The wedding gift I wish I didn’t have to give

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One of my friends recently got married and shared some of the rawest and realist words I’ve heard in a long time. Most people won’t have the courage to admit these things. We like to pretend our lives are fine. We like to pretend the choices we make don’t really have an impact on others. Oh how we wish our past was only our past. But it’s not. And the choices you are making today will have an effect on those around you, including your future spouse. Here’s Ashley’s story:

My whole dating life had been long-term relationships that lead me to my marriage. My first was when I was 14, the boy was 18, and we dated for one year. Then he went to college and I haven’t spoke to him since. I remember thanking God that I didn’t give him my virginity because that relationship sent me into my next very bitter. When I was maybe 16, I was neck deep in a relationship with a boy a year older than me. I had a group of friends that encouraged sexual deviance, encouraged experimentation, encouraged partying and after a while I gave into that temptation. I tried things I’ve to this day never admitted to because I remember thanking God that I was alive because I’ve seen people die from less. And after we lost our virginities to each other I felt so emotionally naked that we broke up two weeks later. That’s the first time I sat dissecting every inch of me wondering what was wrong with me.

It wasn’t long until I started dating the nearest male who called me pretty because I didn’t believe it at that point. I remember thanking God for Kody. Kody was 24 and I was 17. I vividly remember thanking God for a man, a man that treated me so well. I grew so scary dependent on him. He was my everything. I stopped partying. I stopped cheerleading. I stopped playing tennis. I stopped student government. I stopped anything that took time away from time I spent with him. Kody died a week shy of our one year anniversary. I don’t remember much except praying at his funeral, praying that “God please be real, please have him” because it was the first time I was scared of where my choices would lead me. I moved out of the state because my dad was terrified I was going to kill myself. I didn’t walk at my graduation because I didn’t leave my bedroom for a month. I didn’t take my final exams, I only passed because my school board felt bad.

When I moved to Florida, I met this boy who acted so innocent and sweet that I fell in “love” with him three minutes into conversation. Three years later I have a restraining order and ongoing court appearances that was left behind during that mentally and physically abusive on & off again relationship that was mostly secretive anyway. I used to pray to God everyday that he would stop. And the worst part is I had been saved in that time. In that time I was lying to my church, my accountability partners, my friends, my family… Everyone. I was lying to myself. I still lied even after we broke up and told people he was great and we just didn’t work out. I was so shamed. I am still shamed but I am no longer afraid of persecution from people who know the truth. Now that you know my past, I hope when I advise you guys to take matters of the heart seriously, you will. Because these soul ties I created, these men have pieces of me I can’t erase, and I can’t have them back. These are men in which my HUSBAND has to share me with spiritually. There are damaged parts of my heart that my husband is dealing with, damage he didn’t create. I can’t express how important it is to guard your heart.

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photo credit: 166 via photopin (license)

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Tinder Sam and more fam!


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Is that even possible?! For those of you that have been following along, you remember my boy Sam (Sam requested to have his named changed to Zak to coincide with Ben Folds’ Zak & Sara song, how cute). But we are already in too deep with “Sam.” You can read about our times together in the previous posts (here & here) but one thing that definitely stood out with Sam was meeting his whole family on our first date. I think I loved the “So how did you guys meet?” questions the best.

Sam came down recently (aka a few months ago- sorry, I’m a bit behind on these types of posts;) and we were able to hang out some. Though slightly awkward. I, unfortunately/fortunately, had started talking to a new guy right before his visit so it created a little tension between us. Hey, in my defense he was going to bring down a date! Okay, not really- but it was going to be someone that liked him who would help out with all the nieces and nephews. Who knows. Regardless, she didn’t come and I didn’t bring my guy. It just would have been too awkward all around. [Sidenote, new guy and I decided to just remain friends].

Our normal outings are typically held in St. Augustine but this time it was Daytona Beach. It was Stan’s 94th birthday party. 94! Stan is a family friend that is pretty much family. Sam, his grandma, Stan, Sam’s two sisters, sister-in-law, more nieces and nephews than I could count, his mom, dad, and I think that is all. That’s who was there this time. And me. Of course I fit right in. I think Sam’s grandma likes me more than she likes him. Amongst screaming kids, great BBQ, and amazing homemade cake from granny (I’m pretty much family, I can call her that), all I can say is I hope to be like Stan one day. He was so active- wanting to help, loving everything and everyone. It’s always such a joy being around people like him.

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After the party, Sam and I decided to go to the boardwalk since neither of us had ever really been. I drove us since he rode with his family there. Big mistake. We almost just decided to go somewhere else. Parking was the worst in my truck. Awful. Sam is a little passive aggressive in that he won’t tell me what to do until after I didn’t do something and then lets me know what he would have done (now that it’s too late). Thanks. Sam was firmly upset my truck did not fit in certain spots and disliked the fact I did not feel comfortable parking in sketch situations. Then he got mad and said I yelled at him. I can neither confirm nor deny what I did. I ended up driving into a bar parking lot that had spots and we discussed the parking situation for a good 10 minutes. I saw other people parking there and walking to the boardwalk so I told him we should just do that. He thought it would be too obvious what we were doing since we had been sitting in their parking lot awkwardly doing nothing. During this time, a guy in an orange vest came out of the bar to start selling spots. Great. I thought we would be okay since we were already there but I was still nervous. We decided to ask permission from the guy. Well Sam did. I like that about him. He has a manly, take charge, side to him that makes me feel safe. For someone who is somewhat bossy, it’s nice to relax every now and then and let somewhat else take charge;)

