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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The Struggle with Forgiveness

forgiveness

Forgiveness is something that I really struggle with. And when I say struggle, I mean STRUGGLE. I am a queen of holding grudges and not letting stuff go. I could give you a wrap sheet of people who I have cut off and cut out of my life for hurting me or doing me wrong. That list includes colleagues, friends and even family. (No, I don’t discriminate) And I’m the type that will cut you off and never speak to you again in life. The type that will see you in the street, at the store, or at your mama’s house and won’t speak. The type that would keep riding if I saw your car broke down on the side of the road. Okay, maybe I’m not that bad, but you get my point. My struggle with forgiveness is so real. But God has really been working with me on this issue lately and forcing me to face my issues with forgiveness head on.

I’ve been seeing that my issues with forgiveness come from the fact that I heavily value justice. I hate when things aren’t even and fair. I feel like if you do something wrong then you should make it right. If you hurt someone, then you should do everything in your power to make it up to them. It’s a standard that I hold myself and others to, and it’s that way of thinking that’s made it so easy to hold grudges and bitterness in my heart against others. Whenever people have wronged me in the past my automatic response has been, “They did something to hurt me, so if they want my forgiveness then they should come to me and make it up to me by apologizing. That’s only me being fair.” I felt that if I forgive them without them taking the steps to make it “right”, then I was letting them off the hook. I thought that if I didn’t hold a grudge then what they did had no consequences.

While it may sound fair and even sound right on the surface, the way I was thinking, and the way many of us think about forgiveness, isn’t based on truth. I think what’s at the core of our unforgiveness is the lie that our healing has to come from the same place that our hurt came from. We feel that since a particular person was responsible for hurting us, then by default, they are responsible for healing us. We hold on tightly to anger and pain from past hurts because we falsely believe that the people who hurt us are the only ones capable of setting us free. Forgiveness frees us from that way of thinking. It allows us to realize that even though someone hurt us, we don’t have to wait around for them to heal us. We don’t have to walk around day after day holding onto grudges, waiting around for an apology that may or may not ever come. Forgiveness allows us to see that our healing is not dependent on the person that hurt us. It opens our eyes to the fact that it doesn’t matter where our hurt came from because our healing ultimately comes through Christ. That’s what makes forgiveness so freeing. It turns our attention away from the ones who hurts us, and sets our eyes on the One who heals us. He is the only One capable of tending to the wounds from our past. He is the only One that can take the sting out of the slights we’ve felt. He is the only One who can piece our heart back together after it’s been broken by others.

And realizing that forgiveness hinges on Him and not on human beings, reminds me of why Christ died on the cross for us. His death was the ultimate act of forgiveness. It was the recognition that no human being would ever be capable of apologizing, sacrificing or paying God back enough to cover the wrongs of our sins. It was the ultimate recognition that there was no way a human being could heal the agonizing hurt we cause God whenever we disobey Him through our sin. Christ’s death was the realization that human beings were incapable of undoing the damage our sinful ways cause. I hurt the very heart of God every single time I sin. We hurt the very heart of God every single time we sin. Every single time. Yet He doesn’t hold grudges until I make it “right”. He doesn’t make me, or any of us, pay Him back for wronging Him. He forgave each of us and tangibly showed us that forgiveness by sending His only begotten Son. Looking at His incredible forgiveness of all of my sins, makes my unforgiveness seem really petty, childish, trivial, insignificant…well you get the point.

So maybe you’re like me and struggle with forgiveness. Maybe you’ve been holding grudges with the false hope that the people that hurt you were the only ones capable of healing you. Maybe somewhere along the way you forgot that the same forgiveness God extended to us over 2000 years ago on an old, rugged cross is the same forgiveness we’re called to extend to others. But as you go into the new year, start off by taking your eyes off of the ones that hurt you and fix them on the only One who has ever been capable of healing you. Go into this new year letting go of pain and bitterness that unforgiveness causes, so you’ll be able to fully embrace the healing and comfort that God’s forgiveness brings. Pick up that phone, send that text, write that e-mail or letter (Shoutout to you if you still write letters) and let someone who hurt you know that you forgive them because you know the One who has forgiven you.

The Purging Process

One of the worst feelings in the world is when you eat something you’re not supposed to and get sick. (BTW, this is going to be kinda gross but stay with me on this.) For me, the one thing that’s guaranteed to make me sick to my stomach anytime I eat them are avocadoes. Every time I’ve ever ingested this green fruit or vegetable or whatever it is, I’ve gotten sick. Right after I eat it I’m fine, but a few hours later, I find myself feeling nauseous…really, really nauseous. The nausea continues for what feels like forever until my body finally can’t stand it anymore and I throw up (Eww!). Clearly, my body doesn’t react well to avocadoes because whenever I’ve eaten them, they’ve caused an adverse reaction. In other words, avocadoes are bad for me. The nausea I’ve felt, was my body’s way of signaling that what I ate is not good for me and that terrible feeling wouldn’t go away until my body purged itself of what was making it sick.

