It’s always darkest before the dawn
Shake it out, shake it out . . . .
And it’s hard to dance with a devil on your back
so shake him off.
~ Florence and the Machine
We all long for something we don’t have. We all want for something that’s out of our reach. “We will never find true contentment this side of Heaven,” a dear friend shared with me several years ago. It still has a grip on me. I can’t figure out if it’s me who has a grip on the situation and can’t completely let go, or if the situation itself has the grip on me. Does that make sense? I don’t feel as if I’m consciously holding on, but it’s there and it’s strong and it’s real. The giddy, romantic girl inside of me still looks for him. I still feel that flutter sometimes when I think about him. You know that feeling? It’s like a butterfly inside of me. It gives me pause and makes me feel happy, bliss-filled. I still watch for him to come through the doors at church. I still wonder if he had a good day at work or what he’s doing this weekend. I still have moments of expectancy when my cell phone lights up with a new text message wondering if it’s from him. It felt good. I felt young and warm and carefree to hope for attention. And when he did respond, I was in a state of bliss.
In this time of moving on, I’ve felt a void. It’s a space that’s been left vacant; a hole that I’m assuming will close up and heal over time. Moving into a new stage of my life and stretching my faith has not been easy. I don’t want to keep thinking about how I’m NOT thinking about it. But, I realize that I will continue to think about him and what he represents for awhile; deep roots take hard work and strength to pull up. I want to get to a point where this situation doesn’t invade my thoughts at least once a day. One stage at a time; one foot in front of the other. It’s a form of grief. The process is the same. It’s letting go of something I will never see again. I truly do believe I’m not simply letting go of my disappointment over some guy. It wouldn’t be this difficult if that were the case. I’ve been holding on to him and what he represents for a long time. A lot is wrapped up in him. I’m letting go of the promise of marriage and children. That may seem ridiculous, but that’s what it feels like to me. That I’m letting go and I’ll never ever experience it. I’m accepting that. It very well could be my reality. Sometimes, I think God wants me to completely let go before He shows me what’s next. It’s His way of testing me to see if I truly trust him. I have a good friend who left her job without any plans of what was next. She let go and God unveiled a wonderful new career opportunity for her. It’s not void of struggle, questioning, and doubt, but stepping away sheds light on new paths of discovery. It’s like letting go of the bar on a trapeze swing and God’s on the other side with arms stretch out ready to catch me.
I had become so comfortable living into a situation where I was consistently hope-filled. Even though there wasn’t a relationship there to speak of, I caught glimpses of a life with him – partners, trust, in love. It was a yearning that I sought to make that my reality. It wasn’t real. But, the hope of more felt good. And the crazy thing is, that part of me wants to turn around right now and run back into that situation. I crave the challenge of the hunt. At times, I desire to reach out to him, but I refrain (and, I have too many friends who told me that if I ever even think about contacting him, then I need to call them so they can talk me down.). I still feel this struggle within myself where Good is resisting Evil. My Christ-centered self is moving forward, but there’s still this ‘devil on my back.’ There’s still this urge to go back to the way things were before. Oh, do I need God or what? Yes, but I also need the strength from my family and friends. Words of encouragement, prayers, and a listening ear are amazing blessings as I journey through this. It’s about really knowing who I am and how Christ made me. If I’m not content with that, then I certainly need to be comfortable with it. I’m moving on sans romantic relationship and not interested in looking for it right now. What challenge there has been in moving on to continue in my singleness; being alone; by myself. Sometimes it’s so much easier to continue to live in the comfortable – the familiar, even if it’s not ideal.
There has been noticeable progress. I don’t yearn for these experiences like I did even a few weeks ago. I have amazing moments of pure joy. Like the other night when I went on a walk in my neighborhood. I was overcome with thanksgiving and gladness. I was basking into the next stage, even though I’m not quite there yet. God was showing me the grace of living into this moment, and not turning around to see what’s behind me. He was showing me what it feels like to be free. This situation will always be part of my past. God used it to grow my faith, but I can let go now. He doesn’t want me to hold onto it anymore. I’m tired of holding on and I’m grateful that these moments of struggle I’ve described are not a state in which I consistently live. I’m not there yet, but I will be. I’m loosening my grip….one finger at a time…..and it feels amazing.
I don’t know where to go from here
It all used to be so clear
I’m finding I can’t do this on my own
I don’t know where to go from here
As long as I know that You are near
I’m done fighting. I’m finally letting go
I will trust in You
You’ve never failed before
I will trust in You
If there’s a road that I should walk
Help me find it
If I need to be still
Give me peace for the moment
Whatever Your will, whatever Your will
Can you help me find it?
Can you help me find it?
