When I was 16, I was in a dark place. I hid myself inside a toxic relationship. Before I continue writing this, I want to clear out a few things first. One, this was seven years ago and I am sure a lot of good changes happened to both me and my ex boyfriend. Two, he had his share of mistakes but I am very sure that I had mine too. Three, we have both grown and I am only sharing this for all those who are struggling to get out of a bad relationship.
Our relationship was a roller coaster ride. We dated on and off for three years. I made him the center of my everything. I wanted him to be my last. I wanted to do my very best to fight for that relationship believing that if we survive the storms, we’d later on live a happier life. But I was wrong.
The storms we had weren’t actually God given tests to strengthen us “together”. They were from our selfish selves- there was a lot of cheating, disrespect, down grading, and isolation from our loved ones. We made each other the center of our everything and on top of that, answered to the chaotic call of the world. We stooped down to the standards of normalizing cheating, normalizing cursing each other out of anger, normalizing arguing in public, and normalizing disrespect (of privacy, of personal growth, of personal decisions).
I saw that. But every time he would tell me he loves me and that it’s a “normal” process people who are “in love” go through, I throw what doubts I felt in the bin.
It got worse every day and I was okay with that. For three years it was just me and him. He didn’t like my friends and my friends didn’t like him. I thought my friends were wrong and that they just didn’t look at his heart closer. I also didn’t realize how he had to work so hard to maintain me- to see my every day and had to update me with his every move. Well, I was scared he’d cheat… again. I built an unhealthy habit of checking his phone and social media accounts. Did I get hooked with the thrill of actually finding something? I think you already get an idea of what it was like. We basically burned each other down thinking it was “love”.
Realizing God’s plans for me
One fine day I just had these thoughts,
“Is this really how it’s supposed to be?”
“Am I really meant to spend my whole life in this roller coaster?”
“Is this really how God designed relationships to be?”
“Is love really this painful, stressful, draining?”
“Does love really mean staying even if the price is losing yourself and your other valued relationships?”
God answered these questions through a friend. My friend, Pao, introduced me to real people with real stories. Ladies who spent many years of their lives enslaved in the wrong ideas of relationships and stayed despite how much they were already losing themselves…. Until they got to know the Lord and surrendered their lives to Him. At that day, they already found their God’s best who lead them through life, inspires the best out of them, and pulls them closer to the Lord.
That’s when it hit me: SO IT DIDN’T HAVE TO BE THIS WAY. SO GOD REALLY MEANT RELATIONSHIPS TO BE FRUITFUL AND GOD GLORIFYING. Pain comes with it but it didn’t have to be so draining. I didn’t have to lose myself in the process. In fact, God designed relationships for me to get to know the best version of myself and for me to be even closer to Him.
I didn’t let go of my ex even after realizing that. I wanted to try to make our relationship God centered. I wanted him to be the one. But it was also so stressful and very superficial. I tried sharing my encounter with the Lord with this guy, but it was something he was very passive about that time. We tried going to church together but when we go home, it’s the same old cycle again. That’s when I realized it was a process that we should go through individually. We can’t make our relationship God centered if we, as individuals, didn’t have God in our lives. But still, I didn’t let go. Told you I was stubborn. Hehe.
Realizing that we had enough
After the nth time we have gone through the problem of cheating, I found my face flat on the ground. I didn’t recognize myself anymore. I realized I neglected other relationships I had in my life that I had no friend to run to anymore. I was that girl who cried to my friends tonight and they will find with that guy again tomorrow. It was a vicious cycle. I couldn’t take it anymore. The cycle of him cheating, breaking up with me, then coming back to me for forgiveness after he was done with fun. The cycle of me going back to the same mistakes, touching the same fire that burned me. I knew I can no longer be on the same page as he was. I wanted to step out of the small and suffocating box we had.
But again, I still couldn’t let go. I’d rather stay with him in so much misery than jump unto the unknown. I’d rather cry myself to sleep at night than risk ending up being alone. Maybe if I held on longer, things would get better.
