I was a young, single lady with a college degree, a great job, my own apartment, a new church home, and a broken heart. I did a lot of grieving over “what could have been” after the divorce. The director that hired me retired about a year after I started. The board of directors hired a nice man that had worked in mental health and prevention for several years and had conducted some of the trainings I had to attend when I first started my job. When he came to work at the prevention agency we got to know one another and realized that we had a lot in common. We made a connection. I was still broken-hearted over my failed marriage but I was even more afraid of all the freedom leaving the marriage had afforded me. I could not be alone with myself. It scared me to be alone and I didn’t know what to do with myself.
The prevention man and I started dating not long after he was hired. Being with him took my mind off of the pain I was trying not to feel. I assumed that God had sent him in to my life to love me and make it all better. This was my second chance at being happy, if he could live up to the task. We went to the non-denominational church together and enjoyed volunteering together whenever we could. He let me be myself and never made me feel like if I didn’t do what he wanted me to do he would stop loving me. He accepted me for who I was (even though I didn’t have a clue of who that was at the time). So I put him on a pedestal. And worshiped him too. I was quickly realizing that I could not have a relationship with God and a man. The man in my life became my god and I worshiped him to try to get something from him – love and acceptance. I was trying to earn his love. And I felt loved by him, but then I became afraid of losing it so I became desperate – needy, clingy, and very controlling. I was so afraid of losing control of him. If I lost control I thought he would reject me and the love (and my worth) would end. But in fact the opposite happened. My crazy, needy, controlling behavior became too much for him and after three years of dating he ended our relationship. There was no talking him out of it. No amount of begging and pleading would change his mind. It was over. My worst nightmare had come true. I had actually been rejected and abandoned. He didn’t want me anymore. I believed I was unwanted and unlovable.
Looking back now I don’t blame him for ending it. It was the best thing for both of us and definitely a hard thing for him to have to do because I do believe he did love me (as best he could), I just didn’t love myself and my behavior drove him away. And it hurt like hell. I literally felt like I was living in hell – mentally and emotionally. The amount of emotional pain seemed almost unbearable sometimes. And then out of the blue I got mad. I was so mad at him for doing this to me. I was mad at God. I was mad at myself. I have never been an angry person. I have always been a quiet, timid, peaceful person. But now I was mad. And somehow that anger helped me get over him and let him go and accept the breakup.
Because there was no man in my life I started praying to God again. I asked him to heal my shattered heart and to send me someone who would really love me and not hurt me this time. I needed someone or something outside of myself to take away all of the emotional pain I was in and make me feel loved and worthy again. I needed God to fix me. I was so empty, so lost and confused. I was so full of shame and fear. I was so weak and needy. I had absolutely no idea who I was or who God was. I needed help.
I stopped attending the non-denominational Christian church after we broke up because he was still attending there and was very involved. I started attending a large baptist church my mother attended. They had a large singles Sunday school class and my mom recommended I get involved with them and make some friends. After a painful divorce and a devastating breakup I was reluctant to let anyone else in, but I was also in way too much pain to keep it all to myself and to risk being alone. So I got all dolled up, plastered that fake smile on my face, and went to Sunday school each weekend, pretending to be perfect and hoping that would be enough to attract someone else in to my life. I really didn’t get anything spiritual out of Sunday school, but I pretended I did just in case that was attractive to someone.
There were many opportunities after church on Sunday afternoons or evenings when the single adults would get together for activities or to watch movies, play games, and get to know one another better. I had a lot of fun during those times connecting with my classmates. After a few months of attending the class, one of the guys asked me if he could take me out some time. I told him I would have to think about it and pray about it and get back with him. There was a lot more thinking about it than praying about it and I have learned now that sometimes thinking about things can get me in to an awful lot of trouble. My journey was leading me down a very familiar path.