some names have been changed or omitted in this post
It was a question I didn't expect to be asked.
And in the last place I ever expected to be asked the question.
Seriously? I thought to myself noting the irony... how and why do these types of things happen to me? Was I on "Punked" or something and just hadn't gotten the memo? It was rather amusing the way life happened sometimes, I thought to myself.
As we both sat there at the tiny table for two enconsed in a back corner of Starbucks... connected ironically to a place... building... offices I once knew like the back of my hand where I'd once worked many moons ago as a receptionist... where I had met Jeremy a lifetime ago, I watched as couples hand in hand sidled up to the counter to order coffees and hot chocolates that chilly December morning laced with sugar and peaks of whipped cream. Couples in late morning post workout clothes outnumbered the folks in office attire. I sat across from my friend dressed in black leggings and an oversized faded turquoise sweatshirt.
"An old flame? Yeah, that's definitely a tough one." I affirmed to her, tossing my leopard spotted wallet back into my oversized bag by my feet.
She stared at me blankly with surprise, then shrugged with frustration and looked down at the smooth table "Yeah... ugh..." She told me with a sigh resignedly. "I don't know what to do... I'm so conflicted about this. I mean, the couple friends I've opened up to I regretted it. They were so harsh with me. They told me to not contact him at all… they told me to just stay as far away as possible. But I really do value our past and wish on some level we could keep in touch. Is that wrong?"
Years ago my mind would have screamed Get. Me. Out. Of. Here. and my eyes would have darted toward the exit as if I could just magically propel myself toward it like a comet and disappear. But where I'd once been weak I was now strong. I knew letting her see my own past angst and pain from it would make her not feel so alone… on what she likely felt to be a desolate island.
I tugged at my leather bracelet hugging my right wrist
stamped with the word LOVE and began…
"I've been there. I personally know what you are going through."I admitted to her... "God, do I know." I added dryly. "I've been in the depths of this myself… not sure what to do… really hurting, incredibly confused and overwhelmed. I've experienced the conflicting within… the struggle. And it is the hardest thing." I added and then with thought continued… " I'm not surprised by their response in what they told you. And they have every good intention, really they do… please don't be mad at them." I stressed to her… "They just don't want to see you do something you'll regret, to hurt yourself or him. Nearly the majority of those you talk to about this situation will have that response…." I trailed off, collecting my thoughts. I paused… "This is what I would consider and then you will have to take some time to mull it all over and make a decision. " I told her.
She sipped her coffee…
"Okay," she nodded leaning forward.
I dabbed at the whipped cream atop my hot chocolate with a stirrer as I began...
"If someone hasn't been through this it's often hard for them to see the mixed feelings and emotions. They may not realize the enormous guilt you feel and the struggle with the idea of reaching out, re-connecting with them. For people outside of it, who have never experienced it, it's easy for them... it can be very black and white thinking. It's a big blinking sign to them of 'DO NOT ENTER' and 'no, no, no!' Which... honestly… depending on where you are at emotionally, is right, wise, and sound advice. Here's the thing... to keep in mind when considering reconnecting with someone you cared for and or loved in your past... what are your intentions? You may first be curious. Or you may be missing them, yearning for what could or should have been. You may be wondering if they feel the same way. They may be happily married, they may be miserably married or they may be single and fancy free. You just don't know. But regardless if they are miserable, regardless if they are regretting losing you, regardless if they would want a re-do... if they are married, they are married. Period. Marriage is to be respected. Marriage is hard enough without adding a re-connection to the mix for goodness sakes. If they are married and you are married, that's a real reality.... of course, in your case, you aren't married." I added. She grinned and I continued...
"But hypothetically if he's married and all you can have is a friendship... will you accept that?"
I asked her pointedly.
She looked troubled, angst showing on her pretty face.
I knew that look.
"Okay... let's look at it this way then..." I proposed. "Let's say he's married with the picket fence and the two point five kids, whatever. You have choices… you can choose to not reach out or to reach out. If you reach out it has to be as friends only. Those are the two choices... it's not the choice of instantly living out a fantasy of married life to him if that's where you're at. I'd say no contact if you are not in a good place and expect something of him. In that case, heed the advice of your other friends… keep the door shut. God doesn't wish for us to cause strife, turmoil and pain for others. Love is supposed to be selfless, not selfish. Love is also peace-seeking.Look to Corinthians regarding love. If you believe you are in a place of peace, drawing wisdom and strength from God, proceed with friendship. Take your mental picture of what 'it should have been' in your mind out... remove it just momentarily and instead look at what remains. Realistically the two choices are... would you rather have zero contact or at least be able to be friends? And the next question is, will you choose to do that?" I asked her.
GOD NEVER APPROVES OF US BEING WITH SOMEONE WHO IS MARRIED
She traced the top of her cup with her long French manicured index finger and pondered what I was saying. "When put like that, yes. I mean, I'd rather have him in my life as a friend than not at all." She admitted.
