I Think I’m Normal: 3 Post-Breakup Thoughts

There are things that happen on the other side of a break-up. I’m not sure if you’re aware of this. I guess I had forgotten about it since my last breakup when I was 19. But there are consistent things that happen… thoughts that go through your head.

I am still unaware of how to deal with many of them. I post this to let you know that if you, too, are dealing with the healing after a break-up and are experiencing some of these things, you are not alone.

I don’t have the answers for this. I still fight the tension between who I was when I dealt with a break-up as a teenager and who I am now that I’m dealing with a break-up as an almost 25 year old.

So here’s a little glimpse into my mind lately:

The thought: 

I LOVE BEING SINGLE. *10 minutes later* I HATE BEING SINGLE. 

This one sucks. I feel flippant. I feel unresolved. I feel easily swayed. I feel discontent one minute and completely content the next. There are moments I am so confident that this was the right thing and am hopeful for my future. There are other moments where I am miserable, full of doubt and second-guessing, wanting to do anything it takes to mend my previous relationship. Unfortunately… I’m pretty sure this is normal. I think this is part of the process of dealing with a break-up.

The Truth:

“For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters that spreads out its roots by the river; and it shall not see and fear when heat comes; but its leaf shall be green. It shall not be anxious and full of care in the year of drought, nor shall it cease yielding fruit.” – Jeremiah 17:8 (AMP)

“so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind…” – Ephesians 4:14 (ESV)

I am not one who believes truth according to her emotions. I am proclaiming that over myself, being the emotion-filled woman that I am. The truth of the situation is that in want or plenty, in singleness or dating, I am content. I am right where I should be. I am not exempt or escaped from God’s will. Even if there are moments it hurts more than others, I am content. Because God is still good. And that means His plans for me are good. Just because something is painful in the moment, doesn’t mean it’s not exactly where you need to be. 

The thought:

We totally broke up because he thinks I’m fat and ugly… he just didn’t want to say that. 

I mean… yea. That thought crosses my mind more times than I’d like to admit.

The Truth:

Really, Courtney? Haven’t we already dealt with this?

Because God says “You’re beautiful from head to toe, my dear love, beautiful beyond compare, absolutely flawless” – Song of Solomon 4:7 (MSG).

And I am enough. Just as I am. In my places of too much and my places of not enough, I am enough just as I am. We did not break up because of my physical appearance. That is just stupid. Next.

The thought: 

I missed God. I missed it. I messed everything up. This could’ve been it but I was too prideful, too controlling, too over-analytical. I ruined something good. It’s all my fault. 

Honestly… this one feels like truth more times than it doesn’t.

The truth: 

“Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life. Those who trust God’s action in them find that God’s Spirit is in them—living and breathing God! Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life. Focusing on the self is the opposite of focusing on God. Anyone completely absorbed in self ignores God, ends up thinking more about self than God. That person ignores who God is and what he is doing. And God isn’t pleased at being ignored….

That’s why I don’t think there’s any comparison between the present hard times and the coming good times. The created world itself can hardly wait for what’s coming next. Everything in creation is being more or less held back. God reins it in until both creation and all the creatures are ready and can be released at the same moment into the glorious times ahead. Meanwhile, the joyful anticipation deepens.

All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it’s not only around us; it’s within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We’re also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.” – Most of Romans 8 in the Message.

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Bottom line: I haven’t missed anything. His will for me is perfect. And I haven’t escaped it. It’s not possible for me to escape the will of God for my life when I am seeking Him. It’s just not possible. I choose hope. I will believe the best. I will allow the joyful anticipation to deepen, even in the midst of a momentarily painful season.

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How It’s “Supposed” To Be

I haven’t had many profound revelations lately.

Honestly, blogging has been hard in the past months. Not because God isn’t moving but because life looks so incredibly different than it used to. My weeks are jammed pack with lesson planning, emailing parents, grading papers, leading 2 lifegroups, discipling girls, running my church’s social media accounts, and somewhere in the middle, finding time to invest in my friendships and my relationship.

And… quite frankly…. most of the revelations I DO have are about dating. A lot of my time with God lately has consisted of talking to Him about my relationship. I don’t know if that’s “right” or “wrong” or what. But in the past week, the Boy and I have seemed to be climbing a mountain in our relationship.

It’s been marked by difficult conversation after difficult conversation, miscommunication after miscommunication. It’s been exhausting. We’ve both been tired… physically and emotionally.

