For the first time in my life, I had hoped I didn’t wake. I wished that the Lord saw it fit to let death have me. As my eyes opened, and I looked around in the dark, I realized I had not gotten what I wanted… again. I pulled the blanket over my head and cried to the symphony of snoring young men.
Last night, only a few hours ago, replayed in my mind. The fancy dinner, the many glasses of long island iced tea, the wardrobe change before the club, the predatorial view of a group of women, the sluttiness in picking one I didn’t even want, the manipulation in convincing her to come up to my room while everyone was still in the club, the flirtation, the four play, and the sex. Every point leading up to almost getting caught in the act and the walk of shame before friends was… humiliating. I didn’t want to face the questions. How would they take it if the good little Christian boy failed?
I composed myself to the best of my ability. I wasn’t hungover, but my energy was shot. I rolled over and stared at the wall through the small gap in the covers. I knew I should pray. I always prayed right when I woke. But I didn’t want to talk to God. There was no way He wanted to hear from me either. It was an agreed period of silence. I refused to break it.
I laid there, lamenting. I didn’t even know the woman. I didn’t know what she was dealing with at the time. I didn’t even know if she was married or not. I didn’t care. I only thought about myself. Had I known the anguish that would’ve followed, I would’ve never dared to abuse her that way.
It all happened because I was too impatient. I was too focused on the woman I couldn’t get – the one I prayed for and the one God told me about. She was in the arms of yet another man, and I was left with questions I didn’t know the answers to. I was weary in well-doing. I knew it, but I never spoke of it. That weariness manifested into rebellion. Now, I laid, covered in sin. I had lost to Satan once again.
I could feel the burn in my eyes increasing, I was going to cry again. A simple sniffle caused one of the men to stop snoring. I pressed the blanket against my face and wept bitterly. I was so sorry, but I was respecting that God didn’t want to hear from me.
How could He want to hear from me? From the start of the cruise, I plotted my rebellion against Him. I held my virginity up as a curse for trusting in Him to provide a wife for me. I hated it. I hated that everyone else was living in sin and still being blessed with marriage. I was happy for them, but felt as if I was cursed. I felt as my inabilities were stacked against a never-ending list of things you needed to become before being a husband. I felt inadequate, unwanted, and abandoned. Thus, I did as everyone else did and took what I wanted.
Now that I had experienced intimacy, I knew, I would’ve rather it had been my wife. I would’ve rather it had been the woman I would commit my life to. It would’ve been better to have taken off the wedding ring before taking off my clothes. The reality of my weakness was unbearable. I wept until I was afraid that my weeping would wake the others and inspire a questioning that would empty me of shame before men who wouldn’t understand.
We were always taught to treat women as property. They were only as good as our need and desire of them. Beyond that, they were worthless. That is what the men of the world taught me as I watched them turn relationships into hunting games. The more women you collected in your bed, the more manly you were. That’s what the boys in middle school and high school taught me. The married men told me to go and “have fun” while I was still young, insinuating that marriage was a waste.
Holding those ideologies against the teachings of Christ and my mother brought shame. How dare I treat a woman as a sex toy when I was raised by a queen of God? How dare I throw her before my naked self when God was more concerned about the heart of the adulteress rather than her naked body? I knew better. I knew better and I didn’t care. It was all about me.
I laid there, chastising myself over and over again. How could I? How dare I? Who was I? I didn’t know. I only knew that I had to be battered before I could ever ask for forgiveness.
Marriage? That’s done. It’s out the door. Romance? I didn’t wait. I didn’t deserve it anymore. Love? It would no longer be a friend to me. I had abandoned it and all my hope in it for meaningless sex… I was no different than any other person. I was not special. I was not a saint. I was not some great man. I was a man-whore who had finally broke character to show who I really was. I was not an obedient disciple of Christ. I was a sinful boy.
Angry with myself, I squeezed the blanket in my hand and shouted in silence. I did not let my voice escape, but I did release my emotion. I was furious. Why was I still so weak? All these years of walking with the Lord and I was still finding new lows. I had graduated from pornography into one-night stands. I was treating women in my life as less than who they were. I was a fool.
Feeling the release, I calmed myself down. I did not pray. I merely steadied my breathing. My stomach began to gurgle. I sat up in my bed and stared at the ground. The clothes I sinned in laid against my duffle bag. I reached into my bag and pulled out some fresh clothes. I had already cried myself to sleep and cried myself awake. I needed to clean off everything.
As I took clothes out of my bad, the men stopped snoring again. I didn’t want to wake them, but I also didn’t know what time it was. Two of them rose from the bed. I wiped my face clean and pretended to be focused on my clothes.
