This is the home stretch. This is the crescendo. The conclusion of the only stage of my life that I am familiar with.
This is the month before my wedding.
I am absolutely amazed at how calm I am.
There’s a story about me you may not know, and it’s about freaking out. I’ve alluded to the things I’m about to tell you a lot in my blog the past few months, and now here’s the full story for anyone who wants to hear it.
In the summer of 2009, a relationship I was in ended, and I was crushed under the weight of what that meant. I was the girl who didn’t date because I didn’t care about being with any other man besides my future husband. Sometimes I wanted a boyfriend, but even when there was someone I liked I talked myself out of it. It was too early in life to look for a husband. I could wait.
Until I started dating one of my closest friends. I don’t know what made me decide to give dating a try, but I’m not saying I made the wrong decision. Our relationship was full of sweet things and little mistakes, but, for some reason, after it ended I blamed myself entirely for the heartbreak I was going through. I didn’t think it through. I should have stuck to my guns. This must not have been what God wanted for my life, or He wouldn’t be teaching me this lesson. He knew I would never get it, so I had to learn the hard way. Lies. Big ones. But I believed them. I believed I was right this time, and poured all of my efforts into watching my every step, never EVER wanting to make a mistake again. My life was going to go whichever direction God wanted it to go. No mistakes.
These thoughts got imbedded in my head. Easily. Any thought I have that is pro-condemnation, pro-guilt, pro-law-abiding, sticks in my head and is very difficult to pry out.
At the same time the law-abiding lies were getting more deeply ingrained in my head, I was developing a better relationship with God, and I met Brett.
My enemy must have been gleeful that at the same time my future husband entered my life I was so easily susceptible to doubting my choices, demanding direction from God, and believing the worst about myself.
When I met Brett, I knew that he was special to me. I mean, I knew he was special, as a person, but I knew that he was special for me. Right off the bat. I turned to God with these feelings and asked Him what they all meant, and was hurt and confused when I felt He was silent. Here I was, trying to start fresh and do everything right, and He’s not even telling me what to do. How am I supposed to follow You when I don’t know what to do?
The only for-sure thing I knew that God wanted was for me to trust Brett. And that didn’t make any sense. God doesn’t want me to trust some college boy, practically a stranger, when I am concerned with following Jesus, not chasing boys around. It still wasn’t time for me to find my husband.
Because of the lies about how I couldn’t trust my own decisions, I got very confused. My emotions weren’t reliable, God wasn’t telling me what I felt made sense, and all I wanted was to follow Jesus, do what He wanted me to do, and be a good person. In my eyes, I wanted what God wanted – for me to put my relationship with Him above all other things – so why was it so hard? When my desires finally match up with His, shouldn’t decisions be easier? Shouldn’t life be easier?
I hope you can see the downward spiral that I didn’t. This wasn’t about Brett at all. It was about me equating what I wanted with what I thought God wanted, but I had the wrong idea about what God wanted. I didn’t know He wanted freedom for me. I thought He wanted me to do things for Him. I thought He wanted me to understand Him and not do anything wrong ever again.
Finally, I freaked out. My emotions shut down. I felt like a cold, unloving person. I couldn’t give Brett what he wanted, because what if being with him was a mistake? I couldn’t move. I didn’t want to displease God, either way.
Encouragement from friends and mentors, and love from Brett, brought me back out of that agony. I was a little more sure that God wanted me to trust Brett, whether it made sense or not.
It wasn’t much longer before it happened again. And again. I wish there was a way everyone could understand how tormenting it was to feel so divided and so confused and in love at the same time. I still didn’t trust my emotions. And the fact that I had “freaked out” made me even more unsure of my decisions and my emotions. I started feeling like I was two different people. And I believed lies about those two different people. The side of me that was happy, with Brett, and trusted that everything would work out was jaded. She just wanted to be happy at all costs, not caring if what she was doing the right thing. The other side of me was either strong and independent, or completely wretched and not capable of loving Brett the same as he loved me, or other people for that matter.
Which would cause me to spiral down again, because it was a lie that called to question my decisions, my motivations, and my closeness with God.
Of course, during these anxiety attacks, I knew I couldn’t marry Brett. It was tormenting. Because I could literally say that I loved him one day, and be totally cold and terrified of being with him the next.
Lots of people told me these feelings were normal.
Though the anxiety attacks were initially caused by other thoughts, the frequency of them, and the fact that they persisted, led to the biggest cause for doubt of all. The thought that these “freak outs” meant that I was supposed to be alone. And leave Brett alone. That I wasn’t marriage material because of my emotions. That I was someone who would lead my sweet boyfriend along only to cruelly leave him brokenhearted.
That Brett wasn’t the one for me.
The harm that’s been done is still there. I don’t feel free to tell him I love him sometimes. Because what if who I am during a “freak out” is who I really am? I’m haunted by them, even while they’re not happening. And sometimes I feel angry or jealous that he seems so free and sure. Which can cause bitter feelings too. I think this is why I’m so aware that our marriage is going to be full of problems and hurt feelings and forgiveness.
I feel like a theme for me through all of this has been freedom. And how I long to be free from the anxiety, but how I already am. And how it doesn’t the heck matter if I make a mistake. How I didn’t need to feel like that in the first place. Every time an anxiety attack is over I learn one thing that I’ve been thinking wrong this whole time about God or myself. I am already free, and just for freedom’s sake. Just because He wanted me to be. And with that knowledge I can be in His love wherever I go, no matter what decision I make. And it also means that I am good. My mistakes don’t hurt me or make me guilty. If He says I’m righteous, I am righteous. And God loves things that don’t make sense, and it’s all part of the adventure. Risking it, because you might be wrong, but oooohh what if you’re right?! How amazing would it be? How amazing is being in love?
I think the last freak out was two months ago. Which is why I’m so shocked that we’ve made it this far. Each time, Brett’s love for me reminds me of something that I know, in a place in my head that is deeper than where the freak-outs happen – that Brett is the person God has put in my life for forever. His love for me is something I can’t ignore, and I know that I love him too. And, because of the way he loved me first, his love always reminds me of Jesus’. And lots of things about us remind me of Jesus and His love for the Church. I pray that I have eyes to see the places where I get to be Jesus, and not always the Church. And that no more anxiety attacks happen before our wedding day.