When I was 17, I was sexually assaulted.
Things had started very innocently, months before. Friendship turned into workplace flirtation. He would sit in my car after work and just talk with me. He would listen to my immature complaining about parents and school, the usual. He groomed me to trust him. Soon he started putting his arm around me while we talked. I remember one time specifically that I had leaned over and my shirt had come up a little and he fixed it for me. “Wow, I can trust him. He’s safe”, I thought. He built up this trust for a few months with me.
And then, things changed. If I didn’t answer his text, he would call me over and over, drunk, threatening suicide if I didn’t talk to him. I’m not talking 3 or 4 times in a row. I’m talking 20. He started pushing boundaries when we would have our “talks.” I would be frozen, he wouldn’t let me leave. I was still innocent to sexual things. “I have to go, my parents are going to wonder why I’m so late again.” I said this over and over, but he would threaten harm to himself, or launch into an attack on my appearance until my will was defeated. I was stuck. I was lying to my parents constantly about why I was so late coming home from work. A big part of this was that I truly cared about him. I bought us matching bracelets and we wore them all the time. If you look in my old pictures, there are several where I have them on. He fed off of my innocence. He gave me everything a teen girl wants- attention, the feeling of being desired, his intense jealousy. I was not to talk to other guys at work. If I did, he would give me the silent treatment, only to later call me that night over and over, screaming at me to never talk to other guys again. I wanted my dad to protect me from him, but telling my parents about the boy was an even greater fear for me.
Without going into explicit detail, he decided one night that he was going to try and take away something I never would give to him.
Our interaction started off normal, but I quickly realized he was not going to try and pretend to care about me like before. There was a struggle, and my eyes flooded in tears from confusion. But instead of being frozen like before, too scared to fight back, something in me snapped. He would not take this from me. He was easily 30 lbs. heavier than me and determined. He was on top of me, holding me down, and somehow, I shoved him off of me with strength I knew I couldn’t possibly possess. Sobbing and shaking, I asked him why he would do that. He just laughed in my face. He said the most hurtful things he could to me.
In that moment, he was done with me. He knew I would not give him another chance to have me, so he did not need to “woo” me any more. He left me broken, and feeling dead inside. I finally realized how he had been manipulating me for those months.
Over the years by talking to my parents about it and seeking godly council, I have healed from the experience. I do not know anything about his whereabouts, and I seldom think about that night, except when I have women tell me similar stories or I am having “dark” thoughts.
The hashtag #metoo is vital to shedding light on the countless women who go through situations like this and many, worse than this. There are several other instances that I could share, but when I think of the moment that made me feel the most inhuman, ugly, dirty, and broken, this was it. I am a survivor of attempted rape. I never once consented to anything that happened to me. Coersion is not consent. Because I allowed him into my car did not mean that I caused him to try and rape me. Rapist cause rape, not the victim. On that note, speaking to my Christian readers, I hope that we can begin to fight the victim-blaming that has stained Evangelical Christianity. A rapist is going to take what he or she wants, regardless of what a victim is wearing, if they are fully conscious, etc. Yes, some things make it easier. That does not mean someone deserves any harm to come to them AT ALL. How dare you ask a teenage girl what she was wearing, as if she wanted to be assaulted. That makes me sick. Be angry at the sin. Love the victim. If I knew that I would receive unconditional love and support from sharing my story, I would have told it a lot sooner.
If you have been through something like this, or know someone and want to help them, please feel free to e-mail or message me. I would love to listen and share some verses and tactics that helped me through my experience.
This is a picture of me with my family at the time of this incident. You can see the bracelets on my arm.
Exactly one month ago, I started working at a law firm in the bustling city of Wilmington, Delaware.
-Let me preface-
I hate cities. Specifically major ones. Specifically Wilmington, which was third on the FBI’s list of “Most Dangerous Cities” in 2014. Affectionately called “Murder Town” by Newsweek, this is not where I would have envisioned myself. Ever. But here I am, driving busy 95 to work every day and trying to not use choice words at drivers who obviously have never heard of a blinker. Or merging. Or “safety.”
And I’m loving it.
My favorite course in college was Business Law, and I did well in it. I was one of those kids who stayed after class to talk more with the professor- at the cost of being late to my next class. I loved that class because I love being right. That is honestly what it came down to. I enjoy knowing all of the answers so I can outwit an opponent. Before I ever approached my parents with a question, you best believe I had it all worked out (yes, I still run things by them because they let me live at their home and eat their food and torture their cat). Learning law was fun for me, but I viewed it as more of a hobby than something I wanted to dedicate my life to.