“What time is it?” one asked groggily.
“I don’t know,” I said plainly.
He moved about the bed and searched for his phone. I could’ve helped, but I didn’t want any attention to be brought to myself. The other young man rose from his bed and stretched. “Whew! I’m tired.” He received no reply. Instead, they checked the time and started getting dressed.
“I gotta use the restroom,” the second young man said.
He hurried from the bed past the bunkbed I was sleeping in.
Without looking at me, he asked, “You good?”
Inside, I quickly said, “No…”, but audibly, I replied, “Yeah. My stomach hurt. That’s about it.”
He was in the restroom before a rebuttal. I sat there, knowing the expressions of disappointment and lamenting were on my face. So, I grabbed my clothes and laid back down beneath the covers. If anything, I could pretend I was going back to sleep. I covered all of me in my blanket and lied still.
The other man rose from the bed and groggily said, “I’mma go get me somethin’ to eat.”
With that, he took off. The door opened and closed, and the room was silent once again. I plotted in my head. As soon as my friend was out of the restroom, I’d sneak in behind him, hopefully into nothing awfully smelly, and I’d occupy the restroom for a while. That’s when I heard the shower starting.
I sighed. I thought, “Well, since You wouldn’t strike me down, I guess I’ll keep going.”
I had broken the silence between God and I, but I did so out of anger. I hated living with the regret in my heart. I hated knowing that I could sin so blatantly and arrogantly against God and live. There were plenty of people who died for simpler reasons. I was foul. Did not evil need to be taken out of this earth?
I laid under the covers and lost track of time. In my despair, I had missed my friend emerging from the restroom, the final friend waking up from his slumber, the two of them getting dressed, and only one of them leaving.
I had passed on getting breakfast. I had no intention of leaving my room until it was time to leave. It was only one more day left on the cruise. I could say I was resting from all the excitement last night. After all, it’s not like we hadn’t been partying in our own section in the club with a bunch of liquor in our system. I just wanted to be left alone, but the last friend also didn’t want to go anywhere, so I was stuck.
I was laying in the bed, feigning fatigue. I was depressed at a level I hadn’t experienced. My body felt weighted. My spirit felt betrayed. My emotions felt like the appropriate consequence. My mind was numb. I waited until my friend went back to sleep and I went to the restroom.
I opened the cabin door and smelled nothing, which was a relief. Not all men are courteous or hygienic. Sometimes, the small restroom in our cabin felt like a decorated porter potty instead of a restroom. If not for the suction sending our waste out of the ship, it would’ve been. I set all of my materials on the counter and sat down. I sighed with remorse as I thought about the club.
I walked in and sat amongst my people as they were already amped. We were dancing with each other, enjoying ourselves in the back section away from the dance floor. I was secretly scoping the room for potentially fine women. I had interests in two women from our group, but one was rumored to have a boyfriend, so I left her alone. The other, I was unsure of. I didn’t imagine asking for sex from her would end well for me. It also wouldn’t be long before everyone knew. So, I looked for strangers.
I laughed at the naivety of my intentions. People hooked up in the club all the time. I had no idea how to do so. I didn’t know if you came out and said it, or if you had to draw up some innocence to achieve it. Still, when the group next to ours started trying to blend with us, I scoped them out and picked my target.
Looking back on things, it didn’t take much. I didn’t remember the conversation, but I also didn’t have to say much. We were just having fun dancing. When the one I wanted started dancing, I came up and started dancing with her. It wasn’t out of the realm of possibility that I could’ve gotten her instead, but when she turned to me and said, “My friend likes you,” I had no choice but to switch targets.
That’s when I plopped down right onto the friend’s lap and started dancing on her. I knew it would make me appear fun and be a thrilling ice breaker, so I did it. Once I stopped dancing, I started talking to her. I got her name and where she was from. That was all I remembered. By the next song, we were dancing with each other.
My group members were already whispering negative things about our engagement in my ear. I knew that if I continued to listen to them, they’d discourage my plan. Instead of continuing to dance around them, I took the woman to the bar to drink. I couldn’t remember the conversation, but I knew I was isolating her. I was devious.
I took her out to the dance floor and we danced amidst other strangers. Our dance wasn’t remarkable. I used the dance to make sure our groups were staying put. When I had enough of her dancing, I asked her if she wanted to leave, and she said yes. We were really that easy. Not even thirty minutes later and we were in my room. I was so selfish.
