Part 3 – Revelations- What You Do Not Change, You Choose (su
Proverbs 9:6 “Leave your simple ways behind and begin to live; learn to use good judgement.”
Proverbs 14:8 “The prudent understand where they are going, but fools deceive themselves.”
Proverbs 14:15 “Only simpletons believe everything they are told! The prudent carefully consider their steps.”
(prudent = acting with or showing care and thought for the future)
In my last post, I asked my readers to look at the things in our lives that we settle for when it came to the opposite sex. I can only write about things I know, as I stated, so it was not intended as a blog that downgraded men or answers for what they should or should not be doing. Clearly, I am not a man, nor do I want to be one. What I wrote was about the different ways that women put up with laziness and ungodliness in the men they have relationships with. I’m not saying all guys are bad. I’m not saying our failed relationships with them are all their fault. They are half. We are the other half. So, Ladies today it is our turn. We need to examine some of the things that we keep doing to break ourselves and then we try to blame the guy and say, “He’s nothing. He’s worthless and he was awful to me.” In placing the blame on him and taking no responsibility for our own decisions and our own willingness to just accept that he wasn’t what we wanted from jump street, then we are doing ourselves a huge disservice.
In addition to the verses above, I wanted to look at the story of Hannah in 1 Samuel 1 and 2. If you don’t know her, I’ll paraphrase. It’s pretty simple. Hannah was married to Elkanah and he loved her very much. He also had another wife who he had children with. (I’m not going to pretend I understand the culture of the Bible days back then where guys could just go around marrying everything in a skirt and that was fine. However, if you compare it to today’s standards where guys are married, have side chics, number 3’s and booty calls, I’m guessing it’s about the same thing. Check out the New Testament on marriage just in case someone who believes that they are allowed to have more than one wife tries to use that on you to get you to accept their sleeping with other women…1 Corinthians 7 takes polygamy off the table.) So, more than anything Hannah wants a baby and Elkanah’s other wife, Penninah continually (for years the Bible says) makes fun of her and torments Hannah about not being able to conceive). Neither Elkanah or her Rabbi understand why she’s so upset and why she’s so depressed. She’s alone in her pain.
Many of you might be thinking this doesn’t apply to you. Many of us, myself included, have tons of kids and while we love them deeply, many of us are ready to pull our hair out with the ones we have, let alone want to pray for any additional ones. (One of the problems with reading things and not watching someone’s facial expressions is that you can’t see the smirk I have while I type this. I love my kids and they are by far the best gifts I have ever gotten out of life. They will drive us crazy though and one time an older lady that my parents were friends with told me, “Anybody who tells you they don’t want to strangle their child at least once a day either isn’t paying attention or they are lying.” I thought to myself, “Sheesh, what a crazy person.” And then my babies grew into teenagers and I understood her statement.) Anyway, let me explain how this does apply to all of us. We may not want a baby or an additional one, but God showed me something in Hannah’s story along with a breakdown of her pain in the book “Hungry for God” by Rob Currie. He says there are three aspects to Hannah’s pain and as I read through them, I recognized these three aspects in our broken relationships as well.
First, is the pain of repeated disappointment. Hannah’s emotional roller coaster with infertility can also describe how most of us feel about the last relationship we were in (or the one we are currently miserable in). We get excited at the “possibility” and we have hope that this time, THIS TIME, it will give us what we want. Then, it becomes just like the relationship we had before it. It’s the same man over and over again with a different face and a different last name but the same disappointment. (Look back at the past couple of guys in your life and you’ll see what I mean. When I examined my past, the men that I had been in relationships with were running from their pasts. They used alcohol or work to get away from the pain that they couldn’t seem to run away from, and both of those choices kept them from being emotionally available. Two of the three were abusive in one form or another…but abusive, nonetheless. I had a pattern and I stuck to that pattern like glue. Examining our patterns are important because history repeats itself.)
Second, the pain of repeated provocation. Hannah had to live with Penninah tormenting her about not having what Penninah had. Penninah was cruel and taunted her…because she was jealous of Elkanah’s love for Hannah. Don’t think that applies? How many of you are comfortable with your man being around his ex? That’s what I thought. You see, on some level our man’s exes scare us. Either he has feelings for her still and talks with respect about her or he trashes her at every opportunity (and we do the same with the ex-men in our lives, so this isn’t just bashing guys here) and on some level that scares us too. We understand, on some level, that he felt the same way about his ex-girlfriend (ex-wife, ex whatever) once and there is always the chance that we could become her. He could decide we are as worthless as he now considers her to be. We don’t even need a woman to talk to us anymore about how lucky she is to have the relationship she has now. Social media takes care of that for us. You can scroll for thirty seconds and be reminded of the great love affair you don’t have and that great guy you just can’t seem to find. It is constantly in our faces. And some of us are unlucky enough to have girlfriends that gloat or make passive aggressive remarks towards our situation, when they know that if the shoe was on the other foot their comments would hurt them too. People ask us, “Why are you single?” in the same tone and connotation as they ask why you are wearing a certain outfit that doesn’t flatter you or why you live on the side of town you live on. You know the tone I mean. Judgement and condemnation about not having what someone else decided was acceptable lurks around every corner of our lives.