Fast forward to my LAST week of Day Camp this summer. I’m stressing because I don’t have a job. I don’t have leads. I have applied to some retail stores and not heard back (REALLY??? I took multiple selling classes!! I am an asset!!).
So I do the usual “Abbie Freak Out” and decide that God has forgotten about me and I should have just married some boring random guy who made a decent amount of money and I definitely missed out on my future and oh no my parents are going to hate me because I’ll probably be living in their basement when I’m 40 and I’m going to have to go back to Chick-fil-A, and I have no friends here, and blah blah, ect.
You’re lying if you say you’ve never had one of these moments.
And then this job hit me smack in the face. Mid-freak out.
(Literally I was freaking out when my friend texted me about the position)
And then I said yes to an interview.
And then I looked up where the company was.
“THE PLACE I AVOID??”
“Okay Lord, I know I’ve been pestering you about a job for a really long time here, but can I like, exchange this job at your “Blessings Store” for something else? Like I know that You’re sovereign and all and You had this planned out since the beginning of time but can I get a refund? Cause I just don’t feel like it’s my size or style and maybe if you gave me something I was really comfortable with…”
And then I started the job.
While my family was out of town.
And I messed up a lot.
And I cried.
And I got a stress migraine on the third day.
And I didn’t have my mom.
And then I kept doing it.
And I got better.
And learned to turn off the AC so Luna could actually drive on the highway.
And people were kind.
And I was accepted.
And I got to learn more about law.
I am learning to love this city, flaws and all. My office is a gorgeous old, creaky house. The massive wooden doors squeak and don’t want to open because the humidity has made them swell. You can hear everyone’s conversations through the whole place (three stories with a staircase going straight up!). I love being in a space that has character. I’m not cooped up in a cubicle, but rather in an airy, open space, with lots of light shining through glass windows that are definitely older than my grandparents. It’s just beautiful, and everyone that comes in says so.
Aside from the 9:00-5:30, life is often lonely. I don’t have my brother, Andrew. I don’t have my college Girl Gang (thank you Facebook Messenger!!). I don’t have my best friend, Sarah. All I have is a stupid cat who gives me nothing but scratches and communicates by hissing. Bless her.
In a strange way, I feel guilty about enjoying my job. I struggle to say that I “love it”, because those words make me feel like I’m cheating on my future goals. If I fully embrace the here and now, is God not going to open up the West for me? Is He going to close the door for my desire to be a business owner? I’m scared to accept that I could be in Delaware for some time, and not where I feel that I would be supremely happy (aka anywhere besides Delaware).
I had a fantastic conversation last night with an older man in my church. Without knowing how I have been feeling about “missing out”, he told me about his life and how he was in the military when he was younger but transitioned to something different and much more mild. He told me that missed the military so much but thought he was through with that stage in life, and then- out of nowhere- he got a job working on fighter jets.
“I get emotional just thinking about it, Abigail”, he said as his eyes got shiny. “God brought back something into my life that I thought had passed.”
That conversation gave me renewed hope when I took 95 this morning. Just because I’m not doing exactly what I want to be doing forever right now doesn’t mean that it’s not in The Plan. And while I’m at it, I’m going to continue to be insanely thankful for this awesome job that dropped in my lap when I didn’t think there was hope. Just like the man’s story, God also brought something back into my life- law.
I am making good changes in my life. I got a premium membership to a gym (my dad is convinced he’s going to go with me), am reading off the chain, engaging in church more, reaching out to people I haven’t talked to since high school, and letting go of past drama that has only ever brought pain into my life. I started a pseudo-anonymous Instagram page just showing my work outfits, and not my face. I have spent many years being ashamed of my body and trying to hide myself in pictures. So naturally I did something that terrified me and created a page that is JUST my body, no face to distract from it.
And while I’m at it-
JUST BECAUSE YOU DON’T LOOK THE EXACT WAY THAT SOCIETY TELLS YOU TO LOOK DOES NOT MAKE YOUR BEAUTY INVALID. YOU’RE ALLOWED TO FEEL GOOD IN CLOTHES, EVEN IF THEY AREN'T A SIZE SMALL. OR MEDIUM. OR LARGE. I refuse and you should refuse to buy into the internal and external lie that you have to be perfectly skinny to enjoy life. That is bogus.
