You cannot save people

I would add: You can’t save anyone, you can only love them… but Jesus can save them!

Cristian Mihai

“You cannot save people. You can only love them.”Anaïs Nin

It was not until a few days ago that I realized how much truth hid beneath these two simple statements. I also understood that I’ve been trying to save the people I love for as long as I can remember.

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Abuse is NOT Your Fault

Yesterday, I came across an ad on Facebook promising to detoxify your unhealthy relationship “practically overnight” with six secrets to “eradicate emotional abuse in your marriage” “even if your spouse doesn’t want to go to counseling.” I followed the Facebook ad to this free webinar.

The way the advertisement was worded was very triggering and angering.

You see, the very first time my husband ever hit me he said afterwards, “Look what you made me do… you made me punch you and I’ve never struck a woman in my life.”

I’ve spent the last five years of my life learning that the abuse that happened in my marriage was NOT my fault.

Now, I do not want to say anything negative against Deborah Watts of “HoneyBee You Authentic Living” because I watched her hour-long master class, took notes vigorously, and was very impressed with what she had to say. I even talked to her on the phone and she seems like an extremely genuine person who sincerely desires to help women in crisis. However, I felt that the words she chose to drive traffic to her Facebook page and website were misleading and drawing the wrong crowd. Granted, in the actual video she expressed that her message was NOT for anyone who was in any hint of physical danger. “Stop watching this right now and go get safe,” she explained. However, you had to watch the actual video to hear her say that. For the record, Watts DOES NOT advocate that you can change your abusive spouse, but sometimes messages permeate our culture that seem to imply just that.

If you’ve ever been in a violent situation in the past, I hope you know that  you did nothing to deserve someone hurting you and there’s nothing you could have done to prevent that person from abusing you outside of removing yourself from that dysfunctional atmosphere. Staying in a physically abusive relationship enables the person who is hurting you to continue hurting you without consequences.  If you continue hoping this person will change their behavior, you risk your safety by staying.

If you’ve never stayed in an abusive relationship, you might be wondering how it is possible for a person to endure four years of this. I received biblical counsel from a pastor when I was going through the physical abuse. I was told that if my husband didn’t believe the Word of God, I was to “win him over by my chaste behavior” (1 Peter 3:1). But this verse was misapplied to my situation because it was never meant to include women who were being beaten. I was also told I shouldn’t leave my husband because if I became separated from him, it would most likely be the first step towards a divorce and I didn’t want a divorce, did I? According to 1 Corinthians 7:13, if my husband was willing to live with me, I “must not divorce him.” So I felt that, according to the Bible, I was stuck in an abusive relationship and there was nothing I could do but suffer through it like a good Christian martyr for the love of Jesus. (I want to add that the pastor who quoted these verses to me meant well and had pure intentions, but I feel these verses were completely taken out of context and used to further the abuse that could have ended a lot sooner than it did.) Even though I knew deep down the abuse in my marriage was very, very wrong, I had to suppress my inner voice that told me “get safe” for the sake of staying in the relationship as I was instructed a godly wife would do.

Every time my husband hit me, I blamed myself for my actions that I felt propelled him to hit me. I chastised myself and became more determined than ever that I was going to be the best wife in the world so that I could “win him over.” In my eyes, the “best wife” was someone who massaged her husband, made him home-cooked meals, spoke lovingly and sweetly to him even when he was angry, and initiated love-making multiple times a day. The more and more I did these things, the farther away he drifted from me. He began spending less time with me and the abuse was getting worse. I couldn’t understand why he wasn’t getting better if I was doing all the “right things.”

I stayed in my abusive marriage for four long years because I truly believed that if I just kept loving my husband, eventually he would change. Newsflash: That only happens in fairy tales like Beauty and the Beast and 50 Shades of Gray. If there’s one thing I learned in my healing it’s that you CAN NOT change a person. (I actually read that on a free pamphlet about co-dependency at the drug rehab my husband checked in to.) They were the most magical words to me in that moment and the catalyst of my healing.

