When I think of purity, I think of my ability to step into the presence of God in abandon, and I think of functioning at my optimum level in ministry and in life. When I think of purity I think of pleasing God, walking in his precepts and embracing his best for me. But sometimes, I miss that mark.

Most men will say that their struggle with purity is a physical one. They love seeing the curves on a beautiful woman, and their appreciation often converts into a desire to touch that which their eyes have deemed beautiful. As a woman, I think I speak for quite a few women when I say that our struggle is one waged in the emotional realm.

As a woman, my definition of purity is simple: emotional integrity.

A couple of years ago, I found myself in a situation where a friendship of mine became broken. If you ask me, the issue stemmed from a lack of open communication. But, God in His Lordship also allowed me to pick up a few things from this painful experience. So this is how the story goes…

My friend made and acted on the assumption that I liked him as more than a friend. His reactions to the assumption were “imma cut you off” and withdrawal.

I’m super observant and not much gets past me, but even if I wasn’t observant I would see this. The friendship went from being distinguished by keeping in touch all day via FB to saying hi, hello and nothing of substance once a week.

I’m also the kind of woman who will call someone out. So after recognizing that the friendship had gone down from 20 to 0, I asked my friend what was going on. My exact question was, “Did I do anything to offend you?” The essence of his response was “No.” Long story short, when he finally got around to explaining what fueled his behavior, I was shocked and I was hurt. Apparently, I liked him as more than a friend.

Let it be known: Chadia is Sherlock Holmes III. I am a problem solver by nature, so after my initial shock and hurt, I immediately sought out what would encourage that thought process on his part. What could I have possibly done to cement that foundation?

The truth is that I didn’t see him as more than a friend. He was in a place in his life where I would only be stupid to entertain non-platonic feelings for him if I had any and I had my thing going on with someone else (unbeknownst to him). In the limitations of my human wisdom, I could see not ONE thing that would have given credence to what he claimed. Yes, I invited him to my house with about 15 other people. Yes, I was part of a group that took him out to dinner for his birthday. And yes, I was always available. But isn’t that what friends do?

I can’t say that I have come to a conclusion about what exactly gave him the perception. Some of my friends think that it was the other way around; that he liked me and didn’t know how to deal with his emotions. Whatever the reason, I do know that after some continued introspection, I decided to uphold responsibility for his thought process.

I recognized that whether or not I believe that I did anything to validate his assumptions that I had not intentionally governed our friendship in a manner that said “just friends.” God made it plain as day to me: It didn’t matter whether I thought I did anything to warrant his assumptions but He (God) was now holding me accountable for what I had not done, for this, and all the other hearts that I had not guarded. Way to flip the script on a sister huh?

It was a difficult pill to swallow and it became even more difficult when I recognized that this one time, I had left myself bare. I guess you can say it would be an experience of feeling similar to having unprotected sex for the first time, and finding yourself with a pregnancy that you are unprepared for.

Without even recognizing it, I had become attached. The problem wasn’t even being attached. It was that I had not recognized that I was. I was stark raving mad and the state of my emotional integrity was about to unravel right before my very eyes.

In all fairness to the young man, he was doing what most men in the body won’t do. He valued our friendship and in his eyes, he was trying to save us both from a potentially volatile emotional situation. He may not have possessed the tools to do so well, but he certainly deserves kudos for desiring to do the right thing.

So, uh… nice story, but I’m lost. Emotional Integrity?

Absolutely not! It wasn’t a ramble. It served its purpose if it drew you into the confusion of thought and emotion that plagued me during this period of my life and if you understood and identified with this mass of confusion then you may be far from a place of emotional integrity. I’ve learnt that most times when we find ourselves in situations of confusion and lack of definition such as the one described above, it is because we have no emotional standards or emotional integrity.

This experience was one of the incidents that allowed me to recognize that I lacked emotional integrity. Here I was without a grip on my emotions and a lack of understanding on what was going on in my emotional realm. My emotions were all over the place and it was a result of poor management on my part. Secondly, I see a lot of the elements necessary to begin a discourse on the topic of emotional integrity.

How does emotional integrity affect purity?

But first, what is emotional integrity? Emotional integrity can be defined as a place of emotional wholeness characterized by deep emotional awareness, emotional honesty, emotional morality (the guardianship of hearts) and accountability.

From the definition alone, it becomes evident that emotional integrity profoundly affects purity.

This is what prevents us from having pseudo husbands, or being emotionally entangled with too many men. This is what keeps us from harboring hurt and un-forgiveness in our hearts and this is what gives us the tools to guard our hearts and the hearts of those with whom we interact. Emotional integrity is what breeds the alertness which will cause you to redefine relationships with men when you recognize that someone could get hurt if the relationship is not steered into a particular direction. Even in marriage, emotional integrity will help a woman govern her relationship with men who are not her husband.

It is a broad topic, but for now, I hope that at the very least you can see why I say that purity is emotional integrity.

This was originally written for Ernest Wamboye’s blog Penstrokes