Now, of course, the actual process of throwing up is painful and ugly. It physically hurts to throw up. And it’s a pretty exhausting experience. Not to mention the fact that having your face planted over a toilet bowl or trash can during the whole ordeal, isn’t exactly a pretty site. To say the least, throwing up is not a pleasant experience but after you do, you feel a lot better.

It’s funny how our physical body’s reaction to bad things it ingests mirrors our spiritual, emotional and mental sides’ reactions to bad things. Often times we become sick spiritually, mentally and emotionally because of the bad things that have happened to us or that we’ve participated in. Those bad things could be abuse, trauma or an otherwise negative life experience. And when they occur, our mind and soul ingests those experiences and starts to internalize them. Initially those things may not affect us, but once those bad things settle within us, they start to cause an adverse reaction. We often start to feel the spiritual, mental and emotional equivalent of nausea. We find ourselves in a miserable state that won’t seem to go away.

But just like our physical body doesn’t get better until it regurgitates what’s been making it sick, our spiritual, mental and emotional being can’t get better until it does the same. Many times we go through things in life that hurt us deeply and traumatize us and leave us feeling sick. Maybe that sickness manifests itself as depression, an uncontrollable temper, or an addiction. However that sickness manifests itself, it manifests itself in ways that seem to linger. It manifests itself in ways that leave us feeling miserable. The only thing that will make the pain go away is to purge ourselves of whatever we’ve ingested and internalized. Our healing is on the other side of our purging process. But here’s the catch: purging is painful. Purging is ugly. Purging is hard to do and takes a lot of energy out of you. It’s incredibly hard to look at the things that you’d rather forget ever happened. It’s painful to work through tough memories from your past. It’s tough to have to deal with the anger, sadness, frustration, and unforgiveness that is associated with said things from your past. On the surface, it may seem far easier to “just move on” and act like those things aren’t really affecting you. But here’s the other catch: purging is the only way you’ll ever find healing for you mind, soul and emotions. The internal pain won’t go away until you rid yourself of the bad things that are causing that pain. Just like the nausea won’t go away until you throw up and get everything bad out of your system, whatever internal pain you’re facing won’t go away until you’re gone through the purging process. There are no short cuts or ways around it. You have to go through the excruciating pain of purging to finally find relief from whatever has been plaguing you.

The purging process is so difficult but if you can just push through the pain, you’ll find relief. Of course, you can and probably should work through the pain with a caring professional or loved one. But however you choose to work through it, know that you’ll feel so much better after you do. Release those things that have been hurting you once and for all, so you can move forward and feel better.

I Know Depression

I know depression.

I know what it feels like to hurt and hurt so deeply that it reaches the depths of your soul.

I know what it feels like to have that nagging pain that won’t seem to go away.

I know what it feels like to lay in the bed at night crying your heart out.

I know what it feels like to pray to God, begging Him not to let you wake up in the morning because you can’t stand the sadness anymore.

I know what it feels like to smile and pretend that everything is okay, even though you’re dying inside.

I know what it feels like to try to hide what you’re going through from classmates, coworkers, family and friends.

I know what it feels like.

I know depression.

I’ve dealt with depression since I was 13 years old. And over the past 10 years, I’ve struggled with it in silence, for the most part. I struggled with it alone, silently drowning in pain and soaking in tears for a lot of reasons.

I was afraid of the stigma that comes with depression. Afraid of being judged by others and being called “crazy”.

I didn’t want people to think I was weak or could not handle everything on my own. And a lot of times, I honestly did think I could handle it on my own.

I thought that depression meant that I was ungrateful. I mean, my life hasn’t been picture perfect, but I have a lot to be thankful for. I have a lot to be happy about, so why couldn’t I be? Why couldn’t I just snap myself out of it and be “normal” like everyone else?

I also always placed extremely high expectations on myself and felt that I had to be perfect. Depression got in the way of me being perfect and reaching the incredibly high standards I set for myself. Admitting that I was battling depression, felt like having to admit that I didn’t always have it together and perfect, and that was something I wasn’t ready to do for the longest.

But over this past year, as I’ve grown in my relationship with Christ, I’ve started to realize that depression is not my destiny. John 10:10 tells us that the enemy came to steal, kill and destroy, but Jesus came so that we could have life and have it abundantly. Depression isn’t a life of abundance. It steals your hope. It kills your joy. It destroys your peace. That’s not the life any of us are meant to live. We’re meant to live an abundant life. Occasional sadness is a natural and necessary part of life, but when sadness lingers for too long and starts turning into depression, it’s okay to reach out and get help. I know that I’ve spent the past ten years of my life, suffering with depression and struggling to hide it from others, because of fear and shame. But, I’m finally in a place where I’m ready to heal from my depression. And I’m starting that healing process with a caring professional and deciding to share what has been an incredibly painful part of my life with others.

