By Carolyn Shields, sitting in a very warm apartment
Two of my friends got engaged this past week, a childhood friend and one from college, but both play a prevalent role in my life. And I remain as available as the Milkyway next to the cashier. But it most defiantly was not these two joyful events that has my heart twisted many times over, but two sad, little dreams. The kind that are eerily symbolic. Walking through his grandparent's apartment, and calling out, "Nana? Poppy?" and no one answers. And the other one--my giant map of the world which hangs on my wall, with various color coded pins, and one by one these pins fall to the ground, erasing everywhere I've been and dream of going.
Nightmares always creep up unfairly in the early morning when we think all is safe, tucked under layers of covers and our roommate sleeping peacefully beside us after a late night with her new boyfriend, and then suddenly we jump awake, praying to God that these dreams were really only in our minds, and then crying at Him, "That was a low blow. Was that really necessary, Lord?"
Or at least I do.
Recovering from a breakup is brutal, but recovering from an emotional tear is as well. I'm not going to preach on emotional chastity, and to be honest, for the longest time I thought emotional chastity was over-rated. Taylor Swift? Get off her back. Yeah she may have emotional issues or whatever, but her music is great.
But looking back to my college career, there were so, so many times when I suffered through a break-up when the guy and I were never even dating. Why? Because I invested so much hope in to a possible relationship, I revealed my heart to him, became best friends with him, loved the hell out of him from a distance, and thrived on hearing those four precious words from girlfriends: "I ship you two." So when these guys took another girl on a date, my heart broke as if he returned it to me.
You want him. But you don't necessarily need him, so please repeat that to yourself over and over until you believe it. Because we can't become slaves to our racing hearts, we can't become products of demolished dreams.
Womenfolk, he is not your remedy. Ladies, he is not yours.
Even if the two of you are dating, please keep that at the forefront of your mind. When we date someone, we gift ourselves to the other, and you are another's as long as you give. The difference between dating and marriage is that one requires an everlasting vow. After my first breakup, the hardest words that fell from my big brother's lips were, "Let him go."
Having a soft heart in a cruel world is courage, not weakness.
Let me direct you here for a minute. Lisa Swafford and I butt heads a lot when it comes to emotional chastity, but I think it's a heck of a lot wiser to let Ms. Swafford preach on this subject since she's been there, whereas I'm just There Now. Her article, 'Emotional Chastity: Love, Emotions, Taylor Swift, Mental Stalking, and Mr. Right' explains a lot about a woman's heart. And the first result you get when you type 'Emotional Chastity' into google is Lisa Cotter's talk found here, titled 'Why Do Women Do That?' Talk about the struggle between our head and our heart. I know what Cotter has to say is true, but I'm stubborn and want to debate her. LET me facebook stalk him, damnit.
Both Swafford and Cotter target Taylor Swift for romanticizing everything (oops, me too!), getting swept off our feet too easily, and warn us about those 2a.m dreams about our supposed Mr. Right. But Jason Evert promises that we "should keep our eyes on heaven rather than on earth. Odds are, we're more likely to miss 'the one' if we're constantly trying to find him. We're paying more attention to what we want than to what God wants. You won't miss 'the one' if you keep your eyes on Christ. He won't let it happen."
So let us seek FIRST the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and then all things shall be given to us (Matthew 6:33). And as Haley Williams sings, "For all the things you're alive to feel, just let the pain remind you hearts can heal."
I can write songs for my man, I can hint at his cuteness in talks on stages, offer rosaries for his beautiful heart, lose hours of sleep worrying over his happiness, but there is one thing that I think so many of us hesitate to offer him, perhaps the one thing he needs most: time. And in my case, the one thing he asked for.
We want to be loved right now, and sometimes we can't help but fill this void by planting every smile our crush has gifted us with in that hole, until we think it is filled. And when we realize that he's walking a different path, we lose even more sleep over him. But womenfolk, let me remind you of our Holy who will always know the perfect thing to say when your heart is so tender, like right now:
1. You are LOVED
“Long ago the Lord said to Israel: “I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself.” -Jeremiah 31:3 NLT
2. You are PRECIOUS
“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” -1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NIV
3. You are PROTECTED
“He will not let you stumble; the one who watches over you will not slumber.” -Psalm 121:3 NLT
4. You are UNIQUE
“You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knot me together in my mother’s womb.” -Psalm 139:13 NLT
5. You are SPECIAL
“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” -Ephesians 2:10 NLT
6. You are EMPOWERED
“For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” -Philippians 4:13 NLT
9. You are GOD’S
“But now, oh Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you. O Israel the one who formed you says, “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine.” -Isaiah 43:1 NLT
10. You are BEAUTIFUL
“The king is enthralled by your beauty; honor him, for he is your lord.” -Psalm 45:11 NIV
11. You were CREATED FOR A PURPOSE
“For I know the plans I have fore you,”declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” -Jeremiah 29:11 NIV
12. You are CARED FOR
“Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. and may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is to great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.” -Ephesians 3:17-19 NLT
13. You are LOVELY
“Those who are wise will shine as bright as the sky, and those who lead many to righteousness will shine like the stars forever.” -Daniel 12:3 NLT
14. You are STRONG
“God is awesome in his sanctuary. The God of Israel gives power and strength to his people. Praise be to God!” -Psalm 68:35 NLT
15. You are IMPORTANT
“But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light. -1 Peter 2:9 NLT
16. You are CHOSEN
“You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name.” -John 15:16 NLT
Womenfolk, simply to endure is to triumph.