Still single

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I turned 35 yesterday. Depending on who you talk to, some will say I’m getting old, others will say I have my whole life ahead of me. For me, the numbers signify how many years I may have left to have kids someday. It was never my intention to be single at this age. I thought for sure I’d be married with five kids… at least two… at least married. I’ve come close. My early 20’s were part of my timeline and I was dating a cute guy who was in the military. While some can get married that young, we were too young. We didn’t know what we were doing. We didn’t know yet who we were. But being young wasn’t our only problem. My faith was his faith and as much as we cared about each other, we had different priorities. Different values.

Could we have gotten married and made it work? Yea, I think so. But just making it work doesn’t sound so appealing to me. That can’t be why God created marriage.

The following years were a wheel of rotating dates, rotating guys, no real commitment. I was so hopeful, so naïve. But how could I commit to someone I can’t see myself marrying? The truth would always reveal itself sooner or later. For me it averaged within 3 months. We’ve become so accustomed to wearing masks, afraid to show each other our true selves for fear of rejection, that we never really get close to anyone. And by the time we’re ready to peel back the layers it’s already too late. None of these guys were right for me anyway. I had to end things with the ones I knew weren’t right. And for the ones I wasn’t ready to let go of, God allowed them to reject me. And when they came back, because they always seem to come back, I had already received the closure I needed to move on. It’s crazy to think how something you thought you wanted so bad is the same thing you are thanking God for protecting you from.

When 30 hit, I was certain my time was right around the corner. So certain that I allowed myself to get into the most abusive relationship to date. Thankfully not physically, but sometimes I can still see the effects. I had never seen abuse, so I wasn’t able to recognize it until I was already in too deep. By the grace of God, I was able to leave. It’s crazy to think about the things you put up with if you think they are leading you to what you desire and crave.

Could we have gotten married and made it work? I don’t think so. I would have lost myself in the process.

As I reflect, it’s hard not to look at these relationships as failures. Wasted time. Empty promises. Pain. Hurt. And let downs. But isn’t that what dating is designed to do? The only alternative is to get married, and that outcome would have been so much worse. I can’t be the wife that gets married to check off a box.

I’ve sometimes worried if maybe I’m too much for some guys. They know they’d always come second to my first love, Jesus. Maybe I’ve pushed guys away. Maybe I’m too passionate about politics, making a difference. Too crazy. Too outgoing. Maybe my blog scares them away. I’ve been told to stop wearing my purity ring. I’ve been told to lower my standards. That I’m too picky.  I’ve been called a holy roller. Too intense. Too much.

But the truth is, if I have to change who I am, I don’t really want to be married as bad as I think I do. I just want to be me. The me that God created me to be.

So I wait.
Wait for peace.
Wait for clarity.
Wait for no doubts.
And maybe that day never comes.  

I honestly don’t know if I’ll ever get married, but what I do know is Jesus is worth it. He is worth having all my hopes and dreams. He knows what I ultimately desire and I trust Him. As time passes, it can be easy to question or allow doubt to creep in, but God knows my heart. And my heart belongs to Him. It always will.

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5 questions to ask yourself before committing to a relationship

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I have a hard time committing, I’ll admit it. But part of the reason is it’s hard for me to commit to someone if I don’t see a potential future with them. The break-up process is a painful one no matter how it happens, so if there are ways to avoid that, you better believe I’m all about it! In an effort to minimize heartbreak and stay focused on what matters most, there are five questions you should ask yourself before committing.

