I usually don’t like to talk much about relationships – romantic relationships to be exact. I’m single and quite enjoying my season so I try to focus on learning to be present and thankful, while maximizing where God has me. I am quite enjoying the gift of Keciah. I have peace. I have joy.
But all around me, there are women who do not. And what good is my wholeness if everyone else around me is broken? What good is my joy and freedom if I cannot empower those around me to find the same? My prayer is after reading this, you will, at the very least, be provoked to think about journeying to your own joy and true freedom.
While I am truly happy single now, there was a time when I was not. There was a time when I was consumed with marriage, consumed with being in a relationship and burdened by the belief that finding the perfect guy would be the answer to all my pain. Like most women, I believed my life required someone else to make me happy and so that was the focus of my prayers. But, no matter how I prayed, God would just not help me in that area. I was angry. I was sad. I was depressed for a long time because it seemed like all around me everyone was happy and in love but yet I was doomed to this perpetual torture of loneliness. I stayed in bad relationships just to avoid the pain of being alone. I chased men who were emotionally unavailable and sub-par at best just so I could convince myself that if I could “make” them change and love me then that would prove that I was loveable and worthy.
We are influenced by so much more than we realize.
Through social media and pop culture we are inundated by images of the seemingly elusive handsome guy who drops every other woman and chooses that one girl because somehow she proved to him she was better than all the rest. And so, without a biblical understanding of love and marriage, we believe we have to fight for love. We believe we have to compete for a man’s attention and that there is something we must do to prove to him that we are worth his time. For some of us, this was the household we grew up in. We watched our mothers, grandmothers and aunts fight to “keep” their men at home. We watched them suffer through infidelity, disrespect, and all types of abuse all in the name of love. And if by chance he happened to stay and they managed to build some kind of a life together then the woman “won.” And this message, though unspoken, gets passed on to our daughters – generation after generation so much so that it becomes normal and our brokenness and broken families are now accepted.
We don’t even realize how much we are bleeding. We are continuously struggling with the same issues: Accepting disrespect but calling it love, sacrificing our lives trying to mend broken men, jumping from one relationship to the other with no sense of self and no spiritual concept or understanding of who we are. We end up raising daughters who think like us, look like us. We’re raising sons who are exactly like the men who hurt us and yet we are frustrated as to why the cycle never gets broken.
And at the end of it all, defeated, the question we ask is – Why can’t I just find someone good, who loves me for me?
We believe somehow our dilemma is linked to a problem far removed from us: a scarcity of “good men” or because all black men are womanizers and lazy or because all the good men are taken – never realizing that the problem is within us. It never occurs to us that our greatest roadblock is WITHIN our pathology – the thought patterns that have been passed on to us by those who raised us, the behavior patterns we’ve adopted that are now so ingrained in us that we don’t even realize where we err and the TV shows we unknowingly idolize.
Truth is our issue is so simple yet, if unchecked, becomes so complex: We don’t truly know God and we don’t fully know who we are. We are living lives that have been handed down to us, perpetuating the cycle of brokenness and calling God in only where we believe he should fit.
Many of us have never taken the time to examine ourselves – to sit with ourselves with brutal honesty and admit that we’ve been making the same mistakes over and over each time only choosing a different face with a different name. We’ve never looked inside ourselves and admitted that we are afraid of whatever it is that we fear – afraid of being alone, afraid of turning out like our mother, afraid of being a single mom or just afraid of what people may say about us and so we make choices based on an image we’d like to project rather than based on the truth of who we are.
Many of us have never sat with our pain – really sat in it and felt it and admitted that those we were entrusted to – our mothers and fathers or family members – broke our hearts and we’ve been making bad choices ever since. Many of us have never confronted our childhood abuses, whether physical, emotional or sexual, and admitted that maybe we’ve grown up and grown past it but we’ve never really felt the pain of it, confronted it, healed it or forgiven it. And so maybe – just maybe – our relationship choices are they way they are because we’ve been trying to avoid it, soothe it or pretend as if it never happened.
My greatest revelation in my journey to true self discovery was realizing that most of my wounds were inflicted when I was but a child – totally incapable of defending or protecting myself. And so that became the template on which I built the rest of my life. The problem is when we do not heal those wounds, subconsciously our minds go back to the scene of the crime, always recreating ways to undo the damage. This manifests in the walls we build to protect ourselves, our addictions, our obsession with being successful or being liked, anger, depression and a multiplicity of other ways.
The other life shattering revelation that freed me was realizing the answer to who I am was ONLY found in God and so to get the details I had to ask him. I had to seek, him build a relationship with him and READ HIS WORD. In it would lie the key to unlocking the mystery of me and until I understood who I was and knew what I was created to do, I wouldn’t even know the kind of man to choose or have any clue as to what I had to offer him.
Now I know some may roll their eyes and say, “It doesn’t take all that. There are many people who aren’t saved, don’t even know God but have happy relationships.” But might I submit to you that there are many things that bind people together and what seems “happy” may not be healthy or purposeful. See, we have to move past these cheap, artificial definitions of happiness we hold that dictate that we must “feel good” or look like the images on TV. Truth is, any relationship that doesn’t push you closer to God, affirm who God says you are and complements God’s purpose for your life is one you will NEVER feel totally fulfilled in.
But getting there takes growth. It requires that we take the long, painful journey into ourselves and into our past – ADMIT what’s broken and heal it by forgiving those who hurt us and forgiving ourselves. It requires that we accept responsibility for our poor choices, for the things we’ve allowed to influence us and admit how we played a part in our own brokenness. It requires that we go to God and say “I need you. I need your help. I need you to show me how to design the life you saw when you formed me and I need you to lead me into relationships that align with your purpose.” He will give you the wisdom you need (James 1:5.).
While I was frustrated that God would not answer my prayers for a husband, what God knew that I didn’t, was that my happiness was found ONLY in him and was purely an inside job. And so what he proceeded to do was mold me into becoming who he created me to be and ultimately the kind of person I would want to attract. (God gave Adam a helper comparable to him,Gen. 2:18).
Perhaps, you can’t find the man you are desiring because you have not yet become what you are seeking. You attract who you are, not what you want. If you are always attracting broken men, there may be work in you that you still need to do. And please hear my heart on this, this is not an indictment on you, I don’t believe in women shaming or blaming – I am sharing with you what I have learned and know to be true. I am sharing with you what I am learning about myself and how I am learning to raise my son as a result of the truth God has shown me. I am seeing remarkable results.
My sisters, I challenge you to take the time to introspect and self examine. Go to those painful places in your past. Have those hard conversations with loved ones who may have hurt you. Seek professional counseling if need be. Acknowledge all the ways you may be engaging in behaviors or activities that may be inconsistent with who God says you are. Take time to pray and ask God to help you get free and become whole. As he reveals things to you, DO THE WORK no matter how difficult it may be. Only then will you be properly positioned to attracting the love you seek, because you will have found it first in God and then in yourself.