My daughter is 16-1/2 and pretty darn emotionally aware.  I brought up to her the following random hypothetical scenario and you can imagine right along.

Say you have a boyfriend.  And he’s helping you move into a new apartment.  And it’s August and super hot.  And you have allergies.  And you’re miserable.  And you are about to turn on the air conditioning unit because it’s super hot and you have allergies and you’re miserable and it’s your apartment.

With me so far?

And your boyfriend says no.  Who knows why. Because it costs money to run. Because it’s not that hot. Because you should just take your allergy pills {even though you already have}. Because you shouldn’t be such a baby about it all. Because you should just be more tolerant of things like heat and being stuffed up and scratchy eyes. Who knows? But he says no.

What would you do?, I asked my daughter.

Without hesitation she said, “I’d turn on my air conditioner.”

Really? You wouldn’t feel like you had to listen to him and do what he said?

She looked at me as if I were nuts and said, “Nope.”

Good girl, I said.

Except here’s the thing.  That was me.  I was a month shy of 21.  My boyfriend and I of two years had a very tenuous relationship.  And I didn’t turn on the air conditioner. Not until he left.  And when I did, I felt weird about doing it, as if I were weak for buckling under, or like I would get in trouble if found out.

This was a defining moment for me.  Something in me shifted and I knew that I had chosen a path; I knew I had chosen a pattern of behavior that I would continue to walk down unless we broke up.  We didn’t break up; at least, not for good.  (At least not for another twenty+ years.) Instead, two bumpy years later, we got married.

What in the world had I been thinking?  What had I learned along the way that made me decide not to turn on my own air conditioning?  Was it something I picked up in my childhood?  Was it something I picked up in my still-fairly-new faith culture of submission?  Was I desperate to keep my man? Was I just totally messed up with no reason to back it up?  Was it all of that combined and more?

I truly have no idea.  And it breaks my heart that I lived so much of my life like that.  I believe with everything in me that God did not want me living like that.  (I think I thought he did.)  I was a shell.  And it is devastating to me to look back on over twenty years of not-turning-on-my-air-conditioner incidents.  Thousands of them.

But my daughter would turn it on.  And you know what?  Now I do turn on my own air conditioner, every single time I want to.  Healing comes…

 

If this post helped you, I would encourage you to check out “Surviving in a Difficult Christian Marriage”, found here.