  1. Would I want my kids to be like them? This question allows you look beyond the outer layers of attraction and excitement and really see a person’s character. Are they kind? Loving? Giving? Value humility and purity? Do they show respect and honor? Or are they rebellious? Rude? Selfish? Or easily angered? It is so easy to be blinded and want to nurture infatuation feelings, but the truth is, the person you marry will have a significant amount of influence over your kids- and you! You want to trust that they will be a good role model and train up your children in the right direction.
  2. Would I want to be with them if we couldn’t have kids? This is a hard question to ask but a much needed one. As I started to get older, I started to question whether or not I should attempt to compromise on my standards for the sake of not letting my best child-bearing years pass me by. And then I realized how horrible this thought process is. And I also realized how many people I know who did get married because they wanted kids so badly and are now divorced. While kids are a blessing, having kids with the wrong spouse can be detrimental. Furthermore, there is no guarantee on even getting pregnant so it is vitally important to be with someone you would want by your side to help you through that process should it happen. The person you commit to should be a commitment for life, someone you want with you through all the good and bad.
  3. Am I growing closer to God or further away? There are people that will come into our lives that you will help and mentor, others that are acquaintances, and others that’ll challenge you to be the best version of yourself. The person you commit to should fall into the third category. This is why it is imperative for believers to be equally yoked with other believers, those who will help them with the temptations in this world. You want someone who will pray with you, call you out, and support you. If the person you are with is pushing you in a direction of compromising your faith, morals, and/or values, it is not a good sign.
  4. Do I feel more myself around them? This is oftentimes why people say the best relationships start out as friendships. You want to be able to be your true, authentic self without fear of rejection or judgement. Some people have a way of calming our insecurities, while others heighten them. If your relationship with someone starts out with a date, do your best to alleviate the pressure of a looming relationship no matter how old you are for the sake of building a stronger foundation should things progress. A relationship built on attempts to impress will not be able to withstand the challenges of everyday life. Furthermore, when you are with the right person, the pressure to perform should diminish as their passions and words ignite your passions and words, resulting in a fire lit deep within your soul. This is not something you can force, and no checklist can accomplish this.
  5. Do they love Jesus more than me? This is crucial. So many people seek someone who will love them most, not realizing the need for loving Jesus most in order to adequately love you. A love for Jesus will naturally result in love for you because it will become part of who they are. Jesus is love so a love for others is a natural result. When someone seeks to love outside of these parameters, love then hinges on who you are, your actions, and their feelings toward you, thus resulting in an unspoken pressure to perform. This environment is the breeding ground for insecurity, with no true stability. Someone who is able to love, honor, and respect God will be able to love you the only way you truly desire to be loved.

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2020 Vision with a Heap of Hope

2020 visionIt’s funny how I always pick a word for the year and then God seems to change it right before the new year starts. I love being open to see what He might have in store for me. I first started picking a word for the year back in 2017.

  • 2017 Intentional
  • 2018 Pray & Finish (finished my PhD this year!!)
  • 2019 Release (picked consistent but God kept putting the word release on my heart)
  • 2020 Vision with a Heap of Hope

I wanted to pick the word Hope because I wanted to understand this word more. I was going to say a dash of hope but it’s going to be more than a dash. These are the things I hope (should I be using this word here?:p) to dwell on this coming year and see God shows me.

  • What does the word hope actually mean?
  • What is the difference between hope and expectation?
  • What is the difference between hope and faith?
  • How can you hope for things if you don’t know if it’s God’s will- God’s best?
  • Should I show and share my hopes boldly and vocally?
  • And if so, which ones?
  • And if so, what if they don’t come true? I know God is a good God but I worry about hurting other peoples’ faith sometimes and that’s something I would never want to do.
  • What if I hope for something and then feel disappointed?
  • What should I hope for?
  • Should I hope for specific things? Broad things?
  • Can I be too specific? Too broad?
  • Is it possible to hope for things I shouldn’t?
  • And if so, what are those things?
  • What if I hope for things that aren’t necessarily bad?
  • What if I don’t know what to hope for?
  • Is it okay to not hope for things at all? If you don’t set expectations, you’ll never be disappointed… But…
  • I may be too scared to hope.
  • Why does it feel easier to have hope for others more than myself at times?
  • List all the verses with the word hope.
  • Write the word hope in other languages.

Now you can see why I wanted hope to be part of my word for the year. But the word Vision also came to mind… for obvious reasons:) And then I was talking to a pastor about the word vision and how he was going to do a sermon related to how 2020 vision doesn’t necessarily mean you have perfect vision, rather you have the right focus. And I really just want to have the right focus- on God. I want 2020 vision to see God clearly, who He is, in all His beauty, power, and love. And in turn, I want to see people the way God sees them. I feel so many of the things I struggle with would improve if I was able to see people the way God does. Perhaps be more patient, loving, forgiving, compassionate, understanding, I could go on. But I think as I grow more in my relationship with God and see clearly, He will allow me to see others the way He does. And that’s really what I want.

From a practical standpoint, there are a few things I am doing this year to help with this journey.

