10 June 2009

Relationship Stuff

So, for those of you who have read blog posts of mine for awhile, you may be wondering what's going on in my relational world. Here's a brief rundown of the last year:

I was in a relationship.
I got non-dumped (that's what happens when you never break up but the other person drops off the face of the planet).
I got over it.

How's that for a clear picture?

Some of you might remember someone I mentioned in a blog post over a year ago, if you've been reading for that long. Apparently, a story I thought was long over has many more chapters to be written. More on this later. For now, I need to continue to privately absorb the fact of it all.

We learn a lot as we go through life. We learn about all kinds of things, but relationally, we learn what we want and what we don't want, as our experience prompts. Some things become unimportant. Some things become vital. I've written about this before. For those of you that have read those posts, you know that in the last few years I've gone through a whole growing-up season of my life. Someday I'll write about that. One of the things that I've learned--the hard way, might I add-- is that respect is very important. If I'm in a relationship where I'm not respected, I shouldn't be in that relationship. If I'm in a relationship where the other person is not someone I can respect, I shouldn't be in that relationship. When neither of us respects the other, I DEFINITELY shouldn't be in that relationship.

I just have to say that I have a whole new picture of what love is in a relationship, based on the respect with which I am treated in my current relationship.

Ladies, you know how when you're in a relationship with a guy who's really good-looking (or whatever--insert adjective here..) but who doesn't care much for your opinion you start feeling needy? When you're disrespected (whether you know it or not) you begin to depend on the way you feel about your significant other because you're obviously not worth his time... It hits you right in the self-esteem and you don't even notice it at first. You begin to lose yourself in whatever he wants out of the relationship, and you discount anything that you want, or used to think you wanted, because obviously he must be right about how this is supposed to work. If you stay in that long enough, it can do lasting damage to you. Believe me. I know. When you feel lucky to be graced with a few minutes of his time, that's a sure sign that you need to run for your ever-loving life. I lived this crap off and on for about 6 years, and it's no wonder that I've had to learn from scratch the value that is intrinsic in me.

I told a girlfriend of mine who has had a lousy history of boyfriend-jumping (get your head out of the gutter-- I mean jumping from one boyfriend to the next) that until she had learned to grasp in the most private places of her heart how VERY MUCH God loves her, she will never be able to have a viable relationship. I wasn't saying this out of inherent meanness. I was saying it from the perspective of someone who has had to learn that the hard way. BUT, I've LEARNED it. No one can take this away from me. I've been held in the arms of Jesus, close to the heart of God. I have grasped the meaning of the suffering He experienced in my place on the cross, and I have seen the value that He places on ME, His Beloved. From here, I can see a whole lot that wasn't ever clear to me.

So, when I took the step into this relationship, I did it from a place of wholeness. For the first time in my life, I have entered a relationship knowing who I am and what I'm worth.

My mother has taught me all my life that "One is a whole number." I can't tell you how many times she's told me this. She got married when she was 18, and when she turned 36, she became depressed, because she had lived 18 years in her father's house and 18 years in her husband's house, with no time to see what she could do. (She got over it, btw.) She has told me over and over, seeing me lost and trying to figure out who or what I was: "One is a whole number. Until you are capable of being whole on your own, you can never be half of a couple. You are enough, just as you are." I am so very blessed to have her wisdom. I'm also blessed to be able to tell her that just shy of 30 years of age, I have fully grasped this lesson. Took me long enough.. Whew.

The other side of this is this: When I took the step into this relationship, BECAUSE I was able to do it from a place of wholeness, and because it was with someone who loves and respects me for whoever or whatever I am, I have entered a relationship on even footing.

This man's desire, as he tells me with every word and action, is to see my relationship with God grow. He wants me to be in the center of God's will. Period. He was willing to watch me walk away because he thought it more important for me to be happy than for him to get what he wanted. Because HIS desire is to be the man that God intends him to be, it's only to his advantage for me to be the woman that God intends me to be. If we're both in the center of God's will, then if God intends for us to be together, we'll both be united in that. Because he respects my relationship with God, he doesn't allow human desire to push him around. He knows that if we build the foundation of this relationship on solid ground, it will stand the test of time. He's willing to do that, brick by brick, bag of concrete by bag of concrete.

It may not look perfect from everyone's perspective right now, but because we are doing this the right way, with a respect for each other that helps define what love means to us, it will eventually be just right. For those of you who know me well, he also tones down my Type-A-ness when it's not appropriate and encourages it when it is. He never has to knock me off-kilter to keep the upper-hand, because he doesn't seem to care about having the upper hand. He only cares about loving me the way God wants him to. That means that it's a joy for me to show him deference. I get to see, in a real relationship of my own, that what I've always believed about submission is really true.

Another time, I'll share more of our story, where we are, where we're going, etc. For now, suffice it to say that I may have just been found.

Much love.

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