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.

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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!

The Desires of Your Heart

“Delight yourself in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” -Psalm 37:4

That was a verse from my last blog entry and I wanted to talk about it today because there is a lot of confusion and misunderstanding surrounding the promise behind it.

The Heart Wants What it Wants

Each and every one of us has a deep, intense, heartfelt desire. Leave a comment and let me know what it is that burns within you because I’d like to join you in prayer. Perhaps you have a family member you hope will get saved? Perhaps it is an addiction you hope to overcome? A goal weight you’d like to reach? A health issue? A destination you’d like to travel? For me, it is the yearning for a family of my own, a loving husband and children.

Trust in the LORD and Do Good

The surrounding context of Psalm 37 tells us to wait, have patience, trust in God, commit our way to Him, don’t worry, and rest.  It speaks about trusting God’s plan and waiting to see what He will do, aligning our will with His will. When our mind is united with His mind we are becoming more like Him. His desires become our desires. THIS is delighting ourself in Him.

Delight ~ Hebrew word עָנַג

de·light / dəˈlīt

verb

  • To please (someone) greatly
  • To be exquistely happy about
  • To make merry over
  • To give pleasure to

To delight yourself in the Lord is to serve Him with enthusiasm (Ephesians 6:7, Colossians 3:23). To have exceeding joy in your salvation (Psalm 51:12, Psalm 13:5). Letting Him satisfy your every need (Psalm 23:1, Philippians 4:19, Matthew 6:33).  To live contented with what you already have (Hebrews 13:5, 1 Timothy 6:6, Philippians 4:12) rejoice in the Lord always (Philippians 4:4) and be thankful (1 Chronicles 16:34, Philippians 4:6).

According to His Will

When we are delighting in God and submitting to His will, He blesses us with provisions, protection, deliverance, guidence, stability, and peace. But Psalm 37:4 is not a quid pro quo verse. Jesus said, “If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it” (John 14:14). Notice He said IN MY NAME. He didn’t say, “Ask me anything and I will do it,” but only if it was according to His will.

There are many examples in scripture of unanswered prayer. For example, we read the story of Paul’s thorn in his flesh in 2 Corinthians 12:7-9. Paul asked God to remove it three times but for one reason or another, God chose not to say “yes.”

Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane with droplets of blood pouring out of his sweat glands in complete anguish. He prayed earnestly, “Father, if You are willing, take this cup from Me. Yet not My will, but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42). Obviously, if God had answered THAT prayer then all of us would be going to Hell!!!

Sometimes God chooses not to answer our prayers, even when we’re delighting ourselves in Him and trusting Him with our whole heart. But because we know and trust that He “works all things together for good” (Romans 8:28) we can praise Him and thank Him even when we are experiencing great pain.

Hillary Scott wrote this song right after she had a miscarriage which was the hardest trial she had ever gone through. She said in an interview, “Even when it hurts… God’s will is what’s best. Sometimes we don’t understand God’s promises until eternity. His ways are so much bigger than our ways. He sees the whole picture.”

When we are trying to pray but can’t find the words to say we can say these four words:
“Thy will be done.” 

Be Still and Know

James 1:2 says, “Consider it pure joy whenever you face trials” but it is definitely easier said than done as Scott sings in her song. How do we delight ourselves in the Lord in the midst of trials? The secret is reminding ourselves that He is God… and we are not. “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). God uses trials to remind us that we need Him and to increase our faith. Without faith it is impossible to please Him (Hebrews 11:6).

It’s hard to count it all joy when we’re distracted by the noise. That’s why Jesus intentionally rose early before anyone else to have his regularly scheduled time to be alone with God every morning. Jesus disciplined Himself to do this because quiet time with God was of utmost priority to Him. We can’t get lost in the business of life and put God on the back burner. We need to be open to hearing His “still small voice.” Isaiah 30:21 says, “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.'” If we aren’t listening, we’ll miss it.

Where is Your Delight?

It’s frustrating when we’re still single with verses like Psalm 37:4 laying around that seem to offer so much hope. Yet despite our unanswered prayers to the desires of our heart, God has a plan for “those who love Him and who are called according to His purpose.” First I’d like to ask you: Where is your joy? Is it in a relationship with a human being or is it in a relationship with the Lord? There is nothing wrong with wanting to be in a relationship but our delight must be FIRST in the Lord. If time with God it is not a priority in your life then your joy is not in the Lord.

