2015 and I got off to a rough start. I feel like we kind of got off on the wrong foot. I mean, when your relationship comes crashing down around you on New Year’s Day, that can’t be a good sign of things to come, right?
Well, it certainly was a sign of singleness to come. New Year’s marked the very sudden beginning of the end of a relationship that held so much promise and hope. A few days before New Year’s – heck, even on New Year’s Day – we were learning to do yoga together, planning little trips, and talking about grateful we were for each other. A few days later, the relationship was just done – it simply vanished – but so many questions remained. What had gone wrong in the matter of a day? How did we go from brunch and a long walk in Golden Gate park on New Year’s morning to tears and confusion in the Potrero Hill Safeway parking lot that same evening? To make matters worse, I was caught so unprepared for that conversation – “I’m not feeling like we’re connecting” – that I was tissue-less. Tears, no tissues. Not a pretty picture. And none of it made any sense.
For a while, I held onto my frustration and a subtle sense of bitterness. It felt like I had to maintain my grip on those feelings in order to make some sense of the situation. If the relationship had to end suddenly with no real answers and no real closure, then I’d make my own. I’d do the relationship justice by holding it up to the judgment of my own sadness and hurt. I’d wrestle meaning out of it by concluding that God just had something better for me.
I think the latter statement is true – at least I believe he is working all things out for good – but it didn’t really help in the process of healing at the time. I still felt so caught in the grip of my emotions and the thoughts that went in circles in my head but that never ended in a place that felt particularly satisfying or clear. It’s like when you wade through a murky river. No matter how much you may try to clear the water around you, you inevitably just end up stirring things up more.
That’s what I was doing. I kept stirring up my heart over and over again, feeling so mashed up and hurt. I felt like my sad little situation held me in its grips. But, as I would come to realize weeks later, it was mine to let go of all along.
I don’t really believe in the saying “time heals all wounds.” But I do think a little fresh air and some space can do wonders for an open wound – especially a broken heart. That’s what Santa Barbara did for me.
In the sunny little chapel of Santa Barbara Community Church, 600 women heard from Jen Hatmaker – who wrote Interrupted and several other books and also planted a church in East Austin, the most troubled part of that weirdly awesome city, with her husband. She spoke about the importance of creating a space for people to belong before we expect them to believe and become more like God. And she shared her heart as it relates to the struggles of faith – the reasons why it’s so hard to believe. The fear of disappointment, the pain from our pasts, the logic-loving nature that makes us question whether we can trust God.
She shared about processing her mom’s cancer, about how hard and awful this season has been for their family, and how one day she just sat on the couch in tears and decided she’d ask herself how she felt about God in the midst of all of this mess. And what she found was, in her words, “He’s still good. Yes, he is still so good and so loving.”
And as Jen shared those words, I knew they were echoing my hearts’ prayers as well. Despite all the trials of this year thus far – the breakup and feelings of betrayal and just a breakneck pace at work and life in general – I still believe that God is so very good.
Yes, the ending of my relationship marked the beginning of what I think may be a long season of singleness. But it also marked the beginning of a season of diving deep into God’s presence. No longer did I have a man to tell me I’m beautiful and worthy of his love. At least not in the audible words that can be much easier to hear than the quiet whisper of God’s voice. But I have something so much better – an ear that’s more attune to the Father’s words, a heart that’s more in sync with his, and an increased willingness to go wherever he may lead me.
As Allison Vesterfelt wrote in Packing Light, “dating is clarifying the vision.” While my relationship ended pretty suddenly and painfully, I know there was purpose in it. It taught me something. It certainly taught me red flags to watch for and clarified my vision for what I would / would not want a future relationship to look like. But what I learned goes well beyond the boundaries of romantic relationships. I learned that even when things don’t make sense, God does. When everything is confusing and messy, and I just feel like throwing my hands up, that’s exactly the right thing to do. Let go.
So, I’m trying to release the tendency to try make sense of everything – because let’s be honest, I can’t – and the desire to plan out the next steps too far ahead. Instead, I’m making small strides like writing what he tells me to and planning out my trip to Greece. And on that note, I think I have some exploring to do.
Here’s to the next grand adventure.