Anyone who promises you that you can somehow transform another person by your behavior is lying. If you are the recipient of abuse, know that it is never your fault and you aren’t doing anything to garner that.

We are in charge of our own thoughts, emotions, attitudes, mindsets, and actions. We alone own our values, beliefs, and viewpoints from which our attitudes and actions stem from. People can influence us for better or worse, but our behavior is our choice and no one else’s. 

You can’t change someone else’s choices, but you can change how you respond to them.

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances.”
-Viktor Frankl, Holocaust survivor.

Find Your Way Back

This was a very inspiring video that I came across on my Facebook feed that I wanted to share with you all.

“You are an unrepeatable miracle, you are beautiful in your own right, you deserve healthy love, you are a child of God.”

Moving Forward

For those of you just now stumbling upon my blog, welcome! It’s nice to “meet” you!

Foundations of Sapphires 

I started this blogging journey to chronicle my personal struggles with separation and divorce. Over time, it became a place of lighthearted venting about my dating escapades. I haven’t updated since last September which is the month I met my boyfriend!

YES! I have found love! (But more about that later.) Lately I’ve been thinking about the fact that I’ve neglected this blog because I’m no longer grieving the loss of my marriage or dealing with difficult decisions regarding that. I’m also no longer involved in online dating shenanigans so I’ve stopped writing about that as well. What other purpose does this blog serve than as a record of a broken woman who climbed out of the pit of despair and allowed Jesus to put her back together again? Jesus bulldozed my old foundation of abuse and hopelessness, threw the wreckage away, and rebuilt my structure on a foundation of sapphires- the symbol of faithfulness, wisdom, virtue, and true love. I’ve decided that this may or may not be my last entry as I wrap up this chapter of my life and move on to new horizons. I hope the words I’ve left here over the course the past five years can be of some help to you if you are going through a tough time and faced with many difficult decisions.

matthew2

I’m so blessed that we found one another. He showers me with affection in just the right way that fills up my heart with love. He consistently puts me before himself and brings me closer to my Heavenly Father.  I thank Him that He brought us together.

Overcoming my Past

Nearly five years after my husband left, I still feel like the same old me, but in a way, I am a new and improved version of myself. Through this experience, I have changed negative attitudes and developed a positive outlook, gained new perspectives, set new goals for the future, grown stronger in my faith, and become an individual that has more love and respect for myself. After years of biblical counseling and personal study, I can smell bull crap from a mile away and I don’t put up with it now, no Sir-Ree-Bob!

What I Have Learned in Dating After Divorce

  • Your new partner is NOT your ex. Just because something seems familiar doesn’t mean the same patterns are going to repeat themselves. I’ll admit that things were pretty difficult in the beginning of my relationship due to the trauma, brainwashing, and various types of abuse I experienced in my marriage, but I’ve learned to give these fears and burdens to God, open up my heart to love, and let myself be vulnerable. It feels so good to trust again.
  • I’ve learned to avoid saying things like, “You’re doing ‘X’ just like so-and-so used to do.” It’s important to share your feelings about the past abuse with your new partner, but try not to compare them because they are two different people with different personalities, values, behaviors, and life experiences. If you are genuinely concerned about your new partner’s actions, speak with a trusted friend, family member, or elder at your church to gain insight from someone who is emotionally removed from the situation.
  • Do not rely on your feelings! Feelings change so you cannot trust them. Every day we must choose to love the person we picked for who he is, not for how he makes us feel.
  • I used to believe that leaving a marriage for any reason other than adultery was sinful, but now I believe that God wants you to be safe. Even though my ex-husband was cruel and frighteningly unpredictable, I remained patiently committed, naively believing that my persistent, undying love would conquer all and that if I just stuck with it, we would eventually reap the “happily ever after” outcome of a healthy, mutually respectful, and intimate partnership.  Boy, was I delusional!
  • The abuse was NOT my fault. I can be pretty hard on myself as I’m a perfectionist, so I blamed myself for years for what happened to me but I learned that there was nothing I could have done to make the abuse stop except get out sooner. I was never going to leave so God provided a way of escape, as He always does for those who love Him.
  • Above all, I have learned to let God write my love story. I’ve given Him the reigns of my relationship and let the Perfect Lover teach me how to love and be loved. It is the most freeing experience to trust God that my life is in His hands and He loves me with an everlasting love. When I put Him first, my joy and sense of security come first, too.

