I was in college. I was homesick. I was scared. I was lonely. I was confused. I was scared to say that I was scared and lonely and confused. I was up all night watching YouTube videos of TobyMac on the dorm computers instead of sleeping. I had never even heard of the term “clinical depression” (I kid you not). I was a hot mess.
I was a chemistry major who had her first lab class and received a revelation that staring into test tubes wasn’t how she wanted to spend the rest of her life. I was the girl who was too ashamed to try to explain that revelation to the registrar’s office, so I was also the girl who sat in the back in Chem 103 silently devouring her fingernails, wondering why a professor in an English speaking country was teaching in Greek. I was a Ugandan girl ignorantly facing her first Michigan winter (everyone kept trying to nicely inform me that hiking boots won’t keep you warm in snow.) I was considering arranged marriage or a career in waitressing as an alternative to my misery.
What do you do when your world starts to crumble? You look for the only thing standing and chain yourself to it. My “only thing standing” happened to be a boy in my orientation group. He was confident, cute, and didn’t seem intimidated by the scowl that I used to keep all the guys away from me. He had the most beautiful eyes I had ever seen on a human outside of a Disney animated movie. He had this voice that sounded like syrup on chocolate chip pancakes—and he knew how to use it. Ladies, if a guy is really good at telling you things that make you feel like Kate Middleton, just know: he did not practice those lines on his sister.
He told me he loved me. He told me I was beautiful. He told me I was special. He complimented me for not being like “other girls”. He sat next to me in the dining hall, in class, in tutoring sessions. He called me his “little sugarplum fairy”, his “lovey”, “sugar”, and every time he did it was like Christmas. He bought me chocolate. We called each other every day. We played guitar every weekend. We had one class together in the mornings and would eat breakfast together afterwards, then meet later for lunch, then do the homework together right before going to dinner. We spent more time together than the married students on campus did.
I was sleeping one hour a night, and no one wanted to stay up texting me at 2:00 am, except him. We would text smiley faces back and forth for hours. He was the only one who knew that I had started locking myself in the bathroom in the science building late at night to pound on the walls, screaming and crying. I told him when I started drawing the ends of safety pins up and down my arms.
My girlfriends weren’t a good audience for the retelling of these performances. It understandably scared and concerned them, which then scared me. So I started going to the one person who listened without looking at me like I was possessed.
It occurred to me one day in January that I was in love with this boy. It also occurred to me that I should tell him, just in case he wasn’t on the same page. He said he loved me, yes? All he needed to know was that I felt the same way, and then we could walk holding hands to the neighborhood mall to look at rings, yes?
So against the advice of my mother, I told him.
He listened, smiled, then said something like, “I respect you and I’m glad we can be honest like this but I really don’t feel the same way and I hope you understand.”
I’m not going to bore you with the days I spent irrigating my sheets with my tears—yet again—and the many times I watched Titanic in my room with Ben and Jerry. I’m not going to bore you with the texts and email I sent to him asking him to change his mind. I’m not even going to bore you with all the bad poetry I wrote and posted on Facebook, hoping he’d see. It didn’t work. Last I heard, he was dating a girl with very nice hair (May God have mercy on her).
What that boy took advantage of was this: I was a damaged, injured, insecure, desperate damsel in distress. I had a long list of self-esteem issues and self-image issues. I had tremendous father issues—my father left home when I was sixteen, and I was deeply afraid that every man after him was going to reject me like he did. I thought someone not leaving you is the same as someone loving you. And I really, really, really wanted a man to love me.
The moral of my story, praise the Lord, is that I eventually started to learn how beautiful and loved and valued and precious I am to a God Who died to prove it. God will never reject me or leave me. He has all the love I could possibly need. I never have to be afraid that He will replace me or tell me I’m not good enough for Him. God calls me “beloved” and means it. He is always working for my good. He sees every tear I cry and He feels my every pain. He can hold me together when my world is falling apart. I have a jazzy God Who is always absolutely crazy about me, the way I am.
I don’t think any man can top that.
If this message touched you, share to touch others who need encouragement too.