Third, the pain of being misunderstood. How many times do we go through breakups and people make remarks that show us they have not been paying attention to anything that went on with us for the last how many ever years. I remember, after my breakup with the Broken Man, one of the kids’ coaches came up to me and said, “You know it would have been hard for me to put up with all your kids too. I mean, they are great kids, but wow you have a lot.” He didn’t say it to be mean, but my five kids were nowhere near the reason why Broken and I had separated. Broken and I had separated because Broken and I were broken. My number of children had nothing to do with that. It would have taken me a year to tell him the real reasons why my kids weren’t the problem. I just fumed in my head and thought about how stupid people sound when they don’t know what they are talking about. They say things like, “Girl, you were too good for him. Go out and get you a new man.” Or “Shouldn’t you be over that by now? I mean for real for real it’s been like 3 months and you are still crying about what a jerk he was?” So, we get the idea that in order to be understood and empathized with, we have to heal on other people’s timetables, when in fact they are carrying just as many exes into new relationships as we are. But we listen and jump from one bad relationship into another one, because the promise of being loved “the way we want to be loved” is just too great of a thing to miss out on. It has to be out there somewhere.
Instead of spending years in dead end relationships with the guys who have no direction and then blaming them, what if we spent those years working on who we were and developing the attributes that it takes to make a relationship work. You might be saying, “But he cheated!” or “He’s an alcoholic!” so you didn’t do anything wrong. In that instance, let me ask you this…how’d you end up with such a person in the first place? None of us come into relationships a completely unhurt woman. We start dating in middle school. Even if we waited until high school, we could still have daddy issues, mommy issues, bullying issues, the myriad of issues are like mountains that we drag everywhere with us. And if that weren’t bad enough, if you look deeper into your family life, you’ll most likely find that you have a generational curse to contend with also. If you grew up in a single mom home, where was your mom’s dad? Even if your parents were married (or still are) that doesn’t mean that your dad was involved. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I can love my parents until the cows come home and that makes neither one of them perfect parents. As much as I hate it, I am not a perfect mother either and I put my kids through some things that were totally my fault, because I didn’t heal from my past before bringing them here. We all have things we need to look at to find out why we do the things we do.
Hannah may have struggled with conceiving a child, but most of use struggle with a conception as well. We struggle with the ability to conceive a loving, committed, invested relationship with a man that PUTS IN AS MUCH EFFORT AS HE REQUIRES because we are too afraid of being single and having to “do life” by ourselves. And you might be thinking, “Okay, but I have dealt with my past and I have forgiven and learned from my past relationships so I should be fine.” Okay, that is commendable. But what are you going through today that you need to heal from? What is still hiding under the surface of our makeup, our cute outfits, and our “strong, independent woman” persona that we haven’t dealt with and recovered from yet? What attributes have not fully developed yet and why? Where are our weaknesses?
The other thing that we need to address is that one man is never going to take care of all of our needs. He can’t and it is an impossible requirement that he be able to be everything we want him to be all the time. He isn’t even supposed to be. Now, am I suggesting that you get more than one boyfriend or husband? Absolutely not. In addition to the actual man, there are some things you yourself need ON YOUR OWN to be successful in a relationship. (There might be more than three, but these are the three that I believe matter the most.) First, what does your relationship with God look like? Are you like the men from a previous post that “are saved” but only to get you from spending an eternity in hell when you finally die of old age? Or are you like the men that go to church and listen to the word once a week and don’t do anything else for the rest of the week to improve themselves or their ability to grow as a person? Second, where do you get your knowledge from? Do you get it from Real Housewives or Kim Kardashian? Or do you get it from a reliable source like the Bible? Do you talk to people who have qualities you want to imitate? Do you surround yourself with good friends who will tell you when you are acting like a total lunatic, but they do it in love? Or do you hide your feelings in silence and just hope that nobody finds out that you don’t even think you deserve the kind of relationship you want? Do you complain about anything and everything under the sun and never find anything to be grateful for? Are you constantly judging other people for what you think they are doing with their lives and condemning them because if you had that relationship or that job or that house you could take care of it so much better? Are you carrying all of your old relationships with you into the new one and then expecting somebody to just accept you the way you are? Do you ask God to work on you? Or do you just ask him to bring you a good man that works on himself? Third, what is the real reason you are put here on Earth? What purpose do you have? What do you offer the world that nobody else can and how do you offer it that nobody else can do the way you do?
