As I’m sure most of you were also, I was told my entire life “Don’t step into a relationship until you’re ready!” and it sounded like solid advice to me—until the Lord called me to step into a relationship I was not remotely ready for.
I remember clearly hearing the Lord tell me to step into a relationship with my now boyfriend, Elliott, just a few months after my last breakup and my dad’s passing. I wasn’t even close to being healed from either one. My heart was still very freshly wounded, and I knew it would be for some time.
When I was sure it was the Lord calling me to be with Elliott, I remember sitting in my room weeping and begging the Lord to not make me be in a relationship again. I just had my heart torn into pieces just months before, I was not willing at all to put my heart out there to potentially get my it shattered again. I was also freshly grieving the loss of my dad. I was the farthest from ready as any human possibly could be—the only thing I was ready for was to never be in a relationship again.
Something I’m currently learning in my relationship with Elliott is how hard it is to be loved correctly after being loved wrongly by men my entire life. After so many relationships of being loved incorrectly and treated wrongly, it’s what the brain grows used to (no, literally. Trauma quite literally rewires the brain), and anything opposite of that is extremely difficult to grow accustomed to, resulting in a lot of very intense emotion and backlash. Your brain recognizes being treated wrongly as natural and normal, so when someone comes along to love you how you were intended to be loved all along, it’s natural to push that away because your fight or flight kicks in, thus making being in the right relationship a challenge I wasn’t ready to face.
After being hurt countless times by men, it’s natural for me to assume that Elliott will hurt me in the same way. There are times where my brain convinces me that he’s going to do something that one of my exes did and I’ll end up pushing him away so it hurts less when he does it. It’s a constant battle and reminding myself that Elliott is not my ex. He is pure, kind, and not abusive in any way, shape, or form.
Being in wrong relationships has made being in the right one next to impossible. Rewiring my brain to be loved correctly is one of the biggest battles of my life, but I know Elliott is the right one because he’s never once lost his patience or grace with me as I heal and remember that how he treats me is exactly how I should have been treated my entire life. When the Lord called us to be together, my heart wasn’t ready to be in another relationship and neither was my brain.
You can rarely be truly “ready” for a relationship.
Every human has their own baggage to heal from. If you wait until you’re “healed,” “whole,” or “ready,” you’ll be waiting your entire life—I promise. Of course, be healed to a certain extent, but complete healing is unreasonable and a false expectation.
Being in a relationship with a seemingly endless amount of trauma to heal from is actually so bittersweet—it sucks and it hurts, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I told Elliott the other day “I would rather suffer with you than be the happiest girl in the world with someone else” because it’s true! I love being able to walk through hardships with Elliott. He’s the love of my life through the good and the bad.
The Lord chose the right man to help me heal from those two traumas with patience, grace, kindness, and a whole lot of empathy. I can say with full confidence that I would not be nearly as healed as I am now if the Lord didn’t choose Elliott to help me and be by my side through it all.
If you feel as if you’re “ready” for a relationship, I encourage you to do a heart check. Do you feel ready because you’re lonely, or do you feel ready because the Lord has been preparing and refining you for such a time as this? If you’re ready for a relationship, make sure you’re also ready to be a husband or wife.
Relationships are always changing.
One thing that relationships aren’t is consistent. Our wants, needs, and desires change. Life happens. Jobs change. Loved ones pass. Moves happen. Our worlds are constantly changing, meaning that our relationships are constantly changing. Relationships are just learning one another over and over and over. And not just learning each other, but yourselves.
Relationships force you to be painfully self aware—you become aware of how truly broken & messed up of a person you are, but you also become aware of how great and grace filled of a person you can be. As much as relationships require grace for the other person, they require just as much grace for yourself.
You cannot enter into a relationship expecting your person to remain the same as they are when you first met—if you do, you’re setting yourself up for heartbreak and disappointment. Both Elliott and I are completely different people than when we first met. I mean completely. I don’t even recognize the man that he was when I first met him a year ago.
When we first started dating, he also wasn’t even remotely ready for a relationship. He had his own baggage to work through, but just as the Lord chose Elliott to help me heal, He also chose me to help Elliott heal. It’s God’s kindness, really, that we both stepped into a relationship with each other that we weren’t ready for.
Healing is the most messy, broken, and painful process this life has to offer, but it’s a gift to be able to do it with your significant other that God chose for you. Life is constant healing. It’s ok if you don’t feel healed enough for a relationship—if it’s the right one, it’ll actually help you heal, grow, and learn.
Our relationship has consisted of a lot of long-suffering, but it’s also resulted in even more sanctification—both of us looking more and more like Jesus with each hardship we overcome. Being in a relationship with the person that God chose for you is one of the most beautiful and holy things that life has to offer. It’s truly the sweetest gift I have ever received—aside from salvation.
So if you get one thing from this, get this:
Please make sure your next relationship is the right one.
It’s ok if you don’t feel as ready as you hoped you would, but please do not step into a relationship without cautious consideration, lots of time on your face before Jesus, approval by Godly mentors and pastors in your life, and most importantly, a “yes” from Jesus. He’ll make it clear to you. He is not a God of confusion, but of consistency and clarity.
Emotions tend to be incredibly high when stepping into a new relationship that it can be quite literally blinding, so please learn the difference between discernment and emotion—just because something seems good & feels good does not make it good.
Guard that precious heart the Lord gave you. It’s ok if you’re single longer than you hoped if it means that heart of yours is staying protected and satisfied in Jesus. Forget the pressure of Christian culture—there truly is no rush.
Remember, just because he may be a man of God does not mean he is your man of God and just because she is a woman of God does not mean she is your woman of God.
Don’t pass up a potentially God-sent relationship just because you feel as if you’re not ready for one. Healing, growing, & learning together is a precious gift.