Instead of going straight home from church on Sunday as usual, I gave a barely teenage friend some sex advice. This after she had told me her phone had been taken away because of certain pictures she'd sent to her boyfriend.
“My mom cried, but my dad was pretty mad about it," she told me candidly.
Admittedly, I wasn't too surprised and wasn’t about to add to her emotional shame over a picture. However, I also wasn’t about to let her go on thinking negative attention is better than none at all.
So I took her to lunch.
She told me she's been having a tough time at home. No one is getting abused, or anything so severe, but no one's family is perfect either.
As she talked, I looked at this girl from across our table and saw all the loneliness, insecurity and desperate need for acceptance and love. Such things are easy to see when you first find them in yourself.
When I was her age, I wanted a boyfriend as much as she does. I wanted the feeling of romantic love, of being someone’s number one. I remember deciding what age I expected to be kissed by - and we’re talking make out session, not a My Girl style peck. I calculated when I would let him go up my shirt and debated the pros and cons of hand jobs.
Naturally, I was too young to know any better about any of it. My self-esteem was obviously too low to care.
So I tried to explain to her that it’s always the prettiest girls who are most insecure. No one wants their value to be in something they have no control over, such as their looks, but that’s where the pretty girls get most of their love. I told her we really want to be told we’re smart, kind, funny, and good at math, or history. I told her, when you send a boy a picture like that, you’re telling him that’s where he should value you...and that, will leave you empty.
All this felt pretty standard for young teen self-esteem building. But then I decided to get practical. After all, self-esteem building only works until the next big punch to the gut.
“Look, if you’re sending pictures now, you’ll be given blow jobs at 15 and having sex before you graduate high school,” I said.
Girl didn’t even flinch at my language. I’m sure she’s heard it all before, so I kept on.
“I decided when I was young that I wouldn’t have sex until I was married. So I didn’t. I waited. But that was the only boundary I set for myself, and I ended up do everything else with boys who just made me feel worthless and used. When I was 16, my boyfriend talked me in to giving him a blow job. Once he found out that was as far as I was going, he moved on to the next girl. Here’s the deal: he would’ve moved on no matter what. You don’t believe the guy who's only out for one thing is actually out there, until the day you date him,” I told her.
She looked a bit more surprised, but I had her attention and kept going.
“If you think in your head, I may have sex when I find the right one, when I’m love, then I promise you, YOU WILL HAVE SEX WITH THE WRONG ONE. And do a whole lot more you’ll regret in between.”
I told her keeping a guy around by being sexy, will never make her happy. I told her it will only end bad. And since I know you can hear that a thousand times and still make your own mistakes, I gave her some advice I thought she could agree to.
“When it comes to dating, once you’re in high school and allowed to go off with a boy alone, I would say nothing below the waist. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but make that your boundary. Nothing below the waist.”
Let’s be honest. I know she’s going to make out with boys. I know her current boundaries are shaky, at best. I know plenty of church people would’ve told her to participate in nothing but kissing, or nothing at all.
But that’s just not realistic.
Some girls just get wired to put boys first. I can relate. So I’m going to work within her wiring until she has the ability to see new paths.
Still, I wonder if I gave her good advice. God approved advice, if not church people type advice.
I'm not even sure it's the advice I'd give to every girl...
Either way, you can bet your ass I’ll be checking in on her and every guy she dates from now until the day she marries.