April 27, 2006
I had never heard of your book
until yesterday, and I stayed up
until 1 a.m. this morning just to
read it. Unlike The Rules, it answered
many of those deep-down questions.
Unlike a lot of books I have read,
it addressed an honorable, Godly
womanhood that has been a desire
of mine to attain. This morning
I am gripped by a kind of despair,
because although I believe in God
and His redemptive power, I feel
like it is too late. Way too late.
I am a 30-something unmarried
mom. Like many of you ladies, I
cherished my virginity and although
I had absolutely no guidance (I
grew up hearing about my mom's exploits)
it was the desire of my heart to
find real love, pure love. Growing
up I was "too much," "too
intense," "too dramatic,"
phrases you have no doubt heard
before. I wanted to find my true
love, marry, and be a happy housewife
with a lapful of babies. But life
has not turned out that way.
I was date-raped at 21 and
got pregnant. As is true with many
victims of this crime, my behavior
after the incident went from mild,
modest, untouchable to a typical
girl on the dating scene. At this
point, in my early thirties, unmarried,
alone, I feel like all that I wanted
out of life, out of being a girl,
has been mocked and corrupted. The
kind of man I dreamed of marrying
could not possibly want the kind
of woman my life says I have been.
Or could he? The girlish dreams
I was told were stupid, how much
more stupid to believe that there
is any hope left at all??
My question is two-fold. To
what extent have you seen God restore
a broken life, and where do I go
to learn about Orthodox Judaism?
Thank you so much for responding.
You are obviously
a very special--and courageous individual--and
I am so impressed that you managed
to stay true to your hopes, despite
all the pain and discouragement
you've been through.
Now all you
have to do is keep it up! Easier
said than done, I know.
But think about
it: you know what is true, and you're
living according to your ideals
now. That's what matters, and that's
what your future husband will see.
It's not your fault, after all,
that you were date-raped. You took
your difficult circumstances and
made the best of them.
You made unselfish choices and you
continue to make them.
realized that what society wants
from you and what you want in your
are two different things, and that
takes integrity and a lot of intellectual
which are very rare nowadays.
Yes, I believe
that there are men out there who
will appreciate that. Now, if you
told me now
that you are a bar-hopping pole
dancer, yet still hoping to meet
a traditional gentleman, then I
say it's tricky looking for qualities
you haven't developed in yourself.
But as long as you
are projecting your true values
and ideals, I don't see any reason
why the right man
wouldn't appreciate you.
to your questions, I always love
going to www.aish.com--have you
heard of that website? It's a Jewish
site, but not just about Judaism.
One of my favorite
books is Our Bodies, Our Souls by
Rebbetzin Heller, but if you tell
more about your background maybe
I can recommend something more appropriate
In the meantime,
yes, I do believe that God can completely
restore a broken life.
a Jewish parable about a servant
who breaks the king's most
precious vessel and to his horror,
no one can fix it. One expert craftsman
"I wouldn't want to be you!";
another recommends that the man
skip town. Eventually, the servant
has no recourse
but to go to the king himself and
tell him what happened. To his surprise,
he finds out that the king
actually has a use for broken vessels.
There are many aspects to this story,
but one point, I suppose,
is that it matters less how broken
we are than who we turn to.
And of course,
never forget that you are precious,
even if you currently feel rather
I believe if
you don't have hope you dont' have
anything. I haven't commented here
before but I believe there is someone
out there for EVERYONE. I hope she
Erin P recommends:
For the mother
whose letter I read, you will be
in my prayers. I am not a mother
nor can I imagine the experience
of date-rape, but I do know what
it's like to feel like you're "too
much" for anyone to pledge
to love for a lifetime. Maybe it's
the artist and perfectionist in
I have been
learning a lot about self-acceptance
though in the past couple years.
As a Catholic I have prayed for
God's grace and mercy to see me
through my moments of near despair
and God shows me again and again
that he loves me no matter what.
And know that you have a special
dignity in God's eyes as a mother.
Psalms can be very powerful prayer
too - they express such a full range
of human emotion.
emails the following:
Dear Is It
I just wanted
to relay my own experience of redemption
and virginity. As a young woman
I had always desired to wait till
I was married to but when
I had my first real relationship
in college, I like many of the girls
I knew, succumbed to his pressure
to . I knew it was wrong
but I also was swept away by our
"love.&" Needless to say
I didn't marry the guy who
would want to marry a guy who pressured
a girl like that?! When, after college
(and one more sexual relationship),
I got my act together and started
investigating my faith a little
I realized more clearly that what
I had done
was an injustice to God but, more
seriously, to me. As they say, you
break commandments, you only break
yourself against them. I was broken
need of repair. I found repair through
the Catholic Church and its beautiful
teachings on sex and love. Once
I had committed myself to the Church
upholding Her teachings, I had oceans
of grace flow over me. It wasn't
easy and there were many many many
times I doubted that I would ever
find happiness in marriage (who
would want me?). But eventually
I did meet
and marry a wonderful man who had
saved himself for marriage. It was
testimony to his love that he "forgave"
me instantly when I confessed to
past. I knew then that this was
truly a good and holy man. His attitude
God can forgive me so could he.
