Archive | November, 2013

God’s Purpose…?

22 Nov

I have mentioned in previous entries that, in my late teens/early twenties, I experienced the pain that comes from failing to guard one’s heart.  Ten years later, I can honestly say that my feelings for Josh are a thing of the past, and I would take my friendship with his wife, Jessica, over any romantic relationship.  If God does have marriage in my future, I fully expect to ask Jessica to be one of my bridesmaids.  However, it has been a long, brutal healing process that has brought me to this point, and it’s not an experience I care to ever have again.  

If there is one thing I learned from my years of infatuation over Josh, it was that I fall in love quickly and give my heart away easily.  Josh never flirted with me or gave me any legit reason to believe he was interested in me; I simply took his friendliness and let my imagination run wild.  Since then, I have had to sit my friends down and ask them not to tease me about the newest single guy at work or church- if I listen to them, I’ll invite him to break my heart without even realizing it. 

With David, it was a different story.  He pursued me.  He shared deep things with me.  He told me he thought I was beautiful, and amazing, and that he could see a future with me.  He was the first guy to give me a rose, hold my hand, put his arm around me.  And I loved being with him- I would rush home from classes each day to see if he had gchatted me yet.  I counted the hours until our next date.  I couldn’t wait to run into his arms, feel him hold me, and then just be with him!  I walked away from each date with him feeling like I was floating…but also feeling like I had just gone deeper in my walk with God.  My talks with David were iron sharpening iron for me.  And he said he felt the same way.

Then, suddenly, it was over.  I’ve only chatted with him twice since our break up, and it’s been online, but it sounds like he is moving on with life.  He’s glad to have me as a casual friend and nothing more.  For all I know, he’s chatting with other girls on Christianmingle at this point (I tried to reactivate my account last week- I realized I wasn’t ready, but I did notice his account was active).  

Me, on the other hand- all I want is for David to ask for a second chance.  My mind continually replays scenarios of how we will get back together, how our relationship will play out once we straighten all this “no connection” garbage out, how we will laugh at ourselves for ever thinking we could break it off.  My head knows it’s not real- my relationship with David is done and over.  But my heart refuses to accept it, just like it refused years ago to believe that Josh and I would never happen.  I have tried to take these thoughts captive, and when that becomes too exhausting, I have cried out to God for grace and strength.  Even so, I find myself slipping back into the dreams of being with David again, begging God to please let David be “The One” for me.  

In the past, I have had no one but myself to blame for my heartbreaks.  I read too much into little things and overlooked red flags.  But now, I am left asking God, “Why did David come into my life in the first place??”  If all God wanted between me and him was friendship, why didn’t He arrange for us to meet through a mutual friend or at an event?  Maybe I would have developed a small crush on him, but I don’t think I would have been as “swept off my feet” as I was by dating him.  At age 27, David was the first to go on more than two dates with me, to give me a rose, to put his arm around my waist or to hold my hand.   Why did God keep all those things from me for 27 years, and then suddenly drop David in and out of my life?  Don’t give me the, “You need to have some dating experience before you meet your spouse,” line- I do NOT need more emotional baggage to take into a marriage someday.  I know how to live with other people and have healthy relationships.  

God, I know You are too good to allow pain in my life without a purpose.  You are too loving to offer me less than the best, and You are too wise and sovereign to make mistakes.  What is Your purpose in this, God?  What would You have me learn?  What would You have me do?  How is this season of heartache meant to make me more like Your Son?

It Is Well With My Soul…

15 Nov

Almost a month since my breakup with David.

Two weeks later, friends from my hometown church flew overseas, expecting to bring their new daughter home.  They posted facebook pictures of them together and statuses about what a beautiful country they were in and how much they were in love with their daughter.  Then, suddenly, the adoption fell through.  My entire church family shares in their grief and heartbreak.

Another week and a half later, my mom calls to catch up.  She mentions something about the biopsy being negative, but she needs to go back in for more tests on Tuesday- wait, what??  “Ohhhh, I forgot, I wasn’t going to tell you any of this!” she says.  “I didn’t want you to worry…”  Too late, Mom.  I’m worried.  

No sooner have I finished this conversation with my mom then I receive a message from another close friend.  She and her husband were anticipating the arrival of their second child, but she found out today in a routine appointment that the baby’s heart had stopped beating.  More grief.  More heartbreak for a loved one.

Last night I called my mom- the tests were positive.  She has stage 0 breast cancer.  The prognosis is good…but, her sister died after being diagnosed in stage one.  There are no guarantees.  My mom sounded calm- bummed that she was going to have to deal with the whole treatment process, but also knowing that God is sovereign.  I tried to sound calm, too.  I told her to let me know if she needed me to come home and help out at any time- I’m three hours away in grad school.  She told me she would, but more than anything she wanted me not to worry and to focus on my schoolwork.  

