Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Girl I Never Knew

I grew up with Amy. She lived down the street from me on Ione Lane out in San Jose. She was my first love, albeit it was only puppy love. Everyday as I came home from school, I would sneak out of my packed house to go see her. Amy was an only child and seemed to have great parents, although I never really saw them as a family unit. We used to love hiding under the bed together and it seemed like we could play for hours together. All I remember was that I was completely drawn to her.

Then, one day, Amy's family just upped and moved away. I never got to find out why life would take one of the greatest relationships away from me at such a young age. It wasn't until years later that I found out the truth about Amy.

The truth was that she lived with her divorced mother who had remarried. The whole time I knew her as a child, Amy was being molested by her step father. According to Amy, her mother knew what was happening but never did anything to protect her child. In fact, her mother seemed to grow bitter and angry, rather than comforting.

When Amy was 17 she finally moved out of her house. She never figured out why life would put her in the situation it did. She had no control over her upbringing and she was forced to go through what seemed like many lifetimes, always on guard and afraid. To live knowing that she was defiled, that she was wrong, that she would never be made complete again.

This feeling drove Amy with guilt and resentment, a need to purify herself, to perfect the injustice that occurred to her. To prove her self worth, she focused on achievement. Outside, Amy seemed like the perfect girl. She did well in school and was driven. She attended church regularly and seemed to be involved in every ministry.

But Amy continued to feel a void in her life. She decided to start dating. It was not hard for Amy to meet men because she had never really gotten along with other girls. All her friends seemed to be men. For several years, she dated on and off, looking for something special. And then Amy met Edward.

Edward was an amazing man. He was bold and fearless. He was beautiful. He was popular. It seemed like Edward could just light up a room with his conversations and as Edward would speak, Amy would just watch and fall more and more in love with him. She had never felt such an intense desire to be with someone. To be near him. To be with him.

But things changed. As life seemed to take Amy back into reality, she realized the relationship with Edward was not what she had envisioned. She enjoyed his company and wanted to talk, to go beyond the superficial but he never did. She wanted to save herself for marriage, to keep herself pure, but Edward wasn't on the same page. Then, one evening everything changed.

Amy and Edward were sitting in the living room chatting. The room was tense and filled with a silence that seemed to echo across the walls. Amy was confused and tried to drag Edward out. To understand him. To feel what he was feeling. She wanted to be near him, to help him, to stay connected with him. But the awkward moments seemed to just continue throughout the night. The walls stayed up. "Where did my Edward go?" Amy thought. She knew she was in love with him but he didn't seem to be in love with her.

Amy walked over to Edward and sat next to him. "I love you," she said. She leaned over to kiss him and he kissed her back. For a moment, the old spark seemed to ignite but as things started to become more intense and Edward began to grab Amy, she stopped his hands from their exploration of uncharted territory. Frustrated, Edward stopped. He looked at her, echoing the words that seem to haunt Amy to this day, "Look, if you aren't ever going to have sex with me, why are we even together?"

Amy didn't know how to react. She didn't feel loved, she felt like a piece of meat. Something to be tossed to the side. But she couldn't control her heart. She was in love. "Edward, you know how I feel," she stated. "I am thinking about the long term, I am thinking about us." His eyes seemed to glaze over, and she knew he wasn't listening. "Look," Edward said, "I am cheating on you. I met another woman, who is willing to give me the physical affection that I need." Amy was shocked. She didn't know how to react. All she could do was sit there in silence. "I think we need to break up," Edward continued. Amy couldn't remember anything after those words. It may have been a few hours or it could have been two minutes. But that night, Edward walked out of Amy's life forever.

Amy was heart broken. All of her feeling's of inadequacy came flooding back to her. She felt this gut wrenching pain in her stomach. A knot so deep. A physical pain so strong, she sometimes couldn't breath. "Was I not good enough?" "Was I not beautiful enough?", she asked herself.

Amy's pain only caused her to go deeper into her spiritual walk. She learned to retreat into the safety of God's arms. Two years passed before Amy decided to date again. She promised herself that she would never love someone as much as they loved her. That she would be strong and never allow herself to be hurt again.

A few years later, Amy met Tom. Tom was madly in love with Amy and Amy felt safe with him. They started their family together. Her children and their comfortable life seemed to give Amy the atmosphere she needed to heal from her childhood wounds. To heal from her broken heart. She felt secure in Tom's love.

Fifteen years passed, when Amy finally realized something was missing in her life. She seemed to have everything that she had dreamed. She had a great husband, beautiful kids. A happy wonderful life. But something was missing. Out of a series of somewhat coincidental events, Amy and I finally met again.

Our shared history started the connection. And we built from there. At first, we just exchanged messages to each other from time to time. But over time, we started connecting more and more. Then, we started seeing each other. We would steal time throughout the day and night, any free moment that came available in our busy lives. I was not naive. I knew the relationship between Amy and I was unhealthy, for both Amy and myself. It was a ticking time bomb waiting to happen.

I knew I had to do something drastic to break this cycle. To break this pattern. Before Amy did something she would regret. One night, Amy and I were hiking. We found a resting point along the trail. I told Amy, "There is something I need to tell you."

Hesitant, Amy, said, "Okay, I am listening."

