My Scarlet Letter

In the eleventh grade I read Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter.

American Lit. Mrs. Coley. {Wouldn’t it be cool if she was reading? Or maybe not…}

Not a huge fan of Hawthorne (even though I went on in college to be an English major) but that book… That letter…

That Hester Prynne.

Thank God I don’t live in Puritanical Boston or else I’d be walking around with an actual crimson A on the front of my dress, or maybe worse, I would have been put to death.

Because God knows, I deserve it. Any reminder of my past “life” reminds me of how “dirty” I was. And I’ve done everything I can for the past 6 years to divorce myself from that other me.

But then Crystal asks me to be a part of the new Dirty Girls Ministries writing team.

And ouch.

I don’t want to be dirty. It feels so Scarlet Letter-ish to me, running around with an A on my t-shirt.

But here I am.

To read how I have come to grips with being called a “DIRTY GIRL” click here. I’m writing for them today.

What about you? Do you have a scarlet letter?

{You might be interested in another post I’ve written: “It’s Not Just a Guy Thing“}


  1. says

    God is faithful to bring something beautiful from our dirty bits being aired in His name and for His glory…I’m so proud of you and excited to see what blessings flow from your obedience!

    I, too, have a scarlet letter. Not for my own adultery, but that of my husband. The ongoing infliction of hurt in my marriage might not have been my doing, but the naive way I didn’t protect that bond–that is my scarlet letter. Being just fine with being just fine as long as I never really had to know the truth–it’s hard to wear sometimes, especially when I’d rather feel 100% the unsuspecting victim.

    Thank you so much for your honesty! You are beautiful!

  2. Sarah says

    I unfortunately carry around a scarlet letter with me…

    God has forgiven me, my Husband has forgiven me. I can’t always say its rainbows and butterflies, but we are more in love now then ever. Do we fight? Oh yes!! Do we love each other? Fiercely!!!

    God grace is amazing and it will be a constant reminder of where he can bring us from!

    Your story has taught me so much about forgiveness and how I cannot constantly look down on myself. For that I thank you!

    On a side note that was one of my favorite stories in high school! I share the love of English and we had to read the book then watched the movie and as much as I did not care for school, I couldn’t bear the thought of missing those days as this story intrigued me to no end!


  3. says

    me too, Sarah. I have a scarlet letter, too. Though I don’t wear it on the front of my dress like we would have in ‘Puritanical Boston’, I agree that it’s a reminder.

    It’s there and it’s a reminder.

    When I view it through the eyes of the enemy, it’s nagging and won’t leave me alone. But, through the eyes of God, it brings reminders of redemption, forgiveness, love and mercy.

    I’m right there with you, Sarah.

    • says

      funny thing is, we all do. in some way. a lot of people are in denial that they’ve done any thing “that bad”.

      and i agree – i love viewing it thru the eyes of God too. the only way, i think.

  4. says

    Oh yes. My letter would have been a “W”…for witch. Actually, they wouldn’t have bothered with a letter and I’d have been sent straight to the fire. I thank God every day for His tender mercy. There is not a single soul out there who can claim perfection so I believe we are all in very good company.

  5. says

    Have I thanked you for connecting me with Dirty Girls Ministries? Because I’m so grateful for the help Crystal is seeking to give women like me. And to know you’re involved…. well, I don’t know what to call it, other than even more grateful.

  6. says

    I have a scarlet letter Sarah, though not from adultery. Nonetheless, it’s a big, fat scarlet letter and puts me into a category I’d never imagine I’d be in. I’ve thought a lot about how and when to share my story. And I still don’t know. I only know that I’m so thankful that He doesn’t see who I used to be…only what His grace made me.

    • Sarah Markley says

      grace does make us, doesn’t it.

      you will know when you are ready. it will be as if you can’t NOT share it.

      God will give you wisdom.

  7. says

    Hi Sarah, I am inspired to help you spread the word. Many women hid behind secret lives. We women who have broken out have a spot light shining on us, but the light really illuminates the love of Christ. I feel that your boldness to allow God to use you and even bear the tag “dirty girl” will reap more healing and reward than can be imagined. I honor you for walking out your life in living color.

