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Caught in a cycle of premarital sex and toxic relationships? Read this.

iStock PhotoArticle By Ashley Peterson

If you are caught up in a sexual relationship with someone you know is no good for you, but can’t seem to break free, I know where you are.

Been there. Done that. Got the raggedy t-shirt. But you know what? Getting un-entangled is possible.

Lots of family members and friends of the family were in town a couple weeks ago for the retirement celebration of one of my uncles. We got together at one of my aunt's houses and were all having such a great time eating, cracking jokes and getting reacquainted.

As the atmosphere buzzed with conversation and laughter, I was happy everything was going well. Those who know my family are fully aware that most of the Petersons are not Christians or even casual churchgoers.  So when you mix alcohol and different personalities together, it has been known to get rough during some gatherings.

But this night, it felt like Christmas had come early. We stuffed ourselves with all our favorite foods and enjoyed the love and fellowship of family. I helped my grandmother and aunts in the kitchen. They talked about how “grown” I had gotten, asked me a bunch of questions, and shared stories of what they were like at my age. It was fun and I laughed a lot.

Well, as the evening died down, we all broke off into different groups. You know how it is. The men go off into their own circle. Some watch the game. Others play cards, sip on beers, or nod off. The ladies get together, talk about the men, eat, and cackle.

I ended up in my aunt's room after she asked me to hang her blazer. That’s when I noticed one of my cousins, around the same age as me, who lives not too far away, sitting in there watching TV. We hadn’t spoken in a while since God saved me. She told me she “couldn’t really get with all that religious Jesus-y stuff.”

And I understood. I know that mentality very well. It was mine at one point.

But I came in the room at just the right time. She was pretty vulnerable and started opening up about what she was going through. I just sat there listening, amazed by how much it sounded like my story. I mean, just like it. I was thinking, “Are you sure you aren’t dating my ex?” She’s not, but that’s how familiar her problems sounded to me.

The more she went on, she began crying.

I cried too because I could empathize with her.

At one time, my world was full of drama: constant arguments; checking his pockets and phone; catching him in lies; crying and screaming; threatening to leave; letting him put me on guilt trips about what he did wrong like it was my fault; wondering if it was my fault; finally giving in, again, and being mad at myself; giving him my body anyway even though he was dogging me; convincing myself that the bad outweighed the good in our torn up, toxic relationship.

Anyone who has been with a serial cheater and emotionally abusive man knows just what I mean. That’s why I was heartbroken for her. I could relate. As I pulled Kleenex from the tissue box sitting on my aunt's oakwood nightstand, I told her she could have better and deserved more. I shared how God had changed my life and He could do the same for her.

But she wasn’t ready.

Even though I was talking to her and pouring my heart out, I knew it was going in one ear and out the other. I told her anyway, just like I needed people to tell me when I was going through my struggle, though I didn’t really want to hear it. They were planting that seed in my spirit at the time. It would take a long time to produce fruit, but it wasn’t in vain!

From experience, I understand that it takes the power of God and our willingness to let go, to break cycles of premarital sex and bad relationships in our lives. Being with the wrong men, though destructive, can fulfill deep needs and be almost intoxicating. Physical contact, even with emotional distance, can give a false sense of truly being loved--at least for a while, while we're being held in the embrace of his arms.

It used to be that way for me.

Like a drug, I was strung out on my ex. I was addicted to the drama that I hated, but Jesus Christ transformed my life. He couldn’t do that, however, until I was willing to allow Him to take over.

Before the conversation was over, my cousin leaned in close, hugged me, and whispered, “Thank you Ash, I really needed someone to listen and care without judging me."

By that time, she started sobbing. "I'm so tired of all this, but I don't know how to get out of it.”

It was just like looking at a reflection of myself before the chains of bondage fell off me. I could see that she was caught in that cycle that has plagued the lives of the Peterson women for generations.

But Jesus Christ is a cycle-breaker.

I pray that my cousin comes to know Him for herself.

Because of Christ, the cycle of promiscuity and toxic relationships is broken off my life. And I have faith that it will be broken off the lives of others who get fed up and finally surrender all to the only man who has everything they need.

That man's name is JESUS and His love is faithful, true, and unconditional.

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