Plus, my cat would hate me at any size.
So life is good, even if I want to be a stinker and not admit it with fireworks and neon signs. It’s like asking your 12 year old sister if she has a crush on a boy and she blushes and denies and denies, but there’s a smile. You know. She has a crush.
That’s how I feel. I have a crush on my life. It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty great.
A little less than two months ago, I said goodbye to my college campus for good. What follows in this post are some of the details of what has transpired in my life since then.
As some of you may know, I did not fully complete my degree when I walked at graduation, because I had switched my major my sophomore year and was behind, but I am being allowed to finish my degree from home. This summer, I am taking 4 classes. I am halfway done the first class, and I start two others this week. Luckily, my job gives me some time to work on my classes, and I have been a frequent visitor of my local Starbucks on evenings. The goal was to finish the classes by August 25th and receive my diploma shortly after, but if I am not able to complete them within that time period, I will not receive it until next year. I admit that I am not content with that. I am not content with waiting to be able to put on my resume that I have my degree. I want to be finished now, but there are constraints that I cannot control such as when classes start and time lapses in communication with my professors.
The other large part of my life has been my job this summer. I did not go back to Chick-fil-A, I knew that it was time to say goodbye to the old place and develop different skills during this summer. I also knew that I really wanted to work with kids and have more responsibility (12 credits plus 40 hours, I know. Crazy.) I knew that my old highschool runs a day camp during the summer, and so I decided to pursue that opportunity and landed a job working with 4 and 5 year olds.
Let me say that this job has been one of the most growing experiences in my life. When I finished my first day of camp, I was driving home and told God that I didn’t think I could do this for the whole summer. I had worked with kids before, but these new kids were just... bad. Not all of them of course, but most of these 22ish kids are not the “church kids” that I was used to. These are kids that don’t necessarily have strong homes, kids who don’t have fathers in their lives, kids who do not know who Jesus is. Kids who are used to their parents giving into them. Undisciplined little munchkins. But there is something so rewarding about a child who comes to you for comfort and who tells you that you are their best friend when everyone else leaves them. I have never felt a stronger maternal instinct than when I do when they are coming into the classroom in the morning. My head spins with questions like “did they get breakfast?”, “will ____ get along well without his mother today?”, “how can I help ____ who looks like she didn’t get enough sleep last night?”
Time and time again I am face to face with my emotional threshold. I am helping to build a sense of basic morality- what is acceptable and what is not- to these children. It is frustrating trying to correct the same actions over and over again and feel as if you are not getting anywhere. But there is no off button, the job must continue. And it is worth it. I have developed such a love for these kids that I have only known for a month. Let me share an extreme example that I am still trying to comprehend:
It was nap time and I was covering up all of the kids with their blankets and rubbing their heads and saying goodnight to them. As I turn off the light and am leaving the room, I hear one of them call out to me.
“Yes, little bean?” (They all share this name.)
“I don’t want you to leave me when I sleep. Can you lay next to me?”
“I’m sorry dear, I have to get some work done. I’ll be right over in the next room, but you’ll see me when you wake up!”
“Do you promise you’ll be here when I wake up?”
“Yes, little bean. I promise.”
As I walked out of the room, my eyes welled up with tears as I realized the hold that these kids have on me. I realized that no matter how many times I have to correct them, put them in time out, get them to apologize, and even write their parents about their behavior, they still are so precious to me. In that moment, nothing else seemed to matter, except that I didn’t want to leave that child. I wanted to keep him safe and in my sight.
I have heard people say that working with kids will either make you want children of your own or none at all. I would say that I personally have only grown to want them more. This job is teaching me so much about child development and how to deal with a child who is frustrated at themselves and you. I wouldn’t trade this task for anything else right now because it is growing me in ways that I know I need help in - unconditional love, patience, and handling intense pressures. I will work here until mid-August, and then say goodbye to these little souls.
So what is after this? I have asked the Magic 8 ball in the toy aisle of Walmart that same question, and still have not received a satisfactory answer. If I somehow manage finish my classes by August 25th, I still want to move to Greenville, or some other place far from Delaware. If not, I will probably stay put in DE for a little longer than I would like. The biggest issues on my mind are a job after this and where I will live. My dad has told me that since I cannot control my circumstances right now, that should relieve pressure. My head and heart seem to be a bit disconnected on this issue.
