“For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out, and everything changes. To someone who doesn’t understand growth, it would look like complete destruction.”
Whoever said being in a relationship would make you feel complete has never been in a relationship.
Truth is, being in a relationship can make you feel exposed. When you begin to truly care for someone, it can make you feel fight-or-flight responses, especially when, like me, you have baggage.
Confession: I have deep insecurities. But I am working through them. And God is using my relationship to clean out these deep-seated wounds. It’s painful. And I feel lately my insides are on the outside.
But I am working through the pain.
I want to find freedom.
While I know on this side of the curtain they’ll be moments of insecurity, fear, etc., I want them to be moments and not bondages. Not soul-wrenching tears and a mind that goes to the worst possible places more often than I’d like or care to admit. (Part of this is being a writer. We writers have VERY BIG imaginations, and they can get us into trouble sometimes.)
So I’ve begun to share the ick. The, pardon my language, blood, guts, and gore that is the insecurity in my heart. BUT I’m not sharing the specifics with just anyone but with a few women I trust and my small-group ladies.
I am confessing my sins to another.
“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”
—James 5:16 (NIV)
And I am slowly but steadily seeing progress.
This past week, I found myself talking about an ex with a girlfriend, the ex who had hurt me most deeply. I’ve been working through separating this relationship from my current one and letting it go in forgiveness. I thought I had done this until I entered my current relationship. (It’s amazing how you can put an old boyfriend’s actions on a new one, which is totally unfair!)
So something in my conversation with this girlfriend sparked me to think of this person, but what came out were sweet memories. Not bitter memories. Not bitterness. Just a realization that this person who hurt me deeply in the end was overall a very sweet person. We had happy moments, sweet moments. It’s like something shifted; it was an epiphany that perhaps God has been working in my heart to heal me from this relationship. Because what was coming out here was nice. Pleasant memories. Nothing more.
And I have been realizing that the insecurity coming out in my current dating relationship was also present in my last relationship before he hurt me. In fact, this insecurity—this believing everyone else is entitled to be loved fully but me, this every other girl is better and more deserving of this love than me, this “why is he with me when he could be with her”?—that seems embedded in my psyche comes from a deeper well, an earlier moment.
I very much try to keep my family life private, but the fact is, my mother’s absence affected me. It is very much a part of my story. I should be able to own it. She was not a stable part of my early life, though she is now as an adult. Today, we have a very loving relationship, and I have forgiven her. In many ways, her absence was the product of societal ignorance, or lack of knowledge. I don’t want my words nor my writing to harm her, but it is a fact that I could not depend on her presence in my early life. And one moment in particular, I believe, was a root that led me to here: my fear of trust, of love.
It was just a normal weekend afternoon and I was doing house chores when my mom called to tell us that tomorrow she was moving to another state. A state a half day’s drive away. After months and years of seeing her on a weekly basis, steadily, she was just leaving. Like that. Poof! And from that day forward, we didn’t hear from her for a good number of years. I navigated through the rest of junior high and most of high school without a mother.
This wasn’t the first time my mother flitted in and out of our lives, but it was the first time it happened so randomly, so suddenly, just when I had settled into a comfortable routine. Just when I was settled into having my mom in my life on a regular basis.
I wrote to my girlfriend the other day, “If my own mother could leave like this, how in the world could I believe that I’m worthy of commitment? That someone would want to commit himself to me?”
So yeah, I’m realizing I have commitment and trust issues.
On the flip side, the very real side, I also know that we can’t fully depend on human beings because we’re all going to let each other down. We’re all going to hurt one another, and relationships don’t always work out.
Ultimately, I need God (and He’s working on it!!!) to scrape out this gunk in my heart and fill it with His love. His unconditional, never-ending, never-failing love. A love that I have been running from for years because it scares me, quite frankly. I don’t feel worthy of it.
But truth is, none of us are worthy of it.
But it’s a free gift to all, regardless.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
—John 3:16 (NIV)
Still, how does one learn to trust when trust in humans is bound to be broken? What is relationship trust? What does it mean? I’m being real here. How do you move from the extreme of “God is the only one who can be fully trusted” to “But this person has chosen to commit in relationship to me, so I ‘trust’ him or her?” What does trust in relationship truly mean? I’d love for you to share your perspectives because I am honestly wanting to learn.
Lately, I feel very much like Solomon in Ecclesiastes exclaiming that everything is meaningless. In other words, “Why bother?” Why even bother to trust people when everyone will hurt you but the one steady in the universe: God?
This past weekend, my sweet boyfriend attended a Valentine’s Day church brunch with me (it honestly ended up being more of a marriage retreat, but hey, good to learn stuff earlier than later!). After five hours of relationship teaching and a visit to my uncle in the hospital, I was feeling a bit spent and emotional. So on the way home, without warning, some of the oozy, icky insecurity just slipped out. I’m talking the stuff I’m only sharing with close girlfriends, the part I haven’t wanted him to see, the stuff God is digging out of my heart. Anyways, a bit of this deep insecurity slipped out, and I felt exposed. EMOTIONALLY NAKED. I burst into tears. While my guy did react in defense at first (which I can completely understand), he almost immediately reassured me that he knew me better. He knew I wasn’t the things of which I spoke, that I didn’t want to be the things of which I spoke. He knows because I told him weeks earlier that I am working on stuff, that God is using our relationship to help excavate this deep-embedded gunk.
“C’mon, I know you better than that.”
I don’t think his words could have been more what I needed to hear. Nor the text he sent me right after of how much he loved me and what a fun day he had.
And while I went to bed early that night—hiding under warm, protective covers after devouring all the chocolate I scrounged from the Valentine’s Day brunch—I felt more known. More accepted. More loved. Even if more vulnerable than I cared to be.
And the next day when the thought came (a thought I’ve had with every guy I’ve liked since the dawn of time) “Don’t you think he’d be better with her?” I stopped that thought, almost saw it floating in midair, and said, “God, teach me what to do with these thoughts when they come.” And I just knew He’s going to provide the tools as I “watched” the thought fall silently to the ground, dissolving like a soap bubble. It was the first time I felt so tangibly the “take every thought captive to Christ” verse.
“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
—2 Corinthians 10:5 (NIV)
I was sharing some of these revelations with my counselor, and she reminded me that I did have a stable parent in my father. And she is right. My father did all that he could to provide us with a stable life. We lived on a street where all the neighbors knew each other in a friendly town with good schools, a town where you knew the local crossing guard and police officers. I was so blessed.
Still, some things get embedded, and only God’s expert, surgical hand can guide our healing. So we need to submit to Him, even if it burns and stings as He takes out the junk to replace it with His truth. And sometimes He uses “assistants” as He’s using my guy to cause me to come face-to-face with these debilitating hurts that need healing.
I want to be healthy. I want to know deep down in my bones that I am unconditionally loved by the Creator of the Universe. That there is no one else like me. That I am worthy of someone seeing me as a unique treasure he doesn’t want to lose, that he wants to carefully guard and protect. I want to believe this right now with my sweet boyfriend. I am grateful he is patient.
I am worth it.
You are worth it.
“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
—Romans 8:37–39 (NIV)
Happy Valentine’s Day! You are loved by the Creator of the Universe! Be kind to yourself today. Sending virtual hugs and chocolate and love!!!