My story begins back in the spring of 2014 when I truly believed that I was in love. I was 17 years old, and had never had a boyfriend. I craved the love and attention that I was getting from him, and in my naive, teenage brain, I thought that the love I was receiving was the real thing. As real as it could of been for a 17 year old kid who was still figuring life out. Our faith was an important thing to both of us, so this relationship started out very serious before either of us really knew each other. I fully believe that that was one of the many downfalls that suffocated our relationship. We didn’t even have a chance to get to know each other before we were talking marriage.
In the environment that I grew up in, in a small town in the conservative part of West Michigan, I believed that all this was normal. It was normal to make a list as long as my forearm about things we could do or couldn’t do. It was normal to be chaperoned on dates. However, the seriousness of the relationship from the very beginning took the fun out of those first 8 months of dating.
Please, don’t take this the wrong way though, if you chose to go about your dating life this way. That may be normal for you. It was for me for awhile. There are multiple ways to go about it and you need to choose the one that works the best for you and the one that honors yourself and God.
After we reached the 8 month mark, we decided collectively as a couple and with our families, that we needed to loosen the reins a bit. We needed to have time alone to talk and really strengthen our relationship without other people around. We needed to be able to go to dinner or out to a movie where we could just focus on growing our relationship. And that was much needed. I can’t stress enough about how you need time together where you can just focus on yourselves and YOUR relationship without having a hundred other opinions thrown into the mix.
But then everything kind of took a 180 turn. I began to notice that I was investing so much time and energy into making sure that he was okay, that I was struggling to keep myself above water. The water being life itself. He was taking so much of me that I had no energy to expend anywhere else. I was tired all the time. I started having skin problems which I think was due to stress. And as much as I said I loved him and would do anything for him, I was emotionally exhausted and had nothing left to give. He got every ounce of me. I gave him every ounce of me. But even through this all, including not hearing from him really for a couple days or believing him when he said he wanted to marry me, I truly believed that this was how love was supposed to be. I believed that I was supposed to always be there for him. In my mind, that’s how relationships worked, not fully knowing or understanding that it was supposed to go both ways.
So when he broke up with me over the phone after promising me marriage just the weekend before, I was crushed. I wondered why I wasn’t enough. I wondered why I didn’t mean enough to him for him to tell me the truth. The truth would have hurt less than me being blindsided. And then he came back saying all the right things and I believed him. I believed he wanted to work through every little thing that we might encounter together. I always want to believe the best in people, which is probably one of my largest downfalls. After our relationship crumbled a second time and he broke up with me on Christmas Eve, I realized that I needed to have more respect for myself. I needed to realize that I am enough.
I tell you all this story, because it was a stepping stone for me in finding myself again and loving myself again. And now, I can truly say that I am so thankful that God took me out of that situation, even if it took some time to do so. I am thankful that that relationship cracked and crumbled, because it brought me to my true love and now husband Ryan.
Once I started dating Ryan (mind you, this was a year and a half after my other relationship fell apart because I needed time to heal), I was amazed. We met while working at Applebee’s and he charmed me with his dashingly good looks and sense of humor. I fell in love with his smile and his carefree attitude about life. He loved to make other people smile and right away, I could see that he would do anything for the people he loved. We loved getting to know each other over those first couple months and had so many fun adventures. One of our first dates actually was to Sleeping Bear Dunes. We loved just having a good time together. And the best part about all of this, was that it was healthy. We spent a healthy amount of time talking to each other when we couldn’t always see each other. We understood if we couldn’t get together on a weekend because one of us worked. We understood each other if one of us had to sleep (Ryan worked nights at the time). That was a big thing that we had to figure out together due to our schedules basically being flipped. But we did it and we encouraged each each other through that. It is not always easy, but it is worth it in the end.
And the moment I knew he was the one, was when I realized that I was just fine, being by myself, but I didn’t want to be. I know it sounds cliche, but he completed me in ways that I didn’t know needed completing. He made me laugh, was there for me through the hardest times in my life, and listened to me when I had thoughts or concerns about different things in life. He made me feel appreciated and loved, sometimes at the lowest points in my life. He’s amazing. 😉
He proposed to me in Ireland at the Cliffs of Moher on May 18th, 2018. It was perfect and one of the easiest yes’s I have said to date. It is a memory that will always be with me. We planned our wedding in less than 4 months due to some amazing wedding planners ( aka my sister). 😉 It was a picture perfect day under a blue, cloudless sky outside where we committed our lives to each other and promised to always love and protect each other until the end of time. So every bump in the road that I experienced, was actually God re-directing me to something better. Which lead me to that amazing moment. A moment where I was marrying the man that God had intended for me all along.
I decided to tell this story because it was a pivotal point in my life where I finally learned how to love myself fully again. I chose to put God first and fully rely on Him. And to realize that I will never have to feel like I am unlovable again, because He died on that cross for me and that is the epitome of love and how much He loves ME. And you. And I challenge anyone who reads this to remember you are loved and you are cherished by God. Don’t believe that your worth comes from being in a relationship. Never feel like you are in a place where your worth is being questioned. You are enough; whether a guy sees it or not. More than likely if he doesn’t, he is not the right one for you. I wouldn’t be where I am in life if I didn’t listen to God when He continually shut that door on me. And not just shut, but slammed in my face multiple times. It just took me awhile to listen. Don’t let that be you. Listen to those around you. Take their advice seriously. They wouldn’t be telling it to you if they didn’t think it was important. I wished I would have listened a lot sooner. I could have possibly saved myself from a boatload of pain and heartache. But then again, it taught me a lot and I wouldn’t be who I am today without that part of my story.
Also, I should end by saying this, I truly wish him all the best and wellness in the world. We both, I’m sure, grew up a lot from that experience. I forgave him and moved on a long time ago. God is the author of our story and not everything goes like we think it will. But in the end, everything turns out the way it was meant to be. Continue to love others, and continue to love yourself. Don’t give anyone the power to make you feel anything less than extraordinary. Straighten your crown and walk away like a boss.
“Work on being in love with the person in the mirror who has been through so much but is still standing.”