The greatest congruency to come out of sharing all these amazing Brave Stories is that no matter what God speaks to so many through the words that are written. For most of these women putting actual words to what God has done in their life is a real "God experience." Most have told me that there are tears involved, they feel Him very intensely and God brings to light how much He held them through valleys where they thought He had stood a far. I smile when I get to hear this because sharing our testimonies is how God ministers to us as well as to others and we are able to move into forgiveness, redemption and into the true calling for what God created us for.
Shanna Means is no different. She heard God's voice, chose to follow it, pushed back against society's standards and is here to share that it was worth it because God is a good, good Father. Through reading her story, let Holy Spirit speak to you and don't listen to the condemning and judgmental voice, that's not Holy Spirit. Listen to the gentle whisper that says, "this is what I have for you if you will follow Me."
In her own words, Shanna is a Santa Fe, New Mexico native who group in rodeo. She went to school to be a speech-pathologist and set that aside to follow her heart and train horses along side her husband full-time. She's a firm believer in living in true freedom, purpose, having as much fun as possible and feeling and looking good doing it. She finds herself inspired by people every day, people who are living their lives based on what God put on the inside of them-not what the world dictates they should be. The Western Revival is a true overflow of her life and her natural compulsion to give people hope, inspiration, truth, a good time and to set them free. The Western Revival (website under construction) is best described as a blogazine- a destination where everything faith, style, horses, people, the western lifestyle and everything in between can be found.
I can't wait for you to take a seat, grab some coffee and dig into to Shanna's words, I pray they go deep into your soul and resonate with your spirit because I know God really wants to speak to you!!
I was twenty-four, happily engaged, finishing up grad school, and trying to plan a wedding. While I had been “saved” for a long time, it was that year, that I was “transformed”. I am not able to trace it back to a single moment or event. I had just become hungry for God, and answers. We began to seek him out, starting a real and constant relationship with him. Through this, we received the revelation of Him being a good Father. I was finally able to put into words the difference between a relationship and solely religion. We were reading as many books as we could, listening to podcasts, going to conferences, digging into His word, and had learned how to hear His voice when He was speaking. My life was finally open to Him in a way in which I trusted Him enough to invite His will into all areas of my life.
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. (John 10:27)
My husband, Chance, and I got home pretty late one night; we had split up to feed and do all the outside chores. While he was feeding the horses on one side of the property, I took care of the ones on the other side. As I was feeding, I heard God speak to me. I can best describe His message as a word of direction, wisdom, or the next step for us. It was clear that His will was for Chance and I to stop having sex until we were married! He had spoken to me in many different ways, but this time was different. I had heard Him before as clear as you can hear something, without hearing an audible voice. Chance has heard Him speak audibly before. This was different, because of the feeling behind the words. They had such a sense of love, trust, and tenderness behind them.
It had come out of nowhere. I wanted to tell Chance what had happened right away, but I also knew that it wasn’t going to be the easiest thing. After feeding, I went to him to tell him what had just happened. Let me tell you how awesome God is. It turned out that He was kind enough to tell both of us at the same time! The same thing had happened to Chance. It would’ve been much more difficult if He would’ve only told one of us. That just goes to show the nature of God.
It’s important to me to point out a couple things. One, being that nobody had spoken to us about our pre-marital love-life. We had obviously been taught a little bit about purity when we were younger, and we “knew better," but the conviction to change did not come from people shaming us. It didn’t come from rules we were trying to follow, it didn’t come from well-meaning people telling us right from wrong, and it didn’t come from us feeling guilty. We changed because we were crazy enough to believe in a loving God, who speaks to us, and made a relationship with Him the priority. Through that, came a loving, condemnation-free, healthy conviction. The Truth actually sets you free. There is a huge difference between being set free, and behavior modification.
“When we pursue kingdom principles above His presence, we are looking for the kingdom without a king.” –Bill Johnson
From this freedom-filled conviction, we were empowered to make a change. We didn’t even have to necessarily understand “the why," because we had become so familiar with “the Who." The next step was simple. It was simple, but it wasn’t easy. The choice was made, and from that point on, we followed His direction.
I had learned a valuable lesson earlier that year, and re-learned it through this: Always recognize the first thought or the first voice that you have, after doing something. It is that thought or voice, that you are most congruent and aligned with. After making this choice, it was clear that I was battling with what everyone thought about us. I had to focus on one voice and one Truth- even if it meant losing “friends."
“Our problem with faith is not the inability to hear His voice – it’s the willingness to hear others.” –Bill Johnson
They said: She’s already done it, even with other people.
I agree! They’re right! That’s what makes my testimony relatable to other people who have already “messed up." I actually need Jesus!
They said: It’s a little too late for that!
I disagree! God makes all things new- even me.
They said: They’re faking it- there’s no way.
I laugh. Yes, because all of this that we’re going through is worth faking it.
