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A Journey to Ourselves

To my Single Friends on Valentine’s Day

Love Takes Time

Now that Ground Hog Day is out of the way (and happy spring y’all) …the upcoming holiday is the one most single persons dread. I know this – because I did when I was single. I would psyche myself out rebelling against the day, but deep inside I still had that pang of loneliness and felt left out because I was single and there must ‘something wrong with me’.

If you have ever been gone through a breakup, chances are you have experienced pain. You shared yourself with someone you felt was pretty special and somehow it ended and caused trust issues.

Maybe you were smart about it and didn’t have ‘issues’ but you did become more cautious and you still protected your heart. At times, when we protect our heart we give off vibes (that we believe will show our independence) yet the vibes we are really sending, tell others ‘I’m wounded … don’t come very close’.

When I was last single, I was wounded so deeply, I prayed right away that God would keep me from being jaded or becoming a ‘man-hater’. Yet, I knew I had to change something that kept putting me in the same position – with a controlling person who was a taker. Someone who did not care about my soul and spirit. Someone who was a self-seeker. Why did I attract them? What was my part in my failed relationships?

I allowed myself the time to be single. Yes, it hurt … it felt odd to not have someone in my life or at least to be dating, but I took the first two years pushing away opportunities to date. I may have toyed with the idea, but never for too long or to allow a relationship to develop – until I felt ready to try it again. And even then, I reserved the right to take my toe out of the water after dipping it in.

I tried the online dating sites and the friend-match-making thing and even tried to join groups I was interested in. But it was all so empty and nothing worth getting too serious. I would have bouts of dating once or twice and then I would abstain from dating. I would try again and stop again. This was okay. It was okay for me to try and then pull back. It was my way of testing the waters and allowing myself the time to grow in between and the eyes to see red flags and what I did NOT want in my life. It made a safety net for me to be able to say, “I’m not dating right now.”

First of all, it empowered me. It showed my friends and family that I made a decision by choice – and I was in control of my life. When I would attempt dating again, people close to me would be as hopeful as me, telling me I deserved happiness. It sent messages to me that happiness only came in a relationship. But the first relationship I had to allow to develop was the relationship with myself. I already had a relationship with God, but I didn’t put much effort into loving me.

Before I could give my heart to someone, I had to take my wounded heart and set it free. It was held captive by pain and distrust, but …I was the one holding it captive.

It wasn’t that Mr. Right just wasn’t coming along – it was that I wasn’t preparing for him because I didn’t believe he would come. And, Mr. Right did not see an invitation.

Oh I thought I was inviting, when I accepted dates here and there, but my body language and my life circumstances told different.

Good men who I could only ‘wish God would send my way’ may not have realized what they were seeing in me – but looking back, I see it now. I was putting off several vibes. First – the victim vibe. I had been hurt and it was someone’s fault because THEY were the taker, the controlling, self-centered person. So that sent a message that I was damaged and not worthy.

As I learned to stop blaming others, (even IF it was obvious what type of person they were – I was still just as responsible for allowing them to have a part in my life) then I stopped attracting the men who wanted to ‘rescue me’.

You may be a single mom, or struggling at a very stressful job and ‘being rescued’ may sound pretty great, but trust me – it isn’t. The men who want to rescue you, may not even know it themselves, but they need to feel in control and they are only seeking to meet their needs, not yours. This is hard to see sometimes, because they come in like a knight in shining armor. They help us, they make us feel special, but that is a lure.

They have a self-esteem problem (yes, even the cocky guys that seem to have it all together) and they seek to rescue you to make them feel better about themselves. As if rescuing you makes them a gallant, hero. But then, after you are in a relationship, they are not really concerned with YOUR wellbeing, they are focused on themselves and what you can do for them. You are just a tag-a-long for THEIR life.

