I want to tell you a bit about my experience with relationships, because there are so many things I wish I could have realised BEFORE I made all the mistakes and had to learn the hard way.
A lot of us have grown up believing there are just two options when it comes to finding love:
- Either fairytales exist, and we are waiting for our Prince Charming to come and sweep us off our feet and rescue us and complete us.
- Or fairytales don't exist, and we should settle for what we've got, because nothing better is coming along.
But that doesn't mean we have to take option 2 - that suggests that we accept whatever comes along. Thinking like that encourages us to live with things that aren't good for us, or feel like we'll take anyone who shows interest in us, because maybe there's no one else.
We won't have a 'happily-ever-after' fairytale - men are not there to rescue and complete us, and life will not be perfect once you have found a man. But neither should we settle for someone who is not right for us.
My parents used to say to me, don't settle for someone who feels less than 100%. Not even 90%. I didn't really get what they meant then. How can anyone be 100% what I want from a man? Surely I have to compromise. No one is going to be perfect.
But now I see what it means - Not perfect. But perfect for us.
When I was in relationships, a few of them were completely wrong, and I knew it, but was too afraid to leave because I felt like I couldn't be alone. A few of them were almost right, but not quite. I knew this too, but didn't admit it to myself until afterwards, because I felt like there may not be better - maybe I was being to picky and should just overlook the things that weren't quite right, or weren't quite what I wanted in a relationship. I'm not talking about things like "Oh, he has brown eyes, and I want a guy with blue eyes", but things like "He's great in every other way, but he smokes." Or "We have fun together doing certain things, but he doesn't always get or accept my interests".
Often the things we see as being not quite perfect, but maybe we should just ignore it so we're not being fussy - these things often mask or represent deeper and more significant issues that we don't want to look at out. Because we're afraid. Because we don't feel like we deserve more. We don't believe there is something more.
But there is. We are so valuable that we don't need to settle for less than perfect - perfect for us. This doesn't mean that life will be happy and trouble free - we'll face problems and conflicts. The perfect person for us is sometimes even someone who makes us face some of the rough edges of our lives and personalities, so that we polish each other and encourage each other to grow.
Just don't ignore those niggling feelings. Be assured of your own self-worth and value before you even think about getting into a relationship so that you don't feel tempted to place your worth in another person.
Which brings me to the biggest problem - which is that we believe we need to pick an option. That we have to be waiting for someone. That we need a relationship.
First of all we need to find the freedom in knowing that we don't actually NEED to get married. (See 1 Corinthians 7 for Paul's discussion on this topic) Obviously if you want to have a sexual relationship and have children, then yes, marriage is part of God's plan. But I think so many of us feel the worldly pressure that if we're not in a relationship then there is something wrong with us.
That is the most important thing I wish everyone knew - you don't need a relationship to be complete and whole. In fact, if you are searching for a relationship because you don't feel complete, then you probably aren't ready for a relationship.
God, our author and creator, is the only one who can complete us. If you haven't been convinced of your worth and wholeness in Him, then you are only going to find disappointment and emptiness in relationships. I wish I had realised this before I started seeking approval, acceptance and self-worth from people. I came out the other side of relationships feeling even emptier than before.
If you realise that you don't need a relationship, then that can give you amazing freedom. Freedom to focus on God, freedom to be open to whatever he has in store for you. Freedom to want a relationship, but not have your value bound to finding one.
When you find that freedom, then you can realise there is far more than the two options we grew up believing. There is a life of fulfilment and value and substance, with or without a boyfriend or husband.
And if you still want to be in a relationship, it gives you the freedom to go into it without any baggage or burden of expectations for either of you to place on the other person.
Don't wait for man to complete you. Only God can. Don't settle and accept things you know aren't right for you. Ask God to help you guard your heart and convince you of your worth in Him first. Don't accept the lie that you need a relationship to be complete or to have a full life. So if a relationship is part of your present or future, you don't need to go into it with fear or insecure needs - you can accept the freedom God has given us to be complete in Him, and the freedom to choose!
My heart breaks for the girls I see come through my door who have no idea of how valuable and beautiful they are. My heart breaks to see them seeking to feel something from empty relationships. To see them so confused and hopeless because they can't understand why they just end up feeling more empty and less fulfilled. Because I've been where they are, and know how they feel, and don't want anyone else to make those same mistakes.
Sisters, look after eachother. Remind each other of our worth in God. Our freedom in Christ.
All my love and prayers are with you!