Saturday morning, we sat in his car and just looked at each other. And I managed to say what we were both thinking, “Is it supposed to be this hard?”

Neither of us had the answer for that. I even used the phrase “Are we trying to make Ron Swanson date Leslie Knope? Maybe Ron and Leslie aren’t supposed to be together.” (Yes… I did say this in a legitimate serious conversation. And yes, I might’ve been crying a little bit.)

And then we just decided to try. We decided to keep pressing in. To give this relationship our all. We talked about the areas that were hurting the other person, we decided to forgive each other, to consciously try to improve, to ask God for wisdom and to move on. And we got out of the car and went to breakfast. And suddenly every ounce of heaviness just disappeared. And I sat across the table and laughed with my best friend and enjoyed my breakfast with him.

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I will not quit in a difficult seasonThat’s not the point. Seasons are called seasons for a reason – they change. And I will not let a difficult season define if my relationship has substance or not. I will not bail when things get hard. I am a woman who presses in to the hard things. It’s at the very core of who I am. I am not one who bails. And the difficult seasons are going to be the things that create the depth and strength our relationship needs.

Because here’s the thing. I don’t care what it’s “supposed” to look like. I don’t even know what it’s “supposed” to look like. I don’t know what I’m “supposed” to feel or how our conversations are “supposed” to go or how often we’re “supposed” to be having these conversations. I just know I’m submitted to God’s will for my life and He directs every detail of it. I know that God is the one who clarifies and defines the boundaries in our relationship. I know the guy I’m dating loves Jesus and is submitted to His will as well. I know the guy I’m dating is trying his hardest to pursue me to the best of his ability. I know the guy I’m dating is submitted to community and seeking wisdom from friends. I know the guy I’m dating serves me consistently and makes me laugh on a daily basis. I don’t know what it’s “supposed” to look like. But I know those are the facts. And I know he’s worth choosing to fight for.

Yes, our relationship might be Leslie Knope dating Ron Swanson. But maybe in God’s kingdom that relationship works out. And maybe it doesn’t. Maybe in a few months we’ll realize it wasn’t meant to be. And that’s okay.

But I will always choose to believe the best. I will always choose to press in for clarity. And as his girlfriend, I will fight for him.

But I also know this. I will not base the foundation of my relationship off of what I feel in a difficult season. 

I write this not to air my dirty laundry or expose all of my secrets. And to clarify, I am not miserable in my relationship. In fact, I am crazy about this guy. He consistently amazes me with his growth and humility and patience. And he’s worth sticking around for.

I write this to prepare those who are not yet in relationships. 

When you start dating someone, you will have all sorts of ideas of what it’s “supposed” to look like. And I’ll break it to you now… It most likely won’t look like that. There will be glorious parts that are way more fun and better than you ever thought they’d be. But there will also be moments and seasons that are harder than you expected.

Don’t ditch when the unexpected happens. Get to the other side of it. Let the glory in your relationship rise to the surface with the ebbs and flows of life. And rid yourself of the idea of how things are “supposed” to be. Let God write a brand-new story that has yet to ever exist.

It’s not supposed to look like anyone else’s story. it supposed to look like yours. 

My Boyfriend’s Girlfriend

After months of single-Christian-girl posts, this was bound to happen, right?

I was bound to start dating someone… the waiting time was bound to end… and my posts were bound to turn into “how to rock at dating” posts.

So let me just put this out there.

After not dating someone for 6 years, getting all sorts of wisdom and revelation about it, finding contentment in my singleness, developing patience, going crazy deep with God, getting healed from all sorts of stuff… I just assumed that I would be the best girlfriend ever. 

Why wouldn’t I be? I’ve had 6 years of waiting. 6 years of being patient. 6 years of watching friends date, learning from their mistakes, hoarding wisdom.

I was going to nail this whole dating thing.

Folks.

That is not what has happened.

I am not the perfect girlfriend.

Despite my surplus of stored knowledge, I have failed on more than one occasion. And the vast majority of the time, I have no idea what I’m doing.

I have had my feelings hurt by things that are so minor and insignificant. And yes, before this, I would’ve considered myself extremely secure and confident. If a girl would’ve come to me a few months ago, telling me that her feelings had been hurt by the things my feelings have been hurt by, I would’ve laughed. “Get over yourself,” I would’ve smirked at her. “You’re just being insecure.”