Throughout my journey of scripture and prayer, my goal is to pursue Christ more intimately and fall in love with Him even more. This is really all I could want. All that really matters.

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Love is [NOT] a choice

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“Love is a choice.” This message is preached throughout both the secular and Christian circles, consistently and constantly. It’s promoted as a good thing. Something that shows commitment. Dedication. Value. And I think what we are really wanting is for people to choose to stay committed to what they already made a choice on. It’s an easy line to go to when someone is trying to rationalize lost feelings, the desire to cheat, the desire to leave, the emptiness they may feel inside. While these may be good intentions, focused on making the best of decisions made prior, let’s get the terminology right:

Actions are a choice, but love is not

There will be times when you are annoyed or frustrated and you choose to act lovingly and nice. Other times, you may choose to act hateful or angry. These are the choices we are making. But who we are to the core has already been determined by the choices we made about the type of person we want to be. For Christians, it’s becoming born again and having God’s love fill us. For non-Christians, it’s having whatever god you choose to worship, to lead you. And sometimes that means we are our own gods. But these are the choices we make that impact the love we have to give. Whether it’s real love, self-love, true love, selfish love, or selfless love.

When we experience Christ’s love, His love becomes our default. It can’t go away. It’s not something you turn off or on. It’s who you are because it’s who He is and He is now inside you. This love can be scary, cause pain or hurt, but it’s never a constant choice or burden. While the repercussions of loving may be hard to deal with, love in and of itself is easy. You can’t help but to love, it’s who you are naturally now. Something just changes. It did for me, at least.

True love results in commitment, but commitment doesn’t always equate to true love

I think it’s easy to almost interchange these words. “Marry the one who stays” was a recent blog post I read. Again, I see the intent but something else is missing. Love is more than a commitment, more than a choice. It’s not the will and decisions that are our moral compass, it is our heart- and in turn, it’s our heart that results in actions. Not the other way around. Love is so much more than an act, a commitment, or a choice. It involves these motives deep down. And if we get honest with ourselves, we can see there are a lot of good acts out there rooted in selfish motives. That’s not what I’m looking for.

I’m not looking for a commitment. Commitment may keep a body there but it won’t fill my soul. When I’m weak and need someone strong that’ll have my best interest at the forefront of his mind, a commitment won’t give me peace. I don’t often hear what I desire preached. Not because it’s impossible, I just think it’s rare.

I hear this all the time-
“How did you know he or she was the one?”
“I decided.”
No, I’m not buying it. Because then you can decide they aren’t- or maybe you will decide they are for the rest of your lives. I don’t know. I just believe there is a stronger force there that supersedes our will and decision making abilities. I desire something so much more than a decision. I need something deeper, stronger, something greater than this world has to offer. I don’t want my future husband to choose to love me. Because I don’t think that is true love. I want him to simply love me because he can’t not love me.

My hope is that you’ll search your heart. You’ll seek love, true love with pure motives, from the source that is love. So you can see for yourself how love is so much more beautiful than a choice.

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Is singleness really a gift?

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I used to view singleness as a season, rather than a gift. When you view it as a season, you see it as a period of time to get through, perhaps enjoy, but a season that will definitely end nonetheless. We focus on the duration of the season, leading us to never realize what the gift of singleness actually means, what it really offers.

We get caught up on the superficial benefits of singleness that we unintentionally miss the spiritual growth awaiting us. We interchange singleness and independence quite often. For me, it’s been a time to focus on education, career, and being free and flexible to go wherever God calls, with little concern for another human being. But when married, you have to now consider your spouse, and once you have kids, them as well. Is this perhaps what Paul was referring to when he stated it is better to remain single in 1 Corinthians 7?

Can I say yes and no- what about maybe partially? It’s been hard for me to reconcile that would be all he meant- that you can’t do what you want fully because you have others to think about now. Because I’d argue with the right spouse, it would perhaps be easier to pursue your calling than it would if you were single. I have to believe it has more to do with our spiritual state and our relationship with God and less to do with our calling and what we are to accomplish here on Earth. I think he was referencing a level higher than we are accustomed to viewing.

As we focus on God, not just because we are supposed to but because we want to, things begin to change. This process has evolved for me. It’s like when you build a relationship with anyone; you enjoy getting to know that person and spending time with them- the more you learn, the more you know, the more in love you fall. I think I’ve just recently begun a process of experiencing God in a new light.