I want kids, I want a family, I want a nice kitchen with big cupboards and adequate space for all the eggs and cheese and milk. I want my own puppy (or kitten), I want a piano of my own (I would settle for a keyboard.) I want a church that I can serve in where I am not the pastor’s daughter (I have yet to find a church as amazing as LBC.)
I want my own towels and vacuum and silverware.
But God says, “Wait.”
And I say,
Graduation is in two weeks.
I am sitting at the new green space that my campus build a couple of weeks ago. The very impressive water feature is not only gorgeous to look at, but also to listen to.
I will miss this.
Not the tests, not the stress headaches, not the dreaded History of Civ classes. Not Theme 2, not getting my artist series dress approved, not the sketchy dining common ham. Not the mean girls, not the unanswered emails, not the crammed dorm room. Not the washer that last week that didn’t go through the spin cycle, not the demerits, not the early mornings.
I will miss the friends that I have made. I will miss learning. I will miss my professors and the encouragement that they have given me. I will miss chapel, I will miss my roommates, I will miss the beauty of campus in spring. I will miss Artist Series, I will miss my coworkers on campus. I will miss Heritage Bible Church, I will miss being independent and yet secure in my pseudo-adult state. I will miss my coffee shop, and my discipleship group. I will miss seeing so many people that I love multiple times a day.
Four years at a small Christian college has been so challenging. When I think back to freshman Abbie, I do not recognize her. Of course, I still struggle with some of the self-doubt and insecurity, but being here has given me confidence that I am not going out into adulthood unprepared. When I walk across the stage in two weeks exactly, I will know that God proved Himself to me over and over. Many times, I did not think that I would have enough money, or that I could absolutely not pass a class. Even now as I write, there are a plethora of fears in the back of my mind. But Christ is the calm. He has led me this far and my faith has been tested. I have failed a lot. I have made many wrong choices while I have been here. But if I would go through each mistake, I would see the lesson learned. Given the chance, there are a few things that I would change. A few friendships that I should have been more concerned about. A few more people I should have reached out to. I am leaving here with many lessons.
I am excited and nervous about the fall. As I have written before, my plans are to be back in SC in August to live, but there are many factors that need to be worked out before them. A job is the most important, and then we will need an apartment to open for us.
I am so lucky (or blessed, for those who are more spiritual) to have parents who have raised me towards independence, but also who will not let me live on the streets and starve. I want to make them proud and prove myself to them. My motivations towards living on my own tend to be rooted in pride. I don’t want to be dependent on my parents. I want them to be confident that they raised their first child well. Their encouragement to me has been invaluable while I have been stressing out at school, and a phone call with my dad is usually what can turn any day around.
I also always thought that I would be engaged by now. After all, my parents got married on graduation night! Before college, I didn’t really know that there was another way. People in churches often make the innocent mistake of telling new high school grads that college is the only place where there will be a ton of potential mates to choose from, and no doubt where they will meet their future spouse there. This so far has not proven true for me, at least not in the anticipated timeline. I am not engaged, I am not even dating. Circumstances have not allowed for that at the time. But would I want it any other way? Getting married right out of college may be right for some people, but when I honestly take a look at myself, I realize that I have a lot more to learn before I can give my life to someone else. I have experienced my most growth ever spiritually in the past 5 months. My attitude has turned around and I have grown in my love for people around me. I cannot imagine that I could have gone through all of this drastic change and been engaged. I struggle with selfishness and pride. Any man who would have looked at me and saw me fit to be a wife would have been crazy.
Okay enough self-bashing.
But honestly, this is a time of growing for me that would have been extremely difficult with another person. God has been showing me areas of selfishness and pride that I would not have wanted to take into a relationship. He has been softening my heart towards Him. I hope that soon He will give me my heart’s desire to have a family, but the timing for that is completely up to Him. I’m not stressed, I’m not worried. I am content in Him.
This summer will hopefully grow me more in the area of patience. For the first time in 6 years, I will not be working at Chick-fil-A. Yay! This summer will be completely different, as I go home and prepare to launch out on my own. I’ll be learning about insurance and taxes and all of the adult things.
Pray for me if you remember- finances are tight, stress is high, and the future is foggy, but my God is so big, so strong and so mighty and there’s nothing my God cannot do.
