This is a continuation of a series every Friday where I will be highlighting the growth and healing of one of my readers, a new reader each week. These, my sweet ones, are their brave and vulnerable stories. Take heart…you are not alone. -Elisabeth
“It’s time for a bigger dream,” says my counselor after I answer that my ultimate childhood ambition was to be loved and safe, which, in my mind, meant becoming a wife and mom. That was my heart’s desire, and I spent my youth preparing for and fantasizing about the day I would finally belong to someone who wanted me. Every boyfriend was “the one,” and I worked hard in my young adult years to learn as much about marriage and parenting as I could to be ready for my Dream fulfilled. I ardently navigated family of origin trauma with a professional counselor, listened to countless broadcasts on personal growth, family, parenting, etc., and otherwise made every effort to equip myself for the fulfillment of my Dream.
However, what I thought was a unique bent towards domesticity, I’m realizing was just the limit of my imagination given the fact that I had for so long lived without a foundation of love, belonging and safety. It created a chasm in me that meant getting those basic needs met was all I longed for. The world beyond those things just didn’t seem to matter much to me. If I could be loved, I would be content.
Predictably, this led to unhealthy relationships fraught with codependency, heartbreak and low standards. Thirteen years ago, I thought I had met my final “one,” and married with great expectations of love and purpose for the years to come. Now, after thirteen years of being a wife and eleven of being a mother, and finding both of those beautiful roles far more heartrending than I anticipated, I’m starting to understand my Dream differently. And, after surviving a marriage that has killed my heart little by little— like death by a million papercuts— my counselor is helping me come up with ideas to spark life in my spirit again. She asks me what I always dreamed of as a child when I imagined growing up. I tell her, and mourn a bit the fact that my Dream morphed into my nightmare in so many ways.
“Yeah,” she quips, “it’s time for a bigger dream.”
And so, as I consider what my life may look like moving forward, the question of love and my longing for it still lingers at times. In the past, any time I have considered walking away from a destructive relationship, the fear that always gripped me (and often held me back) was this: Will I ever be loved again? Will I ever find another love? Yeah, this love is bad, but will I really find a better love if I leave this one? Sound familiar?
Now as I write this, I can’t say that refrain does not still tug at my ears…but this time there’s another lyric – a stronger, more compelling one playing as well. It says, “You already ARE loved, right where you are. Fully. Completely.” True, it’s not a love of a man who can bring me flowers, write me notes or cuddle with me on the couch. But it is a love that won’t be snatched away. It is a love that will never die. It is a love that doesn’t lie, cheat, and steal. And it is a love that is from the One who knows me completely and finds me worthy of His love every day. I am loved. If, in the end, I walk away from this relationship with all of its heartbreak, I don’t walk away unloved. And that love has given me inspiration to dream big and embrace goals and aspirations beyond what fits into my home.
If this sweet woman’s post resonated with your heart, please know that you are not alone. Here are a few resources for you:
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If in a difficult marriage: Surviving in a Difficult Christian Marriage is available as a PDF/e-book: www.elisabethklein.com/books
If separated/divorced: Unraveling: Hanging onto Faith through the End of a Christian Marriage is available in paperback/e-book: http://tinyurl.com/phowp95
If a single mom: Moving on as a Christian Single Mom is available in paperback/e-book: www.elisabethklein.com/books