You see. My boyfriend’s girlfriend has been the furthest thing from perfect. She has not been entirely patient. She has given her insecurities and doubts room to run around in her brain. She has felt needy and therefore more insecure. She has whined. She has cried for a whole Sunday afternoon because of a bad dream. She has been annoyed. She has believed lies.

My boyfriend’s girlfriend is not who I thought she’d be.

I thought she’d be perfect. I though would be perfect.

I realize this sounds ridiculous… no one can be perfect. I get that.

But I thought this would come easier to me.

The reality is that dating is wonderful. It is so incredibly wonderful and fun. But it is so refining…allowing someone to come into the mess and imperfection of your life.

When you are single, your mess and imperfection affect your roommates and close friends and that’s about it. The majority of the time, your mess and imperfection are something between you and God. When you get moody, you get away and get with God. If you don’t want to talk to people for a while, that’s fine. You don’t have to. If you need a weekend to yourself, sure. Go for it. Your schedule is yours.

When you are dating, someone is in the mess with you. They are unashamedly walking into your insecurities, fears, doubts. They are doing life WITH you. And there’s no running away. There’s no hiding from your mess… your selfishness… your pride. It all surfaces and makes itself known pretty quickly.

It is the iron sharpening iron. 

It is the moments you realize how you’ve spent a good portion of your life only thinking about how things would affect you… you’ve never considered how they would affect someone else.

It’s after conversations and interactions realizing how much of you is still not yet there… how much of you still doesn’t look like Jesus.

Being single was a wonderful thing. Being single was actually way easier than dating.

But I had no idea how selfish my heart had become… how unwilling it was to share… how independent and self-sufficient I had grown to be.

I am being refined in the most marvelous way in this season. Insecurities I thought had been conquered are revealing themselves to need even more victory.

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And I am walking through it all with the most patient, servant-hearted, steady man I know. I am honored to be sharpened and pursued by him. And if there is one phrase we have continued to encourage each other with in this season, it’s this:

There’s grace to figure it out. 

We must extend patience to each other in the process of learning how to date in a God-honoring way.

We must forgive and offer grace for those moments of miscommunication and unmet expectations.

Perfection isn’t expected from either one of us.

Pursuit of Him is.

And in the process of figuring out how to be my boyfriend’s girlfriend, I am learning how desperate my heart has been to fully embrace His grace all along.

I’d Rather Be Surprised

4 weeks ago, I sat in my discipleship group… crying.

Pathetic, woah-is-me, sack-cloth-and-ashes tears.

About boys.

And how I had prayed for everyone to start dating and then everyone (well.. a lot of people) had started dating. Just like I prayed for. But I must have been overlooked because there was just no one for me. I must have been exempt from my own prayers. Forgotten. Left behind.

I must have a fatal flaw. I must be too ugly. Too fat. Too emotional. Too… whatever. Because clearly… no one was coming to pursue me.

It was a low… being a 24-year-old woman and crying about boys.

“I must have missed it.” I cried to them. “I must be forgotten. It’s like it’s everyone BUT me.”

How many times do we feel like that? “It’s everyone BUT me.” We look around at our group of friends and see movement and provision. But that one tender spot of our own hearts, that place we’ve been believing for for years, is still left as a desire unfulfilled.

So we ache. And groan. And sometimes cry for this thing. Hoping and fighting, but often discouraged by the lack of any forward motion we see in front of us.

One of the biggest desires in my heart over the past 6 years has been to be pursued by a man of God.

Despite sounding superficial, it has been a very significant thing in my heart.

I haven’t dated anyone since I was 18. So for 6 years, it has been pushing in and believing for a man of God to pursue me, often when nothing looked hopeful. It has been filled with liking boys who haven’t liked me in return, boys asking me on dates who I wasn’t interested in, and seasons of God saying “wait.”

Waiting is freaking hard.

And a part of me thought I would be waiting forever.

But God is good and kind.

Waiting is not a forever kind of thing. 

There wasn’t some secret formula to having a desire fulfilled. But there was a release.

After that crying session, I went to a Heidi Baker conference that night. And something shifted during it. Where I looked at my circumstances and had this realization…

I had no idea when things were going to change. 

I became so hopeful that at literally any moment, things could change. Circumstances could shift. A man could come walking out of the wilderness and start pursuing me. I had no idea what my next moments would hold!

That night felt like Christmas Eve. I could hardly sleep. I was on the edge of my seat… thrilled at the potential and hope for every future day of my life.