The place was gorgeous. I realized that the furnishings wouldn’t come with the apartment, but I could already envision a beat-up $75 couch that we would find at Goodwill. Tay bounced into the kitchen and checked the cabinet depth.
“Oh my GOODNESS, I could fit SO much in here!”
“Taylor… we don’t even have one plate yet...”
“Okay I know, but can you imagine it?!”
“Yeah girl. It’s gonna be awesome.”
I could, and I did imagine it. I would finally have all of the independence that I craved since I was 15. I would set my own guidelines, aside from BJU or my parents. The thought of being on my own, 12 hours from my parents terrified me to pieces, but I was excited to do something scary and leap out into the black ocean of adulthood. My mind worked out all the details obsessively, often during class. I would try to work a little more…while trying to pass accounting… while saving up money to pay for not only rent but also my school bill…but also scrounge up money the two classes I had to take right after I walked in May… and not to mention I had to find a job in Greenville…
Impossible. But it would all work out in the end though, right? Because I wanted it bad enough. I wanted the independence. Honestly, going home and living with my parents hurts my pride. I feel like I should have everything figured out. Going back into a family unit makes me feel uncomfortable. I didn’t want to be one of those kids who had to come home. But the need to exhibit fierce independence and “prove myself” to my parents and friends didn’t mix with the facts- I did not have enough money for my dream. I have always struggled with being logical and not emotional about things- it’s a Witmer weakness. So even while Taylor and I looked through what seemed like the perfect apartment, there was that small nagging in my head that I would not get this complete independence just yet. This would have to wait.
But like most wisdom that pops into my mind, I pushed it down and silenced it. I wouldn’t stop fighting until the very end of this thing. Taylor and I would find jobs in the area and FORCE it to work and it would all be rainbows and sunshine…
And then, I was rerouted. This tends to happen to me a lot. My major (I did not pass my interior design check my sophomore year), relationships, health (I was diagnosed with PCOS two summers ago), friendships, and now, my future roommate for summer. After hearing wisdom from her parents, she had decided that she needed to go home to take a breather from graduation and orient herself to life after college.
But unlike the other routes that I’ve been forced to take in life, this one was shocking and peaceful at the same time. I had silenced the thought of coming home, but then it became my only option. Suddenly, most of the things that I had stressed about seemed to be a lot easier. I would be able to put my money to finishing my two online classes, which honestly needed to be my 1st priority over paying rent. I wouldn’t have to stress about a down payment or a job in Greenville right away.
Also, the thought of being able to spend one more summer with my family was kinda awesome. My family is fantastic. I miss Emma’s curls and Ellie’s piano playing and Daniel’s deep thoughts and Andrew… well I see that boy on campus all of the time, but I miss being able to chill in my room and watching movies with him on a Sunday night. I miss my Mother. She’s like a safe space. I think I could say the craziest things to her and she wouldn’t even flinch. I texted her the other day and told her that the stuffy faculty women here made me miss her sweet spirit. Finally, I miss my dad. I don’t know if anyone can ever understand me as much as my dad does. Even though I know we will struggle with the dynamics of me coming home for the summer, I have never felt like someone was as “for me” as he is. I crave his wisdom, and I need more of it before being able to launch out. I also miss Lighthouse. Even though I have a fantastic church here (Heritage Bible Church), there is something very special about your home church, especially when you’re a PK. I miss the support and love that I find back home. I miss my best friend, Jane, and the amazing times we have together.
I really do not like Delaware. But it gets me for another summer. I will not be returning back to Chick-fil-A for various reasons, but instead will be looking for something temporary. I plan on returning back to Greenville by very late August, and finding a roommate then.
I am so thankful that God intervenes and reroutes us, even when we are so sure we are on the right path. He constantly reminds me that His ways are better, and that I really do not have it all figured out.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.” – Isaiah 55:8
As much as I want to profusely apologize for not writing for so long (something I would always do in my childhood diaries after neglecting them), I would be lying. Apologizing would imply that I meant to write and I never did. But the truth is that I intentionally haven’t written. I have not been ready. I was in a period of healing and a period of flinging myself on God’s promise of faithfulness.
The report is this. In the middle of the turmoil that my soul was going through, God proved Himself to be more faithful than a brother (Prov 18:24). When I cast my hurt and sin and insecurity on Christ, I did not find the rejection of man but the mercy and love of Jesus. When it seemed that everything I was trusting in was taken, I realized that truly, all I had was Christ. I discovered in a new way the sufficiency of God and what that really means to me (2 Cor 12:9). I was confronted with the ugly reality that I was placing my security on what someone would tell me (“you’re funny, smart, beautiful”, etc.), instead of staring at what Jesus is. My identity because synonymous with a relationship, and not with my identity in Christ (Gal 3:27).