  8. wendelijn says

    I’ve read all three articels… And you know what…
    We’re all dirty girls! In one way or another we’ve done wrong things, if its adultery, porn, jealousy, harsh words, lying, steeling, abortion in a way we all have a scarlet letter only everyone has its own version…

    So I would never dare to call one a dirty girl. Didn’t Jesus say in Joh 8:7 “He who is without sin among you, let him throw the first stone at her.”

    And thanks to His blood we can all be cleansed and what a wonder God sees us trough His Son Jesus and sees us without any sin!!!
    That’s who we are now, easter says, look the old things have gone away the new has come!

    So dear sisters I don’t want to look at you any other way than Christ looks at you and at me and that is: Cleansed by HIS blood!

    But in weak moments satan knows how to attack me on this point, gladly willing to point out my dirt. It is harder to see others as clean as to see myself clean and loved through His eyes.

    So I would ask if we could all pray for each other that we will have the grace to see ourselves trough His eyes!
    Will you please pray that for me aswell?!

  9. LisaH says

    I too have a scarlet letter. My (ex)husband (non christian) chose not to forgive me. And I have moved on thankfully through the grace of our awesome God! I know that I have been forgiven through the death of Christ on the Cross, I have repented of my sins & live fully for the Lord. But there are times when I cringe thinking of the person that I once was. The woman that no one EVER thought would have an affair, but did. The woman who would have a HUGE scarlet letter on her chest.

    Out of the ruins God blessed me with a new life, and a new husband who knows my past, yet loves me in spite of that. He is a christian, a man who lives for God! Praise God!!

    “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” 2 Corinthians 5:17

  10. Saydee says

    If we are all sinners, and God says that all sins are the same in his eyes then I think we all have a scarlet letter. I may not have ever actually committed what most think of as adultery, but I DEFINATLY have committed adultery in my mind in the past. We all have a scarlet letter for something we have done weather other people know about it or we just feel guilty about it. Maybe there are people who hide the things they do wrong very well but EVERYONE has something. That is why we need the grace of God! I find it so interesting that while we (man kind) see certain sins as little or big, God sees them all as equal. He sees a white lie the same as committing adultery. They all hurt him. So basically, we are all dirty. We cannot escape that. You can try your absolute best your whole life to be perfect and you are still gonna have that scarlet letter in gods eyes. Its a very humbling idea. It is also the greatest thing ever to know that god will never give up on you, never choose to not forgive you. Even when what we do something other people choose not to forgive or something that other people judge, God doesn’t give up that way. Even serial killers can be forgiven. And when you truly want forgiveness and you truly want to change, God doesn’t judge you for the past. Forget and forgive. Its amazing.

  11. says

    I think we all have a scarlet letter. The Lord really showed me this during a time when there were a lot of my christian friends getting mad at another friend for sleeping around, when a lot of those girls were doing the same thing. I process a lot through writing, and your post reminded me of something a wrote a while back.

    It’s titled “You whore.”

    We look through our unforgiving eyes. Why are we so quick to point out the flaws and reveal the stain on others? We reach out with our hands that only hold limited grace.

    Conditional grace.

    We dance around and sing words of death over each other. Why is Christ not shining in His body? Who am I to point out another’s? Who am I to walk away unforgiving?

    I’ve danced the dance of whores.
    And sung the lullaby of lies.
    I’ve opened the very doors
    That will leave me here to die.
    I’ve drunken the wine of unforgiveness
    Which has rooted deep into my heart.
    I’ve eaten the fruit of bitterness
    Which leads me back to the start.

    Look at the thief and the whore.
    Do you not see?

    There are three fingers pointing back at you and me.

    I’ve danced the dance of whores.
    And sung the lullaby of lies.
    I’ve opened the very doors
    That will leave me here to die.
    I’ve drunken the wine of forgiveness
    Which has rooted deep into my heart.
    I’ve eaten the fruit of bitterness
    Which leads me back to the start.

    Who’s the whore now?

    John 8:1-11

    We all have our scarlet letters. We all have messed up, and I just wish the church would be better at being THE CHURCH, and loving on the people who still wear theirs, or find their identity in their letter. The Lord really taught me what it means to love people, through their mess. Because it is Him that is making something beautiful. And just reading the comments above, people realize they are not the only ones! You have such a “safe place” here at your blog, and I’m sure many many people are so grateful. Thank you for your beautiful and transparent heart. :o)

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