Every night I find it so hard to go to sleep. And whenever I would just turn on the other side of the bed, I’d have to spend a few more minutes crying until I fall asleep again. Or, I would call my best friend (who is now my husband) so he could help me snap out of it or at least make me laugh before I go back to bed in tears again. But that night, the pain was too much I really couldn’t sleep. I thought, “maybe I should try reading the bible”. That was my very first devo. I opened my bible and journal, and there it was: Galatians 5:1
It was for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves but be burdened again by a yoke of a slavery. Galatians 5:1
God touched my heart and spoke to me so gently, saying this:
“Treszka, I’ve done so much for you. For you to be free. I want you to enjoy your life. I want you to have the freedom to get to know me. To jump when you want to, to sing songs of praise, to shout with so much joy, and to come to me and enter the joy I have prepared for you. The fruitful life I have prepared for you before you were even born. I’ve always been thinking of you and I’ve been with you every day. I hear the most silent whispers and the loudest of your cries. Let me take care of you, my love. I have set you free. Now, break that chains around you. Stop being a slave of the world and a slave of this unhealthy relationship. Enjoy the freedom that I have given you. Discover what I have prepared for you. I loved you so much that I have desired freedom for you. Real freedom”.
That was also my first time in a very long time to feel peace again. At that moment, I didn’t know what the Lord planned for me. Was I going to be single for a long time? Was I going to be alone? Was I going to be miserable? Will the process be so hard? I had no clue.
But my response was: Lord, I am done having things my way. I want to see what you have for me. I’ll jump and risk with You.
So, I grabbed my phone and texted my (ex)boyfriend. I wanted to end it ASAP. He tried stopping me by making me feel guilty.
“You’re throwing away the 3 years that we had just like this?” “Stop using God as an excuse for your weakness” “Just admit it, you just grew tired and want to escape”
I didn’t bother convicing him that my reason was real. I just did it. I broke of the chains and ran away with the Lord.
And wow, the process was tough. I kept thinking,
“What if he finally changes?” “What if he finds another girl after he actually gets transformed?” “Was I really selfish?” “Where do I start?” “What if I don’t find anyone better than him?” “What if I let go of my the one?”
I wanted to compromise again and go back to him. The easy way out. I’ve been asked a few times how I did it, how I started, and how it ended. So I took my time to reflect on the process.
I placed my confidence in the Lord so I kept moving forward
When the Lord makes a promise, He is sure to keep it. I held on to God’s promise that I will be okay. His promise that great things await me. Back then, I didn’t know that I was going to get married to such an amaaazing man- my best friend, Mark. But what I knew in my heart was that God will never let me lose myself anymore, and that love, joy, and peace awaits me.
I knew I could not spend my entire life with him
My boyfriend is my potential husband. I like the saying, “if you are not dating for marriage then are you dating to break up?” In my heart, I knew I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life in a relationship like that. I wanted a marriage that is God centered and is filled with so much love, care, and respect even though it goes through healthy amount of trials. If he was going to be my husband and the father of my future children, our family would carry the same standards he lived by. I could not see myself raising kids with the same values that he had. My (future) husband will be a glimpse of how our children will be like. I didn’t like how he managed problems, responded to stress, his ideas of raising kids, and his standards of a “normal” marriage. We’ve grown apart in that area.
With these factors in mind, the idea of spending the rest of my life with him stopped giving me butterflies. Suddenly, it became a scary thing. So, even though the break up was stressful, I knew I didn’t want to go back to him and spend my life with him that way.
I chose what pain I wanted to go through
I had two choices. Keep being with him but also go through an everyday pain with the doubt of my self-worth or fear being cheated on. Go through the pain where I feel like it’s not going to get better. Or let myself go and go through the pain of moving on but know that that pain will end.
I chose the second one. I chose to endure the momentary and vivid pain of letting go and moving on. I held on to the promise that one day, my heart will be so filled with joy and that one day I will meet the man God has been preparing for me.
