When I was in college, I got involved in a relationship I shouldn’t have been in. The relationship was a toxic and dangerous one, but I didn’t realize that until a couple of weeks into it. I should have broken up with him then, but I was too afraid. My reasons for staying with him were deeply rooted in several lies I believed: lies I told myself and lies he told me. Those lies kept me in that relationship for seven months. In the end, after much prayer and listening to the counsel of close friends, I broke up with him. It took a forced separation for me to see the depth of the lies and to recognize the truth in the situation. Here are a few of the lies I caught after the fact:
Lie #1: It’s okay to ignore the things my brain is telling me because my heart is hearing what it wants. I read a quote from Joy Eggerichs one time that basically said that, and it resonated with me. I immediately thought of this particular relationship. The guy I dated said a lot of pretty things that nobody had ever said to me. And I liked hearing those things a lot. Unfortunately, the pretty things often covered up some less-than-honorable motives. When we first started dating, I tried to take his words at face value. I tried to believe he thought I was beautiful, and I tried to believe he would do whatever it took to protect me. But pretty quickly it became very obvious that those things were only words. My heart and mind were at war. My mind told me the things he said were lies because his actions didn’t match up. My heart said it didn’t matter because at least I was finally hearing the things I had missed in high school.
Lie #2: If I don’t hold onto him, I’ll never find anyone else. This was a major self-esteem issue for me. In high school, I’d never been asked to dances or on any dates and I believed it was because there was something wrong with me. Of course that was totally not true, but my heart felt bruised because of that. So when this guy expressed interest I wondered if he was going to be as good as it got. Because of that I decided to stay with him…you know, just in case nobody else would come along. Obviously that’s called settling. And that’s stupid. Settling is miserable, and it steals us of the opportunity to have God’s best simply because we’re afraid.
Lie #3: If I’m not here for him, nobody else will be either. The guy I dated had some significant emotional issues stemming from deep hurts in his life. When we were together, he hadn’t worked through those things. Instead of finding a good counselor to help him, he depended on me to make him feel whole. There were several times when he would tell me, even after we broke up, that he needed me to help him get through the difficult things he was experiencing. Instead of realizing that he could find other friends or professional help to guide him as he processed his problems, I believed him when he said he couldn’t manage life without me.
Lie #4: I am responsible for his hurt feelings. This was a huge lie. Every time I would do something the guy I was dating didn’t like, he would throw a fit. Sometimes he’d go out drinking. Sometimes he would leave and not tell me where he went. As a people pleaser, it didn’t take long for me to start feeling like his hurt feelings were my fault. When I was extremely busy, I’d forgo hours of sleep and studying so we could spend time together so he wouldn’t feel neglected. I would travel with him even though my friends were getting together without me because I didn’t want him to feel like I wasn’t supportive. I was pretty miserable. But at that point in my life, I hadn’t yet learned that he was responsible for his own feelings and his reactions to circumstances, even in disappointment.
Lie #5: I have to marry the first person I date. If I don’t, I’m not guarding my heart. I think it’s fantastic if you are someone who gets to marry the first person you date. (I’m the only person my husband ever dated!) Some people do find the best person for them right away. But when I was younger, I thought it was my only option. I’d heard for so long that I should guard my heart, and my interpretation of that meant I shouldn’t give myself the chance of having a broken heart. Therefore, I would marry the first person I dated! Unfortunately the first person I dated was a terrible match for me. But I tried to make it work for so long simply because I wanted to be sure I made it through my relationships unscathed. In the end, I think my heart got more damaged because I put myself in such a box.
Lies are sneaky. Sometimes they sound safe, and sometimes they sound logical. That’s why it’s important to catch them early on and have the courage to confront the lies with the truth. Truth always trumps lies. Are there any lies in your own life that you can identify and get rid of?
Come back next Tuesday for Part 2: Lies He Told Me. (And I believed him…)