I had originally intended to post this yesterday, since it would have been an anniversary. But I finished the night on the phone with a man who loves me and chooses to be with me. I'll never forget what once was but I realized during the conversation, that I'm happy where I am now. I don't miss 'back then' anymore. I'm excited for what the future holds. I don't need to look back and mourn the way I used to. I can remember what lies behind but press on boldly into a future full of hope.
So... here's to the past, here's to the present, and here's to me Leaving the Middle, it's been swell, for the most part I've had a blast, but life's changing again...
Two years ago yesterday (From FB memories):
“Here we go. The day is here. It's supposed to be our 14th wedding anniversary, but he walked away so instead I have been in this wilderness for 40 days. Thankfully I have been far from alone and treasure each person who is walking this road with me. I am ready to let go of what was, not quite yet of hope, but of what we used to be. My God promises that He works all things for good for those who are called according to His purpose. With that promise in my pocket, I am moving on to a new chapter of my life. But first, for today, I will finish writing this one. One last day,
here in this valley, to feel this moment in my life, to remember the good, because there is so much good, to mourn the loss of a dream and to exhale the hurt, pain and anger. May it be well with my soul!”
I took to the mountains, because my help comes from the LORD, the One True Author and Perfecter of my faith, and I am closest to Him there. Exhaling what was... letting go. Breathing in the fresh-air healing that only comes in an earthy pine tree scent no man can package and ship on the gusts of alpine breezes.
“Sounds strange to say but this solo drive alone in the mountains was one of the most liberating and spiritual things I've ever done! Soooo there I was on top of a mountain... The furthest I've ever been alone. It was supposed to be an epic letting go. I bought a huge balloon, paid $15 for it!!! I had a sparkly notebook of blank pages to fill. I had nothing but the sounds of nature and my songs playing on repeat. I was a teary mess. I was going write until the tears stopped flowing and tie the pages to the balloon and send my sorrows, my hopes, my prayers up, up and away to the heavens and say goodbye to this chapter of my life... But the wind whipped up and the balloon slammed into a rock and popped so loud it startled me out of my sobbing. It was tragic and I bawled even more because my beautiful plan to let go, like so many plans before it, was ruined. I shook my fist at God, ‘That’s not how it’s supposed to happen!’ Then a still small voice reminded me, this isn’t my story, if it was I would have written it differently. This is His story and I am a mere character. This is character development. This is where I start to become who I’m going to be. I will forever treasure this day. And I can't wait to go kick up more mud real soon! I sure do miss being the shotgun rider but driving was awesome!!!”
One year ago today:
I ran 10 miles to mark the day, it seemed like a good idea.
I hope for something I’ve never had before, in a man like none I’ve ever known before. He loves me and I know it’s true because he shows me over and over with his faithful, patient, steadfast persistence that I keep trying to find the catch in. He’s still here for no other reason other than he picks me every day and I pick him. Whether he shares it or not, he strengthens and encourages my faith. I believe in his love for me as I am, with all my "over thinking" and butterfly business and eccentricities. I know he has a magnificently strong will that can handle me and mine boldly and without fear or intimidation. He has earned all my respect and admiration and I believe him when he says he’ll never leave me. And yet I am oh so wary! Not because of him but because sometimes I still feel like a dog run over. But I believe him and the risk is worth it, because he’ll put all my fears to rest in time… I just know it! Pray it up brothers and sisters and all the rest of y'all wish us well!
This post was hard to write. Like with my debt, I’m not disclosing where my boundaries were and are now or what my compromises have been, except to say my intimacy boundary lines have moved. But before I get into that…
Did you know that 17% of women in their 20s think it’s OK to sleep with a man on the first date? 17%! When I heard the stat, I was floored! I was heart sick for the youths represented in that number. But the next statistic Mark Gungor gave repulsed me! One would assume women would gain wisdom and stop that unsafe sexual nonsense as they aged, but evidently the opposite is true; 58% of women in their 40s are having sex on first dates! How is that possible? How is that OK? How do we give our bodies away so cavalierly? It kind of seems like lower behavior than prostitutes… at least they make money off their Jons. It’s utterly undignified!
There are people who think we’re nothing more than flesh and bone and instinct and for them, I guess sex can be casual and animalistic, with anyone, anytime. That’s what it was for me for a large part of my youth. But then, I embraced my spirituality, I connected with God; I realized I am more than “just” a body. I am a body, made to move and be active and respected and loved. I am a mind made to learn and inquire and be explored and challenged. I am a soul made to feel, to empathize and sympathize and be known. I am a spirit made to connect metaphysically to the Creator of the heavens and earth.
I am not an animal! We are not slaves to our sexual desires. We are beings made in the image of God. We do not have to operate on instinct. Intimacy is more than animalistic drive; it’s a bond deeper than physical or hormonal attraction. I now believe this to the core of my being and strove, as I dated, to conduct myself in a way that honored God and my own being; body, mind, soul and spirit.
What was my compromise and how did it happen? It was a slow fade... I started dating (after my divorce was final and I was legally single) with a very conservative boundary. I think I was fun and flirty but also up front and honest with the men. I kept my boundaries; in fact, I guarded them fiercely! Those who thought they were ridiculous or disrespected me were dismissed. Those who honored me proceeded in getting to know me, and I them. Sex of any kind was not an option.
The jerks didn’t surprise me. I wish they weren’t real, but they are; they are men of dishonor, looking for an easy lay and when they find out that’s not what they were going to get from me (and other women of dignity) they disappear quickly.
What surprised me were the men willing to respect my boundaries. I can’t say they always understood them but I was pleasantly surprised by all of the honorable men out there. Way to go you guys! You are great and I thank you for your respect and defense of my honor! Ladies, they’re out there out there! There are good guys, honorable men who will absolutely respect you.
Over the course of dating I came to believe, like never before, that God and all the people that say to wait (something I had never done before) were right. I came to know a few different kinds of men; there were the jerks, there were those who needed to be policed – I had to mind my boundary or they would cross it, and there was one who policed himself. He didn’t share my philosophy but he did it because he was a true man of honor. He took time to listen to me and hear what I believed and why. Though he still doesn’t agree, he respects me enough to stand with me for my honor instead of trying to break me down.
Because he actually respects me, defends my honor and doesn’t push or manipulate me into more than I want to give… I want to give more to him. And so, over the course of the last several months, though there is still no sex of any kind, my boundaries have shifted. Right or wrong, I will stand before God but what I can say is that I am more convinced than ever that saving sex for marriage is a beautiful thing. It shows a level of patience and self-control that is essential for a relationship to develop healthy boundaries. I can trust him because I know he is a man capable of controlling himself and vice versa, which is so important in a world such as this where men take what they want from women and 58% of women in their 40s spread their legs so freely.
Even with the compromise I haven’t fallen for the lie that sex is causal and means nothing or ought to be tossed into the mix of a dating relationship. Sex is a precious, sacred act meant to be shared in the most intimate of settings with a lifetime spouse. I haven’t lost anything in my restraint, except for men who lacked patience and self-control. I gained the love of an amazing man and he gained all of my admiration and respect. I have the memory of a first handshake that made me swoon. I had time to hug and hold hands and talk and learn about him and not feel pressured to do more. I have a first kiss that I remember with the fondest of pure emotions that didn’t get devalued or lost because it was competing with a sexual encounter. I have a treasure trove of cherished firsts to look forward to with a man strong enough to overcome his own selfish desires because he respects me that much. I love him for that and so much more. And… yes, like with my purchase of Guinevere, there is compromise, but I’m OK with it, may God have mercy on my soul.