I recently found out that a church brother I’m crushing on has been interested in another sister for a while. They’re committed to each other but also keeping distance to see how things go. I’d be lying if I said I’m alright. I’m absolutely overwhelmed with anger, sorrow, self-pity and jealousy all bubbling at the core of my being. It is so utterly difficult for me to put God first and not look for approval from men. How do I move forward and learn to find my identity and security in God alone?
Hey my friend, I’m really sorry that happened, and you have a right to feel how you feel. I wish I could weep with you too. Let all those emotions wash out of your system each day as you let it go, and vent as much as you like to your closest friends and to God Himself. He can certainly handle it.
However, I have to be very, very blunt with you here, because I love you and I want you to be better. Please hear this as balanced wisdom, and that I both sympathize with your pain and want to offer a bit of sober reality. You did ask for it.
It’s possible this is the best thing that could’ve ever happened to you. I don’t mean that in a positive way like “God has another plan” or “Just wait for your best” or something. I mean: you needed this to happen in order to drag out all those horrible feelings and confront the truth about yourself. You needed to be exposed.
I don’t mean to diminish what you’re going through and I know it hurts, more than you could know. But see: the fact that you became “overwhelmed with anger, sorrow, self-pity, and jealousy” already shows you’re not ready for this relationship right now.
This is a hard thing for me to say and I’m sure you want to fight it. If I do sound insensitive right now, you can stop reading at this very word and never read here again, and I’ll understand.
But let’s say you ended up with this guy and got everything you ever wanted. In your current state, you might have been overly controlling and paranoid and envious and then totally crushed him. The relationship would’ve been idolized right at the start, and it would’ve shrank you into a person you never wanted to be.
Again, I don’t mean to sound like an ass and maybe I’m presuming too much. If I’m way off, I’m sorry, and you can blog-punch me in the face. But you asked, “How do I move forward and learn to find my identity and security in God alone?” Well this is it, my sister. This is the way. This is your time now to find security in Him.
When James says, Consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of many kinds, for the testing of your faith develops perseverance — this is NOT some cute bumper sticker verse for inspiration. The testing of your faith means that when hard stuff happens, your true essence will be revealed. All the nasty stuff comes flying out of the basement. It’s not pretty. You’re finding out what you’ve grounded your faith in — you’re finding out what you’re really about. Say hello to the ugliness inside, and say hello to God coming at you with the force of a five-thousand ton freight train to confront you in all His grace and discipline.
But James also concludes: Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. I don’t mean to preach at you here, but this is good news. It means that when all your craziness is revealed, both you and God can get to work on that, so that you’d be mature and complete, not lacking anything for the next season of your life. It means you can sculpt and chisel and cut away at the messy junk of your soul until you are made whole in Him. Whatever ejected from your system: God aims to mold it into a brand new person.
It’s so that when an even better guy comes along, you’d actually be ready. Sure, you might still have meltdowns and freak-outs because that’s part of being human, but it will NOT disorient you — because you’ve been through the valley with God on that one.
I don’t mean to reference myself too much, but about four years ago I thought I was going to inherit the college ministry of my last church. Instead, the pastor’s son moved back to town and he took it over. Honestly, I was absolutely devastated. I had worked for several years at this church and felt like I’d earned it somehow. So I sulked in my little corner of youth ministry for a while and felt first-world-sorry for myself.
At the end of 2011, along with enormous ministry stress and depression and the self-loathing of being dumped by my girlfriend, I had a total nervous breakdown and took a two month break. That two months is the closest I’ve ever been to God, before or since. Then at the end of 2012, I was silently forced out by my church. My dream was over. But I’ve since realized: if I had gotten everything I wanted — the college ministry, the girl of my dreams, the big speaking platform, the big church — I would’ve ended up a prideful, arrogant, self-righteous fool. God knew I wasn’t ready, and I had to trust Him. It was really all for the best.
Here’s what I’m not saying: I don’t think every instance of loss is some kind of lesson from God. I don’t think it’s punishment. It doesn’t always wrap up in a bowtie. And I’m not saying you did anything wrong, at all. It’s not my place to say those things. But I do think it’s our choice to let go of a possibly false dream and replace it with a total submission to God — because He knows the dream we ought to have before we have it.
Our dreams are not always good ones, and when they come true, they can become nightmares. I would know. And I don’t want you to be the type of lady that stalks your former crush, or tries to complicate things with him now, or tries to retain a death-grip on what you thought you “earned,” or squeezes life from your next relationship. As much as you’re torn up over this, please don’t let it make you worse. Let the testing of your faith build into Christ for continued perseverance and maturity, so that piece by piece, you will lack nothing.
My dear friend: There is a time to let it go, and it looks like that time has come. I know it hurts. I know this outcome isn’t what you had so longingly hoped for. We don’t always get what we want in life. But now it is time to find yourself in Christ, to grab His calling, to regain grounding, to recompose in His rest. Go have fun with your lady-friends, grab a hamburger and some ice cream, pray your tears and fears, and sing loud on Sunday. God has an infinite love and grace for you in this very moment, and He sent His Son to die for the very hurt you’re going through. Allow that to motivate you forward, and you will yet find another dream.
Part of my problem was that I was treating my situation like it was a problem to solve. It’s wasn’t. It was a season of my life that God had appointed for me. … God doesn’t do busy work. He doesn’t torment us for his own amusement. He doesn’t waste time.
If you’re in a tough season of life, there’s a purpose to it. Rather than escaping, work on placing your focus completely on God. Worship him despite your frustration. And reject any thought which doesn’t say God is for you, not against you.
— Thomas Christianson