My head was cradled against his shoulder. Both of us quiet as my tears slipped down my face, staining his shirt.
I sniffled and attempted to apologize for getting his shoulder wet.
He grinned down at me, “hey, don’t worry about it. There’s alot more shirt if you need it.” And he stroked my hair as I let the emotion pour from my eyes.
There were so many things I wanted to say, I tried to say, I needed to say. For someone who uses lots of words, I was surprisingly mute.
I sniffled again and ran my hand against his cheek.
“Some day I hope I get to tell you all the ways the Lord has used you to redeem my heart and my story. But for now, I don’t have enough words to tell you the enormity of the gift you’ve given me. Of being able to be myself and that who I am is okay.”
Tears filled my eyes again.
Because its true.
I whispered a confession then that I could never hate him for anything because he had given me that gift.
So when the night came when things abruptly ended, I echoed those words.
“I’m not mad at you. I don’t hate you. You aren’t a villain in my story.”
I don’t know if he believed me but there’s nothing I can do to make it any truer. Redemption doesn’t always come tied up with a neat little bow. It doesn’t always come in a shiny package. It doesn’t always complete without pain. But it does make us new. It shows us we are no longer who we used to be. It shows us how we’ve chosen better, how we’ve obeyed, how we’ve grown, how we’ve learned to love Jesus first and most.
Much of my life has been about hiding who I am. Trying to make myself less, trying to minimize my needs and my desires, trying to ask for very little. I kept a mental score of how much I was requiring of the person I was with.
But all of that changed knowing him, I changed knowing him.
I found beautiful parts of who I am. I found ugly parts of who I am. I found courage and depth and strength. I found fear and insecurity and doubt. I found myself finding myself.
I’ve been sorting through the threads of him and the threads of me and the threads of us as I fight forward, taking steps toward tomorrow. I know many of the threads must be severed and some can be saved. Yet I take care to keep the ones Papa spun out of the old and turned into something new.
Because this Missionary man who was mine gently softened some of my sharper edges. He waded through the mess of what remained from the Jock, wiped off the dirt, and showed me that beauty remained. He saw a heart worth loving for a season and did his best to care for me.
I dated the Jock and the Missionary for almost the exact same amount of time. Through the same months, as winter turned to spring and spring turned summer. We had some of the same conversations, some of the same disagreements, some of the same tensions. Yet each time they were vastly different. One cut deep wounds and one healed them. One used his words to tear me down and one used them to bring life. One pulled me into himself and the other turned me back to Jesus.
And I got to be different. I got to be better. I got to love deeply and stay obedient. I was given a second chance at love. The lingering wounds left over from the Jock, which I believe were truly meant to be healed by the Missionary, were covered with a sweet balm and given a chance to heal instead of a constant ripping wide open.
Even though it was a season, it was a season I would choose 100x times over. It’s a season I’ll be forever grateful for and not regret. It’s a season that made me a better woman. It’s a season that sanctified me. It’s a season that redeemed me. It’s a season that restored me.
Last summer I prayed that I would be given a double blessing of what I had lost.
Last fall I was told I was going to get four-fold the blessing of what I had lost.
This summer I found a double blessing of what I had lost.
Which means I can’t wait to see what is coming next.