Friday, July 20, 2018

The Debt Free Virgin Without Tattoos who Married at age 42.

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With all the talk about the post "Men Prefer Debt Free Virgins Without Tattoos", I think it's appropriate to tell my story -- a story not often heard of the consequences of purity culture.  I grew up in a church that allowed dating (although no dancing, but we had great times at non-dancing activities.)  I spent two years at a college of my denomination, dates were allowed, and I still have good friends from that time in my life.

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My dad was hit by a drunk driver, and I didn't have the money to go back to college, so I stayed home a couple years.  I didn't have the money to attend a Christian college, so I went to a state school and was in Christian groups.  While I was there, the book I Kissed Dating Goodbye became very popular amongst my friends, and I bought into it completely.  I had a list of things I would not do with a man before I was married.  (Even allowing him to touch my head was on it.)

I was so hopeful that doing all this would mean God would grant me the wonderful Christian man that I deserved.  (What?  How can you earn a good husband?) 

Twenty-five came and went.  Still single.  I met a man online who I had seen an article of his published in a Christian magazine. We were secretly courting (kind of like Duggar dating) without ever meeting.  Our courtship wasn't approved of by his parents, so we broke up.  I was heartbroken.  (Should parents even have that much say in their child's life when they are 25-30 years old?)

I believed that I would someday be able to marry this man, so for the next couple of years, I didn't even think about marriage.

I continued writing love letters to my unknown husband in my Wait For Me Journal by Rebecca St. James.  I apologized constantly in that to my future husband.  My sin?  Having debt.  I even said I was working to get myself prepared for him and trying as hard as possible to get out of debt.  It made me so stressed that I had student loans.

I worked, hard and managed my money well.  (I graduated college with $15,000 of student loans which I paid off less than 10 years after graduating, and would have been paid off much sooner if I hadn't had such high medical bills because I didn't have insurance.)

I was debt free by 2006.  Not only that, but my dad passed away that year, but he had left me a small amount of life insurance, so I had money in the bank.  I was 33.  Single.  No prospects of marriage. 

Let's go back to when I was 16 for a minute.  I graduated high school two months before I turned sixteen, so I was a very, very, young freshman in college.  I remember my Intro to College Life class that was required of all freshman.  One day we were in small groups, talking about future hopes, dreams, and plans we had.  I said I hoped to adopt children someday and homeschool.  (This was before most people had heard of homeschooling!)  I also said I was feeling called to be either to be a missionary wife or possibly a pastor's wife.  One friend looked at me and asked, "Did you ever think that YOU might be the one called to be a missionary".   Even thought I had been attending that denomination for several years, the fact they would ordain women -- and had since the denomination was founded -- was still something that made me a little uncomfortable.  I look back, and I wish I had listened to him.  I had no idea I would spend the next 26 years "perfecting" myself for a man.

In 2003, my mother had a knee replacement and a few years after that she was in kidney failure.  There really wasn't any leaving home at that point, and since I didn't establish a place of my own after college, I couldn't invite her to live with me.  (I paid half on the house and car as well as gave her $500 a month.) 

During those years, I learned to work at home.  I began selling on eBay in 1998, and currently have over 1,000 items in my eBay Store.  I became a coupon queen before it was cool.  In the 90s, I was often having great days at the supermarket.  At one point I had a cash register receipt taller than me, and paid under $100 for everything.  (In fact, that receipt wrapped around my body three times and was STILL taller than me.)  I have done gig work, blogging, online selling, designing T-Shirts for sale on Amazon, plus nearly any other thing you can think of that makes money from the computer.  I also began entering Sweepstakes, Contests, and Giveaways.  Some of my prizes from that have allowed me to see parts of the world I otherwise wouldn't have been able to visit.  I also won $15,000 with a photo I took some years ago.

I do have regrets.  I once heard the joke:

I don't see this as a hating on men joke as there are no perfect people.  Not even me.  I get frustrated.  A couple of times I have made the huge mistake of mixing up mailing labels and sending eBay customers the wrong item.  So why was I trying to become a perfect Stepford Wife?  I was reading books like Preparing To Be A Helpmeet: A Good Marriage Starts Long Before the Wedding in my 30s -- a book that was written for teens. 

What do I regret?  Doing things with the focus on a man and not for ME.  I wish I would have more focuses on a degree that would have prepared me for a career.  (I got a general studies degree.)  There are so many things I think I would have done well.  I still regret not going into ministry.  I knew I enjoyed teaching English as a Second Language, but I still have yet to get my TESOL certification.  I do want to -- you can even teach English online these days.  I didn't care about my grades in college as much as I should have.  I never expected to go to grad school.  I applied to grad school, and my English GRE score was higher than what many going into grad school in English receive.  Yet, because I wasn't going into English, my GRE scores were not enough to make up for my grades in college.  I know I would have been great in International Relations.  Here I am, 45, married, and wishing I had more education -- or at least concentrated on a more specific area in education.  Finances right now don't allow for it.

That's not to say that the last 29 years since I started college have been a waste.  I have seen, experienced, and participated in amazing things.  On July 1, 1997 walking onto the balcony of my flat in Asia and being able to hear the fireworks from the celebration of Hong Kong being brought back under Chinese rule is truly a once in a lifetime experience.  I've been published in Chicken Soup for the Soul -- Messages from Heaven.  I had one story in the book, and my mother had two. 

As for tattoos, I sometimes think I would like one, but I'm too cheap.  If I were to get a tattoo, I would get one of a semi-colon.  If you aren't aware of what the semi-colon means, it is a sign that live isn't over yet.  You can still make something of life.  You can read more about it on  Yet, not having a semi-colon tattoo didn't make me more attractive to men.

Twenty six years from the time I started college until I got married.  Having children is now out of the question for me, and while we started down the road of adoption, we have decided we want to move first.  (If I hadn't been making myself "marriageable" possibly I would have gotten married.)

I'm back in the denomination I grew up in that treats women as equals.  It is so freeing, yet makes me sad that I got away from that.  I wonder what I could have been if I hadn't bought into purity culture and that I was hoping that my holiness would be attractive to a man.  At least now, I don't feel like I am less than a man. And I have years yet to do what I want to do -- with the support of my husband, as he wants me to be all I can be.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Jenn - you probably don't remember me, but several years ago we emailed a bit and chatted on a blog I had called The Inklings Etc. I was cleaning out internet stuffs and saw your name and followed the links to your current blog. Anyway, long story short - wanted to let you know I'm glad to see that you're doing ok. And VERY glad that you're seeing the importance of living your own life instead of putting it on hold for a hypothetical husband ;) - Caroline