I’ve been afraid to write about this but I’m pushing through. I’m learning to use my voice to silence my fears. Pray with me.
For anyone who has personally known me for at least the past year, you know that I was in a relationship that began in the early part of 2011. Around late last year, that relationship came to an end. This post is not about him, as I maintain the utmost respect for who he is, what he stands for, and what he plans to accomplish. This post is about me and what our break up showed me about me. I hope it helps somebody.
I’m sure some of my past blogs are clearer now in light of this disclosure. I spent much time trying to make sense of what our break up means and how it would be interpreted. The truth is that our break up was an amicable one – no fault grounding – things just weren’t working out the way we planned. He was trying to put everything he had into his dreams and I was trying to accomplish my own. Time and distance had become a hindrance. I could never admit it like he could but I was not ready for that which I prided myself on being ready. But no matter how friendly our parting of ways was and no matter how much I tried to be reassured that it wasn’t because of any love or admiration lost, the break up was extremely difficult for me to process.
The old wounds of rejection were reopened and it felt like someone was heaping salt on the wounds. I literally was grieving this break up as if it was a death because in my mind it was. It was a death to part of my dream – it was the death of something I wanted so bad.
As we worked through the break up process, I tried to rationalize that if only I worked harder that everything would be fine. I immediately went about trying to fix me because clearly I just needed to love harder or be there more. The stronger I held on, though, the more I felt it slip away. And I wept bitterly on many days because I couldn’t reconcile my emotional intelligence to my practical intelligence.
I think deep inside I knew that this had to happen, even if it was just for a season. But I stubbornly did not want to let go because I didn’t want to be the one losing. My younger brother was getting married and I cringed as people “jokingly” asked me why and how I let Brandon beat me to the altar. Each comparison weighed me down further as I had to struggle deeply, and alone, with the breakdown of a dream. I didn’t want to be the one who had it all – intelligence, career, money, etc. without the marriage and the family. I wanted to have it all and I felt strongly that I could have it with my former significant other. I wanted to be able to live up to how greatly everyone assumes my life is – the sting of losing face was heavier than what I desired to carry.
It was months before I would admit to anyone outside my little circle of friends and my parents about the break up. I didn’t want the pity looks, the “what happened?”s, or the obligatory “God has something greater in store” lines. I didn’t want people to all of a sudden have guys they want me to meet nor did I want millions of questions about how I would now spend my time. I just wanted the space to be human about it and grieve for what was lost, what I perceived that I lost, and room enough to find hope on my own and not because someone was ramming it down my throat so that I wouldn’t be hope-starved.
I was desperately in search of an outlet and a way to heal. Breakups, no matter how nice or amicable, take a lot out of you. You have to work to undo (in my case two years) of intertwined hopes, dreams, and goals and work toward singular thinking again. Or maybe that was just in my case. But this had been my first love, my first adult relationship, and a relationship that by many accounts should have gone all the way.
As a safe and achievements-based person, it tore me up inside to admit that I had lost something. I always play to win and when I don’t, it doesn’t sit well with me. I scrutinized every detail in my mind to see or understand where something different or better could have happened. At the end of the day, I had to accept that this is what my journey included.
I didn’t know what to do with my pain at first. Even the people I confided in weren’t getting the whole story – I was ashamed of what I perceived as my failure to achieve in this area. I hid it because I was ashamed to trust my friends with my hurt – this hurt. For so long I was used to being the friend that people confided in that I rarely had the opportunity to be the one who needed someone’s complete confidence and never ending grace. I always shared what I could afford to be spread around but this was different. In order to heal, I needed to be completely vulnerable and I needed someone to act as a mirror to show me who I was, who I was not, and how my perceived failures did not shape those two things. So I slowly began to share with a few people and I let myself feel the pain.
What I recognized is that all the pain that I felt following this break up wasn’t just about the breakup. It was about old wounds that had not been properly addressed at first hanging out raw. It was about old insecurities coming back seven times stronger because I was emotionally exposed. It was about learning how to not lean or depend on anyone to dictate how I feel about myself and my life. It was so much bigger than me and Sam – and it was a necessary process that had to happen sooner or later.
I think I expected to be able to just pretend like everything was OK but I couldn’t afford to this time. If I wanted to be happy, better, and whole, I had to confront these issues. The ruins of the life I tried to build for myself laid bare, along with the other disappointments from the past five years. And it was at that point where I did the only thing I could do – I laid them before God to see if He could make a whole picture of the ruins.
I cried so much because honestly I’m a bit of a control freak. The feeling of not being in control scares me beyond description. But I was desperate and without other options so I begrudgingly began the process of handing over the ruins. Piece by piece, God began to show me the glory of what I was going through. I hated every moment of it BUT I saw the glory in it. God’s glorification does not equal comfort most times but it does equal hope. And I can honestly say that even at this moment, I can still see how God is still molding my ruins for something greater.
This process has allowed me to go back to a major love of mine which is writing. It has made me braver and and stronger in being who I am and pursuing what I want. It’s forced me to look in the mirror and dare myself to see me like the Creator does. It’s not been easy, fast, or flawless…and it’s far from over. But if you ever felt something that you love so much slip away and have felt the pain of trying to make sense of it all, you have to believe that God works best with your ruins.
So if you find yourself and your life in ruins of any kind, take heart. The promise is that His strength is made perfect in our weakness, not in our strength. He can take your ashes and draw beauty from them and He will take your ruins and draw glory from them.