“It’s like life is kicking me in the face.” I spoke those words approximately four years ago while I was in my final year at the Christian college I had attended in Southern California. My first real relationship had ended over the summer, and the result was a messy process of rediscovering who I was and why.
She was my first real girlfriend. We met at the beginning of the year and quickly connected as good friends. Later in the year, we began dating. We were together about a year and a half. The last few months of our relationship was not good, and it was my fault. I stopped spending time with people that supported me in pursuing a relationship with Christ. Gradually, I fazed Him out of my daily life. The descent of my relationship with God mirrored the decline of my dating life. I stopped listening and paying attention to her needs. And she was too independent to share with me that she was hurting and had noticed a change in me.
During the summer I felt something telling me that my life was not right and that I should approach her about maybe taking a break. The result of that two-plus-hour conversation on a bench at an outdoor mall was that we broke up. I never thought I would be the kind of person who could be devastated by the loss of a relationship with a girlfriend. The course of the next two years found us struggling with how to maintain a friendship despite the fact that I desperately wanted to be with her. Despite it all, she was one of my closest friends. Yes, I did go out on random dates, but I could never find someone who I connected with as well as her. On top of it, my entire concept of self worth and identity had changed. The things that I thought were important (success in the music industry, image, meeting expectations) were gradually taken away from me. I had to figure out how to rebuild my personal relationships as well as my relationship with Christ.
One of the most difficult aspects of ending a relationship is realizing that someone who once said they loved you does not want that kind of attention from you anymore. I was unable to let go of wanting that from her for over two years. We were still able to be good friends for most of that time. But I failed her by being unable to only be her friend when that’s what she needed/wanted from me. She became so wary of my intentions that she felt that even having lunch with me would be interpreted as something else.
I had graduated college only to end up completely ill prepared for the “real” world. I had no job, no real career aspirations, no money; I lived with my parents again, and I relocated back to my hometown and therefore needed rebuild a social circle. I could have begun building a new life for myself, and I did to a very small degree. But I couldn’t let go of wanting something more from her even though we were now on different ends of the city. There were extenuating circumstances, as there always are. Having gone to a Christian college, gossip about the two of us ran rampant. That doesn’t excuse my actions, in addition to ignoring what she wanted. I focused more attention on trying to ignite our defunct relationship than I did investing in my spiritual and life journey.
Over two years ago a wonderful, bright and vibrant woman was brought into my life. Although I came with emotional and spiritual baggage, she took me on, and we are now actually engaged and planning for a June wedding. I have two jobs that I thoroughly enjoy. I am the happiest I have been in years, and it was only because I finally surrendered that aspect of my life to Christ. My plan was not good enough. And the other girl? I recently did something I should have done a long time ago. I apologized.