I nodded "Because you care about him that much." I affirmed as a statement instead of a question.
She nodded "Yeah... I do care about him. And I'd never want to do anything to cause him hurt." She shot me a look of relief. "You've really made it easier to look at this." She told me and looked grateful. "I value what I had with him even if it wasn't long term. I value him. I would rather have a friendship than nothing." She nodded "I mean... I wish we had ended up together but we didn't... and the truth is...." She trailed off, focusing on a frayed corner of her napkin in her hands.
"You still care for him." I winced for her struggle.
She nodded with no words.
My heart ached for her like the earth did on a cloudy day for the sun. Cast in the shadows of the corner table her face just barely revealed tears forming in her hazel eyes that matched her drapey sweater and offset her black jeans and boots. Her dark blonde hair in a messy bun resembled a halo around her head as she picked up the frayed napkin from the table to daintily wipe at the corners of her wet eyes.
"I'm sorry it's been so hard...." I told her softly… we sat in quiet comforting silence together… then I spoke, "This isn't easy... trust me, I know... But like I said... you have to be honest with yourself and ask yourself the tough questions. There are those who will tell you to stay far away and don't go there. And if you have expectations of him you should listen to them. Only you know. If you are secretly looking for reconciliation from him don't go there. If he was to seek something from you while married then you know it's a no go and you need to run and not look back. If you look at the situation from a peaceful, mature, holy perspective… if you look at your two choices…. keeping the door shut or choosing friendship... and keep it as only friendship if you are both or one of you married… then choose friendship. Choose love. And I obviously don't mean a romantic love. I mean an agape love. You deeply cared for this man at one time and clearly still do on some level... what a great opportunity to share Christ-like love toward him in friendship. There's no regret there... how beautiful to be able to include him in your life and share the beauty, the highs and lows, the person you've become... with authenticity and warmth, with no expectations, no pressure, no awkwardness…. We can love as one caring Christian to another, keeping with God's standards, not our own, not the world's... what a beautiful testament of life... our feelings may try to imprison us… the devil will use our weaknesses to destroy us but what ultimately wins? What ultimately covers all hurt, pain and loss? Not more pain, not more hurt, illusions or grief. Not shutting the door. Not stuffing our feelings and acting like it didn't happen. Not denying your feelings. But love. Love heals all." I told her boldly….
"Love always makes everything better, because when it's peace seeking it becomes healing and it's glorious." I told her with joy in my eyes and smiled at her. "It's maybe not about reconciliation at all... when we remove that out of the equation, we realize maybe it's about growth and becoming more of who you are meant to be. Maybe it's about loving someone without expectation. Maybe it's loving more like Jesus." I spoke.
"And who knows... " I trailed off... "Maybe he will become available one day and you can give it a second shot. The statistics show that happens more frequently than we may realize*. And statistics also show those relationships have a high chance at success. But if it doesn't happen? Or if he does become available and he's simply not interested? It's comparable to sitting and watching a pot boil... you have to live your life. You can't sit and wait. Maybe his part in your story is over but if it is... someone better suited is coming. Because God has a plan... He's not making this up as He goes along. He has someone in mind for you. We cause ourselves stress trying to figure out everything in life. Just trust God's plan for you. Pray for the man God has in mind for you. You can never go wrong there." I smiled at her.
She sniffed and wiped at her nose with her napkin... and took a deep breathe, then exhaling. "Thank you " She smiled. "Bless you... thanks for listening and helping me wade through this... you've given me the most help... just trying to look at this... it's tough when you're in it, you know?" She asked and I nodded understandingly.
Man, did I ever.
I had waded through those rough waters years ago myself and knew them firsthand... I was incredibly blessed to have swam to the other side... to shore and to be at a place of peace and love... we may flail about in life but God won't let us drown... He reaches in and guides us to a place of where the waters sweep the sand... where the seashells glimmer like midnight moonbeams and you wash up on shore... your cheeks flushed from exertion, your tears mixed with the salty drops of ocean water... and you lay there in sweet limp surrender to Him and say "I just want peace. I just want light. I just want to be free."
...and He infuses you with peace... your body transforming from heavy and burdened to lithe and free... and with peace comes love... with free comes the ability to now share that love... unchained from the past, no expectations... to walk, skip and run with joyful abandon because where we were once weak we become strong... it's not the strongest who survive and inspire... it's those who have been weak, surrender and then thrive.
© gps-gracepowerstrength.blogspot.com ~ 2014
* Dr. Nancy Kalish, Ph.D. has been doing research on reunited couples since 1993 and is recognized as an international expert on rekindled love. Check out her book Lost & Found Lovers: Facts and Fantasies of Rekindled Romances. You can check out her website: www.lostlovers.com