When it comes to matters of the heart, I’m more familiar with rejection than love itself. I’d be a liar if I told you that I’ve been in a relationship with someone that honored God. I’m quite certain that it’s only by the grace of God that my heart is still whole and not filled with bitterness. In order for you to fully understand who I am today and my perspective on dating and relationships, I have to tell you about who I was growing up and what my heart has experienced.
I am fortunate to have grown up in a home with two loving parents. While they are not perfect, my father is the epitome of a Godly man in my eyes and my mother is the best example of “black girl magic” that I could ask for. I have seen what love and respect looks like my entire life, but yet fell victim to giving more of myself than I could afford to give to guys who never valued me. I make this point because often times even though we know better, we sometimes we have to learn things the hard way. I guess that’s how life works sometimes…
My truth is that growing up I didn’t feel very comfortable in my own skin. I always felt awkward and out of place around people, even if no one else noticed. It wasn’t about vanity. It was more so this internal battle of not feeling good enough and that would manifest itself in confusing lust for love and settling for “situations” that left me emotionally drained. Frankly, for my entire twenties I set myself up for heartbreak and disappointment more times than I can count. That’s my truth.
Here is where I can insert all the things done to me that weren’t so nice. I can tell you about all the times I was disrespected. I can give you all the details of feeling used and taken advantage of, but I won’t. This isn’t about who hurt me but rather it’s about facing my own personal truths that put me in compromising situations. This is about how my mindset influenced who I chose to give my heart to. This is about how facing my ugly truths led to complete freedom from my past hurts.
I decided a long ago to take responsibility for my actions. Simply put, I didn’t see value in myself. I didn’t demand respect, so I didn’t get it. I settled, and for years I went right back to the same hurt and the same source of rejection until one day I had enough. I remember exactly where I was and the exact conversation that led to the powerful realization that enough was enough. On that day I truly feel like a soul tie was broken. I know without a doubt that something on the inside of me changed on that day and years later I haven’t looked back.
Between then and now, I’ve done a lot of work on myself. I’ve asked myself a lot of tough questions. I’ve also had to show myself some grace. I may have grown up in the church my entire life, but it wasn’t until I truly sat down and evaluated my relationship with God, or lack there of, that my perspective on things began to change. For so long I had a superficial relationship with God. I talked to God when I needed something. I went to church on Sundays but I wasn’t intentional about truly discovering who God is. And today, if I could tell my twenty year old self one thing, it would be to truly seek God and not the things of the world.
There was a time when I felt so ashamed for things I’ve done and decisions I’ve made, but there is something about seeing tangible evidence of God’s grace. There is something about letting go of people who were never good for me. There is something powerful about consciously deciding to love myself in the most humblest way. I could focus on all the things done to me but instead I choose growth. I could focus on the fact that I’ll never get an apology but instead I choose forgiveness. I could dwell on the fact that I’ll never get that time back but instead I’ve decided to let go of the past. I could walk around angry and bitter but instead I choose peace.
When I take a good look in the mirror today I smile because I’ve evolved. I intentionally pulled the layers back on years of self sabotage. I am beautiful, not broken. I am not my past decisions. I am better and wiser and stronger. The last couple of years have been the best years of my life because I know who I am and well, I am literally living my best life. The confidence I have in myself today comes from a place of starring my truths in the face. It comes from acknowledging that I haven’t always treated myself well and moving forward settling isn’t an option.
One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned in my almost thirty five years on this earth is that there is power in self reflection. There is something about seeing the good in who we are but also acknowledging the ugly. There is freedom in facing hard truths about who we are so that we don’t take it with us through life and even into new relationships. We can choose to learn from our mistakes and evolve or we can choose to focus on the actions of others. I’ve chosen to evolve and my journey of self love has changed my life. We’ve all been through some things and whether it be heartbreak or something else, it doesn’t have to define who we are. We may not have the same struggles or come from the same backgrounds but the truth will always set us free…. Always.