They said: That’s cheating because they’re getting married anyways.
I disagree. Nobody can assume the difficulty of something until they’re in the middle of it. It would have been easier for this to not be the topic of our wedding.
My favorite: They’re getting religious and weird.
I was puzzled. This is actually a product of relationship. Very well-meaning religious people (who I love and respect) had already tried shoving purity down my throat. That didn’t work. It made me sad to know people immediately associated all of this with religion. The hardest to swallow, were claims from Christians friends, that we were surely in a cult to be making such decisions. What was puzzling, is that we were simply following the very same principle that they had taught to their kids and church youth group.
Allow me to take you back a few years. I tried to make the same decision about purity, during a high school relationship. I was able to ‘follow the rules’ for maybe six months. Why wasn’t I able to make it? I was being fed from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, but that tree doesn’t have any sustainable “fruit” to offer. In the garden, Adam and Eve were told to eat from the tree of life. They chose to eat from the knowledge of good and evil. The tree of life gives; it gives life, it gives grace, it’s about relationship. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil, on the other hand, takes; it requires our “works," it creates guilt, fear, and mistrust, which leads us to self-righteousness in effort to prove ourselves. This time, my decision came from eating from the tree of life- not eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Long story short, I eventually ended up moving out, so that we could live separately until the wedding. Obviously, that was difficult and inconvenient on many levels- double the rent, dealing with questions, rumors, and hurtful assumptions, and having to live apart after spending all of our time together. I was eventually free from the opinions, but I wasn’t at peace with the example I was setting for other younger girls and couples I knew. It didn’t feel right to be living together, because it didn’t look any different. I didn’t know why this was even important to me. Confused, I studied the subject of ‘living together.' Eventually, God spoke to me saying, “I didn’t call you to be of the world.” Which is what I needed to hear. Dealing with the opinions of people close to me was hard- but knowing the example it set to younger girls, who look up to me, made it worth it.
Turns out, God is brilliant. He’s not holding out on any of us; in fact, he is always trying to give us better than what we are trying to get on our own. God loves sex! I mean, He is the one who created it for us. The enemy can’t create, so he perverts everything he can- including the gift of sexuality. Trusting God with His original intention, is the best thing we could have done for our relationship.
We were able to break soul-ties from past relationships. Our relationship grew in ways I couldn’t imagine. The best thing though, was that on our wedding night we had something to give to each other- something that we had fought hard for, that we had sacrificed for! Having that experience, I realized that I would’ve never predicted how special that could be. Had we not trusted God, we would have really missed out. Most importantly, I cannot even begin to tell you how it has helped our marriage in ways that there was no way for us to foresee. We had a clean slate, a strong foundation of nonsexual love and intimacy, and became one, as God originally intended.
“Others of us have grown up in rule keeping, religious environments and have heard the “keep your virginity” stuff for years without a good explanation for why. We’re trying to play the game, but we aren’t set to win because no one is telling us that there’s a trophy worth paying a price for.” –Kris Vallotton (Moral Revolution)
Like I said, I didn’t understand everything behind what I was being asked to do. I didn’t find every answer easily spelled out in the Bible. I will say, through a lot of studying, and getting to know the Author of the book, I was able to find answers very clearly. His original intent, found in Genesis, eventually cleared up so much for me. Obedience to an all-knowing, loving Father, who had our best interests, was just the beginning. Personally, I found that my trust grew as I obeyed, because He was faithful and surpassed every expectation we had.
The one thing I want anyone reading this to realize, is that grace looks different for everyone. There is always, always grace for your situation. God is so personal, and so liberating, and so redemptive, that there is ALWAYS grace for your situation. I only told you what it looked like for us. For you, it may look totally different. The answer may not play out like it did for us. For some people that I have known, it looked like getting married! I know of several girls who physically, had their virginity restored! I know of older women, divorced women, who are as pure as can be, through the blood of Jesus, and are starting over and dating differently. For others, it may look like different dating styles and even different significant others coming into the picture.
I once had a married woman, with a beautiful Godly family, ask me if I thought her and her husband had a “less-pure” marriage and needed to go back somehow. I don’t have every answer, but what I do know, is that God wants you to look forward. I know the family personally, and was able to point out several examples of how grace had already been at work- starting with their children! In her situation, that was absolutely amazing grace. I know that if there are any negative residual effects that came into their life stemming from their past, God will redeem and bring healing to that in two seconds. If she felt like she needed to have an honest conversation with God about something from the past she wishes she could change, then she should have the conversation and watch God wipe it clean as if it hadn’t happened. Simple, honest conversations, that we may be afraid to have with Him or feel like aren’t enough, bring unexpected peace and restoration.
Never underestimate the power of grace. It is never too late, your situation is never too bad, and no guilt, shame, or condemnation can stop God from redeeming your situation through love.