Where We Came From
The year is 2010. Flash mobs rule. Katy Perry’s California Gurls plays nonstop on the radio. And I am freaking out a little bit… okay, a lot… because I am graduating high school in a few months.
But my college choice isn’t what’s stressing me out the most… it’s the sex saturated culture I see destroying people’s lives. When I look around me, my heart breaks. I see classmates my age obsessing over their appearances, never feeling pretty enough, and crying over break ups after casually hooking up on Friday nights. These are church girls, the “good girls” who are supposed to “know better.” And yet they believe the catchy tunes, telling them that they are sex objects instead.
My heart breaks, but it beats with hope because I know it can be different.
How do I know?
Because for me, it is.
My friends and I are not in manipulative relationships, giving out sexual favors and pining over hot guys. We are too busy having fun to worry about our appearances because we base our sexual identity in God’s Word, understanding our value as human beings with bodies and souls. And it brings us true joy… not just because of the heartache we avoid but because of the purpose it gives us!
Sure! We avoid the yelling matches and the uncontrollable sobs that come with high school drama. We avoid the catty fights and the heartbreak that I hear about. But that is just a bonus. Purity isn’t about what you can avoid. It’s about what you gain – a greater vision for our bodies, a holistic understanding that our physical bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit and matter deeply to the gospel.
Where We Are
Fast forward to today. The year is 2017, and many of the Christian women I know are still plagued by sexual brokenness.
I’ve lived long enough to see my own friends trade in God’s design for a counterfeit version of sexuality. Rather than desiring God’s will for their life, they are addicted to sexual fulfillment. I’ve seen marriages fall apart, homosexuality flaunted, identities questioned, and loneliness run rampant.
And don’t think I am above it. I see Satan’s lies creeping into my sinful heart and messing with my mind far too often as well.
So I find myself asking the question – what is the disconnect? If women who have read the Bible front to back and can recite John 3:16 by heart are living for themselves instead of for God, where do we go from here?
Where Do We Go from Here?
Over the last seven years, Across My Heart Ministries has shared God’s heart for holistic purity and His beautiful design for sexuality with over five hundred middle school girls. As some of the team leaders got married and life got busy, the ministry slowed down. We went from eight retreats every season to only two or three. It became harder to spend the night away when we had husbands at home waiting for us.
I knew something needed to change. But I didn’t know what. And that’s when a few of the young women who had attended retreats as middle schoolers expressed interest in joining the team… Alyssa, Kaela, and Emmarie.
They believed in God’s heart for purity and wanted to share it with others.
I knew God was doing something big, but once again, I didn’t know what… are you catching a theme here? Thankfully, it’s not about what I know but about what God knows. So we gathered all the leaders together for a leadership retreat and in less than 48 hours, God inspired us with renewed vision!
Passionately Pursuing the Heart of God
Here at Across My Heart, we believe in passionately pursuing God with everything we have… our lives, our plans, our dreams, and even our bodies. For us, purity isn’t just saving ourselves for marriage. It’s giving our whole selves to God.
“Passionately pursuing the heart of God” – that is how we define purity. And that will never change.
But we believe that it’s no longer enough to warn middle school girls of the coming sexual challenges. We need to stick with them through the thick of it.
It’s a nice idea to think we can somehow focus our efforts on middle school girls and “get them while they are young”, but many of the women who are broken today believed the Bible in middle school. They believed God’s Word was true, but the voice of culture drowned it out somewhere along the way. And we want to navigate the confusing journey with them:
We want to be the voice of hope and redemption when they think it’s too late.
We want to remind them that purity is a condition of the heart, not a status of virginity.
We want to cheer them on with a vision for holy sexuality wherever they are in life.
Starting with our brand relaunch, we are expanding beyond middle school retreats in three ways:
While continuing our middle school retreat curriculum, we have created high school and college-aged messaging to tailor these truths with young women at round table discussions and events.
When we aren’t building relationships in person, we will use this little corner of the blogging sphere to write about a grander vision for sexuality, a holistic purity that encompasses our whole self by passionately pursuing God with everything we have.
Because we cannot be everywhere (nor do we want to be), we are also in the process of creating printable curriculum for churches outside West Michigan to lead their own purity retreats.
Whether a middle school girl or a college graduate, women’s sexual problems have the same solution – passionately pursuing the heart of God. And that’s not fixed with a one-time commitment to purity. That’s a daily posture of the heart.
Because it’s not enough to be a church girl or a good girl. It’s not enough to read the Bible. It’s not even enough to know what it says. His Word must be written across our hearts.
Writing His Truth Across Our Hearts
That’s what Across My Heart means. Our name is loosely based on the Psalm 119:11 (NIV) “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”
The Hebrew phrase “in your heart” comes from the word “leb”, meaning your moral character, conscience, inclination, or innermost being. I love the concept of keeping God’s word so close to your innermost being that you live according to it.
The reason we chose the name “Across My Heart” is because the word “across” means over, upon, and above. It’s not enough to know God’s Word. To surrender our lives to God, His ways must be written on top of, over, above, across our hearts. His ways are higher. His ways are better. When you believe that, it makes all the difference.
Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV)
“‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.’”