Today we’re getting super vulnerable. We’re going to be talking about love.
Ya’ll, this one is really hard to write. I’m literally fighting back tears and taking huge gulps of air to keep myself from having a total mental breakdown…But I started this blog with the intention of always being authentic & transparent, so I have to maintain my integrity and give you the raw.
Ugh. (Deep sigh)
a topic that I find myself so entranced by when it comes to thinking about God’s (agape) love towards me and His people, but that I simultaneously try my darnedest to avoid when it comes to thinking about romantic (eros) love.
Writing, even thinking about this topic, makes me physically uncomfortable. Seriously. I feel the discomfort rise whenever my playlist comes across a love song. My back stiffens, shoulders tense up and my heart starts racing. Similarly, on the off chance that I try to have some leisure time and watch a movie, when a title or trailer comes up that has any sort of romance involved, I run. Where to? Well, I usually end up going right back to busying myself with working, listening to a podcast or some bible teaching so that I don’t have to confront my feelings…and to be completely transparent—my broken heart.
Let me start by giving you some background into how I got here. For the past couple of months, I’ve been following a page on instagram and watching the livestreams. I honestly don’t even know or remember how I came across the page, but God knows why He led me to it. I get so much confirmation and alignment from the videos. Recently, the live sessions have all been centered around the topic of the soul; diving deep into how our souls are comprised of our mind, will and emotions and exploring how our thoughts effectively impact who we are & what we do. Today specifically, we reviewed a sermon by Pastor Craig Groeschel from Life Church entitled, “Silence Your Negative Thoughts.” It just so happens that I had posted a clip to that very sermon earlier on my instagram story… there was that alignment again.
The livestream went over sermon notes and there were so many gems from the message, but there was a line shared that struck me: when it comes to your negative thinking patterns, you can’t defeat it, if you can’t define it.
I mean wow! It was so simple yet so profound. I needed to hear that. Something in my spirit leaped when I heard those words come through my IPhone.
Next, the notes reviewed four areas that are most prone to negativity. The one that convicted me the most was number 1: relational cynicism.
Relational Cynicism is a general distrust for people and their motives. This cynicism is generally a reflection of how you feel about yourself.
I was triggered. Here I was having a fine day and then the Lord had it in His plans to throw that into the mix. I immediately became emotional. Like, really God? I thought I was past this…but I guess not. As He has done so many times before, God was (lovingly) forcing me to confront my issues. This was a full on therapy session ya’ll!
I had been doing the work–and by that, I mean the work of healing, growing in my relationship with God, making changes to my thoughts, habits, patterns, and behaviors; establishing clear boundaries with people that I knew could not go with me into this next season, praying constantly, fasting, serving at church. You name it, I was doing it–as long as it came from God. I was desperate for God; I have a burning desire to do His will no matter what anyone has to say about it.
And yet, I was still struggling.
Struggling to fully move on. My heart was open and willing to give God my yes when it came to all matters of the Kingdom, but I was neglecting the fact that when you say yes to God He wants all of you. ALL.
And to be completely honest, I thought I was giving him my all. The Holy Spirit did not hesitate though, to put me in check!
It's a reality check that was hard to hear, but I needed it. Because in reality, I was struggling to trust. I have been betrayed, used, and manipulated by so many people in my past sometimes due to my own naïveté, and at others just symptomatic of my sometimes too giving, want-to- believe-the-best-in-everyone, heart. When I really started to take my relationship with God seriously and allowed Him to heal me from bitterness, resentment, and unforgiveness I really thought that I had surrendered all of it.
But again, it's a process.
What I realized today is that you can surrender all of those things to God in that moment and receive redemption, but that doesn’t mean that all traces are immediately wiped from your system. There are years of pain and hurt attached to those negative emotions that burrow deep within. So deep they become intertwined; hunkered down into the very depths of your heart and mind and soul.
Coming off of that live, I was wrecked. Then, I began to connect the dots in my mind how earlier this morning on a Walmart run, I felt God urging me to listen to love songs. I fought it at first. But then He kept playing a line from one of the songs in my inner ear, like a bee buzzing, nagging me until I finally gave in and yielded to the directing of the Holy Spirit. I listened to the opening of the song and immediately turned it off–convincing myself that I heard wrong and this wasn’t from God. Then another song started to play in my spirit. The radio station of Heaven had a loud speaker blasting love songs within me, and I did not like it at all!
But obedience, right? So again, I yielded. He led me to listen to two songs in particular, not once but twice. They were the songs, "When God Made You" by Newsong and "The Marriage Prayer" by John Waller. This was too much. I kept adjusting in my seat as I drove. In my head, I was trying to coach myself to watch my thoughts: Why was this making me feel so uncomfortable? What was it about the lyrics to these songs that triggered me? Did I still believe that this kind of love was possible? Was it possible for me? After going through a divorce? Was I ready for this kind of love? When do you even know that you’re ready?
So. Many. Questions.
I understood that God was trying to help me; helping me break down the walls that are inevitably built up whenever you go through heartbreak. I guess He was trying to get me to soften my heart when it came to love because without realizing it, I had become a little cynical. My avoidance of love songs and romantic movies started out very objectively. I was trying to be intentional about not letting any of those types of feelings distract me because God told me that the year 2022 would be the year of building. I was committed to doing everything in my power to protect my focus. I declared a fast from all men!
