Disclaimer: I don't share this post this to air my grievances, to get attention, or to be a generally whiny person, I share because truly, as women we trek through so much yucky emotional muck. But, as relational creatures, I wholeheartedly believe that it's our responsibility to be vulnerable, to speak truth into each other's hearts when we need it the most. So, here it is. Truth, honesty, and some rather embarrassing vulnerability.
About a month ago, I experienced a little romantic hiccup that left my heart slightly smushed. While trying to debrief, better myself and learn from it, I trekked into my romantic past and e-mailed The Prince to ask his advice regarding what I was missing. We had stayed friendly and knew each other's minds and personalities quite well. I was certain he would have some insight that would be of assistance to my romantic future. In all of history, a girl has never been so wrong. He responded quiet lengthily, but in short said that I had so many other wonderful qualities, but that men are visual creatures and that my "achilles heel" was my weight. That men know that women will only deteriorate with time, and therefore won't jump into a relationship with a woman who is borderline overweight since her shape will only be further lost in time.
Charming, no? Essentially: You are unlovable because you're chubby, and you'll only get worse in time. It's nearly impossible to hear such hurtful words and not take them to heart. So, to my heart they went. My heart ached, and of course there were tears. For several days I found myself scrutinizing my body, overly aware of every pudgy pucker, every extra pound. I stood in front my reflection in mirrors or windows and tore myself down, believing I was unlovable because I am a size 10 and weigh 148 pounds. How dare I not have a bikini-ready body? How could I even call myself a woman? I did that thing we all do...you know, where you stand in front of a mirror jiggle your thighs, remark at your cellulite and pinch at your body to figure out just how much you need to lose. (I promised embarrassing vulnerability. There it is. My weight, and a confession of cellulite. It doesn't get dirtier than that.)
But then, the voice of reason, the voice of love. The voice of truth came through my very best friend, Becky. A few days later in the mail, I received a little envelope from her. Inside I found three photos of me, and a letter all attached to colorful paper and decorated cheerfully. I was to hang this in a place I'd see it daily, and be reminded of the woman that God had made me--the woman that she and so many others see, both physically and in personality. To listen to only truth and to refuse to believe lies put into my heart by one ridiculous man. To find the beauty in today, and put away the worries and damage of the past. (Now there's a woman who knows how to speak truth to the heart of a friend!)
And now, every time those damaging, untrue words float into the back of my mind, I pray that God remove them...wipe them from my heart and mind, because I know firmly from God that they're completely untrue and unfounded. I also pray wholeheartedly that he would change the mind of this man who clearly doesn't understand the heart and true value of a woman...what makes a woman lovable and beautiful...what God truly created a woman to be for a man. Then, I somewhat humorously request that God put this man under a romantic rock until he stumbles into this knowledge, lest he damage another woman's delicate heart with his viewpoints. I like to think that God laughs with me at this last piece of my prayer. :)
Curiously, in the few quiet moments of the last four weeks, my heart returns to Gabe. And, like I often turn a smooth rock in my hand, over and over, marveling over it's softness, so I continue to do in my heart with him...lost in wonder over days and moments of his deeply unconditional love for me. Size 16, size 8; blonde, brunette, redhead, accidentally purple-haired; covered in dusty spray paint and DIY mess or dressed to the nines; cheerfully jubilant or darkly down...that man loved me through it all. Even when I didn't deserve it. And although our relationship didn't lead to marriage and babies, I find a "happily ever after" in the lesson I learned from him. We don't speak anymore--haven't in months--but not a day has passed in which I didn't think of him, and sometimes while lost in thought, I remember to thank God for the beauty and peace I've found in what Gabe showed and taught me.
What I learned from Gabe was this: Parents, families, our closest friends love us unconditionally. They're pretty much required to do so. But to a woman's heart, there's something unexplainably heart-changing that occurs when she is loved unconditionally by a man. We crave it, we were made for it. So much hope is found in those years of Gabe's unconditional love-the firm belief that a few men are truly capable of seeing more than skin deep, and loving a woman for all that she is physically, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually. And I suppose, now that I realize I've experienced it, I've learned that no matter how a love story like that ends, the fact that unconditional love happened is simply the most amazing part. :)