I used to make people promise to never leave me, promise to never hurt me, and promise to tell me they love me.
You see, the problem with this is that people will fail you, they will let you down, and they will hurt you. And if you place your hope, all your love, and all your trust in people alone, your world will be filled with constant letdowns.
As a child, I grew up in the “new normal” of a family: Mom’s during the week and Dad’s on the weekend. This was always normal for me, going from home to home. However, when I was 8 my father had to relocate for work to a different state. I was told during this time that it was because my father never loved me. Now, this couldn’t be further from the truth, but my eight year old self started to believe lie after lie during this time. I believed that everyone would always leave me, everyone would always hurt me, that no one would ever love me, and that I was unworthy of love.
I was lost and broken and in desperate need of a savior. As high school approached I moved in with my father, stepmother, and 3 other siblings in a new state, made all new friends, and again placed my hope in new friends, a new house, a new beginning, new relationships. Oh how lost and broken I was. I had no idea that the love I was searching for was all wrong. You see, I went from relationship to relationship, heartbreak to heartbreak, to betrayal, abuse, and trauma. People let me down, I let people down. People left my side, and I left theirs. I was in a constant state of fear, the fear of the unknown, wanting to control all of the relationships surrounding me. If I had control, in my mind, “I couldn’t be hurt.” I wanted to feel love so badly, yet I wanted to keep all my walls up surrounding my heart. This way I couldn’t be hurt. I became numb to emotions and feelings, I became numb to love. After years and years of pain over and over again, I became more broken than ever without even knowing it.
The best part is this is where grace showed up.
As a junior in high school, a dear friend of mine (okay okay, it’s Rebekah) began praying for me. We cheered together, sat next to each other in class, yet we never talked more than we needed to. Rebekah was obedient in her faith. She got me a Bible for Christmas, and I wish I could say that my life and my world changed here. However, I was cold hearted from being hurt over and over again, so naturally I was offended by this kind gesture. Rebekah was consistent and kept asking me to coffee. After feeling alone and like I had no one else, I knew I needed to take her up on this offer. Little did I know, in Rebekah’s obedience to The Lord, my life would forever be changed.
I grew up always believing in God, but I never knew God. During the next few months I spent countless hours diving into Bible studies, reading scripture, praying personal prayers and not the ones that I was told to repeat over and over again as a child. I began developing a relationship with the One who created me, who knows every single pain and heartbreak: the One pursuing me, waiting for me to come running to Him, patiently waiting for me to surrender my life to Him and to love me like I had never felt love before. This was what I was searching for, what I was missing, and the intimate love I so desperately desired.
I wish I could say this is where everything changed and my life was all rainbows and butterflies from here on out, but this was only the beginning. Allowing someone in to love me in a deep way was a foreign concept to me. This was the ultimate challenge and where God had to completely change my heart. I had no idea what love was or looked like. I threw the word love around like you do a rag doll as a child. As God grew closer to my heart, I pushed back. I was feeling for the first time and my heart couldn’t take it, I was terrified that if I allowed God to get close enough to me, He too would leave me shattered and broken. I struggled with this all through college and into my early 20s. Okay, okay..I still struggle with this.
“Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.” -Deuteronomy 31:6
Over time (and still to this day when I feel walls flying up around me), I began to pray that God would change my heart, and I began to pray for him to break me. I wanted to feel, to feel something, anything, and I knew that even if pain was the only thing that I could feel, I wanted to feel it. God crashed into my world. He began moving in my heart, breaking down every wall, and as I chased after Him, He began to change my heart and reveal who I am in Him, and this broke my heart for who I truly was. Grace showed up in miraculous ways.
You see, pain, heartbreak, trials - they will come. How will we respond? What happened in your past, the pain others have caused you, the pain you caused yourself, or the pain you have caused others doesn’t matter as much as how you have and will overcome it. This is grace. And what happened, happened and grace covered it. I had to decide to not focus on the right and the wrong, not to continue to believe the lies that no one will ever love me, that all men will hurt me, that every relationship has to end, and that broken relationships are just normal.
Friends, we are all a broken mess. Not a single one of us is perfect. We all make mistakes, and God works miracles in that.
When I truly started to grasp this, God changed my heart. I was able to let go of the lies of the past, the fear of letting others down, the pain and the struggles were no longer mine to carry. I was able to place them at the foot of the cross. Jesus died for us. He doesn’t want us to be carrying around all the weight of our sins and the sins others have done against us. Lay the struggles and the pain at the feet of Jesus and surrender every day to Him. There is freedom in His name; we cannot do it all on our own. Life is hard, and if we allow God to use the events in our lives that were supposed to break us, to instead draw nearer to Him, that is where hope, peace, love, forgiveness, and grace lie.
“Getting over a painful experience is much like crossing the monkey bars. You have to let go at some point in order to move forward.” –C.S. Lewis
Letting go is difficult. It means giving up control and being vulnerable, but most of all it involves forgiveness. I had to forgive the people in my life that caused such great pain, I had to forgive myself, and I have to ask God for forgiveness each and every single day.
The love that I was searching for, the kind of love that I never want to leave my side, never want to lose, and never want to be separated from, is the love that I received, that you receive each and every day from Jesus Christ. We will never be able to provide the love to one another that only God can provide. His love is everlasting.
You are precious, you are adored, you are loved. Searching for love in all the wrong places will only satisfy your desires for a short time. Finding love in the One who created you - that will satisfy your soul. For the first time in my life I began to feel the love of Christ and accept it. Jesus shows His love to me and to us in ways we have never and will never feel from any person or thing on this earth.
“So we have to know and believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” 1 John 4:16