Of course, after hanging up, my first thought was, “I want to talk to David about this.”  I knew he would listen, he would speak words of truth, and he would be a prayer warrior for me and for my mom.  Then, suddenly, he sends me an instant message: “Hey, you there?”  I replied that I was, he asked how I was doing, and I told him what had just happened.  He told me his heart ached for me.  He told me that he knew what I felt because his own mother is a breast cancer survivor.  He promised to pray, and I knew he meant what he said.  No playful flirtations like we used to send each other, no talk of our next date or of our future together- just an encouraging conversation between two members of the Body, a brother and sister in Christ.  It also erased my fear that David was never going to speak to me again- he really did want to continue our friendship, even if there was no romance in it.  A drop of Mercy from God in the midst of my despair and confusion. 

God, I believe You are Sovereign.  You are bigger than my mom’s cancer, and You are the ONLY one that can heal her- but, You are also the only one who can call her home when the time comes.  Whatever You choose, I will love You, I will trust You, and I will follow You.  I believe You are near to those who are crushed in spirit- I don’t understand why You have chosen to take my friends’ children away from them, but I believe You are good and Your ways are perfect.  And, Lord, I believe that You have the power to write the perfect love story for me and You are not bound by the expectations of anyone.  Whether I am married to the man of my dreams by this time next year, or if You choose to keep me single, I believe that You will provide for my every need, and I will love and trust You.  

Idolizing Purity??

10 Nov

I remember as a pre-teen when I heard a speaker at Bible camp talk about idolizing religion.  Myself and my cabinmates looked at each other with an expression that plainly said, “Whaaaaaa?”  

I had heard of idolizing television, idolizing celebrities, idolizing schoolwork…but how can someone idolize religion?  Didn’t God want us to be religious?  No, the speaker explained, God doesn’t want “religion” from us.  Religion is done for the sake of tradition or for the sake of impressing others.  When we are focused on religion, we are NOT focused on glorifying or loving God.

This was confusing for me for many years to come.  I had grown up in the fundamental church and, while I understood the textbook version of the gospel, I knew no way to live for God other than by following “religion” and keeping a long list of things I didn’t do.  It wasn’t until I was 21 that God broke down the idols of religion and legalism that I had spent my entire life building- and it was a scary time for me!  The rules I had followed, the laws I had kept, the rituals I had practiced- it was all meaningless and gone.  There was nothing…nothing but God.  From there, He drew me unto Himself and showed me what it meant to live for Him, not for the approval of modern-day pharisees or the sake of religious tradition.  

That’s not to say I went wild and started experimenting with everything I had been against, though (well…maybe a little).  I still clung to the values that I had been taught and believed to be Biblical.  I believed in the importance of purity, and I held onto the commitment that I had (impulsively) made at age twelve, to save my first kiss for my wedding day.  

I shared this with David on our second date.  “Wow,” he said.  “I’ve never met someone who’s made that commitment.  I’m impressed.”  He asked me a few other questions- if our relationship progressed, was I okay with cuddling?  A kiss on the forehead or cheek?  Yes and yes.  Was I worried that it would be awkward on my wedding day?  Truthfully, yes, but it would be worth it.  David reaffirmed that he respected and admired my commitment.  He said I held him to a higher standard.  “The Lord has protected you and kept you pure for 27 years,” he told me.  “I want to protect that; I don’t want to be the one to taint you.”

On our fifth (and final) date, we bumped into David’s ex-girlfriend (and it was NOT a pleasant breakup).  She greeted him a bit too enthusiastically, and, even though I didn’t know what was happening at the moment, I saw him freeze in terror at the sight of her.  “Uh…hi-” he stuttered, (I started to get confused- David is normally such an extrovert who can make strangers feel like friends).  “Uh…this is Katie,” he pointed to me.  “

“No, I’m not…” I whispered.

“No, no, wait!  THIS is Katie,” he corrected himself, pointing to her.  “And this is Laura.  Laura, Katie is…um…a friend of the family.”  After Katie was out of earshot, David clarified the whole story- the stress and the headaches that had come out of his relationship with Katie.  As we got into his car to drive home, his cell phone suddenly lit up with a call from his son.  More drama.  Like any 11-year-old, his son sometimes thinks that molehills are mountains.  After hanging up, David took a deep breath, slipped his hand into mine, and looked at me for a moment in a way that dissolved my heart.  “You have a calming effect on me,” he told me.  I squeezed his hand and he reciprocated the gesture.  “I’m having a really hard time not leaning in for one right now,” he said.

With all my heart, I wanted to tell him, “Go for it!”  I wanted to demonstrate that I trusted him, I wanted to speak his love language of physical touch to him, I wanted him to know that I saw a bright future for us, and I wanted to thank him for all that he had put into our relationship.  But, since I was twelve, I had been telling people I was saving my first kiss for my wedding day.  Some of them were cheering me on and I didn’t want to let them down; others were telling me I would never make it and I needed to prove them wrong.

Some of them were cheering me on and I didn’t want to let them down; others were telling me I would never make it and I needed to prove them wrong.

