Lessons from a High School Heartbreak

The year was 2009. I was senior in high school and I was in love. I had been dating my high school sweetheart for a year and I just knew with all of my 18 year-old heart that he was “the one.” He was popular and outgoing. He was attractive and was a good dresser. He came from a good family and seemed destined for success. What more could any girl ask for? I thought to myself,  “Guys like this are a rare breed.” (Little did I know that in a few months I would be right across the street from Morehouse College where 90% of the men would fit this description). But at the time I couldn’t see past the small horizon of my small town experiences and thought that this was the best life had to offer me. Over that year of dating him, I’d made him my world. Child, I lived and breathed for that boy. The least little thing he did effected me. I can still think back to the times I’d sit through class crying because he’d said or done something to break my little heart.

Well, it turns out, while I was writing his name with little hearts beside them and picking out china patterns for the wedding I just knew we would one day have, he was cheating on me. Oh, and his infidelity wasn’t a one time slip-up. I ended up discovering towards the tail-end of our relationship that he had begun cheating on me with his ex-girlfriend only two weeks into our relationship. Whomp whomp! The world that I made for him quickly crumbled and I was crushed when I found out what had been going on behind my back. I fell apart and my teenage heart broke into a million little pieces. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t eat. I cried almost everyday the entire summer before I went to college. It was a hot, Kleenex-filled, sad-love-song-singing, mess. I was the poster child for heart break.

I look back on the 18 year old me now with slight embarrassment but so much compassion. I wish I could have told her then what I know now. Boo thangs come and go and go…and go. That’s simply a part of life and growing up, but in knowing that, guard your heart above anything else. We often tell young women to guard their bodies and remain pure until marriage, but rarely tell them to protect their hearts and keep them pure. As I look back, I realize that I gave my high school sweetheart a part of my heart that was only meant for my husband. At the time I thought he was it, but clearly he wasn’t and I’m so fine with that now. When I was younger though, I didn’t understand that in the same way that it takes time for a man to earn the trust to get your body, it should take just as much time for him to earn all of your heart, mind and spirit. Oh, how I wish I could have told my younger self that. And I wish I could have told her how precious and beautiful she was. How much God adored her and wanted the best that life has to offer to her. For her to pick up her self, wipe her eyes and thank God for protecting her from what He didn’t purpose for her. I wish I could have told her that the pain was only temporary and that she’d move on one day and find new love again and again…and again. I wish I could have told her that the pain she went through held purpose. That she would learn and grow from her experience and that 6 years later she’d be writing about an experience she thought she’d never find the strength to get over.

However, I can’t rewind the hands of time and I wouldn’t even want to. The lessons I learned through that high school heartbreak showed me how resilient and strong I was, and it also showed me what a strong God I served. I got to see first hand, what a mighty heart-healer and lover of my soul that God is. I got to learn through experience that making ANYTHING other than God the center of your world is destined for failure. Boys cheat. Family betrays you. Friends talk about you. Jobs downsize. But God and His love never, ever fail. Like I said, I can’t go back and give my younger self this pep-talk, but I can tell you.

So little sister, if you’re reading this, know that your worth and value extend far beyond your relationship status. Take your time in every relationship and learn to place God 1st at a young age. God is always whispering to us through our wisdom and discernment and had I not been so drunk in love I would have been sober enough to hear His warnings. I would have saved myself a lot of the heart ache and disappointment and you can, too, if you follow Him when it comes to your relationships. Ask God to reveal people’s true intentions and character to you. People can look soooo good on the outside but they may not match up to that and still have growing to do on the inside. Trust your God-given intuition and know that it’s okay to leave whenever you feel you aren’t receiving what you should. You are a child of the King and always deserved to be treated as such. And baby girl, if you ever find yourself broken hearted from a relationship. Turn your heart over to God. Allow Him to love on you and mend your broken heart. Take the time to build a genuine relationship with Him and start making Him your world. I promise you, the younger you learn how to do this, the better off you’ll be. You’ll be able to have the strength and resilience to stand any breakup, setback or loss, because you will have the most solid foundation to stand on. Give your heart time to heal before moving on – I promise you it’s no rush and you have your whole life ahead of you to encounter “the one.” Forgive the ones who hurt you, understanding that it’s the key to truly being able to move forward and without bringing baggage into your next relationship (this is still a tough one for me at 24).

