Five years ago, I stood in church on Easter Sunday as tears poured down my face. I felt embarrassed as those around me joyfully worshipped.
The night before, I'd received a call at 2 a.m. from my then-boyfriend. He was in a bad part of town and needed a ride home. I climbed out of bed and threw on clothes, hurriedly leaving my mom, who was visiting, sleeping soundly. I neared the address he'd given me and my heart raced as I worried about him stranded in this neighborhood. Within a few minutes, I found him standing on the street outside of a strip club. He swore he'd waited outside while his friends went in - assuring me he'd never go to a strip club.
The next morning, as I stood beside my mom in church while he slept on my couch, my entire being ached. I knew this wasn't the relationship that had been designed for me, but I was too scared to trust it. I felt the Lord physically pulling me out of it but was white knuckling it all the way down. I loved him - we'd spent years together - it couldn't be wrong after all this time.
I'd like to tell you that I stopped doubting and instead trusted where the Lord was calling me. I'd like to tell you I trusted His plan enough to end it myself. But, I'd be lying. I held on to that relationship to the very end and found myself in the deepest heartache I've ever experienced.
As I stood in church yesterday on Easter Sunday, tears poured down my face again.
But this time, I was crying not for myself, but for so many women who are scared to speak up for themselves. Scared to admit they have greater needs, desires and wants than their current relationships are fulfilling. Scared to ask for more, for fear of being left. Fear that being left means a life of loneliness - of holidays and weddings alone.
My heart aches for these women deeply because I lived in that fear for so long. The sleepless nights, pit in my stomach and intermittent question: is this really it?
If you had told me, five years ago, that I'd be marrying Chris in less than two months, I never would have believed you.
But, it also would have given me the courage I needed to say: this is not OK with me. I need someone who doesn't go to strip clubs. Or who doesn't skip church on Easter when I'm going with my mom. Someone who is gentler with my heart and more in tune with my needs. I needed the courage to say: my needs might not make sense to you, but they're real and they matter to me. And that should matter to you.
But, I didn't have that courage because I didn't understand my own value and worth. I didn't believe that I deserved to be pursued in my relationship. I didn't believe that I could ask for more.
I can't promise you today that someone else will be ready in the waiting as soon as you let go of a bad relationship. I wish I could. But I can promise you that holding on to a bad relationship is like holding on to a bumblebee. You may think you're in charge by keeping it in your hands, but it's just going to keep stinging you.
Yesterday, I found myself praying that more of you, sweet readers, could believe that you are enough. That you are good and worthy. That your life was designed and you were fearfully and wonderfully made. And that sometimes, the only way to get to the story we want is by putting down the same old book we keep reading.