It wasn’t until after David broke things off that I realized how wrong my line of thinking had been.  I wasn’t concerned about what God thought; I was worried about other people and my status as an “icon” for purity.  Maybe a small part of me was worried about what God thought- the part that still believed God would squish me like a grape if I didn’t follow His rules, that forgot that He had freed me from legalism and taught me to live under grace.  I believe I would have honored God far more by honoring David with a kiss, than by holding back for fear of what others would think if I kissed him.  I had allowed purity to become an idol in my life.

I know there are others who save their first kiss for their wedding- I know a couple who didn’t hug until they were engaged.  And, if they sincerely followed those standards to stay pure and to honor the Lord, than I applaud them for that.  But, for me, saving my first kiss turned into an idol, and I wonder if it was what cost me my relationship with David- maybe he would have felt that missing “connection” if I had expressed my affection to him, rather than holding back for the sake of my own “saving my first kiss” bragging rights.  As irked as I am right now for the “cold shoulder” he’s given me (even after I emailed him to explain this and ask his forgiveness), I still wish I had allowed him to give me a light, innocent kiss on our fifth date.  Maybe he would have felt that missing connection and we would still be together- maybe he wouldn’t have and we would have broken things off, but I would know it wasn’t because of me that our relationship ended.  I’m still prayerfully considering the steps God would have me take, but, I think from here on out, I’m going to say I’m fine with sharing a light kiss with a man to demonstrate that I care about him and trust him, provided I don’t see it turning into a “stumbling block” for either of us.  I am thankful to God for His mercy in showing me an idol in my life- He knows that I cannot have peace and happiness apart from Him, because such a thing does not exist.  It just kills me to think I may have lost out on such a great relationship with a man like David because of it.

Left in the Jungle…

7 Nov

The initial shock and pain of breaking things off with David was bad enough.  

He said he wanted to stay in touch.  That he didn’t want to, “close the door all the way.”  I didn’t want that, either.  On that Tuesday, he asked if I would be around over the weekend to chat, and I said I would.  I mentioned I had already picked out a birthday gift for him and asked if I could mail it to him, to which he replied, “sure.”  I think it was Thursday that I sent him a link to a funny internet posting that I knew he would relate to, expecting that we could laugh about it together over the weekend.  

I was chained to my computer all weekend studying, and I made sure my online status was set to “available”…but he never did chat me.  Last week, in the midst of my praying and trying to understand God’s purpose in our short-lived relationship, I realized some things (more on that in a future entry) that I may have done wrong and really wanted to discuss with David- not to convince him to change his mind, just to hear his perspective and ask his forgiveness if I had been in the wrong.  I sent him a short email asking him to chat me when he got a chance.  A week went by with no response. I mailed his birthday gift close to the actual day, and the tracking number showed it had been delivered.  I really wanted him to hear what I had to say, so finally I composed an email explaining where I thought I had been wrong and asking his forgiveness (clarifying that I didn’t expect this to change his mind).  I concluded the email with, “I don’t know if I haven’t heard from you because you’ve been busy or because you’ve decided you need a clean break.  If it’s the former, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this [aka let me know you accept my apology!!!], if it’s the latter, I hate to lose our friendship but I will respect whatever you need to do.”  

Forty-eight hours later and still no response.

Why, why, WHY did he say he wanted to “remain friends” and “continue being communicative” with me if he didn’t mean it??  I know that sometimes after a breakup, you just need to make a clean break and be done- why couldn’t he have just been upfront about it??  Can he really say he was “trying not to hurt me,” by promising to stay in touch and then giving me the cold shoulder?  Would it kill him to reply saying, “All is forgiven, and yes, I’ve realized I can’t handle pretending to be friends with you.”  (Or how about letting me know he received the birthday gift??)

I look at the emails and chats he sent me while we were together.  I remember the things he said to me on our dates.  “You are a beautiful woman.”  “You call yourself a nerd like it’s a bad thing- I love your nerdiness!”  “You are an amazing, Godly woman.”  “I am realizing more and more how fond I am of you.”  “I can see you being the one.”  Why was he saying those things to me if he didn’t feel a “connection” with me, to the point where he now doesn’t even want to be friends with me?  He also said things that demonstrated a mature Christian faith and desire to live for the Lord…how does he justify treating me like this?  How is it okay for him to lead me into the jungle and then abandon me there?  

To any readers who may need to break off a relationship someday: talk it out first.  Look for blindspots.  Do it face to face, not over an email- regardless of how introverted or sensitive you think your significant other may be.  Maybe you’ll have to watch them cry or get angry- that’s a risk you take when you commit to someone, whether it’s a few dates or a long-term relationship.  Don’t run from that commitment.  Be honest- if you’ve met someone else, if you’ve noticed a deal breaker, if you just don’t feel attracted to them like you thought- nothing hurts worse than realizing you’ve been lied to, even if the lie was intended to protect feelings.  Don’t say you want to remain friends if you need a clean break- getting the cold shoulder from someone without explanation just brings back all the pain of breaking up all over again.  

The worst of it is, in the midst of it all, I desperately want David back.  I want to forget these past three weeks have happened and pick up where we left off after our last date.  I have every reason to question if he was the man I thought he was or if he’s just a player who’s good with words.  But it’s so hard to untangle your heart once it’s been lead deep into the jungle.