I’m telling you what I wished someone had told me when I was younger. It took me years of experience and learning the hard way to understand a lot of this, but you definitely don’t have to go the same route. Take a lesson from me, or any of the older women in your life who shares how they’ve been there and done that when it comes to relationships. You may be in high school and he may be the one (but he’s probably not *shrugs*). Either way know that when you keep God first and guard your heart, He will reveal it to you in His timing. Above all, know that you are absolutely beautiful from the inside-out and ALL of you, including your heart, is so precious and so worth the wait.

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Losing It All

What if I told you that in less than a year, I walked away from what I initially thought was my dream job. I lost several friends that I thought would always have my back and an ex boyfriend, who I thought I was going to marry. Would you feel sorry for me? Would you say I was down on my luck? Would you encourage me and tell me that things will get better? Now what if I told you that I’m happier now, then I was when I had all those things and people in my life. Let me explain.

After I graduated from college, I headed to the Mississippi Delta to start a teaching career with Teach for America. I had the perfect job on paper. I would be making close to $30k a year, which is more than I’ve ever made in my life. I was making new friends, adjusting to life as a teacher, and things appeared to be falling into place. There was only one problem: I felt miserable. Not homesick miserable. Not adjusting-to-change miserable. But something-is-terribly-wrong-with-me-being-here miserable. I just couldn’t shake the feeling, but I tried to push through it. I turned to going out every weekend and drinking way more than my 5’2” body could handle just to numb myself to how I was feeling, but I still felt miserable. I told myself to suck it up because this was an opportunity that others would die for and it would look so good on my resume. I still felt miserable. I desperately tried to focus on the fact that I loved working with kids and that I could do so much to help the community I was going into. I still felt miserable. So after Institute (training and summer school for new corps members) was over, I left feeling lower than I’ve ever felt in my life. I decided to take a break from TFA and figured it would help me sort things out and regroup. I had the option of returning within the next two years, so I planned to return to the Delta the following year. However, the weeks and then months started to roll by, and I still felt miserable.

Meanwhile, I was looking for support from those around me, including several of my closest friends from college. I’d met them at different points throughout my collegiate journey but we all hung together as a group. We laughed together. We cried together. We fought together, but through it all we stuck together. Surely, I could count on them to be by my side throughout such a difficult transition in my life, or so I thought. Turns out, they weren’t. At a time when I was looking to them for support and encouragement, I got judgment and rejection. Not having them during such a tough time in my life, made me feel hurt and lonely.

Hey, but at least I still had my boyfriend, even if I didn’t have the job or the friends. I’ve always dreamed of having a husband and a “perfect family” since I was a little girl, especially since I didn’t have that growing up. I’ve always wanting to give my future children the two-parent home that I wished I could have had. And I think in a lot of ways, I looked to men to fill the void that my dad left when my parents got divorced (We’ve been working on our relationship over the past few years, though). So when my ex brought up marriage and kids and eternal, everlasting love, I was down for the cause. Having someone there to love me through thick and thin, better or worse, richer or poorer, is all I’ve ever wanted. So when we broke up, I was broken hearted. I just knew he was “the one”.

In less than a year, it felt like I had lost more than I ever had in all 23 years of my life. However, the Lord used everything that I lost to allow me to gain some valuable lessons about life.

