Confessions #3: Used, Tossed & Broken
I remember it like it was yesterday.
I had saved myself for marriage through my adolescent years because I grew up in church and I know I honestly believed it was probably good for my heart. So, I made it through high school, I made it through college and I made it to 25.
I started having doubts around year 24 that I'd be able to make it. It was getting more difficult, I had no prospects and I'd figured even if he came along tomorrow there'd still be a long wait. When you're 25 with hormones and no prospects, years sound like decades. And decades seemed like far too long.
I remember meeting him. Light green eyes, flowing hair, scruff for days and a coy but welcoming smile. I kid you not, I remember looking into his eyes and hearing God say: No. It was as plain as day, and one of the the only times I have heard God speak so clearly. And despite all of the times I listened and said no alongside Him, this time I said yes.
I also remember like it was yesterday when he never called again. And I just accepted it.
What followed were years of hidden shame. Now, I was NOT ashamed of the act. It was NOT shame because I hadn't upheld this difficult standard within the church. God and I had settled that already.
What followed were years of shame because I felt unworthy. Those feelings solidified as my friends got married, had kids and bought houses: I wasn't worthy of that kind of love. I was only worthy of the casual stuff; the stuff that didn't even merit a call back the next day.
So I lived there. And after each casual encounter, the shame deepened along with the desire to numb. And numb I did. I numbed with restless activity, an appetite for alcohol and more casual encounters. Anything I could do to prevent myself from remembering my deepest desire, which was to actually feel worthy. I ran from it for years telling myself that casual was normal; everyone was doing it.
But in reality, it was destroying me. And I knew it. I was lying to myself that I could participate in that world without deep consequences to my soul.
And for every woman who's ever felt unworthy, used or broken; for every woman who's ever felt the deep shame of giving yourself to someone who doesn't call the next day. I don't think you can either.
I decided to seek help. I began to dig deeply into the feelings of crippling shame and this desire to numb. The why, the how and when. The who, what and where.
It took being honest with myself and my family. It took crying out to the God I'd never lost faith in.
It took confronting the night I met him.
I would sit in church and feel numb but I knew it's where my heart needed to be. I'd listen to Christian songs and remind myself I was worthy and loved, but only believe it for an hour.
And I wish I could say that one day I woke up and I was healed.
But that's not my story. My story is one of God taking my hand and leading me out of the swamp through which I was trudging and into the stream instead.
And as I would lay there drowning in regret as deep as the ocean, He would dive in. He would fight the currents that had swept me to the deep; slowly breathe air back into my lungs and hang around until I coughed up the very sin that sunk me.
It took long morning runs where the tears streaming down my face were concealed only by the pouring rain. It took late nights; my nephew's smile and loving friendships.
What has resulted has brought a whole heck of a lot of healing, but also confidence. Confidence in the God who fought for me when I wasn't willing to fight for myself. Confidence in Him who said No that night because He says I'm not only worthy of the call but the wait; a deep security in knowing I am loved.
And what a beautiful, yet terrifying thing it has been recently to rest in the hands of a God who loves me, but will not settle for my settling.
EDITOR’S NOTE: I’m crying. That’s all. Just sitting here crying over the image of the God who dives into the swamp with us. Share your comments below, and again - let’s not try to fix each other. Let’s just make space here for all our used-up hearts to find hope. I love you, dear contributor. I love you, dear readers. -Bo