As many of you know from recent posts, Brittany and I have been training for the Tough Mudder. The race is this Saturday. Supposedly we’re in for 10 miles of running coupled with 25 obstacles. One reason I’ve avoided this race in the past is the electric shock at the end. I’m honestly not sure I’ll do this last obstacle! I frankly don’t understand this aspect of the race, yet will have a hard time mentally if I don’t do THE WHOLE THING. I guess there is a good chance I’m getting shocked on Saturday (yikes)!
I wrote a post recently called “Inclines and Declines.” The post was about perspective, which I realized needed shifting in regards to my mindset while I ran downhill and uphill (check it out if you haven’t). The idea for that post came while running, as did the idea for this post (and many others). As most of you know by now- running, hiking and simply being outdoors is one major way I feel “tuned in” with God. These settings are often where my creativity is enhanced, which I don’t think is a coincidence. I believe that creativity is the expression of our soul.
I was running my 7 mile run last week and got to thinking. Earlier this year we did the Xtreme Grand Canyon Hike (south to north rim) in less than 12 hours. Honestly, with busy travel and work schedules we didn’t really train much. We occasionally hike and we were in pretty good shape, so I assumed we’d be fine. Hindsight- we probably could have trained a little more to hike up and out of that massive canyon (ouch)!
I’m certain that I needed to gradually work my way toward a long run, both mentally and physically. I did a 15k a couple years ago and the training was actually an enjoyable experience, so I wanted to replicate the regiment and get my body used to running by increasing my weekly run distances. My body ached quite a bit when I started running just a few miles at a time in late October. My body still aches, don’t get me wrong, but aches surprisingly less on my longer runs today than on those earlier runs. My endurance is much stronger now as well, thanks to training. I decided that I didn’t want to be completely miserable for the actual Tough Mudder because I just showed up without prepping. I’m excited to say I think we’re SHOWING UP READY!
Back to my thought on last week’s run. I started to think about the importance of working on myself so I SHOW UP READY in life. I then started to think about the importance of showing up ready in a relationship. I realize I would’ve grunted through the Tough Mudder even if I hadn’t trained. I would’ve been “fine,” despite more aches and pains and presumably taking a bit longer to finish. Personal experience, as well as my experiences watching other relationships has me realizing that so many indifferent, unhappy, and/or disgruntled relationships just might be due to the lack of upfront work on individual selves prior. I’m about to focus on romantic relationships for the majority of this post (fair warning). My thinking- love is supposed to be long term, not simply a short race; so it’s probably something we should spend extra time prepping for…
We all have a past; therefore we all have things to heal and move past (pun intended). I look at my relationship history and realize I wasn’t in the best mental, spiritual or emotional place to welcome another human being into my equation. As I reflect, it’s easier to see that I was into the worldly reasons to be in a relationship. As they say, Hindsight is 20/20. A few examples:
How did the relationship serve me? Did the relationship enhance my image? How high was the level of physical attraction? Did the relationship cater to the expectations of others (see post: Highway of Life)? Aka- did the relationship equal the next logical step for “life’s path,” while meeting family and friends’ expectations as well?
Don’t get me wrong. I wanted to be in my relationships (especially at the beginning), including a marriage that didn’t work out (as many of you know). Reflection has me looking back and realizing that much of my “wanting” came from a place of wounds. Want was more of an underlying craving to attempt to mend wounds, create self-worth and fulfill me in some way via another human being. I was seeking a relationship that mirrored my perceived relationship with my mother, prior to actually mending the relationship with my mother. My vision was marred by the dust and dirt of my perception, which was based on what was modeled for me as “normal relationships” throughout childhood. I wanted so badly just to be wanted and to feel worthy, yet I was putting these expectations on others. Frankly, others often projected their perspectives, experiences and expectations on me as well. Bottom line- I was making decisions based on the expectations, perceptions and conditioning I received from the world. I was making decisions with a shallow relationship with God. I no realize that I was making decisions for so many of the wrong reasons.
Just like training for my run, we need to train for relationships, but a lot more! Relationships aren’t something to take lightly. We HAVE TO PUT IN THE WORK. We have no business entering into a romantic relationship, especially a marriage, prior to engulfing ourselves in a relationship with God first. We have no business entering into a loving relationship with another human being before we’ve learned to fully love ourselves either. So much brokenness comes from relationships entered with broken parts, and therefore for broken reasons. Expectations created by parental relationships, past romantic relationships or trauma from our past aren’t expectations that can be met by a new romantic partner. We have to do the heavy lifting of working on ourselves before we enter into a dynamic filled with expectations that cannot possibly be met once the “honeymoon stage” is over. Simply put, no human being is put on this Earth to fulfill another. There is only ONE PLACE, ONE SOURCE AND ONE RELATIONSHIP that can fulfill us- God, PERIOD.
