Yesterday, I found out my ex was engaged. To be honest, it was kind of an out-of-body experience for me because we dated on and off for three years and he was my first. It’s the longest relationship I had before recommitting my life to Christ and really shaped how I saw men. Even worse, that season taught me horrible standards for intimacy. Our relationship was grounded in the physical and makred by dysfunction. While it wasn't talked about often, I knew we didn’t want the same things long term. Our morals, manners and motivation were off but I continually chose to push that reality out of my mind because our time together was temporarily fulfilling, in the shallowest of ways.
The bottom line is that from day one I knew that this relationship wasn’t God’s best but it’s what I wanted at the time. The inherently selfish and controlling side of me insisted that I knew what was best for me – not God.
Those years were the most tumultuous time because my heart made me feel like my identity was found in this relationship . The longer I was with him the more my head (and The Spirit were drown out). It tied me to this man, creating a kind of codependency that I had never experienced. Although I told myself that I wouldn’t marry him, years passed and my behaviors slowly became more like his, instead of his like mine (shout out to all those girls trying to change their boyfriends - that was me to a T).
Before I knew it, he taught me that porn, alcohol, and guy nights were supposed to take priority over me. I found myself living in a relationship marked by emotional abuse, lies and manipulation but somehow I still refused to let go.
While I subconsciously wasn’t actually happy anymore I didn’t know how to leave. Through his words and actions he had successfully convinced me that I deserved the disrespect. Plus, in the back of my mind, I projected unworthiness onto myself because I had failed to wait for sex. I felt like all the emotional abuse, manipulation and fights were my fault. Yet, I simultaneously felt that I was the answer - that I should be the one to fix everything. Amongst the deepest lack of identity I gripped my burdens tighter, distanced myself from any Christian community and continued to compromise my values to retain control and artificially held us together.
My headstrong attitude and dysfunctional relationship were blurring the reality that my identity was still found in Christ, even in my most rebellious time. In unknowingly moving the foundation of my self-worth from Jesus to this man I became more and more insecure. Even now, it hurts to write that because my perspective was so off. In desperately trying to control the chaos around me I nearly lost myself.
In the end, it was God who saved me from myself; I honestly can’t take any credit for ending that relationship. But I can tell you that even when I ran as far and hard as I could away from God’s plan for my life, He never removed His hand from me.
Instead, He watched me aggressively push against all logic and reason to be with a man that treated me like garbage, eventually hitting rock bottom. He witnessed me choosing pain and heartache based on my limited perspective while his long term blessings for me sat dormant, untouched. And above all, He stood with me in the midst of my rebellious, relational power trip and waited for me to give Him control of my heart.
There were numerous times over the years that I felt like I was losing my mind. These years of fighting God for control of my relationship didn’t come without consequence. When you learn intimacy this way it is very difficult to re-learn. Over the years, God has redeemed both the time and heartache from this season because he is that unimaginably good. But this redemption took much more time, effort and the consistent, painful surrender of control than I ever imagined. He faithfully helped me die to myself more and more every single day and ultimately my new beginning took a complete heart change.
I couldn’t be more grateful that He never gave up on me because I now know exactly what happens when I take control. I end up hurting myself and others while delaying God’s best.
I may not know what you are dealing with in this season or how control is manifesting itself in your relationships but I hope my story can speak to you. Our Jesus maintains love and compassion for His baby girl’s, calling us righteous, through the darkest of seasons. I think today He would remind us that we were never made to control a relationship or attempt to fix a man. We can take hope that the pressure of leading a Godly relationship is not our burden to bear and we weren’t created to be with someone who doesn’t live for and love Jesus. Our heavenly Father wants better for you and I than we could even want for ourselves and if we will loosen our grip on love just a little I believe He will reveal His perfect plan.