Tips If You’re at the Beginning of Your Journey

  • Sometimes it’s hard to recognize abuse in your own relationship. Being able to call it by its name is the first step to stopping it. Abusers can’t abuse if they don’t have a victim! Abuse can be so subtle that you don’t even realize it’s happening or perhaps it’s gone on so long that it has become normative. Here are two resources I’ve found to assess whether or not you’re being abused: [One] [Two] Once you are able to acknowledge your situation for what it is, educate yourself about it. Knowledge is power.
  • Find accountability. This is your support network. It’s important to have people you love and trust in your corner. Speak the truth, no matter how scary it is. Personally, I struggled between my need to speak out about what was happening and my perceived need to  protect my abuser’s reputation and integrity. After you share your burden with others, it will be such a relief! Validation will empower you as you take the steps to make positive changes in your life.
  • Time will bear witness of true, heartfelt change. Your abuser will try to get you to come back once you are safely at a distance but don’t put yourself back in harm’s way unless you and other witnesses have seen serious change over a period of time. Abuse is not normal and you shouldn’t have to accept it.
  • Remember that you can still be who you want to be apart from him. You are deeply cherished because you belong to God and He has prepared a beautiful purpose for you even before you were born. If your relationship doesn’t survive, you still have a bright future ahead.

For further reading, please visit this library of resources I put together that helped me transition into this new stage of my life.

Thank you for joining me on my road to healing! This is not the end but the beginning of something new and beautiful!

Loneliness

This song was one of my favorites as a little girl… I used to play this album on our vinyl record player over and over!

I love the line that sings, “I love a loney day, it chases me to You. Lets my very best part shine through, it’s You.”

It’s so important that your God needs are being met by God and not anyone else. He alone needs to be your priority. But we need people, too. God said, “It’s not good for man to be alone.” I am so ridiculously thankful for the friendships in my life because without them I would be so lost and alone. For the first time in my life I actually feel like I DON’T need a romantic relationship because I already have friends who intimately know me, love me through and through, and are not going anywhere. (Of course I still desire a healthy romantic relationship and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.)

Your support system is only as good as the people you choose to confide in and your openness to being vulnerable. In order to fully experience the fullness of joy in our relationships with others we need to be completely honest and vulnerable as we share with them. You have to allow yourself to be dependent on them (scary thought!) Yes, it opens you up to heartache and rejection but the benefits of having such faithful friends far outweighs the risk of anything that could go wrong.

The feeling of loneliness is pretty similar to the feeling of hunger. If you feel hungry, you go buy yourself a cheeseburger. If you feel lonely, you call your best friend and ask her to come over. We need to surround ourselves with loving, caring, supportive, trustworthy, committed people so that we aren’t so isolated. Isolation is what causes depression and feelings of emptiness. But sometimes you can be surrounded by loving people and still feel left out. It’s important to find someone who truly understands you and loves you unconditionally. Someone who isn’t going anywhere and will always stand by your side. You do not need to find this in a romantic partner, in fact, I would recommend you wait until you are no longer feeling needy and lonely before you commit to someone romantically. Loneliness can make us do almost anything just to fill that hole in our heart.

“When we are lonely, it’s a signal that we are alive. God created us with the drive to connect and be attached to Himself and others. It is a good thing, because loneliness leads us to relationship and that is where God wants all of us. We are all members of one body.” -Cloud and Townsend

Kindred Spirit

At the begining of August I was being pursued by seven different men. I went on at least one date with each of them and began slowly eliminating them. In one week, I went on a date with a different man every day for five days in a row. Then the last two days of that week I went on a second date with two of them.

I honestly like all of them. They are all great guys and I really can’t say anything bad about any of them. One of them was my mailman who has been leaving me thoughtful presents and notes in my mailbox for about a year and a half. Another one was a man I met online who came all the way down from Colorado just to spend the weekend with me.