How do we “train” so we can SHOW UP READY?
I realize running a few extra miles a week to prep for a run is relatively simple/self explanatory. I think of how companies train new employees- it’s a curriculum, similar to school. It might be detailed and complex, yet it is laid out by others and therefore a planned process. Training for a relationship is a little more complex. I’m not aware of a specific plan to follow. Obviously plenty of books have attempted to dive into the subject matter. Personality tests, matched profiles based on common interests and goals, and even theories on how we all “perceive and feel love” differently have attempted to bridge the gap from unhealthy to healthy relationships. I don’t think a six week crash course of premarital counseling is enough either, just saying.
I actually think it’s a relatively simple narrative, despite the complexity of awakening our awareness….
All I know is my path. I needed a few epiphanies and traumatic experiences to awaken myself to my own brokenness. Life gave me humbling experiences to lean in and learn from, despite the pain, fear and anxiety experienced throughout. I absolutely needed counseling to become more aware of my patterns. I needed experts and spiritual leaders to help me learn, evolve and recover. There is more strength in getting help than burying your issues, trust me on that! The bible can be viewed as “the ultimate” relationship guide, yet discerning the Bible can take a lifetime or more. I realize however that if we take Jesus’ teachings and apply them to any circumstance, we’re far more likely to succeed in any endeavor. Perspective is key to relationships and life overall. Here are a few of my beliefs, perhaps one or more will help you on your relationship and/or life endeavors:
God first, not people.
Love self first. Be comfortable and confident in self. Don’t let anyone try to change who God created you to be.
Lean into times of trial and hurt. Learn from “the curveballs” so you can evolve closer to be the version of yourself that God created you to be. Often times we need to heal parts of our past to reach our higher spiritual purpose of connecting with Him and finding TRUE JOY!
Don’t have unrealistic expectations that someone else will fill the hurts, the voids or mask the internal pain you’ve built up over the years. There is no purpose, no engagement ring, no house, no object that will ever satisfy the thirst you feel for a relationship with our Maker.
Don’t make decisions because other people expect you too. Just because you’ve been with someone for a period of time doesn’t mean “it’s time” to make the next step. Make decisions because you feel it’s the right time and you want to, not because you’re expected to. No one benefits from decisions made due to the expectations of others in spite of what’s best for themselves.
Be on a path toward making yourself whole before you try to have someone else “fill in your blanks.” We all have things to overcome. We are all human, so we’re constantly needing to work on ourselves over time. This is a commitment and a lifelong process.
Don’t project your hurts onto someone else, because if you haven’t solved them yet, most likely someone else in a romantic setting won’t be able to solve them either.
Happiness is temporary, JOY is everlasting. Give me JOY any day, because with JOY your perspective can change regardless of situation or circumstance. JOY is Divine.
Surrender ALL THINGS to God. We aren’t in control of anything. Nothing is guaranteed, so why obsess about trying to control some future outcome? Why live in fear. Just be present and grateful for today. As Jesus said in Matthew 6: “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” NIV
Imagine entering into a relationship after doing the work to heal from your past. Imagine entering into a romantic relationship realizing that God is your first choice, and hopefully the others’ as well. Imagine entering a relationship with the realization that someone else’s love isn’t needed or craved, yet wanted. Imagine entering a relationship with no expectation for someone else to complete some broken part of you. Imagine entering a relationship truly loving yourself and feeling confident in who God created you to be. Imagine looking at a relationship from a healed lens. Imagine simply being present, authentic, confident, healed, whole and full of grace BEFORE you enter a relationship.
I learned the hard way that nobody else can fix my past or heal me, only Jesus can. I learned the hard way that no person can fulfill me, only God can. I learned the hard way that expectations of others will inevitably lead to disappointment, so I put my trust in Him first. I surrender my life daily, which includes all of my relationships, romantic or otherwise. Perhaps if we train properly and SHOW UP READY for relationships and ensuing circumstances, we’ll find more success and peace within these dynamics. Hopefully this helps someone out there. Here’s to training together as we continue the movement of surrendering all things to God!
Wish me luck on my run, I’ve certainly trained for it. Pics will be on Instagram!Follow @surrender_project if you haven’t already!