Then, after someone opened the door to my room, we hurried out before the gazes, snickers, and laughs of several people from my group. It was so embarrassing. I didn’t say anything but, “Have a good night, after I walked her back to her room.” Even her friends had something to say as she entered the room. “Don’t bring that in here!” After all that, everyone would have known, or had implied meaning.
I rose from the seat and cleaned up. I stared at myself in the mirror. My eyes were bloodshot. The dark circles around my eyes were even darker. I looked like what I had become. I had never felt like such a sinner before. I was ashamed of myself. My eyes began to burn again. I was going to cry.
I hurried to the shower and started running the water. The sound of rainfall soothed me and covered the sounds of me sniffling. I took off my clothes and entered in. The water began to rinse off all the filth I felt I had gathered in the moments of the night. Though I felt dirty inside, at least it would not appear that way on the outside anymore.
The Holy Spirit began to nudge me. I kept feeling Him say, “Pray to God. Pray to God. Pray to God.”
I didn’t want to pray to God. I wanted to be left alone in the shower. I was already naked again. How much more embarrassment could I take? Why would He want to see me like this again?
Still, the Holy Spirit whispered, “Pray to God. Pray to God. Pray to God.”
Why would He want to hear from me after I rebelled from Him? Why would He want to acknowledge my prayers? Was He waiting for permission to chastise me? Was He waiting for me to open the door to punishment on His behalf? Why would He even care about what I have to say to Him anymore?
I had woven a web of misery around my spirit. I had cocooned myself in shame and guilt. I was attacking myself without any temptation. I hated myself. I hated my weakness. I hated my susceptibility. I hated my failure.
“It’s okay,” God said to me.
I froze in the shower.
“It’s okay,” He repeated gently.
I broke… I wept bitterly as I felt God talking me down from the ledge. With every, “It’s okay,” I felt enticed to pray.
“I’m sorry,” I whispered, still thinking of my slumbering friend in the room. “I’m so sorry. I’m sorry.”
I grieved uncontrollably underneath the pouring water. My eyes would not dry and my nostrils would not open. Water and snot dripped from my face continually as I begged for forgiveness. The only response I received was a gentle, comforting, “It’s okay.” It felt as if a hand was pressed against my shoulder while arms surrounded me and embraced me. I was in despair, but the soft words of God were bringing me up from the pit.
It took a moment for my body to stop trembling. The erratic exhalation and weak knees were the first to stop. Eventually, I accepted God’s truth on the matter. It was okay. This sin, too, was covered. This season, too, would pass. I had to accept that I didn’t know the degree of evil I was capable of. I had to understand that, even still, God’s love was at an overwhelmingly higher degree than my sins could ever be. I had to accept His forgiveness and forgive myself.
I turned off the shower and grabbed a towel. I sat back down on the seat and air-dried with the towel around my waist. Every attempt I made to continue chastising myself was interrupted by the words, “It’s okay.” He would not let me torture myself any further. Either it was going to be okay, or I was going to have to accept that it was okay.
My body felt lighter, and my energy returned. The darkness that loomed over me faded, and I was able to see hope. I may not have been ready for marriage, but I wasn’t abandoned. God was there. He was watching. He understood me. He understood my desperation. He understood my dissatisfaction. He understood my rebellion. He was still going to be with me.
I pondered on those two words, talking with God, still approaching Him in prayer like a beaten dog. I was afraid of Him, but “It’s okay,” soothed and emboldened my spirit. My confidence in Him was returned.
I rose from the seat and got dressed. I was out of the abyss, but I had a long way to go with recovery. Though my spirit energized me, I was still exhausted from the breakdown. I exited the bathroom and saw two of my friends talking.
The one who had gone back to sleep was awake again, and the one who showered had returned from breakfast. I had occupied the restroom for quite some time. When they saw me, they knew instantly that something was wrong.
“Yo, you alright?” my friend asked me from the upper bunk.
Still fresh from the sting of failure, I started to cried. They abruptly approached me, concerned for my well-being. I turned to them and confessed my sins, “I lost my virginity.”
They both placed a hand on my shoulder as I tried to compose myself.
“It’s okay, man.”
“I know… I just had a lot riding on that,” I admitted.
“Dang, I shouldn’t have bought you all those drinks,” the one who showered said.
It hadn’t occurred to me that my actions would’ve caused guilt on anyone other than the woman I targeted. I looked at him surprised. I hadn’t been drunk. I was tipsy, as I had always been when drinking. The drinks did not affect my decision at all. I was determined since this start of the vacation that I would try to find anyone to satisfy my curiosity. I had passed on so many, and was still unmarried. I didn’t want to wait anymore.
