Ask Margot: I Made A Huge Mistake!

She made out with a guy on a church camping trip. Can she save face…and the budding relationship?

By Margot Carmichael Lester

ear Margot,
I made a huge mistake on a church camping trip, and now I’m too embarrassed to go to services. Some people brought some booze, and on the last night we indulged. I overindulged and ended up making out with a guy. It didn’t go any further than that, but I’m mortified by my bad behavior. He was very nice
I know you’re a little freaked out about what happened on the trip.
the next morning but I had to avoid him on the hike back to our cars. He’s been calling me saying he’s concerned about what happened and that he wants to talk. But I’m sure what he really wants is to see if we can take our make-out session further. What do I do now besides vow never to drink again?
-Regretful Greta

Dear Greta,
I know you’re a little freaked out about what happened on the trip. And I also know it’s not going to make you feel any better to realize that legions of devout campers have similarly succumbed to the demon rum (or whatever it was). But I also know that you’re being too hard on the guy by judging his motives before you truly know them—and too hard on yourself, too.

Let’s start with the booze. Much as you’d like to believe otherwise, swearing off booze is not going to keep this from happening again. Why? Because focusing on the drink instead of the drinker isn’t accountable. It puts the power in the potion as opposed to the person. And powerless people can fall under the influence of many things, not just alcohol.

Sure enough, in the heat of the moment, there’s nothing like a little juice to jigger your judgment. But adult beverages don’t make us do things we don’t kinda sorta pretty much want to do anyway. The inhibition-busting booze just makes it easier to throw caution – or values – to the wind. And maybe that’s what’s really bothering you. Maybe you really wanted to make out with a guy on a camping trip? Welcome to being human; we all suffer from the urge to merge. The key is knowing when the time is right. Clearly, for you, this time was not it.

And that’s why you’ve got to take responsibility for your actions instead of pinning the blame on old Jim Beam. That’s the only way to make better decisions (like not drinking on camping trips where there are cute boys present).

Reaction vs. overreaction
Your overreaction to this small sin makes me wonder if there’s not something bigger going on here. I reckon you’ve got what my Granny would call a “classic self-image problem.” You’ve spent so much time thinking that you’re not the kind of girl who’d get a little tipsy and smooch it up with some dude in a woodland setting, that when you discovered you were that person, you went a little overboard.

But I ask you, what kind of person is that, really? A hell-bound floozy? Or someone who got caught up in the moment, has a natural amount of embarrassment
Remember that everyone sins. All of us.
about it, and wants to do better next time? I can’t make the choice for you. All I can do is caution you not to let the intensity of your judgment about the past cloud your assessment of the present and shape your fears about the future.

Which brings me to the guy.

Judge not…
As long as we’re talking about easing up on the judgment thing, consider your snap judgment about the fellow involved. You’re making a huge assumption that he’s calling to get into your britches. But you give me no reason to think that’s his prime motivation.

Maybe he has the same awkward feelings you do, but he’s doing something proactive about it. Perhaps he sensed that you were a little wigged and wants to make sure you’re OK. Conceivably (and I know this might come as a shock), he might actually like you and want to see you again—without stoking up the campfire and smooching till the sun comes up.

But how will you know unless you speak with him? So call him back. Chat on the phone or agree to meet him at a neutral location, like a café, and hear him out.

Practice forgiveness
The key to all this is forgiveness. OK, you transgressed. You’re certainly remorseful, no doubt about that. And swearing off the booze is a good way to lessen the chance that you’ll engage in spirit-inspired spit-swapping in the future. So you’ve taken some good first steps.

But being mortified isn’t getting you much more than bad self-esteem. Remember that everyone sins. All of us. That’s why one of the key tenets of Christianity is forgiveness. So start by forgiving yourself for this lapse. Here’s how:
  • Put it in perspective. It was one make-out session. It went no further. It’s over.
  • Stop focusing on it. The bad feeling will never go away if you keep pushing on this sore tooth.
  • Find ways to stay closer to your values and morals in the future. Talk to your minister or singles ministry counselor.
Then work on forgiving the guy for his part in your little passion play. Talk to him about your fears and feelings. Worst-case scenario: You’re right and he does want to lock lips again. Tell him no, and move on. Best-case scenario: He turns out to be a super-nice fellow you’d be interested in dating. And if he’s somewhere in the middle, you’ve at least made a new friend who probably struggles with the same things you do.

Margot Carmichael Lester is a freelance writer based in North Carolina. Send your faith-based dating questions to
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