The Beginning of the End…
(For Part 1, read here)
My new life on my own for the first few years also brought with it my first boyfriend, my first breakup, a couple of rebounds, and an ultimate crash into a state of depression I hid for almost six months. On top of this, the second year I was out of the home my sister’s marriage fell apart leading to a heart wrenching divorce that wrecked my family for years to come.
With my sister’s marriage in shambles, and my own relationship failures—I set out to figure out what went wrong and prove I still knew what God was saying about where my life was headed. My rebound relationships proved I was beyond desperate to fill a void. I never even stopped to listen to the many warning calls around me, much less take time to heal or process what was really going on beneath the surface of my raging emotions. After the third relationship ended in a royal bust, I put on a really good face to the rest of the world about enjoying being single and being busy with school, and secretly slipped into depression.
Not only had every relationship failed, but I had burned almost every bridge of relationships at the church I had been so ardently serving for the past two years, in my adamancy that God had led me into these relationships. My faith in my mentors was shattered. I had been through three relationships all under the watchful eyes of mentors and pastors with ever-ready advice on every aspect of each relationship. All I was left with for trying so hard to please them and stay true to what I felt was so real was a broken, lonely heart.
The church I was involved with was a charismatic non-denominational church that strongly believed in mentoring and servant leadership. It promoted a culture where the most faithful in serving, were the same ones who were sought out and cultivated for higher levels of leadership responsibility within the church. While I at the time, along with many others found motivation, inspiration, and encouragement— I later would look back and question an unhealthy spiritual and childlike dependency on my part and a vulnerability to spiritual manipulation as a result of finding my only source for self-acceptance was through pleasing other people. I would hope that most of the advice given was out of a well meant sense of concern and care to help me prevent making more mistakes than I already had. Either way, for someone who had always had decisions made for me by my parents or mentors I trusted implicitly, I had yet to learn how to make decisions for myself.
For me well meaning advice was law. I didn’t know how to trust myself to arrive at a decision and live with the consequences good or bad. I would spend endless amounts of time and effort trying to get everyone in the Church leadership, my family, and all my friends to happily endorse my decisions. Because if they didn’t, then I obviously had misheard God, and if I could mishear God then how could I ever trust myself to know the right thing to do with my life, much less pick the right man. So rather than face my own doubt and insecurity in decision making and knowing the will of God, which I believed determined my whole life plan — I put it all on myself and my own powers of persuasion to get everyone lined up and on the same page. The logic went something like, “If everyone agreed with me and supported me then I had definitely figured out the will of God and my life plan out right.” Right?….
Needless to say by the time the third relationship failed, I felt like a complete failure. I failed at hearing God. I failed my mentors. I questioned if they had failed me. I left the church and lost myself in the unsuspecting crowds of the mega church down the road.
To add to the crushing weight of heartbreak and burnout, my family had entered one of our darkest seasons yet. With my sister’s marriage destroyed from lies and abuse, I saw many friends and fellow believers from my childhood community turn and denounce my family, when we supported her through separation and divorce. It has been a painful journey beyond words for all of us, and the broken relationships from twenty years of my life haunt my nightmares to this day.
What many never knew when I was hiding my depression was that I never went a night without crying myself to sleep, begging God to have someone notice my pain — whether it was the latest guy who rejected me, the leaders and church community who I no longer had, or my childhood support system in ashes around me. The silence screamed to me that my time spent investing in numerous relationships around me meant nothing and no-one even noticed I was gone. If I did happen to run into someone, my defense went up and I faked a smile and story about my life being busy and happy, vowing they would never know how miserable and hurt I really was. I thought, if I had failed at hearing God through three dating relationships and if my sister, who was my hero for doing everything as right as one possibly could according to the strict purity culture we grew up in, could end up so broken and our hearts all shattered — what the hell was the point of it all?
(Part 3 here)