BeachcollageWe walked around the boardwalk as Sam complained about the rides and the prices. Sam was too cheap to buy me water, which was free. I know right. Okay he wasn’t that bad, he just didn’t want to stand in line to wait for it even though I was soooo thirsty! On top of this, he was texting his “girlfriend” and making fun of my guy interest with side comments. I remember passing by some people who were passing out Christian tracks, asking people if they were saved. Normally I will pass on by, let them know I am saved, or say something to the effect of I like what they are doing. Sam, however, stopped. He engaged in conversation with them, made them feel valued, and encouraged them. Among all of our play fighting and jokes, it was nice to see this side of Sam. He inspired me more than he knows.

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We ended up stop at a place for drinks while watching a concert that happened to be in the amphitheater that night. We talked about a lot of stuff. I remember asking Sam if he thought we’d still hang out like this once he got a girlfriend. Without hesitation, he said we better. I guess I didn’t realize how scarred I have been from lost friendships with some of my guys. I’m not expecting things to stay the same and I’d never want to come before a guy’s girlfriend but it’s somewhat sad that there’s this underlying theme in society that guys and girls can’t just be friends. It was reassuring to hear Sam say that to me. It made me realize he valued our friendship. Me. Beyond wanting me, if that makes sense. A lot of guys have stopped talking to me once they realized I wasn’t interested in dating. While I understand to a degree, it doesn’t hurt any less. So I try not to get too attached.

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I ended up driving Sam back to the condos where all of his family was staying. It was pretty late and I was hungry. Per usual. Sam made me steak and then gave me ice cream. I didn’t even have to ask. He knows what makes me happy. I hope he’s planning another trip soon because I’m starting to get hungry again.

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Read this when you’re going through a break-up

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You never want to have this feeling again. It hurts and you feel there is nothing you can do about it. There is no quick fix to relieve this pain. Among all the feelings of anger, sadness, relief, guilt, shame, I think disappointment describes what you feel most. Disappointed things didn’t turn out how you thought they would. There were so many great times. So much potential. So much hope. But it was all shattered. All smoke and mirrors. So many ‘what ifs,’ so many ‘if onlys.’ But while you are dealing with a whirlwind of emotions, let me remind of a few important things you already know while you work on finding yourself once again.

Sever the ties for now

Clean breaks are the best. Don’t kid yourself- you can’t be friends…yet. Unless of course you both didn’t really care about each other, then in that case it would be fine. But you need some time. Time to realize who you are. Time to heal. Time to remember what you really want. And time to understand and know you are okay without this person. We all want to be loved. Desperately. So when the feeling of love is taken from us we naturally grasp for it and want it to return. We think that some feelings (even if they are unhealthy) toward us are better than no feelings at all. But that’s not true. You broke up for a reason. It wasn’t the love you want. Wasn’t the love you are looking for. So wait. Be patient. Control your emotions and don’t let them control you. Because they will change. You know this. And you know this is the best thing for you right now. Even if it doesn’t feel like it.

Regret certain choices but don’t regret the love

You made the choice to love knowing this pain would probably happen. I shouldn’t say probably but you went in knowing it was a possibility. A possibility that was worth the risk. The risk of this now pain. But remember what you know. Love is what makes you alive. And the only way to avoid this pain is to not love. To stay in your box. Closed off to the world. But that’s no way to live. You had lots of good memories. You enjoyed the present without letting fear of another disappointment paralyze you. You made a difference. You gave someone else love. Love they will always remember. At your own expense. Own up to any bad choices you made, but never regret the love you gave.

Turn to Christ

You’re not going to feel this way forever. You’ve been down this road before. I’m sure this relationship was different but the end result is the same. You will get over this person if you want to. But it takes time and it takes action on your part. Ask for forgiveness if you need to. Choose not to grow bitter. You have to choose not to let your love turn to hate. And you have to allow God to come in to heal your broken heart rather than thinking you can do it all on your own. Your Band-Aid approaches of going out more and rebounding may appear to work temporarily but all they are doing is masking the pain. Yes, go out, have fun, continue to live but don’t pretend this pain isn’t real. Allow God to give you clarity, allow Him to help you grow. It’s amazing how He will change your feelings. How He’ll change the way you view your ex. The way you view yourself. Let Him fill the empty void in your heart so when this pain comes, it hurts you but it doesn’t control you, doesn’t destroy you.

I know right now you feel you can never love another the same way again. But you will and it will be a better love, a deeper love. You are questioning whether all the time and investment is really worth the pain because you don’t want to go through this again. But it is. I’m sure you will go through these emotions again. Take time to reflect on what you liked, what you didn’t, and what you learned. So when the next person comes around, you’ll go into it with a little more understanding of who you are and what you’re looking for. But don’t change. Love and love freely. The right one deserves the real you. Not the jaded you. So keep moving forward. Keep putting yourself out there. And keep loving. The right one is more than worth it.

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photo credit: Sitting in the park via photopin (license)