In high school, I had a "boyfriend." I mean, what does that even mean, really??
He asked me to be his girlfriend, so I had a boyfriend.
I was also extremely prude. In like, the best way ever, obviously.
Let me back up a little -- I went to Catholic grade school. That means I went to Catholic school from Kindergarten to 8th grade. It was awesome, I loved it, I want my kids to go to Catholic school, blah blah blah.
But something that was really important that happened in Catholic grade school was that in the 8th grade, when we were about to head off to high school, we had a big lecture talk about chastity. I LOVED it. Like, loved it. The guy who gave it was just that -- a guy -- and I think that made a difference to me as well. Granted, I was prude (I mentioned that already, right?), mostly because I was tall and lanky and none of the boys liked me, so I didn't even really know kissing existed in the 8th grade.
So, in the 8th grade, after this awesome chastity talk from this guy, we all were handed Chastity cards. And I wanted to be chaste. Not only because this guy said that he was chaste until he got married and it was awesome, but because I wanted to be respected. I wanted that love on my wedding night that is irreplaceable.
And I was kind of prude. So I signed the card.
But then I went to public high school. And that was a WHOLE different ball game. I was introduced to LOTS more than kissing. Lots. I had a "boyfriend" now.
But I maintained my values to the chastity card. I didn't ever let anything get passed the kissing phase. I was sure of it.
So then one day, at lunch, as a 14 year old in high school, the friends of my "boyfriend" called me over to their lunch table.
I was so embarrassed and wondered what they could possibly want to say to me, but I went over by myself to a lunchtable full of older boys and my "boyfriend."
"Sit down, Jenna."
They proceeded to ask me in the worst language ever why I hadn't gone further in the sexual department with my "boyfriend." Like, point blank, asked me why I wasn't putting out.
I sat there, stunned. Stunned.
And my "boyfriend" was sitting across the table, with his head in his hoodie, laughing his ass off.
And I had no idea what to say. So I kind of said nothing but something but really nothing and I left the table, numb.
This was unchartered territory. I had no idea what to do. Am I really supposed to put out? I don't even know what that means!
I was a fourteen year old girl, being summoned to a table of five older boys, being asked why I wasn't giving it up.
It makes me sick to think if that were to ever happen to my daughters. God save the kid that ever tries to pull that one.
So I went to my closest mentor/friend who was significantly older than me, eight or so years older than me. And I said, "Is this something I should be doing? How do I go about 'putting out'?"
I was honestly wondering. I had no idea. But I figured if they were asking me why I wasn't doing it, then I must be doing something wrong.
So she said, in a flat, even tone: If you do such-and-such, you will probably get an STD. You will also not be holding to your values of wanting to be chaste. You doing this means you're giving up that. Is that something you want to do? Do you want to go tell your parents that you have an infection and that you aren't being chaste? Think about it, Jenna, what are you willing to give up to make your "boyfriend" happy?
That was exactly what I needed to hear.
I needed to hear that there was no real going back after that. After I give up one thing, the next thing will be asked of me. And the next and the next and the next. And I wasn't willing or ready or mentally prepared to give up ANY OF THAT.
So I never did.
My "boyfriend" and I never once mentioned again what happened at that lunch table. I wish I was gutsy enough to tell him to shove it and never speak to him again, but I wasn't that smart, yet. But we never talked about it, and I always avoided anything physical beyond kissing like every time before.
I kept my signature in the back of my mind -- that signature to be chaste through high school -- that commitment to myself, to my future husband, to my body, to my family -- it was always there, in my head.
I'm so thankful for those influential people in my life. My parents who were wonderful examples of respect and mutual love in a marriage, the guy who gave the chastity talk and looked at the 13 year old girl in the front row and said You're worth the wait., for my mentor and friend who scared the hell out of me by telling me that I'll probably get an infection if I come close to any boy parts, to all of the people who were examples of chastity to me.
I'm thankful for those little moments, here and there, that I look back on.
Because if I had "given it up" to that first boyfriend in the 9th grade, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have stopped.
In between tweeting, reading books to my daughters, and [not] burning mac n cheese, I am the Founder + Creative Director of Blessed is She women's ministry + community.