"But I need to ask you a favor. I need you to actually listen to what I am about to tell you. I need you to consider the words that I am about to speak. You will want to fight what I have to say and what I am about to say will be hard to tell you."

"Okay," Amy said.

"And I have another favor to ask you." I started to take off my clothes.

"What are you doing? Stop," She said.

"No," I replied, "What I am about to say, will be hard to hear, and I want you to know that I am not a threat. That as I speak, you are in complete control. I promise that I will not make a pass at you. And I promise you will want to hear what I have to say."

Everything in Amy told her that this was crazy. That this should not be happening. But for whatever reason, perhaps curiosity, she stayed sitting. She couldn't even look at me, as I sat kneeling on the ground, completely exposed. Naked and vulnerable.

"Amy, I am going to offer you my perspective. I have to tell you ahead of time that it will not all be true. But I have to tell you that there will be some truth in what I am about to tell you. Please, let me finish my thoughts, and say what I need to say."

"Okay," was all Amy could muster.

"Amy, you are one of the most beautiful women I have ever met. Everything about you is captivating. From your smile, to your beautiful eyes, to your soft and kind and wonderful heart. But I don't want you to see you as I see you. I want you to see you as God sees you."

"When you were young, the man who molested you. I can't imagine the pain that must have caused you. The insecurities, the years of counseling. Never feeling safe. But I think that God provides everything in our life for a reason. Pain can be the pathway to growth. And perhaps, what he was trying to say, through this, was that while man can defile your physical body, and you may have no control over that, only you can defile your spiritual being. And you do have control over that. Sometimes in life, what we can't control causes so much pain. I think it is supposed to point us back to what we can control."

"And your mother, out of her own brokenness, her own insecurities, the belief that she was not good enough for a good man. She allowed this to happen because she truly believed that she would never find another man. Her brokenness from her divorce. And she grew bitter and angry towards you because you would serve as an ever present reminder of her limiting belief. Every time she looked at you, she would be reminded that she allowed you to be hurt, just so she could bandage her own hurts. She would be reminded of being left through her divorce. Out of self preservation, she blamed you for everything."

"But you are not to blame. You are worth so much more. You are one of God's greatest gifts to this world. And sometimes we see our own brokenness, and knowing that we fall short, we sabotage our own success. We have a desire to be punished because deep down we know we are no good, that an evil lives within us. And you may have questioned your own value, day in and day out, wondering why your boyfriend, Edward, cheated on you and broke your heart. But I want to tell you, it was your beauty, your great spirit, the image of God in you. It served as a mirror reflection, like a bright flashlight, shining on his own imperfections, his own weaknesses. A daily reminder, that deep down, out of guilt and shame, he knew he didn't deserve you. It was not your inadequacy that caused him to cheat. It was the overwhelmingly pure heart that you have, despite what you have gone through, that he just couldn't accept into his life, because of his own brokenness."

"You are captivating. I have never met a woman so captivating. But deep down, your boyfriend believed that he would never have the happy ending. It caused an anxiety to build up, that he just could not hold up anymore. So he engaged in self destructive behavior, to prove through a self fulfilling prophesy that he would lose you."

"So, where does that leave you today. Today, fifteen years trying to mend a broken heart. You are now torn. Part of you wishes you had more courage when you were young. That you would have sought after your true love. And now, you feel you will never have that opportunity again and it saddens you. I represent the boyfriend that you never had. The love that you let get away in your life, because you were afraid to love. Because you were afraid to give it your all. I represent the made up image of what true love looks like. That somehow, in winning my favor and my heart, you will prove to yourself that you could have had the best of both worlds. That you actually deserve true love."

"But I want you to know. You can have me. I am a no good nothing from nowhere and you would be the most beautiful woman I have ever been intimate with. But for you, it would be chasing a false reality. The truth is that the heart is deceitful. And you deserve so much more that what I can give you."

"You are missing something though. The rift in your heart has caused love diversification. You once gave your heart, gave everything to one man only to have it destroyed. Because of that, you have a layer of protection surrounding your heart. You won't go deeper. You are afraid to love again. So you diversify. You have one aspect of love with Tom, representing a family love, a love of commitment. And rather that put all your eggs into a single basket, you grab the other aspects of love from other sources. Me, for instance. Rather than opening your heart in your marriage to receive the love that is already there. To find the passionate love, that is there, you have placed your marriage into a box, where there is only secure love."

"To be with you, would be to take the greater gift of what God had intended for you. To take the plan, he, the patient God that he is, had orchestrated through 40 years of life to give you. The gift, that without your past, he could not deliver to you. What you are searching for is not outside your marriage. It is not even within your marriage. What you are seeking, is within you. It has been within you this whole time."

"It is even greater than the love you had for your boyfriend. You have an opportunity to find a new love that includes the passionate love. But at the same time, it introduces a new element of sacrificial love, a vulnerable love. See, the love you had for your boyfriend, Edward, was given without knowing how deeply you could get hurt. If you knew ahead of time, you would have protected yourself. But today, you have a choice. You have a choice to love, in a truer sense. To love like you're not scared."

Amy sat there in silence. I never knew if she allowed herself to experience the kind of love I was talking about. Or if she even understood what I was trying to tell her. All I know, was that in that instance, I was allowed to love. And that was the last time I ever saw Amy again.

This post was reposted from, originally written on September 25th, 2014.

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