Second, are you “trusting God and doing good?” I read a statistic that only 5% of people are saving sex for marriage. I don’t know the statistic, but many believers choose to be unequally yoked with unbelievers and live impure lifestyles. Sin grieves the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30). God might choose not to bless you if you haven’t turned over all areas of your life to Him. When we repent of our sins and walk with the Lord, He removes our heart of stone and replaces it with a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 11:19). Then he plants His desires for us in our heart. As the old, beloved hymn goes, “Trust and obey for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus!”

Third, continue to pray, “YOUR way, not my way, Yahweh! Thy will be done. Make Your desires for me the desires of my heart.” Then be still and wait on Him. Waiting SUCKS but God tells us to wait over and over in scripture. Don’t rush. Be patient. He has His perfect timing.

Finally, delight yourself in the Lord! The Psalmist sings in Psalm 73:25, “There is none upon earth that I desire beside thee.” Is that true in your life? 

There is a funny story I’d like to share with you. My roommate in college gave me a poem for Valentine’s Day. The last line of the poem reads thus:

Since from His bounty I receive
Such proofs of love divine,
Had I a thousand hearts to give,
Lord, they should all be Thine

I joked, “Can we just give God 999 hearts and save one for Mathew?” (At this time, my ex-husband was my boyfriend.) We both tilted our heads back with deep, belly laughter but then we both got quiet and serious. There is no room to give God 99% of our heart and keep 1% for ourselves. We have to give Him our WHOLE heart.

He is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think (Ephesians 3:20-21). He longs to bless us with good gifts (Matthew 7:11). But first He wants us to be completely satisfied in Him (John 6:35; John 7:37-39). When He is the object of our desire, we will have more of Him! Draw close to Him and He draws close to you (James 4:8).

When We Feel Empty

It wasn’t even a full three days since I posted “Singleness is NOT a Punishment!” when my dear, sweet friend sent me this through Facebook message:

princess_warrior

If you have ever seen this or something like this, I want to just help erase any of the damage that it may have done to your heart.

warrior

First of all, who else saw Xena the Warrior Princess when you first starting reading that? Ha! But I digress. Let’s respond to the letter from the anonymous internet person to the Princess Warrior. (Which is supposed to be a letter from God the Father to me, His beloved daughter.)

First of all, I look nothing like sexy Xena the Warrior Princess nor do I feel like her, even though I do know I am a daughter of the King and in His army.  Second of all, I would have to honestly say that, for the most part, I desire the approval of God alone. When I was young I sought the approval of my parents and my teachers and now that I’m an adult I seek the approval of my boss. There is a certain crush of mine who I highly admire and respect and from time to time I will find myself desiring his approval but it’s only because I hold him in such high regard. I don’t think validation should come from anywhere but from above as we are complete in Jesus Christ (Colossians 2:9-10) but I don’t think the desire to feel accepted and supported is wrong. In fact, that’s not only normal but God designed it that way. Allow me to explain:

The letter goes on to say, “I designed you to desire Me and Me alone.”

I challenge you to find a passage in the Bible that says that. You will be hard-pressed to find such a verse because I guarentee it is not there.

Have you ever been in a crowded room, yet felt completely isolated? It’s not a good feeling at all, is it? Loneliness has never been part of God’s plan for his children. After all, in the beginning when God created the Heavens, the earth, the water, trees, flowers, birds, fish, and animals, He looked over each day of creation and declared it to be good. However, upon creating man, God stopped and for the very first time declared something as “not good.” He said, “It is NOT GOOD that man should be alone.”

Adam had God by his side and yet God still said, “It is not good that man should be alone.” Not until after God created Eve did God say, “…and it was VERY good.” All this is to say that we need each other and to deny that is to deny God’s design. Yes, we were designed to desire God, but He also designed us to yearn for a helpmate in life. We are sexual beings and our bodies are naturally created with a longing to be intimate and to be fruitful and multiply. Is it a sin that we desire these things? NO!

