Once upon a time, there lived a kind, capable, intelligent princess, who carried her beauty inside and out. As she grew up, some people and events hurt her heart. She took this pain and tried to find a prince to fill those wounds in her heart. One day she met a charming and handsome prince who played the role well. She felt loved and needed and an intense connection. It seemed right and wonderful, until the prince began using her to meet his hidden needs through subtle control and careful manipulation. The princess continued loving the prince with her broken heart and she gave him everything he required to prove it; mind, soul and body. Soon after she had given her most precious gifts, he left her. The prince went on his merry way, leaving the princess to find and collect the pieces of her even more thoroughly shattered heart.
Oh, that isn’t the story you were told? Then, what are you supposed to do if you find yourself in these glass slippers? Is there really a protective prince deserving of your heart? What if you are left with a heart in pieces?
This was my reality, my story. I grew up knowing I wanted to save my purity for my husband. I had this on lock down. I thought I would NEVER give it away before my honeymoon. I knew all of these things… until I didn’t. I was told and thought I knew how important it was to keep this gift. When you give yourself to become “one” with someone, it will create a bond that is never easy to walk away from.
But I was deceived and disillusioned by this one boy. He made me feel important and needed in the beginning. He was the only one who got me, and I began to feel bad when he said, “I know your purity is important to you, but I can’t believe you love me when you still hold part of yourself back from me” or “I respect your purity, but I have never felt so rejected.” One night I gave him the one thing I wanted to give only to my husband. I became so enmeshed in him that I lost any sense of where he ended and I began. I was addicted to any perception of care or consideration, rationalizing that since he was the ‘prince’ I was going to marry, it was okay that I have given myself sexually. Even after he broke my heart, I continued to talk, text, and ‘accidentally’ run into him. I knew his schedule. I withdrew from my family and friends, began to shade the truth and hide my world.
In the middle of this chaos, the prince began telling me I was a disappointment. He told me I was not a real princess, because a real princess would never disappoint the prince. He took what he wanted and when he was finished, he rode away.
I was devastated and believed that if this prince did not find me to be worthy, no one else ever would either. Even after he moved back to the Big City and I moved to the Big Country, I couldn’t help but reach out to him still. Only after I found out there was another princess he had found, other gifts to take and break, that I began to face the truth.
I have since deeply wrestled with the lies that whispered to me that there are no princes, and even if there were, none would choose me because I had given myself away sexually. I believed my decisions had disqualified me from any possibility of the ‘best’ life. I no longer maintained a façade in front of others. What was a girl to do?
What I determined was I could not continue to live in such soul-wrenching pain. I decided to dive head first into a process of healing. If any of you have chosen to jump into your “stuff” I am sure you understand the irony, because this journey hurts to the core of your being. I began questioning the lies I had believed about myself. I stopped stuffing my emotions and started feeling them, which for me was like open-heart surgery without anesthetic. I lifted my hands up and slowly surrendered control and it looked like this:
I got counseling. I am a firm believer in counseling and began seeing her every week; two-hour sessions at the beginning. I talked about my childhood and self-beliefs, which allowed me to unveil and then unravel my hurt. For the first time I gave language to all that seemed huge in my imagination, but once exposed lost power. I took the risk to trust my counselor and she helped me re-build boundaries that had been destroyed while slowly tearing down the walls that had helped me manage and control, but in turn had stopped relational growth and health.
I let others love on me. This was difficult at first because I had been a people pleaser my entire life. I had worked constantly to prove why I deserved attention or affection and I made sure that I was never a burden. Once I let some of my performance walls down, I began seeing myself as others did. I started allowing the places where I didn’t feel worthy of love, to be seen. Surprisingly, I was not rejected, but embraced and felt a deeper connections with people because I let them see the “unedited” version of me. And guess what? Others liked what they saw, not everything, but all the things that mattered.
I got honest with God. When I moved to Big Country, I went through different stages in my relationship with Jesus. I got on my face and cried out to him as I sat in the shower because I didn’t feel like I could take one more step. I yelled at God and told him that I didn’t think He was good, that He didn’t want what was best for me and wasn’t ‘for’ me. These conversations did not stop Him from loving me with truth and kindness. I learned that my actions and choices have never counted me out. I discovered that I am loved for who I am, not what I do.
I started replacing lies with truth and doing things that I love. I stopped speaking negatively over my life and learned to speak life-giving words. I took captive lies and didn’t give them a place to play of my lips. I began a new career that I love and started new hobbies. I opened myself to relationships with the expectancy that I would be loved and ‘seen’ by those who could, not waiting for people to prove again to me that I was not lovable, not worthy. I changed my thinking, and that changed my reality.
If you are in a relationship that is divisive and destructive, please know ‘this is not love’. If you are in a relationship where you and your boundaries are not respected, ‘this is not love’. If you are in a relationship that is driving you away from people who have faithfully spoken life to you, ‘this is not love’. And, if you are or were in a relationship in which you have given yourself away, you are not counted out. There is redemption for what the enemy has stolen and any prince has recklessly taken. God always is able to take what we bring, build within that a kind and grace-full purpose and a new ending to our story. You are precious and loved, just the way you are, right now, in the midst of your mess. The truth is, you have always been worthy of being loved, being loved well. It is never too late to fight for yourself.
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