I’m not asking these questions out of any sort of judgement or condemnation. I am asking them because they are all questions I have had to ask myself. (Well, not the Kim Kardashian one…never have I ever found myself considering anything about her to be someone I’d want to emulate my relationship after, and I have never seen an episode of Real Housewives. Gray’s Anatomy yes…so I you can swap out my titles and insert your own if that makes you feel better. It’s still the same general idea.) Years and years ago my mom told me that I put a target on my back because I had low self-esteem. I thought I knew what that meant. I didn’t and, embarrassingly enough, here is where Proverbs 14:15 comes into play. I didn’t listen to her and like a simpleton I thought I knew what self esteem was. If I had looked at it then I’d have learned a lot earlier that my mother was wrong. My self-esteem wasn’t what was killing me. My self-worth was the problem.
Self-esteem is defined as “confidence in one’s own abilities. Belief and pride in yourself.” Self-confidence in your abilities and your accomplishments are important and I could rattle off a list of those as fast as I could say the alphabet. Self-esteem is how you feel about what you can DO. I can DO a lot. I graduated with honors from college, I’m raising 5 kids on my own, I have my own house, my own car, and I have a career that I am in love with and I am good at. Great. Those are my accomplishments. Those are not WHO I am. Self-worth is about being proud of WHO I am. I am smart, I am funny, I am hard working, and I am compassionate. I am loving and feisty and the way my brain works is pretty amazing…I am a deep thinker. See the difference?
I didn’t realize how much I had to offer someone because I didn’t even know what I had. I wasn’t even defining the right thing. But, hear me on this point. I didn’t develop all of my character qualities with the intention of being good for a man. I develop those, and continue to develop them, because they are good for me. My list of accomplishments and pride in what I have managed to achieve are results of my character, not the other way around. It was in really studying these differences that I found my own way. I developed a voice because I knew I deserved to have one, not because I waited around for someone else to give it to me. I prayed about the things that I didn’t like about myself and decided to change the heart they came from, not change the habits that I had. The habits changing was a byproduct of my healing.
You might ask yourself why I even feel qualified to speak on this subject. “She’s single…what makes her think she knows about being in a relationship?” Good point. Let me submit this really quick. Science is hardly ever proven. All scientific theory starts out as a hypothesis and then a scientist’s job is to DISPROVE those theories and come one step closer to finding out how something DOESN’T happen. Proven theories are incredibly hard to come by. I have dated, I have been married, I have been divorced, I have been in a live-in partnership, and I have had one-night stands. I have been a side chic, a secret, a booty call, a friend with benefits, and a fake relationship. Those are a lot of theories and I get it…but I am no different than a lot of women out there struggling to understand why love seems to elude them no matter what they do. I am now in a relationship in which I work on myself and so far, my time invested has been well worth it. I enjoy hanging out with myself and I enjoy my life. I’m single and while I would eventually like MY relationship, there is nothing missing from my life right now. The way I went about it may not be the road you took and honestly, I am happy for you. But, if your road has had bumps in it and you still feel empty and trying to work out relationships after relationships that leave you even emptier, consider my journey and find answers for yourself. Pray, journal, take the time you would have spent on a relationship that ended up hurting you and put it into the person you have to spend the rest of your life with. Not a husband. You. If you don’t think you are worth that much, how can you expect someone else to?
We can downgrade and talk trash about all the guys in world, but here’s the thing. Until we realize our own worth and until we realize that we have things we need to fix within ourselves and hurdles we have to overcome in our own insecurities, the same guy in a different suit with nicer shoes is just going to keep sliding into our DM’s. Until we stop giving boyfriends and friends with benefits the “wife” treatment we won’t ever be the wife. He has no reason to see our value because we don’t show it to him and expect him to be responsible for keeping that value up. It’s the equivalent to letting your 5-year-old use your Coach handbag to hold their mud pies and finger paint. Sound ridiculous? That’s because you don’t give something you value to someone who doesn’t appreciate its value. We have to stand stronger as women and decide we don’t need him and his four baby mamas for validation anymore. We can be good enough all on our own. I am telling you this and putting my story out so that you know what doesn’t work. I’ve tried a lot of different ways to go about this and the one thing that remained the same was…you guessed it. Me. You may not be like me. You may think I am crazy or just misguided. So, my challenge to you is this. Be scientific about it. Prove me wrong. If you put time and effort into transforming the heart that beats inside of you instead of the things you can’t control and you don’t wind up happier and more fulfilled because of it, then I will print a retraction and attach your name to it. You can have all the credit for disproving my theory. I’ll wait.