It was hard to walk away from a “dream job” to come back to your hometown unemployed and starting from scratch, but I did it. God used that situation to show what an incredibly resilient person He created me to be. He showed me without a shadow of a doubt, that I can start over even when I’m scared and unsure. I learned to step out on faith and take the path that God had for me, instead of sticking with the path that others, and even I, thought I should have been on. I learned that I don’t need a certain job, with a certain amount of prestige, making a certain amount of money to succeed in life. As long as I am obedient to His will, I can go anywhere in this world and prosper.

I thought I needed friends to fulfill me. I relied on them to encourage me, offer me guidance, and make decisions for me. Before all of this, I didn’t realize the power I gave to others to dictate the direction my life was going in. I look back over my friendships and I realize how many times I’ve let friends’ opinions decide whether or not I pursue something or say something or wear something. I gave my friends the power to control me. Losing them was painful, but God used it to show me to see that I am perfectly capable of making each and every decision for my life on my own. I don’t need anyone’s approval to do anything. As long as I pray about it and seek wise counsel, when God leads me to, I’m entitled to make the decisions that I feel are best for my life.

I thought I needed the boyfried, but losing him has allowed me to discover a love far deeper than a wedding and sex. In losing him, I ending up finding The One who has loved me since time began and will love me forever. The One who has never abandoned me, never given up on me, and refuses to give up on me no matter how many times I turn away from Him, fail Him or break His heart. I found an everlasting love and joy that makes me whole and fills every void in my heart that has ever been there. I’ve seen over these past months of singleness, that I don’t need a boyfriend to be alright. I can stand on my own, even when it’s lonely and painful.

So in the end, I lost it all, only to find out that I had everything I ever needed in God and in myself. That time was one of the most painful ones in my life, but I’m at a place where I can look back and see that the pain I was feeling were just growing pains. For the longest time I thought that happiness would come when I had the “perfect” job, friends, and relationship, but I had all of those things and felt absolutely miserable. God showed me that “perfect” on paper does not always equal His perfect will for our lives. You can have the prestigious job, with a decent pay check and paid vacation days, but what does that mean if you wake up every morning dreading to go to work? Are the likes on Facebook when you post pictures of your “awesome” job and the pats on the back you receive from others who approve of your career path going to sustain you for the next 2 or 5 or 20 years? You can have the friends who you can laugh and kick it with. The ones who went to a nice school like you, who dress nicely, and have equally “perfect” jobs like you, but what does all of that mean if you can’t count on them to have your back when you need it the most? Are those things more important than having people who won’t judge you when you are having a hard time or laugh and gossip about your failures behind your back? You can have the “perfect” boyfriend who promises you a diamond ring and a happy life, but is it worth it if you have to compromise who you really are to be with them? Is it more important to put your dreams on hold to have a family or is it more important to go out and live your purpose with or without somebody by your side?

I’ve learned that my joy, peace and well-being are not bound by who and what is in my life at any given point and time. As long as I have God, I have all that I need and sooooo much more. I’m blossoming in ways, that I could have only dreamed of before (including working on my M.Div, building new relationships centered around Christ, and starting this blog) and I know that I wouldn’t be at this point if God didn’t force me to let go of what I so desperately thought I had to cling to. I’m a living witness that “everything works for the good of those called according to His purpose”. With or with out the nice job, friends, or man that I once thought I needed, I’m okay. Matter of fact, I’m more than okay. It’s definitely been a journey, but I’m so grateful that God allowed me to lose it all, so that I could gain a trust in Him that sustains me no matter what my circumstances look like.

Married by 23?

Almost a year ago, I was in a relationship with a guy and we were headed towards marriage (or so I thought). He came along at the “perfect” time. We’d met in college and dated off and on before finally getting together at the end of my senior year of college. I’d always hoped and prayed that I would get married by 23 or 24, so he’d come along just in time. Plus he was just as excited about marriage as I was. He was heaven sent and I just knew he had to be my Boaz, Adam or whatever Biblical figure we’re using to describe husbands these days. The only problem was, I was focused on marriage for all the wrong reasons. I wanted to be married for me and me alone. I wanted the wedding for me. I wanted the beautiful ring for me. I wanted the husband and kids for me. Me, me, me, me, me! And I was so busy focusing on my own selfish desires that I couldn’t see that the relationship that I thought was heaven sent was really a counterfeit.