Some Christians might tell you that desiring sex is a sin but that is not biblical. The distinction comes from the OBJECT of our desire. If our desires are fixating on something evil (i.e. adultery, fornication, etc) then the desire itself is evil (Matthew 5:28, Matthew 15:19, 1 Corinthians 6:18-20). If our desire fixates on something good (i.e. marriage, companionship) then the desire itself is good (Proverbs 5:18-19, Song of Solomon 2:5-7, Proverbs 18:22, Ephesians 5:28). Sexual desire is wholesome, honorable, and right when it is enjoyed within the boundaries of holy matrimony.

“Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things.” -Philippians 4:8

We have become a generation with a distorted view of marriage.  When we try to convince singles that we shouldn’t desire sexual intimacy or that longing for marriage is somehow unholy then we are giving Satan the credit for God’s beautiful design.

I have said it before and I’ll say it again: Psalm 37:4 is NOT an equation.

Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. -Psalm 37:4

If Psalm 37:4 were an equation, then I’m pretty sure I would have a husband and children by now. Don’t believe for one second that if you’re still waiting on the Lord for this blessing that you must not be doing something you’re supposed to be doing.  Though it certainly feels like a curse, singleness is very much a blessing.  I know that it hurts, especially when you’re lying awake at night in your empty bed with nothing but pillows to squeeze for comfort.

Now let’s take a look at another passage in the letter:

“When you choose to live for Me, you will never again be thirsty for attention…”

Is that really true? What kind of a message does that send to people who struggle with depression? With aching emptiness and longing? With grief and loss associated with divorce? Just because we’ve given our lives to Jesus and chosen to live for Him doesn’t mean that we don’t still struggle with the pain of an empty womb or the longing to share our lives with a companion by our side. Telling a woman that she’ll never thirst for attention if she chooses to live for God… Do you see how that could be detrimental to her spirit? “Oh, I am still thirsty for love and affection…” She thinks. “I must not be fully living for God.” 

In the wise words of one of my favorite authors Alyssa Joy Bethke: “God is good and everything that happens is for our good. Not necessarily for our happiness but for our holiness. God’s goal is to make us more like His son, and often that involves trials and pain. But those difficulties are opportunities to rely on our Savior, to run into His arms, to nestle ourselves in His embrace and to walk with Him.”

Emptiness is that feeling left over after you give something your absolute all and it still doesn’t turn out the way you worked so hard for it to. You’re exhausted of energy, depleated of hope, and disappointed that it didn’t work out. Perhaps you have some unfulfilled dreams or a place in your heart that aches because your beloved didn’t return your love. Perhaps, like me, you fought hard to save your marriage and did everything possible to redeem it but it still fell apart in your hands.

God’s Word offers some promises to combat the emptiness and find fulfillment in Christ.

“I am the LORD your God, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.” – Psalm 81:10

“For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” – 2 Corinthians 12:10

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” – Romans 15:13

“I ask God from the wealth of His glory to give you power through His Spirit to be strong in your inner selves,  and I pray that Christ will make His home in your hearts through faith as you open the door and invite Him in.  I pray that you may have your roots and foundation in love, so that you, together with all God’s people, may have the power to understand how broad and long, how high and deep, is Christ’s love. Yes, may you come to know the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love—although it can never be fully known—and be so completely filled with the very nature of God.” -Ephesians 3:16-19

Just because we’ve completely given our lives to God doesn’t mean the longings He’s plsb10065339i-001aced there will completely go away. I believe they are from Him and they aren’t sinful. I mean, not all of us are called to be nuns!!! On the plane home from my sister’s wedding last weeekend I saw a nun. I immediately was drawn to her because of her calm, elegant beauty and of course the curiousity of what made her decide to live under the vows of poverty and chastity but especially the latter. Perhaps she doesn’t have those desires? I can’t imagine not having those desires. If she DOES have those desires then I applaud her for her strength and uncompromising commitment to purity.  She is SO KICK-BUTT! Wish I would have had the courage to ask her my questions. Again, I digress.

