A straw wrapper made me hyperventilate.

I was driving in my car, three days post break-up. I had casually put a drink in my cup holder to head over to a friend’s house. A few minutes later I glanced down and noticed the cup wasn’t all the way situated. I picked it up to investigate the cause of the unbalance and I saw a crumpled up wrapper.

And the world came crashing down again.

Without realizing what I was doing, I opened the window and threw the crumpled up wrapper as hard as I could to the world outside. I figured I’d pick up a few pieces of trash the next time I went running to balance my destruction of planet earth. You see, the day my world shattered we went to Starbucks for the first and last time together. And seeing that wrapper made me realize I am no longer half of a whole.

It is exhausting to constantly be reminded of what you’ve lost, of who you’ve lost. To keep a guard up and steel myself against every memory. Because I can barely go five minutes where I don’t see something or think something or say something that reminds me of him. I’ve stopped trying to fight the memories, the tidal wave of grief.

When you allow someone into your life they leave little tiny marks all over. My front seat was still in the position he left it in. The sign to drive the 45 miles South to where he is. The restaurant he looked me in the eyes for the first time. The evening we sat across from friends and laughed and shared life and margaritas and chips and salsa. The curb outside my house where he kissed me for the first time.

These are the moments that tied me to him without my permission.

I saw a woman last week who has walked through healing seasons with several different people in my community. After I poured out my story to her, she looked me in the eyes and said the most intense truth I’ve heard throughout this process. It was raw. It was strong. It did not feel good. But it was necessary.

She took me through about ten minutes of loosing, releasing, and repenting the things in my relationship. The ways I had failed, the ways I had been hurt, the emotion I was feeling. She helped me break the control the breakup had on me. It’s almost like when someone is about to go into shock or in hysterics and you have to almost shake them to stop them.

That’s what she did to my heart and spirit. She stared into it and said the hard words to call it back to life.

When I walked out of her office I felt stunned but calm. I felt peace and rest for the first time in many days. I took a deep long breath and exhaled. The control was gone. The hold it had on my life was broken. The chains had been commanded to release.

Papa whispered sweet things in my ear and in my heart that day. He whispered His extravagant love. Because my friends, His love has been poured on me extravagantly. In ways I can’t even tell you. But I can tell you that it is SO good! I want to shout from the rooftops the amazing things He is doing in my heart and the thousand of tiny little ways I see Him loving me every day.

So in the middle of all of this, there are still plenty of moments where I run into memories and pockets of sadness. I still have those recollections that the last time I did something was with him or revolved around him. I knew I needed to start facing those things and experiencing them so the last time I did something wasn’t with him. Because there can always be a new last time.

And you know what I realized in the middle of all of it?

The enemy is trying to hold me captive by holding on to those memories. What he’s telling me is that it’s too painful to go to this restaurant or I won’t ever experience this again without hurting or I can’t imagine doing this alone. The longer he tries to keep those things captive, the more likely I am to let this breakup find its control on my life. I refuse to let what God has intended for my good and His glory to be taken and held captive. We were never meant to be slaves to lies.

Slowly I am taking back the things the enemy is trying to keep. I’m wearing first date clothes, eating at restaurants, folding up memories, moving the seat in my car, changing my nail polish, and facing the memories that get to be made new.

I’m walking into Starbucks and ordering the same drink, with the same straw wrapper, and I smile instead of hyperventilate.

Because we were made for freedom. We were made for hope. We were made for glory.

The tides are turning, His children are claiming back the land.

 

And I plan to stage a midnight raid to get my heart back.

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And then… my heart broke.

This post comes from a raw place. Incredibly raw. But living in community sometimes means living raw.

The details of the end are mine and his and only ours.

There is so much more to the story than the end. It was a surprise for both of us. It was devastating for both of us. And it was an act of love for both of us.

The end feels like death — One day I can worry about his aching knee and his work schedule and the next day I can’t. My heart and world feel shattered. It is confusing and awful and every time I wake up it’s like a tidal wave of grief all over again.

I write this only because you, my world and my community, have been faithfully walking this journey with me, loving me through the highs and lows, and praying for me. And now, I beg your prayers for my heart and his heart.

I will say this, that man loved me better than I have ever been loved. He showed me Jesus. He challenged me. He did his best to fight for me and love me and cherish me and tell me I was beautiful. I have no anger or bitterness towards him, only sadness that my best friend, the man I gave my heart to, is longer in my life. I respect and admire him still.

So many of you have been texting and calling and reaching out. The outpouring of love and support is what makes me know that I might not be okay today or tomorrow or even next month but morning will come, the tears will subside, laughter will begin to bubble inside of me, and joy will remain.

Thank you for your love and please have patience with me if I’m slow to respond.

45 Miles

I know those miles by heart now.

All 45.

I know the usual traffic patterns, the grooves in the road, the way it looks during day and night, the markers that tell me about how much longer it will take me to get to him.

As much as I lament the 45 minute each way trip, it gives me time to myself. I use this time to catch up on phone calls or get lost in thought. And I cherish it.

It feels like a mini getaway. I get to leave this town and the world that is familiar and venture to something relatively unknown. I try new ice cream shops, grocery stores, and gas stations. I see different faces — always those of strangers. The faces are more diverse down there. The landscape more desert like. The mountains are still to the west and familiar but the peaks are different.

I’ve started to embrace this world that is not mine. To feel like it’s my secret place. The place where I get to be his and no one else’s. Whenever I walk in his door and he takes me in his arms, my heart takes a breath. Like it has been inhaling but forgot to exhale… until I’m there.

Sometimes we’ll go to the backyard and look at the stars. We’ll trace the outline and laugh as we forget which is the big dipper and which is the little. I ask what he thought about the sky when he was a kid and what he wanted to be. We sigh and talk about the past, present, and somedays. Sometimes it will take me by surprise that four months ago I didn’t even know he walked this earth and now I don’t have a day that he doesn’t exist in, in some way or another.

I think about how we got to this place, of knowing each other. The miles that brought us individually to a place of together. How different our journeys have been but how parallel our hearts tracked. I laugh when I think of where I was a year ago and where he was.

The miles have taken their toll differently on each of us. The weariness evident in separate moments that we’re learning to see. Foreign weariness can be hard to identify when you don’t know what you’re looking for. But we’re learning. Mine will creep out in a conversation and I’ll see glimpses of his in the stillness.

There are terrifying moments where I realize I’ve jumped off a cliff and I’m free falling and the whole time I’m thinking “I DONT WANT TO JUMP! GET ME BACK ON THE LEDGE!” But it’s too late and I know my heart had to jump before my brain realized what was happening. I fall and I know I’m safe because he doesn’t hold my heart but He does. I’ve trusted who I am to the only One who can know all of me while also giving it to one who has gently asked if he can have it too.

And so life has become a beautiful, mysterious, confusing, full, wonderful, raw, scary, awakening experience I’m learning how to live. In a way I never could have comprehended was possible.

I never would have dreamed those miles were leading me to you. And I am so glad you are so much more than I could have dreamt up.