Not that my relationship with God in the past was bad, it just wasn’t as deep.

And when it’s not as deep, I think it’s easier for world to compete- for us to slide in and out of the world, for our priorities to become tangled, for our vision to become blurred. These were the times I struggled most with my singleness- the more my early 20’s grew into my late 20’s. The times I just knew marriage was in my cards because why would God keep anything good from me if He loved me? Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart, right?

My relationship with God very real at this time but perhaps more immature than I’d like to admit.

It’s hard to know what you don’t know at this time, but I’ve always pressed forward knowing God has a plan and that He loves me. I’ve never doubted that. And I think that’s what’s helped me to remain faithful.

Choosing to live more by what I know to be true and less by what I understand at the time.

But I’m just now realizing what a gift singleness has been for me personally. I’m at a different point in my life right now- a new point- where things are just different. My desires have shifted drastically- marriage and family desires perhaps still there in the background but an overwhelming desire to experience God deeper- trumping everything else in my life.

I crave it.
Crave Him.
Talking to Him.
Seeing what He does throughout the day.
Watching what He does through me.
What He allows me to do.
How He allows me to experience Him.

My love for Him has been what’s fueled my desire to “do” for Him, that I’ve only recently began grasp how much more He desires simply to “be” with ME!

He yearns for me. Longs for me. Where I’ve known He loves me, this is so much more. It fills me in ways I can’t begin to describe. There are no words. I honestly don’t know if I would have been able to experience the spiritual growth I have been lately without this time. How would I know I love Him more than everything I thought I always wanted if He had already given it all to me? He’s changed my desires and longings away from the things the world offers and more for eternal things- more for Him.

It’s not that singleness is a gift for us to be selfish and do what we want; it’s that singleness is uninterrupted time in our lives to spend with our Savior. To spend time with Him. Grow in Him. And fall more in love with Him. And for me, I don’t really know what could be a better gift than that.

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I wish for you a different type of heartbreak this Christmas

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Most of my heartbreak, most of my blog seems to center on romantic heartbreaks. Feelings of rejection, loneliness, a loss in expectations… I hate these heartbreaks the most- not because they are so sad, not because of the pain, but because they are so focused on myself. Isn’t life so much more than myself? So much bigger?

It’s when we pull the mirror down, it’s when we look around the world and see others that we become alive. See things as they were meant to be. See people for who they are instead of through the lens of what they may offer us. Maybe we need to take off the glasses that make us see others as our source of pleasure and put on the glasses that cause us to see into the soul of others… all the pain, hurt, insecurities, and doubt.

I was out doing some last minute Christmas shopping the other night. Some call me a procrastinator; I prefer the term prioritizer;) And I ran into an old friend…

“Hey, how’s it going? Merry Christmas, etc. etc. etc…”

I forget most of our conversation. I was too distracted. He had a tattered piece of paper, with scribbles written on it. It was a grocery list in his hand. A list of items, prices all marked out. Things are certainly tight in our family for various reasons and we are very intentional with our spending but I couldn’t get this guy and his list off my mind for the rest of the evening.

Milk… $3.59
Bread… $1.29
Eggs… $2.19

A hard working guy, just trying to provide for his family. Living paycheck to paycheck. Doing the best he can with what he has. I think sometimes we forget others, I think we don’t care to see their struggles. It’s just easier to look away. Because then we can convince ourselves we don’t have to feel guilty. It’s like we push any goodness we have aside.

But my heart broke that night. And I can’t explain it. I wish I could. But sometimes I just feel I see right through people. Sometimes I feel I see their most vulnerable parts. It is the most painful, yet realest feeling I’ve ever felt.

Maybe that should be how we pray. Maybe we should pray to see things, to see people, the way God does. But if we do, we can’t be afraid of having our hearts broken.

Because I can promise you this, it will indeed break. But it will be in the most incredible way ever. Though there will be pain, you will feel alive.

So I hope your heart breaks. Not for yourself, but for someone else. Because that will be when you truly find yourself.

