"The loves we've had before
can never change this one.
We're not imprisoned by
the past we've brought along..."
This post may seem a bit naked. If so, I apologize in advance.
Tonight I was going through my iTunes library looking for opportunities to de-clutter, when I came across Collin Raye's "That was a River." I couldn't help myself. I clicked play and let it flow. The music wafted through the empty house and the tears fell in big, fat drops without restraint.
To keep this moment from becoming what it was wont to become -- a deep dive into a vast chasm of sadness and regret -- I thought, "Come on Katie, you don't live in that space anymore. What did you learn?"
So here goes.
In every romantic relationship -- prior to my marriage to Jeff -- I just couldn't seem to "let it go." Once I knew that the man I loved had once loved someone else -- truly, madly, deeply -- I became needy, hyper-sensitive, wary, and prone to over-compensation. I lost my way.
And in the process, I lost my heart, my authenticity, my joy, and my trust. I became severe and suspicious. It wasn't attractive. I tried too hard. It became my goal to be better than everyone else that "he" had loved.
For years I thought that the problem was each of the "hims" in my life, and the choices they'd made -- even before they met me. This irrational thinking actually made sense to me in moments when I felt vulnerable and unworthy. And I let it erode each relationship like a termite eating away at the foundation of a loved house.
Waking up one day to the rubble of a house in ruin and irreparable -- a house I had allowed myself to give up on -- I started to take notice. I began to see how cruel it was to dismiss my partner's love for me as his truth. And more importantly I began to take responsibility for addressing those feelings that I had blamed "him" for.
My journey started with laying it all on the altar. Taking my broken heart and my broken sense of marriage to God. I searched Scripture and the writings of Mary Baker Eddy. There were many times when an idea would bring me to my knees. Self-knowlege may be the first step in healing, but it isn't always the prettiest. But there were waymarks of encouragement along the way as well. I remember feeling a new pulse of hope with Eddy's assurance that:
"progress is a law of God..."
Each and every one of us is evolving spiritually. We are discovering the depth, breadth, and height of what it means to love as God loves. Each relationship, experience, challenge, and trial unfolds, as Eddy suggests:
"new views of divine goodness and love..."
And since spiritual evolution is always expansive and progressive, what has gone before is always leading us to a deeper trust, a more selfless love, a higher and more permanent peace.
As I anchored my life more securely in trusting God's perfect plan for each of us, I found that I could genuinely embrace my partner's journey towards our relationship as divinely designed. Each step, each companion, each moment of affection, each instance of growth in grace -- a divine gift.
I never realized how freeing it would be to put my heart -- and his -- where it belonged. Not in some romantic version of "happily ever after," but in the hands of God's perfect love for each of us -- and all who had come before.
I no longer have to sabotage each relationship out of fear that I will be found wanting. I didn't have to over-compensate in anticipation of someone discovering that I was not as good as someone else who had come before -- or might come along. I can now love fully, genuinely, trustingly as the present expression of God's love for my partner. I can fully accept his love as his highest understanding of what it meant to love -- moment-by-moment. And mine.
We are each moving, not towards each other, but towards a deeper understanding of God, and what it means to love like Him/Her. In each relationship, we are each other's river -- but God is the ocean.
That's my story. Still crying, but they are tears of gratitude.
offered with Love,