I have thanked God countless times for bringing me low. I don’t think I could ever describe the hurt that I felt in the breakup. It was like nerves in my body that I didn’t even know I had lit up in red-hot pain. My heart was set on fire with pitiful agony. My mind went to dark places that I had visited since high school, before my salvation. But if I wouldn’t have been so broken, I would not have realized what I had become. I was mean. Angry. Frustrated. Without peace. That’s what happens when you rely on yourself and people. You cannot live a victorious Christian life as God intended- there is no dependency on Him. Christ is not fickle like us. His love is not there one day and gone the next. He was there the whole time, even if I had not been giving Him room to work in my life. He took my broken heart and filled the cracks with Himself- where He should have been in the first place.
So, four months later, there seems to be respite. I am graduating college (eeek!), looking for a job in Greenville, touring apartments, building my relationships with people, taking risks, and even (slowly) talking to someone. I’m going into this new phase of life with several lessons, the biggest one being that if I try to replace God with someone/thing else, I will not possibly be satisfied or happy. People fail us. We cannot expect them to fulfil us- it is unfair to give that burden to them. My life is currently a potent cocktail of stress and excitement. Money is scarce and my dreams are not. I am excited that I am making my faith my own. College has grown my faith tremendously, which is something that I do not believe would have happened if I was at home. Home is easy and safe, and it can be hard to grow in that kind of environment. My parents are amazing and loving and take care of me. They taught me that prayer is just as an important commodity as money is. But as of right now, the plans are to not return home after I walk in May. We all know Andrew is the favorite anyways, so I know mother will be okay (;
If you happen to pray for me, there are some requests:
*That I would do well in my last semester academically
*That I would not pull back into my shell, but I would show God’s love to those around me
*That I would find a job in the Greenville area quickly
*That God would provide needed funds
*That God would tune my heart with His concerning my decisions
*That I would stay faithful to reading the Word and prayer
If someone made a video of all of my “expectation vs. reality moments”, I’m sure I would be as famous as the Kardashians and never have to finish my degree or get a real job. It’s extremely comical the way that my mind works- stitching together these ridiculous plots and what I “expect” will happen in the next scene of my life. I take forever to do my hair, just to step outside and have my curls wrecked by the rain. I make sure my eyeliner is perfect, just to have “that person” not be in class. And even if they had, they probably wouldn’t have noticed. But my mind threw together some Cinderella plot (the kind where I get engaged before chapel), so I went the extra miles to try to help God work all of it out.
A long-time friend of drama, these past two quiet months have shaken me up more than my normal bae-filled life ever has (well, I’ve had some crazy boyfriend moments which may take the cake). I’ve pretty much have been steadily in relationships since 8th grade, and this phase is… uncomfortable. I’ve been faced with the ugly truth that I, in fact, crave attention.
Okay I know you all definitely knew that but HEY, let me slowly accept the truth J. But even when the attention comes (it has a couple of times), it doesn’t leave me happy- just wanting more. And the romantic side of this Christmas season doesn’t do much to help these feelings, either. Is it bad that I want someone that I can spend money on? My friends have benefited from my love of buying gifts, but I’m pretty sure I ordered all of Colourpop.
There isn’t much of a resolution to this post- but I knew that I needed to write to take a breather from my finals, and Temperance is my baby- I missed it.
There are definitely a few perks of being single that I have enjoyed:
As much as I definitely want to find a hunky man and get married and have a bunch of big-cheeked babies, I am really enjoying being single. Seriously. It has made me brave. And the thought of moving out west by myself, finding an awesome church to get plugged into, having an apartment to myself and maybe a dog (recovering cat-aholic) and being flexible sounds like a pretty sweet plan right now.
But if I’ve learned anything in these 21 years, expectation doesn’t equal reality. Who knows what tomorrow will bring.
As many of you know, I went through a difficult breakup a little over a month ago. I have been thinking about what to write for the longest time- but I’ve needed to be away, just to heal. A year with someone creates very deep knits between souls, and the ripping apart is/was something unlike I had ever experienced. But back to the blog. Different subjects danced through my mind- the election, personal struggles with racial tension, friendships, etc., but I was very unsure about writing about the breakup because I know that his family reads this, and I do not intend for this to be in any way hurtful.
