When my biological father gave me up, I wondered what it was about me that made it so easy to let me go.
When my high school boyfriend broke up with me for the other girl, I couldn’t help but wonder what she had that I lacked.
When the first man I ever loved broke my heart, I cried into my pillow, feeling like I would never again find that feeling I had when I was with him.
When I told the cute boyfriend in college, “I love you,” and he thereafter ghosted all my calls, I wondered what made me so easy not to love.
Broken girls become broken women, lacking love, yet seeking it desperately. I always put so much stock in how others felt about me. I was the new kid on the block who just wanted to be your friend, or the quiet girl pining for the cool guy, drawing secret doodles of his name in study hall. A people pleaser by nature, like a loyal pup longing to have its ears scratched while hearing, “yes, you’re a good girl.”
It sounds quite absurd putting it out there like that, but in hindsight I can see the desperation of my past. Like Pavlov’s dogs, I longed for a reward, and my ear was always tuned towards the ringing of the bell. I was eager in my relationships, yet skittish to reach out, if that makes sense. Having learned from an early age that the people you love will definitely leave you, I was hesitant to make new friends, but boy oh boy, did I long for them. I wanted to be wanted, while simultaneously fearing hurt.
I fit into the military like a missing puzzle piece. It was easy to excel when all you had to do was what someone else told you to do.
Right away, sir.
Of course, I was top of the class when it came to following commands. Being told exactly what to do is easy; having the courage to step out on your own volition, that’s a bit harder.
As a young woman I felt my body was a weapon, something I could use to my advantage. Like a carrot on a string, dangled to draw attention, but pulled away in hopes a chase would ensue.
Sometimes often times not pulled away at all.
In my first marriage, I was the doting wife. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, per se, but I know I would have done anything to please him. I would, and sometimes did, forgo the woman I was meant to be in order to become the woman I thought he wanted. My desire to be a good wife was probably crippling to us both. I think sometimes he longed for me to fight back, to argue when I was right, but instead I just said, “I’m sorry.”
I was always sorry. Sorry I wasn’t pretty enough, good enough, desirable enough. Through the long string of failed relationships prior to my first marriage, I had been the same. If I was desired, I felt like I was enough. But if I was rejected, I felt severely lacking. I based my worth on the measurement from others, honestly people who were just as broken as myself. Empty souls longing for something real, something to fill the void.
When my first husband told me he didn’t love me anymore, I felt a pain like no other. In hindsight, I think a wound that started long before was ripped open that night. A never truly-healed trauma that I only added to year after year. He was just fuel on the fire of an already broken heart. He didn’t do the breaking of my heart; he was just the straw that broke the camel’s back.
After almost thirty years of seeking love and coming up empty I had hit the bottom of myself. And in that cellar place I sat in the tattered rags of my wrecked life.
I cried out to God. I’m not sure what gave me the courage. After all, I had run from His presence. Though He promised the heart of a Father I had not been shown initially, or the lover I longed for, I had in actuality rejected Him. I had turned my head at His nod of affection, I had ignored His calls time and time again. Why would He want me back? A scorned woman, broken forever, incapable of being loved. Yet…
He answered me. In the pit of my own making, He shined His light. In the desert place I had intentionally wandered into, He gave me living water. He gave me the thing I had always wanted. He loved me regardless. Despite my failures.
He wooed me over time. Sinful man causes a woman to hide within herself, building up a wall to keep the good away. A broken woman thinks she can only have pain. But He was patient with me, calling me softly, closer day by day.
You see, before God could bring me substantial love here on earth, in the arms of another, He had to teach me what love was, or rather what He intended it to be. He had to show me my real self, the one He created, the one He saw when He looked at me. This woman’s worth wasn’t dependent on how others felt about her, but on His opinion of her. This woman learned her worth in Jesus, that her life was worth dying for. Christ taught me how to love myself. And I realized that was independent of any man.
I was once a broken woman, born into poverty, immediately raised in rejection, stacked on top of a sinful world. I grew into a woman broken again and again, allowing the pain others piled on me to melt into my image of self. The cracks were many, at one point loosely held together by nicotine and alcohol, but that is a story for another day. Today, suffice to say, I reckon we’re all broken in one way or another, just some of us more often.
I was a broken woman, looking for love in all the wrong places, blind to the fact that true love had pursued me from day one. I was a broken woman, mended by acceptance, proven worthy by His sacrifice, and healed by His Holy affections.
I am a healed woman, strengthened by His truth, loved beyond measure, no more lacking. I am a woman filled, overflowing with joy, confident in His good grace, blessed by His mercy. I no longer look for love. I have found it. A lasting love that never leaves. And each day forward I strive to pour out that love to everyone I encounter. Because you never know who else you meet that might be broken too.