A romantic summer hike high up in the mountains in Alaska. A picnic lunch shared in an open space on the side of a mountain pass. A campfire cooked dinner outside of a cabin tucked away in the woods. A glass of wine shared between two people who are getting to know each other for the first time. Sounds romantic, doesn’t it? It was.
It was also terrifying – but not the good “I’m so nervous I want to make a good impression” kind of terrifying. Maybe it started out that way, but ended up being the “I’m actually scared for my physical safety” kind of terrifying. Let me explain.
I was 19 years old at the time, living in Anchorage, Alaska working with a direct marketing firm. While I was in the field one day I met a man at one of my clients’ offices who was charming, good looking and somehow interested in me. I ran into him a few more times at the same clients’ office over the course of the next couple of weeks and eventually exchanged phone numbers. He asked me for a date and I agreed. I was new in town and knew only the people that I worked with and I was excited to get out and meet new people. My first mistake was accepting the date blindly – I knew nothing about this man – his age, his profession, if he was a Christian or not.
He picked me up on a Saturday morning and we drove a little over an hour north of Anchorage to a place called Hatchers Pass. It’s a beautiful old run down mining town north of Wasilla (yes, where Sarah Palin is from). It was breathtaking. I finally knew why he had told me to wear sturdy walking/tennis shoes – we were going hiking!
Even though it was the middle of summer, the mountains were still snow-capped (it was Alaska after all!). We hiked all over the mountains throughout the pass. We even came up to one of the entrances to the old mine and were able to walk a little ways in – we were cut off from what appeared to be either a cave-in or a manmade tunnel block of rocks. As we walked those mountains, I remember turning around and looking over the valley. There were lakes high up in some of the mountains – I had never seen that before!
God’s masterpiece was like nothing I had ever witnessed before.
We hiked up as far as the snow at the tips and at one point I actually fell through some of the snow that had slid down next to a rock, covering up a huge hole in the ground. Luckily, my date caught my arm as I was falling and pulled me out – that could have been a really nasty situation! From then on we took it pretty easy and just stayed away from the snow caps.
After the majority of the day hiking, we had worked up an appetite and he offered to cook me dinner at his cabin in the woods. On the way, he stopped and picked up a bottle of wine – I stayed in the car, claiming that I had left my ID at home and didn’t want to cause any trouble with the clerk. So no, I hadn’t actually told him how old I was. We played the “how old do I look?” game – and that got me out of having to tell him the truth.
His property in the woods was just as beautiful as our hike had been. He poured me a glass of wine as he prepared and cooked our dinner over a campfire outside. So romantic! (And so totally inappropriate for a 19 year old!)
As dinner wrapped up and I was ready for him to take me home I realized what was actually happening and what his “expectations” were. The beautiful day that I had just experienced turned dark. I learned over the course of the day that my date was in his thirties – I can’t remember if he was 34 or 36, but I remember him being almost twice as old as I was. And to save beating around the bush, after a day like that, he expected sex.
Oh God, help me! Oh wait… I wasn’t talking to God at the time. I wasn’t including Him in any part of my life at the time. I was living for myself and myself only. Come to think of it, I was so far away from God at that time that I actually didn’t ask Him for help – and I should have.
I’ll be honest; I didn’t really put up much of a fight because I was so terrified. I was an 85 lb. female in a secluded cabin in the woods with a much larger man and no one else around. I’d already been in a situation similar to this once before and I didn’t stand a chance against him. So I just let it happen.
Afterward he drove me home and said he’d call me. He did call – a lot. I never answered his call or returned it. I felt horrible. I felt dirty. I felt used. I felt disgusting. I felt stupid.
Shouldn’t I have known it would come to this? Shouldn’t I have known not to put myself in that situation? I knew he was older than me – I just didn’t know how much older than me until we were hiking that day. Why didn’t I ask him? Why didn’t I just do what I knew was right and stick to guys my own age? Or at least close to my age!? Why didn’t I try to get to know him at least a little bit before being alone with him?
If I had been older and married to my date, it actually would have been the perfect date. But I wasn’t and it wasn’t.
As I reflect on that day, it reminds me just how many times I’ve put myself in a situation where I felt backed into a corner with no idea of what to do or how to handle it. I think a lot of us do that. We go on dates with people we barely know. We allow ourselves to be alone with men we don’t know. We lie to make people think we’re older than we are (or younger!). And why? For me it was to feel accepted, liked, loved even.
Now don’t misunderstand my reflection as condoning or justifying what happened that day. He should not have put me in that situation and pressured me the way he did. I’m simply saying that if I had listened to my instincts, listened to what I had learned growing up about keeping myself safe, and for crying out loud had I remembered what happened to me when I was in high school (see The First Time I Lost Control), this might not have happened. Sadly, I didn’t remember any of those things and I was caught up in the moment of being flattered and thinking that someone was interested in me.
I’m going to get a little bit “preachy” for just a minute here, so please bear with me.
Single ladies, please please please be careful when you’re dating. If you are just getting to know someone for the first time, don’t put yourself in a situation where you are alone with no way out. Stay in public places until you really know him. Go on double dates. Just make sure that you don’t put yourself in a situation where you can be in physical danger or compromise your personal morals.
Young ladies, please please please don’t lie about your age to make someone think that you’re older than you are. If you have to lie, you don’t need the guy!
All ladies, if you are a Christian woman, make sure that your date is secure with our Heavenly Father before you commit to a date or relationship. If you don’t, you’re sure to experience heartache in one form or another at some point in the relationship. If you aren’t a Christian woman, I urge you to consider Christ and the design that He has set for relationships. (I’d be happy to have a private chat with anyone who wants to discuss further.)
There’s a reason for these boundaries. Our Heavenly Father has a beautiful design for what our relationship is to be like with men. And it’s actually a design that includes one man that you get to share everything with, emotionally, spiritually and physically. These boundaries are not in place to keep us from something – they’re to protect and preserve us for the best thing that God has reserved for us.
I could go on, but I won’t. (I’d be happy to have a private chat with anyone who wants to discuss further.)
I really wish I had made better choices as a young woman. As you can see from the history I’ve already shared with you I had a pattern of making bad decisions, living in the moment and thriving off of the wrong motivation. My biggest mistake was excluding God from my life. The path that I was on was setting me up for one of the biggest mistakes of my life.
What I learned:
• I should never have to lie about who I am just to have someone like me.
• I should never have put myself in another situation that my physical safety was at risk.
• I should have fought harder, even though I was scared. I really feel like if I had, the outcome might have been different in my situation.
• If my relationship with Christ was in order during this time in my life, I probably wouldn’t have agreed to date this man – or anyone who wasn’t in line with His will for me.
• God has a beautiful design for what my relationship with my husband should be. I should have trusted His design rather than trying to “help” Him by accepting dates with men that I shouldn’t have.
What decisions have you made in your life that have led you to feel like you were backed into a corner with no way out?
Why did you make those decisions?
What is a different decision you could have made that would have resulted in a very different outcome?
Are you currently in a situation where you feel like you are backed into a corner?
What decisions led to you being in this situation?
What decisions can you or should you make to give you a way out?
How is God involved in your situation? How can you involve Him in your situation?
If you need prayer, please contact me privately. I would love to pray for you.