He kept asking me if everything was okay. And I kept saying yes...
But we all know the truth. Something was bothering me. Something had affected and possibly infected my heart:
For the first time in years, I let my guard down. And I don't think he even noticed. I opened my heart towards expectations. Not only was my heart full of great hope this past June, I felt in many ways that my hope had been fulfilled. But right before a miracle reaches your hand, it seems as if all hell begins to break loose.
"The course of true love never did run smooth." - Shakespeare
I've always had this fear in the back of my mind, that I would be someone's second choice and not their first choice.
And although I've gone to great lengths to make space and room in my heart for true love, I'm fearful that the same is not being done for me, on the part of the man who I will end up falling for utterly and wholly. Hello Anxiety.
Not to make this a sob story of sorts, but just to give you facts and context:
I've only chosen to enter into one, yes one, dating relationship since being out of high school. And in fact, I only had one boyfriend in high school. But our dating relationship had more of a brother-sister vibe to it, versus anything romantic. Subsequently, that lasted a little less than a month. Sorry, Joey.
But many of you already know, the one relationship that I had in college, which only lasted 6 months, left scars on my heart for the many years following. After that relationship, God and I had an amazing conversation.
God reminded me of the little warning nudges He was trying to give me, before I had entered into that relationship. And how I had ignored all of those warning signs, and basically told God, "Don't worry. I got this. I have this under control."
Through our conversation, after that ill-fated relationship, God simply reminded me that I could trust Him. And that He in fact, has everything under control. And therefore, when it came to who I was going to fall in love with for keeps, God already knew who this person would be and knew how to direct me straight to that person. I had already seen God do this sort of "directing" in other areas of my life. So, at this point I was ready to trust Him fully.
And since that moment I've been on a faith journey regarding romance ever since. That was over 10 years ago.
"The course of true love never did run smooth."
The draw to date every attractive person I saw, faded shortly thereafter. It became easier to gracefully decline the advances of men I wasn't really feelin'. Plus, I didn't want to go through the cycle of dating. It didn't mean that I wouldn't spend quality time with the opposite sex, and have amazing guy friends. It just meant that I wasn't going to unveil all the mysteries of my heart to every Tom, Dick, or Harry. I wanted to save those places of my heart for someone special.
But of course, I still desired to be held, to be kissed, to be loved. But I chose not to engage in any physical intimacy from the moment I had that conversation with God over 10 years ago. This by far, has probably been one of the hardest things I've had to walk through in my life thus far. I mean, my primary love language is physical touch, people!
But I wanted to delay gratification for the sake of having a one-of-a-kind adventurous love story, tailor made by God. I wanted to see where this road could really lead me. And believe me, at times, I'm scared that I've lost my mind and that this will not pan out at all. And I'll be standing looking like a fool with my pants down.
Some nights I'm afraid of being alone. Other nights, I might cry about it. But often, I feel peace and grace in the waiting. And somehow, through it all, I sense and know that everything is going to be okay.
And then God begins to show me an area of my heart that is full of anxiety and needs healing...
You see, something shifted in me after that last relationship. Even though it was ions ago, I was left feeling a little bit like a chump and would carry a bit of residue even 10 years later. Like the feeling of being Second Best. Feeling like I couldn't compete with the other woman. And my man at the time somehow knew that. We'll of course he did. That's why he cheated.
And yes, we all make mistakes. And I'm always ready to forgive. But remember, those mistakes do have consequences that may not often show themselves right away and rarely just affect ourselves.
The consequence of his actions, resulted in me constantly looking over my shoulder at the "other hot girl". Because most likely, that's who you'd choose, if it got down to the wire.
So now let's bring it back to this past summer, and me letting my guard down towards this specific guy. There was already an ideal girl in his life. Not one that he was currently with, but previously. And there was the trigger.
I don't know about your heart. But I know about mine. It's super sensitive. I'm definitely a feeler. And in these years of waiting for love, my heart has not become more bitter, but somehow more vulnerable.
So in secretly opening my heart towards this guy, the residue of "Second Best" began to surface. And I thought to myself, "What have I been doing all these years? Working towards this? To feel this?"
Would I only be second best for you? Horrible. No one deserves second best. Everyone deserves their first choice. I would hate to disappoint you. I don't want to disappoint you. Well, in fact I already have, because I'm not her. Or that girl over there, or that girl, or this girl. ---Oh, Hi Anxiety.
I tuckered myself out.
And I basically fell out like a 5 year old from a sugar coma.
I was forced to surrender.
I couldn't rely on my own ability, my own gifting, my own anything to rectify the situation. In fact, it seemed that the more I tried to utilize my own efforts, the worse things became.
Photo Credit: Hannah Anderson
Surrender opens the door for restoration.
But wait. I thought I was already good. I thought I was already restored?
"But recently, you suffered a real sense of disappointment, Patrice, because things are not going as planned concerning your current love story."
Well, it's funny how disappointment brings forth heartbreak. And heartbreak becomes the breeding ground for anxiety and mistrust. And when you no longer trust people or things around you, you feel the need to take up the reigns once more in attempt to control everything, in fear of being hurt again.
But you have to let go. You have to.
Yes. Yet again.
And then, Restoration begins to flow.
And I am reminded of how beautiful and unique I am. I am reminded that I am desirable. I am reminded that I am wonderfully and fearfully made. I reminded of how complete I am in God. I am reminded that I am enough. And I am reminded of how I am and forever will be a "First Choice", not merely second best.
But, see, only God can really remind you and I of this, and speak it over us with such power and conviction. Because if this were to come just from yourself, family, or friends, you would have the tendency to doubt it. But when it comes to you in the way in which you are accustomed to hearing God's voice. It changes you.
And peace arises where anxiety once took root.
Newfound joy surfaces where despair began to leak in.
And hope begins to steer your motives once again.
Surrender is not about giving up, it's about making way--
Making way for the impossible.
And in my case, making way for love.
True surrender, although painful at times, is not birthed out of fear, but faith. Because now, we relinquish control based solely upon our own efforts, and we put our faith in God to do the very thing we cannot. It's the ultimate adventure and it definitely involves a high degree of trust--of letting go.
I know it seems so backwards. Surrender to gain? But we're all familiar with the effects of pruning a tree:
Prune: Trim (a tree, shrub, or bush) by cutting away dead or overgrown branches or stems, esp. to increase fruitfulness and growth.
I now know more than ever that God is always ready to restore us.
And with His restoration, He doesn't just bring you back to your former glory. He brings you to a glory that you've never known, full of increased fruitfulness and growth. A land flowing with Milk and Honey.
"The course of true love never did run smooth..."
"Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." (Psalm 139:23-24)
(Definition provided by Google Dictionary)