As amazing as all these men are, none of them felt like I had met “the one…” except one. From this point forward I shall refer to him as “Kindred Spirit.”

From the moment I met Kindred Spirit, I felt as though I had known him my whole life. We immediately clicked in a deep way as if I were getting together with an old childhood friend and reconnecting after not seeing one another for ten years or more.

It sounds so ridiculous writing it down and putting my thoughts out into the world, but I was already excited about him after one date. We stayed up until 2 in the morning talking in a parking lot. I wanted to kiss him. KISS HIM, people! I NEVER want to kiss someone I’ve just met. I was already kind of crazy about him. I couldn’t wait to see him again and thought about him constantly. Being my Kindred Spirit, I somehow knew him just as well as I know myself. I knew that if I texted him too much or came on too strong it would turn him off. He’s an old-fashioned hopeless romantic and he wants to be the one in control who does the pursuing… so I kept praying and being patient and reminding myself not to get too excited.

patience

I have the tendancy to be a bit clingy. It’s mind over matter at this point.

He told me a few days later that there was another girl in the picture who he was also dating. I was immediately disappointed, but it’s only fair to mention I also had two other guys I was still dating at that point.

But I called them last night and told them my affections were with someone else. It’s a risky shot in the dark at this point because of what he told me on our third date two nights ago.

Me: I’m probably sabotaging our relationship by asking you this instead of just having fun, enjoying your company, and making the most of this moment together… but I can’t stop thinking about the “other girl.” How are things going with her?
Kindred Spirit: Really good actually.
Me: Oh. Do you like her romantically?
Kindred Spirit: Yes, I think so, I don’t know.
Me: You don’t know what you want, do you? I feel like you should have a pretty good idea at this point of what you want.
Kindred Spirit: I’ve been praying about it but God’s not answering my prayers.

Well, I just wanted to get back to enjoying our time together so we changed the subject and walked around the park again for a second time. Then we sat in my car and talked some more.

Kindred Spirit: Don’t look at me like that!
Me:
Like how?
Kindred Spirit: Longingly.
I immediately broke eye contact and became embarassed that my heart was dangling like that on my sleeve. He quickly pulled me in an embrace, I suppose out of compassion and empathy for my unrequited love. 
Me: There was a quote in chapter 8 of  “Boundaries in Dating” which I just read at the dentist office the other day which said, “Are you confusing longing for being in love? Remember, love satisfies. It does not leave you romantically pining.”

So that’s it. That’s all I have to say. We didn’t set another date and there might not ever be another date. My greatest fear came to fruition… that I would like him more than he likes me. My heart kind of hurts if I’m honest with you. My other greatest fear is that I won’t find anyone else like him. But at the same time, I completely trust God and I know that I can’t wreck up His beautiful plan for my life. I guess I dumped the other guys more for myself than for Kindred Spirit. It’s completely unfair to myself to have experienced a soul as beautiful as his and then settle for anything less than how I feel about him.

I would rather be single for the rest of my life than be stuck with someone I didn’t feel that with.

someday

I just feel absolutely blessed to even have met him. He raises the bar high for the next person who tries to pursue me.

My hands are open
Willing to receive
They are not resisting
or defending
My hands are open
Willing to give
No need to grab
or push or cling tightly
My hands are open
Ready to embrace
Ready to let go
Accepting

 

“My Fiancé Never Was My Boyfriend”

“As friends, he fell in love with my character.”

virtuous1s

Sep 11, 2014
Ever since the engagement, many people have asked me questions about my relationship and the most prevalent one is “how long did you guys date?” The truth is we never did. He never asked me to be his girlfriend. He never asked me out on a solo date. We never even kissed. For as long as I’ve known him we were just friends… Friends that valued each other, prayed for one another, and wanted to see each other succeed in every area of life.

image

Now within this friendship, I admit, there were times when I looked at him like “Dang, he’s cute” or “I really admire this about him” or “I would love for my mate to have some of his qualities” but honestly there were A LOT of guys that I would say the very same thing about! Soon enough, I learned how to categorize the…

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