There are so many times in which I have tried and failed in my life, and I think, as a woman, this causes us to spin our wheels. There is so much pressure, then so much anticipation (from effort), and when we don’t land where we were aiming, we get stuck. Versions of how we respond to feeling stuck are seen all over this earth, and for me I’ve definitely spun a wheel. Or two. Or 500.
There was a point and time in my life where I was in this emotionally abusive relationship. And before I dig a bit deeper into this, I think it’s important to note, too, that rarely were these moments blatant. They were not direct, often, and even so they took from me – far more then what I could have ever realized while within it.
I had met this guy through church, and we were genuinely friends before we started dating. He had shown up on a Sunday, and I was marked as the person to greet him. He was handsome, and smart, and interesting. Fun, creative, and open. We began dating, and over time did nearly everything together. He had some past relationship issues that he brought, as did I, but I was intent on them being able to be worked through. It just was going to take time… to take commitment….to take patience. After all, I was enamored, and really cared for him. I would have told you I was believing in him…in it…in God being in it (somewhere…), but really it was just a means to justify it. I had given my heart, my mind, my body, my energy, and my time to this man. And so much of me was so lost in it, that I was for sure not going to lose that. At least that’s what I kept holding on to…believing that I had gone this far, and “was going to get to where it should be”. Oh, how many times I said this either consciously or subconsciously. But I tell you, there were moments of clarity about this at times but not always while I was in it. And it wasn’t all bad. There were many good times. Times where I was crazy for this guy, and he certainly seemed into me. I say that because it’s important to recognize that things aren’t always black and white, and that is okay. There were also times where he would “wish things were his version of the word better”. He’d focus on and ensure he made me aware it was important for me to stay thin or wear my hair certain ways or do certain things a certain way. And I would genuinely work on those things. And, listen, I was not your ‘do what a guy wants type of girl’. I think it’s important that you hear that because I wouldn’t have ever been that type of girl, yet I became her. I think we have these hidden weak areas that we don’t always consciously fully grasp. So, I would work on those things he’d reference or request…after all, I wasn’t good at staying thin. I did believe I should honor “my man” with his preferences. I’d make sure I did things all of the specific ways that he had wanted, and it wasn’t out of fear of him, truly. It was because I loved him, and this is what he wanted. And, honestly, I needed to keep him desiring me, so that he would eventually want me, ‘for real’. What I hadn’t realized was the damage this was doing to me. It’s not like it happened all at once. And even in the times I may have recognized it, he was quick to do something marvelous or I was quick to focus on those marvelous things. And I wanted to be convinced that it was going to work. After all, I had given so much, right?!? I would think about his genuine challenges due to his past relationships, and compassion would flow, and eventually I’d stay. And stay. AKA Justify. AKA pacify. And I did truly love this man. I had given so much that I shouldn’t have, that belonged to Christ, and wasn’t of God. And I had worked thus far to try and move him to where I thought he could be, within Christ. Hear that. Read it once more friends! How off is that?!? Yet, trust me, I did this. Because of my own will mixed with my then image of what Christ had for me then, I stayed. For 3 years.
God revealed to me, in probably His 50th attempt to give clarity to me, one evening that things were never going to change. After 3 years and having had many conversations about the future (see I was the don’t see a purpose in dating for long period of time if it isn’t going to go somewhere long term type of gal), “I don’t know what you are thinking Miss Oates (maiden name), I never even had a thought to marry you”. This moment only began the journey of me being able to actually choose what God had for me regarding relationships. I was able to determine I wanted to end all connection that relationship and finally follow through with no longer remaining in this rollercoaster. It’s important to note though, I didn’t even believe myself and capability of doing this, because over time, this is how we beat ourselves up and then I believe the enemy is able to take hold. I struggled a lot with guilt, for my actions during the relationship, and the damage done in it. I struggled with those glimpses of compassion, reminiscing on what I thought was once was that really never was at all.
Despite God sending people in my life that reinforced God’s image of me, I struggled to really embrace who He saw me as. Over time, and through relationships with peers and Godly individuals I began to realize that God didn’t anything from me. He didn’t need the skinny me or the fat me, the virgin me or the impure me, the “less than” me or the “have it together” me. He just wanted ME!! He made me and THAT. WAS. ENOUGH!! I think we as people, and especially women, have to constantly fight to believe that, accept it, and be at peace with it. And I say that with caution because honestly, we don’t have to fight. He is in us and if we’re saved, we can be and are who He made, wonderfully and beautifully!! We just need to embrace that with a fierceness and intentionality, with no regrets. Clinging to this is critical because this world we live in and the enemy himself does everything it can to sink us down and away from this mentality.
I have now been married for nearly 9 years to a man that embraces all who Christ made me to be, as is. Please don’t think that this is a happily ever after, as I think any marriage has its challenges, but I know through and through that he is who God had for me and praise Him every day for allowing me to experience His true love and grace as a Father and through my husband.