And yet, there is this one little piece that, if given too much weight, has the power to take me down permanently. (Not something specific he did, just some emotional fallout on my end.)
You see, here is the very brief version of our story.
We communicated long-distance for months. We got along. We clicked. We laid all our bad cards out on the table first, and then revealed the good along the way. We accepted each other. We laughed together. We built each other up. We were good to each other and for each other. It was very sweet, a gift.
And then we met. And we had fun. And it was easy. And I fell harder. And afterward I told my girls that he felt like home.
And then he told me, gently, that he didn’t see a future for us.
I need to press pause here to remind you a bit of my story, or more specifically of two of the three stories (or lies) I’ve been telling myself over and over and over my entire life.
Story: I must convince a man to love me.
Story: Simply because of who I am, I cannot keep a man in my life.
So now – though he outright told me the last thing he wanted me to do was to take this all to mean that I am lacking in any way, which in and of itself was super kind of him to care about – I am in a battle for my heart.
What I choose to do with this recent relationship ending and what I choose to believe is paramount. Will I hold up this circumstance and hold up these two stories and see how they match up, how they seemingly overlay so perfectly, counting it as further proof, evidence that the lies are indeed truth?
Or can I get my heart and mind to truly believe that this isn’t about me or anything I lack?
I was listening to a sermon by Shauna Niequist when she spoke at Mars Hill recently called Change the Story. She talked about how she has told herself since she was a child that she wasn’t strong and capable and that she decided that she didn’t want to listen to that story anymore so she changed that old story by running the Chicago Marathon a couple years back. And how now, when the voice whispers to her, But you’re not strong, remember?, she can stop it and say, I’ve got some beat-up running shoes and a medal that say otherwise. And I get that. And that’s beautiful.
Trust me, I want to tell myself a different story. I would do practically anything to make those old stories of mine up and disappear. With everything in me, I do not want that lie-song that men cannot bear to love me to be hummed over my heart and life anymore. But my reality – my daily ALONE men-don’t-stay reality – is my truth.
And it’s not just that men give me a passing glance and go, nah. I mean men who have gotten to know me, who have held my heart in their hands, who have held me in their arms, have then said NO. Men see me and then they leave me. They say no to who I am as a woman, as a person. I know it’s only been a few men, but it only takes a few men. (AlAnon even says once is just once, twice is a coincidence, three times is a pattern. We’re going on pattern here, people.)
My truth is – my track record is – that I cannot keep a man, one who treats me poorly or one who treats me well. And how do you argue with actual no-men-around-for-miles reality?
Shauna was able to craft a new story for herself that counteracted the old lie. But how do I tell myself a different story other than go out and hunt down a man and beg him to marry me and keep him married to me forever? (But then I’d be corroborating the story that I must convince a man to love me.)
Is there a way to heal this in me and change that story while my circumstances remain the same? While there is nothing I personally can actually do about it? While I now can count several significant walking-aways?
And I know that God loves me. I do. I don’t need to hear what God thinks of me. (I don’t say that disrespectfully or as if I’m discounting the largeness of importance of God’s view of me.) I say that because I know what God thinks of me. I believe what God says about me. (I even teach on all this….I know all of this.)
But he does that with everyone. He feels that way about everyone.
My issue – my wound – is that I believe I was created for partnership. I crave it. (And I very well may never get it.) I crave one man to hold my heart and my gaze and my hand and say…well…whatever the opposite of goodbye is. I don’t even know what that is. (Totally crying right now as I type.)
I want a different story. But I don’t know how to create it or find it.
And so today, I am at a crossroads…what am I going to believe?
Part II…from my journal later that same day…
Are these stories YOUR stories for me? Did you look at me while creating me and think, “Yes, Beth will repel the men that she loves to the point that they will leave her?” No. For whatever reason, you allowed this men-leaving pattern. But I do not believe you initiated it or wanted that as one of my stories.
I think you want me to lay my craving for a man’s love and affection and affirmation down.
I think you want me to lay my desire for partnership down.
I think you don’t want me to care about what ____ or ____ or ____ or ____ think about me.
I think you want me to believe what I teach and write.
I think you want me to look at myself gently and with such grace and to try to see myself the way you see me.
I think you want me to feel beautiful and enough and hopeful and loved.
I think you want me to only care what you think of me.
I think you want me to finally, once and for all, daily, over and over, find my identity in you and not in a relationship or a role or my work.
I think you want me to stop trying so hard and to just let it all go.
I think you want me to rest.
I think you want to heal me.
I think you want me to be whole.
I think you want me free.
Lord, may it be so.
Sweet one, what old lie do you need to refute? What new story do you need to start telling yourself?