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TEENS

Red Alert! Prepare for Battle!

By Julie Ferwerda with Shannon Ethridge

CBN.comGirl, there’s a battle going on that needs your full attention because your future happiness depends on it! Even if you grew up going to church every Sunday, went to Vacation Bible School as a kid every summer, and even if you are the president of your youth group and you can quote dozens of Bible verses, you could become the next victim in the war going on for your purity. That’s exactly the kind of background Shannon Ethridge came from before she recognized the battle that ravaged five important years of her life. Now Shannon has come out a victor and her desire is to share what she has learned with young women.

“The cry of my heart has always been,” says Shannon, “Lord, help me to help younger women avoid making the mistakes that I’ve made.” Shannon is certainly doing that. Her book, Every Young Woman’s Battle, will help you and other young women to recognize and win this battle for your mind, heart, and body in a sex-saturated world.

Satan’s Hand Grenades:
To start with, Shannon had to begin identifying the weapons of the opposition. There were some specific lies that Satan set off in Shannon’s thinking that temporarily disabled her in the battle for her purity.

Lie #1: My dad doesn’t care about me. Although Shannon can look back now and see that her dad really did love her, she didn’t feel like it when she was growing up. “[Dad] was there for us physically and provided well financially but he had no clue about any type of emotional or spiritual connection. And so I grew up with that hole in my heart, hungry for his attention.”

Lie #2: I’m unworthy. Because Shannon didn’t feel worthy or significant in her relationship with her dad, she began to look for unhealthy ways to find her identity and value.

Lie #3: When men pay attention to me, it’s because I’m special. At an early age Shannon discovered that there was a substitute for her dad’s lack of attention. When men flirted with her, it made her lonely heart feel on top of the world. The quest for attention and affection became a game. “I thought that it was exciting and I had a feeling of power. I felt as if a guy’s sexual attention meant that I must be worthy, and I latched onto that. I really wasn’t in it for the sexual aspect…it was for love. I was giving sex thinking that I was getting love in return. I didn’t realize that, no, I was getting used in return.” This cycle only added to her feelings of unworthiness.

Lie #4: It’s too late for me. When Shannon was fourteen; she put herself in a situation with an eighteen year old guy who “called her bluff.” He was much bigger and stronger and wasn’t playing games. He took Shannon’s virginity against her will. Afterward, she felt that since her virginity was already gone, what was the point of trying to stay pure? For about five years, she went from one sexual relationship to another, all the while still looking for that elusive love and acceptance.

Then, when Shannon was around twenty, she had a life-changing experience. Just out of Mortuary College, she was working in a funeral home (with dead people) and noticed just how many of them died young because of AIDS or committed suicide as a result of an HIV positive diagnosis. “I realized that I was playing a very dangerous game, not just with my body but with my heart and my spirit. [I was] looking for love in all the wrong places.” For some reason, she observed that God had spared her the awful fate that her actions deserved, and that was when she decided to come back to her relationship with Him.

A verse that God used to get Shannon’s attention at this time was in Deuteronomy 30:15 (NLT), “Now listen! Today I am giving you a choice between prosperity and disaster, between life and death.”
“I look back on how so many of my choices were choosing death—spiritually, mentally, emotionally, relationally and even sexually, because it is really hard to go into marriage and freely enjoy this gift of sexuality with your husband when it’s been such an incredible source of pain in your past.”

God’s Nuclear Weapons:
The only power that Satan has in your life is the lies he can get you to believe. But there is something much more powerful than his lies that will completely annihilate his feeble attempts to destroy your life. What is it? God’s amazing and powerful truth! His truth is like a nuclear weapon when overpowering Satan’s lies, and that’s exactly what happened when Shannon began to replace the lies with the victorious truth.

The truth: How God feels about you.
You’ve probably heard that God is your heavenly Father who loves you so much He sent His Son to die for you, you are precious and of great value and worth to Him, and all that. Those things are all true and all can be used to defeat Satan’s lies. But on her road to healing, Shannon discovered a wonderful aspect of her relationship with Jesus that really helped bring deeper healing in her quest for love.

“I actually found a female counselor who had been through similar things in her life. And she taught me how to look at Jesus Christ as the lover of my soul, and how this affair that I was craving and this passionate love that I was in pursuit of could only be found in my relationship with Jesus. I had never really thought about Jesus as a lover. I had always heard of God and Jesus as a father, but in my mind, I didn’t want that because I had such a dysfunctional relationship with my dad, and I didn’t necessarily crave another relationship with a dad.” What Shannon wanted was to be wanted and loved by a lover who loved her purely and completely, and she found that in Jesus.

The Truth: It’s never too late for you.
If you’ve already made some mistakes in the area of purity, Shannon wants you to know, just like she discovered, that it’s never too late for you to start over.

“We serve a God of second chances. For you to think that there’s no opportunity for you to turn your life around and to make wiser decisions is basically saying that what Jesus Christ did on the cross isn’t enough for you—that you need some sort of special miracle to set you free. You either believe that what Jesus did on the cross is enough to make you a new creation like He says or not. We have to know that we can renew our minds, that our hearts can be restored, and that we can have a secondary virginity. When we allow Jesus to be that lover of our souls, it greatly lessens the temptations to continue going from relationship to relationship.”

Don’t be discouraged fellow soldiers—this battle is going to be much easier when you equip yourself with the truth. If you want more in depth help in holding onto your purity, pick up a copy of Every Young Woman’s Battle today!

For more on this topic, Shannon Ethridge's Book Every Young Woman's Battle, is available here.

Visit www.julieferwerda.com.

Visit CBN.com's Youth section.

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