I almost feel like I haven’t had enough coffee to write this post… or perhaps, I haven’t had enough alcohol to struggle through all these upcoming strung together thoughts. But here goes nothing… and to clarify, I swear I’m not a raging alcoholic, who uses alcohol to process life. My former sentence was mostly a joke–but I will admit to being completely and unapologetically addicted to coffee. I should probably go to rehab. Also, I joke to avoid vulnerability because laughter is oftentimes the best mask I can find.
Yikes, I’m getting too honest there.
SO I have started dating.
Yes, you read that correctly.
And oh boy, is dating the worst thing in the world, or what?
I think for the majority of the population, dating is already hard. I’m sure that I’m not the first person in the world to have the thought of, “Wow, this whole dating thing is absolutely horrific!” and questioned, “Why do people choose to subject themselves to this torture?” Granted, there are great things about dating, and it may not be as bad as I’m perceiving it, but in all actuality, dating is a mirror into which I do not desire to gaze.
Dating has forced me into a small room filled with boxes of all my many insecurities, fears, anxieties, hesitations, and heartaches. I have managed to avoid this room for so long, but in some fucking weird ass way, it’s dating that has brought me here. Dating. What the Hell is even happening…
And as long as I’m dating, I’m becoming more and more aware of how much space these boxes are taking up in this little room of mine. Naturally, they need to be relocated – and since they are entirely too heavy for me to carry, I supposed I should start going through them to throw away what I no longer need.
The box of insecurity has a megaphone in it screaming out that I will never be feminine enough to be loved by a man. It shouts at me that I’m not pretty enough to attract any man that I may remotely be attracted to. It reminds me that I’m not stable enough to be in a long-term relationship because the moment a depressive episode hits or the intense irritability of a mixed state appears, any man slightly interested in me will leave. And if I can attract some poor soul, there’s no way he’ll be a godly enough man for me because godly men aren’t interested in a formerly gender-confused, broken girl, who cusses and drinks as much as she prays.
The box of fears is connected to my boxes of heartaches, anxieties, and hesitations, as the memories of previous sexual abuses overflow into the room taking me back to a night when I felt powerless to a man affirming my femininity through objectifying me as nothing more than an object for his immediate and temporary pleasure. What if he was right? And what if sexual abuse is too heavy of a piece of my past for any man to listen to and not run from? What if I am always crippled by the fear of being alone with a man, thinking he could read my signals wrong at any time and take advantage of me? And the what ifs continue into the night as I stay awake replaying what I could have done differently in my head.
I think the worst part of all of this is that I see all this mess in this tiny room, and there’s no way in Hell that I’m going to let any man in to see any of it. In fact, I am going to leave this room, lock the door behind me, and tell him I’m simply not interested in him – because maybe it’s just easier to live life alone than to show any of that shit to a man. I’ve spent my entire life thus far ignoring it and just stacking up boxes in an empty room, but little did I know that that room is a place in my heart that was supposed to be reserved for one man, namely a man I am to spend my life with.
But how was I supposed to know that?
My box of insecurities telling me that no man would ever love me seemed to exist long before this room. And I was introduced to this fear box at age six during my first encounter with sexual abuse.
So here I am: trying to date men that have no room in my cluttered heart. And every moment I struggle through not having room for a man to come into my life and for me to desire him more than I fear his rejection, my gender and sexuality anxieties kick in reminding me that it was only a year and a half ago that I even told anyone that I struggled with my sexuality and my gender. I have no room in my heart and fear rejection quickly becomes God didn’t change anything in my heart or mind, and I will forever struggle to desire to be with men.
Here’s where things change.