But the one thing that kept me from walking down the aisle with him, was my relationship with Christ. The closer I got to God, the further away I grew from my ex. The more I sought out God’s wisdom and counsel for leading my life and my relationship, the more red flags started popping up left and right. All of a sudden, I started discovering things that weren’t compatible with the purpose that God had for me. Though he was a Christian, we didn’t hold a lot of the same views about our relationship with Christ. One of our biggest arguments actually stemmed from a disagreement about tithes. Yes, chile, tithes! I started noticing how I was too dependent on him when it came to making decisions about my life. I realized that I didn’t like the involvement that his family had in our relationship. He realized he didn’t really like the fact that I preferred being homebody over going out. And the biggest kicker was the fact that we were having sex outside of marriage; we weren’t even building our relationship on a Godly foundation to prepare for marriage. That’s not to say that he was a bad guy, but looking back on it, it was clear that we were not meant for each other. In the haste of trying to make a major life decision, based on my own selfish desires, I could have made one of the biggest mistakes of my life. I could have gotten what I wanted at the time. I could have ignored the signs that the Lord was giving me and kept focusing on my selfish wants. I could have ended up married by the age of 23. But you know what, I probably would have ended up miserable. I would have ended up in a marriage that wasn’t build on a solid foundation, which would have caused chaos and confusion for my ex, myself, and any children we may have had.

I prayed so hard to have a husband by 23, but less than a month away from being 24, I can say I’m so grateful that this was one prayer He did not answer. That’s not to knock marriage or getting married young, but if God had allowed me to get married so young I would have missed the whole point of what marriage (and life) is really about. Marriage is not about me. It’s not about what I want, when I want it, and how I want it. Yes, marriage comes with its perks and I know there are few things that are more fulfilling then living and growing with the spouse that God set aside for you. But ultimately marriage is about God. Marriage is a ministry. It is supposed to be an earthly example of the love that Christ has for the church. Marriage is about giving up self, to serve your spouse and to serve God. And to be honest, I was far too committed to myself and my selfish desires to make that type of commitment to God and to someone else.

God has really been showing me over this past year, that marriage is not just another task that I check off my to-do list or another accomplishment I can add to my resume. It’s a serious undertaking that I need to wait on His perfect timing to take on. As a woman, it can be so easy to get caught up in the marriage frenzy and to fall into the trap that your ultimate purpose in life is to get wifed up, but God has been really showing me that marriage is only part of my purpose. My ultimate purpose, and anyone’s ultimate purpose, is to serve God and to give Him all the glory with your life. Right now, that means I’m serving God by working on my Master’s degree, healing and becoming whole in this period of singleness. One day, my purpose will include getting married, but until that day comes, I am content with where I’m at. I’m growing to a place where I want what God wants for me at any given point in my life, even if it isn’t what I planned out for my life. I’m thankful God said no to marriage at 23, so I could say yes to building my relationship with Him and preparing for marriage at the age He wants me to.

For the Twenty-Somethings

For the Twenty-Somethings

I have to constantly remind myself of this all the time. Your 20s are your time for trial and error. Go for your dream job even if you realize it’s not really what you’re passionate about. Start a business even if you think it might fail. Travel the world even if you’re tight on money. Take that chance on love even if it doesn’t last forever. Make mistakes. Fall and get back up. Learn the rhythm of your heart. Figure out what makes you tick. Go wherever you feel God leads you. Don’t listen to the people that will try to tell you to settle for the safe choices. You have the rest of your life to have it together. Let your 20s be the years that you fumble, fall and figure out what your purpose is.