To the girl I was:

Girl I Was,

This letter has taken five years to write because the woman I am is still developing. I had to realize that this was a letter for you, and not for him. I had to thank you for being the girl I was, to honor you for all that we lost.

Girl I Was, I miss you. You could make a brick wall talk to back to you and laugh. You could stand in a line of strangers and make them feel good by finding something nice to tell them – about their outfit, their kid, their order choice, a snarky comment about the line taking forever, anything. Girl I Was, you were so funny that you could diffuse a tense situation in seconds. You weren’t perfect, not by any means. You had a temper that could ignite a forest in a second. You loved too quickly and let your heart take a few too many beatings. But you were innocent. You were me. And then, you were gone.

That night stole part of you away. You went from trusting to wary. Light-hearted and happy to reserved, forcing fake smiles because no one could know that you weren’t you anymore.

I still see you curled in a ball on the floor and crying, hurting, and wondering why God didn’t protect you – why He left you the moment you needed Him to intervene the most. My heart still breaks at the feeling of abandonment and neglect. This is a weight you carried alone for far too long.

I wish I could go hold you, Girl I Was, and whisper the things that I know now. I wish I could remind you that you are more than this. I know this sent you spiraling into a mess of hating God and wishing He would save you at the same time. You can’t see it now, but He already saved you. He never promised you would be given an easy life, though it seemed that way until now. I couldn’t see it then, but He was about to use this horror for so much good.

Genesis 50:20 is now my life verse: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He put me in this position so I could save the lives of many people.”

Girl I Was, you bore this burden of guilt and shame because of what a man did, what a man stole. But when you finally start opening up to people, you’ll see how not alone you are. This was not your fault. This is not a burden of guilt and shame that is supposed to rest on your shoulders. 1 in 4 women go through similar situations, and some of those women don’t have God to lean on.

Girl I Was, when you find your faith again it is so much stronger than you could have imagined. Yes, when this week comes I still cry. But I forgive him for what he took. I forgive him repeatedly, every day this week and I pray for him – not what you thought would ever happen when you lived in fear for two years. Not what you thought would happen when you went from one bad decision to another in your spiral.

I still do not love that this happened to me, but I am thankful that I am able to use it to help save others. Girl I Was, I am a teacher now. I have the lives of students in my hands, and so many of them have struggled with this same thing – or they will struggle. I pour God’s love over them every day, and I am blessed when they trust me enough to tell me their heart hurts.

Girl I Was, purity is more than virginity. Purity is in the heart, and my heart is still pure. I know you wished to be Ruth waiting on Boaz instead of feeling like Gomer. Girl I Was, you are more than those choices. You are more than mistakes. You are worth so much more than you believe.

Girl I Was, you’re not gone completely. I still see glimpses of who you were in who I am today. I love people freely, even when it gives my heart a new bruise. I still give compliments, even though it’s hard to step out of my new comfort zone. I still have a temper that can ignite a forest, but the flames tend to be doused quickly. I’m still funny.

Girl I Was, I think you would be proud of the woman I am. I fight for the rights of others with a flame can withstand a hurricane. I turn to God more and seek His guidance, even when I make mistakes. Especially after I make huge mistakes. I know He loves me. I trust that He will never abandon me, that He never abandoned me. I trust in His protection. I trust in Him even when I feel anxious about situations. I’m still working on being more open with people, but I also trust that God will let me know who those people should be. I am not ashamed of my past anymore, though I know the enemy will throw my mistakes in my face when I feel weak. This is not something to be embarrassed about, but to know that I am strong because I walked through the fires.

I’m ready to be the woman I am meant to be because of you, Girl I Was.

Thank you,

Woman I Am

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The Battle Goes On

This past week has felt harder than the entire month of April combined. It was one spiritual attack after another, dredging up more memories than I could handle and really trying to break my heart again. I started receiving e-mails from websites I had unsubscribed to, phone calls from a few venues I had already told the plans were cancelled, calendar reminders I had deleted, etc. I kept meeting people with his same name. I even heard a story that sounded similar to mine (down to the name, the way they met, and his job), except this girl was getting the happy ending I turned down. Each time I was feeling low, I would journal. I would praise God for the knowledge I gained after going through those situations, and I would hand Him my anxiety, my frustration, fight.jpgand my hurt. My journal got pretty well-used with short prayers to Him.

I stopped fighting it though, closer to the would-have-been anniversary. I started letting myself fall into the sadness of the day, internally. Externally I was smiling, pretending like I was perfectly okay. Yet I couldn’t help thinking about what I would have been doing around this time had certain events not taken place. Dress fittings, bridal showers, bachelorette parties, venue meetings…it’s hard. It feels like I’ve taken a few steps forward and then fallen back down. And just when I ready to let it go, to stop thinking about “what if…” a would-have-been family member started to follow one of my social media accounts.

