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heard Alicia Keyes answer a question on a talk show the other day. The presenter asked a group of women she was interviewing what they would say to their 14 year old selves.

Alicia’s response was, ‘I would say, reel it in, reel it in all the way. You think you’re ready to get ‘there,’ but you don’t have to be in a hurry. Because once your ‘there’ you’ll be like damn, damn; now I have to be over ‘here,’ I can’t be ‘over there’ anymore.’

She spoke with such emotion; and had a sheen of tears in her eyes. It took me few seconds to figure out what she was talking about when she said ‘there’. I have heard similar sentiments from so many people, many women I have met. I never thought I would hear it from a top celebrity like this one, one that I admire for her talent, hard work and success.

She was – as you might have guessed – talking about her first sexual experience. Now I am no active advocate for the celibate life; neither do I preach it or judge those who do not practice it. In fact, my choice to follow celibacy as a lifestyle (outside of marriage of course) came about when I was 9yrs old in primary school. Nobody told me about it, no one coerced me into staying away for sexual relationships; it was a choice I made alone; (although I strongly believe God had a big hand in this). Throughout my life this choice has gone through many phases, from being re-enforced by the ‘high moral standards’ set in place throughout my Catholic boarding school years-to being condemned by the more avant-garde social norms that existed in the real world of teenage rebellion in post high school life. In my late teens to early 20’s I was considered old fashioned within my social circle because of my celibate lifestyle, one guy even called me ‘frigid’ very loudly-after I turned down his very invasive advances while on a bus in England, (with me carrying a Bible on my way to an evening prayer service at Church nogal). I was mortified and embarrassed and often questioned whether my decision was relevant for this day and age.

I started seeing myself as abnormal, believing there must be something wrong with me for choosing to prescribe to values that were so unpopular in the world I lived in. Moving on to my mid and late 20’s (currently), I find that most of the women that I spoke with on this subject had this common theme, ‘don’t rush it,’ to which I usually laughed and remind them how old I was. But the fact remains, every woman I have had this conversation with said the same thing, if they could go back and undo their first sexual encounter, they would choose to wait until the ultimate commitment-marriage. However, I still get the slightest odd feeling of doubt in my choice of values now and then; especially when my friends are comparing birth control methods and sharing their ‘boyfriend’ experiences. I feel almost like an imposter in those conversation, usually only making comments based on information I learnt through my mom (a midwife), my brother (a gynaecologist), as well as Dr Google – yet unable to relate to them in any personal experience kind of way

Most of the women that I have talked with regarding celibacy were not Christians or even remotely religious, yet they always told me not to change; not to give in to social pressure, not to compare myself to others and second guess my lifestyle. I am now at the stage where I am learning to respect my choices and do my utmost to avoid creating future regrets.

There were times when I was afraid of succumbing to pressure. Sometimes the proposals were very appealing, and I seriously questioned my sanity for declining. I asked myself if it was worth it, if it’s such a big deal really. I have not yet discovered the answers to these questions and many more that develop the older I become. Yet I am encouraged by those that shared and continue to share their experiences and are honest about them.

As I said, I am not an advocate for celibacy; and I believe people can chose their own path as long as they can live with the consequences.  However, I do believe wholeheartedly in celibacy as a lifestyle, and I personally believe God gives you all the grace you need when you choose to live in a way that honours Him.

Nothing is worse than regret; no matter what people think about you or whatever names you get called because of the values you choose to live by; clearly from just this one example of Ms Keyes comment-no amount of success, money, talent, and fame a person can have can make up for a bad choice. Is it really worth living with the regret?

Written on 12th September, 2014

Julie

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