I never planned to have sex with him. He was an acquaintance I ran into three thousand miles from home. We were just talking. And laughing. Connecting.
Sure, he was smart, fun, good looking. I was attracted to him, and I could tell that he was attracted to me.
And then … one thing started to lead to another. Sliding closer on the couch. Me touching his arm. Him touching my hand.
“Should we move into the bedroom?” he wanted to know.
I hadn’t felt this attracted to someone in a really long time.
It felt right to say no. Right to draw the line somewhere. But I didn’t make any attempt to slow down the affection. I knew I was sending mixed signals, but part of me didn’t care.
No—it wasn’t that I didn’t care. It was that I wasn’t sure what I wanted.
I’d been praying so much about relationships. Though I’d been a Christian Scientist my whole life, in the last couple of years I’d been getting a more spiritual view of relationships than I’d ever had before. I’d learned that my relationships were happier and more solid when I saw them as an expression of the good that God, good itself, is always giving to us. I’d begun to understand that I couldn’t compartmentalize my life: couldn’t put God and religion on one side, and think and act as if everything else was somehow in my domain, separate from God. I had come to see that everything good, in every aspect of my life, was an expression of God, divine good, and so had to be in line with spiritual good—not a limited sense of goodness mixed in with wants, desires, and potential downsides, but pure, real, lasting good that doesn’t include any element of selfishness.
But I hadn’t felt this attracted to someone in a really long time.
Soon it was clear that my “no bedroom” rule had become irrelevant. Thoughts cycled quickly through my head. Would it really matter if I slept with him? Yes. No. Yes. What’s the big deal? I hadn’t planned on this happening, but it was going to happen.
But then … it didn’t. And what happened next was so much better.
There was the smallest of pauses. And he asked, “Are you OK with this?”
I told him yes. But then, a few minutes later, he stopped again and said, “Are you going to be OK with this tomorrow?”
And suddenly I got it—what was really going on. It became clear to me that he wasn’t just a nice guy who wanted consent. Instead, right in the moment when I couldn’t decide if I should stop, when I felt like I didn’t want to stop, there was something else that was present and powerfully operating, and we both felt it.
I’d learned in Christian Science that what I was feeling, this powerful presence of a pure, totally spiritual love, is called the Christ. And that Christ presence was absolutely filling the room—completely neutralizing any feeling of a sexual pull. I actually felt loved and cared for in a way I never had before—in a way that I knew was from God.
After that, it was so easy for both of us to stop. We got dressed, and he drove me back to my hotel. Neither of us felt resentful or like we’d missed out. We hadn’t. We both knew we’d done the right thing, because of the profound feeling of love—real love—that had filled that room.
That’s not the end of the story, though, because that feeling of Christ’s palpable presence stayed with me and was so much more satisfying than what I would’ve experienced if we’d ended up sleeping together. It taught me that what God gives us isn’t second best to what society offers; it’s far, far better. And Christ’s gifts of pure love set us up for true happiness.
Neither of us felt resentful or like we’d missed out. We hadn’t. We both knew we’d done the right thing, because of the profound feeling of love—real love—that had filled that room.
Not long after, I met someone with whom I really connected and who’s still an important part of my life today. This new relationship gave me everything I’d wanted and so much more. I’m pretty sure that’s because by then I knew I didn’t need someone else to feel real love. I already had it from God, and so it was always there. I could feel it whenever I was willing to pay attention.
Sometimes I’ve wondered: Would a different choice have made that big of a difference? And the answer I keep coming back to is that it would’ve been easy to miss the big lesson about real love, God’s love, if I hadn’t been willing to experience the spiritual good already available to me. And that lesson has helped me not only in the romance department, but also everywhere else, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.