I saw a sign today that read, “repeat after me: I don’t want what doesn’t want me.” I just stared at that sign for a few minutes, my mind flashing back to all the times where I did exactly that. All the years of painful regret that I spent chasing rainbows that really just turned out to be storm clouds, pulling me into the cyclone, twisting me into a world of hurt.
That was my dating life. Over and over and over: I repeated the pattern. I picked handsome, successful, slightly arrogant, overly confident men, who treated me like the gum on the bottom of their shoe. I hid the hurt behind my pink lipped smile as one of those men looked over my body and told me casually I could be more fit if I simply tried harder, then I could REALLY be beautiful. And perhaps on top of that maybe I should change my hair. I would look better with short hair. Perhaps a new color.
I screamed all the way home through tear streamed eyes, after I found out that a man that I had been dating for two years was seeing someone else on the side. Someone whom he soon saw as a better fit for his lifestyle. Someone better than me. Someone whom he soon discarded for someone else. When I told him I forgave him he sarcastically asked, “for what?”
A man that I dated in high school, my prom date, told the rest of the staff at the restaurant we worked at, that he was only going with me to prom out of pity. Of course, the truth always comes out… and resulted in me sobbing in the bathroom of Red Robin for half of my shift – praying that the night would end so I could go home, to somewhere where I didn’t have to feel embarrassed or ashamed.
My first date was to a Panera Bread. I was shaking I was so nervous. This was a boy that I had liked for a really really long time. I had painstakingly picked out my outfit, curled my hair to perfection, put on a little bit of makeup, and I TRIED to drive the speed limit to Panera Bread, my heart knocking against my chest and my knees shaking. I tried to slow my breathing as I sank down into the booth. I waited for over an hour before I started realizing the truth, “he isn’t coming…” I called him that night to lay into him. He explained he had gotten caught up in a video game and he forgot.
This is not a dating story, but over the years it has left a significant impact on my heart, and my self-esteem. I was thirteen when I wore a yellow Victoria Secret “Pink” shirt to Thunder over Louisville. I was there with my friends laying under a multi-colored umbrella, laughing and playing card games, waiting impatiently for the fireworks to begin. The back of my shirt said, “Pretty in Pink,” in bright pink letters. I heard from a laughing group of boys behind me, “ugly in pink,” followed by a chorus of laughter. I shrunk into the umbrella as far as I could. I don’t think I really saw the fireworks that year. My youthful mind was too busy replaying the words and the laughter that had sunk into my heart like a rusty nail. I never wore that shirt again.
As you can see, my track record with men is not very great. I can’t tell you the number of times I have cried myself to sleep over something someone I have dated has said to me. Something someone, who is supposed to love and protect my heart, has done to harm it. I am not telling you all this to feel sorry for me. I am telling you all this to show you that LOVE DOESN’T HURT. For so many years I attributed pain with love. I attributed men with pain. “It’s okay. He loves me, so he can say that I never lived up to his ex and I will forgive him.” “It’s okay he loves me, so if he decides to shack up with someone else and put my health in danger, I will forgive him.” “It’s okay, he loves me, so if he calls me a dog to my face, I can forgive and forget.” “It’s okay, he loves me.” IT IS NOT OKAY.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails.
I heard somewhere once that the litmus test for love comes straight out the Bible. In order to really know if someone is a good match for you, you should replace their name with the word Love in 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8. If you can read that to yourself and say, “yes all of this describes this person,” they are worth your time and your Love.
I tried to do it with some of my past boyfriends, and to be quite honest I couldn’t. There was always something that didn’t fit. I am dating someone now who has treated me with the utmost respect and kindness that every woman deserves. His name fits into this verse so perfectly. He has loved me in a way that has been so healing to all of the many blows and hurts that I have received in the past. Over the years, the many emotional cuts and bruises accumulated until I felt hard to love. I felt broken. I felt unloveable.
We often feel hard to love until we find the right heart to love.
I don’t know if this relationship will result in a white dress and the clink of champagne glasses. I don’t know if this sweet man who I am dating will be my forever partner. I do know that I have never felt so selflessly adored in my entire life. I have never felt that my heart was so valued. I have never felt so safe to fall.
It is impossible to find a perfect relationship. It is absolutely possible to find an imperfect, God-given partnership. So if my story sounds similar to your own, please remember that Love will never be the one to hurt you. Someone you love may hurt you, and forgiveness is always a good thing to try, but if it is happening continuously? Just remember that Love is patient, Love is kind, Love never fails. If you can’t say that about your significant other? Maybe it’s time for you to give your heart the rest it deserves… because real love is worth the wait. And you my darling, are worth waiting for.