Good luck, friend, in seeking forgiveness
finding your true mate. He is out
there waiting for you.
You said your
question is two-fold, but I think
it's rather three-fold, and
that's how I'll answer
it. First, with God there is no
such thing as "too late"
unless a person has died and their
soul is facing judgment (I am speaking
now in the Christian tradition in
which I was raised), or unless a
reached a state of hard-heartedness
from which there is no return, a
state that I don't imagine
is all that common but which I believe
the Bible addresses.
You had also
asked where a person could go to
learn about Orthodox Judaism. I'm
no expert on this, so will let others
such as Wendy handle it, but I believe
an Internet search isn't a
bad place to start, even if it is
only to find Orthodox synagogues
in your area.
most importantly, you asked "To
what extent have you seen God restore
a broken life?" I can give
you at least two examples, one Judaic
and one Christian. The first example
is Elie Wiesel, who emerged from
a concentration camp where he lost
his immediate family to become a
world-renowned humanitarian (see
for a more thorough history).
was a friend of mine from years
back who lived what Christians commonly
call a "worldly" lifestyle,
including, by his own admission,
drugs, easy sex, and who knows what
else. After a conversion experience
he swung about as far to the other
side of the pendulum as is possible
and became a true friend and example
to many others. Sadly, the lifestyle
he lived prior to that time left
him with AIDS, of which he died
only a few years later, but it is
his faith and works that people
still remember more than anything
else about him.
believe to some extent that no worthy
man such as you wish to find would
be interested in you, given your
past history. Nonsense!
I mentioned in my last paragraph
married a godly woman who was fully
aware of his past, but what was
important to her was how much he
had changed (he was, in fact, instrumental
in her own conversion). What matters
to most people is the person you
are today. There are some instances
in which a person simply cant
get past anothers history,
but I believe these are fairly rare,
especially in todays society
in which so many people have a
Some of the
best advice I can give you is to
work on becoming the kind of person
you would like to marry if you were
of the opposite sex. Once youve
experienced healing, you will have
a better chance of attracting the
kind of person you want.
You say you
are in your thirties. Assuming you
live an average womans lifespan,
you still have more than half your
life before you. Too late? Hardly.
What is required is willingness
on your part to change, and you
have already demonstrated that.
If you continue to reach out to
God, I guarantee that he will meet
you where you are. In addition,
if you ask Him, he will send you
While you are
either Jewish or considering conversion,
the following extract from a letter
of the Apostle Paul is, I believe,
a fitting word for anyone in a situation
such as yours:
I do not regard myself as having
laid hold of it yet; but one thing
I do: forgetting what lies behind
and reaching forward to what lies
ahead, I press on toward the goal....
I can simply
answer, it is never too late.
of Faith is that no matter what
awful things have happened to us
and in spite of the fact that we
are never fully perfect in facing
lifes struggles, God presence
is available to renew our hearts,
heal a wound, strengthen our spirit
and set our love on track.
In fact, those
who have had rough blows in life
and who have faced the difficulty
of healing are often able to express
and feel love on a far deeper level
than those whose lives have been
sugar-coated by comparison. I wrote
about that in my post, Purity
Survives a Punch. I wrote,
Remember that pure, modest
love doesn't necessarily come from
perfectly white, untroubled lives.
In fact, it never really does.
No one has a perfect life during
which nothing goes wrong and no
one on the planet makes perfect
Yet I have
run across a few individuals here
and there who have what I call the
arrogance of the lucky.
I mention it because I dont
want you to be discouraged by them.
Some women have had things go well
for them in dating and love and
found a gentle man as a young innocent
woman. And sometimes they assume
from this that they did things better
than those whos dating life
has had a few crash and burns. Sadly,
some of these lucky ones hold the
opinion that a girl who has bumped
against some difficulty is too scarred
to be pure of heart and can no longer
experience the richness of life
and love. That is simply not true
and is, in fact, terribly, horribly
It would take
chapters for me to give you examples
of what I mean -- but I only have
space here to say that some girls
are very lucky to have not been
seriously hurt before marriage,
to have never bumped into a bad
guy. Some of them may have been
smarter in their choices. But in
most cases, they are just very dearly
fortunate and they should count
their blessings. Because far too
often choice is irrelevant, rape
or assault is such a situation.
In the context
of the horrible evil of rape, the
concept of innocence is too often
placed on the physical side of intimacy.
I believe innocence reaches far
deeper in Faith. I do know very
happily married couples that have
had difficult pasts but what makes
them happy is that a sincere Faith
has become part of their life. Not
a quick fix Faith, but a Faith that
arises from the process of healing
and accepting personal change in
all its stages. Please never assume
that your future for love is doomed.
It is definitely not.
