jerk or a sadist. He was ON MY SIDE. He was routing for me, fighting for me! He loved me, and unlike everyone else (at least in my own mind) He wasn’t ashamed of me, and He didn’t think I was ugly.

But, as I said, I am still very much a work in progress. I said a few paragraphs earlier that I don’t like it when I have to show the deepest core of the most-wounded parts of my heart with strangers. But that’s exactly what I intend to do right now. I’m going to share with YOU something I rarely speak of—but I do so because I believe I am not alone in this struggle.

I am 49 years old and I am a virgin. I am neither proud of, nor ashamed of this fact. But for many, many years, I believed I was a virgin simply because I was single and I had chosen to  obey the Word of God in this regard. But as the years went by and I (very intentionally) sabotaged every single potential dating scenario possible, I realized that my motives for being a virgin were likely much, much deeper than my being a “good, obedient Christian.”

For me, everything the Bible said about not having sex before marriage wasn’t a stumbling block, but a life line. It was like having a suit of chain mail on—a way of protecting myself from having to show the deepest core of the most-wounded parts of my heart to ANYBODY…EVER…including a husband. Nothing scared me more than the “H” word. Because a husband would have power…the power to cheat on me, abandon me, divorce me, reject me…and I was not going to EVER, ever let that happen to me again!

I don’t like sharing this with you. It is embarrassing to believe you lived your entire life from a perceived position of control, and then realize you were really operating out of toxic levels of fear and weakness. But praise the LORD, even when I was weak, HE was strong! HalleluYAH!

Plenty more to say on this topic, and plenty more likely will be said…by me…in this blog. So, if any of this is resonating with you or speaking to your heart, you are welcome to take this journey with me. Our goal isn’t to rush out and join a dating site, or to get married by some set deadline. Our goal is love and the eradication of all fear (because there is no fear in love). First, we learn to rest safely in the arms of the One who loves us. Next, we learn to open our hearts and love Him back. Then, if and when God takes us deeper, we learn, through fearless faith, to let go and to let others in.

Will this journey into the arms of the King of Kings be easy? I think C. S. Lewis said it best when telling little Lucy about Aslan the lion. “Safe? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course He isn’t safe! But He’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”