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.

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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!

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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

Two Great Articles to Read

Here’s an article that proposes five possible reasons for why you might still be single. It’s non-threatening even though it’s challenging stuff.

Here’s another article entitled “Dump Your Dream Girl” about letting go of your unattainable expectations for your future spouse.  Extremely well-written, thought-provoking, and also non-threatening.

There’s a lot of garbage out there that points fingers at you for being the reason you’re still single but I like the way these two authors dealt with heavy subjects with such grace.

 

When He Won’t Commit

There is a pandemic in our culture of people who are afraid of commitment. They want the affection and the attention like Charlie Puth sings in this song, but they don’t want to intentionally invest their time because they are afraid of devoting themselves to another person. Commitment has responsibility attached to it and requires consistantly putting another person’s needs above your own.

18013831_229785067501122_5461622332197961728_nAnyone who makes you beg for his time is not someone you want playing on your team. I want someone who not only desires to spend time with me but who is excited to and who considers it a privilege. I want someone who misses me when I’m not there and can’t wait to see me again. I want someone I am proud to show off to my friends and family. I don’t want anything to do with anyone who flakes out when we made plans and leaves me wondering what happened without communicating.
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If you’re involved with someone who makes you feel special some of the time but won’t commit all the way,  you need to get out of that relationship as soon as possible. The reason for the lack of commitment isn’t fear: it’s that he doesn’t love you. When a man loves you he WILL move Heaven and Earth to be right by your side.

A man who won’t put a title on your relationship or make you a priority in his life is just stringing you along. He considers you “Miss Right Now” rather than “Miss Right.” He enjoys your company for the moment but once he finds the woman he really wants, you’ll be an afterthought. If you don’t mind being Miss Right Now, then by all means, continue having fun. However, your heart will probably get invested the longer the relationship continues and it wil hurt excruciatingly once it ends.

You might think you can somehow become that woman he wants or convince him to change his mind about you. Some men know exactly what they want and some men aren’t sure but trust me, if you aren’t already what he wants, he won’t want you. You’re better off finding somebody who already wants somebody just like you.

I keep using he/him-pronouns but women string men along, too, all the time unfortunately. This sad song by Eric Paslay illustrates my point perfectly. Break out the tissues.

Over Overthinking

If you’re anything like me, you tend to overanalyze every little detail, emotion, and possible connection.

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It’s exhausting and unnecessary, but it’s also a sin. Yup. Overthinking is just the polite, grown-up way of saying “worrying.”

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:34)

Worrying keeps up from experiencing the full life of joy God has planned for us because we’re too busy overanalyzing all the minutiae.  Worrying just keeps us busy doing a lot of nothing. This distraction is a tool of the enemy to keep us from our God-given purpose.

worrying-is-like-a-rocking-chair

There’s nothing wrong with questioning the status quo but we need to remind ourselves of the truth, which will set us free.  If you feel anxious or upset due to racing thoughts, you know they are not from the Lord beause He is a God of peace.  There is no fear in love.

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Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. (Philippians 4:6)

You gave me feelings I never knew
And I don’t know why
What should I do?
What should I say?
Why’s this bothering me?

Mixed Signals 

He likes me. I think. I’m almost certain. There were all these SIGNS. 
Do you find yourself questioning your sanity as you play Sherlock Holmes piecing together all the clues that point to the ultimate conclusion that he does, in fact, like you? Yup. We’ve all done it. We want it SO BAD that our feelings blind us to the truth that he is just not that interested romantically.
You should hear what he says to me!
♥  When someone we greatly admire says certain words to us or performs kind gestures for us we twist it in our mind to mean more than it means.  
♥ It’s so easy to see what we want to see when we want to see it bad enough.
Oh, but he DOES like me!!! It’s so obvious. 
♥ Perhaps he does. But it’s not a romantic kind of love if he isn’t making his intentions clear. He might, indeed, be interested in you… as a friend.
He TOLD ME he likes me. Why won’t he commit? 
♥ Indecision is a decision. If he isn’t taking action, he’s still pondering his other possibilities or he’s simply not ready for a commitment.
♥ Romantic interest sprouts easily… maturity takes time to grow and blossom.
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Do you know why he likes you? Cuz you’re freaking awesome, that’s why. Who wouldn’t like you!? But if he isn’t mature enough to pursue you romantically, let him go. There’s no sense in wasting time wondering why he won’t commit. Don’t let it distract you from what you need to be doing. Keep on keeping on. You need to guard your heart and protect it from getting entangled with the wrong person. And yes, he IS the wrong person if he’s not willing to commit. Don’t deceive yourself by misinterpretting his signals. Protect your heart. If a man truly loves you, he will go after your heart with all that is within his being.
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Put your hope and trust in a man, and he will hurt you. But place your faith and trust in Jesus Christ and you can rest securely in His unfailing love. His love will never disappoint and never betray you.  When you find your worth in His love, you will gain a deeper knowledge of who you really are… you are His… beloved and cherished. Abiding in His love equips you to become who you truly are and to embrace that identity. 
Human love can bring joy and happiness but God’s love is the most fulfilling love in the world. Talk to God. Give Him your concerns and He’ll give you peace. 

Relationships are Like Dancing

 I think everyone should learn to dance. Four years of partner dancing has taught me so many important things in life. I might even go as far to say that it should be a requirement in high school to graduate. But before I get into my reasons, here is a video of me dancing with my group Ritmos Latinos earlier this year. We’ve been working hard on a second routine that is more complicated and we are performing it tomorrow!

Tonight at rehearsal, my dance instructor said something to me that I won’t soon forget. He said, “Dannielle, you are an excellent dancer and I think you rely on that too much.”

He was referring to the fact that because dancing is second-nature to me, I don’t put as much work into it as others do (and I need to if I desire to improve.) He was also referring to the fact that I anticipate the moves because I’m so confident in them instead of letting my partner lead me through them.

Immediately, a connection shot through my brain from the constructive criticism my teacher gave me to a comment that was made by the last guy I dated. At the time I didn’t understand what he meant but now it’s all starting to click. He said to me, “I never felt like you ever trusted me enough to let me lead you.”

Of course my pride got in the way of letting that sink into my heart. Me? Hard to lead? Rubbish. I’m a GREAT follower. All the guys I dance with say so.

But tonight I really understood that I DO have problem with surrendering the control to the person who is leading me. Sometimes I doubt that he knows what he’s doing and I want to help him but I need to just let him guide me. “Only influence him if he’s hesitant,” my teacher instructed.

Relationships are a lot like dancing. Both require constant communication. Everyone has a different style. You have to learn each other’s moves, go in the same direction, and move at the same pace to stay in sync. You apologize when you mess up and say “that’s okay, don’t worry” when the other person messes up. You learn from your mistakes and do better the next time. Lastly, you HAVE to trust each other otherwise it doesn’t work. Oh, and if you’re the follower: stop trying to lead him! Just rest in the grip of his hands and have faith that he will not let you fall.

UPDATE: Here is the performance from that night!