I hesitate writing about relationships because I am married. I don’t know why I think that, but it’s true. I assume girls who are not yet wives do not want to hear from me because everything I say comes from a place of “being on the other side of singleness” and therefore I do not understand. In reality, I don’t understand. I got married at 23 to a man I was friends with since I met him at 18, and dated for almost 3 years before becoming husband and wife. So the truth is, I do not truly know what it’s like to be a single 20-something. However, I do know what it is like to have your heart broken, to desperately try to heal while unsure where to start, to articulate feelings of brokenness to your friends and feel like nothing they say helps, to feel confused and blame yourself for an ended relationship. I do know what it is like to have to move on. So, I’ll start there.
There was a boy I was completely consumed by. He took over my thoughts and all my actions were centered on him and catching his eye. I starved for his attention and when I finally got it, it was short-lived. Hanging up that phone call, I felt embarrassed. I felt like an idiot for believing a guy like him could be interested in a girl like me. The absolute worst lie.
That year was full of vulnerability and honest conversations. I did not like how this break-up made me feel. It felt different than others. This boy made me realize how quick I was to let someone else in the world define my worth. It forced me to re-evaluate all of the other relationships in my life, only to find this was a pattern. How much people liked me, approved of me, laugh with me, and included me were aspects of relationships I let define my worth, and I had reached my breaking point.
Ironically enough, as I spent that year in a relational mess, I found myself growing closer to my now husband. We had always been friends, but suddenly we were together much more. I was scared of this growing attraction (on my part) and refused to let this friendship become like the others. So the closer I got to him, the more I ran to Jesus. This was not intentional, but I felt myself slipping back into the desperation for attention I had been a prisoner to before. My turning to Jesus was because I was more in touch with my brokenness than I had been before. I was more self-aware because I was allowing myself to be vulnerable and learn more about my brokenness. So I ran to Jesus for that affirmation before I could let myself fall back into worldly affirmation.
I am so thankful for the wake-up call that break-up was to me. It revealed my deep-seeded sin in idolizing relationships of any kind. Doesn’t it seem so backwards that walking through our brokenness brings us closer to Jesus? But it does. How sweet it is to know with God there is always freedom on the other side of healing. I wish I could say putting my worth in people around me ended then, but unfortunately not. Even when I started dating my husband a year later, I found myself thinking I was “complete” because of him. Thankfully, he was quick to point me to Jesus.
That is what I mean when I tell friends or the teenage girls I lead to run to Jesus. It is not because all of your problems will be solved, but because he fulfills. When I look to others to affirm me, my husband to complete me, or my friends to comfort me – I fall short. I am thankful that when I fall short before the Lord, Jesus fills in the space so I’m always enough. When you are running toward God, you are always enough too.
words by Lauren Grindstaff and photo by Sarah Mohan