When I was 21, something interesting happened to me: I met a boy. And he liked me.
I know what you’re thinking: wow, Beth, you really live on the edge.
Well, here’s the thing. I was kinda with my long-time boyfriend at the time, kinda not. We were post-broken-engagement-still-trying-to-date-with-no-commitment-after-being-darn-near-completely-committed, and it was a recipe for disaster. I was a vulnerable, hurting, bottomless little girl who was crawling out of her skin from rejection and abandonment and attempting to cling and claw and not knowing how to keep loving this man with abandon all the while no longer having any commitment at all.
It was a mess. Okay, better put: I was a mess.
And then I met this other boy. And he liked me. And I was gone.
He said I was beautiful. Like, a lot. And he wrote about me in his journal. And then he would read it to me. Umm, yeah.
But then another something interesting happened to me.
I realized ten weeks in that I missed my ex-boyfriend/ex-fiancee. And so I ended things with the boy-I-was-gone-over and went back to my ex.
And the road not taken dangled in front of me for twenty years, and I had to sit with two questions:
“Why did I willingly walk back into a relationship that was mutually difficult?”
“Why did I willingly walk away from ease and intimacy and abundant love?”
The answer to the first is sadly simple. It’s what I knew. It’s what I had come to expect. It’s what I believed I deserved. It’s what I was comfortable with. Dysfunction and conflict and tears and struggling were not just my norm, they were home to me.
But the answer to the second question – why did I walk away from good – plagued me well past my divorce was final.
Because I wondered, deep down, if I didn’t have it in me to attract a man who would like me for me and treat me well and not fight with me. I wondered, deep down, if all I really deserved were either the uphill fight, the begging for affection, or worse I thought, no fight and no affection at all. And I wondered, deep down, if I had it in me to move past forty-something years of woundings to become healthy enough to recognize something good when I saw it and to enter into a friendship and to, just maybe, someday, let myself be cherished.
When I was 21-years-old, I didn’t know myself. I didn’t understand men. I didn’t believe in love. And I didn’t trust God.
But a lot has happened since then. And now I do know myself. And now I kinda understand men. And now I do believe in love. And now I do trust God.
But how about you, sweet girl? Can you say all those things? Because that is what has healed me. That is what is different. That is why, next time..…if there is to be a next time..…I’m ready and willing and will walk toward and not run away from the good.
If this post encouraged you, you would benefit from “Unraveling: Hanging onto Faith through the End of a Christian Marriage”, found here.
Can I just thank you for being so brave?
I am 22 years old and have been scarred by a prolonged season of trial, not necessarily in regard to a husband or a boyfriend, but by deep loss just the same. With things being difficult for the better part of 10 years, I completely relate with what you said above about the hard things becoming a strange and twisted comfort zone. Sometimes I wonder if I’m even capable of leading a life apart from “survival mode” or even knowing who I am outside of that, let alone finding a good man who would love this mess of a girl. But your honesty and your story has been a tremendous encouragement to me here now, sitting in my car and writing this and knowing I’m not alone. It takes so much courage to write and keep writing, even on the days when it’s hard. Keep doing this! God is using it and is going to use your words in some amazing ways. Thankyou thankyou!
There is hope and healing for you. You had a messed up childhood, but if you put your focus on Jesus Christ and your relationship with Him, He can bring healing into your life. Let the Lord lead you out of survival mode and into a new way of life. He can do that for you. Seek Him with all of your heart and He will direct your paths. But do not look to another person to heal you or fill that void. The key is to seek for the Lord to do that, rather than seeking a person. If you don’t have a mentor, pray for a mentor. Elisabeth has an article on finding a mentor here: https://elisabethklein.com/blog/page/2/ If none of those things pan out for you, you can always call your church office and ask them for help in finding a mentor.
Bri, sweet girl…you are not alone. God wants you to live above survival mode, I fully believe that. Jesus didn’t die so you would stay mired down in pain. There is light and life and joy. Keep walking, honey. Keep holding onto his hand. He’s with you and wants to bring healing and wholeness and hope to you. -Elisabeth
Thanks Cynthia, I have a couple of ladies in my church who have been incredible mentors to me and have learned and gleaned so much wisdom from them! So thankful for that and how God has used them to bring healing and an understanding of his grace. They’re definitely helping to bring me out of “survival mode” by walking alongside me in my walk with God. Thanks for the reply!