Some will create your dependence on them, where you would not be able to do without them. They want you dependent and helpless so that they can still be that hero. I am not putting men down here, this is just what I have observed in the toxic men who came my way while I was in ‘victim mode’. Just as those men are self-seekers, women are playing victim …and there is no one to blame – there is just a lot of fixing to be done. Sometimes the fixing is to not be with that person.

Until we are exactly where we know we need to be, then any attempt at a relationship is futile – except for the lesson in it. But if you are looking for that person to grow old with and accepting what isn’t good for you, you are trying to fit that square peg in the round hole. Move on.

I have to speak as a Christian, because that is what I know, but even a non-believer can find certain truths to what I am sharing in my experiences. I encourage you to keep reading and just consider what I am saying.

The fact is, God will NOT give the beautiful gift of a spouse until 1. We are ready to receive His gift and 2. Our intended is also ready.

There is no ‘waiting until they leave their wife’ or ‘waiting until they get that promotion’ or ‘waiting until they see how much you love them’. When God gives you that person He designed just for you, it will be right. It will be in the right time for you both and there will not be a clause in which something else has to happen first to make it right. It will be right when He gives it. And, under no circumstances, does God give you someone else’s husband. Seriously. If you are in the dark – move out of the darkness … God isn’t there and neither is Mr. Right.

So the first step for me in being single successfully, was to move away from being a victim. Being the wounded person that everyone else was mistreating. I knew I had a good heart and my family and friends knew it too, but I had to take the responsibility of my failed relationship, and acknowledge that I allowed myself to be mistreated.

I accepted the first sign of disrespect from someone and I let them call the shots, because I needed rescuing. Once I moved away from that thinking, I had to practice saying “no”. No to men who wanted to rescue me and ‘make my life easier’.

It was time to work on my life without a man. Instead of being ‘half a person’ until Mr. Right came along and expecting he would fulfill my life and then I would finally be happy… instead, I had to seek happiness elsewhere. NOT in a man. I had to work on my relationship with myself. I was pretty unkind to me. I thought being a Christian and a good person meant putting myself last. Jesus commands us to love others ‘as we love ourselves’. Not more than.

We are pretty important for Jesus to have died on the cross for us. Why do we think we aren’t? We try to be humble, self-less and giving to others, yet we get it all wrong by disrespecting ourselves and allowing disrespect from others.

You see, I was taught through my failed relationships that either I was ‘too much’ or I ‘wasn’t enough’. Somehow, I didn’t measure up. I could have swung the pendulum all the way to the other side and protect my heart by pushing men away and proclaiming that I didn’t need a man, but thankfully, when I went to God with the prayer to protect me from doing that, He answered. He knew I was serious with wanting to learn what He was trying to teach me this time.

And ya know what? By letting go of my control, by trusting God without me getting in the way – it was the most freeing thing I could have done. I stopped trying to figure it all out. I stopped thinking I had to have a man to be happy and I got busy – just me and God. Other Christian friends would try to tell this to me, but I thought, “Well, that is good for them, but I know what I need…”

To really think about what I have been raised to believe and I realized I was not living what I have always believed, showed me I must not truly believe it and it was time to put my faith in action. God is my portion…. He IS enough.

But if I knew in my heart that I really wanted to be a wife, wasn’t that being untrue to myself? Wasn’t I living a lie or being fake if I told God that He was all I wanted? And would I become the stereotypical ‘lonely cat lady’? After all, God knew my desires. I couldn’t fool Him.

But in letting go of what I thought I wanted or doing things my way… I became royalty, because I finally learned to behave as a daughter of the King. I was worthy. I claimed my place in life that He created just for me. This took time. When I felt so unworthy, it took time to see my worth in Christ. To see me as He saw me.

I stopped apologizing for taking up space (I used to apologize when someone would bump into ME)! I thought if I gave and cared about others, surely God would send someone like me my way. But God wanted me to be smart – not a doormat.

Yes, I was still a kind and loving person, but it is not unkind to say no and to be assertive. It is not unkind to set boundaries and let others know where you stand.

