Well, this has been a fun week for me (ahem…). Nothing like walking down your failure memory lane. But each post has opened the door to talk to people who have worn a similar failure shamefully for years. The walking wounded. Bearing the scars of loss under a smile. I hope sharing my own story has provided those of you with similar struggles with some freedom.
We covered rejection – I had my fair share in law school.
Then I walked through career loss – when I lost a job I needed.
Today I’m going to share something on the personal side – a failed relationship.
I hope you have not had to walk through painful heartache, but odds are many of you have. I have never written about this part of my history before, so I asked my husband to review it first to make sure he was comfortable with me sharing about a “pre-him” relationship.
I fell in love three times in my life. Each time was deeper than the time before. The third and final time, I was 30 years old and dating my husband. I love him in a way I didn’t know I was capable of loving before him. We are about to celebrate nine years of marriage, and I am incredibly thankful for God piecing my heart back together.
The relationship I had before my husband started out as a friendship though we realized there was a bigger connection. Almost a year after we became friends, we started dating. As I mentioned yesterday, for reasons I didn’t understand then, I moved to a new city for a job opportunity while the relationship was still young. I believed it would endure the transition. We talked every day, and I visited him and he came to visit me.
He said all the right things, and I was a total words girl and fell for everything he said. There were some warning signs from his past relationships, but I moved forward undeterred. I believed I would end up moving back in a year’s time when the right job presented itself.
Then one Monday night a friend called from my old town. She asked some general questions about my life and then started asking me if I was with this man the weekend before. I responded yes, thinking she meant a full week ago. She expressed her great relief because she had understood he’d spent the weekend with another woman in another town. When I cleared up the dates, I realized the time period he had been unreachable the previous weekend he was with someone else. He arrived in town that week, and when I confronted him with the information, I discovered that he was sleeping with someone else.
I was undone. My heart was shattered. Infidelity was a particularly acute fear of mine because my parents marriage unraveled for this exact same reason.
I would soon be turning 30 and had put my hopes of forever after aboard the Titanic. I spent months questioning myself (not him, that is so frustrating to me now!). I bore the shame of the relationship failure and questioned every decision I had made. I very briefly dated bad choices in hopes they could say something that would make me feel better about myself. I made decisions out of a wounded place instead of a wise one.
It is perfectly appropriate to mourn the loss of a relationship. It is not okay to let it haunt you and define you and inform your next romantic choices.
I got healthy and was comfortable being alone when I met my husband. And because of my prior two heartbreaks, I made certain things nonnegotiable in a relationship. Not an unreasonable list of things, but critical criteria made it to the top of my evaluation in a way they hadn’t before. At the top of that list was honesty. All the pretty in the words in the world will do you no good if you can’t trust one of them. While I didn’t know I was in love with my husband for several months, he had me hooked the first night we met and we engaged in a vigorous debate. He wasn’t trying to charm me with blowing a bunch of smoke, he was DEBATING me for Pete’s sake. The quality might not have topped my list five years before, but honesty has created the foundation for an incredible love that I didn’t even know was possible.
It came out of failure. Broken messy ugly shards pieced into a beautiful mosaic I couldn’t have imagined at the time.
Failures are an indication you are living. They are a layover en route to your destination. Do not give up because you failed. Be thankful you are still here and can try again. You can take a new route. You can recalibrate your plan. You can rest confident in the fact that He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it. (Phil 1:6)