I was at church, enjoying fellowshipping with some of the greatest people I’ve ever known, and I just wanted to break down and cry. But it wasn’t out of sadness this time. It was frustration. I made the right decision. I don’t doubt that anymore. I just want to close that chapter of my life and leave it there. I’ve opened it enough, read through the pages enough to see where everything was going wrong. I’m ready to take what I’ve learned from that experience and bring the knowledge into my future. But the enemy doesn’t want me to leave behind the hurt that came with it. So he’s been trying to make my bad unbearable. I had to block her, and a handful of people from that part of my life. I still pray for them, I just can’t see them.

Last Sunday, Pastor Franklin preached about when things become unbearable (watch it HERE). It was powerful, but I didn’t fully grasp it at the time. The devil will push us through the bad, make it worse until we can’t stand it — until it becomes unbearable. That’s his mistake because that gives us the biggest opportunity to turn to God and let His miracles happen. God is faithful to us, He keeps our story going.

This is where I am today. I’m done letting the devil wreak havoc on my heart and mind. I know God has a plan for me and I am waiting on Him. I’m listening to Him and taking steps on the path He paved for me. And I’m happy with that. I’ve been really happy lately, even through the difficulties of this month. I’ve met amazing people that I’m “doing life” with. We hang out, have movie nights, go hiking, fellowship, and so much more. I’m so close to my godson that he immediately reaches for me when I see him. My brother and I are so much closer that he comes home from school and talks to be about his struggles. I’m able to be there for him, in person. My life has changed for the better ever since I moved back home. It’s all because I stopped running from God’s path and started running toward it. I’m thankful for that. I’m thankful for Him. I’m ready for my next step.

It’s been a while…and this one is sad.

I can’t believe how long it’s been. I’m dealing with a lot of things. Mostly the end of my engagement. Yeah… I had gotten engaged to this wonderful man and then I realized I was being told no by God. Actually, it was more like God repeatedly telling me no and me ignoring Him. I didn’t trust that He had plans to prosper me and not to harm me. As far as I was concerned, I had been harmed two years ago and I wasn’t going to trust Him completely.

I know I’m the one who ended things. I know I gave him back his things, told him when he could get the rest. He’s been so kind, so sweet that I almost want to take it all back and change my mind. Almost. It doesn’t matter how hard it is to focus on just remembering to breathe. It doesn’t matter how swollen my eyes are, or how putting on makeup is a chore because it hurts. It doesn’t matter how empty and cold my apartment feels now that all of his things are gone. It doesn’t matter how much I miss his smile and touch, or his embrace, the kisses on my forehead, holding hands. It doesn’t matter how my left hand has an indention from his ring or how it’s already starting to go back to normal.

This is the hardest bandaid I’ve had to rip off. And I feel like I’ve left some traces of the glue behind. I’m still finding his stuff as I pack up my own. A sock, some shoes, a stupid empty water bottle. And each time it breaks my heart a little more. I realize I left a journal in his car and I want it back, but then I realize it means I have to contact him. So I do, because I just want one more hug. One more glimpse of his face, a small smile. I know that it’s just making the healing process take longer, but I’m not strong enough to say no to those opportunities.

And I know that God is right beside me, rubbing my back like the good Father He is. I know God is letting me cry into His shoulder and hugging me while I’m finally following His direction. It doesn’t make this hurt any less, it doesn’t make me accept it any easier. Not right now when it’s still so fresh.

I keep listening to that Sarah Evans song, “A Little Bit Stronger.” And I keep waiting to get a little stronger. Maybe I have been? I didn’t cry again until he took the last of his stuff. But maybe that was because I knew he had to come back and that was going to be one more hug and smile and face time. And I don’t want him to be hurting, I don’t want him to shoulder all the blame. Things just didn’t work out the way I wanted them to, the way I planned. And that’s okay.

I’m still so sad that we didn’t make it to one more holiday. We didn’t get to throw a Halloween party or even share a Halloween together. We’re not going to have a Thanksgiving together (he was deployed for the last ones.) We’re not going to have another Christmas morning together. Or New Years Eve.

And I just have to trust that God has something in plan for both of us. I have to trust that there is good in this goodbye. That I’ll be able to think of him and smile and know that we grew from this relationship and will treat the next one better. God is shaping us for the people that we’re supposed to become.

And maybe one day we can be friends. We can share where life is taking us, where God is leading us. I pray for that. I pray for him. I pray that he continues to allow God to speak to him, to guide him, to come to learn God’s love for him.

He was the first guy I really let into my life after…things I’ll post about in the future. He was the first guy to make me feel like it was all okay. And I know it will be okay again. So I thank him for that. It hurts like hell right now, but we’ll be okay again.

Lord,

Thank You for being close to the broken hearted. Thank you for binding up our wounds. I know I’ve done a crappy job of trusting in You for all of my desires and needs. And I know that You still love me, You still want to guide me, You will still heal all of my hurts. I need You, Lord. I know I’ve said it a thousand times before, but please help me keep breathing. Help me keep my focus on You and where you are guiding me. Lord, I ask that you guide others who are hurting and seeking wisdom. I don’t know what others are going through, but I pray that their hearts will open to you. I pray that they will accept the peace, love, and healing that You offer. And, God, thank you for this lesson. I may not appreciate it as much as I can right now, but I know that my future and his will be better for it.