The things I allowed in my life before that were toxic to me – the drama I did not need in my life held me wrapped in my own guilt and that was NOT what God wanted for me. It was a journey and God took me through baby steps of practicing assertiveness and setting boundaries.

The more I trusted God to care about me, I learned that if a person left my life because I set boundaries that were necessary for me, I knew that I would be okay and so would that person. I was not responsible for how their life turned out. Sure, my heart cares about everyone – I don’t like hurting people. But if I don’t maliciously set out to hurt someone, yet I don’t follow their agenda because it is wrong for me – they will still be okay. It’s not my responsibility to be their savior. In fact, if I set boundaries with family, friends or potential dates and they leave my life because of it – it is actually a good thing. God weeded people out of my life that were not good for me and I gained wisdom from it.

People who had conditions or did not respect my choices or boundaries for my life were not meant to stay in my life. If you allow yourself to be dependent on that person – yes, it will be harder to set your boundaries because you allowed them to cross those boundaries.

But what if you trusted God with your whole life and even if someone toxic left your life – you knew it would still be okay? Even if things look bleak – you still trust and you still stand firm on what God wants for you? You may not understand at the time where God is headed, but you trust Him and that alone will give you peace. That trust in Him will lead you to where He is bringing you – where you will be ready and able to receive the gift He has for you.

It seems so hard to do – but that is what the enemy (or toxic people in your life) use against you to keep you bound. There is such freedom in trusting God to bring you through any situation. You will be surprised with how He comes through for you when you cannot see any answer. When we are listening and surrendering our strong will of us protecting our hearts – the very heart God created, we don’t have to see answers before us – we just trust. And in His time… it will be revealed. At the perfect time.

Yes, He knows our inner most desire — and HE CARES about them. He wants you to have your heart’s desire. Where is your heart? If it is in the dark, wishing for that person who is only going to bring you into more darkness, then God knows that is not what you truly want. It is we, who must realize what our inner most heart’s desire is.

I cannot tell you how many times, I thought a certain man was for me and I pleaded with God to let me have them. With hind sight being 20/20, I now see what God was protecting me from, but I remember so well how much I really thought I knew what I wanted at that time.

After pushing men away, then stepping my toe in the water – still reserving the right to take it back out, I learned that even if my heart’s desire was to have someone to love and to grow old with, to be the wife that I knew I was meant to be … I had to be ready for that person.

I couldn’t just ‘want it in my heart’… I had to be attractive to the very person I wanted to grow old with.

And doing that, was not in a low-cut blouse, or a bottle of wine… it was not in pretending I was something I wasn’t… it was in being ME … the me God created who claimed her role in life, who was confidently stepping out knowing that no matter what life would bring – I was exactly what I needed to be, where I needed to be. I had the peace that I was living my life with God and listening to Him. If something went wrong – it was on Him. He would fix it. Not me.

And, even though, I learned to trust God with my whole life I still had to put forth effort, but …not in the things I used to. I didn’t have to seek a man. I didn’t have to seek my self-worth. I didn’t have to live to please others and to be walked on.

I had to learn to say no with assertiveness yet kindness. I had to set boundaries and let others know what was not acceptable.

And most importantly, I had to obtain an identity.

Ladies, I don’t mean you are to take up golf because a man you have your eye on likes golf and that’s how you will ‘become what you are attracted to’. That would still be you ‘living your life for someone else’.  What I mean is for you to really ask yourself what YOU like, and find out what YOUR passions are. And then pray for the opportunities to be involved in them. When you are living life and not just existing – that is what will attract the man God has for you.

A woman that is living her life confidently, assertively and unashamed, is beautiful and inviting. A woman whose life is chaotic because she is trying to juggle it all and thinks she has to be in control and make it all happen – is striving. She is tired. She is troubled water.