Yet also, when
a man attempts to take what isnt
his to receive it hurts deeply and
it is a horrible evil that leaves
the girl feeling unworthy, no longer
innocent, even sometimes makes her
feel dirty and ugly. That crushing
impact can create in her a sense
of futility in intimacy. The evil
of rape is that a mans invasive
actions make a girl feel her future
is foreshortened, unworthy, broken.
A rapist is none other than the
devil's servant, a man who vomits
destruction on a girl's doorstep
and slices open pain with the knife
of despair. Our culture doesn't
state the impact of that invasion
bluntly enough and doesn't punish
its perpetrators harshly enough.
Often they expect us, even women,
to gloss over our sensitivity as
a hang up. Those that
voice that particular opinion are
Yet the reality
is that the pain of rape is often
just glossed over (especially in
our over-sexed culture that believe
to be sexually liberated we should
put out for any guy
as easily as we put out the garbage.)
It can take years to understand
the impact of the resulting broken
dream. The dream of lasting love
can be a fragile oneonce the
dream is believed to be broken,
a girl can feel she isnt worthy
and she thus sometimes gives up
and takes painful turns.
But even years
later, as you start renew and rebuild,
you are still worthy of all that
a real mans love has to offer,
and it is definitely not too late.
Yet I also stressed in one of my
blogs that marriage isnt the
only thing that gives meaning to
our life, a loving spirit is what
God asks of us.
of all the searching and turns that
your life took, I hope I can convince
you that the wrong man can never
take your beauty away. He can never
take your innocence. He can never
steal your sweetness. He cannot
drain your hope. Nothing like that.
When he tries, he just ensures his
souls self-destruction, not
yours. In my world view, he is not
innocence is only given when you
choose to give it. Innocence, once
understood, is something that can
only be given to your one true love,
from death do us part.
Those beautiful lines of loyalty
and love are not intended only for
the perfect white weddings.
They are intended for those whose
sweetness, passion, adoration, in
all its depth, has finally found
I share the
following story because I think
it is relevant to the early morning
despair you wrote about in your
letter. If I knew you personally,
I would do as I have, share friendship,
chats over for coffee, and convince
you of your great future. Being
single and struggling stinks and
I wish more people would reach out.
I hope that my writing to you, at
the very least, ensures that you
know that there are those of us
out there that have a great vision
for your future and love you for
all you have to offer.
So here is
a particular story that I hope you
embrace for what it means for your
have gotten to know a woman who
is simply gorgeous and I can assure
you she is a head snapper, men adore
her beauty, and always have. As
a young girl she was raped, once
by her mothers boyfriend.
The story only gets worse from theremore
abusive men, abortions, divorce.
Yet, by reaching towards Faith,
digging deep into personal reflections,
not shirking from the pain of healing,
she is one of the most bubbly sweet
wonderful women you can know. She
has a great marriage now with a
man who is kind to her and loves
her through and through and they
have some simply adorably cute children.
She carries with her a memento given
to her by her husband that allows
her to love and care for the lives
torn from her past. With all this,
she has what so many women want
-- a life with depth, sincerity,
beauty, comfort and the offer of
friendship that runs deep into her
heart. The life she has now is envied
by some who have had easier lives.
That is not to say she doesnt
still feel pain but her life,
her smile, her love is an incredible
contribution to the world and her
family. I have a strong sense that
you will be like her, and you too
will offer hope to those who cross
may not want to go it alone
having someone to talk to as you
reach forward may be very helpful.
I only know you via your letter,
so I dont know if you might
find an extra hand beneficial. But
if so, be careful in who you choosetake
care that it is someone hopeful,
determined, gentle, optimistic and
who understands that healing and
forgiveness runs deep into Faith.
Sometimes friends and family cannot
run the course of healing with you,
there are times when outside guidance
can be very helpful and dont
be shy to walk away if that person
is confused, bitter, manipulative,
man-hating or not listening (some
of the very confused types get drawn
to therapy. Therapists are intended
to be guides not Gods. Some of them
are messed up and mixed up on that.)
I can recommend some good books
too, if you are interested.
Some of us
are always cutting it close or running
late for appointments, but on Gods
watch, we are never ever late. When
we finally arrive to cry out in
pain, What am I supposed to
do?! God says, Youre
right on time! But if we never
show up, well then thats kind
of a sad story that is written by
the lonely, angry and bitter who
refuse goodness. Yours is not the
latter. You are already destined
for a beautiful future, loving moments,
friendships, and Hope. And your
story will be inspiring, especially
for other girls whose sweetness
encountered someone trying to steal
a dream. You can tell them as you
will well come to know, That
mans evil is not yours to
accept. And your innocence and dreams
were never his to take.
Go for it beautiful,
you have a great life ahead!
p.s. You stated
in your letter that people said
you were too much, too intense,
too dramatic. Ah yes
it sounds like folks trying to crush
a young girl packed with great talent
and loads of love and ideas to offer
the world. You are not too much,
not too intense, not too dramatic.
I heard all that too. Do take note
-- much of the world is too little,
too apathetic, too mild
world always, desperately needs
someone with loads of passion and