So this is not about him. *sigh of relief*
This is about what I have learned through it, and how I have grown.
I have been given amazing roommates this year. Taylor and Katherine are some of the sweetest girls I have ever met. When I walk into my room, it’s like coming home. I’m always welcomed with a smile and “I missed you! How was your day?” For the majority of the semester (i.e., while I was dating), I have not felt very engaged in the love that was shared with me in the room. I kind of like being by myself and having a “lone ranger” attitude when it comes to roommates. I let them be kind and sweet to me, but I found that it was very hard to be that back. I blamed it on my north-east mind set. “I don’t really have to be genuinely nice to the people around me because back in Delaware, people just ignore each other.” I would feel almost offended when people I didn’t know would talk to me on campus. I didn’t make eye contact with anyone, didn’t talk to the girls in my society, and just generally tried to take from people. I wasn’t interested in cultivating and growing friendships around me because, hey… it’s my last year to be in this place, so I just will be content with my boyfriend and best friend and call it a day. Those were the two friendships I wanted around me, so I just kind of blew off everyone else.
But God gives and God takes away. And God took away what was dear to me, and what I had placed my security in. And no matter how angry I got at Him and no matter how much I cried that it wasn’t fair, God knew best. And deep down, I knew it needed to happen. I knew it wasn’t right. But I had been so lazily content. I didn’t have to trust God anymore because we had worked out the future, and I was just going to get married like everyone else and that would be it. I let security paint over doubts and stuffed hard questions into the deep drawers of my mind. I loved the idea of love and being loved. I didn’t pray about the problems because I didn’t want things to change.
But with the heartbreak came growth. As much as I love my best friend Sarah, she couldn’t take all my grief by herself. She helped a lot, but I knew that I needed to reach out to people again. Talk to others around me. Smile at people. Give up the hard exterior that was my protection. Let myself be vulnerable to be loved again, not by just a boy, but people and friends in general.
So this is hopefully the start of something better, the start of a fresh Abbie who is letting God work in her. If you know me, please help me in this journey. Loving people like Christ loves me is sometimes a struggle for me. Please forgive me if I have hurt you in the past, or have been insensitive. I am a work in progress.
“When you discipline a man with rebukes for sin,
you consume like a moth what is dear to him;
surely all mankind is a mere breath! Selah”
THE NIGHT BEFORE
10:30 pm - Take one Benadryl with water, or dry swallow if you’re feelin’ lucky. Your body has never much liked falling asleep and you tend to think and stress before bed so hey, use all the help you can.
12:15 pm - Get serious about falling asleep. Seriously. OH AND DON’T FORGET TO SET THOSE ALARMS, ABIGAIL.
5:25 am – First alarm goes off. Force yourself to get on your phone and get your brain going. These next 10 minutes are crucial to the success of your day. Scroll through Instagram. Realize that hardly anyone posts between 12:15 pm and 5:25 am. Switch to Facebook. IF I HAVE TO SEE ANOTHER POST ABOUT DONALD TRU---onto Snapchat.
5:35 am – Second alarm goes off. Second and LAST alarm. Stare up at your bunk ceiling. “Must I really do this every morning? Can’t I just eat less today and not do this?”
What to do in this situation (what works for me)
5:40 am- Throw on clothes, grab wristlet, earbuds, and Camelbak bottle. Fill with water and LOTS of ice (room temperature water in the morning makes me gag.)
5:50 am- Walk to the gym. It’s still very dark outside. The moon and stars are shining. This is a perfect time to think about all of those clown sightings in Greenville and about how there’s no public safety in sight and you forgot to grab your mace and ABIGAIL STOP THINKING YOU’RE GOING TO GET KIDNAPPED JUST GET TO THE GYM.
6:00 am- Arrive at the gym. Be sad that one person got there before you did.
6:01- 6:15 am - Focus on either core, legs, or arms.
6:15- 6:45 am- Cardio Fest. Usually the elliptical. Okay, always the elliptical. I have weak ankles, okay?
6:45- Snap your sweat-dripping forehead to all your friends who definitely do not care and head back for an amazing shower.
7:05 am- Congratulations. You are fully awake before almost everyone else on campus, and you have 2 hours before you have to be in class. Study, go to breakfast, go back to sleep, read, write on your blog, do whatever you want! You have already been productive.
