Somewhere, a young girl has given herself completely, heart and soul, to a boy, and he is not at all prepared to handle it.

He, like you, is developing. That’s one of the main goals of the teenage years: growing and developing. Figuring out who you are and what’s important to you.

“Experts” want us to believe that relating to the opposite sex as a teen is primarily a sexual experience. So we learn about blow jobs from friends and “safe sex” from adults and teachers. Posters hanging from the walls of every school nurse’s office warn of STDs and unplanned pregnancies, but what about the long-term effects of a devastatingly broken heart? Who is talking about protecting our hearts?

I gave my heart away to a boy in 10th grade. Completely. I was fifteen and clueless. I know, I know, you’re supposed to be clueless when you’re fifteen. But I’m also bewildered by the fact that women who knew more than me were in my life, and never once did I receive anything resembling a warning. I was told about safe sex. I was also encouraged to wait. But never once did someone talk with me about protecting my heart.

Personally I think my heart is more valuable than my virginity. I think our hearts just might be the most valuable things in the entire world.

Your heart holds much of who you are and what you’re about and where you’re going. When our heart gets smashed to pieces, we begin to alter our course, and sometimes change direction because of misinformation.

I picked up on some non-verbal clues when I was quite young that I was 1) not beautiful and 2) would not be understood. Those two beliefs altered my course considerably. An unbeautiful girl who is misunderstood has difficulty being courageous and bold. I began to shut down and lost touch with my heart as a child.

Enter the handsome male, stage right. He blew into our oppressively small town and I had hope again. Hope that I could be understood and beautiful. Hope that I would be whole again. Places in my heart that had grown cold began to warm again and beat. I had dreams for the future.

The problem was: all of this reincarnation was based upon a boy. A boy cannot be expected to hold anything together for long, much less a teenage girl’s idealistic universe. I believed for years he was the answer to my future. It’s too much to expect of anyone, least of all a teenage boy.

Realizing his future was not my future created an abyss of rejection in my heart. Much of the abyss has been repaired through the years, but cracks remain twenty-five years later.

And I suppose the women who knew me then never realized I was standing so close to a cliff. I’m sure they would have warned me had they known the danger I was in. I suppose they thought it was “cute” due to a Disneyfied version of first love, or perhaps they held a feminist view, wanting me to live and love and grow through the pain. The thing is, I was a girl. And I don’t think people take young love seriously. I loved that boy so inappropriately completely, he consumed me. Of course, I was immature and it was an immature love, but in my innocence, I allowed that passion to go to the bottom of my heart, and that is why the heartbreak was so complete. I now have a man worthy of all my love and heart, but I can’t trust as completely or love as fearlessly as I once did. I wasted all my heart and trust on a boy.

And so I advocate for girls and women to protect their hearts. Not in a fearful my-heart-is-hard-as-stone-and-no-one-will-hurt-me-again existence, but in a courageous way. In a way that we experience life with friends, invest in our future, our talents, and are able to live life well and share that life with others.

Healthy girls can breath for themselves. Unhealthy relationships happen when we’re dependent on others breathing oxygen into our souls for us. Girls who need life-support from a guy are emotionally bed-ridden. Girls who are taught how to pace their relationships, know how to allow a guy into their lives, but also how to protect their lives for a while, and adamantly refuse to allow him to become their center, ever. No matter how AMAZING a guy is, he will never be able to be your center.

So please live. Life deeply. But talk to someone older with some long-term perspective who has learned how to live well. Spend more time figuring out who you are and what you’re about, and less time dreaming about and being with the Amazing Guy you hope is in your future. Invest in friendships and talents and others. At least explore the possibility that there could be someone in your future whom you will love well and you will wish you had saved it all for them…not just your body, but all your romance, all your heart and soul. Hold on to all that you possibly can for them.

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