A FEAR OF RELATIONSHIPS
Ok this is some real talk about my struggles with relationships. Now, for this post, what I mean by relationships is dating/romantic relationships.
To give some background - I was in a very unhealthy and toxic relationship when I was towards the end of high school. It was my first (and only really serious) relationship. I was not secure in who I was in myself or in my relationship with the Lord whatsoever. I did not stand up for myself, and I let myself get walked on a LOT. I let a lot of my core beliefs shift because of the influence that the relationship had on me.
I look back at high school me, and I just want to yell at her for accepting everything that was happening. I get so frustrated and sad for that time and situation. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone and I would never want to go through it again, but at the same time that relationship has become a major part of my story that I am not ashamed of. It taught me a lot. It sounds so cliché and cheesy, but it has been a major part of molding the person I have become, and (in general) I really like that person!
But since then, there have definitely been some lasting repercussions on how I handle relationships. For a while, all I wanted was to be in casual relationships. Not having to commit to anyone, and in a way taking back “control” of my dating life. In that aspect of my life, my first year of college was a whirlwind. All I was doing was coping with a lot of hurt in an unhealthy way. Now I’m NOT saying that casual relationships are bad! Not at all. I think that each person will have a dating life that works best for them. But for myself at that time in my life, I knew that it was unhealthy and just a way of coping.
Then I realized that everything I was doing was not helping. It was making me feel worse, and although I wasn’t, and still am not ashamed, I knew I didn’t want to keep doing what I was doing.
So then I just became very single. Very very single. If you have ever gotten to this point of singleness, you know what I mean. Girl, when someone asks “are you in a relationship?”, you just laugh because the thought of you being in a relationship does not even cross your mind anymore. Honestly, I feel like eventually people just stop asking because if you did end up in a relationship, the world would have flipped upside down. I really didn’t mind though. Our society identifies singleness with something that is sad or depressing, but it was actually so freeing to not have any relationships on my mind. You kinda just start to forget about relationships completely. Those are a thing of the past right? I can just be single and happy for the rest of my life? Until you don’t.
The Lord started to put being in a relationship back on my heart about a year ago. It was the smallest little desire that I tried to push down. My first relationship was unhealthy, so obviously any relationship would be too. Why would I want to put myself back through that? But the Lord slowly started to work on my heart. He brought me to different passages in the Bible that show what a relationship was DESIGNED to be. The Bible paints a beautiful, elborate picture of Jesus’ relationship with the Church and how our relationships were meant to mirror that.
That would only be a fantasy.
That’s kind of where I’m at right now. I’ve realized recently that in my mind, good relationships are only a fantasy. Something will always go wrong. So through that mindset, I will start to self sabotage potential relationships. Cutting someone off before they can hurt you, am I right??
Yeah.. but I know that will only work for so long. Well actually it’s not working at all. Because I have this desire the Lord has intentionally put in my heart, and I’m pretending to listen to it and be OK with it, but in all actuality, I’m definitely not.
So I’ve been trying to work through this a couple different ways, which I want to share with you! This is all a learning process for me. I have nothing figured out. I’m still very much so in the midst of everything, but I want to give some encouragement. I KNOW for a fact that I am not the only one who has fears and struggling when it comes to relationships. So therefore, if you’re reading this and feeling alone in your struggles with this, you aren’t alone either! You’ve got a buddy walking right there with you through the thick of it.
One of the biggest resources I’ve found so helpful is counseling. Which sounds so basic, but seriously, game changer. I’ve gone to counselors who bring in spirituality and those who don’t. Both are incredible for different reasons. I loved having a counselor who did not bring in spirituality when I was in my first stages of healing. Learning tangible tools to help with anxiety, depression, PTSD was exactly what I needed. And quite frankly, I was a little pissed at God during that time, so I didn’t want someone to tell me to go to Him for my problems. I now currently see a counselor who does bring in spirituality to our sessions. At first, I thought a Christian counselor was just going to tell me to go home and pray (which I have experienced before, and let me tell you, it sucks to have someone say that). So I was hesitant at first to go to someone who does involve spiritually in their practice. But the issues I’m having with relationships now are so much deeper than the initial issues I was having. These are so intertwined with my spirituality that I need someone to help me walk through it who understands my heart and belief system.
Something that I did a little over a year ago that dramatically helped was to go through a write up a list about who I want my future husband to be. I think we all did this when we were little, talking about a tall brown haired blue eyed guy with a 6-pack and a sports car. Those lists are fun to fantasize about, but aren’t exactly what I’m talking about. I’m talking about a list of non-negotiables. Things that lines up with the Bible, in the characteristics of what a partner should be.
But I didn’t get off the hook. If I want a man who is going to be in line with who Jesus has called Him to be, I also want to be a woman that attracts that kind of man. So I also made a list for myself of the type of partner that I want to be in my future relationship.
It’s easy to discount the Bible when it comes to relationships because it was written so long ago, and when taken in the wrong context has wording that can come across as sexist or mysogonist or oppressive. I totally get that! I literally would not read huge chunks of the Bible for the longest time because of that. I personally, believe that the core of scripture is true, but we do need to take into account our culture and the culture that it was written in. The fact that the Bible even says that husbands have a responsibility to love and respect their wives was a majorly feminist statement in that culture. Women were property back then, and nothing more. So taking into account our society and culture now, I don’t believe that every woman has been called to stay home and work as a housewife. For some women, that sounds like a dream. If that’s you, heck yeah girl! Do it! But for some, there are many other passions on their hearts. And if that’s you, pursue those passions! I am going to have a marriage that is an equal partnership, and I’m going to college so that I can work and have a career. Whatever you want in your relationship, I empower you to do that! The Bible does not have a single diagram for what every relationship should look like. He has put passions on our hearts for a reason.
Know that God is not in a hurry with you. He is in no rush and has no timeline for where you need to be.
I love the song Not In A Hurry by United Pursuit. It was written for us to be singing to God about spending time with Him, but I have found so much comfort in thinking of it in a way of God talking to me.
“I’m not in a hurry when it comes to your presence, when it comes to your spirit, when it comes to your voice.”
He doesn’t want or need to rush my spirit in healing.
He is working in perfect timing and is so patient with where I’m at. He fills me with grace every single day. He is not frustrated and complaining about why I’m not further along. The Lord is gently walking beside me.
No matter how small of a step that I take. Anything and everything is progress, no matter how small. Even if I am complete stagnant, He is still with me. Letting me rest in that moment, knowing that I need a break to just sit and be still. Jesus is not in a hurry with you!
The last thing that is the hardest for me is to stop apologizing for the effects of your past. Man. I do this CONSTANTLY. Honestly, I’ve started just preparing to apologize. I think that whatever burdens I have are too much to handle. But let me empower you and myself. They. Are. Not. If they are too much for someone, they are not the person for you, and they have things in their life going on that they need to deal with. But that’s OK! There have been times when I can’t handle anyone’s problems but my own. And that has nothing to do with the other person being too much or their problems being too much. It has to do with my problems being too much for myself. So go in unapologetically who you are. What baggage you carry, is the baggage you have. And whether the other person shows it or not, they have baggage too that will show up sooner or later.
This is a bit of my story and my thought process wrapped into one, but it is something I am still currently struggling with everyday. That’s OK. It doesn’t always feel OK, but I know it is. Healing is one step at a time. No matter what though, none of us are alone in our experiences. And no matter what…
The Lord is not in a hurry with us.