It’s healthy to recognize that sometimes the longings we feel aren’t for anything Earth can provide. Psalmist cries out to God, “You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek You; I thirst for You, my whole being longs for You, in a dry and parched land where there is no water.” (Psalm 63:1). Just like the Samaritan woman at the well who thirsted for Living Water, God put a longing in our heart that was intended to lead us back to Him. There is an emptiness that ONLY HE can fill. There is a deep thirst that ONLY HE can quench. If His love doesn’t fill you up, then nothing else will.

“Now let me ask you again, My beloved daughter: Whom do you seek?”

If you’re like me, you’re COMPLETELY honest with yourself and if your desires are the same as mine then you’re seeking a husband. The Bible says, But seek ye FIRST the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” -Matthew 6:33. It never says it’s wrong to seek a husband, but make sure God is first in your heart.

As for me, I’m allowing God to use this loneliness and emptiness to teach me what it means to depend upon His strength and love every day. I know that having a husband won’t satisfy the craving that only God can fill. When you allow yourself to be controlled by Christ’s love you have the indwelling of God’s presence and are closer to unity and maturity. I don’t think we can ever experience the whole measure of the perfection that is found in Christ (Ephesians 4:13) this side of Heaven, but I do believe we can experience joy and fullness here on Earth. I pray this for us both, dear reader, that we would be filled with His love and be content in our single season.

Beauty, Loneliness, & Eternity

I never feel more lonely than when I’m surrounded by absolute breathtaking beauty such as gazing at the sunset over the Sonoran Desert from the top Mount Lemmon. Beauty has a way of reminding us of the Eden that we have never known but somehow always knew we were meant for.

“Every experience of beauty points to eternity.”

-Hans Urs von Balthasar

I know it’s not as lovely as hearing it in person, but if you’ve never heard the haunting, melancholy wail of a loon, please listen to this video clip.

Laying awake at night in the cabin on Bear Lake in Waterford, Maine where I spent every summer with my family, I would be startled by this long, wistful howl that awakened a mournful longing within me. Sometimes the beauty was so great it stirred me to tears and made me feel desperately lonely.

A deep pang of painful yearning similar to my experience in Maine has been pulling on my heartstrings as of late. I could not name the empty place inside me until I picked up the book “One Thousand Gifts” by Ann Voskamp, a birthday present from my sister.

“Our fall was, has always been, and always will be that we aren’t satisfied in God and what He gives. We hunger for something more, something other.”

-Ann Voskamp

Yes, this is exactly what I’ve been feeling. Instead of being thankful for all I’ve been blessed with, I start to believe the serpent’s hissing lie whispering in my ear that God must not love me enough because He’s withholding good things from me. I try to fill the emptiness by putting on my dancing shoes as often as possible, devouring poetry, and crafting pretty things but always, always I feel the ache.

It’s not really my fault though, is it? The gaping hole in my soul will always be there until I am restored to glory and present with my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We were never meant for this dark, lonely world. We were created for a loving relationship with God.

Strangely enough, there is one person with whom I feel at peace. One person who makes the hole seem less cavernous. When I am in his presence, the hollowness melts away and I feel safe and able to rest. His company is inviting, nourishing, and comforting. I never want to say “good bye” but I am not allowed to be with him forever. It seems unfair that God would tease me with everything I’ve always wanted so close I could touch it but hold it just out of my grasp.

I think the grief I feel over this is natural and healthy. The sadness I feel because I am alone is due to living in a sinful, broken world where people don’t keep their vows and abandon their spouses. The sadness I feel because I am unwanted and rejected means I know my worth.

The wound of grief says, “This is not the way life is supposed to be. You were created to be dearly loved and cherished. You were never meant to be alone.” And the beauty in the world points me to hope. The loon’s cry sings, “There is still beauty in this lonely world.” It is an echo of what once was before sin spoiled its perfection. It is a mere shadow of the glorious beauty that will one day be revealed to us when Christ returns for His bride.

I am looking forward to that marvelous day.

A Letter

To the man who promised me forever:

I forgive you.

I remember the black and white checkered pattern of the hospital floor, pacing back and forth that day you were in detox, pondering hopefully, as I am oft-inclined to do, that our situation can only look up from rock bottom. I had never loved you more than in that moment when I thought I would lose you forever. I loved you more than life itself and I would have done almost anything to stay by your side and help you through your darkest hour… but you left me… your faithful wife who only wanted to support you.