I stopped trying to play the role of God in his life
I thought I could change him. I wanted to be the woman who was there at his worst and saw the best in him. The reality kicked in that instead of changing him, it was him changing me. I realized that it’s God’s role to change him and his heart. The role was not mine. I lifted that burden off my heart. I was not responsible of the choices he made or will make in life. I surrendered him to the One who loves and knows him best.
I learned about the true design of God for relationships
God’s first design in marriage is for the husband and wife to glorify the Lord together. The Lord desires for a husband and wife to enjoy life together, love and care for each other, build a family together, and fill their home with so much joy. God planned great things for man and woman- not devastating and draining things.
I realized I needed time alone with the Lord to prepare me for the man that He was preparing for me
I wanted a godly man who was ready to give his best, who is faithful, speaks with respect, has goals in life, hardworking, and compassionate. But was I ready if he ever comes? If God gave me that man in that moment, he would have walked straight pass me. Or I would have ended up hurting him. I wasn’t in my best place at that moment and even God’s best man for me would not be able to love me enough to make things work. It could turn out to be a disaster again.
So I prayed to the Lord, “Father, if you are preparing the right man for me, then please prepare me for him, too. Prepare me to be the woman this man deserves. I want to be able to love him and give me my best”
I forgave him and myself
It was hard to hear his name. Whenever I thought of him and how I tolerated our relationship for three years, I got goosebumps. I felt ashamed and disappointed at myself for stooping that low. I didn’t like the mere idea of him and I hated the idea of me being with him.
But the Lord rebuked me. If I want my next relationship to be joyful and God centered, I should let go of any pain and grudges I had in my past. Have you ever heard of girlfriends tell their boyfriends, “I am scared you’ll cheat on me because my ex did the same thing”? And they carry the fear and doubt from their previous relationship to their current one. I didn’t want this to happen to me or my future husband. It will be unfair to make him pay for the things he didn’t commit. So, every day, I surrendered my heart to the Lord and He lifted off all the pain and grudges I had towards my ex and myself.
I desired change
I was tired of being in the same pattern every day. I was sick of being okay with him today and cry tomorrow because of petty arguments that lead to extremely devastating fights. I was tired of having the urge to check his phone and social media accounts. I was sick of the fear I’ve been feeling every day that maybe he’ll cheat on me again. I was tired of being told I am not enough. I was sick of being told that what we had is the only thing I deserved. I was tired of being alone and miserable.
I wanted to live. I wanted to meet new friends and go to new places. I wanted to get to know myself more. I wanted an everyday peace. And I wanted to give the man God has prepared for me a chance to enter my life. I wanted things to change and I knew it wasn’t going to happen if I kept making the same decisions every day, if I kept touching the same fire that burned me, and if I kept looking back. I wanted change so I started doing things differently, and making different decisions.
I embraced the pain
Pain demands to be felt. I didn’t want to take the easy road. I spent a few days in my bed, really crying it out. But when I finally got up, I faced life with great enthusiasm again. Whenever I felt the sting, I took the time to feel it instead of sweeping it under the rug. Then, I remind myself of God’s promises, “hey, it’s painful now. But this is what awaits you. The pain will fade. Focus on the Lord”.
Today, when I think of this relationship I had, I don’t get even the slightest sting. To be honest, I am very grateful that this relationship has come and is now already gone. That relationship was one of the hardest lessons of my life but it has also challenged me to get to know myself, to discover what I actually want in a relationship, and to realize the great power of God to change hearts. God has saved me once and He has done it again, and again, and again.
That experience is a part of who I am today.
Today, I am married to the man God has prepared for me. I am now a mother to a beautiful and sweet daughter. And I am enjoying a marriage that is filled with God’s presence, guidance, love, and protection.
I am here today because I finally let the Lord take control of my life and my heart. Because I took the risk and endured the pain. For the past weeks I’ve been hearing a lot from women who are going through a similar thing. I want to remind you that God sees your pain and He is always ready to save you from it and give you the best that you deserve if you let Him.
Babe, like I always say, I am here for you. If you need someone to talk to, I am here. If you have successfully gone through this, share your experience with us. We’d love to learn from you.
Until next week, guys.