I even wrote a vow to myself on New Years Day so that I could solidify my commitment in writing. The oath went a little something like this:
It's the year of me and building my empire.
I promise to myself that I will use the year 2022 to chase my dreams and goals & focus entirely on myself, child, God and purpose. Anything outside of that is a distraction and I will not let distractions deter me from achieving my goals–not even for a second. With God first, I am prioritizing what I need to do for the kingdom. All other secondary matters are for the birds. I am quite literally laser focused on the goal. I’m marked for Christ and ready to do His bidding and His alone. As far as I am concerned, anything apart from that is a threat to my safety, well-being and success. No man is going to get in the way of what God has in store for me this year. If I let that happen, then I am essentially giving up on my dreams. A man will be nice in due time and due season but that’s not my focus this year. It’s all in God’s hands.
I wasn’t kidding!
Anytime I felt myself getting off-track I would pull up my vow and read it aloud. Multiple times if needed. I kept repeating the words until I felt myself snap out of the distraction and focus & clarity returned. It may seem a bit extreme to some but this was what I needed–a tangible, documented, authenticated contract between me, myself, and I. A contract that could only be broken due to death.
Okay, maybe that’s a little dramatic, but you get the point.
The funny thing is that prior to my marriage & divorce, I had always been a hopeless romantic. I was the little girl who would listen to love songs played on Lite Rock 105 (my RI natives will understand the reference) and imagine that I would one day find the kind of love that they would sing about. Love that was heaven sent. Love that could stand the test of time; that was greater than any obstacles two people might face because they had each other to hold onto…and that was enough. Call me naive or judge me all you want, but I know you’ve felt this at some point in your life too. Don't lie!
Anyway, just like I had silenced the true me because of insecurities that I talked about in a previous post, this time around, I was silencing her due to pain.
We are so multifaceted and complex so when healing happens, it has to slowly work through all of the layers, walls, barriers, and impenetrable fortresses that are built over time. I was so dedicated to not letting any man disrupt or deter me from purpose that I did not realize the toll it was taking on my perception of love itself. I, the former hopeless romantic, had effectively become the cynic. Lord help me!
Usually, I end these posts with some sort of uplifting, encouraging message, but I’m not going to lie, I'm struggling to find a way to close this one. The reality is, when it comes to the L-word, it’s still a work in progress for me. I’m learning to trust again in all of my relationships. Recently, there have been so many new connections- friends and potential business partners–that have come into my life. I feel so blessed and so thankful for the connections and then I have this overwhelming feeling in the pit of my stomach that makes me question their intentions.
I’ve been praying a lot about it. Praying for increased discernment so I know which opportunities I should pursue and which I should not AND which people I should allow in my life or not. It’s been a struggle because this is new territory for me. As I said before, I previously had always been the type of person to take people at face value and just be accepting and open, but there have been a couple pretty significant moments that have transpired in the last two years that have opened my eyes to the reality that I was just too nice.
Now please don’t misunderstand me, I still think it's important and even valuable to be accepting and loving to all people. But, I’ve learned that I needed to be smarter about who I allowed into my space and who I permitted to share my energy–this goes for all types of relationships, not just romantic. As I got smarter, my eyes became open to the folks who were never really for me or on my team, I was more of a source that they came to draw from and once the bucket was filled, I was no longer useful. I allowed my nice-ness to blind me from peoples’ true colors…and now, I am finding myself struggling not to color new connections with the same crayons from the past.
I keep coming back to that second part of the definition for relational cynicism: This cynicism is generally a reflection of how you feel about yourself.
Could it be that my trust issues are a mirror, revealing that what's really going on is I don’t trust myself?
Anyone who has faced heartbreak I’m sure can relate. It takes something from you. It shatters. It sucks. And it's painful, not just emotionally. Honestly, when l was forced to listen to those songs, I could feel my heart throbbing; like someone was playing with a blowtorch in there.
But I also know I have to go through it. Something I learned in therapy was that you have to let yourself feel it. Cry, shout, scream into a pillow, punch something. Do whatever you need to allow yourself to feel them fully because avoidance is worse. Feel the feelings–the hurt, the pain, the disappointment, the rejected-ness, the failure and then go do something with it. Take time to process–pray, journal, talk to your therapist, buy some self-help books, watch an encouraging video. Do something that is going to help you properly process the pain so that it can be used to produce power and ultimately help you to discover or work on your purpose.
There’s so much purpose in your pain. And I truly believe that as women, there is something that gets activated when we go through hardship. Like a mother travailing in childbirth, the more pain she experiences, the more she is able to bring forth and birth her child. In this same way, I choose to think about the pain as a sort of birthing process. It may not feel good at the moment, but in the end, a beautiful blessing will come from it.
So, to answer my own question: Yes, I still believe in the power of love. I’m still a hopeless romantic and I believe that I will find love again one day, when it's time and when I’m ready–or should I say, when God says I’m ready. I’m choosing to trust again. I’m choosing to love again–but this time, starting with me.