I thought my heart would always belong to you and I would never get it back. I thought I might never heal from that intense pain. I thought the aching emptiness might never go away.

But I forgive you.

There has been more than one man who won’t date me because I am your “left overs.” You chewed me up and spit me out and now no one seems to want me. I feel like Hester Prynne with a giant scarlet letter on my chest warning everyone to stay far away because I’m unable to keep a marriage together.

I finally met a God-fearing man who doesn’t mind that I’m divorced. “It’s your past but it doesn’t define who you are,” he assured me. But he thinks that his family won’t understand. He thinks they won’t accept me, at least not right away. He asked me not to tell them just yet.

Tears fought to spill from the corners of my eyes. I thought I had worked through my guilt. I accepted my truth and learned to love myself even when I wanted to despise myself. The harsh reality is that I may have moved on from mourning but people may continue to judge me (as I had once judged others in my situation) and that judgment may stir up the regret and sorrow I thought I had buried and finished grieving. Every time a man I hope to date rejects me for being divorced I feel the grief once again.

But I get it. I really do. If I’m honest with myself, I’d rather not date someone who has been divorced, either.

Whether I like it or not, you’re part of me and you always will be. You’re part of my love story because you’re the first man I ever passionately loved; the first man I would have laid down my life for because I loved you that much. You taught me how to love unconditionally… Not because you showed me what that was but because I learned to love you despite you not loving me. My world revolved around you. I was infatuated with the spell you cast on me. Even when you were absolutely horrible to me I couldn’t see anyone but you.

I won’t deny that you were once the most important thing to me on Earth.

After you left I tried desperately to win you back. I must have been plumb crazy. But that’s how I know I am a fool when I am in love and I will make someone an amazing wife one day because of you.

So thank you.

Is This “the One?”

I read a Christian dating book called “Is This the One?” by Stephen Arterburn and it presented a challenge which I chose to accept called “Take-a-Break-Dating” in which you are to platonically date ten different men to expand your horizons and see what else it out there. 

So my rules were simple:

-Don’t seek out the date. Always let him ask you and no saying “no” to the date unless he gives off creepy vibes and you don’t feel safe.

-Make sure he knows it’s a platonic date right up front so you’re both on the same wavelength.

-No matter how badly you are tempted to, you must not kiss no matter how amazing the date went.

(Let me begin by saying that I use the word “date” very loosely. In the majority of these cases, our get together was very much like two friends enjoying one another’s company.)

That being said, I went above and beyond the challenge and went on 30 platonic dates. Many of the men were sweet, thoughtful, respectful, kindhearted, gentle, honest, intelligent, witty, affectionate, well-spoken communicators and great listeners. Many of them were handsome and a couple of them were drop dead gorgeous. A few of them spoiled me rotten and made me feel like a queen. However, a couple of the dates were a complete waste of time, unfortunately, and I came away having a hard time coming up with anything nice to say about the person no matter how hard I tried to think of something.

Out of the 30 dates, only a small handful I can honestly say were on the same page as me faith-wise. One of my favorite dates had this to say over dinner and I think it perfectly sums up my experience with most of the men:

“The only thing I don’t like about you is that you’re too good for me. You’re more faithful to God and more spiritual and that’s actually not a problem with you but a problem with me.”

I must be honest and admit that I didn’t follow ANY of my rules. I ended up breaking them all at some point. Please allow me to explain:

-Number 30 was someone who I absolutely could not resist asking on a date myself. I bent this rule for him only. I know that no one is perfect but to tell the truth I have yet to find a flaw in him. He is the only one out of all 30 men that I could see myself dating romantically when the time is right but he does not feel the same way about me. He has set the bar high for “the one.” He has ruined this whole game for me because after getting to know him, no one else can quite compare.

-I failed to mention on a couple dates that it was platonic. Maybe I was so excited I forgot to or maybe I was afraid of friend-zoning someone amazing that could one day blossom into something more.

-Yes. I kissed a couple of them. Yes, I, Saving-My-First-Kiss-For-Marriage Dannielle, kissed a boy on a first date. I promise to be a good girl from now on and my next kiss will be someone super special that I’m in a committed relationship with.