“I have no idea when things are going to change.” I kept giggling to myself. Today could be the day. TODAY COULD BE THE DAY!

He’s the ultimate surprise artist. It’s the reason we’re not told the date or time He will return. He lives in the unexpected, surprise moments simply to delight us. Sure… He could tell us every detail. But He doesn’t. He doesn’t for the sake of our tender hearts and the magnification of His kindness.

He delights in us. It is His great pleasure to surprise us with good gifts.

So I became thankful for my season – knowing that at any second, things could change.

And three days later, I started talking to this boy. This boy who loves Jesus whole-heartedly. This boy who is Spirit-filled, Spirit-lead, joyful, tender-hearted and compassionate. And a week later he asked me to be his girlfriend.

Friends.

You never know when things are going to change.

He’s the ultimate surprise artist. Give Him a chance to prove it. 

We’re Not Dating

Reading through a news website the other day, something popped up that caught my eye. The title read something to the extent of “New TV Show – Married at First Sight.”

So of course, I clicked on it. Apparently, there is in fact a new reality show called “Married at First Sight.” The premise is that two people are paired together after psychologists, counselors, therapists, and most likely the President, have all done research and concluded that they are, on paper, the “perfect” couple. And they don’t just start dating the first time they meet. No sir, this is not “The Bachelor.”

They actually get married. The first time this bro ever lays eyes on this chick, she is walking down the aisle towards him in a white dress, cameras rolling.

These people have signed legal documentation agreeing to get married to a perfect stranger and stay married for at least 6 months. At the end of those 6 months, they can decide to get divorced or stay together.

 

There are so many things about this that fires me up.

So here I go.

 

#1. Our society WANTS to get married. And not just society in general… but Christians WANT to get married. My friend was telling me that most of the people on this show are church-goers. Marriage is powerful. It is a threat against the forces of Hell and there’s something within us that knows that. I’m not saying that people who aren’t married or those that choose a life of singleness are not completely in the will of God for their life. God uses singleness just as much as He uses marriage. One is not greater than the other. I’m saying that marriage is a weapon I believe God uses to bring freedom and light to places of darkness. God designed marriage to be a partnership and a representation of His relationship with the Church. Therefore, Christians should have the most powerful and influential marriages in the world.

 

#2. Despite the fact that Christians want to get married, we just want the marriage part now. No Dating. We’ve become an instantaneous generation. We’re over the pursuit, the waiting, the time. We’re ready for the end result. We’re ready for our spouse to walk into the room, stick out his/her hand and say “Oh hi I’m ________, and by the way, I’m your husband/wife.” I’m preaching to myself – a woman who has been known to say, “If dating, engagement, and marriage all happens in under 6 months, that’s fine with me!” (I have literally said that. Ask my friends. Get over yourself, Courtney.)

But we’re missing something HUGE. We’re missing the intimacy… the pursuit that only comes through time… the dating. We don’t date. Young adult dating is SO weird because it doesn’t exist! We hide behind the masks of dating sites or new apps like “Tinder” where we can hope to find someone without bearing the possibly awkward interactions of talking to the people sitting next to us at Barnes and Noble and taking the TIME to get to know one another.

We don’t want to wait. We want to read profiles and see what this person is like, all facts up front, without actually talking to them first. We want to see if their “About Me” matches our “checklist.” 

 

There’s no “Hey, how’s your day going?” while sitting at a coffee shop.

There’s no “I think you’re great. Would you like to get dinner sometime?”

There’s no “I really want to get to know you better. Can we get coffee?”

 

Because we just want the spouse. We put pressure on that one interaction to be THAT ONE interaction that we’ll always remember as the moment we met our spouse.

 

Young adults.

WAKE UP.

START DATING.

Men, stop second-guessing if you should ask a girl out and just ask her to dinner! Be confident! Tell her you think she’s great and you want to take her to dinner.

Women, be approachable and friendly! Get to know people around you. Be intentional!

The person you talk to does NOT have to be your husband/wife. But we must stop relying on the world to give us our instantaneous marriages and shallow intimacies. 

 

We must work for intentionality. We must fight for the purity of our hearts and preserve the days of slow, rich pursuits, where first kisses don’t come for a long while and if there isn’t a second date, nothing is lost because all that is gained is quality interaction with another human being. 

 

May we be the generation that resurrects pure and holy intentionality. May this be the foundation we build our marriages on.