This is part II of a series that takes Andy Stanley’s sermons from Sunday to every day. If you missed part I, just click here to catch up.
Here is a quick catch up:
February 2009: I recognize that I have not been living up to the standard that I had been called. I write a sincere plea for God to direct me where I need to be
April 2009: I start to admit that I have a larger role to play in my discontent than I originally thought. I realize that I cannot blame my way into a better future and start to question exactly what I am doing and who I have become.
I am a runner.
I haven’t always been a runner. In fact, I just began endurance training at the end of the summer of 2012. Before that, you may have caught me running 2-3 unmeasured miles around Brookhaven for exercise, but not necessarily to train for any races. Before the fall of 2012, I may have told you that I absolutely hated running. I considered it too high impact and much too difficult. I preferred the elliptical or bike: anything that was easy on my knees and kept me in good cardiovascular health.
It was a bit unusual that I chose a hot day at the beginning of May to take a quick lap around Brookhaven. I listened to the lyrics of David Crowder while pushing myself harder than I ever had. Her words kept ringing in my ears, but were punctuated by the truth in the song lyrics..
“Your boyfriend spent the night in a hotel with another girl.”
“Here is our king. Here is our love. Here is our God whose come to bring us back to him.”
“Your boyfriend is on steroids…”
“He is the one. He is Jesus.”
I was only a mile and a half into my run, but I felt totally and completely exhausted. I was three years and a few months into a relationship that had taken me (and him) the furthest away from the grace of Christ that I felt I had ever been. I realized in that moment that I had been running away from Christ for years. I had put my boyfriend into my life where Jesus should have been. I had mistakenly made love into God instead of considering that God is love; true, abiding, and fulfilling love that would never run out. So I stopped. I held my head in my hands and cried out to the Lord.
Whatever your will is for my life, Father, that is all that I want. Take my job from me. Take my boyfriend from me. Take my friends from me. Take my family from me. All I want is more of you. I can’t do this anymore. I can’t live life apart from you any longer. If you want everything to remain how it is, then that is what I want. If you want everything to change, Father, then I ask you to change it. I do not care what it is, but I ask that whatever it is, let it be your will.
The lyrics faded and I walked home with relief and a smile. I felt as if, for the first time in years, I didn’t have to bear the weight of it all. I didn’t have to shoulder the burden.
I would like to say that it was a smooth transition after that, but I would be lying.
My heart had changed; even my mind had changed; but it didn’t click that I had to take action until Memorial Day.
That was the day I found myself crying outside of a wedding reception behind a dumpster.
I wept inconsolably about the inevitable end of my three year relationship. I knew it wasn’t working, but I wasn’t sure I was strong enough to let it go.
To this day, I am not sure if it was the perfection of the love story of the bride and groom that sobered me up or the stench of the garbage, but I knew that I had to muster the strength that I hadn’t had for years. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the first wedding I’d left in tears with my boyfriend as my date. Still, I kept going back to him for validation. Until the beginning of May, I hadn’t really actively sought Jesus for any direction in my life. But something was different. I was beginning to re-think my decisions because I asked for the wisdom that can only come from Jesus.
As we rode back from the out-of-town wedding, I was quietly contemplating how I could end our relationship with dignity. He was going out of town again with friends, and I decided to end it when he got back. I had broken up with someone in the car on our way back from dinner in high school…and I decided that seven hours in the car with a boyfriend you were arguing with was much safer than seven with an ex boyfriend.
When he called the first night from his vacation, I uttered the words,
“When you get back, we need to talk.”
He insisted that we have the talk over the phone. So, three years of dating ended with a phone conversation.
I breathed out with complete relief. It was done. I was officially starting over.
Andy says when we start over, we must ask the question, “what was I thinking?”
It was a loaded question that I had to ask. After all, our relationship was not logical in any sense of the word. By the end of it, we were checking up on each other and restless. We didn’t trust each other. I could only answer with the fact that I was holding on because I was insecure and because I wasn’t trusting God. Somehow, I knew I could fix the first problem by fixing the second.
At the start of June, I wrote,
“I miss him a lot today. It isn’t anything particular that I miss; just a general longing. I’ve prayed for his decisions as a man today; that he would get a job and that he would grow into the man he is supposed to. Still, I do not see a future with him. I wish I could see him and say goodbye, but he doesn’t want that. He doesn’t want me, but for the first time, I don’t want him.
Reading Ecclesiastes. So much valuable insight.”
I began to seek God and study the word intently like I had never studied before. I began to read through Ecclesiastes, as Solomon was a favorite of mine. The practicality and cynicism of his words was enough to draw me back into God’s grace. I had to start to forgive myself before I could move on. I had to totally forgive my now ex-boyfriend too. After all, we both had a role to play in the relationship. I knew that if I blamed him, I would never move on and into a better future. I also realized that if I saw him through the eyes of Christ and began to pray that he grow into the man he was supposed to, I could completely release myself from the binds of the unhealthy relationship we had established.
All the while, I was working at the same job…but soon, I would find myself starting over with that as well.