I had to stop living my life for others and being what they wanted. Instead, I focused on being my best. I was working in the job I wanted – even though I could have made more income with a more stressful job. But I made that choice because it was good for me. I was involved in activities that were important or interesting to ME. I was living my life, being responsible for myself so that if someone whom I took a chance in dating was clearly not the person God had for me – I could let it go. I stayed independent but dependent on Jesus.

If the rug would be snatched out from under me and I fell, I knew God would be there to pick me up and show me why that rug was not good to stand on. And I kept going. I did not feel guilty for moving on when something wasn’t right for me. I allowed God to remove it from my life without me taking the control and trying to fix everything.

When a woman is free and when she is living her life right now and not waiting for Mr. Right – THAT is when she is most attractive. But she must reserve herself for Mr. Right and not give the time of day to Mr. Wrong who is dressed as Mr. Right.

You will know it, once you truly ask God to show it to you. You will see red flags, you will see the square peg/round hole that doesn’t fit and that is when you must decide to let it go. And it will be okay. The world won’t end if that person is no longer in your life.

Celebrate the time in your life in which you are alone. Yes, the nights are hard, and they get lonely and sometimes it feels like ‘just loving God’ isn’t enough. We want the tangible hugs, the kisses, the romance… God knows this and He wants that for us too.

But when I was focused on Him, I found Him romancing me! Giving me little gifts. A kiss on the cheek from a butterfly, a hummingbird stopping in mid-flight staring straight at me… a sunrise or sunset. God makes moments for us that are breathtaking!

He wants us at our best. When we are not striving, trying to be in control or choosing what (we think) we want… we are trusting Him to bring it and He will!

When we are joyfully living our lives the man whom God has for us will see us and it will be inviting. The man God had for me saw me living my life, diving into my passions, taking care of myself and being confident in who I am. And I saw the same in him.

We knew together, we fit. It was right. It was the right time and the right place with nothing more to ‘make it happen’. It was there waiting for us, wrapped neatly in a bow. And after two years of marriage – we are ‘still on our honeymoon’ …except better!

We are being seasoned in the day-to-day living our lives together (and loving each other even more each day). Sure, we have occasional ripples in the water but we both respond caringly – not self-seeking, and they are few and short-lived.

We set proper boundaries as a couple that promotes and strengthens our marriage. We are grateful each day of what we have and we make an effort to show each other.

So, as Valentine’s Day approaches and you find yourself alone, or feeling left out … embrace the alone time. Yes, even the pain of it. God sees your tears and He knows what needs to take place before your Mr. Right is ready or you are ready. Certain things need to be in place – trust that. Trust God to bring it to you. Listen to His gentle, quiet voice. You will know it if you truly seek hearing His voice. You will hear your subconscious telling you when something is not good. That’s the small voice. That’s God whispering to you. We aren’t puppets on a string – He wants you to make decisions and He doesn’t force any of us… and, that is how He knows when our heart is ready.

My heart cares for your heart. I pray for my single friends because I understand the journey. But it isn’t just a journey of ‘being single’ – it is a journey of being ourselves and being our best – and that continues even when we are no longer single.

Please share your heart with someone special this Valentine’s Day – it doesn’t have to be a potential Mr. or Miss Right … so many people need to know they are loved. Many people in your life would love to have you share a little of your heart with them – send someone a Valentine’s day card even though you are not in a relationship with someone. Be a part of Valentine’s Day – you don’t have to feel left out. Showing love to someone is for you as well as for couples.

Whatever you do – do not think YOU are unloved. God loves you – He truly does… and I love you! I do! I care about you and I pray for you even when you are not asking for prayer. I pray for my friends and I pray for ‘singles in general’ because God has laid that on my heart. Not one person is unloved in this world even if it feels that way at times. You are loved. Love yourself… love who you are. Love who you are becoming. Love others who God places in your life – and enjoy the journey. You are on your way to what God has for you. Your heart’s desire.

Happy Valentine’s Day. I love you

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