I’ve been celibate for nine years, and it has not been easy. I have my good days and my struggle days, but by the  grace and mercy of God I’m still holding on. You may say nine years is too long. You may even declare you can’t wait nine weeks much less nine years.

I understand.

I had the same sentiments. But I can tell you I’ve made it this far because I found my purpose. When I started to open my heart and my mind to God’s word and believed it for myself, that’s when I accepted this truth: I am a prize, not a sample.

But it wasn’t always this way. At one time, I offered my body—my temple— as a sample. To this guy and that guy. But it wasn’t working for me. I didn’t find the fulfillment I wanted.

Making Adult Decisions

I was 19 years old the first time I gave myself to a man. We weren’t even in a relationship. When it was over, I said to myself, “That’s it. This is what my girlfriends were talking about. Now I can engage in the conversation when the topic of sex comes around.”

While I was disappointed in the experience, I still had a sense of pride that I was no longer a virgin. I felt like an adult.

Since that first encounter didn’t satisfy me, I didn’t offer myself to him again. However, two months later, I found out I was pregnant. I was so devastated and felt stupid. How could I get pregnant on the first time? We used protection—well, I thought we had.

My plan was to get an abortion. I figured he would provide the money for me to get an abortion, so I called him to share the news I was pregnant. His response was, “Did you sleep with someone else?” He made me feel low and dirty.

I was angry when I answered, “No! I didn’t sleep with anyone else. You were my first, and I haven’t been with anyone after you.” I told him I needed money to pay for the abortion, and his answer shocked me. He said he didn’t believe in abortion. We argued back and forth, but he stood his ground. He refused to give me the money.

My friend and I came up with the idea to sell my gold earrings and a few wristwatches. We went to the pawnshop and gave the teller my jewelry. I was devastated to learn the jewelry was worth so little it was pointless to even pawn it. I didn’t know what to do.

My paycheck wasn’t enough, and I knew I had to hurry up to get the abortion. The further along you are in a pregnancy, the more it costs and the higher the risk. My mind was racing. My friend was able to get most of the money I needed from babysitting. Added to my savings, I now had enough to get the abortion. The procedure was scheduled, and I was all set to go.

But a few days before my appointment, I had a miscarriage.

The only thing on my mind at the time was relief that I wasn’t pregnant anymore. When I look back over that time—those teenage years—I see a selfish little girl. Life was all about me at that point, and I didn’t want anything to stop me.

Later that year I slept with another guy.

It Took an Invitation

By 2008, I was living in a shelter. One day my roommate, Tinita, asked me if I went to church. I told her I didn’t, but I was looking for one. “Come to my church, Ambassador Seed of Love Church,” she said. “Once you come, you will never be the same.” I was interested, so I told her I would visit.

Church wasn’t the norm for me. My family and I didn’t have a church background. But one Sunday morning, I visited Tinita’s church, and it was nothing like I expected. It was better than what I envisioned. I felt so loved by the members, and the pastor preached a message that made me feel as if he knew everything I was going through. Everything I had been through.

At that moment, I knew God understood everything about me, and He wanted better for me. Two weeks later, I joined the church, and later that year, I made the choice to turn my life over to Jesus. I was baptized in His name and filled with the Holy Spirit.

Spending time with Jesus in prayer and reading the Bible taught me He cares for me. My issues and experiences in life are not too hard for Him to heal. After all, Jesus died for me—so I can live.

I also realized my body doesn’t belong to me. It belongs to the Lord. My temple is sacred, and I don’t want to tarnish it by giving it away to a man.

My favorite Scripture is Psalm 34:8, which begins, “Taste and see that the Lord is good…” Once I opened my heart to God, He showed me He is good and worthy to be praised. God will never leave me nor forsake me. He continues to show me His unconditional love. I have faith in God, and I know He will send me a husband—someone who will love, cherish and honor me.

Because I’m a prize, not a sample. God says so.