Have you ever entered into a dating relationship without discussing the really hard stuff first? Coming to the conclusion a little late that you didn't even have a chat with God about the intentionality of that relationship before it began? Yeah? Me too. I've been there.
I was in college when I met him. He told me everything I wanted to hear; it was different from any of my previous relationships. In the beginning our love was easy. He was kind and supportive, giving no hint of what the relationship would eventually become. Because of this, I would make excuses for him when things slowly started not adding up, or when he would take little digs at my faith. I was so completely wrapped up in what I thought was this great crazy love that I couldn't see my way out. The last thing I wanted was to lose the person that had become my identity.
Looking back there were red flags I chose to ignore in order to keep the relationship going. I made myself believe that eventually everything would go back to the way it seemed in the beginning.
Here are a few examples of when it may be time to reevaluate:
1. He lies even when he doesn't have to. It may not be a huge elaborate lie; in fact, it may be “small”, so you ignore that uneasy feeling in your gut nagging you and trying to tell you that something is wrong. “Small” lies are LIES, and they're not to be overlooked.
2. He belittles you and makes you feel small. He might criticize your appearance, friends, or even your chosen career path.
I remember one time in our relationship, I had shown up to his house after class without my full face of makeup on… and I was wearing sweats. In a disgusted tone, he told me that I “looked different” and abruptly walked away. Those kinds of comments made me eventually believe that I wasn't worth love from anyone if I wasn't hitting a certain male standard of outer beauty.
3. You're not a priority in their life. If they can go weeks without talking to you, for no reason and don't care to tell you why, then something is off.
4. They are kind and considerate one day, but want nothing to do with you the next. This constant play on your emotions leaves you stuck in a back and forth spiral, which eventually makes you start to believe that you must be crazy.
5. He wants you to compromise your physical boundaries. Just because someone is your boyfriend/significant other, that doesn't make this okay.
Even with these red flags and when our relationship began to fall apart, I felt like God wasn't listening. I kept praying and praying and praying. Praying that our relationship would work out and that he'd shape him into the man I knew he could be for me. I didn't feel like I could pray for God's will because I couldn't see past mine. Instead of letting go and giving this relationship over to God, I kept fighting, completely losing myself in the process, and molding into who this guy wanted me to be instead of who God says I am.
What I didn't realize was that instead of praying, in a way, I was actually begging. Pleading with God for what I thought was the best for my own life. At the time, I didn't fully understand that I was too captivated by my own vision, I never truly saw His.
Over the next few years of constant back and forth, and trying to rebuild everything that went wrong on my own, I was so exhausted. There had to be a better way than how I was living!
It took me a long time to realize that God always hears our prayers – He just may not answer in the way we expect. I had to be completely broken by this relationship in order to learn how to listen for the whisper of His voice.
I was so mad at God during this season of my life. I couldn't see that there was a purpose to it all; that God was with me the entire time. Now, I can see that the loss (breakup) of that person was really God's protection over me.
It's hard to let go of someone once you've invested so much time and energy into them, but in my experience, if the relationship isn't Christ-centered you'll continue to find yourself at odds with each other, even over the smallest of things.
Every time I've thought I was taking a major loss in some area of my life, it turned into some form of gain; whether that's by having a newfound wisdom, or a new blessing in disguise. For example, if I'd kept going back to that same relationship, I would have never met the wonderful, godly man that I'm dating now and discover what it means to truly be in a healthy, supportive, well-balanced, loving relationship.
If you're in an unhealthy relationship with someone who is constantly cutting you down, I pray that you'll ask God to direct your heart and relationship. If you've experienced any of those red flags I mentioned earlier, it's time to surrender this relationship to the Lord and ask Him what to do, what's next, and where to go from here.
Ask yourself: is there something I need to let go of that's holding me back from pursuing a real relationship with God and trusting in His plan for my life?
It doesn't have to be the negative one-sided relationship like mine was. Maybe it's a relationship with a friend, family member, or a negative work environment. Whatever hardship you may be going through, I want you to know that His plan and will for our lives will always be far more valuable than we'd ever expect.
“Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good spirit lead me on level ground.” – Psalm 143:10
Written By: Jessica Fox