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You made her crazy

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I was listening to the second date update on the radio this past week. Stories about people that have gone on one date with someone, never hear from the other person again, and want to know what happened. So on this one, a girl went on a first date with this guy, she said it went great and he even kissed her at the end of the night. Then bam! Ghosted. The radio calls him to find out what happened. He says he wasn’t really feeling it, the date was not that great, and that she went psycho and liked all his old pics on Facebook.

So here’s my question for the guy- why in the world did you kiss her if you weren’t feeling it?!

People tend to associate physical aspects to a genuine like or love of another person. So what is really happening here is a sending of mixed signals. You are feeling one way but acting in a different manner. Heads up- this will cause anyone to act crazy because they are trying to make sense of something that doesn’t make sense. This is a lose-lose situation with no answer that can make logical sense. Her attempts of “not leaving you alone” are actually just her attempts to get some type of closure.

This leads down the whole “you lead her on” debate. Did you really lead her on or were you just trying to get to know her? Oftentimes both parties can feel guilty for breaking up with someone because they are now hurting the other person. This is unfortunately the risk we take sometimes when we choose to date. But are there ways to make this less painful, less crazy? Yes! You choose to really get to know her, not use her. If you really care about not hurting her and really care about putting her first, choose to put your physical desires to the side and get to know her. Her dreams, hopes, goals, likes, dislikes, and just simply enjoy each other. You’ll know much sooner whether or not you see a future with her if you leave the physical aspects to the side.

If you want to avoid any “crazy” behavior from girls, be sure to know yourself before inviting someone in. Not only knowing yourself, but being comfortable with yourself, your strengths and weaknesses. It’s hard for a girl to know if she likes you if you don’t even know yourself. I’ve had guys act like prince charming in the beginning, rolling out the red carpet, only for that behavior to change drastically. Once he hooks you, the true colors come out. Gaslighting is a popular tactic. Its goal is to manipulate (someone) by psychological means into questioning their own sanity. You start to treat them poorly. You become secretive or evasive and then make them feel dumb when they start to question you for clarity. This creates chaos in their mind as they try to piece together the fragments. Wondering if the guy they fell in love with ever really existed.

It finally comes to a head when she tries to come to terms with reality. The fact that you didn’t really love her. She wants to believe you did, that you do, but she knows the truth deep down. There were both good and bad times. And she’s just trying to make sense of it all. So the confusion turns to chaos and the chaos turns to crazy. We all crave love so badly. So she either remains crazy, believing all the lies and hurt was really love. Or she accepts the fact that you never really loved her. Both are sad options in her mind. But one eventually allows her to move on. One gives her hope. One gives her the ability to leave all the craziness behind.

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Love when I was young, wild, and free

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I sometimes wish I were my younger self. Wishing I could love with that same pure and innocent love, from a heart that has never felt pain, never been hurt. Wishing I had made different decisions. Wondering if I made the right choices. The truth is, sometimes I didn’t. I have regrets, made decisions I’m not proud of. And while I wish I could go back and make those decisions over again, I’m learning and seeing how God takes our mistakes, covers them in grace, and makes a way for a beautiful story.

I look back at my life and see how my love has evolved through the years. I look at how I used to be. I remember how innocent, how pure my heart was. I didn’t know pain, I didn’t know hurt. I was so free to love. So giving. Assuming guys would love with the same love I felt. Holding expectations that they had the same morals and values that I did. It never crossed my mind that they could lie, that they could cheat. No thoughts that I was never good enough for them. But the way my love was received told a different story. My love was often not reciprocated. I was met with cruelness, selfishness, and hate. Each experience tweaking my own behavior, my own concept of love.

I watched how these experiences changed me. I wasn’t so quick to love anymore. I began building an unbreakable wall around my heart, afraid to let someone hurt it even more. I became guarded. This allowed me to avoid hurt, but it also allowed me to not give away my love so easily. I’ve protected that love, kept it buried deep inside my heart. And now, now that I’ve met someone worthy, someone deserving of that free and beautiful love, all I have to offer is a scarred, broken, and guarded heart. And I just wish I could love with that same love I had when I was younger. But his patience slowly chisels at the protective wall I’ve built. His love ignites the love I once possessed.

I watch as our love story continues to unravel. Realizing I’ve never loved like this before. Not even close. A deeper love now. A love I didn’t think was possible, a love I didn’t know existed. And I think one of the most beautiful things I’m seeing is how our love relates to God’s love. How God loved us in spite of our brokenness. How God loved us even when we couldn’t love Him back. And how God’s love ignites passions inside of us to love Him and love others with that same love. I’m learning that perfect love isn’t love that’s never been hurt or never been broken. Perfect love is one that sees all of our brokenness and loves us even more.

