When I was thinking about what my first post would be, and fighting through the frustration of losing the idea I had in the first place while putting together this new blog (Oh, well), I finally settled on an overview of the changes that have taken place in my life in the past year. Think of this as an introduction to the author. You know, the part that would serve as the foreword by an author in a book. Author’s usually do this when something major has occurred while writing the novel or if they really want their audience to know something personal about them, a struggle or something in that vein.
In the past year, and I don’t mean January 1st to now, I mean last February to now, I have gone from engaged to be married, to single, to in a relationship to single again. And it would not be hyperbole to say that it was the worst year of my entire life. A bad break-up, with an even more terrible aftershock, followed by a hurried relationship just so I could feel better about myself and make myself believe that I was “ok” are just a few lowlights of the past year.
I hurt two people I care about because I couldn’t stand being single. I couldn’t stand the thought of my ex, and her new boyfriend (my former good friend. Long story for another time), being happy while I was miserable. I couldn’t stand the thought that I wasn’t ok. I couldn’t stand the possibility of losing her and I couldn’t stand the thought that I had failed. So many lies running through my mind, and I believed every one of them. And why wouldn’t I? After all, hadn’t I clearly blown up my “one chance at happily ever after”? That was hyperbole and a period in my life when I was extremely bi-polar, even though I expertly hid the fact that my heart was in a billion pieces with the shrapnel piercing every fiber of my being. Because you see, one week after my relationship with ex-fiance ended, I was promoted. Woo-hoo? Not really. Even that accomplishment was tainted by the fact that I had worked so hard to be promoted so I could afford to get married….. Yeah, that put quite the damper on my job life.
Shortly after that, I began to date a girl who was sweet, nice, and genuinely fun to be around. A few weeks into the relationship, I grabbed a grenade, pulled the pin, and got the hell out of there, blowing that relationship all the way to Jupiter. Now, please understand, I didn’t do any of this because she did something wrong, but because of all the things I realized were wrong with me. Fast forward a few weeks, I’m single and now experiencing intense acid reflux and stomach issues (couldn’t imagine why).
This was six to eight months of me make poor decisions and desperately striving to be loved, to feel loved. Because I didn’t feel like I was lovable and I truly didn’t believe that my ex-fiance had ever truly loved me after what she did. Finally, I made one good decision. A decision that turned all of these thoughts around and changed my life for the better. I went to counseling.
Now, for a little back-story, during this entire period of my life, my ex contacted me four times through text messages. And ever single time, she took the opportunity to kick me while I was down with steel-toed boots. I still love her and always will, but looking back, I honestly don’t recognize the girl who replaced my fiance. The hardest part of all of this was the intellectual gymnastics I was going through, trying to reconcile in my mind the girl I knew now and the girl I knew before. To be told, by her, that I clearly hated her was like being hit with a wrecking ball. Because I loved her unconditionally and without a thought of malice or hate. I went through thick and thin with her for four years. Through good times and bad, and never once did the words “I hate you” ever leave my lips. Am I a saint? Absolutely not. I had just as much to do with the deterioration of that relationship as her. However, (and I can’t and won’t speak for her) I knew that I needed help if I wanted to become a man of God.
So what did I learn from my counselor? A lot. I learned how to move on. I learned how to be happy while single, to not need to be with someone. I learned how to look for someone who is strong and independent and doesn’t “need” a boyfriend. I also learned how to forgive. I learned that sometimes things don’t make sense. That sometimes things happen that we can’t explain….. Wow. It was like a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. And for the first time since I had the break-up, I cried. I let myself accept my brokenness and turn to God, instead of her, for comfort and love. I learned that I had made my ex-fiance an idol. She became my life and my happiness. And guess what? She failed me. I put so much pressure on her and expected far more than she could ever give. She could never truly make me happy, never truly fill the void inside me that only Christ can fill.
So now, months later, I can truthfully say, I don’t want to be with her. I don’t miss her. Does it still hurt sometimes? Of course, but that pain doesn’t mean I can’t be happy. In fact, I refuse to dwell on the past and I refuse to allow my happiness to be completely dependent on a human being. People will fail me, people will hurt me, but God never will. She is free do whatever she wants and be with whoever she wants. Her life doesn’t concern me anymore. I am no longer her counselor, her ever-watchful fiance, who was always afraid for her safety and mental health. I’m free to seek someone else and woo her. I have the opportunity to be me, which excites me more than anything.
Finally, I learned that God has a plan and that no matter how hard, no matter how full of potholes, glass, and darkness the road is He is always guiding me. Ninety percent of the heartache and pain I faced was self-induced. I caused most of the problems I had to deal with. God was knocking at the door of my heart and I was so busy trying to straighten the furniture during that earthquake of my life that I didn’t hear Him. I tried to make myself ok and I learned the hard way that I don’t have that ability and never will.
So to keep the past from repeating itself, I’m focusing on walking humbly with the Lord. Job 1:21 says, “He said, ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked I shall return there. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD.'” This verse is a beautiful example of someone understanding how the Lord works. How sometimes things happen we can’t explain and we just have to trust God. I understand that this verse has a wider context in the book of Job (which I don’t want to ignore); however, an extra-biblical observation I want to make in light of the events of the past year in my life, is the Lord doesn’t always take away pain, suffering, or “bad” things in our lives. Sometimes He takes away things we really like. Things that we love and think that we can’t live without. He then sometimes “gives” us trails and tribulations (I know that the Lord doesn’t “give” us trials but rather allows these things to happen. So understanding that, allow me to just use this metaphor for just a second). The Lord uses these trials and tribulations to teach us and make us stronger. He uses these things to teach us what is really important, understanding that the trails we face are temporary. In the end, the Lord then gives us eternal life and eternal paradise.
The Lord in the book of Job, as far as Job understood and believed, took away everything from Him. Including, things that were not evil. In fact, they were things the Lord cherished. He took away the lives of Job’s family and also caused Job’s wife to curse him and tell him to die. I can never understand completely how Job feels but I can understand to an extent. And I know one thing for certain, Job 42:10-12 says, “The LORD restored the fortunes of Job when he prayed for his friends, and the LORD increased all that Job had twofold. Then all his brothers and all his sisters and all who had known him before came to him…they consoled him and comforted him for all the adversities that the LORD had brought on him….The LORD blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning…” I know for certain that the Lord has blessed me more in the latter days of this “year” of my life than the former. And no matter what, no matter how bad the rest of the year could get, I trust that the Lord knows what He is doing.
I thank Him for the little things and the little blessings. I thank Him for the people I’ve met and have gotten to know. Moreover, I thank Him that someone likes me for me and I don’t have to hide. I don’t have to lie or try to be someone I’m not (i.e. someone is cool or suave. Talents I very clearly don’t have). In the end, the tribulation fades, and only praise remains on my lips.