This is the story of my dating past. It’s not pretty…in fact, it’s pretty ugly…but it has a happy ending and maybe we can all learn from it.
When I was 16 years old, I had my first boyfriend. We never went on a date, because…well…there’s not too much to do when you’re 16 in a small, country town. But he took me to his church, and I wrote love notes to him at school. I was pretty sure he was the one. I asked my Sunday School teachers – who were married to each other – how I would know when I found the one. I don’t remember their response, but I’m sure it was a good one. For whatever reason, within a few weeks (or days?) I was single again, none the wiser. Nonetheless, I didn’t go on a real date until I was 18 years old. He was one of the funniest guys I ever met, able to diffuse any serious conversation with a witty side-step. He had a quirkiness about him that made me want to know him more, but he was hurt (daddy issues, I think) and he was in no place to handle me. I remember trying so hard to create an environment of trust for him to feel safe. I remember desperately hoping he would be vulnerable and let me see who he really was, but to no avail. He was a hurt soul, and we were young. After all, I was always the one who was “too mature for my age”. And so I dated around a bit. Then when I was 19, I met the new love of my life. He was charismatic, charming, and going to be a pastor some day. We were a game of chess, and I loved trying to outplay his moves. I remember begging God to make me his wife. Turns out, he was never serious about me, and I fell like a two-legged chair. So I dated around some more. Then when I was 21, I met the most charming man I ever knew. He was bombastic, thrilling, mysterious, a daredevil. In our first introduction, he had me wrapped around his finger. I thought he was the embodiment of perfection, and he would say the same of me. In my mind, I was the female version of him – only he was better at it than me – and I would have died to become his match. Turns out he was never the right man for me, and eventually I realized it. After a long, difficult road of heartache and heartbreak, I really realized it. After that, I embarked on a purposeful year-long hiatus from dating. I was going to let God show me some things and eventually get back in the game. Once my year-long sentence was over, I dated some more. More recently, I dated a super sweet guy, and I knew he wasn’t the one. So instead of waiting to fall in love and get my heart broken, I broke up with him. FINALLY, I wasn’t the one who was heartbroken, right? Wrong. Instead of being broken over my own heart, I was broken over knowing I hurt his heart. I was young and dumb…and this was only last year.
After that one, I had to stop. Stop chasing after the happily ever after. Stop searching for my place in life with the one. Stop being that awful girl in the movies whom we all pity because she never realizes that she’s valuable. I looked back at my dating past and hated it. I was embarrassed and ashamed. I hastily jumped through romantic relationships, never letting God fill the void in my heart. I had no right to go around flinging my heart at dumb boys who didn’t mean anything; and I certainly didn’t have a right to take the heart of the first guy who ever made me feel like I was valuable. And therein lies the problem: I was finding my value in guys. But my value was never meant to be found in guys, and it’s not even meant to be found in a husband. My value was and always will be found in my relationship to God – not with God, but to God. I have value, because God loves me…so much so that He gave His one and only son to die a despicable death on a shameful cross so that I could be His daughter. So my value is the blood of Jesus Christ. My worth was never supposed to be found in guys. It was never supposed to be this way – hurting people and being hurt. I was always supposed to know the revelation that I am so precious to God that only He can fill the void in my heart.
So I let God take my heart, heal it and fill it. I finally allowed Jesus to take His rightful place in that one dark corner of my heart. You see, I was a believer in Christ during this entire foolish time. I started following God when I was 10 years old. I knew Him; I talked with Him every day; I studied His Word; I went to church every week; and I tithed. I was a good friend, a good sister, a good worker, a good roommate. I knew the entire time that I had a gifting for ministry and that God was going to use me to write about how He radically changed my life. He was Lord over almost every area of my life…except this one. And I think that’s the other really big lesson here: God is a full-time, all-the-way, 100% God. He doesn’t work in part of your life but not other parts. He doesn’t ask for most of your heart and let you ruin the rest. He asks for your whole heart, your entire life, all of who you are. He matches this extreme request with an extreme offer. If you give your whole heart to Him, He will give you a perfectly unbroken heart you never dreamt of having. You may have thrown your heart out of a moving car like I did, or you may have suffered a terrible marriage and divorce; but give your heart to God, and see what beautiful things He can do. God promises to give you beauty in exchange for your ashes, joy for your mourning, a garment of praise for your spirit of heaviness (Isaiah 61).
God spoke these words to me today, and I realized I had to write this blog post:
I am never, ever, ever found wanting in the presence of the Lord.
In Jesus, I am always only ever found completely fulfilled, content, abounding in grace, full of love and peace and joy. It took me way too many years to realize this truth, and if I would have only slowed down to let God really fill my heart, maybe some hearts wouldn’t have been broken. Nevertheless, the past cannot be changed. I am truly remorseful for the people I hurt – the guys, myself, and my friends who love me. They had to watch me through all this hurt and wrap their arms around me every time. I know my friends and family prayed for me so much. I so badly wish this didn’t happen, but it did. And if it did, then God has a bigger purpose for it. Maybe it’s this blog post. Maybe it’s so I would allow Him to fill every area of my heart, not just most of it.
My dating past is marred with heartache and heartbreak, but I am not a rare breed of woman. I have a huge number of girl friends who are still searching for their value in guys. In fact, I also know several guys who are searching for the value in girls. It’s not that guys are bad and it’s not that girls are bad, it’s just that guys/girls aren’t God. Only God is God. And when his children experience heartache and heartbreak, He exchanges that broken heart for a happily ever after.
Friend, if this blog post ministered to you, I hope you will share it. If you know a girl – or a guy – who needs to read this, send them my way. Sometimes it’s very difficult for your friends and loved ones to accept a tough message like this from you, but it’s easier to hear from some chick named Priska who is willing to share her ugly past. I fully hope God’s love ministered to you through this blog post, and like I said – share it with someone who needs to know God’s love.