Without further ado, here are some fun pie charts for those curious about the statistics of my dates.

religion

 

In order to be placed in the “Christian” category, date had to self-identify as Christian but failed to correctly answer an important question about salvation that I feel would justify him being a true Christian. The ones who fell into neither category are those who straight up told me they were either atheist or agnostic which were 5 men in total.

One of my 30 dates passed the faith test but when asked who he would like to marry, he answered, “As long as she loves me, it doesn’t matter if she’s not a Christian.” You can clearly see where his heart is when it comes to spiritual intimacy and oneness. I was REALLY disappointed by this one because up until that moment, he was someone I could have seen myself falling in love with.

RaceofDate

This one is totally for funzies because honestly I believe we are all one race… the human race. Conversation I had last night with a friend:

Him: You don’t like dark meat?
Me: Oh, I LOVE dark meat… just not on my plate!  😉

My pie chart is sadly lacking in the brown sugar department.

ageofdate Wow. This one actually blew my mind. I am surprised to visually see the break down of my date’s ages.

wherimetmydates

Now this is just a heartbreaking pie graph. Notice how NOT ONE guy I dated was found in church. I supposed I could count ONE guy but I placed him in the mutual friend category instead because he was both. If you want to get technical, all the guys in the mall category were also work… I was working at the mall at the time when guys came up to me all the time and asked me for a date. But the true work category is actual co-workers. The “other” category includes fun places such as a Crisis Pregnancy Resource Center fund raiser and a storage unit, the former of which has become one of my best friends. The category where I’ve found the most amazing Christian men is salsa dancing. At this point, I have a better chance of meeting my future husband dancing than I do at church!

In conclusion, I learned a lot from my experience. The most valuable thing I learned was how to interact with the various different personality types. They are all so vastly different and communication styles that work for one will not work for another. Some personality types clash with mine such as those who are excessively sarcastic, those who don’t have a clear vision for their future, and those who don’t have an active lifestyle.

I learned that there are a lot of single “Christian” men who don’t go to church. Not ONE unmarried man over the age of 18 has set foot in my church in five years. This is a huge problem when trying to meet eligible, like-minded men with the same vision and same passion for Jesus Christ. I’d really like to know the reason for men’s spiritual lethargy.

I should caveat my next few paragraphs with the fact that I believe God desires good things for my life and is fully capable of delivering. If God wants me to get re-married, He’ll bring the right one into my life at the right time.

Now, let’s discuss the “meat market!” One report puts the number of “marriageable men” (that is, never having married, no children yet, & has gainful employment) at 152 marriageable men for every 100 marriageable women (source). According to this study, there are more than enough good men to go around. But the study doesn’t measure faith as a factor. If you go to any church, I guarantee you that most of the pews have butts in them that belong to single women. At my church, the majority of the people who attend are single women. There aren’t any single men at all… and even a couple married women members attend without their husbands. A recent study put the number at 25% of married women who attend church without their husbands in tow (source). This same source claims that a typical congregation in the U.S. is 61% female and only 39% male. The participants in activities during the middle of the week are attended by an overwhelming 70-80% of females. I have some friends in their early 40s who finally found each other and tied the knot. I have an uncle who tied the knot recently in his 40s as well… and he had to find my aunt online… and she lived in another state. Why is it taking this long for people to find their “helper suitable?”

If I keep doing what I’m doing (waiting for a guy to come along) I have a feeling I’m going to experience a lot of the same thing… waiting for a guy to come along. There are some things I could change about my lifestyle such as switching churches or joining a Bible study at another church but I REALLY LOVE my church and my schedule is kind of jam packed right now to add anything else to it. Besides, I wouldn’t want to join a Bible study with the intent to find a husband… I’d rather join to study the Bible with other believers.

The only thing I can think of doing right now is continue to pray for my future husband. Pray his faith grow and strengthen, pray for his well-being, and that he will find me soon. I also pray every day for Date #30 that if it’s God’s will, he’ll change his mind about friend zoning me 😉

It has been more than three years since my ex-husband left me and it will be one full year since we’ve been divorced on May 21st. That is when I plan to start dating romantically, should the Lord bring the right one into my life. However, I kind of promised myself I’d read through the entire Bible again before I started this journey. I better get cracking…