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The familiarity of your flaws

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I wanted to go back to you. Even though I knew you weren’t good for me, I had convinced myself that something was better than nothing. That dysfunctional love, which in reality was hate, was somehow better than being alone.

Another break-up and I’m left comparing. Left alone. Left to wonder.

Your flaws, I started to excuse them. Was I asking too much? Was I being too picky? Maybe you weren’t that controlling, I did enjoy flirting. Maybe your anger was justified, because I did mess up at times. Maybe you weren’t that negative, you were under a lot of pressure at work. Maybe you really did love me, even though I knew you didn’t.

A lot of maybes in a world of uncertainty. A lot of excuses because I craved any hint of love.

For some reason I’ve always remembered the good times, the bad times seem to have been erased from my memory. My journal reminds me of the pain when my mind seeks to deceive me. It’s not in an effort to hold onto bitterness but rather to live in reality.

But ‘what ifs’ come flooding in. What if we were at a different place in life? What if our parents hadn’t been so involved? What if we hadn’t rushed everything? What ifs can send us down an alternate reality that steals the blessings God has placed right in front of us. What ifs symbolize things that didn’t happen. Things we perhaps wish would have. Things we think would have made everything better.

But these didn’t happen moments are what brought us to where we are today. Thankfully, my desire to go back to you was met with my desire to believe I deserved something more. My desire to trust God more than myself. To trust He had something better than my limited view could see.

The familiarity of your flaws led me to believe I was somehow safe. But the truth is, I never felt safe with you. What is safe about the predictability of unpredictability? And while it’s sometimes scary in a world of unknown flaws, I am left with one thing I never had with you- hope.

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The time you gave up on us

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“I’m done.” I’m pretty sure I’ll never forget these two little words. It’s amazing how six letters can cut so deep. I don’t think I’ve ever said these words to someone before and I don’t think I ever could. There’s just something so finite about it- not to mention the pain they cause.

I remember you telling me the one thing your ex said to you you’ve always remembered. “I don’t know if I can do this anymore.” The time you needed her most, she was giving up. And it hurt you so. Years later. To this day you still remember it so vividly. Yet, here you are- in the same situation. But it’s me you are hurting this time. Does it feel better being on that end? With tears streaming down my face as I write this, I can still say confidently that I don’t think it’s better on that end. Because at the end of the day, I get to say I tried. I get to say I never gave up. I was willing to try. I was willing to fight but I don’t have to carry this burden anymore.

“I’m done.” Two such painful words that give me the power and strength to move on. To know I’m not missing out or losing anything. Because you see, the guy for me won’t ever give up. He will fight. Not for me but for us. He will pursue. He will hold on in the worst of times. Because that’s me and that’s what I would do. That’s what I’ve always done.

I think one of the most beautiful things about marriage and relationships is how they are just a small glimpse of how God loves us and chases us and never gives up on us. Our relationship could never be that.

I realize now you never really saw me. You just saw what I could do for you. Because you don’t treat people you love this way. You just can’t. You wondered why it was so hard for me to open up to you and trust. Do you understand why now? You may have heard me but you never listened. It was always my fault. I was never good enough. You always thanked me for being such a great encourager and supporter yet I could never say the same about you. Shoot, a few hours before saying you were done you thanked me. Do guys really expect women to follow and trust them when you treat them this way? You did. Ladies will only follow a guy if the guy has their best interest at heart. That’s biblical. Why do we forget it’s a two way street?

But I trusted you from the get go. And you also broke that trust from the get go. I never gave up though. Maybe it was my fault for thinking we could work through it. Maybe I was naïve in thinking I could learn to trust you again. It’s a process but that doesn’t stop us from growing impatient. My gut knew there was something wrong. Why does it take so long for my actions to catch up with my gut? This is definitely not what I want. I was still willing to try. But here you go, breaking the trust yet again. I don’t understand how people think it’s okay to treat others this way. We are set way too far back now so maybe it’s a good thing you’re done. Even though I know you aren’t really. But we are done. And that’s on you, not me.

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