I know a Man who has never taken advantage of me. He’s never lied to me. He’s never spoken poorly of me. He’s never manipulated me – or even tried. He’s always been kind. He’s always been gentle. He’s always believed and fought for the best in me. He’s always been more concerned with my wholeness, sanctification, and healing than I have. And He’s patiently waited…
He’s sat outside the door of this wrongly purposed storage room just waiting – waiting on me to let Him in; waiting on me to let Him see the mess; waiting on me to trust Him with these secret things of my heart. In John 20:19, it tells us that the disciples were huddled up in a room with the doors locked, and this Man came and stood in their midst. He didn’t need a key to get in. He didn’t need to knock and have someone open the door for Him. Locks don’t matter to this Man and doors are no hindrance to Him. He created that which was used to make these things. So for Him to wait patiently outside of this room is not because He doesn’t know how to get past my twelve padlocks. It’s not because the door is closed. It’s not because His mom taught Him to knock first.
It’s because He waits for the invitation.
I think I understand rejection in some way. I know nothing of rejection compared to this Man. I think I understand being taken advantage of, but I know nothing of being stripped naked, beaten, and hung before all to see my humiliation. I think I understand heartache. I know nothing of the Father turning His face from me, as I sacrifice myself for a people who despise me.
Who is this Man to wait for me to let Him into these messy areas of my heart? Who is this Man to even care? He has all of Heaven and all of earth at His command, yet He chooses to sit at the door of my stored up mess. It’s this kindness that leads me to sincere regret for not trusting Him as much as I know He is worthy. It’s in this that I have to decide that to let Him in this room requires opening the door and giving Him permission to see all the cobwebbed corners, concerning writing on the walls, and mildewed boxes of my baggage. He already knows this room better than I do. He already knows what is in every single box. So there’s no surprise in His eyes or desire to escape in His heart.
No mess is too messy for Him to see.
And before I can invite any man into this room to reside, I have to have this Man come in and help me create space necessary for my heart to have the capacity to love in a manner void of fear, anxieties, and selfishness.
Dating is both a mirror and a fire.
It is a mirror for me to see who I really am – in all my selfishness, insecurity, and sinfulness; and it is a fire for me to find refinement – as I invite another in to help me recognize and remove anything that hinders love by burning it in the Father’s healing and sanctification.
So here’s the deal:
- I’m clearly not ready to invite any man into my life until I can allow this Man into the hidden places of my heart.
- Dating – unto marriage – is a tool of sanctification that I want to embrace if it truly brings me into deeper relationship with Jesus.
- Yes, I’ve struggled through issues of sexuality, gender distortion, sexual abuse, and mental illness, but they don’t define me. So here are the truths I’m reminding myself:
First, I’m called to love one man – not all men. And just like most people dating, I’m not going to find “Mr. Right” on my first ever date. And I may not desire a man just because he asked me to go to dinner. That doesn’t mean I’ve not made significant strides towards wholeness in areas of gender distortion and sexuality.
Second, fuck mental illness and all the stigma that follows. So what that I know the depths of how dark depression can be? I also know joy in ways that many would kill to experience. I know parts of the Father’s heart that I wouldn’t know had I not battled days of hopelessness, apathy, and weakness. While I wouldn’t wish depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or any other form of mental illness that I’ve been diagnosed on anyone, I don’t wish it away. Yeah, in the midst of a dark time, it’s a real bitch and I have desired escape from it; but I’ve learned so much through it all. And I’ve been able to lean into His grace and faithfulness, as my refuge and strength.
Third, I am a motherfucking woman. (Enter Ke$ha singing, “Woman.”) So what that my father never affirmed this or my beauty growing up? So what that throughout grade school I was told that I was more of a boy than most boys in my class? My father is an alcoholic that objectifies women. Yes, it is every little girl’s desire to have her daddy’s approval, but his opinion is skewed. The boys in grade school were immature and young – what do they actually know? My Father and my Friend, however, is perfect in every way. And He speaks highly of me.
Fourth, I’m headed towards healing, wholeness, and freedom. There is a very slim chance that I will see it all in its fullness here on this fallen earth, but I will see His goodness in the land of the living. That’s my confidence.
I know that as I open this door to let Him inside, there’s a lot of potential for an extravagant mess to have been made. I’m expecting tears, but I’m also expecting beauty. I can trust His faithfulness. I can lean into His kindness.
He’s never let me down, and I know He won’t start now because He’s a damn good Dad and the best Friend I’ve ever had.