Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Day 4: On relationships, broken hearts and the bigger brokenness that lies beneath

So I told you on Day 1 that I was all about Simple Beginnings because we all have to start somewhere right?

As I re-read the first few days of my 31 Days of Grace, I realized what a great description that was for my beginnings, as in, the beginning of ME!

I was born in a very small town to two parents who had been born and grown up in even smaller adjacent towns.  They'd both lived in the area all their lives; never leaving for college, my father only leaving for basic training in the army reserve (I think he went to Ky for that).

It wasn't a bad place to grow up; my Mom's entire family was there and some of my Dad's siblings were in the same town or within an hour or two by car.

But y'all, there was a dilapidated barn and a cow pasture behind my house! I am not kidding when I say, I grew up out in the country!

I remember from the time I realized I would go away (only an hour, mind you, but AWAY just the same) to college, knowing I would never return to live in that town.  I'm not sure what it was, I just knew there were bigger things out there in the world for me.

Now, I don't mean for that to sound inspirational or simply aspirational if it did.  I didn't have these thoughts in any semblance of a humble way - I just wanted to get out and never come back! I figured a bigger city like Raleigh or Charlotte would be "close enough" but better suited to my taste. This started at an early age, friends!

Then, at the end of my last post, I hit on something else about my childhood I have always known, but purposely avoided exploring.  I never wanted to be alone, but more specifically than that, I was seeking approval from boys.  I remember actually thinking to myself more than once, "if only HE liked me, I would be so happy!" 

That went on throughout middle school, junior high, and high school.  And, yes, before anyone comments, I realize most places don't have middle school and junior high, but in my messed up little school system we did (long story).

Anyway, there were several significant relationships up through my junior year in high school.  Some were short, some were long, most were way too serious, and all of them were wrong.  Because my motives were all wrong.  I was looking for companionship, but I realize in hindsight, I selected boys who were -  how can I say this kindly - mostly plain? The ones who when they stood beside me, no one looked at them.  The ones who I caught staring at me in class or in the hallway; who seemed completely enamored when I looked their way.
I don't mean for that to sound conceited; I never thought of myself as especially good looking.  But I think it made me feel prettier to date someone who was less good looking than me or maybe I thought I couldn't do better?
WOW that makes me sound so shallow! L

Now of course, I didn't make this connection until much later.  Because, as it turns out, most of them were really great guys; most of them I truly did develop feelings for, most of them I gradually came to "be attracted to" once I realized they were attracted to me.  I'm not excusing myself; I'm not even trying to redeem myself so much.  I know now that I was desperately looking for something I wanted and needed, but I was taking all kinds of substitutes.

{And HERE is where I get really freaked out and scared.  I don't know if ANYONE is reading this, but I fear WHO is IF they are! Make sense?
As I said before, I am not proud of my past, especially high school, but I am sharing this in hopes it can help someone else and keep them from making the big mistakes that I did!}

I needed Him, God, and the peace that only He can give.  I needed to know that I was made to stand out, to be different, and not to be like everyone else and that was ok! I needed to know that He made me special.  I needed the reminder that He made ME just as I was and that part of my grateful heart should be honoring and taking care of the creation that was me.

But I didn't.  I'm not sure saying "I couldn't" is accurate, or saying "I wouldn't" is accurate either. Again, I'm not excusing myself; I knew right from wrong.  I just let those voices in my head and the pressure from my classmates, as well as self-inflicted pressure to be LIKE (and liked by) my classmates, determine who I was and who I was with more often than not.

Instead of turning to God, I turned to boys.  The ones who at first made me feel good about myself; who made me laugh; who made me feel pretty; who made me feel loved.  I kissed too many of them; gave my heart to some of them, and gave even more to some.  

A year or so later, I saw an analogy at church youth group.  They were talking to us about how you can never separate your physical body from your spirit and your emotions.  That physical love isn't JUST physical, which is why God reserved it for the confines of marriage.  As a married woman now, I so wish I had saved that joining together of bodies and spirits for my wedding night and my husband alone.
They illustrated this with a paper heart; "each time you give yourself away," they said, ripping off a small piece of the red heart,  "you also give away a piece of your heart. If this continues, what do you have left to give your spouse when you're ready to say 'forever'?"

And I knew then that I had messed up, but I thought there was no way to go back or start over, so I pushed it from my mind.

The summer before my senior year in high school, a big change happened for me.  At 17, I started dating a college guy who I would spend 3 years of my life with, who changed me as a person, who almost became my husband, almost . 

Come back on day 5 for more on that!

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