This song found me this week. It’s Help Me Find It by Sidewalk Prophets and I had never heard it before. It came on the radio on Sunday morning on my drive to church. As I let the lyrics sink in, I smiled and knew that God had sent these words to me at just the right time. I love it when He uses music to speak to my soul. I needed that song in that moment.
I’ve written about Distraction, a guy friend I’ve struggled with having stronger feelings for. I thought this relationship would eventually blossom. I was convinced that we were meant to be more than friends. I knew without a shadow of a doubt that he was in God’s plan for me. But, it turns out he wasn’t ‘the one’ for me. I was wrong. And, I don’t understand how something that seemed so undeniably of God turned out not to be. My relationship with God is usually pretty intuitive. Until now I’ve been able to discern His will for me and step out in faith-filled confidence in the direction of His plan for me. That’s what I thought I was doing in this situation. Why was this experience so different when it felt like it was so meant to be? How did I misread it for such a long time? I don’t understand. But, my bag of tricks is empty. I’ve used them all up and I have nothing left. I’ve held on by strings and then by threads until last month, when I finally let go.
I’ve been struggling with this for awhile. When I say awhile, I’m talking years, not months. The roots run deep. It’s not like digging up the roots of the dainty pansy flowers that surround my back patio. This struggle is like a mighty oak; the roots have formed over time and are hearty and strong. Time is needed to dig them up, to sever the roots and stop this situation from growing. Time away from him. Room to refocus. A chance to gain perspective. It’s time to pull up those roots and dig deeper within myself to heal and move forward.
Of course, I’ve been reflecting…..a lot. Reflecting on how I got to this point. How I’ve been so convinced all this time that I was following God’s lead. Somewhere along the way, the line between God’s plan and what I wanted got blurred. I went astray. I kept trekking on when God had stopped moving in that direction. And, I ended up getting to a point where I didn’t recognize what the situation really was anymore. I had built up in my mind the person I wanted Distraction to be and allowed that fantasy to become my reality. I traveled down the path by myself and when I stopped to see who was with me, no one was. My decisions had been solely mine. I consulted no one. I was all alone.
God is always visible the moment the inner eye is clear.
~ Rufus M. Jones
~ Rufus M. Jones
Never in my life have I questioned this much or shook my fists at God like I have. I didn’t understand. It didn’t make sense to me. I couldn’t relate it to anything else I had experienced. But, God is now using my time spent out on that lonely path to grow and stretch me like I never have before. I have to believe that Distraction WAS part of God’s plan for me, but not in the way I thought or wanted him to be. I was meant to fall for Distraction, and fall hard. I was meant to go through all of my tricks and be frustrated and confused and dumbfounded that things weren’t going the way I thought they should. I was meant to grow closer to him and want more than friendship. I was meant to open up and trust him with who I am. I was meant to sacrifice and give and love without receiving the affirmation I craved. These were all new experiences for me. I grew so much by going through them. When I sat heartbroken, angry, and confused at how I could so horribly misread God’s intention, it was exactly where He wanted me to be. He took this experience and grew my faith.
Pulling up these roots has meant revisiting the relationship. I’ve been looking back on my experiences from the outside, as a neutral party. I’m seeing things now, really seeing them, not through my smitten-filled eyes, but through an impartial lens. For the first time, I’m seeing our friendship for what it really was (and, more importantly, what it wasn’t). I’m realizing how biased my perspective was. How I read into Distraction’s messages to me and made more out of our conversations than what was really there. In hindsight, I’m seeing our interactions at face value; not reading into them (like I so often did). I’m discovering that much of my hope-filled enthusiasm centered on my perception, a perception that was false. My wants for the relationship weren’t based in reality. The carrot that I latched onto didn’t exist. I created my own reality where he was the perfect guy and no matter how long I needed to wait it out, we were destined at some point to be together.
My hopes of getting married and having kids have been wrapped up in Distraction. I never wanted either until I met him. I couldn’t envision that life for myself until he came along. That’s why the letting go is so hard. It’s not just letting go of him, it’s letting go of what he represents. It’s letting go of the idea of marriage and family. It’s not to say that those things won’t be part of my future, but for right now, I’m choosing to move on, not to another relationship, but to singleness….and wanting that to be enough. I’ve passed my mid-thirties and have no prospects. I’m not even looking for anyone. Some days I have a really hard time living into that reality.
So, I’m pulling up roots and moving on. I’m living into God’s future for me and I’m not looking back. Never again will I put so much of who I am into something that does not feed my soul in return. Never again will I be so blinded to the truth. Never again will I be so utterly distracted that I begin to lose sight of who I am. My faith in God and confidence in myself are enough. And, those are some pretty strong roots.