Taking stock of your life and where you are at any point in it will bring to mind a number of people. Taking stock of your life in the middle of a crisis of belief, and rebuilding who you are will bring to mind people who changed you, people who moved you. In the last couple of weeks I have sought several of those people out, because they have indeed become friends. They have become friends who have innumerable value in this situation as they have helped me to heal and have been a sounding board for bad and good ideas. Thankfully they have been honest enough to say when it was a bad idea. I have come to think of the first great love I ever had for a girl. It’s a thought I return to a lot actually , and though you may be thinking one way, I am going to explain why I have revisited that time, and just how it has helped.
I spent a lot of time in high school dating. I enjoyed having a girlfriend. I had a bunch of them too, and that’s not to brag because I’m sure any number of you had more. I say that to illustrate the point of who I was. I was a jerk. I dated girls I didn’t really care about, I just thought they were pretty and it would move me up the popularity chain if I went out with them. I actually had no idea what it meant to fall in love with someone, or even be in love. I thought I did. It was not until one day in the fall of 1997 that I really felt for the first time in my life what it felt like to have that. Yes I was a senior in high school, and yes I was young. However despite youth, I know that I was really and truly in love with this person. I would have done anything she asked me to. If she would have said get me the moon, then NASA would still have me under observation.
Here is what happened. I changed. Everything inside me about what I knew was real in life changed because of the way I felt about this person. I was not a perfect boyfriend by any stretch of the imagination, but I really, really liked the way I felt, and I liked who I wanted to be for her. For whatever reason, I wanted to be somebody better than I was because of her. I didn’t have the selfish thoughts of physical relationships, or the idea that I was going to run behind her back and then dump her for someone else. I honestly thought about being with her for the rest of my foreseeable life. Obviously that did not happen, and that is not the point. The point is that there was a complete change in who I saw myself as, and who I wanted to be because of what I saw in her. I actually liked who I was. I liked that I could see the ability in me to be someone greater than I was at that point in my life. There was this weird light that I saw in my mind’s eye. We broke up in the middle of the summer after my senior year. It was devastating, it broke my heart, and I like to tell myself to some extent hers too. In reality we were going different directions in life and we just could not keep going together. At the time I didn’t care, but now I know it was exactly what was supposed to happen. At the time I thought that I could never feel like that about me again, and thus about another person.
Now I would be lying if I said that I did not feel love for my ex-wife in a similar manner. However, on the inside of me something else happened. Because I became so caught up in situations and the views of other people I began to grasp for things that were out of my grasp. I began to fill my life with walls, and things and I put up masks to show other people who I wanted them to see, including her. I slowly became something I didn’t like, a fake. I faked my way through religion, I faked my way through communication, I faked my way through basically everything I could in order to keep up some sort of appearance that I was indeed someone great. The more and more I did that, the more and more miserable I became with everything I was. And in order to make up for my misery, I filled my life with stuff I didn’t need. My misery in my marriage was the misery with myself. I talked about it more in the previous chapter. I’m not talking about the heart’s ability to love here, I am talking about how I saw myself and how I want to see myself.
When I hit rock bottom, I realized that I was so miserable with whom I had become that I could not stand the idea of going back to that person again. In fact, that person died in the fall as far as I’m concerned. There was a lot of darkness that surrounded me in that pit. It was hard to see anything that had ever been good in my life. Now that I have had the chance to lick my wounds for a bit I can see that at one point in life I was actually happy with myself, because at one point I had been honest with myself. That point was senior year, with her. Much of the reason for such a great light projecting from that point in my life is that I was looking to the future that was understood as unplanned. I was beginning to feel God’s call on my life, I was looking out with a great sense of expectancy of what God was going to do with my life. I was in love with this wonderful person and everything was so new and green in my life. Two weeks ago I would have told you that was the best time of my life. That is not the truth of the matter. The best time of my life has yet to happen. In truth, the best time of your life has yet to happen. Why? Because whether we admit it or not best is relative to where we are at any given moment in life. In fact I will go a step further and say that we never actually reach best, we just get better. I know, what a change from the beginning of this mess.
Here is what I know right now. I know that my life thus far has been a series of events that I have tried to control and failed miserably. I know that there are people who have hurt because of my stupidity and selfishness. I also know that God can and will redeem everything if we will but relinquish control. In reality it was never ours to control anyway, so why was I trying to be like the child who would not let go of the wheel. There are all of these catch phrases that we have in Christianity. One that is driving me crazy is, “God (Jesus) is my copilot.” I have news for you, if He is only the copilot you are going to crash! God doesn’t want to help you drive, He wants to drive. He is not going to grab the wheel from you like a driver’s ed. instructor. He will however take over when you ask Him too, but you have to give up the wheel. In fact you should probably just climb in the back seat and be happy back there, because the view through the windshield is going to be too much for you to handle. If you sit next to Him, the temptation will be to jerk the wheel from His hands. And no offense but most of you can’t drive in the driver’s seat let alone from the other side.
I see from that small little patch of light, 13 years ago, that I have the ability to look ahead with joy and expectation. I also see that I have the ability to love someone in a wonderful way. It takes honesty with self, and honesty in everything. I did not know anything about life at 18 years old. At 31 I like to think I have a much better understanding. With that understanding come so many lessons, so many ways that I know not to be. It also comes with the knowledge that I cannot live without God driving. I can live with my mistakes, because God is redeeming them. I can live with the relationships I have now, because God is redeeming them. I also live with the great excitement of the following phrase. The next girl God has for me to fall in love with will be loved like no other man ever loved another. I have been through too much not to be able to say that, and I have come through too much to ever go back to the way I was. How’s that for healing and what God can do?
A final thought. I will still wake up and feel the soreness of all of this. It will take a while to not feel jealous, to not feel hurt. I know those moments will come, and I know that when they do it will serve as a reminder, that I cannot go back to what God has already fixed. I have come so much farther than I ever thought I could. I owe all Glory to God for this. He is wonderful, and He is so good.