I have been thinking a lot about relationships and my emotional patterns having to do with them, lately... as I've pretty much been forced to, but also because I am determined to change them. After an amazing, wonderful Easter church service and potluck today, I felt something on my heart that needed to come out, and one of the things that helps me process feelings or just de-stress is taking a walk. So, with it being such a beautiful day, I did. And it was UH-mazing. God totally blessed me with a breakthrough and epiphany about the whole subject and challenge I have been facing.
I kind of mentally worked my way backwards through a series of questions, looking for connections to why things have always seemed to go a certain way for me in romantic relationships and looking for answers to questions. Instead of working my way backwards now (which is really more confusing), I'll work my way forwards so I give you the summary.
Basically, my question was: why do I always choose to date guys who don't love the Lord wholeheartedly?
And here's what I traced it all back to: My missing sense of self, a missing sense of true love, and a missing sense of worth.
When I was a child, my dad never really praised and affirmed me that much - causing my sense of self to be under-developed. Additionally, I never felt a wholehearted love from him. It always felt like He was living more for himself than for me, evidenced by him leaving my family when my parents separated. I always have seen it as him leaving ME, leaving us. It was heartbreaking. He pursued his better job and lifestyle, pursued other women. When he finally got remarried, he was always using dialogue about doing what made him happy. He favored his wife over me when she was mistreating me. He allowed me to be mistreated. My siblings and I are not even allowed to visit his home, because all he wants is peace, and somehow peace was not something that was ever present in the relationship with our step-mother. Again, prioritizing his needs.
So when I came of age to start dating, I was missing two major things: a sense of true love, (and usually the love of a father is pretty darn true) and an established sense of self - AND a sense of worth (I mean, my dad did leave me and my family...how could that have possibly made us feel about ourselves? Unworthy). I was already a Christian, but I was still young in my faith, and these scars had already been worked deep inside me. So I started looking for all of these things in dating relationships, looking to find them in and from guys. Instead of having the confidence and maturity to wait for a God-loving and God-fearing guy, I was so needy that I rushed into all the relationships that came my way, and they always left me hurt and more damaged than before.
I gave myself away sexually, and that, combined with never waiting for a Godly guy and dating non-Christians (which is frowned upon in the Bible and in the Christian culture), I began believing that I was unworthy of the kind of guy I truly dreamed of dating and marrying. So I started settling, because I started telling myself that was just my lot in my life that I had to accept. That I just wasn't the kind of girl that was going to get a Godly guy, the kind of guy I really wanted. That's another reason I didn't wait for a Godly guy to come along.
(when Satan gets a foothold, he really gets in good.)
When Stephen (my soon to be ex-husband) came along, he promised me everything I'd ever been wanting from a guy. Deep, lasting commitment and whole-hearted love, devotion, and exceptional treatment. So I fell head first and signed my life over to him. But then I got burned more badly than I ever had, and I was treated worse than I ever had been. I swore to myself that I would never date another non-Christian and that I would never repeat my unhealthy dating pattern again.
Unfortunately, deep-set emotional patterns are hard to undo and it takes a lot of work and time. It takes a lot of work and time to eradicate all of satan's lies that I've believed so completely for so many years.
Fortunately, my experience with Stephen has made me too afraid to enter another relationship that God is not the center of completely, because now I know how disastrous it is and will always be. Now I know that the feelings a guy has for me need to be rooted in God, and so do my feelings for him, and our relationship as a whole, completely. God is the center of EVERYTHING.
Now I know my task that lies ahead. I must re-establish my identity, and it needs to be in Christ, in Christ alone and completely. And I need to find my source of true love in the Lord, because the Lord will ALWAYS love me and NEVER disappoint me. The love of a man is just icing on the cake.