You know how certain seemingly random memories stay with you for a lifetime? Well, for whatever reason, I vividly remember being twelve years old, alone and bored in my bedroom one summer afternoon. I was doodling and daydreaming, mulling over what my future might look like, particularly my love life, and I distinctly recall having this thought:
I suppose I’ll have sex in the next few years, probably by the time I’m sixteen—for sure by eighteen. No one’s still a virgin at eighteen.
Who in the world instilled such a notion in me? I can’t pin it on a certain person. My perspective on sexuality was shaped by my culture, namely the media and my peers. A movie here, a sitcom there, a detailed account from a student two desks over—these influences combined to shape my worldview of romance and sexuality. Like a dry sponge, I soaked it all in, having no contrary teaching or instruction to call into question what I was absorbing.
As it turned out, sexual activity was not years away for me, but rather, months. I began having sex with my eighth grade boyfriend. I knew where babies came from and also knew a thing or two about sexually transmitted diseases, but nothing like that was going to happen to me, I concluded. And if it did, I’d figure it out—as teens, we’re sure we can handle anything, right?
I dove headfirst into what I believed would be a lifelong love relationship because I was absolutely convinced that all the misery, depression, and longings of my heart would be cured indefinitely if I could just get married to the one. This one in particular was a drug user, given to violent outbursts and verbal abuse, but oh, the elation when he would say he loved me and called me baby.
I wasn’t used to receiving words of affection from a male. My parents separated when my mother was pregnant with me, and on the occasional weekends when I would see my dad, our visits always ended with a sorrowful goodbye and parting of ways. What I needed, I was sure, was a man in my life for good. And what better way to draw a man to me than through seduction? It worked like magic. So after lamenting the shocking breakup with my eighth grade boyfriend, I used my powers of seduction to start over again with someone else. I didn’t set out to be promiscuous; I was looking for lasting love. Unfortunately none of my relationships lasted.
By the time I started college, I’d developed a cycle that went something like this: find a guy who looks good and get him to notice me, hold nothing back in the relationship—soul and body—and hope it works out, and when it doesn’t, get a tan and some highlights and get back out there, looking for someone new. While humiliating to admit, I had a sexual addiction. I knew sexual relationships left me empty, but I felt helpless to stop my behavior—hence, the term addiction is fitting, although I’d have denied it profusely at the time.
I didn’t grow up in church, but I did stay the night with a friend in elementary school whose mother shared the gospel with me, prompting me to want to receive Christ as my Savior. As we clasped hands to pray, three times the phone rang, interrupting the moment even though there was no one on the line each time she answered (till this day, I wonder if Satan was behind that somehow). After jerking the phone cord from the wall, she led me in a prayer, and I asked Jesus into my heart. Unfortunately,upon returning home, I learned very little about God, the Bible, or living the Christian life, and as a result, there was no real outward sign that I was saved at all.
But I was saved, which is why every act of sin and rebellion ate away at my conscience as the indwelling Spirit of God lovingly convicted me of my need for repentance and change. Nonetheless, I continued in my destructive life path.
As a sophomore in college, a tenderhearted woman came to my campus to speak to a handful of girls about her past struggles with sexual sin and how the Lord had set her free. I was deeply moved but not willing to end my sexual relationship with my boyfriend at the time. Don’t get me wrong; I wanted to change, but the prevailing thought was that I couldn’t and wouldn’t, no matter what effort I made.
A few months later, I was starting my fourth college semester and enjoying being on a prestigious dance team at school when I began feeling dizzy and sick to my stomach. Before practice one afternoon, I took a pregnancy test to rule out the possibility of morning sickness—only the result was positive.
Within an hour, I was packed up and headed home to break my mother’s heart with the shocking news. Whereas I had been entertaining thoughts of breaking it off with my boyfriend due to the constant strife and turmoil between us, I dropped out of school and married him instead, hoping to salvage the situation. After all, I didn’t want my child to grow up without a father, like I did.
The next two years proved to be some of the hardest in my life. Sure, caring for a baby was challenging at times, but it was the volatile, unhealthy nature of my marital relationship that took the biggest toll. I was absolutely miserable, and in my agony, I cried out to God. That’s when I made another memory that has never left me.
I was 21 years old, sitting on my sofa in my tiny apartment, lamenting my circumstances. How did my pursuit of lasting love lead me down such a dark path, I wanted to know. And that’s when I finally opened my heart and spiritual ears so that I could hear from the Holy Spirit. He revealed to me that God’s commandments and boundaries regarding sex and romantic relationships were for my protection. Case in point, the biblical mandate to save sex for marriage was not God’s way of restricting my freedom or sucking the fun out of my teen years. It was His plan to safeguard me, a loving boundary designed to spare me the very heartache I was suffering—not just me but my child as well. She deserved two loving parents, not a dysfunctional mom and dad who fought continuously.
I repented for my rebellion and sought to serve God with my whole heart. I made a sincere effort at turning my marriage around, but two years after we said I do, we separated, then he quickly moved on with someone else. By the age of 22, I was a single mom.
I had hopes that it was not too late for me to experience lasting love, but I knew I had to do things God’s way. That meant turning away from the world’s approach to finding a match: meeting guys at bars and clubs, dating whoever whenever, using seduction to lure a man—you get the point. I trusted that at the right time, in the right way, God would send the right guy across my path. In the meantime, I wore a silver cross ring on my wedding finger, a reminder that the Lord was my husband (Isaiah 54:5), and I immersed myself in getting to know God and His Word.
Having become active in church, I eventually met a lady there who insisted on introducing me to a certain friend of hers—a young man who was passionate about the Lord and easy on the eyes. Sure enough, Patrick and I hit it off. Early in our newly-forming relationship, he brought up the subject of sex-related boundaries and informed me he wasn’t willing to have sex outside of marriage. That was good news because I wasn’t willing either!
On January 12, 2001, Patrick and I became husband and wife. He not only had vows and a ring for me but for my three-year-old daughter as well. That day, she became our daughter as he committed to love her as his own.
Now, you may think that Patrick is the hero of my life story, and rightfully so—he swooped in and made many of my longstanding dreams come true. But Jesus Christ gets the glory for turning my life around. He’s the one who saved me as a child, drew me by His Spirit into repentance as a broken young adult, and gave me a renewed hope for my future. He’s the one who has kept my marriage going strong all these years—because no matter who we marry or how godly he is, marriage gets tough at times.
Like the woman caught in the act of adultery, covering her head for fear of being stoned, Jesus found me wallowing in my sin and told me to stand and sin no more, silencing my accusers. And as the shame, guilt, and baggage over my past tried to haunt and destroy me in the years that followed, Jesus delivered me time and time again, restoring my soul.
As only God could do, he took a little girl from a broken family who bought into the most pernicious lies about sex and relationships and called me to devote my life to the decimation of those lies. I now travel near and far speaking to teens and parents about God’s biblical plan for sex and family, availing the materials I’ve developed to help build a biblical worldview in young people and empower households to embrace sexual purity as a family value. I’ve even been led to embark on a major movie-making project, all for the purpose of sharing God’s love and salvation with the masses.
This isn’t the work of irony, human ambition, or some goal of mine to pay it forward. This is what happens when we reach up from the dirt and take hold of Christ’s hand, allowing Him to lead the way.
~ Laura Gallier
“I brought glory to You here on earth by doing everything You told me to.” ~ John 17:4
“Today your work begins, to warn the nations and the kingdoms of the world. In accord with my words spoken through your mouth I will tear down some and destroy them, and plant others, nurture them, and make them strong and great.” ~Jeremiah 1:10
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