I confessed these things to him and reassured him that I was in control of my actions. It only took one night of overdrinking a while ago for me to realize that I liked being in control of my actions all the time. I hadn’t been wasted since. I was just tired of being the good, single, and virgin man. He said he understood, but the guilt didn’t leave his face. Sin hurts many people, even when only one committed it.
For the next ten minutes, the two men poured into me. They told me how they still viewed me as a solid man of God, and that this one time didn’t define my walk, my dreams, or their faith in me. They were even more impressed with my heart because I had cried at the loss of my virginity. These two men that I respected, only showed me that they respected me still. These men that I prayed for on occasion, sat and prayed with me.
Their response helped me break away from my personal chastisement. In fact, they made sure people didn’t invade my space for the rest of the day. Even when the group came to ask how we’d end our vacations together, my friend in the upper bunk fought their suspicions, telling them that we were just tired, and spending the last day of the cruise resting. For most, that’s all they needed to hear before they went and did their own things. Two women lingered, attempting to pry.
One crawled into my bed at stood over. She examined my face as my agitation rose within me. I truly wanted to be left alone in my grieving. I tried to pull my cover to my face, but she only leaned closer to me.
“Why you acting like that?” she asked. “You don’t want to go do anything?”
I shook my head. “I’m okay. Thanks.”
“Why you wanna be boring on the last day?” I had to catch myself from being unruly and cruel. “You ain’t did nothin’ we all haven’t done. You gotta forgive yourself. We all make mistakes. It’s okay. It’s how you respond to the mistakes that matter. You just gone sit in here and mope all day.”
I made sure that the glare in my eyes answered her question better than any word I could utter.
“You gotta forget about it and move on. Forgive yourself and keep living. You let this one mistake trip you up, you gone have a hard life.”
I laid in silence.
“Well, alright. I tried. If you want to mope, go what you gotta do, alright?”
I slowly nodded.
Though her heart was in a good place, her message was ill-received. She could tell after a few nudges that I wasn’t going anywhere, and that she couldn’t convince me otherwise. So, she rolled off of me and went to find people who actually wanted to have fun on the last day.
I was still annoyed. I understood the message even though I didn’t like where the message was coming from. She was trying to cheer me up, and I recognized that. I just needed some time to process. Pain that deep I had to deal with on my own. Otherwise, I’d hurt people’s feelings.
The events of the past 24 hours replayed in my mind like game film after a game. I saw that I was more capable of evil than I previously believed. I saw that I was susceptible to temptations I hadn’t explored. I saw that I didn’t like who I was capable of being.
What I did like was the comforting words of God. “It’s okay.” Two, simple words carried me away from being my own executioner. Two words kept me from darkness. God did not have to strike me down, chastise me, nor remove the covering over my life. He only had to show me through His words and His children, that He was with me.
He’d fight me to save me. He’d send His sons to comfort me and let me be vulnerable. He’d send His daughters to cheer me up, and remind me of His words. My rebellion seemed more like a temper tantrum in His eyes. He knew I was upset, and let me experience stepping out on Him. He wasn’t surprised when I came back crying. I had learned my lesson.
I still remember her name. I still remember where she lived. I still remember what I did to her. I saw her one last time before the end of the cruise. I went out to get some food and get out of my depression. I looked down the hall and saw her walking towards us with her group.
We made eye contact, but that was it. Both groups went silent as they walked by. I wanted to say I was sorry. I wanted to apologize. I wanted to tell her she deserved better, and that no man should ever treat her that way. But I was that man, and in being that man, I felt it would’ve been out of place to treat her that way and turn around and say I shouldn’t have. I felt it would’ve only made her hate me.
Those snap thoughts and the awkwardness of the silence made me look away. I didn’t want to admit to a stranger that she was my first, and she shouldn’t have been. I didn’t want to bring her anymore shame than I did the night before. I was deeply sorry, and a coward for not admitting so.
I hope God was more kind to her than He was to me. I hope He showed her how much He covered her as much as He showed me. I hope she knows she’s forgiven by God, and I hope she has forgiven me. I truly hope she has found someone that sees her worth and treats her according to that worth. I hope she is loved and not abused. I hope she is living an amazing life.
The evil in me that I witnessed that day haunted me for the next few years. I stayed away from women and started to truly battle against lust with all intentions of experiencing victory in Christ. I look back on that day and remind myself to be humble, because I am capable of hurting women. But one thing that I am also capable of is being loved freely and openly by God, and that fact pushes me past any guilt, shame, and sorrow. I will always be loved and cared for by God.