So this is what I do every weekday morning. Sometimes I will get a Saturday work out in, but not normally. If you have any questions or tips for me, PLEASE email me at firstname.lastname@example.org! Thanks for reading :)
Have you ever gotten so deeply entrenched in something- maybe a friendship, hobby, job, relationship, social media, tv show, etc.- that you forgot to “look up?” Maybe one thing has been dominating your life for a while now, and without it you feel like you are stranded in the middle of the ocean. This one person or thing has become an anchor for you, something reliable that will always be there.
I am guilty of this on multiple levels. I choose a thing or person and shift my focus solely on them. Maybe on a small scale, like me, you have the familiar feeling of attempting to click “next episode” on Netflix, only to find that
“WHAT?! YOU HAVE TO BE KIDDING ME. NO. IT CAN’T BE OVER. THEY CAN’T DO THIS TO ME. I CAN’T FUNCTION WITHOUT ANOTHER EPISODE. “
Your dependence on this one show has created an addiction, and when it is not provided anymore, there is “suffering.” (I experienced this with Parks and Recreation, and every time after I watch a Pirates of the Caribbean movie- I’m actually supposed to be a pirate, just don’t tell my parents.)
Now. I totally understand that TV shows, on the broad scale of life, are not that important. But this same feeling of depravity after something is cut off or temporarily unavailable can be applied to our friendships/relationships. I have always been a one-best-friend type of person. Even though I do generally have a good number of friends, I am prone to pour all of my effort and energy into one individual. I tend to get jealous when they are with other people. I become dependent on their love. I want them to be dependent on me, also. I want them to think that I’m their ‘best friend “also. It’s selfish, I acknowledge it, and God has worked in my heart for many years over this reoccurring issue.
So what happens when you don’t have that person in your life anymore? I’ve lost many of those “best friends” over the years. Maybe we started to go in different directions, maybe there was an unresolved fight, etc. Each time a “best” friendship goes south, it has forced me to get outside of my box. I have to reconnect with those “lesser” friendships that I had neglected. I made that person my idol, and pushed all of my dependency onto them. Sometimes the relationship is salvageable, sometimes it’s not.
As good as it feels to have one person be your all, it is wrong. First of all, you limit the influence that comes into your life. Usually the people closest to me are people that agree with me. We will come to the same conclusions on most things, and they will have pretty much the same views on life and theology as me. Proverbs 13:30 talks about walking with the wise and BECOMING wise. This person is being effected by the people around them. She is choosing to be with more mature, wise believers and they are influencing and changing her. They are different than her, in a good way. She is actively growing, something that might not happen with her closest friend- the one that is very similar to her.
The second problem that will arise with one person being your all, is that you have put your trust in a human, who will ultimately fail you at one point or another. It is embarrassing how many times I have expected a best friend or boyfriend to have just the right words, or understand exactly how I am feeling. And time and time again, I am let down. Now this isn’t to say that they aren’t wonderful people, but… they are human. I have made the mistake of trusting someone to help me solve problems that they cannot POSSIBLY solve. God is the only one who I can consistently trust. Jeremiah 17:5 hits the nail on the head, “Thus says the Lord: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the Lord.” We cannot allow ourselves to put people in the place of God. He is righteously jealous, and has the power to remove things or people that are in His place.
One last thing. As a Christian (especially if you’re at a Christian college), there are many wonderful people that you don’t know yet. You can look at these people from a networking standpoint- we’re all here to get degrees, anyways- and you can also, and more importantly, look at them as members of the body of Christ. Christ is our Head, and as the church, we make up the body. We need each other, and in this case, dependency is good! God has gifted us with different spiritual gifts and all are needed for growth. If you just stick with your one friend, or maybe your tightly knit “squad”, you are neglecting other parts of the body. People you need. People who have had similar struggles in life and can help you. With Christ at the center, we are able to build each other up and sharpen each other.
I don’t want you to think that I’m saying having a best friend is bad (I have one!), and obviously, marriage is an incredibly deep relationship where God makes you one unit. I’m talking about those friendships or relationships that replace God. That do not make room for Him.
So let’s ask ourselves what boxes we have put ourselves in. What friendships have become controlling and all-encompassing. Am I pursuing God’s approval or my friends? Would I be okay if God took this person away from me? Where do I get my ultimate satisfaction in life? Is it Someone lasting?