So if you’re going through depression and you’re reading this, know that you are not alone. The sadness, emptiness and hopelessness that you’re dealing with is something that I’ve dealt with, and so many others have, too. It’s okay that you’re hurting but know that you don’t have to continue hurting for the rest of your life and God doesn’t want you to hurt for the rest of your life. Please don’t let the fear of being judged or the shame about the pain that you’re feeling keep you from getting the help and the healing God so desperately wants you to have. No matter how it feels right now, understand that He sees the pain that you’re going through, just like He saw all the pain I’ve gone through over the past ten years. He sees your broken heart and He’s close to you. He sees how depression has crushed your spirit and He’s more than willing to rescue you. (Psalm 34:18) He loves you so much and He wants you to heal and be whole. Some of your healing will come from praying and crying out to Him, but often times healing will also come through the help of a trained counselor or therapist. That healing may also include taking medication until you start feeling better. And if it does, that’s perfectly okay. It took me an entire decade to realize that, but it doesn’t have to take you that long. I know that it’s so hard to deal with depression, especially when you’re hiding your pain in the darkness of fear and shame. But you don’t have to deal with depression alone. You can reach out to get the help that you need, so you can start living your life, and live it more abundantly.

Dear Love: Healing from Pain

Dear Love,

Healing can’t come until you decide to let go of the pain. I know you want to move on from the past but you’re still holding on to all those painful memories. You keep saying you’re ready to move on but you keep going back to the places and people that cause you the most pain. You say you don’t want to end up bitter and broken, yet you’re unwilling to forgive. Unfortunately, love, you can’t have your cake and eat it too, on this one. If you want to claim your healing, you’ve got to consciously let go of everything that keeps re-injuring you.

XOXO,

Sarita

Dear Love: Healing For Your Heart

Dear Love,

So often, we re-injure our own hearts by continuing to open ourselves up to people in hopes that they will be able to heal all the pain we’ve experienced in the past. We’re so blinded by the emptiness and pain that we’re already feeling from past relationships, that we can’t see that the people we keep turning to for healing are just like the ones before. We end up running into the arms of another person who is just like the ones that hurt us in the past. Only to get hurt yet again. Only to run to yet another person just like the ones before. Only to keep ourselves in a vicious cycle that drives us deeper into the very hurt and pain we’re trying rescue ourselves from. The faces may change, but the injury doesn’t. We just keep adding layer upon layer of pain to a heart that’s already been so deeply wounded.

Stop searching, love.

You’re heart can only take so much pain. You can only be broken so many times. You deserve to heal. You deserve to find true love. You’ve been searching all over for it. From relationship to relationship. From person to person. From one thing to the next. But nothing fills that gaping hole inside of you. Everything you’ve found so far has only temporarily numbed and drowned out the pain, but it doesn’t heal the pain like you’ve been hoping it would.

Can I help you out, love?

The only one that can heal your broken heart. The only one that can restore your wounded soul. The only one that can make you whole again is the One who died for you at a place called Calvary. The One who gave His life so you could have life abundantly. He died to rescue you from your brokenness. He died to heal every single pain. He died to mend your tattered heart. He died to save your lost soul. He loves you unconditionally and uncontrollably. Intensely and immensely. His love is powerful enough to restore every part of you that is hurting, empty and sad. But you have to let Him. You have to make the choice to stop giving your heart to people who don’t know how to take care of it. You have to stop trusting those people that are dealing with their own brokenness, to be in charge of your healing. You have to fling yourself into the arms of the only One who can give you what you’ve desperately been searching for. Trust Him with your whole heart like you’ve been trusting so many others with it. Bare you entire soul before Him, the same way you’ve bared it to others. If you give Him your heart and soul, He won’t ever leave you or let you down. Give Him your all: your brokenness, your emptiness, your despair, your pain and your fear. I promise you, He will give you wholeness, fullness, joy, peace, and love that’s everlasting.

He wants to give you “beauty for your ashes”, my love…but only if you let Him. ❤

XOXO,

Sarita

Dear Love: You’re Still Here

Dear Love,
I don’t care what you’ve been through or how much you’ve been hurt, the fact that you can read this means that you can recover and heal from the pain. The fact that you’re still here despite all of the hurts. The fact that you survived every single struggle. The fact that you were able to push through the pain means that you’re ready to be renewed and restored. You might be barely holding on, but YOU ARE holding on. Don’t give up, love! Know that God has seen everything you’ve been going through. Every tear you’ve cried. Every time your heart has been broken. Every time your trust has been abused. Every time you’ve been tossed to the side. Even when you didn’t feel His presence or think that He cared, He was there. He was there bringing you through hardships that others couldn’t make it through and that’s a testimony all by itself. And now He’s ready to restore you and make you shine like never before. What you thought was Him abandoning you when you were at your absolute lowest. What you thought was Him forgetting you when you needed Him the most, was really just Him refining you in the fire and making your faith pure (1 Peter 1:7). Continue to hold on and rest assured that you’ve been through the fire and your faith has been tested but your “praise, glory and honor” is coming sooner than you think.

XOXO,

Sarita